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Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 July 2007, 14:44 GMT 15:44 UK
Cycling boss confident for future
Alexandre Vinokourov, who has tested positive for blood doping
Vinokourov won two stages within three days this week
International Cycling Union (UCI) anti-doping chief Anne Gripper insists the positive tests in the Tour de France will improve the sport's future.

Alexandre Vinokourov and Cristian Moreni have both failed tests this week to cast a shadow over the Tour.

"The results, disappointing as they are for the short-term, will help the sport move into that new future that we all know is there," Gripper told BBC Sport.

"The results clearly show that the anti-doping system is working."

Gripper added: "It's working to get riders who continually choose to dope out of the event and out of the sport.

"We are making progress. Our anti-doping programmes have two main aims. The first is obviously to detect riders who are cheating and get them out.

"Secondly it is to have that deterrent effect and we're hoping that the increased strength of our anti-doping programmes will have a strong deterrent effect.

Our task ahead of us over this year and the years ahead is to entirely weed out the riders who continue to undertake these practices

UCI anti-doping chief Anne Gripper

"Our belief is that there is far more riders now that have made the decision not to dope.

"Our task ahead of us over this year and the years ahead is to entirely weed out the riders who continue to undertake these practices."

UCI boss Pat McQuaid said earlier: "Cycling does more to fight doping than any other sport.

"The large majority of cyclists are clean so you can't condemn a sport because a guy gets caught.

"The fact that we catch cheats is a good thing - it gets them out of the sport.

"I think the punishment is tough enough because [when] guys get caught it's the end of their career.


"There's a huge movement within the cycling world to clean up the sport after the effects of Operation Puerto and Floyd Landis."

However, Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme said he believed professional cycling needs a complete overhaul.

"This has to change now. The re-conquering of cycling has to be done with the Tour de France.

"I started this job believing that we could change this system but it's not enough: there has to be a revolution."

Six French teams, plus German outfits Gerolsteiner and T-Mobile have formed a Movement for a Credible Cycling, asking for all teams to abide by their good behaviour charter of 2005.

Christian Prudhomme
Prudhomme is demanding action after the latest drugs scandal

Under the charter, teams are requested to avoid fielding riders implicated in doping affairs.

Vinokourov, 33, reportedly had two different kinds of red blood cells, indicating he has taken blood from someone of a compatible group.

His Astana team later withdrew from the Tour.

Even before Tuesday's bombshell, Tour leader Michael Rasmussen was battling suspicions for missing pre-tour doping tests.

The doping scandals follow a failed drugs test last year by eventual winner Floyd Landis during the race itself while 2006 Giro winner Ivan Basso was recently handed a two-year ban.

Prudhomme expressed his disappointment over the latest setback and urged riders to remain clean for the good of the sport.

"The start in London was a formidable occasion," he said. "But there has been an absolute failure of the system.

"The riders have to understand that they are playing a game of Russian roulette if they are doping.

"They have to realise that we will never give up the war against doping in which we are involved.

"Doping ruins our childhood dreams. Vinokourov has cheated and the only possible answer was - leave."

The reason I am shocked and disgusted is because it is jeopardising my livelihood

Discovery Channel sporting director Sean Yates

Britain's Olympic track champion Bradley Wiggins, speaking before his team-mate Moreni tested positive, revealed he had suspicions over Vinokourov's performance in Saturday's time trial.

"I know that to put two minutes into me what power Vino would need and the effort he would have had to make and it didn't add up," he told the Guardian.

"At the time I was frightened of what I might say. I didn't want to accuse people because they had beaten me outright.

"But when you saw him limping the week before you couldn't help thinking about it. I think everyone has been suspicious of the Astana team.

"It is a disaster for the sport. There will be no cycling in 10 years if this goes on."

Fellow Briton David Millar, who has been an outspoken campaigner against doping since serving a two-year ban for using erythropoietin, believes cycling would take "five to 10 years" to get out its drugs problem.

He said: "The bottom line is it is, it is finally good because the controls work, but I'm gutted as Vinokourov was one of my favourite riders."

Discovery Channel sporting director Sean Yates, one of only four Britons to have worn the yellow jersey, has called for tougher sanctions for those riders that are found guilty of doping.

"At the moment cyclists who test positive should not be able to ride again," he told BBC Radio Five Live. "The consequences do not seem to be preventing people from breaking the regulations.

"There could be a two-year ban for Vinokourov but the consequences of this are far reaching.

"The reason I am shocked and disgusted is because it is jeopardising my livelihood. The sport seems to be in a self-destruct mode. If people continue to do illegal things then it is going to be the end for all of us."

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