Tour not affected by new doping-control costs

NATHAN BURDON
Last updated 05:00 13/12/2012

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The UCI's insistence on using its own drug testers for officially sanctioned races will not affect the Tour of Southland.

North Island cycling promoter Jorge Sandoval has postponed his women's tour of New Zealand indefinitely and cast some doubt over the men's Tour of Manawatu after being told by the sport's governing body that he can no longer use Drug-Free Sport New Zealand (DFSNZ) to undertake controls.

The UCI, still reeling from the Lance Armstrong affair, will now assume responsibility for doping control, something Sandoval estimates will cost him $30,000 for each event.

That is not an issue for the Tour of Southland, which opted out of being a UCI-sanctioned event before the 2010 race in favour of being a national tour event.

It had been a UCI category 2.2 event since 2002, but the regulations imposed upon the race by the governing body eventually proved to be too onerous and the UCI was unwilling to relax its stance.

While a UCI official was in charge of drug control during the time it was a sanctioned event, the Tour of Southland has worked with DFSNZ for the past three years, as well as during its hosting of the national track cycling championships in Invercargill.

DFSNZ provides random testing during the Tour of Southland for free, but in the past Cycling Southland officials have opted to pay for additional random tests.

Tour director Bruce Ross said he had opted to do that as a pro-active move rather than due to concerns over any specific riders.

Only one rider had returned a positive drugs test in the more than 25 years he had been in charge of the Southland tour.

Ross said he felt for Sandoval, because Southland had been in that position in the past.

"What I would say is there is life after the UCI," Ross said. "I think the Tour of Southland has got a bigger international presence now and continues to grow every year."

Money spent on drug testing was "dead money" because it did nothing to improve the look of the race for the public or sponsors, but it was still an important factor in ensuring the sport was clean, he said.

Meanwhile, Cycling Southland chief executive Nick Jeffrey said progress on a naming rights sponsor for the event was being made.

PowerNet ended its relationship with the Tour of Southland this year after more than a decade as the major sponsor.

Jeffrey was confident next year's race would have a naming rights sponsor.

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- The Southland Times

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