A report on television station France 2 has demonstrated how the UCI Biological Passport can be circumvented by the use of micro-doses of EPO, Human Growth Hormone, blood transfusions and corticosteroids.
As part of a study carried out by Pierre Sallet of the Athletes for Transparency organisation with the blessing of the World Anti-Doping Agency, eight athletes were doped under supervision for a period of 29 days. The process was documented by France 2's sports magazine show Stade 2 on Sunday evening.
The eight amateur athletes and triathletes underwent VO2 max testing before commencing their doping programme, as well as performing a time trial on a static bike and being timed on a 3,000-metre run. After a month of micro-dosing of EPO and the other substances, the tests were repeated, with significant improvements in performance noted.
In the VO2 max test, an average improvement of 6.1% was recorded, while an average gain of 2.1% was reported in the 14km static bike time trial. In the 3,000-metres run, there was an average improvement of 2.8%.
"It's another planet, it's not human," said one participant, amateur runner Guillaume Antonietti. "And it's very worrying when you think we only took micro-doses.”
Analysis of the blood profiles of the eight athletes who took part in the experiment demonstrated that they would not have fallen foul of the biological passport's parameters. As France 2's report concluded, the experiment demonstrates that "a clean passport is not necessarily the passport of a clean athlete."
A number of riders, including Europcar's Pierre Rolland and Arnaud Démare of FDJ, responded to the report on Twitter. "A discouraging, baffling report, biological passport useless or unusable! Bravo!" Rolland wrote.
"Impressive report on #Stade2," Démare wrote. "Let's not forget that the fight against doping must be worldwide! The biological passport isn't enough… #antidoping."