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McQuaid defends UCI passport program in open letter to riders

  • By VeloNews.com
  • Published May. 17, 2011

UCI president Pat McQuaid apologized to pro riders about a leaked list published in L’Equipe this week, but staunchly defended the biological passport program.

McQuaid said an inquiry is underway to determine how L’Equipe got its hands on the list, but used the letter to explain how officials used data collected from pre-Tour blood screenings to prioritize its anti-doping efforts.

“It is essential to understand that this is not a list that indicates degrees of suspicion of doping, but a working document that establishes an order of priority for carrying out doping tests,” McQuaid wrote. “I make no apologies for the fact that UCI will continue to take every measure possible to protect clean athletes. Our objective, shared by many of you, is a doping free cycling, one where the values of ethics and fair play are cherished.”

McQuaid’s letter to the riders:

I write to you following last week’s regrettable disclosure of confidential information in the French daily newspaper l’Equipe, under the title “UCI’s secret list”.

I am fully aware of the anger and strong reactions that the publication has generated and I can tell you that I was angry as well.

I can confirm that the International Cycling Union is taking steps in order to open a judicial enquiry into the source of this leak, without further delay.

Furthermore, the UCI offered its full support to the independent investigation launched by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and I trust that we will soon discover how these events occurred and identify the individuals responsible.

In addition, management of the UCI anti-doping and legal departments are reviewing the security procedures put in place to guarantee the confidentiality of information in order to check if and where they might be improved.

With this I wanted to inform you of the steps being taken and to reassure you of the UCI’s utter determination to resolve this very delicate situation.
However we cannot undo the facts and I am very sorry for those who now feel directly affected by this disclosure.

But let us also examine the core issue. Why draw up a list such as this? What does it mean to be included on the list? How should the information that the list contains be interpreted?
It is essential to understand that this is not a list that indicates degrees of suspicion of doping, but a working document that establishes an order of priority for carrying out doping tests.

This priority list is drawn up on the basis of different elements that may be useful to identify priorities when conducting a testing programme on a group of 200 riders: it is not possible to test all of them ten times, so a list of priorities has to be established based upon a number of indications and not upon coincidence or discretion. Such indications are: the raw data of the haematological profile in the blood passport (so without taking into account whichever explanation for such data), the circumstance whether the rider has been tested recently and how often, sporting considerations (results, ranking, race programme, ambition, objectives). Bringing all this information together allowed the creation of the list.

We have all recognised the value of the biological passport on many occasions. Those involved in the fight against doping have all welcomed the extraordinary possibilities that targeting offers compared with traditional controls. The global sporting community as a whole applauded this new approach, which it considered to be optimal and at the cutting edge. Some of you even pleaded that the blood passport should be used as targeting instrument only.

Once again I understand the discontent of the riders and their entourage about the leak, which I also consider as completely unacceptable, but I frankly find it difficult to share their surprise and indignation at the content of the document where it is also taking into account the data of the blood passport. Team managers – you will be well aware of the programme to which you have largely contributed the financing. Riders – you are the only individuals able to access, at any time, all the analysis results of your profile, as recorded in your biological passport.

I have introduced these issues into the discussion because I am increasingly convinced that the basis for the success of an innovative programme such as the biological passport is the individual responsibility of each rider and the collective responsibility of each team.

So riders and teams must not be indignant at the blood passport being used to the maximum of its possibilities, bearing in mind that at the stage of the priority list the passport data are no evidence of whatever (which is the reason why the document is confidential).

Our objective has never been to create lists of suspects, but rather to provide ourselves with the most effective tool possible to optimise our resources – which are not unlimited – as well as to ensure the effectiveness of our approach. The battle against doping has, for a long time, been a priority for the UCI, even to the extent that it could sometimes be considered to be over emphasised in our sport. Yet it must be admitted that the reality of the situation does not allow us to act otherwise.

I make no apologies for the fact that UCI will continue to take every measure possible to protect clean athletes. Our objective, shared by many of you, is a doping free cycling, one where the values of ethics and fair play are cherished.
I hope that these explanations will assist you to reach an objective judgment of a situation that is undeniably disagreeable. Please find attached further information on the subject.

Please accept my kindest regards.

Pat McQuaid
UCI President

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