In light of the Franco Pellizotti case, Pat McQuaid has defended the UCI’s biological passport programme, claiming that the case is far from over.
McQuaid was reacting to last week’s news that CONI had cleared Pellizotti (Liquigas) to race. The UCI had asked the Italian federation to open a doping case against the rider after they found his passport to show doping had taken place. However the Italian was cleared to race after CONI claimed that there was insufficient evidence. The UCI may now open an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). CONI have thirty days, from their ruling, to hand over their documents to the UCI.
“The case doesn’t mean a huge amount for the passport. First of all you have to understand that it’s just the first stage of proceedings for Pellizotti and it’s far from over. We’ll wait to see the documentation and then we’ll make a decision in conjunction with WADA on whether we go to the CAS or not,” McQuaid told Cyclingnews.
“We were always aware that with the passport and indirect detection, that sooner or later we were going to be confronted with this type of situation but that doesn’t stop us from going forward or diminishing my conviction or the UCI’s conviction.”
Asked if he thought Pellizotti had doped, McQuaid said: “We would not have gone forward with the process if we didn’t think so. You’ve got to understand the decision to go forward was based on the recommendation of the panel of nine experts. They did not know the profile of the rider they were evaluating.”
“The judge said there was insufficient probability but that doesn’t to me seem to question the fundamentals of the passport. But it may be that we need to review how we progress with cases.”
The Pellizotti case is not the only one of its kind to cause the UCI headaches. Pietro Caucchioli has appealed his two-year ban, handed down through the passport, while the ongoing uncertainty over the Contador case means that the sport is no clearer as to whether the three-time Tour de France champion will face a ban or not.
“I don’t think these next few weeks are any more important than any other time frame for the UCI. There are always a lot of things on the boil. We’ve got to see what the Contador outcome is but it’s an important case for the sport. I don’t think the Pellizotti case will be a landmark case. The UCI has to continue and fight to protect our philosophy and that’s what we’ll continue to do.”
“I’ve never maintained that the passport will end doping. I’ve always said that it was one strong element in the fight against doping.”