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CADF confirms 90% drop in out-of-competition testing during coronavirus lockdown

Blood samples in doping control
Blood samples in doping control laboratory (Image credit: AFP)

The Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation (CADF) has confirmed that the volume of out-of-competition tests it carried out dropped by approximately 90% during the first two months of the COVID-19 coronavirus lockdown.

In a statement on Friday, the CADF conceded that it “has had to significantly reduce its doping control activities” in recent months due to the lockdown and social distancing restrictions imposed around the world to curb the spread of COVID-19.

“Most of the riders in the UCI Registered Testing Pool (RTP) are located in countries and regions where mobility or physical contact restrictions were put in place by local authorities. As a result, a decrease of around 90-percent of out-of-competition tests has been reported for the two-month period following the outbreak of the pandemic compared to 2019,” read the CADF statement. 

“With that said, during this period, the CADF collected almost as many samples from cyclists as all National Anti-Doping Organisations (NADOs) combined.”

The CADF added that it has composed a “priority list” of riders to test before competition resumes next month and that a “gradual” return to regular out-of-competition controls is taking place in countries where lockdown restrictions have been lifted. 

The body did not state when it believes OOC testing will return to full capacity.

“Today the CADF can confirm that a gradual return to regular out-of-competition testing continues in countries where confinement measures have been lifted, while the situation in other territories is closely monitored,” the CADF said.

“In its testing resumption plan, the CADF has established a priority list of athletes to be tested before racing recommences, using a thorough risk assessment and a specific set of criteria.

“The CADF, the UCI, the AIGCP, the AIOCC and the CPA fully agree when it comes to the importance of resuming regular out-of-competition testing as soon as possible.”

The CADF 2019 business report, which was published on Friday, revealed that 7,629 out-of-competition tests were carried out on behalf of the body in 2019. In-competition testing brought the overall total of samples collected to 14,333

6,721 out-of-competition tests were carried out on professional male riders (3,297 urine tests, 3,251 biological passport tests and 173 other blood tests). The CADF carried out a further 3,222 in-competition tests on male professional riders, for an overall total of 9,943 tests. 

The CADF noted that it had collected a total of 2,200 samples in 2020 before the coronavirus pandemic interrupted the season, including 1,250 out-of-competition controls.

In April, a spokesperson from the CADF told Cyclingnews that it anticipated a shortfall in its 2020 funding due to the cancellation of so many races as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The business report published on Friday showed that race organisers accounted for 12.5% of the budgetary contribution from stakeholders in 2019. Contributions from WorldTour and Pro Continental teams accounted for 69.5%, while UCI contributed 17%.

The total financial contribution to the CADF from cycling stakeholders in 2019 was 7,497,000 CHF, down just under 300,000 CHF from 2018.

In 2021, the CADF's functions (and much of its staff) will be absorbed by the new cycling unit of the ITA, the testing agency created by the IOC in 2018. The same funding model will be applied to the ITA cycling unit.