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By Agence France Presse
World cycling chiefs said Thursday their athlete’s ‘passport’ scheme will be maintained despite losing backing from the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA).
The World Anti-Doping Agency has withdrawn its endorsement for the Athlete’s Passport project from the UCI after the cycling body launched a lawsuit against a former WADA chief.
The International Cycling Union (UCI) recently launched a ‘biological passport’, which records and charts athletes’ blood and urine parameters, as a new and seemingly effective weapon in the fight against doping.
It was given widespread backing, however WADA on Thursday announced it had withdrawn its support in the wake of a row between both sports bodies.
A top UCI official said the UCI was astonished by WADA’s decision, and told AFP: “The biological passport scheme will be maintained, and the UCI hopes WADA will continue to collaborate.
“If this is not the case, the UCI will oversee the biological passport project on its own.”
WADA and the UCI were often at loggerheads when their respective ex-presidents, Dick Pound and Hein Verbruggen, were in office with Pound especially vocal about the UCI’s need to address its doping issue.The UCI said this week that it intends to sue former WADA chief Dick Pound for “continual injurious and biased comments” against the UCI’s former president Hein Verbruggen.
The UCI last week announced it intended to sue Pound for “continual injurious and biased comments” against Verbruggen.
WADA hit back on Wednesday saying it had consulted lawyers over what it viewed as an “attack on WADA”, adding that it would “robustly defend and reject the unfounded allegations made by the UCI.”
A day later, the global anti-doping body’s new president, John Fahey, said he no longer supported the passport scheme.
“… because of its obvious and inherent legal and practical implications, WADA has withdrawn its support of the UCI in relation to WADA’s pilot project of the Athlete’s Passport,” Fahey said a statement.
“WADA agreed to pilot its Athlete’s Passport project with the UCI, rather than any other sport, in an attempt to help restore cycling to a cleaner and more credible state.
“This came following a cycling season and Tour de France in 2007 in which cycling was yet again wracked with doping scandals.
“Since October 2007, WADA has supported the UCI, in financial and human resources, with this pilot project.
“But in light of the UCI’s attack on WADA, we now find a partnership with the UCI untenable and will therefore initiate dialogue with other sports in order to advance the Athlete’s Passport project.”