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August 14/98 11:34 am - UCI Statement on Doping


Posted by Editor on 08/14/98
 

UCI Doping Statement

Here, in its entirity, is the UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) statement on doping, published after their meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland.

SUMMARY OF THE DECISIONS TAKEN AT THE VARIOUS MEETINGS BETWEEN THE UCI, RIDERS, SPORTS DIRECTORS AND RACE ORGANIZERS

It is most regrettable that the events which have occurred recently should have come at what is the high point of the cycling season, thereby having an extremely negative effect on the most important race of the year. The effects of this are certain to be felt across the whole of our sport.

For its part, the UCI had no means of intervening in the actions of the French justice authorities either during or after the Tour. While it is understandable that the riders should feel somewhat annoyed about the methods used by the police, at the same time, one should be aware that the primary responsibility falls upon the person who is in breach of the law. The UCI nevertheless used certain appropriate channels to exhort the French authorities to show greater discretion, which seems to have been the case for the end of the Tour.

Reaffirming its determination in applying its rules, the UCI has, among other things, called on the National Federations concerned to instigate disciplinary proceedings against all licence holders involved in the doping cases exposed during the Tour de France.

While the Tour was in progress, the UCI scheduled meetings for after the race with each of the three parties concerned, namely the riders, the sports directors and the organizers. These meetings have now taken place, and will be followed by a further one between the UCI and the team doctors at the end of August. There may also be meetings between the UCI and the presidents of certain National Federations and national riders‚ associations.

This has not, however, prevented us from reaching some conclusions already and taking certain steps.

The aim of these meetings has not been to change our anti-doping control systems; indeed, the UCI believes that it is difficult to do more than is already being done, particularly in terms of:

1. Wide-ranging anti-doping controls for detectable products.
2. Blood tests, which have already been conducted for the last 18 months, enabling us to control the EPO problem and to establish that the goal of protecting health, by limiting EPO abuse, has been achieved.
3. The introduction, as of 1st January 1999, of a system of medical follow-up, with the aim of detecting at an early stage the harmful effects of risk factors inherent to professional cyclists (e.g. excessive number of races), and at the same time allowing the detection of any damaging effects due to the abuse of undetectable products, as this is still one of the principal problems in our battle against doping. In the same way as with the blood tests for EPO, if certain limits are exceeded, we may be led to impose periods of rest from competition.

Taking this into account, whatever criticisms may be levelled at cycling, we can never be accused of hiding our heads in the sand when it comes to anti-doping and health controls. Indeed, we go much further than many other International Federations, and it is unacceptable to see ourselves criticized by anyone who is then incapable of showing us at least one alternative approach or telling us what additional action we should take. It should also be borne in mind that every road racing cyclist is tested for nine months of the year, between the end of January and the end of October, which is often equivalent to 120 competition days on which he faces the possibility of being tested. And even though our physiologists see no need for out-of-competition tests for road cycling during the period from November to January, we would be prepared to introduce these, despite the fact that the problem of use of undetectable products would not be reduced in any way.

On several occasions, the UCI has honestly recognized that the problem of doping can be only partially overcome by testing. And it is almost ironic to observe that, because of the large number of anti-doping controls, the problem may be made even worse since, by stepping up testing for detectable products, we are alas „forcing‰ those who cheat to take undetectable products. We have never shied away from admitting that the 1% of positive cases found in anti-doping controls do not reflect the reality of the situation, and the UCI has on several occasions acknowledged that, taking the undetectable products into account, the percentage of positive cases should be much higher.

We were shocked to discover that a team was using doping in a structured and systematic way, but we still firmly believe that it is impossible to conclude, by extrapolation, that „all the teams are doing the same‰. In the same way, we cannot announce, on the basis of mere speculation, that „99% of the peloton is doped‰. This has nothing to do with a „head-in-the-sand‰ policy, either. On the contrary, the UCI is quite certain that the majority of teams do not have recourse to such practices, and that stigmatizing the whole sport of cycling after recent events is neither justified nor merited.

The dangerous effects of using EPO have, at least partly, been limited by the blood tests. But we are perfectly well aware that, as soon as it is possible to detect EPO, those who cheat will find new ways of doing so. It is, moreover, for this reason that an enormous amount of work has been done in recent months in order to introduce this medical follow-up system, with the aim of, amongst other things, limiting the abuse of other undetectable products in the future.

It is therefore particularly galling to see that the scandal, which has had extremely negative effects, should have broken just at the time when we might have thought that we were reaching an optimum solution with these health controls.

Consequently, as previously stated, the aim of the various recent meetings has been not to alter our testing system, but rather to see whether, in addition to the above-mentioned controls, cycling should take still further initiatives. In this context, we would remind you, once again, that our sport already has anti-doping controls and blood tests, in addition to highly elaborate rules of conduct for doctors, trainers and sports directors, plus considerable sanctions if these rules are not complied with. In addition, medical follow-up is planned as from 1st January 1999.

The conclusions from the meetings which have been held can be divided into three separate categories, which are listed below.

I - CONCRETE MEASURES TO CONTINUE REDUCING THE USE OF BANNED SUBSTANCES

1. All the parties, in particular the riders, fully support the medical follow-up plan. More than ever, they all realize that anti-doping controls are not sufficient, given that not all products can be detected in the laboratory.

