Tour de France
ICU wouldn't mind some cheats
Saint-Paul-Trois-Chateaux - A positive doping test or two at the Tour de France wouldn't necessarily be a "bad thing" - as it would suggest the battle against cheats is working, the head of cycling's governing body said on Monday.
International Cycling Union president Pat McQuaid said if cycling's premier race went two years without a positive test, then "you'd probably say there must be something going wrong here."
He spoke on the Tour's second rest day - before riders set off toward the Alps and the Paris finish on Sunday.
The Tour, which just a few years ago was plagued by numerous doping cases and suspicions of cheating, has had just one positive test in this edition.
Alexandr Kolobnev dropped out of the Tour last week after the UCI said a urine sample collected from the Russian rider on the day of Stage 5 tested positive for Hydrochlorothiazide - a banned diuretic that can also be used as a masking agent.
McQuaid said the fact that unheralded Thomas Voeckler of France is leading the Tour - with several riders close behind - suggested the sport is becoming cleaner, but he doubts cheating will ever be totally eradicated.
"I don't think it's ever possible, not just in cycling but in any sport, that you're going to get no cheaters," McQuaid said, adding that an isolated positive test isn't a cause for panic.
"It's not a bad thing, it shows that the system's working, it shows that you're catching people, and it shows that if a rider does take a product that is an illegal product that it can be caught and found in the system," he said.
The UCI, in coordination with France's anti-doping agency, is conducting hundreds of anti-doping tests during the race. Some cyclists have complained about the intense testing regime, though many others accept the controls.
"I read that a rider said yesterday he had had three controls in 24 hours, there's a reason for that," McQuaid told reporters. "The reason is that the UCI continues to look (for cheaters) - and if necessary with two or three checks a day."
Three-time Tour champion Alberto Contador tested positive during last year's Tour for the banned muscle builder clenbuterol. He's been allowed to ride because sport's arbitration body hasn't ruled on his case yet.
Contador is currently seventh overall, 4 minutes behind Voeckler. The Spaniard could be stripped of all his titles back to last July if the Court of Arbitration for Sport rules against him next month.
Also Monday, McQuaid said the UCI is in talks toward a "compromise" with the professional cycling teams' association over its threat to boycott the Tour of Beijing in October if a looming ban next year on race radios isn't overturned.
The Association of Professional Cyclists argues radio communication is needed to improve riders' safety during races. The UCI says it distorts the true nature of the sport.