By Susan Westemeyer and Shane Stokes
The International Cycling Union is apparently on the verge of filing the first doping cases under the biological passport programme. The cases may be filed within days, weeks or months.
According to the Associated Press, the UCI has "several" cases which warrant further action and which are strong enough to hold up to the expected legal challenges.
"The author was speculating," UCI President Pat McQuaid told Cyclingnews, referring to the AP assertion that three riders show clear evidence of doping. "I am ... not going to go into specifics and will neither confirm nor deny whatever number is expressed. UCI is allowing everybody to do their job in a serene way and when we are ready we will move forward."
Under the UCI's biological passport programme, the riders provide blood and urine samples to create their own individual profiles. The controls do not look directly for forbidden substances, but look at the regularity of values.
However, according to the AP, "There are indications some dopers already are navigating the traps laid by testers screening blood by managing their drug use to hover just below the radar screen."
McQuaid explained to the AP why the UCI has waited so long with the cases. "Before the experts are prepared to commit to saying: 'Yes, we can go forward with that case,' they want to be 100 percent sure," he said. "The first case has got to win. The first case has to be 100 percent clear-cut," so it can withstand an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.