Should Astana and Contador Ride the Tour De France?

Professional cycling has more than its fair share of disputes and debates within its own ranks. The current big issue is between the UCI and the organisers of other big races like the Tour de France.

ASO (Amaury Sports Organisation) who organise races like the Tour de France and Paris-Nice, want to be able to have the freedom to select and invite teams to their races. The UCI wants all these races to be incorporated into their ProTour, this would give the UCI the final say in which teams are allowed to enter.

Recently, ASO announced that Astana would not be invited to this year’s tour after a string of negative dope tests, including Alexandre Vinokourov. ASO argue they want the Tour de France to have a clean image and banning teams with a bad history of doping is essential for people to believe in the integrity of the Tour.

In the past cycling authorities were all too willing to welcome dopers back into the Tour. One immediately thinks of how quickly Richard Virenque was welcomed back into the peloton. It was argued that the cycling authorities were not serious about trying to prevent doping. There was a lot of truth in this allegation, so it is good that now teams with a history of doping are being excluded. It acts as a powerful incentive for team managements to try and avoid doping in their own ranks.

HOwever, the UCI counter by saying that it is unfair that cyclists, who have not failed a doping test, like Contador are prevented from riding. They argue it is a case of the innocent being punished for the crimes of others. Astana also claim they have tried to clean up the team by removing doctors at the centre of doping allegations.

Furthermore the UCI claim that the ASO have been inconsistent allowing Cofidis to come back despite a negative doping test.

It’s a tricky decision. I tend to favour ASO; Astana didn’t just have one negative doping test, but several. However, if Astana have made serious attempts to clean up the team then maybe the decision is a little harsh.

Underlying all this is the ongoing dispute between the UCI and organizer’s of the Tour de France over control of races. ASO are keen to hang onto their privileges of organizing races. The UCI are threatening to remove UCI sanction for the upcoming Paris Nice race.

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