Xavier Bigard will start his role as UCI medical director on June 1 ©French Anti-Doping Agency

Xavier Bigard has been appointed as the medical director of the International Cycling Union (UCI), the governing body has announced.

Bigard is a professor of sports medicine, with the Frenchman currently serving as a scientific consultant to the French Anti-Doping Agency.

He is also a specialist and consultant to the Ministries of Health and Sport for promoting healthy physical activity, as well as an associate researcher at the French National Institute of Sport, Expertise and Performance (INSEP).

The professor, who was recently admitted to the French National Academy of Medicine, will join the UCI from June 1.

He will be tasked with creating a medical policy that corresponds to athletes, as well as implementing and coordinating medical supervision imposed on elite licence-holders and professionals.

Bigard will set up a medical service to operate during competitions, while another key task will be to lead medical research and studies into the harmful health effects of products, methods, conditions of exercise and aids used.

"Implementing independent medical supervision was a key component of the manifesto on which I was elected UCI President six months ago," said David Lappartient, UCI President.

"Welcoming Professor Bigard to our Federation is a strong indication of our commitment to guaranteeing the health of our athletes, but also to assessing the consequences of taking certain substances, legal or otherwise."

Xavier Bigard is the latest appointment made under David Lappartient's Presidency of the UCI ©Getty Images
Xavier Bigard is the latest appointment made under David Lappartient's Presidency of the UCI ©Getty Images

The UCI state that as a health researcher for the armed forces, Bigard's work focused on the physiology of exercise, muscular physiology and biology.

It also looked at the biological mechanisms of muscular degeneration and regeneration, tolerance to physical training, human nutrition, and the nutrition of an active athlete.

Bigard has written several books on the subject and until last year was President of the French Society of Sports and Exercise Medicine.

"Keeping elite athletes healthy is one of the key aims of any sports doctor, and I am very proud to be lending my knowledge and expertise to cycling and to an International Federation as prestigious as the UCI," Bigard said.

"I look forward to investing all my energy and know-how into this opportunity to develop a preventative medical policy."