Suggests CERA riders were on watched list
By Shane Stokes
Although the International Cycling Union's (UCI) biological passport is still gathering data and is not yet running at full capacity, Pat McQuaid said that riders could face suspensions as early as 2009. The UCI president told Cyclingnews yesterday that in addition to blocking suspect riders from starting races, some could face tougher measures due to the longitudinal data gathered.
"The development of the biological passport is an ongoing thing," he stated. "I am still very confident in the programme; I am very confident in the information I am hearing from it and I am very confident in the ability that it will give cycling in keeping the sport clean.
"We will continue with it right through the winter and into the spring and summer of next year. It will be very well established... I reckon by the beginning of next season we will be able to use data within the biological passport for sanctioning purposes. I would be confident that we could arrive at that stage by the start of the season, both with regard to the no-start rule and for tougher measures."
If this does occur, it will be a new departure in the battle against doping. Thus far, federations have sidelined riders for long periods of time only if they returned a positive test.
The UCI launched the project earlier this year, but due to a number of factors, including the sheer scale of monitoring over 600 riders, it is behind the projected schedule. McQuaid confirmed that the recent peace deal negotiated with the Tour de France organisers ASO should move the project along.
The delay in implementing the system has been criticised by some. ASO's decision to sanction its race meant that the UCI did not gather data for this year's Tour de France. The French anti-doping agency (AFLD) did its own tests and nabbed several riders for CERA-EPO, including recent positives Leonardo Piepoli, Stefan Schumacher and Bernhard Kohl. McQuaid suggests that the latter two were already on the hot list.
"I am probably giving away a big secret when I say that some of these riders who have been tested positive here in the last couple of days were already in the radar with the biological passport. Therefore they would have been eventually caught anyway, one way or another. The biological passport gives us a wonderful opportunity to target riders, which we have done. I do feel that there is a big future for the passport within the sport and that everybody should embrace it.
"I think the results that have happened over the last couple of days will prove to be very beneficial to the experts who are currently studying the profiles of certain riders as well."