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UCI still investigating two passport cases

Pat McQuaid confirms suspects of passport programme

Pat McQuaid confirms suspects of passport programme (Image credit: Mia Sullivan)

The International Cycling Union (UCI) issued a press release today stating that it is still in the process of investigating two riders who showed abnormal blood passport values.

In the statement, the UCI responded to a Wall Street Journal article published on August 7, 2010 which speculated that the sport's governing body might be shielding riders from disciplinary action.

The UCI called the article, which was titled, "The Mystery of the Five Missing Tests" an "unfair attack", and defended itself against insinuations that the sport has "failed to aggressively police itself".

The article cites a statement by UCI president Pat McQuaid which revealed that eight riders had been flagged by the expert panel that analyses all the blood passport data as having suspicious values.

According to the latest UCI statement, the correct number of riders who were flagged by the panel is six, not eight.

Three riders, Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas), Tadej Valjavec (AG2R La Mondiale) and Jesús Rosendo Prado (Andalucía-CajaSur) were named in May and are in the midst of disciplinary proceeds.

The UCI stated that a fourth rider tested positive and has been suspended, "which is why it was not necessary to open a procedure on the base of his passport".

For two other riders "the procedure is still in progress", the statement said. "The time lapse between the discovery of an abnormal profile and the opening of a disciplinary proceedings is sometimes longer than one would like, but that is mainly because the biological passport is an avant-garde, sophisticated tool, which the UCI is the first Federation to have introduced," it continued.

The article also reported that the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has taken steps to monitor the blood and urine profiles collected as part of the UCI's passport system, and quoted president David Howman as saying, "Our job is to make sure the system isn't being sidestepped," Mr. Howman said. "We have the right of intervening if we think cases aren't being prosecuted appropriately."

The UCI responded by emphatically stating that WADA has "never expressed any particular concerns on this subject and has taken no measures against the UCI. WADA has received the full collaboration of the UCI each time it has requested information on specific cases (which it has the right to do and which is part of its mission)."