May 19, 2005 – After ten days of extremely intense and exciting racing, during which the beneficial effects of the UCI ProTour on the sporting standard of the event were apparent to every observer, the Giro d’Italia was shaken yesterday by the action taken by the narcotics brigade of the Italian police force (NAS).
After always expressing its unconditional support for initiatives of this kind, provided that they are taken in a genuinely effective manner and not simply as a public show, in a spirit of respect for the law and rights of individuals and without causing prejudice to the image and conduct of the event, the UCI nevertheless wishes to issue a number of clarifications about the circumstances in this particular instance.
In particular, the UCI wishes to recall the adverse consequences of the police raid at San Remo in 2001 when premeditated media attention called to the entire operation and premature revelations concerning the outcome of the verifications made, caused a scandal on an enormous scale which was subsequently proved to be entirely without foundation by many judicial investigations, but from which cycling in general suffered for years. That being so, the UCI is not prepared to tolerate the repetition of such a situation.
However, cycling will not seek to evade any responsibility which it may have, provided that the details of this operation are made known through official channels at the earliest opportunity, and not, as is usually the case, through leaks published in the press.
According to information in the possession of the UCI, the NAS brigade seized an “Altitrainer” appliance which is not prohibited by the regulations of the principal sporting authorities (IOC, AMA, International Federations), or by the law of most European countries, where it is often used in the training centres of the national Olympic Committees, although its use is apparently not allowed in Italy.
As to the pharmaceutical substances which were sequestrated, we have reason to believe that these are permitted products figuring on the list drawn up by the medical practitioners of the teams taking part in the Giro d’Italia before the start of the race; that list was filed with the UCI, the Anti-Doping Commission of the CONI and the FCI.
Two comments are therefore called for:
Firstly, while fully respecting the specific provisions of Italian law, this situation demonstrates the urgent need for effective harmonization of the standards on doping prevention, which the UCI has been advocating for a long time and which lay at the origin of the creation of the AMA. The fact that Italy is the only country to prohibit the use of appliances like the “Altitrainer” ultimately proves nothing at all, except perhaps that it would be appropriate to reflect on the content of the national anti-doping law.
Secondly, the presence of perfusion bags in the kit carried by a medical practitioner who follows a sports event is perfectly comprehensible and justified (Article M2 of the AMA’s Antidoping Code). Any speculation resulting from this presence is therefore totally unacceptable.
On the other hand, we note that the NAS brigade did not announce the discovery of prohibited products. That constitutes a real ground for legitimate satisfaction for cycling, despite all the attempts to impress the public by circulating figures and interpretations which are, to say the least, dubious.
Finally, pending further developments in this enquiry which we hope will be made known without too much delay, the UCI wishes to place on record its solidarity with the teams taking part in the Giro d’Italia, in particular with Davitamon-Lotto and Saunier Duval-Prodir, and also with the medical practitioners who must be able to continue to perform their duties, in compliance with the requirements of the law of course, but also in a spirit of respect for their ethical independence and responsibility.