January 9/08 9:22 am - UCI Introduces Biological Passports Program
Posted by Editoress on 01/9/08
UCI Introduces Biological Passports Program
The International Cycling Union (UCI) announced in October 2007 that biological passport would be introduced in 2008. Now that samples are being taken to establish riders' haematological and steroid profiles, the UCI would like to clarify the constituent elements of the system.
Setting up the biological passport system requires the following:
* the introduction of a reliable riders' whereabouts system to allow out-of-competition testing;
* the establishment of a procedure for the collection of samples from riders;
* the drawing up of a list of laboratories responsible for analysing blood and urine samples;
* making the financial resources required by the project available;
* establishing the entities responsible for setting up, operating and monitoring the project.
The UCI has been conducting out-of-competition tests for several years. In order to achieve this, it has been necessary to have information on the riders' locations when not competing.
The UCI conducted some 1,000 out-of-competition tests in 2007. The number of tests will increase to 7,000 in 2008. This represents an increase in terms of volume, but not of innovation: the necessary whereabouts system already exists. It has proven to be effective and has been further improved for the commencement of the passport program.
The UCI already has information on the whereabouts of all the riders of the UCI ProTeams, representing some 500 individuals (of 660 subject to the biological passports in 2008). The system will also be implemented for the riders of Professional Continental Teams granted Wild Card status (100-200 riders).
The UCI thus already has information on the whereabouts of the majority of riders who will have a biological passport from January 2008.
The procedure for gathering information on athletes' whereabouts will be facilitated by the introduction of the ADAMS system (Anti-Doping Administration & Management System), developed by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). The UCI is currently training the teams in the use of this programme; it will allow them to submit and update riders' schedules online. Part of the teams has already used it. ADAMS should be fully operational from March 2008. It will gradually replace the current procedure based on faxed information.
Collection of samples
The UCI can only collect the samples required for biological passports (approximately 7,000 per year) with external assistance. This task will require close collaboration between the UCI and specialist sample collection organisations.
From 1 January 2008, these organisations will be able to conduct checks on the majority of riders.
Each rider will be tested as many times as necessary by the end of June.
Laboratories and the analysis of samples
Blood samples will be analysed in accordance with the following procedure:
1. Every sample will be analysed by a laboratory that is approved by WADA or the UCI and has the required equipment and staff of suitable competence. Five laboratories have been selected by the UCI at present. All of these have been accredited by Centre Suisse de Contrôle de la Qualité (Swiss Quality Control Centre).
It should be noted that the measurements of values for the biological passport (haemoglobin, free plasma haemoglobin, reticulocytes, stimulation index, haematocrit) do not present any particular technical difficulties.
2.The statistical model, developed by the Lausanne Laboratory, will be applied to the results of analysis to determine an abnormal blood profile score.
3. The abnormal blood profile score is then submitted for interpretation by a group of independent scientific experts; this group then recommends the action to be taken by the UCI.
Negotiations are underway with various bodies who have made a commitment to finance the programme in conjunction with the UCI: UCI ProTeams, UCI Professional Continental Teams with Wild Card status, organisers, riders, WADA and the French Ministry of Health, Youth Affairs and Sport.
A working group responsible for defining the project's logistical and legal conditions was set up at the end of October 2007. This group gathered together representatives from the International Cycling Union, World Anti-Doping Agency and the French Ministry of Health, Youth Affairs and Sport. The group has already met several times.
A committee of independent experts will shortly be established. This committee will be responsible for assessing the results of analyses of riders issued with a biological passport and will communicate its recommendations to WADA and the UCI. The UCI then decides whether to open proceedings. If deemed appropriate, the UCI will send a request to the rider's Federation to commence proceedings.
A monitoring and evaluation committee will be appointed in the near future. This will comprise representatives from the UCI, WADA, the French Ministry of Health, Youth Affairs and Sport as well as the associations representing the teams (AIGCP), organisers (AIOCC) and riders (CPA).