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The Journal said doping officials outside the UCI were concerned that the UCI was moving too slowly in penalizing the riders, whose identities have been kept confidential. The Journal also said that the World Anti-Doping Agency was increasing its own investigation into doping by cyclists.
A UCI statement issued Tuesday said that the Journal had accused the UCI of “abandoning” the cases against the five riders. The Journal article never said the cases had been dropped, but it did site one unnamed source who said “at least two members of the (nine-member panel that reviewed the passport data) have voiced concerns that the UCI may be disregarding these positive tests or shielding guilty riders from punishment.”
“This is false,” said the UCI.
There were actually six riders whose passport values were deemed abnormal by the panel, the UCI said, and three of them are in the process of being punished, another has been suspended after testing positive outside the passport program, and the other two are still being monitored.
The UCI conceded that the passport program is slow.
“The time lapse between the discovery of an abnormal profile and the opening of a disciplinary proceedings is sometimes longer than one would like, but that is mainly because the biological passport is an avant-garde, sophisticated tool, which the UCI is the first federation to have introduced.”
The UCI has kept WADA informed about the status of the investigation into all the riders, the statement said, and the federation rejected any implication that WADA did not have confidence in the Passport program and had stepped in to demand changes.
“This is totally false,” the UCI said. “WADA has never expressed any particular concerns on this subject and has taken no measures against the UCI. WADA has received the full collaboration of the UCI each time it has requested information on specific cases (which it has the right to do and which is part of its mission). In fact, WADA is very satisfied with the work accomplished by the UCI, pioneer of the biological passport for which WADA has publicly congratulated the UCI on several occasions.”
The Journal said WADA’s director general David Howman “has taken steps to allow (WADA’s) staff to begin monitoring the blood and urine profiles of the sport’s elite riders that are collected through the sport’s Biological Passport program — and to push for sanctions when necessary.”
“Our job is to make sure the system isn’t being sidestepped,” Howman told the Journal. “We have the right of intervening if we think cases aren’t being prosecuted appropriately.”