British hill climb champion Dan Fleeman has undertaken to provide regular blood samples in 2010, despite being under no obligation to do so as part of a Continental squad.
The Team Raleigh rider announced today that he has decided to personally pay for the screening in order to show that he is committed to the anti-doping cause. The test results began in October and will be taken at intervals of approximately a month and a half to every two months. They will be displayed on the www.bikepure.org website, with the first data to be published in the next few days.
Fleeman was part of the biological passport in 2009 when he raced for the Cervélo Test Team. ProTour and Wildcard teams are obliged to undergo regular testing but this requirement is not in place for Continental squads. However he wants to continue providing samples in the interests of transparency.
"I had a difficult season at Cervélo. My results weren't as good as I would have liked but I'm training hard for 2010 and very motivated to prove myself in Team Raleigh,” he said. “With the unfortunate distrust there is within the sport, if I have a great season, some small minded people will point the finger saying that as I'm no longer part of the bio-passport, the temptation to dope may be there.
“I wish to show that, as I have done throughout my career, an athlete can be competitive in top level cycling without doping."
The testing will be carried out by UK doctor Michael Stokes. Fleeman said that he will be providing samples more frequently than if he was part of the UCI’s monitoring system. "Under the bio-passport, riders have to be tested at least four times in any one year, whereas I will be testing every six to eight weeks. I would have liked to have been tested more often but Dr Michael Stokes, who will be carrying out the tests, advised against this as the volume of blood taken can have a detrimental effect on performance and iron levels."
He has also committed to emailing his data to the UCI.
Aside from collecting the data for those purposes, he said that there is also a benefit from an athletic point of view. “Doing regular blood tests also enables you to track your health and to watch out for early signs of overtraining,” he explained.
The 27 year old was one of the first riders to become part of Bike Pure's anti-doping organization. It has over 15,000 amateur members plus a growing number of professionals. These include riders such as Jack Bobridge (Garmin Slipstream), Marco Pinotti (Columbia HTC), John Lee Augustyn, Chris Froome, Russell Downing (Team Sky), Dan Martin, Cameron Meyer, Robbie Hunter and Peter Stetina (Garmin-Slipstream), Nicolas Roche (Ag2r La Mondiale), Philip Deignan (Cervélo Test Team) and Daryl Impey (RadioShack).
Bike Pure said in a statement that it is fully behind his initiative. "To have a rider of Dan's ability, go out of his way to provide the public with open and transparent analysis of his own blood levels on our website goes a long way. He'll have a busy season ahead anyway and to show his strong anti-doping stance says a lot about him as a person. Clearly the health aspects are a pivotal source of information for Dan and if this helps him gain the success he so deserves, then that can only be a good thing for the sport of cycling.”
Racing with Raleigh
Fleeman signed with the new Raleigh team in December and said that he wants to help the team grow. “The aim is that the team will ride the Tour de France in five years time,” he said, explaining that Raleigh has committed to increasing the budget as the years pass.
The frame manufacturer has a strong history in the sport, previously backing a Dutch team which included riders of the calibre of1980 Tour winner Joop Zoetemelk, Hennie Keiper, Jan Raas, Gerrie Knetemann, Hennie Kuiper, Urs Freuler, Henk Lubberding and Johan van der Velde.
The new incarnation will start small and grow each season. Fleeman’s first races are likely to be in Britain in March, although the team is still hoping to secure invites to some early European races. “The announcement of the project came about too late in the year  to get into some events, but hopefully we’ll find some more races on the Continent that we can do,” he said.
For more details, see www.bikepure.org.