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UCI Counters Cervelo Co-Founder Vroomen’s Criticism About Biological Passports

by pedalmag.com
August 11, 2011 – After co-founder of the Canadian bicycle company Cervélo Gerard Vroomen posted a personal blog entry attacking the UCI’s Biological Passport Program yesterday, the UCI has released a scathing retaliation, citing evidence to refute Vroomen’s unsupported claims.

Vroomen Blog Entry: The Biological Passport
This has been bugging me for a while, not sure what to do with it. I’ve mentioned it to a few real journalists, and some others have called me with questions. I’ve been quite open with them because I feel it is important for the sport, which seems to be at a cross-road. Here’s what I’ve told these journalists:

I have not heard of a rider being tested for the biological passport between the end of the 2010 Tour and April 2011. After that I am not sure. While it is logical that the frequency of testing might decrease somewhat once profiles are established, the fact remains that the profile in itself is not a deterrent. The deterrent comes from testing current values against those profiles to see if there are clues indicating doping.

If what I have been hearing is indeed the case throughout the sport, then that would be worrisome. It would mean that in a crucial build-up and competition period, only riders who were on teams with independent anti-doping programs (such as HTC and Garmin-Cervelo) have been properly monitored to the extent that science is capable of. And it’s why I tweeted earlier that teams claiming they don’t have to do anything because there is the biological passport are, well, what’s the word?

Apparently defending biological passport cases in court is expensive, and in my eyes it points to a flaw in the set-up. When you come up with a new process, you have to make the riders’ rights the top priority. Only that way can you minimize costly challenges. The simple fact that riders don’t have access to all the data used to convict them risks turning the biological passport into sport’s version of military tribunals. I’ve written about this before HERE.

I don’t think there are necessarily bad intentions here, but if the teams are paying a ton of money to fund the biological passport and all that money goes to defending cases so there is little money left for further testing, then riders, teams and federations have to sit together and figure this out, rather than just letting the biological passport die. It’s in everybody’s best interest to do so. And it gives the sport a chance to not only be the first to set up a revolutionary technology, but to also be the first to integrate it in the sport in a fair, sustainable way.

If you want cycling to continue to lead the way in the anti-doping struggle – no matter how hard – and not give up on the passport, then please spread this story. Thanks.

Read Vroomen’s blog HERE.

UCI explanation on comments by Gerard Vroomen concerning the Biological Passport
The International Cycling Union categorically rejects the allegations published by Mr. Gerard Vroomen on his personal blog yesterday concerning biological passports, comments which were then relayed by the velonation.com website. The UCI has therefore decided to provide the following statement in order to protect the public image of cycling and in particular with due respect to the commitment of those working on daily basis in the fight against doping.

The allegation that no tests were carried out under the biological passport testing program between the end of the Tour de France 2010 and April 2011 is absolutely incorrect, as the statistics below clearly demonstrate.

General statistics for Blood Passport Tests only (excluding urine tests and Tour de France 2010) from July 1st 2010 until April 30th 2011 (period referred to by Mr Vroomen):
2010: 1074
2011: 1577

This includes out-of-competition controls, pre-competition and in-competition controls on all major events during this period and team training camps.

01.07.2010 – 31.12.2010: 45

01.07.2010 – 30.04.2011: 68

The assertions made by Gerard Vroomen’s are misleading, irresponsible, mischievous and clearly show a very weak understanding of this complex subject, an area which goes well beyond financial questions alone. The UCI considers Mr Vroomen’s comments particularly unacceptable given the years of research and investments in this area. The result of UCI’s anti-doping work has been unanimously recognized by international experts and its program has become a worldwide reference in the fight against doping.

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