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UCI's whereabouts system defended

Michael Rasmussen's last day in yellow

Michael Rasmussen's last day in yellow (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

The UCI's sometimes contentious whereabouts system received a much needed boost of legitimacy today when a Spanish court threw out a case brought by the Spanish rider Carlos Roman Golbano in Almería. Golbano had contested the UCI's right to require the whereabouts information, and also questioned the competence of the UCI's antidoping procedures and regulations.

The whereabouts system spelled disaster for Michael Rasmussen during the Tour de France, when his Rabobank team fired him while he was wearing the yellow jersey and sent him home from the Tour. The team viewed discrepancies about Rasmussen's whereabouts in June as deception on the Dane's part regarding his availability for out of competition doping controls.

More recently, Alejandro Valverde received a warning e-mail from the UCI, questioning his whereabouts information from June 23. The UCI antidoping agents showed up at Valverde's house, only to find him missing, but it turned out that Valverde had made a last minute decision to attend the Eindhoven Time Trial, had faxed the UCI about his change of plans, and had even been subjected to a doping control at the event.

The UCI admitted its error in Valverde's case, but complaints from riders about the intractability of the whereabouts system are widespread. Still, the Spanish court dismissed Golbano's claims, saying that the UCI had the right to draw up its own antidoping regulations and require that they are respected by all affiliated parties.

The ruling also established that the implementation of the rider whereabouts programme did not breach any individual rights guaranteed by the Spanish Constitution, and confirmed the UCI's right to carry out unannounced out-of-competition testing.

The Court in Almería recognised the benefits and effectiveness of the actions undertaken by the UCI in the fight against doping. The Court also confirmed the UCI's right to carry out unannounced out-of-competition testing.

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