Cycling bosses have warned drug cheats "we will catch you one day or another" after the formation of a new programme designed to better tackle doping across borders and sports.
The sport's world governing body the UCI has fully delegated its anti-doping programme to the International Testing Agency, an independent organisation established in 2018 which runs over 40 anti-doping projects worldwide, including those for Olympic events such as this summer's Tokyo Games.
There is now a dedicated cycling unit within the new ITA structure, which will be able to tap into intelligence and expertise gathered more widely at the ITA.
The hope is that this approach will help effectively tackle any international doping rings, such as the one at the centre of Operation Aderlass which involved cyclists but also endurance skiers from a number of different countries.
Asked what reassurance the UCI could offer those sceptical about the sport's efforts to combat doping, its director general Amina Lanaya said: "We moved to the ITA so that we have the means to catch the cheaters. We have to always stay one step ahead of them. These people have to understand that one day or another we will catch them."
The ITA's director general Benjamin Cohen highlighted the importance of national anti-doping legislation in providing additional tools to catch cheats, as was the case in Operation Aderlass where the German and Austrian police were involved in the investigation.
"They have means that we do not as sporting organisations - we cannot tap phones or enter people's homes to seize materials, whereas they can," he said.
"In Aderlass they had that ability - if it is a criminal offence in a country then (law enforcement agencies) can be active. Whatever they find they can share it with the ITA and we can come together and use our different resources."
Cohen said his organisation is not currently working on an operation similar to Aderlass but added: "I am hopeful that should there be another Aderlass we will be able to deal with it."
Olivier Banuls, the head of the ITA's new cycling unit, said that 9,500 samples were collected in 2020, with 70 per cent of those being obtained out of competition.
He said there was a 33% reduction in testing compared to 2019 due to the coronavirus pandemic but that there was only a 15% reduction in out-of-competition tests.