Anti-doping was a major topic of discussion in the past few days, after the presentation of the report of the Inquiry Commission of the French Senate. From your perspective, what is the key lever to fight doping?

The main problem of anti-doping fight is that laboratories don’t have enough funds. We need to give them the means to catch up with the cheaters, so that they are able to sanction them today and not in 15 years. And then, they need to act accordingly. An ideal solution would be to focus investments in a laboratory or two. If France wants to remain a key country in the anti-doping fight, we need to drastically increase resarch funds.

What about doing more controls?

There are already a lot of controls. The Senate report states that implementing more thorough controls induces spending more money on them, which means the number of controls would have to be reduced. But cycling need more efficiency (same number of controls, improved controls), and for that, there is no other solution than increasing funding. In summary: appropriate measures, increased financial means and more appropriate penalties.

MPCC requested WADA to implement 4-years suspensions.

As many players, we insist on sanctions being more severe. We also asked WADA to make tramadol part of the list of banned products. We were told that this matter was to be debated in August. We need WADA to move forward with everybody: extended suspensions to at least 4 years, bring back cortisol level tests… WADA is the supranational government of the anti-doping fight. After the Festina case, we wanted an independent organization aiming at harmonizing rules between the different sports. Did it work? The answer is no. Rules are not the same for everybody. In some sports, there is no geolocation and even no biological passport. The mission today is to have a common set of rules and sanctions in every sport.

(see opposite the distribution of the anti-doping tests in different sports, © WADA)

A request was also made to the French Ministry for Sports to bring back cortisol level tests. What is the status of that request?

The French Minister for Sports is a member of the WADA Board: she needs to work as an intermediary and messenger. When we write to the Ministry, we are told to go directly through WADA… The Ministry is in accordance with our position and says: WADA needs to act. We took notice of their position. In the meantime, MPCC, in collaboration with the French Cycling National League and French Federation, implemented cortisol level controls in Paris-Nice, at the 4 Days of Dunkirk, at the Criterium du Dauphine, and twice during the Tour de France, in the context of health and based on a voluntary basis. So it is definitely possible.

The French Senate released a list 1998 and 1999 Tour de France dopers. How useful is it for the anti-doping fight?

This is not fresh news that riders took EPO in 1998. The real question is what we need to do now. Today, we need to be aware that the efficiency of antidoping measures is way higher than fifteen years ago. In 1998, there were only urinal controls. Jean-Marie Leblanc, Daniel Baal and myself then asked for blood samples. Then came the unannounced controls, out-of-competition controls, geolocation, biological passport, EPO screening tests and other products. All the set of has changed. Cycling is by far the most controlled sport by now. On the Tour de France, there were more than 500 controls made by UCI and AFLD and 116 by MPCC. The 14 teams members of MPCC on the Tour supported our process and our rules. Our close collaboration allowed us to measure cortisol levels in a quiet and efficient way. The future must be different. With commitment from teams, managers and riders, it will be different.