MPCC stands by cortisol tests, rules will allow substitute riders in 2016

Group's members agree not to use tramadol, WADA will begin monitoring it's use

The members of the Movement for Credible Cycling (MPCC) has announced that the group has received the backing of seven individual experts in endocrinology for its rules holding riders with low cortisol levels from competition, and announced new rules that will allow teams to substitute another rider for an excluded athlete.

The cortisol tests were a contentious issue for some teams this year: LottoNl-Jumbo's George Bennett was pulled from the team's Giro d'Italia roster when he tested low for cortisol. He was later able to demonstrate the result was caused by asthma medication he had permission to use. Bardiani CSF ignored the low cortisol result of one of its riders before the Giro d'Italia and put him in the race anyhow, as did Astana with Lars Boom prior to the Tour de France.

Several teams left the MPCC over the issue, including Astana and LottoNL-Jumbo, leaving behind only eight WorldTour teams in the organisation: AG2R, Cannondale-Garmin, FDJ, Giant-Alpecin, IAM Cycling, Katusha, Lotto Soudal and Orica-GreenEdge.

"The General Assembly lamented five teams’ failure to comply with the commitment they expressed to MPCC on their own volition: Astana, Lotto-Jumbo, Lampre-Merida, Southeast and Bardiani-CSF," the announcement stated, adding that "the UCI considers the movement as reflective of the majority of professional teams by adopting in its rules the principle of self-suspension, which is applied by MPCC members since its very inception."

The Tour de France kerfuffle led to new rules for 2016, allowing a rider to be replaced should he show low cortisol before the start of a Grand Tour. Astana would have removed Boom from the team, but the test results were made available after the final rosters had been submitted, and the UCI would allow no replacement. The team risked the wrath of the MPCC rather than start the defence of Vincenzo Nibali's Tour de France title with only eight riders.

"As requested by MPCC, the Professional Cycling Council (CCP) decided to allow a team to replace a rider in the case of force majeure, including that of an abnormally low cortisol level at the start on a Grand Tour," the MPCC stated.

Member teams of the MPCC were in unanimous agreement to continue with the cortisol level tests, even suggesting that the rate of tests be increased from the 615 performed this year. The MPCC now seeks to extend the cortisol monitoring to new countries in 2016 as well as to the women's teams that are members of the movement. Those teams include Liv Plantur, Lotto Soudal, Optum, Parkhotel Valkenburg, Poitou Charentes-Futuroscope 86, Tibco-SVB, Topsport Vlaanderen and UnitedHealthcare.

The emphasis the MPCC has placed on cortisol testing has led to its cooperation with a new WADA working group on corticosteroid use. The MPCC claimed that Tramadol has been added to the WADA code of banned substances. However WADA has already announced that Tramdol use in competition will only be monitored during 2016. 

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