By Andrew Hood
The UCI continues its hard line against dopers with plans to roll out a “biological passport” for all ProTour riders in 2008 that will provide a snapshot of blood indicators.
All riders will undergo a battery of urine and blood tests to determine naturally occurring levels of hemotacrit, hemoglobin and other biological indicators that can be used as a reference for each rider.
“What is means is that the rider becomes his own reference point,” UCI anti-doping coordinator Anne Gripper told Eurosport. “We look for variations in a rider’s individual profile to determine whether there may be some indication of using a prohibitive method or a prohibited substance.”
Those test results will complete a running log of each rider’s naturally occurring indicators that can be cross-referenced against anti-doping controls. Any abnormalities or unpredictable changes will help officials track down cheaters who use more sophisticated methods of doping.
“What we’re looking for is indirect evidence of the fact that cyclists may be doing something to increase the oxygen-carrying capacity of their blood, either through blood doping or through small doses of EPO or something like that,” Gripper added.
The program should be ready for major races in the 2008 season and will be formally introduced at the World Anti-Doping Agency’s summit next week in France.
No Lombardia farewell for ‘Boogie’
Dutch veteran Michael Boogerd won’t have a heroic exit in Saturday’s Giro di Lombardia.
Dogged by a knee injury from a training crash last week and a bacterial infection, the popular Rabobank captain has forfeited starting Lombardia, which he hoped would have been the last race of his career.
“With pain in my heart, I have to be realistic. My knee hurts too much and I can’t bend it. It has no use,” Boogerd said in a team statement. “Now I say goodbye with a 12th place at the world’s in Stuttgart. That’s what I have to do it with.”
Instead, Boogerd will ride into the sunset as a pro at a farewell criterium in Valkenburg, Holland, on the Cauberg, site of some of his most treasured moments.
Yates follows Bruyneel
Sport director and ex-pro Sean Yates is the latest to follow Johan Bruyneel as the Belgian takes over the troubled Astana team for the 2008 season.
Yates has been with Discovery Channel since 2004 and was on the job market until Bruyneel formalized plans last week to take control of the Kazakh-sponsored team, which has been wracked with doping scandals involving its biggest stars.
“Of course, Astana has had some bad press, but Johan has never had a positive test with a team he’s been involved with,” Yates told the BBC. “I am confident we will not have any problems in the future.”
Yates will be working with Viatcheslav Ekimov, another Discovery émigré, under the guidance of French veteran Alain Gallopin, who takes over the reins of the team as lead sport director. Bruyneel will step back into a managerial role while longtime associate Dirk Demol opted to join QuickStep-Innergetic as a sport director.
Former Discovery Channel riders Alberto Contador and Levi Leipheimer are expected to join the move to Astana, but no formal announcements have yet been made.