Biological passport follow-up

August 11, 2011

Thanks for the response on my blog from yesterday about the significant reduction in testing for the biological passport. I also see the need to clarify some things:

  1. I did not say there were zero tests, just that I’ve heard from riders and team managers that they haven’t seen tests being carried out, while nobody told me the opposite. And that’s a stark contrast to say 12 months ago. Obviously I did not check the 1000+ pro riders all individually.
  2. Daniel Benson reports that according to the UCI, some tests were carried out at the Vuelta, Worlds and Leopard training camp. I have no reason to doubt the UCI on that. I am not sure if that is the complete list, because if it is, then that would confirm that the number of tests has been greatly reduced.
  3. Andrew Pinfold, a rider for United Healthcare, also reports being tested for the passport. I think the team he is on in 2011 is in a different category than in 2010, so that may have something to do with it.
  4. Some people saw my post as a bashing of the UCI, but actually it is quite the opposite and therein lies part of the problem. As long as people see the biological passport as a UCI thing and therefore look at them to solve any issues, it won’t work. Riders, teams, races all have to understand how vital the biological passport is and find a way together to make it work. Some are actively supporting the UCI, others are not.
  5. The point is not if 0, 100 or 500 tests were carried out in the past year, the point is if the sport is able to support the number of tests necessary to ensure most people play by the rules. And if that ability is threatened, then action should be taken.
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11 Responses to “Biological passport follow-up”


  1. […] e qui. L’UCI ha quindi replicato con un comunicato piuttosto duro: Date: 11 août / 11 August […]

  2. Winton Says:

    In Air Traffic Control, there is an idea of Local Competency Schemes. These are trained, peer monitors who look at the overall level of performance by controllers ensuring that they stay within the controlled parameters of acceptability at their unit and it also ensures adherence to procedure.

    Historically, this scheme was only used to invoke punishment following an incident and a controller would have to sit down with their Local Competency Examiner (LCE) for a stern talking to. However, time moves on and the scheme now is accepted as being not only there for when controller competence falls below a give level, but also to be used to PROVE the continuing excellence in performance levels.

    My point is that the teams need to move towards this mindset – no longer using the bio-passport as a UCI controlled tool to bash dopers with but as an in-house, and media published, outlet to prove the cleanliness of of both their riders and the sport.

  3. Mark Says:

    Doing and being seen to be done are the same thing when you are seeking to deter a behaviour.

    The fact that GV was unaware of UCI’s stated volumes speaks… well volumes.

    The UCI press release demonstrates a level of cultural aggressiveness that cannot deliver their own stated goals.

    • Anonymous Says:

      Well said Mark. It seems that asking questions of the UCI is not to be permitted and any doubters will be promptly called out as heretics.

  4. JamesOaten Says:

    I can’t say I approve of the UCI’s press statement – but the fact that you posted a link to it from your Twitter account in the name of a balanced argument says a great deal about your integrity – chapeau sir…

    “Categorically rejects”, “allegations”, “misleading, irresponsible, mischievous and clearly show a very weak understanding of this complex subject” – very aggressive and completely out of sync with the down to earth approach you took in your blog post.

    The truth is that the UCI, as Mark suggests above, has never presented a particularly strong front when it comes to doping. I want to see visibility, accountability, publicity and strong leadership. I want to see the UCI championing a strong anti-doping stance and I’m just not seeing that.

    To be honest I don’t want to see figures showing how many riders are being tested – and the fact that the UCI thinks throwing a few figures in your direction (along with a few strong words) will solve this shows that they fundamentally misunderstand the nature of the doping “problem” in cycling and are ill-equipped to resolve it.

    The problem is one of perception and publicity – this may be the cleanest peloton in decades, but the UCI’s doing nothing to shift those decades of mistrust.

  5. Neil Says:

    Once again the UCI is more worried about its PR image than addressing the concerns of fans. Consistently throughout the 25 plus years I have been following the sport I love, the behaviours that they have followed have shown the same cycle – pretend & deny there isnt a problem, shock at the extent of the problem when the story breaks & promise to take radical action to resolve it, hope people will forget about it after a year or so, letting the pretend stage to restart. McQuaid laid the attitude of the UCI bare today in a very telling way – lashing out at any criticism but also stating that he has no knowledge of the programme because that is ‘their job’. If this man was serious about dealing with doping rather than protecting his clique he would be all over the biggest single issue affecting the future of cycling as a major funded sporting spectacle.
    The sooner the major trade teams break away from the UCI, setting up a clearly mandated organisation the better for the future of pro cycling


    • Thanks for your comments. Given the complexities of cycling, I wouldn’t be that harsh on McQuaid (even though he’s pretty harsh about me but I can handle that). And I wouldn’t have blind faith in the teams doing better on their own. Preferred option is still to have a giant Kumbaya moment and have everybody work together.


  6. I think the UCI and the teams NEED a rational, thoughtful voice such as yours, if they’re truly interested in cleaning up the sport.

  7. DT Says:

    Is it the lack of an actual cycling league that leads to costaly and lengthy law suits for the accused? Any other major sport, soccer, football, basketball, hockey, etc, if you cheat, break the rules, or take drugs and get caught (key) you are fined, suspended, expelled, with no court action. there is an appeal process, but you almost always appeal to the sale people who sentenced you, so the chances of reversal are nil.
    Why are cycling doping infractions so hard to enforce?

  8. david Says:

    What do I think? The UCI is out of control, and it should be razed to the ground. After all, what power really does the UCI have? It controls access to a mediocre, one day road race every four years. And, on the basis of that alone, it lusts after complete control of bicycle racing all over the world, from the lowest amateur ranks to the highest professional ranks. Really?? The magnitude of the viciousness of the UCI’s responses to its critics, I suggest, may well be in inverse proportion to its own awareness of its lack of true moral authority to govern bicycle racing. Fukc centralized power. Let a thousand flowers bloom.


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