MILAN (VN) — Roman Kreuziger (Tinkoff-Saxo) returned to racing Wednesday in Italy’s Milano-Torino with a likely anti-doping case on the horizon. The Czech Olympic committee cleared its rider despite anomalies that were found in his biological passport, a decision that the UCI is expected to appeal soon.
“I am not going to comment on an individual case while it’s ongoing,” said UCI president, Brian Cookson last week, “but all biological passport cases are important; integrity [and] authority are very important.”
Kreuziger has not raced since June 22 in the Tour de Suisse. He was slated to ride in Tinkoff’s yellow kit at the Tour de France to help Alberto Contador, but was stopped with questions regarding his biological passport. The scene repeated itself when he tried to line up in the Tour of Poland.
Instead, after hearings and appeals, he lined up to help recent Vuelta a España winner Contador in Italy’s Milano-Torino. He is also scheduled to race next week’s Tour of Beijing, a race organized by a branch of the UCI.
Tinkoff-Saxo explained in a press release Wednesday morning that Kreuziger “deserves to be racing.” The UCI’s Cookson would not comment the case, but it is likely that he would disagree with the team’s view.
The UCI called him out for peculiar biological passport readings. The passport, which the UCI introduced in 2008, tracks blood and urine values to spot abnormalities that could indicate doping.
The UCI’s anti-doping commission contacted Kreuziger several times regarding values from 2011 and 2012, when he raced with team Astana. He contacted experts and responded, but on May 30, the commission said that it did not accept his explanation and passed the case to his home country.
The Czech Olympic committee cleared him September 22 and gave him the option to return to racing, but by doing so, it struck a blow to the UCI’s biological passport. As with other cases, like Franco Pellizotti’s, the UCI is expected to appeal to sport’s high court, CAS, to uphold the integrity of its heralded anti-doping passport.
Kreuziger is free to race meanwhile. The case is similar to Contador’s, who while waiting out a legal process, raced and won the 2011 Giro d’Italia. CAS eventually ruled against Contador, stripped his results and added to the confusion for cycling and its followers.
The UCI is trying to avoid further confusion and to ensure cases are handled equally. Cookson announced last week that starting in 2015, a new independent and international anti-doping tribunal will handle doping cases instead of the rider’s country.
Despite Kreuziger and his team arguing against this specific case, cycling has welcomed the biological passport as it tries to move ahead from the EPO, blood doping, and Lance Armstrong scandals.
“A lot of progress has been made and we can see the results now,” Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) said at a press conference when he won the Tour de France this year.
“If there had not been all these controls, targeted controls, the biological passport, maybe I would not be here.”