The UCI have announced new ways of fighting doping, with riders being asked to sign a declaration before the Tour de France that they have not been involved in doping and voluntarily give up 12 months' salary if they are caught doping.
As part of the declaration the riders will also allow Spanish police to compare their DNA to blood samples seized in Operation Puerto although it is not clear when or how the DNA comparisons will be done.
The unusual but original idea of a voluntary list was unveiled by UCI president Pat McQuaid in a press conference after a meeting with the 20 ProTour team managers and their doctors in Geneva on Tuesday.
Many had expected McQuaid to take a strong stance against riders implicated in Operacion Puerto and perhaps indicate who should not be allowed to ride the Tour de France. However, the UCI refused to name names and only said they will ask teams not to let riders take part in the Tour de France if they are involved in doping investigations.
McQuaid focused on the voluntary scheme and Britain?s Mark Cavendish (T-Mobile) and Frenchman Sandy Casar (Francais des Jeux) appeared at the end of the press conference to become the first two riders to sign the declaration. The money eventually paid by riders caught doping will be used to finance the fight against doping and further research.
Considering the doping problems affecting the sport, the voluntary scheme seems whimsical. However, the UCI hope that publishing the names of the riders who agree to the scheme on the UCI website, and so highlight the blatant absence of those who do not, will increase public and sponsor pressure on riders to race clean. Some teams and race organisers could put pressure on riders to sign up to the scheme by refusing to sign them or allow them into their races.
Describing the document as "the riders' commitment to a new cycling", McQuaid acknowledged that no one could be forced to sign-up.
"It is not a legal letter at all so from that point of view we don't have the possibility to sanction the riders, but we have asked the team managers to take any non-signings into account when deciding whether their riders start (a race) or not," McQuaid said.
"Of course it can be said that this is merely a nice intention but I prefer to be optimistic on it. I do think there is a genuine wish for change in the sport and this is one aspect of that wish for change."
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