By Susan Westemeyer
The Australian Sports Anti-Doping Agency (ASADA) on Monday announced its anti-doping programme for next week's Tour Down Under, which will see the event become the first to use the UCI's new biological passport system. The passports are an individual, electronic profile of each rider's blood and urine which will be used for all ProTour riders throughout 2008.
"Clean cyclists coming to the Tour Down Under can rest assured this will be an event where those contemplating doping will face greater scrutiny than ever before," said ASADA Chairman Richard Inges. "Through a combination of blood and urine testing, long term storage of selected samples and existing partnerships with border control and law enforcement agencies, any professional cyclist attempting to dope at this event will face severe consequences."
Measures will include blood profiling of every rider in the race. In addition, the agency will conducted comprehensive urine testing before and during the race. Some samples will be frozen so that they can be tested in the future. The agency also said that it would cooperate with the Australian Customs Service to help stop the possible import of any prohibited substances.
UCI president Pat McQuaid praised the agency's activities and said that the cooperation between the UCI, ASADA and the race organizers was a good model. "These initiatives to protect the Tour Down Under from doping are a demonstration of what can be achieved when international sport and governments work cooperatively together," McQuaid said. "UCI is absolutely committed to eliminating doping from our sport and we are pleased to partner with such a determined anti-doping body as ASADA to protect the integrity of cycling in Australia."
ASADA's role in the Australian sporting landscape has increased in recent times, with an increased focus on the issue of doping in sport resulting from a turbulent year in the nation's top ball sport codes during 2007. The agency also expanded its focus early last year by carrying out its first random test at a round of the national auto-racing series, the V8 Supercar Championship.