Questions over UCI's biological passport

Despite the implementing of a biological passport system this year, it is the French anti-doping...

Despite the implementing of a biological passport system this year, it is the French anti-doping agency (AFLD) who is catching the sport's biggest names and not the International Cycling Union (UCI). The AFLD, who controlled the Tour de France, announced the positive control of German Stefan Schumacher and confirmed Italian Leonardo Piepoli this week.

The UCI is normally in charge of anti-doping controls for all major cycling events, but organisers of his year's Tour de France refused to hold the race under the aegis of the UCI due to the two parties' pre-existing feud. The French Cycling Federation (FFC) sanctioned the race and the AFLD carried out doping controls.

Despite the conflict between the UCI and the Tour organisers – Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) – the AFLD made the results of the Tour de France doping controls, including the most recent blood tests, available to the UCI for inclusion in the biological passport. The UCI may not yet have a use for the data. "The biological passport was introduced this year and will soon be fully operational," it said in a statement yesterday.

The UCI began testing riders at the start of the year, with the intent that regular blood and hormone values taken from each rider could allow experts to detect the effects of doping by examining fluctuations in these values over the course of the season. The UCI said that it had irregular values for 23 riders and a "top rider" under suspicion in May. At the end of that month, Milram fired Igor Astarloa for "irregular blood values."

The UCI announced in June that it was ready to act on a "no start" rule for riders with suspect passports, but it never formally stated it subjected any rider to the rule.

The UCI is targeting certain riders. It made its biggest catch when it found Emanuele Sella positive for EPO-CERA in August. (LW)

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