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Anti-doping plan put to riders

The response from top cyclists to a radical proposal aimed at ensuring that future winners of the Tour de France and the two other grand tours are not blood doping should be known by the end of next month.

Jaimie Fuller, the Australian who created the Change Cycling Now group that has called for sweeping changes in the Union Cycliste Internationale and other reforms aimed at eradicating doping, is optimistic the proposal drafted by blood-doping expert Michael Ashenden will be well received.

The proposal will be invasive, says Ashenden, but he believes it will ''guarantee'' that the Tour - or the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a Espana - winner will not have blood doped and in turn will be able to celebrate their wins without the current level of suspicion.

Ashenden, an Australian who also sat on the recent CCN conference in London, would not elaborate on details of the proposal that has been submitted to Gianni Bugno, the Italian president of the Association of Professional Cyclists.

Ashenden cited the need for the world's best riders to consider it first and provide their feedback to Bugno, him and the CCN group.

''We are seeking assistance from the riders to put into place for next year a system that will guarantee that the winner of a grand tour has not blood-doped, '' Ashenden said.


''It's a short-term, intensive approach that will restore public confidence in the riders and the race outcomes. It is for the riders, but it is very much by the riders.''

Fuller, chief executive of compression garment firm SKINS that sponsors a number of cycling teams and other sports, has been a major thorn in the UCI's side.

He is currently suing the world body for damages to the company's reputation from the doping crisis, citing the UCI's mismanagement of the sport in the aftermath of the US Anti-Doping Agency's guilty verdict of American rider Lance Armstrong and his subsequent life ban.

Fuller has also set up the CCN group that includes American triple Tour champion Greg LeMond, who has been a staunch anti-doping campaigner.

The UCI has dismissed the legitimacy of the group, but many are listening to its message, especially in light of USADA and World Anti-Doping Agency concerns over the terms of reference of an independent commission of inquiry into the UCI's handling of doping issues with the Armstrong case.

Fuller agrees that Ashenden's proposal should be reviewed by the riders first. ''Mike is absolutely right, that it would be so inappropriate to discuss this before the riders understand it,'' he says. But Fuller is confident that the Tour, Giro and Vuelta organisers will support any proposal ''that enables them to put their hands on their hearts and say we have a clean winner''.

While he says it should not hinge on the UCI's approval, he adds it would be ''mind boggling'' if the world body rejected it.

''It's really down to just getting the riders on side,'' Fuller says. ''We believe there are three key groups in the majority of these debates - the teams, the riders and the race organisers. I can't help but think that each of those groups must see clearly the importance of the eradication of doping, particularly the riders.

''It must be awful to stand on the dais, having won, knowing that everybody is whispering behind their hands, 'He must have doped because he has won the Tour de France'. Bradley Wiggins [the 2012 Tour winner from Britain] has been copping this since he has won. It's inexcusable.

''With any system that gets proposed to try and create that genuine level playing field of no doping in the peloton, the rider I think will be right behind it.''

Fuller would also like to hear Cadel Evans, who in 2011 became the first Australian to win the Tour and was seventh this year, speak out more openly with his anti-doping views, saying: ''If you asked me if I would prefer if Cadel was more vocal or less vocal, I would prefer he was more vocal.''