(Reuters) – Tour de France teams can be excluded if two riders from the same outfit test positive for the coronavirus within a seven-day period during the race, the International Cycling Union (UCI) said on Friday.
Exclusions, however, will not be automatic and the decision will have to be made by race organisers, the governing body said.
“In the case of two or more riders from the same team testing positive for COVID-19 within a period of seven days at a Grand Tour, the UCI will give the event organiser authorisation to announce the withdrawal of the team for health reasons, on the condition however, that the global medical assessment carried out confirm the positive cases,” the UCI said in a statement.
Tour organisers Amaury Sports Organisation (ASO) had previously said that teams would be excluded should two riders or staff members test positive for coronavirus within a seven-day period.
A meeting between ASO and the teams on Tuesday, however, led to the rule being ‘relaxed’, meaning that Lotto Soudal, who had two staff members test positive on Thursday, remained in the race.
The Tour starts on Saturday as the number of coronavirus cases in France has been rising steadily since the beginning of the month.
“In the case of a positive test for COVID-19 during a Grand Tour, the organiser must do everything possible – but without being liable – to proceed as far as possible with a complementary test and a serological analysis before the following stage,” the UCI added, after several possible ‘false positives’ were reported in the professional peloton.
(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Toby Davis)