News

UCI to shift anti-doping controls to new international body

The move will align cycling with a growing international anti-doping community, but some wonder if it could backfire.

Cycling chiefs have confirmed that from 2021 they will hand responsibility for anti-doping to the International Testing Agency (ITA), a non-profit body created with support of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

Since 2008, the International Cycling Union (UCI) has worked with the Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation (CADF) on drugs issues. The conditions of the transfer will be formalized in a contract to be ratified at the next meeting of the UCI steering committee from June 10 to 12, said a spokesman, Friday.

“The UCI has been one of the leading federations in the domain of anti-doping for a long time,” said UCI president David Lappartient. “The collaboration with the ITA will enable us to be stronger than ever in this sector and to thus bolster our defense of clean riders and the credibility of our competitions and all of our sport’s stakeholders.”

Friday’s developments come in the wake of the “Aderlass” scandal which erupted last year. Professional cyclists suspended as a result of the investigations include Austrians Stefan Denifl and Georg Preidler, Slovenian Kristijan Koren and Croatia’s Kristjan Durasek.

“The decision (to switch to the ITA) was taken in a context (the Aderlass affair for example) where it has become clear that doping is part of an environment that knows no barriers, neither between sports, nor between countries, and where, in parallel with testing, information (intelligence) has become the central element of any efficient anti-doping program,” added a UCI statement.

“By joining the ITA, the UCI, a pioneer in the domain, again demonstrates that it can take decisions necessary to be constantly at the forefront of the fight against doping.”

Speaking to journalists last week during a visit to the Santos Tour Down Under, Lappartient said the larger institution being built under ITA could have more resources to handle international scandals that reach across borders and jurisdictions.

“If we move, it’s not to have something of lower standard than we have now,” Lappartient said. “We can see that most doping cases come from doping investigations like Aderlass, so we have to ask if the CADF is the right size for this? For sure if we move to the ITA, the UCI will put down some red lines because of the expertise the CADF has.”

Not everyone is happy with the decision. Some representatives from WorldTour teams grumbled that the UCI is stepping away from CADF that was built up with large contributions from team budgets.

“The CADF had become a front-runner in anti-doping and it has become a big example for all other sports. Since its founding, tens of millions of dollars have been invested in that, between the teams, organizations and riders,” one team official told VeloNews when the issue first came up this winter. “Of all the problems in cycling, CADF is a front-runner and is doing a good job, and now the UCI wants to do something different. Again, without consulting anyone.”

Insiders worry that cycling would lose important intelligence and know-how on issues that are unique to cycling if the UCI decides to step away from the cycling-specific CADF and align its anti-doping efforts with the more generalized ITA, an umbrella group aligned with the IOC founded in 2018.

— AFP contributed to this report