Sunweb launch independent anti-doping testing programme

Sunweb will subject their riders to additional drug tests from 2018, launching their own independent anti-doping testing program.

The initiative, funded by title sponsor Sunweb and coordinated by the Dutch anti-doping agency, Dopingautoriteit, was announced on Thursday at the team's 2018 presentation in Berlin.

It will see all Sunweb riders across the men's, women's, and development squads subjected to out-of-competition blood and urine testing in addition to those already carried out by the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) and cycling’s specific body, the Cycling Anti Doping Foundation (CADF).

The program will use WADA’s administration system, ADAMS, for riders’ whereabouts, and the test results will be shared with CADF and WADA, with the blood tests added to each rider’s biological passport.

"This new program is completely independent; the team does not indicate when, where and which athlete will be tested. Both Team Sunweb’s male and female athletes are subject to the exact same regime; they are all tested out of competition, unannounced, and both the men and women athletes are located for testing via the ADAMS systems of which all of the team’s riders submit their whereabouts," said Dopingautoriteit's CEO Herman Ram. 

"Dopingautoriteit is pleased to see that Team Sunweb has included its Development Program, a team consisting of young talents, in this regime. This is the first development program which is subject to testing of this nature which is something significant. The future of the sport always is very much connected with the next generation of athletes. Besides the detection and monitoring tools, it allows these young athletes to establish a series of biological values at a young age, which will remain a reference for their values later on in their careers."

CSC and Astana were among teams to carry out additional testing in the past, though the practice was largely discontinued in the professional peloton in the years that followed the UCI’s introduction of the biological passport in 2008. Sunweb’s independent programme differentiates itself from the internal testing of previous teams by the use of WADA’s administration system, the sharing of results with WADA and CADF, and the addition of blood test results to biological passport profiles. 

"For a company investing in professional sports there are only two options in regards to anti-doping," said Sunweb Group CCO, Tim Van den Bergh. "One benefits from the beauty and great impact of the sport and abandons the team on the day there’s a doping case. The other chooses not to ignore that a sport is not better or worse than society. This means that alongside all of those with good intentions, there are always a few individuals that choose to do the wrong thing.

"A company that takes responsibility for the sport and for the team, means that they must put efforts into protecting those who choose to do the right thing by participating clean in sports. The best protection is to increase the efforts that go into detecting those who perform their sport with undesirable morals in terms of anti-doping.

"Within this context, detecting a ‘positive case’ is not only something regrettable, but is a victory for clean athletes and for the sport of cycling. Sunweb's fundamental view of their responsibility towards the fight against doping is to ensure the creation of a fair and level playing field for athletes, which is what the spirit of sport is all about, and to protect the future of cycling. Detecting those who undermine the system is a win for the sport, according to Sunweb, even if ultimately one of Team Sunweb's own riders were ever to be detected."

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