Despite initial fears over its readiness in time for the 2008 season, the UCI has said its biological passport system is underway with samples now being taken to establish riders' haematological and steroid profiles. In a press release issued on Wednesday, the UCI said it plans to conduct 7000 out-of-competition tests in 2008 - 6000 more than were taken last year, and therefore placing an increased burden on its whereabouts system.
"This represents an increase in terms of volume, but not of innovation: the necessary whereabouts system already exists," said the UCI's press release. "It has proven to be effective and has been further improved for the commencement of the passport program."
Gathering riders' whereabouts information will be facilitated through the introduction of the ADAMS computer system (Anti-Doping Administration & Management System), developed by the World Anti-Doping Agency. Teams are currently being trained on how to use the new system, which the UCI says will be fully operational by March, and gradually replace the old system whereby riders sent their whereabouts information by fax.
With such an increase in the number out-of-competition tests - the most expensive type to carry out - the cost of the biological passport will be shared between ProTour teams, Professional Continental Teams with Wild Card status, organisers, riders, WADA and the French Ministry of Health, Youth Affairs and Sport.
Responsibility for analysing riders' biological passport results will lie with a panel of "independent experts", which will communicate its results to the UCI and WADA. The UCI will then decide whether to open proceedings against a rider and, if appropriate, pass the case on to the rider's national federation.
For more on the current anti-doping initiatives read this interview with Dr. Rasmus Damsgaard.