The UCI has confirmed to Cyclingnews that they will carry out Biological Passport tests at the Tour of California later this month. The sport's governing body last conducted their passport checks at the race in 2009.
Despite the move from the UCI the competition testing is still some way short of the grand plans that were put in place in 2011 when the UCI and USADA were set to coordinate a joint-venture involving pre and in competition testing. USADA were set to complete all testing with the UCI in charge of the results management.
However those plans fell through weeks before the race after USADA CEO Travis Tygart likened the UCI's stance to that of a 'fox guarding the hen house'. Since then, relations between the UCI and USADA have been fraught. No passport checks were in place in 2012 and when USADA released their Reasoned Decision stemming from their investigation into US Postal both USADA and the UCI clashed over jurisdiction and authority. USADA even alleged that Lance Armstrong had made it sufficiently clear to them that the UCI had been complicit during the Postal era, a charge the UCI have vehemently denied.
When Cyclingnews emailed the UCI to confirm several further testing details for this year race, they replied swiftly on Thursday.
"This year the UCI will be performing pre-competition tests. We have approached USADA and email exchanges are still ongoing on the BP testing plan."
Tygart confirmed that he and USADA had received correspondence from the UCI but that a pre-competition programme was already in place.
"We have a pre-comp programme that has been in place for several weeks and which has already begun," he told Cyclingnews.
"We then had an email request on Monday presumably in a response to some of the questions that you put to them about their desire to have some sort of cooperation with us. We responded by saying that we're happy to cooperate and that they are aware of what it would take to have integrity in the collections at the Tour of California, both pre and in comp. Why they've waited until two weeks before the event to do this, I don't know and it may well be too late."
Tygart then added that in 2009, when Anne Gripper had led the UCI's anti-doping efforts that it had appeared as though the agencies were on the cusp of a working collaboration. However a year later, when Floyd Landis rocked the race with his doping confession, any chance of collaboration began to deteriorate.
"Their approach to these issues became apparent to us and indicated that without some oversight of who is tested, and what they're tested for, we were not satisfied that the race has the best testing that it could," Tygart added.
As for the UCI's confirmation of blood passport tests for this year, Tygart added: "You don't want to announce that. That's a PR move, not an effective anti-doping strategy. That tells riders you'd better ensure you don't show up or what you do is not detectable from the passport process. At the end of the day they should have an independent body carrying out the testing.
"You would think that in the climate we have right now and with the history of poor testing by UCI at this event, if they were truly interested in an effective program they wouldn't wait until a couple of weeks before to reach out and talk to us about just one small pre-comp aspect."
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