With less than a week remaining until its planned introduction date of January 1, the UCI has insisted its biological passport system will be ready in time for the 2008 season. Doubts about the system's readiness center around logistical problems from the number of blood tests required, and the significantly increased workload on the UCI's anti-doping laboratory in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Under the new system, riders' blood samples will be used to create a haematological profile, from which individual limits can be calculated; instead of the current 50 percent haematocrit level required to prevent a rider from racing. The UCI also says that abnormalities in the haematological profile will be sufficient to open a doping case, using similar principles to forensic medical science to determine the likelihood of guilt.
With each rider expected to need six blood samples for creation of their haematological profile, the UCI must gather samples from all ProTour teams and Continental teams given wild card entries to ProTour events - a total of 4200 tests needed before the 2008 Tour de France, according to AFP.
Additionally, the UCI plans to create a steroid profile for each rider - similar to the haematological profile but based on urine analysis rather than blood - and constantly obtain details of riders' whereabouts. According to a UCI press release, "Riders will be encouraged to provide specific information about their location in the mornings before training. This will ensure blood samples are collected consistently, most importantly before physical effort."
Despite the increased workload, UCI anti-doping manager Anne Gripper said that the new system would be ready. "The groups working together are to name a panel of seven experts to decipher the possible variations of the riders haematological levels," she told AFP.
According to the UCI, the system is estimated to cost around 5.3 million euros in 2008 (3 million of which funds the haematological profile), and will be financed by the UCI, teams, riders, WADA and the French Ministry of Sport.