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The UCI Responds: "A Small Number" of Riders Under Scrutiny

doping story The UCI has issued a press release in response to the ARD story about "suspicious" results from the bio-passport program. The UCI statement claims that doping expert Robin Parisotto's comments, particularly the 30 suspicious profiles, "do not correspond exactly to what an in-depth analysis by the UCI experts has established is the present situation." The UCI reports that it collected 8300 blood samples to build profiles on 804 riders.

The press release outlines the testing process. First, the samples are tested and the results submitted to a panel of experts. (Robin Parisotto is among the expert analysts.) During this first round of analysis, the experts labelled "a number" of samples "abnormal." According to the UCI, "thorough examination by the experts of these profiles resulted in a number being considered as not suspect, based on indications that the abnormal profile may have arisen due to reasons other than doping." Other profiles "justified immediate targetted testing with normal doping controls and/or the collection of further blood samples."

Has the UCI found any doping violations? The press release confirms that "a small number of profiles is now under further scrutiny following high scientific and legal standards." The UCI did not give any indication when this process might conclude. "The concept of indirect detection which is enabled through profiling is a new paradigm in anti-doping. It is therefore critically important that the UCI will proceed only on sound evidence of doping," the press release explains. The samples collected during the 2008 season provide a "solid basis" for bringing the biological passport system up to "cruising speed" in during the coming season.

To my reading, the UCI's statement does not differ substantially from the Parisotto interview, with the exception that the UCI is deliberately vague on the numbers involved, in a likely effort to defuse speculation. "A small number" of profiles are under scrutiny for potential doping violations, while "a number" of samples returned "anomalous" results. At the same time, it is clear that the UCI has found reason for doubt in some of the rider profiles. It remains to be seen what, if any, action the UCI will take in these cases, but it also seems clear that few, if any, riders will be sanctioned on the basis of the bio-passport profiles as of now.