The UCI will continue to perform anti-doping controls but will, in addition, place greater emphasis on frequent blood tests. These tests will help to protect the health of riders, while achieving a reduction in the use of substances which cannot be detected in the anti-doping controls.

2. We must accept, albeit with regret, that scientists have not yet found a method of detecting exogenous EPO.

In order to remedy this, the UCI intends personally to work on determining the level of endogenous EPO for a rider, in collaboration with the laboratories in Cologne and Lausanne. This means that, by the middle of next year, we should be in a position to establish whether there has been manipulation using exogenous EPO.

3. These discussions and talks have clearly shown the need for each Trade Team to have an official team doctor. The UCI will take steps to ensure that, in future, teams are assisted by doctors qualified in sports medicine who will, in addition, be held responsible for ensuring that the rules of cycling and sports ethics are respected and for safeguarding the health of their riders.

What is more, a group of six team doctors has already been set up to study and discuss the practical problems which arose during the Tour de France, and in particular to establish effectively the role of the team doctor during stage races, where the medical treatment required might be in conflict with ethics.

We wish to make it perfectly clear that this will never lead to the authorization of any abuse.

4. The UCI will instruct its medical commission to re-examine the list of banned substances with a view to establishing a list containing products which apply specifically to cycling and which it is possible to determine scientifically as being stimulants. This work will, of course, be done in consultation with the IOC.

5. The UCI wishes to stress once again that in this fight against doping, its role can be no more than one of ensuring prevention and adequate controls. The production, supply and trafficking of banned products, in the same way as any involvement by perfidious doctors or pharmacists must naturally be punished as severely as possible, but in this area we need help from the justice authorities. We hope, however, that such assistance will be provided with dignity, and will not become a witch hunt.

II. MEASURES AGAINST FACTORS IN THE PROFESSION OF CYCLING WHICH MAY ENCOURAGE RECOURSE TO PROHIBITED MEDICAMENTS AND DOPING

1. In 1999, the UCI is to perform physiological studies with a view to establishing if, in physical terms, the professional obligations of road cyclists are too great. In other words, we wish to determine whether the physical burden corresponds to what may be expected of a well-trained cyclist in terms of duration of competitions and length of races.

2. Much is said about the calendar being overloaded, but it should not be forgotten that a full calendar is a sign of „health‰ for a sport. Moreover, it is necessary to ensure that the small teams have races. The real problem is thus not an overloaded calendar, but rather the number of competition days for riders, particularly the big teams and the „stars‰.

In order to remedy this, the idea of limiting the number of days to 90/120 was agreed, and a specific number will be decided before the end of the year.

3. When evaluating the races included on the international calendar, participation by star riders will no longer be taken into account. This is to reduce the pressure placed on such riders by race organizers. A new system to calculate the ranking of the Trade Teams will be developed with a view also to reducing the constraints imposed on the riders.

III. MISCELLANEOUS

1. Once again, all the parties concerned express their total opposition to doping and cheating by all those who resort to these. Riders, sports directors and organizers subscribe to the UCI‚s principal goal in this regard, and wish to offer their full cooperation.

2. The riders are, moreover, aware that, by accepting their licence, they are giving their express approval to all the rules pertaining to the UCI‚s anti-doping controls, blood tests and health controls.

The UCI stresses that its programme to prevent and combat doping is not restricted to Elite cycling. It has already taken initiatives in this regard, and will also encourage the National Federations to act at grassroots level.

3. Overall, anti-doping controls cost the world of cycling US$ 2,750,000 each year, and this figure will be increased next year. We are pleased to see that all the parties concerned (National Federations, organizers, sports directors, riders, etc.) are prepared to join a commission which will be responsible for the administration and funding of anti-doping and health controls. Some of our sponsors have even offered to contribute to such funding.

We regard all these good intentions as a sign of loyalty towards our sport which is, of course, seriously affected at present, but which is certain to emerge from this stronger than ever.

4. The IOC recently presented a new Medical Code to the International Federations. Contrary to the contents of certain declarations, the UCI affirms that it has no problem in principle with adopting this new Code, and stresses that its present rules already comply with it.

5. The UCI remains committed to fighting doping with the greatest seriousness, in terms of both quality and quantity. In spite of this, we are too often faced with criticism which we find unjustified, as most of this is based on images and speculation rather than actual facts.

For this reason, we have decided to submit, before the end of the year, our entire control system, procedures and rules to a top-level independent commission, which will include at least one representative of the press. This commission will have the task of studying and assessing everything that the UCI does, and thus be in a position to evaluate fairly what we do, and what more we might be able to do.

The UCI is fully aware that its sport has been seriously affected by recent events. It also realizes that this attack on the credibility of the sport, which remains no less noble and historic, provides it with a unique opportunity to build new solutions for the future.

In conclusion, the UCI plays a full part in a global policy of combating doping. It is certain of obtaining the support of the IOC and the state authorities which share this desire for all sports, and we hope that this contribution will enable reliable testing to be achieved.

The present text results from the meetings held between the UCI, representatives of the riders, sports directors and race organizers.

Union Cycliste Internationale
Lausanne, 13th August 1998

 


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