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Last Updated: Monday, 17 September 2007, 06:49 GMT 07:49 UK
Cycling boss calls for life bans
Inside Sport on cycling
The head of world cycling wants to introduce life bans for riders caught using performance-enhancing drugs.

After another summer of failed tests and allegations, professional cycling is under pressure to lift its drugs ban from two years to life.

"I would certainly be in favour of doing that," Pat McQuaid, the president of the International Cycling Union (UCI), told BBC1's Inside Sport.

"As far as I'm concerned, it is a zero-tolerance policy."

McQuaid's support for a life ban for first-time offenders is a change of heart as the UCI boss had previously said the current two-year ban was sufficient.

Speaking during this year's scandal-hit Tour de France, the 58-year-old Irishman said: "I think the punishment is tough enough because when guys get caught it's the end of their career."

But with riders continuing to fail tests, and the cloud of suspicion over the rest of the sport refusing to budge, McQuaid's stance has hardened.

This summer's Tour de France was perhaps the most depressing of all time for cycling fans as early hopes of a clean and exciting race were dashed.


Having already seen a German rider uncovered as a cheat, the cycling world was then left reeling when pre-race favourite Alexandre Vinokourov tested positive for blood doping and race leader Michael Rasmussen was thrown out for lying to his team amid speculation he had purposefully missed tests.

Two more Tour de France riders failed tests after that and the race's eventual winner, Alberto Contador, has been forced to defend himself against allegations of doping resulting from last year's Operation Puerto investigation.

That infamous Spanish-led probe resulted in the 2006 edition's two pre-race favourites, Ivan Basso and Jan Ullrich, being withdrawn by their teams and Vinokourov being prevented from riding as he did not have enough team-mates.

Events such as these have forced the UCI to make the war on doping its priority and McQuaid admitted to Inside Sport that cycling had a drugs problem but was doing its utmost to beat it.

He pointed to the anti-doping charter that all the professional teams have now signed up to and the most rigorous testing regime in world sport as evidence of cycling's determination to win back public confidence.

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