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UCI hits back at Cervélo founder’s criticism of the biological passport program

PARIS (AFP) — World cycling’s ruling body has angrily hit back at suggestions by Cervélo co-founder Gerard Vroomen that the UCI has lacked bite in implementing its own biological passport program.

Vroomen, who launched the Cervelo TestTeam in 2010 only for the outfit to be integrated into Garmin for the 2011 season, made the claims on his blog on Wednesday.

He said “a large gap may have existed in testing up until at least the spring of this year,” and suggested “money provided by teams and the UCI to fund the biological passport may have been used to fund the legal bills of fighting the cases.”

The UCI said in a statement Thursday it “categorically rejects the allegations published by Mr. Gerard Vroomen on his personal blog concerning biological passports.”

It added: “The allegation that no tests were carried out under the biological passport testing programme between the end of the Tour de France 2010 and April 2011 is absolutely incorrect.”

The UCI went on to detail statistics which show that from July 1 2010 to April 30 2011 (the period referred to by Vroomen) a total of 2,651 tests — excluding urine tests and tests done at the 2010 Tour de France — were carried out by the UCI.

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

Included in those controls on the same dates were the 45 carried out on riders from Cervélo and 68 on riders from Garmin-Cervélo.

The UCI said: “The assertions made by Gerard Vroomen 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 the 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.”

The UCI’s biological passport program, which registers and charts athletes’ biomarkers over time for later comparison and scrutiny — and potential target testing — is the sport’s latest weapon in the fight against drugs cheats.

It is generally regarded as having been successful so far, and has been adopted by the IAAF, the world athletics’ federation.

The statement added: “Mr Vroomen appears exceptionally poorly informed as he would seem not to have been aware of the tests carried out on the two teams he has been involved with.

“Further, the UCI refutes any suggestion that anti-doping funds have been used to fund legal bills for fighting legal cases.”

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