How do doping controls work in cycling?

Jonas Vingegaard and Tadej Pogacar still lead the race on the Great Loop. So much so that their performances raise questions, in a sport already marked by doping scandals.

Doping controls in cycling began in the late 1960s, on the initiative of the Belgian and French cycling federations. TO At the time, research focused on the presence of amphetamines, those stimulants that erased the feeling of tiredness. This substance notably causes the full death of the Briton Tom Simson ascent of Mont Ventoux, 2 km from the finish during the 1967 Tour de France, under the eyes of the cameras. The drama then triggers a real awareness.

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The UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) begins to carry out official anti-doping controls. But new products appear, like steroids in the 1990s, these synthetic muscle-building hormones that are harder to detect than amphetamines.

The World Anti-Doping Agency was created in 1999, immediately after the 1998 Tour de France scandal during which all Festina team riders were banned on suspicion of doping. The body then controls all sports and does not depend on sports federations or states and allows for standardization of controls. In the 2000s, she also switched from urine to blood tests, which were more accurate, as the substances were less diluted in the blood. The device allows you to search for EPO, this new product, the result of advances in biotechnology, which allows you to stimulate the production of red blood cells.

The yellow jersey tested every day

TO at the end of the 2000s the concept of “biological passport” was born: runners are no longer tested only during competitions, but also outside, three or four times a year, comparing the results of the analyzes from one test to another. If the variations are too large, doping is suspected.

At most, a driver who tests positive risks suspension for life and the loss of the titles. In France, since 1989, a cyclist who has tested positive no longer risks a penal sanction, but only a disciplinary sanction (unlike, for example, the United States). Two years of suspension, four in the event of a repeat offense, and life suspension in the event of a new offense. The penalty is pronounced both byFrench Anti-Doping Agency or UCI (International Cycling Union). On the other hand, the sale or possession of doping products is criminally reprehensible.

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Today, in the Tour de France, the yellow jersey is tested every day, as is the stage winner at the finish line. Six runners are also drawn to be tested each day.
TO this, as well as unexpected tests during the Tour and the famous biological passport.

According to biotechnology professor Gérard Dine, it is therefore very complicated today to slip through the cracks. According to him, the origin of the performance of Vingegaard and Pogacar is rather to be found in the side of the progress made in the equipment, nutrition and training of athletes.

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