Paris - The International Cycling Union (UCI) on Wednesday launched an anti-doping helpline for professional riders, in the wake of the damaging fallout from American Lance Armstrong's spectacular fall from grace.
The free 24-hour, confidential helpline (+ 800 8884 8884), which will take calls in English and French, can be accessed from anywhere in the world and "is for all athletes in the UCI registered testing pool as well as any professional cyclists taking part in UCI competitions".
UCI said that an outside organisation had been mandated to handle the process to "guarantee strict confidentiality".
"It guarantees that all calls can also be made anonymously at any time, and any day of the week, which is in line with the recommendation of the Association of Professional Cyclists (CPA)," world cycling's governing body said.
The calls will be recorded and, depending on their nature, forwarded to specialists in the legal, anti-doping and medical fields, who will decide what follow-up action should be taken, it added.
"Athletes can call the helpline if for example they are being pressured to dope, if they have participated in organised doping, or if they know or suspect doping activities are taking place."
UCI president Pat McQuaid urged professional riders to make use of the helpline: "The integrity of cycling is at stake. We have established this helpline to encourage the sport's professionals to come forward and reveal, in the strictest confidence, anything they know about doping practices within the peloton."