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Use of "targeting priority list" a "valuable tool" in fight against doping...

In an open letter to riders and teams UCI President Pat McQuaid has once again abhored the leak to the French newspaper L'Equipe of what it dubbed the "Index of Suspicion", but he also defended the drawing up of such lists. In a separate document the UCI revealed that it has been drawing up priority lists for testing since 2009.

The most damaging aspect of last week's leak is that it does to many look like the UCI has ranked riders in order an order of suspicion – something which UCI and its president strongly refute:

"Our objective has never been to create lists of suspects, but rather to provide ourselves with the most effective tool possible to optimise our resources - which are not unlimited - as well as to ensure the effectiveness of our approach. The battle against doping has, for a long time, been a priority for the UCI, even to the extent that it could sometimes be considered to be over emphasised in our sport. Yet it must be admitted that the reality of the situation does not allow us to act otherwise."

In an attachment to his letter explaining the procedure used to draw up the list, the UCI reveals that it has been using such lists since 2009 it also seeks to explain why some riders may get a higher rating on the list.

"Several elements are taken into account by APMU when conducting the evaluation of
profiles. An anomaly in a profile is just one criteria among others when drawing up the
list. For example, the lack of haematological data for a rider during races and more
specifically during a Grand Tour may increase the priority index." You can read the full text below.

Earlier in his letter McQuaid hints that he believes that some of the anger expressed by riders and team representatives at the existence of such a list is synthetic:

"I frankly find it difficult to share their surprise and indignation at the content of the document where it is also taking into account the data of the blood passport. Team managers – you will be well aware of the programme to which you have largely contributed the financing. Riders – you are the only individuals able to access, at any time, all the analysis results of your profile, as recorded in your biological passport."

While the existence of such list was surely no surprise to most riders what many will have objected to is there priority ranking on it.

McQuaid concludes his letter by reaffirming the UCI's commitment to "take every measure possible to protect clean athletes" and to achieve a "doping free cycling" an objective he tellingly and perhaps realistically notes is shared by "many of you".

You can read the text of Pat McQuaid's open letter on the UCI website

GRAND TOURS – TARGETING PRIORITY LIST

On the Thursday morning before the start of a Grand Tour, all participants are subject to a blood test. These tests are conducted by the UCI and the samples then analysed by an anti-doping laboratory approved by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

The laboratory loads the results of the analyses into the ADAMS system. The UCI then  sends the results, which are anonymous, to the Athlete Passport Management Unit
(APMU) which is responsible for managing all haematological passports of active athletes  under the UCI anti-doping programme. Every analysis result sent by the UCI is  associated to the unique code (BP_ID) allocated to the rider in question. The BP_ID is  provided by the ADAMS system and known only by the relevant anti-doping  organisations. The APMU works using complete anonymity, solely on the basis of the  BP_IDs of the riders concerned.

After receiving the latest blood analysis results, the APMU updates the haematological  profile of each rider tested. After the evaluation of the 198 profiles, updated before the  start of the Tour, the APMU establishes the order of priority for testing riders using  BP_IDs. This work is conducted on the Friday morning and the list is sent to the UCI in  the early afternoon. This list does not represent an index of suspicion but is rather a list  of the priority for targeting the controls to be conducted during the event.

Several elements are taken into account by APMU when conducting the evaluation of  profiles. An anomaly in a profile is just one criteria among others when drawing up the  list. For example, the lack of haematological data for a rider during races and more  specifically during a Grand Tour may increase the priority index.

It is important to bear in mind that the targeting priority list is a working document. It is in no way intended to establish an index of suspicion. The UCI has a great deal of very  accurate information at its disposal, information gathered since the introduction of the  biological passport in 2008. The priority list, drawn up in just a few hours by the APMU  for controls to be conducted at Grand Tours, does not in any way replace the evaluations produced by independent experts who have assessed the haematological profiles sent to them by the APMU every week since 2008. It is solely these latter evaluations that are  used by the UCI if it opens proceedings for a potential breach of the anti-doping rules. 

It is important to note that the priority list considers the unprocessed blood values  without them having been evaluated by the biological passport experts. These experts  do not intervene in drawing up the priority list.

But let us return to the targeting process, a procedure that has been in place since 2009.  Once the APMU has drawn up the targeting priority list using BP_IDs, it sends it to the  UCI. The UCI cross matches BP_IDs with the riders’ names. This is a task that only the  UCI can carry out. The UCI Anti-Doping Service can then plan and prepare the controls  for the first part of the event. As soon as blood tests are conducted during the event  under the scope of the biological passport, the same procedure is repeated and the APMU provides a new targeting priority list in accordance with the tests conducted and the evolution of profiles during the race. A rider with a high priority index at the start of the event may well have a low priority index at the end of the race.

Finally, we would simply like to point out that independent observers appointed by  WADA, upon the invitation of the UCI, observed all aspects of the anti-doping programme of the 2010 Tour de France. This mission involved providing the independent observers  with all useful information, including confidential information, and consequently the  priority list. This transparency, which is inherent in the nature of an independent  observation mission and necessary for verifying the seriousness of the anti-doping  programme, was clearly protected by the obligation of confidentiality incumbent on the  observers.

Plucked from the obscurity of his London commute back in the mid-Nineties to live in Bath and edit bike mags our man made the jump to the interweb back in 2006 as launch editor of a large cycling website somewhat confusingly named after a piece of navigational equipment. He came up with the idea for road.cc mainly to avoid being told what to do… Oh dear, issues there then. Tony tries to ride his bike every day and if he doesn't he gets grumpy, he likes carbon, but owns steel, and wants titanium. When not on his bike or eating cake Tony spends his time looking for new ways to annoy the road.cc team. He's remarkably good at it.