Amgen Tour of California teams to undergo rigorous testing

Andrew Messick of AEG talks about whats in store for this years race.

Andrew Messick of AEG talks about whats in store for this years race. (Image credit: Jon Devich)

The Amgen Tour of California race organizers AEG have tasked the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) with executing its anti-doping protocol, which was announced in a press conference today. The comprehensive program will begin 90-days prior to the event's scheduled start date on May 15.

Teams are now required to submit provisional rosters of 12 riders to the race organization with in the next week so that all riders can then be added to USADA's registered testing pool for 90-days prior to the start of the race. Teams must select their final eight-man rosters from that original 12-man registered list.

During the 90-day period leading up to the race, domestic racers may be tested with no notice. International racers will be subject to no-advance-notice, out-of-competition testing prior to competition in accordance with their international federation and national anti-doping organization testing pools.

According to USADA's Chief Executive Officer Travis Tygart, the agency performs out-of-competition testing on US riders overseas regularly and it will coordinate with the national anti-doping agencies and the UCI to conduct testing on riders in the pool who will be in other countries.

Furthermore, the UCI will receive the results, but USADA will also have the information of any adverse findings. If the UCI fails to take action, Tygart said there are precedents which enable USADA to take disciplinary action on a foreign athlete.

"The biggest change is the expanded pre-competition testing program," said AEG president Andrew Messick. "Typically we don't ask for provisional rosters from the teams until, I believe, ten days before the beginning of the race. So, for three months, USADA will have an ability to target that pool of athletes that we know are going to be competing in our race."

"They will be targeted at a time when, according to USADA, is the highest possibility of the improper use of drugs and methods is occurring," he added. "We believe that by having an enhanced, robust three month-long, pre-competition targeted window is one of the most robust ways to ensure that the athletes who do participate in our race from the 15th to 22nd of May are clean."

Riders already in the registered testing pool will be required to submit and update their whereabouts information so they may be located for testing at any location and at any time, without advance notice. Athletes who are not already in a registered testing pool will be required to take mandatory education programming, including comprehensive information on the anti-doping rules and responsibilities, as well as information on the merits and benefits of clean competition.

The riders on US-based Continental teams Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth, Jamis-Sutter Home, Kenda p/b Geargrinder, Bissell and Jelly Belly p/b Kenda must also register in the USADA whereabouts program.

Messick said he will handle requests to add riders to team rosters after the February 15 deadline on a case-by-case basis. "We do not, at this point, expect that there will be a need to contemplate a scenario in which a rider who is not on that list, that a team will put forth such a rider. If there are extraordinary circumstances we will address those at that time."

Secondly, during the race itself, in-competition testing will be run in accordance with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Code in-competition criteria. This will include daily doping urine and/or blood controls following a strategic test distribution plan.

"We have discretion on how many and when [athletes are tested] prior to the event and how many and when during the event," said Tygart. "That's part of the benefit of an independent program, it's that you are not locked in to pre-determined stage winner and overall leader, which historically has been some of the concerns."

"We have the discretion and we are going to use some of the available information that we have to target test," he added. "We are going to review data that we receive from the testing to incorporate the scientific intelligence to do further target testing in the event that's necessary."

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Kirsten Frattini
Deputy Editor

Kirsten Frattini is the Deputy Editor of Cyclingnews, overseeing the global racing content plan.

Kirsten has a background in Kinesiology and Health Science. She has been involved in cycling from the community and grassroots level to professional cycling's biggest races, reporting on the WorldTour, Spring Classics, Tours de France, World Championships and Olympic Games.

She began her sports journalism career with Cyclingnews as a North American Correspondent in 2006. In 2018, Kirsten became Women's Editor – overseeing the content strategy, race coverage and growth of women's professional cycling – before becoming Deputy Editor in 2023.