It's only day 7, but the UCI's biological passports program is an early frontrunner for Cycling's story of the year. Now CN is reporting that you can scratch off one of the two most dubious aspects -- an on-time launch -- as the program has gone live.
The other dubious element -- whether the UCI can pull off a seven-fold increase in out-of-competition testing -- remains to be seen, but the signs so far are encouraging. Recall, the passport is intended to establish baseline blood and steroid values for every rider on a Pro Tour or Continental (with Wild Card status) team, so that riders can be caught for unnatural changes to their body chemistry, even if the numbers don't trip a limit or show traces of drugs. Just to close the loop, I'm pretty sure this is similar to the longitudinal testing imposed on French riders after 1998. [Right? Awaiting your corrections...]
Another encouraging sign is the launching of the ADAMS (Anti-Doping Administration & Management System) network, where riders can log in and communicate their whereabouts for testing purposes. This replaces the late-Stone-Age system of faxing hard-copy forms for every rider's every movement, brought into daylight during the Fried Chicken fiasco of July, 2007. Now, when a rider decides to leave Mexico to train in Italy, he need only find an internet portal at the airport or nearest Starbucks or what have you. What we shouldn't have here, ever again, is a failure to communicate.
Anyway, the main point is that longitudinal testing is not just for French riders; it's about to become standard across the Cycling landscape, if the UCI can manage this Herculean effort. I for one pledge up to one year's worth of patience with such an undertaking, as there are sure to be glitches, but am thinking very positively about the program right now. For more info on longitudinal testing, check out this primer. Also, has anyone heard of the Agency for Cycling Ethics and its related Foundation before? Am I naive in marvelling at how fast things are changing?