UCI changes strategy on doping: "We must infiltrate into the peloton"

Road 17 ene. 2022 20:01 Migue A.

Infiltrated agents, informers, intelligence methods... It seems that we are talking about a mafia or spy movie, but the truth is that all of these things could soon enter the world of professional cycling. The UCI is planning to change its doping strategy, according to its director general, the French-Moroccan Amina Lanaya. With a clear objective: "We must infiltrate into the peloton", says David Lappartient's right-hand woman.

Amina Lanaya

A serious diagnosis: "We are back to the Festina years"

The International Cycling Union's number two, a 41-year-old lawyer who has worked for a long time in the organisation's legal service, recently gave an interview to the French newspaper Ouest-France. In the interview, she expressed her concern about the information she is receiving from certain sectors of the sport concerning both traditional and mechanical doping. "When I hear that they are worried and that they have the impression that we have gone back to the Festina years ... it's scary. It's scary. We want to avoid that," stresses Lanaya, who is the first woman to hold this position.

"We have alerted the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) that we have indications that are not going in the right direction. But we don't want to let anything slip through our fingers either," says the French-Moroccan athlete. "For me, testing is no longer the main instrument in the fight against doping. Intelligence and research are. We must work hand in hand with the police authorities. And give confidence to those who could talk and give us information".

Equipo Festina

It is only two years since laboratories substantially improved the test for detecting microdoses of EPO, and the UCI and WADA are also dealing with controversies such as the legality of the use of ketones, on which elite cyclists such as Guillaume Martin have already spoken out. But this directive proposes to go much further.

"Maybe I'm a bit extreme in my thinking, but I think we should infiltrate into the peloton, infiltrate into certain teams, pay informants... Whether this is legally possible remains to be seen, but it is the only way to have a dissuasive effect. When positives start to emerge among people who were previously thought to be untouchable, 'Radio Peloton' will work even faster in the opposite direction. We have to give a blow to the table, so that the cheaters feel that we are there, continuously behind them, and not just with three or five controls a year," concludes Lanaya.

Amina Lanaya y David Lappartient

Reactions: "We are sportspeople, not criminals"

As expected, the words of the 'number two' of the UCI have raised quite a lot of controversy within the peloton, and it has not taken long for the first response to arrive. And it has come from Italy, where Gianni Bugno (who is now president of the CPA, the main riders' union) has given an interview to La Gazzetta dello Sport in which he uses the term "provocation" and expresses his discontent with the Geneva-based body: "Statements like these, made by the international federation, do not sit well," he says.

The former great rival of Miguel Induráin in the 90s clarifies, however, that he is speaking "in a personal capacity", rather than in his institutional role. "It seemed that the doping issue was on the way to being solved, but if actions like that are valued, it means that they are not convinced. Cycling is the only sport that has done its utmost to clear things up, and the riders are the ones who are the most controlled. This new escalation (or provocation, if we want to call it that) would only seem logical to me if there were suspicions," he stresses.

In addition, the transalpine cyclist confesses to being annoyed because, although the CPA is part of the UCI's working system, they have not been consulted about this alleged strategy. "One person can't say whatever they want, it has to be agreed between the parties. We will have to look into these claims, and maybe we can ask for clarification. They are sportspeople, not criminals," Bugno concluded.

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