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Change Cycling Now reveals that UCI slowed pace of biological passport testing in 2010

From Change Cycling Now:

A recently discovered document has confirmed that a deliberate reduction in the frequency of UCI testing procedures DID take place in 2010 – despite strenuous denials from cycling’s governing body.

The revelation, released today by former UCI panellist and current Change Cycling Now group member, Dr. Michael Ashenden, is further evidence of the UCI’s catastrophic failure to manage an effective anti-doping programme in a sport which is currently reeling from the Lance Armstrong affair.

In August 2011 the UCI said that suggestions that it may have reduced the frequency of its passport testing because of financial constraints were; “misleading, irresponsible, mischievous”.

However, minutes from a meeting of the UCI’s anti-doping foundation, attended by its President Pat McQuaid, reveal that in June 2010 the UCI deliberately reduced their passport program – and in particular the number of tests until the end of 2010 – because of budgetary restrictions.

On 10 August 2011 Gerard Vroomen, who co-founded the Cervelo bike company as well as a professional cycling team, posted a blog expressing concern that he had not heard of any biological passport samples being collected from riders between July 2010 and April 2011.

A day later, the UCI issued a press release categorically rejecting what it characterised as “allegations” by Mr. Vroomen. The UCI stated that Vroomen’s assertions were; “misleading,irresponsible, mischievous and clearly show a very weak understanding of this complex subject”. The UCI posted detailed testing statistics which were broken down over the relevant period when refuting the comments.

In a follow up interview, Dr Ashenden, who was at that time a member of the UCI’s passport expert panel, confirmed that Gerard Vroomen’s observation matched his own impression. Ashenden told Cyclingnews on 11 August 2011: “I have noticed a significant gap between tests in some profiles I have reviewed. It’s definitely not in every single profile, but enough to have left an impression on me.”

The minutes from the UCI’s Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation (‘CADF’) meeting in June 2010, were discovered by Swiss magazine Beobachter and passed to Dr. Ashenden. The minutes report the loss of CHF 640,000 as follows:

La CADF enregistre une perte de CHF 640’000 – pour l’année 2009, tout en soulignant que cette difference devra être avec les revenus 2010”. (English translation: “The CADF registered a loss of CHF 640,000 for the year 2009, while stressing that the difference would be with the 2010 income”).

The minutes also record a statement from the Director of CADF, Dr Francesca Rossi: “Suite aux restrictions budgétaires, le programme de tests pour 2010 a été réduit particulièrement pour les ‘anciens’ coureurs avec également une réduction due nombre de tests jusqu’à la fin de cette année”  (English translation: “Following the budget cuts, the testing program for 2010 has been reduced especially for the ‘older’ riders with also a reduction in the number of tests until later
this year”).

The discovery of these minutes reveal that:

  • The UCI had decided to reduce its passport testing program in the latter half of 2010;
  • This reduction in passport testing was a direct response to financial restrictions;
  • The UCI denied Gerard Vroomen’s claim with deliberately misleading denial.

Dr. Ashenden said: “What is most disturbing about this issue is the UCI’s apparent willingness to publicly denigrate Gerard Vroomen when he voiced concerns about the frequency of testing and in particular, its disingenuous utilisation of statistics when doing so. The minutes from the meeting inevitably casts further doubt on the credibility and transparency of its current President Pat McQuaid.”

The information contained in the document from the meeting represent the latest in a series of examples that prove the UCI leadership is not fit to run the organisation. Therefore, CCN once again calls for the UCI President, Pat McQuaid to step down from his position with immediate effect.

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