Drug Free Sport NZ is saddened, but not slighted, by being relieved of their testing duties at two cycle tours run by promoter Jorge Sandoval.
Cycling's governing body - the UCI - have assumed responsibility for doping control at Sandoval's men's tour of Manawatu and women's tour of New Zealand. Sandoval estimates that will cost him $30,000 for each race, which has forced him to postpone February's scheduled women's tour for at least 12 months.
DFSNZ has previously administered the testing at both races, which sees five riders per day asked to submit samples: the tour leader, stage winner and three others chosen at random.
Chief executive of DFSNZ, Graeme Steel, said the UCI's decision should not be seen as a lack of confidence in his organisation's procedures.
"As chief executive, I've had no formal comment from the UCI saying that they are not happy with the work we do," Steel said.
There had been some more informal email correspondence, he said, in which "there's no sense that our processes are less than world-standard".
It has been suggested that Sandoval's races don't feature as many daily tests as they could. But Sandoval said yesterday that five was a perfectly adequate number and that his men's race wouldn't continue to enjoy UCI status if there was an issue.
The tour of Manawatu is now in its 27th year and remains the only cycle race in the country with full UCI status. No rider has ever tested positive at the race so, for those reasons, Sandoval said criticism of the testing regime was ridiculous.
Steel felt that was true, to a point, but added it would be naive to think riders at Sandoval's events had never, or would never, dope. Catching cheats was his organisation's business and Steel said he was unhappy that DFSNZ would not preside over the testing during the January 23-27 men's tour and that the women's event has been scrapped for next year.
"Hell yeah. It's arguably the most significant bike race in New Zealand and bike racing is obviously a priority for us . . . and it's disappointing that an event should not go ahead because of matters related to the cost of doping control," said Steel. "We are keen to work with Jorge and the UCI to make sure testing happens."
The UCI pitch cycle races at three levels - A, B and C - with Sandoval's races a B. Usually the national federation, in this case Bike NZ, appoint the drug testing officials for a B-level race, Steel said, and that had been DFSNZ. Steel was unsure why the UCI had changed that protocol.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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