By Martyn Herman
UTRECHT, Netherlands (Reuters) - Team Sky boss Dave Brailsford says he would back night-time dope tests for riders but fears cycling's biggest races may be decided by "sleep deprivation" rather than form should the measure be applied.
The International Cycling Union (UCI) unveiled a series of recommendations earlier this year as part of its anti-doping program in the wake of the Independent Reform Commission's (CIRC) report into the sport's checkered past.
UCI president Brian Cookson established an internal task force to look into measures aimed at beefing up the sport's anti-doping procedures including waking riders in the middle of the night to perform doping checks.
"Where do we go with it? Do we just say no or do we try to keep driving towards what we all want which is a clean sport?", said Brailsford at a news conference on the eve of the Tour de France Grand Depart in Utrecht.
"If it's deemed to be necessary than it's deemed to be necessary but that will impact on performance. It's a trade-off there but I think the sport being where it is at the moment it's a trade-off we would be prepared to take.
"Ultimately I worry the big races could be determined by sleep deprivation rather than the best rider in the best form winning but if that's what we have to deal with, it's what we deal with."
Brailsford has masterminded the rise of Team Sky and provided two British winners of the Tour in Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome, the latter is one of the favorites for this year's event, and he says races could be "won in bed".
He wanted to introduce motorhomes for riders to sleep in, rather than have them stay in hotels, but his plan was knocked back by the UCI.
"I always try to look after my riders' performance and you could argue that the Tour, certainly in the past, could be won in bed, we know from a sports science point of view sleep is very important," added Brailsford.
(Editing by Tony Jimenez)