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Cycling beefs up testing

PARIS -- Cycling's governing body will use target testing and blood profiling to beef up its anti-doping program and try to restore credibility to the sport.

The initiative, called "100 percent against doping," was unveiled yesterday by UCI president Pat McQuaid.

He said riders or teams suspected of engaging in doping practices will be targeted "to reduce the amount of possibility of anyone slipping through the net."

The program will single out "riders we might think might be up to something, riders who are in training camps preparing for major events."

The measures were announced two days before the start of the Paris-Nice race, the first event of the elite ProTour series.

"We want to win back 100 percent confidence in our sport," UCI anti-doping manager Anne Gripper said.

All ProTour riders will undergo at least one out-of-competition urine test per year. All teams will be subject to prerace blood screenings on four occasions during the season, and unannounced random blood and urine tests will be conducted out of competition.

To get around any legal and ethical issues, riders must sign an agreement to say they will provide a DNA sample if required to do so.

This would normally only apply in major criminal cases such as "Operation Puerto," the Spanish blood-doping investigation which led to Jan Ullrich, Ivan Basso, and other riders being kept out of last year's Tour de France.

Gripper said riders will have a blood profile and further research could lead to the creation of a steroid profile.

"One hundred percent of ProTour riders will agree to participate in research and develop new tests," Gripper said.

McQuaid put the total cost of implementing the program at $1.32 million.

Cycling was rocked last year when Tour de France winner Floyd Landis tested positive for elevated testosterone to epitestosterone levels. He denies doping and is attempting to clear his name.

No representatives of the three major races -- the Tour de France, Giro d'Italia, and Spanish Vuelta -- were present, but McQuaid was confident they will support the program.

"At the end of the day, to make it happen we all have to contribute," McQuaid said. "I can't imagine anybody in the ProTour or at the top level of cycling saying, 'No, I'm not playing my part in this.' It's in the general good of cycling."