After the first quarter, the MPCC noted six doping or fraud cases revealed in professionnal cycling and stays careful regarding the global situation in the fight against doping and cheating, in all sports.

In this Olympic year, top-level sportsmen and women are in the spotlight. Pushed by their national federations and Olympic committees, which they represent ; by their partners, some of whom have been supporting them for many years ; and by their fans, who are eager to see them in action for several weeks of festivities and intense competition. The athletes also take part in the Olympic games in order to represent its values : excellence, respect and friendship. In this context, precaution must be redoubled to ensure that the integrity of performances remains respected.

For several months now, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) and the International Testing Agency (ITA) have been stepping up initiatives to maintain a high level of standard in the fight against doping. For example, several national antidoping agencies have been declared non-compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code (including Tunisia, Venezuela and Nigeria) and a laboratory in charge of some of the tests in South Africa has been provisionally suspended. But this constant monitoring is not always enough.

At the beginning of the year, the fight against doping and cheating took a serious hit after the scandal involving the Spanish antidoping agency (CELAD). Revelations in the press pointed out to retroactive TUEs, an intravenous medical treatment (a method banned by WADA since 2005) and procedural flaws that allowed some athletes to avoid suspensions. This case confirms that the fight for clean sport is a constant battle for its credibility.

Significant increase of figures in India

As of March 31st, athletics and strength sports still topped the Credibility Figures, with 39 cases of doping and/or fraud revealed in athletics, 40 in weightlifting and 27 in powerlifting. However, the weightlifting figures need to be put into perspective, as 16 cases were made public following analysis of the Moscow’s LIMS data (Laboratory Information Management System).

On a national scale, the significant increase of number of suspensions in India is particularly worrying (49) but can be explained by a wave of tests carried out during the National Games held last October and November in Goa. France (10 cases) was also rocked by the revelation of a positive test from one of its leading fencers, Ysaora Thibus, and the suspension of multiple javelin champion Alexie Alaïs.

Two former World Tour riders tested positive

On its behalf, cycling had a mixed first quarter with six doping cases and/or sporting frauds. Two atypical cases of fraud concerned the Women’s Continental team Cynisca Cycling. On 9 July 2023, one of its team managers (now suspended until the end of 2025) instructed four of its riders to lie about the presence of the team’s fifth rider at the Argenta Classic (1.1). A mechanic was sent instead to allow her team to take the start. The false information given to the commissaires was therefore sanctioned.

The MPCC is particularly concerned about the two cases of Antwan Tolhoek, who tested positive for anabolic steroids in November (announcement on 7 February) as he was on his way to leave the World Tour team Lidl-Trek, and Franck Bonnamour, whose biological passport showed abnormalities according to the UCI (reclassified as “use of prohibited methods and/or substances”). At the time his provisional suspension was announced, Bonnamour was a member of one of the founding teams of our movement, Décathlon-AG2R La Mondiale. Even though the period put into question (2016-2022) does not cover the one during which Franck Bonnamour was in the French team, Décathlon-AG2R La Mondiale applied strictly our fundamental rules by quickly suspending the rider, who was finally dismissed on 26 March.

These two doping violations involving former World Tour riders are a reminder to team managers, support staff and riders to be particularly active, not to leave their riders or training partners to fend for themselves against the scourge of doping. For some of these reasons, the MPCC encourages all stakeholders of professional cycling to be “actors in the fight against doping”. Our teams have been leading the way for several seasons, including 15 of the 17 ProTeams. 8 out of the 18 World Tour teams have also subscribed to the values and rules of the MPCC, which is a solid but still insufficient basis for the elite of world cycling. We also hope that other Continental teams (men’s and women’s) will sign up alongside us, to keep the flame of credible cycling enlighted.