By Laura Weislo
With the announcement of the UCI's intention to roll out its 'biological passport' testing program this season, a question has arisen as to whether teams which have invested in their own similar testing programs will continue to pour hundreds of thousands of euros into testing their riders. Cyclingnews spoke with some of the sport's most innovative directors about the UCI's plan.
Beginning in 2007, Team CSC was the first to adopt a strict independent testing program which examined riders' blood profiles over the course of the season to detect any abnormalities which might suggest doping was taking place. Begun by Danish anti-doping expert Rasmus Damsgaard, the program was also adopted by the Astana team for the 2008 season.
Around the same time as CSC introduced its measure, Team Slipstream hired the California based Agency for Cycling Ethics to perform its own testing program. The same company was later hired by Team High Road for the 2008 season.
Slipstream director Jonathan Vaughters told Cyclingnews that the team will continue testing its own riders even after the UCI rolls out the 'biological passports'. "We'll continue with our testing, but we will be fully integrated with the [UCI's] blood passport system. I am 100% behind the UCI's system and we will back it financially to any degree they deem necessary. We will also continue with our ACE program, as we feel it's a complimentary element to the biological passport program."
New Astana general manager Johan Bruyneel will also continue using the services of Dr. Damsgaard while backing the UCI's program. "We surely will continue. We were one of the first teams to apply the Damsgaard system. It costs us a lot of money, but we all understand that it is the best way to prove that our team is clear."
Team High Road manager Bob Stapleton will also continue with the ACE testing program, and echoed the sentiment that it complements the UCI's tests, indicated that the company tailored its plan to work with the passports. "ACE aligned the program with the UCI," said Stapleton. "The same tests are being done [in both programs] and all results will go into a common profile," he continued. "Our rider profiles started being built with tests in October and will combine with the UCI tests when they begin."
Stapleton pointed out that the ACE program is more comprehensive than what the UCI has planned. "We are profiling both blood and urine. This goes well beyond the UCI testing, but is a good investment in reinforcing comprehensive and frequent testing and testing for additional banned substances."
Continue on to the full feature.