Cyclists call for tougher doping bans

Leading cyclists have requested the introduction of sterner penalties for doping following a meeting of the International Cycling Union’s athletes’ commission.

Cycling has been rocked by the United States Anti-doping Agency’s report into the practices of Lance Armstrong’s United States Postal Service team and, after a three-day session in Switzerland, which concluded today, a proposal was made for sanctions to be increased against those found guilty of using performance-enhancing drugs.

A UCI statement read: “The commission proposed stiffening the sanctions against riders found guilty of doping in order to have a dissuasive effect.

“In this respect, the athletes’ commission supports the UCI regulations introduced on July 1, 2011 that prohibit any person involved in a doping case from returning to cycling in any post or position of responsibility.

“Furthermore, the commission proposed sanctioning the teams and the entourage of riders who test positive and not just the rider him or herself.”

The group also recommended the minimum wage of riders should be increased.

The statement added: “In order to fight against the temptation to dope and guarantee all athletes a comfortable standard of living, the commission recommended that the riders’ minimum salary should be increased and a ceiling imposed on teams’ salary budgets in order to reduce the financial differences between leaders and team riders.

“The athletes’ commission emphasised the need to educate young athletes and their team helpers. The commission supports the training initiatives undertaken in this regard, in particular those held at the World Cycling Centre (in Aigle, Switzerland).

“While offering its backing to the fight against doping led by the UCI, the commission proposed that UCI suggest WADA (the World Anti-doping Agency) to simplify the access and use of ADAMS whereabouts software by athletes.”

Last month, the UCI ratified the sanctions recommended by USADA, who concluded Armstrong and his US Postal team ran “the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen”.

The 41-year-old Texan did not cooperate with the report and was stripped of all results since August 1, 1998, including seven Tour de France titles from 1999 to 2005, and banned for life.

The UCI are seeking to address concerns over doping, exacerbated by the USADA revelations, and yesterday announced plans to set up a hotline for riders to call if they had information regarding doping practices within the sport.

Meanwhile, it was also proposed that elite men’s teams should invest in women’s racing, where prize funds should be improved.

The UCI statement said: “After considering the situation of women’s cycling, the athletes’ commission proposed that the prize lists for all women’s events should be equivalent to those for men’s races, as will shortly be the case for the UCI World Championships.

“The members of the commission want to encourage UCI WorldTour teams to invest in women’s squads and the organisers of men’s events to also offer races for women, in this way making the women’s calendar more global.”

Following the meeting, UCI president Pat McQuaid said: “The exchanges of the UCI athletes’ commission have been very fruitful and I am delighted that representatives of all disciplines are meeting together in the second year of the commission and working with the UCI on positive ways forward for our sport. ”We will now study the commission’s recommendations and present them to all our stakeholders.“

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