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UCI announces stricter anti-doping rules for 2015

The UCI will be able to suspend teams when two or more riders violate rules, and it will organize its own anti-doping tribunal

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Corresponding with new World Anti-Doping Agency Code, which came into effect on January 1, 2015, the UCI announced several significant changes to its anti-doping rules.

In a Tuesday press release, the UCI confirmed some changes that had been expected — like the formation of an international tribunal, and four-year bans for first-time offenders — but it also outlined other new rules, like a team-suspension policy for rules violations.

Key rule changes introduce strict penalties

Going forward, four-year bans will be the norm for intentional rule violations. This applies to serious doping substances such as steroids, growth hormone, EPO, and blood doping. Similarly, those who intentionally refuse to provide a sample or evade or tamper with the sample collection process will be given four-year bans.

Further, the UCI announced that athletes may be sanctioned for what it calls “prohibited association.” A rider can now be sanctioned for association with someone who has been formally disqualified by an anti-doping organization. The grounds for disqualification include: serving a period of ineligibility; having been convicted or found in a criminal, disciplinary, or professional proceeding resulting in a sanction; or serving as a front or intermediary for an individual described in the first two points.

The UCI also extended the statue of limitations from eight to 10 years. Now, an allegation of doping can be investigated up to 10 years after it has been committed. To facilitate this, the UCI will keep samples for 10 years, up from eight, in order to investigate old cases.

UCI to hold teams accountable with up to 12-month bans

UCI-registered teams now will face penalties if riders fail anti-doping tests. If two riders within a team violate the rules, the team shall be suspended from participation in any international event for a period determined by the UCI Disciplinary Commission. The suspension will be between 15 and 45 days.

If there is a third anti-doping violation, the team shall be suspended for between 15 days and 12 months.

UCI WorldTeams and Pro Continental teams will also pay a fine if two of their riders have rules violations within a 12-month period. The fine will be five percent of the annual team budget.

UCI Anti-Doping Tribunal

The UCI Management Committee voted last September to establish an Anti-Doping Tribunal to hear first-instance cases for those athletes over which the UCI has jurisdiction (i.e., international-level riders).

The Tribunal will be made up of judges specialized in anti-doping, independent of the UCI, with the aim to provide all international athletes with the same consistent process and a clear, short timetable.

This comes in the wake of the Roman Kreuziger case, which is headed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), after the Czech federation exonerated Kreuziger of biological passport charges. Going forward, national bodies will not be involved in the initial judgements, which the UCI hopes will give all doping cases more consistent treatment.

Tighter control

In several other, more subtle ways, the UCI is exercising its authority and tightening its grasp on international riders.

There will be an increased focus on what it calls “surprise pop-up testing missions,” to make anti-doping tests more unpredictable.

The UCI will wield mandatory provisional suspensions for adverse analytical findings for prohibited methods and/or substances which are not specified and also biological passport-related anti-doping rule violations. This gives the governing body latitude to suspend riders who have not necessarily failed an anti-doping test.

International-level riders who were suspended for intentional rules violations must now undertake three reinstatement tests in the six-month period prior to their first participation in an international event.

Out-of-competition testing rules are also becoming stricter, as riders will face sanctions if they accumulate three whereabouts failures in 12 months, rather than 18 months.

Lastly, the new UCI rules codify the expectation that riders and support personnel will report any circumstances they become aware of that may constitute a rules violation, and collaborate in any subsequent investigation.