Ashenden: UCI cut back on biological passport testing in 2010

Former UCI doping expert says governing body cut back on testing in 2010, despite public comments to the contrary

BOULDER, Colorado (VN) — The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) cut back on its vaunted biological passport program in 2010 due to funding constraints, though when pressed on the matter in 2011, pressed back itself.

According to meeting minutes from the UCI’s anti-doping board, the UCI cut down on passport program tests in 2010 due to budgetary restrictions. In 2011, when asked about cutting tests due to a lack of money, the UCI said the claims were “misleading” and “irresponsible.”

Gerard Vroomen, who co-founded the Cervélo bike brand and sponsored a professional team, voiced concern over a lack of tests in a blog post in August of 2011. The UCI swiftly issued a release, undercutting his concerns. The UCI said he showed “a very weak understanding of this complex subject.”

Anti-doping expert and current Change Cycling Now member Dr. Michael Ashenden, also a former member of the UCI’s passport expert panel, validated Vroomen’s concerns at the time, telling in August of 2011 that he noticed a “significant” gap between tests in some of the profiles he reviewed. The meeting minutes from the UCI’s Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation, unearthed by the Swiss magazine Beobechter and passed off to Ashenden, note the loss of 640,000 Swiss Francs in 2009, this putting pressure on the 2010 budget.

According to those minutes, Dr. Francesca Rossi, director of the CADF, said: “Following budget cuts, the testing program for 2010 has been reduced, especially for the ‘older’ riders with also a reduction in the number of tests until later this year.”

Dr. Ashenden said Wednesday the revelation casts further doubt upon cycling’s governing body. “What is most disturbing about this issue is the UCI’s apparent willingness to publicly denigrate Gerard Vroomen when he voiced concerns about the frequency of testing and in particular, its disingenuous utilization of statistics when doing so. The minutes from the meeting inevitably casts further doubt on the credibility and transparency of its current president, Pat McQuaid.”

CCN has continued its calls for UCI overhaul, from the top down.

“The information contained in the document from the meeting represents the latest in a series of examples that prove the UCI leadership is not fit to run the organization. Therefore, CCN once again calls for the UCI president, Pat McQuaid, to step down from his position with immediate effect,” the release, issued Wednesday, read.

The UCI did not immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment.