Teams and European Cycling Union get behind MPCC’s stricter anti-doping rules

The European Cycling Union gets behind the anti-doping movement as new teams join ahead of January 1 deadline

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MILAN (VN) — The Movement for a Credible Cycling is gathering momentum ahead of next season. This past week, more teams and the European Cycling Union agreed to its stricter anti-doping rules.

“We started this in 2007 because some teams were not following the rules,” the movement’s president, Roger Legeay, told VeloNews. “After the big problem with Lance Armstrong, it is important for all the team managers to say, ‘Yes, it’s finished and we want a clean sport.'”

Several team managers have said “yes” and signed their teams to the movement since VeloNews spoke with Legeay earlier this month. The MPCC approved the applications of Italian second division team Bardiani-CSF and third-division teams La Pomme Marseille and Auber 93 of France, Plussbank-BMC of Norway, and American squad Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies.

“I don’t think riders should get their second chance; riders know the risk they take of using doping. Also the damage a positive test [makes] for the sport, we need to change things now. Because of this, we all think that the MPCC is a very good idea,” BMC Racing’s Thor Hushovd said in a statement from the MPCC.

Hushovd started his professional career with Legeay’s Crédit Agricole team before going on to win the world road championship in 2010 at the end of his tenure with Cervélo TestTeam. He continues to race, but lends his support to home team Plussbank and to Legeay’s movement.

The Bardiani team called the movement “an important step of growth and giving a strong signal for a clean and better cycling.”

It added that it would encourage other Italian teams to join.

The MPCC includes four first division teams: AG2R La Mondiale, FDJ-BigMat, Garmin-Sharp, and Lotto-Belisol. Argos-Shimano could become a first division team next year, but is currently in the second division with movement members Bardiani, Bretagne-Schuller, Cofidis, Europcar, IAM Cycling, NetApp and Saur-Sojasun. The four recently-added third division teams bring the total number of members up to 16.

Optum managing director Charles Aaron said that joining the MPCC pledge would be an asset for his squad, which won the team overall titles and the women’s individual title in the National Racing Calendar in 2012.

“As an organization, we have always felt that winning at all costs is not only unethical, but defeats the purpose of competition at large,” said Aaron in a release. “We love the challenge of competing clean and representing our partners with the fairness they deserve. Success for our men and women comes through hard work and dedication, and above all, fair play. The MPCC is standing up for clean racing and providing a platform for riders and teams to say, ‘We want a fair playing field. Our riders, teammates and sponsors deserve this.'”

Also over the past week, the movement announced that four other teams have applied to join: Colombia-Coldeportes, Accent Jobs of Belgium, OCBC Singapore, and Roubaix Lille Metropole of France have all asked to join the MPCC.

Member teams agree to follow the movement’s standards of conduct:

• Prohibit a rider from racing after the positive result of the first analysis or A sample.
• Don’t sign a rider who has had a ban of more than six months during the two years following his ban. An exception is given to whereabouts cases.
• If a rider needs corticosteroids (used for saddle sores and swelling), then pull him from competition for eight days.
• An internal control following a positive test within the team.
• If a team has more than one positive case from the past 12 months, withdraw it and assess the situation.

“WADA has its rules and the UCI has to apply the rules,” Legeay said. “The team managers have the choice, though, to say no to doping and to the riders and staff who are involved with doping. This is the job of the team manager, it’s not the job of the UCI and WADA. The UCI has its rules [to punish] the rider if he acts in a wrong way, but first it’s up to the team manager to have a good philosophy and apply the rules [as proposed by MPCC], and to say, ‘I don’t want doping in my team.'”

Legeay said that he is working to get other first division teams on board. All teams, regardless of their past, can join as long as they agree to implement the standards of contact as of January 1, 2013.

The MPCC has also lobbied organizations for change. It asked the UEC to ban riders who have served suspensions longer than six months from participating on their country’s national team for two years, and to regulate corticosteroid use more rigidly. The UEC agreed last week, creating a rule requiring eight days of rest if a rider needs a corticosteroid injection. It also said it would ask European teams to join the movement.

The World Anti-Doping Agency acknowledged that it had received the MPCC’s request and forwarded it to the code-drafting team. The MPCC has also asked for four-year bans for riders using EPO or blood transfusions.

The Association of Race Organizers (AIOCC) has yet to reply to the MPCC. It requested that race organizers only invite teams — MPCC members or not — that adhere to its standards of conduct.

In October, the UCI agreed to a review from an independent commission looking into claims of corruption and proposed anti-doping improvements. It said the commission is to report back by June 1 while the MPCC charges ahead, allowing teams to agree to their own, stronger anti-doping codes.

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