The UCI used the Copenhagen World Championships to declare that the war on doping in cycling is being won. At a press conference the UCI President Pat McQuaid introduced the media to Francesca Rossi, the body's head of anti-doping. It was a rare opportunity for the world's cycling media, as Rossi has been sheltered from the press since taking over duties from Anne Gripper last spring.
Although the discussion would eventually turn to anti-doping measures and governance, McQuaid opened the press conference by praising the organisation of the Copenhagen Worlds, as well as the racing which has taken place over the opening five days.
Role of the media
McQuaid then explained a number of initiatives that the UCI have unveiled over the previous few days. They included an extension to use race radios in WorldTour races for another season and the introduction of an independent commission set up to analyse the need for radios beyond the 2012 season. The UCI president also talked about calender changes, with the Tour of Beijing moving to a week later next year, the Tour of Poland moving to July, all due to the Olympics.
He then turned his attention to the fight against doping and stressed that the media had a significant role to play.
"Bit by bit cycling's changing from a doping culture to a sport with anti-doping culture. I think cycling is seen as pioneer in many ways in the fight against doping. With that in mind, would like to see our media talk cycling rather than doping. In the coming months and years that UCI continues its work in anti-doping, catches cheats and gets them out of the sport. Unfortunately we've had some big dramas and scandals, but I don't see that continuing. Like with Kolobnev at the Tour, he was caught, thrown off the race, and there were no big media dramas."
Francesca Rossi was then able to give the media an update on the fight against doping. As well as providing an update on the number of tests carried out in cycling, she stressed that the sport has introduced a far greater number of targeted tests over the last year. McQuaid added that in some cases this led to riders being tested more than once a day in rare circumstances, but that this was due to different laboratories testing riders for different products.
Rossi went on to detail the number of tests carried out at each grand tour, adding that the final results from the Vuelta were still pending, while 60 per cent of all tests were for EPO.
"We are now doing intelligent testing -- which does not mean we were stupid," she said. "We target the riders we believe need to be more tested than others."
Why no new biological cases?
Despite the UCI's news on the number of tests, no new biological cases have been opened since Anne Gripper left the UCI and Rossi moved in. The UCI fought a number of legal cases at CAS and since 2010 there hasn't been a single new case. Cyclingnews asked why that was case, with Rossi stating that a new case could be opened tomorrow, such was the nature of testing and evaluation of passport data. The UCI press officer then interrupted, "we can open a case tomorrow, but please don't write in your newspaper because it could be tomorrow, a month or one year."
Rossi then added that in her experience the number of cases would always drop after an initial batch were launched.
The topic then changed to Alex Rasmussen who missed three out of competition tests and could face a ban. McQuaid said this was unfortunate.
Missing data and the state of Italian cycling
Cyclingnews reported in August that Michael Ashenden, a expert who analyses passport data for the UCI, saw significant gaps in a number of profiles he had seen. Cyclingnews asked Rossi if this was part of the target testing the UCI had introduced and whether there was indeed missing data from rider profiles.
Rossi did not answer initially but McQuaid stressed that he would not comment on the specifics of the passport or confidential information. He added that there were nine experts on the panel. Rossi then added that Ashenden was not aware of the entire picture. Neither Rossi or McQuaid denied that Ashenden's information was inaccurate.
Both McQuaid and Rossi were then asked about the state of Italian cycling and the national federation's decision to ban former dopers from the national squad.