There are signs of in-fighting just when cycling needs solidarity most as the Spanish Cycling Federation exonerates Txema del Olmo from charges of EPO use during the Tour De France.
The Euskatel rider tested positive with the new ‘French urine’ test during this year’s race, but a panel from the Spanish governing body acquitted him this week after hearing evidence from an independent scientific study that they had commissioned. The report revealed doubts about the reliability of the tests and also contended that there was not enough evidence to find the rider guilty under the guidelines of the Spanish constitution.
However a statement issued by the UCI said the Spanish decision was “based on an incorrect interpretation of the anti-doping regulations, as well as on general and unsubstantiated criticism of the urine-detection method.”
“Furthermore, the (federation) did not deem it necessary to forward their criticism to the UCI or to the scientists who know and apply the aforementioned method.”
The UCI statement added that it “deplored” the Spanish attitude and declared it had full confidence in the urine detection method, which it said “has already proved its reliability and is an indispensable weapon in the fight against doping.”
The urine-only test has been controversial since it’s inception and a combined of blood and urine test is favoured by the International Olympic Committee. However, at a time when cycling desperately needs to shed it’s ‘drugged up’ image surely attempts should be made by governing bodies to form a united front against doping rather than just change the rules to suit their own home athletes. This case just adds to other high profile cases like British triathelete Spencer Smith and sprinter Linford Christie, where athletes are condemned by international testing but then exonerated or championed by their home administrators.
Decide a test and stick with the results, or why bother at all?