The International Cycling Union will join the International Testing Agency ©Getty Images

The International Cycling Union (UCI) has agreed to transfer the running of its anti-doping programme to the International Testing Agency (ITA).

Members of the governing body's Management Committee unanimously agreed to the switch, which will kick in on January 1, 2021.

It ends the previous arrangement which had been in place with the Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation (CADF), an independent entity mandated by the UCI since 2008.

The ITA claims to act independently of any sports organisation or national interest, with the beginning of its operations in June 2018 seen as a key step in the global fight for clean sport.

Its creation was approved by the International Olympic Committee's Executive Board in July 2017, with anti-doping services available to International Federations and major events which are willing to sign up.

The UCI will join more than 40 organisations which have already done so, and said discussions had been held with all parties before their decision.

They had first announced the possibility of joining the ITA in October.

"The decision to transfer the operational activities of the UCI's anti-doping programme to the ITA will offer cycling numerous advantages," a statement said. 

"In particular, cycling will benefit from important synergies in areas such as research, innovation, intelligence and investigations, as well as worthwhile prospects in terms of the sharing of costs and resources.  

"The decision was taken in a context where it has become clear that doping is part of an environment that knows no barriers, neither between sports, nor between countries, and where, in parallel with testing, information has become the central element of any efficient anti-doping programme. 

"By joining the ITA, the UCI, a pioneer in the domain, again demonstrates that it can take decisions necessary to be constantly at the forefront of the fight against doping."

The UCI decision is dependent on the ITA creating a dedicated cycling unit within its structure and giving CADF employees the chance to join, the governing body said.

The deal is dependent on the International Testing Agency creating a specific cycling unit ©Getty Images
The deal is dependent on the International Testing Agency creating a specific cycling unit ©Getty Images

Financial contributions from cycling stakeholders to the ITA must also go in full to the sport, which has had to battle a number of high-profile doping cases.

"I would like to thank all those who took part in the discussions that led to the decision taken," said UCI President David Lappartient.

"The UCI has been one of the leading Federations in the domain of anti-doping for a long time, and the collaboration with the ITA will enable us to be stronger than ever in this sector and to thus bolster our defence of clean riders and the credibility of our competitions and all of our sport's stakeholders."

The CADF will remain responsible for anti-doping in 2020.

"While naturally extremely disappointed after presenting a compelling argument to retain a world-class and independent anti-doping organisation, the CADF congratulates the International Testing Agency and wishes nothing but a successful future for the anti-doping programme," said CADF Board President Rune Andersen.

"As such, we will work to ensure a smooth transfer of knowledge and services to the new ITA cycling unit, and we expect that all conditions will be met to guarantee this transition." 

Benjamin Cohen, the ITA's director general, added: "We at the ITA take this decision as an immense responsibility considering the critical importance of the fight against doping in cycling. 

"UCI's leading efforts in this field over the past 20 years have to be recognised, notably through the establishment of the Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation and the expertise that the latter has built over the years to protect cycling, its athletes and competitions.

"My team and I are humbled by and conscious of the difficult task ahead but stand ready to work tirelessly to ensure that cycling enjoys the status it deserves of a major global sport with riders, amateurs and professionals alike, competing in clean competitions."