FDJ coach Julien Pinot has hit out at cycling authorities and the media over treatment of cyclists over anti-doping, after his team were forced to go through late night doping controls at 11pm on Wednesday.
He contrasted the situation to that of tennis player Richard Gasquet, who made it through the quarter-finals of Wimbledon having had corticoid injections, with very little questioning from the media according to Pinot.
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“Random test at 11pm while Gasquet qualifies for the semis with an injection. Not the same treatment by the authorities and the media,” Pinot said on Twitter.
Pinot’s brother Thibaut, Alexandre Geniez and Steve Morabito were the three riders that were tested that night.
French star Gasquet, who beat Stan Wawrinka on Wednesday before losing in a semi-final clash with Novak Djokovic, was quoted as saying “fortunately, injections exist,” after he used corticoids to treat a back problem.
Corticoids are illegal under World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) rules, however athletes are able to obtain Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUE) in order to use them to treat problems. TUEs have come under much scrutiny in cycling recently, after the Cycling Independent Reform Commission highlighted the continued abuse of them in its report earlier this year.
FDJ are also members of the voluntary anti-doping group, the Movement for Credible Cycling (MPCC), which imposes a 15-day rest period on riders using a corticoid TUE, on the basis that they must be injured to use them.
Pinot continued to express his displeasure at the situation to the media prior to Thursday’s stage six of the Tour de France.
“The media do not care that Gasquet has an injection,” he said. “When [Chris] Froome had [corticoid] treatment for his bronchitis last year it caused a stir.
“Thibaut has had bronchitis for four days, he’s being treated with plants.”
Tennis has come under wide criticism from in and outside the sport for its anti-doping procedures in recent years, with Tomas Berdych saying in 2013 that drug testing in tennis “cannot be worse”, while Mark Cavendish also hit out at the sport around the same time for its pecieved lack of testing.
According to WADA, 2013 saw road cycling conduct 9,472 tests, in comparison to tennis’s 4,655. However cycling returned 1.2% adverse analytical findings, while tennis returned just 0.4%.
FDJ team doctor Gerard Guillaume was also unhappy at the treatment of his team’s riders when he spoke to French TV, saying: “Even if the sport has made many mistakes in the past, I think it’s going somewhat too far.
“The first controls of the day took place at 6am…I guarantee you that it would make the front page of L’Equipe newspaper if it happened in football.”
Testing is set to get even more stringent for riders, as the UCI begin intoduce further nighttime testing between 11pm and 6am, with president Brian Cookson confirming to Cycling Weekly last week that night time tests had already taken place.
Tour de France stage six highlights