UCI reacts angrily to Gerard Vroomen's criticism of bio passport programme - and gives issue wider publicity

Cervelo co-founder claims lack of testing; not so, says governing body as it goes on the offensive

by Simon_MacMichael   August 11, 2011  

Syringe

The UCI has angrily rejected criticism of its biological passport programme by Gerard Vroomen, co-founder of Cervélo, regarding a perceived lack of testing, the governing body providing figures from tests conducted on riders of the team the Canadian bike-brand itself co-sponsors, Garmin- Cervélo, to illustrate its point.

By responding to Vroomen’s criticisms in a press release sent to media outlets worldwide, rather than perhaps sending him a private email setting out what it sees as the facts and asking him to put the record straight, the UCI not only lays itself open to accusations of heavy-handedness, but also ensures that Vroomen’s comments reach a much wider audience than would otherwise have been the case.

Writing on his blog yesterday, Vroomen said: I have not heard of a rider being tested for the biological passport between the end of the 2010 Tour and April 2011. After that I am not sure. While it is logical that the frequency of testing might decrease somewhat once profiles are established, the fact remains that the profile in itself is not a deterrent. The deterrent comes from testing current values against those profiles to see if there are clues indicating doping.”

He continued: “If what I have been hearing is indeed the case throughout the sport, then that would be worrisome. It would mean that in a crucial build-up and competition period, only riders who were on teams with independent anti-doping programs (such as HTC and Garmin-Cervelo) have been properly monitored to the extent that science is capable of.”

Following response to his original piece, Vroomen subsequently clarified some of his comments in a separate post on his blog.

Vroomen’s comments were subsequently reported on the website Velonation, but in a statement today, the UCI said that it “categorically rejects the allegations published by Mr. Gerard Vroomen on his personal blog yesterday concerning biological passports, comments which were then relayed by the velonation.com website. The UCI has therefore decided to provide the following statement in order to protect the public image of cycling and in particular with due respect to the commitment of those working on daily basis in the fight against doping.”

In a statement released this lunchtime, the UCI said: “The allegation that no tests were carried out under the biological passport testing program between the end of the Tour de France 2010 and April 2011 is absolutely incorrect.”

It went on to provide statistics showing that a total of 1,074 ‘blood passport’ tests, excluding urine tests and the 2010 Tour de France, had been conducted from 1 July 2010 until the end of the year; Garmin-Transitions, now Garmin-Cervelo, saw 1,577 tests from 1 July 2010 to 30 April 2011.

The tests, said the UCI, included “out-of-competition controls, pre-competition and in-competition controls on all major events during this period and team training camps.”

It added that Cervelo TestTeam had been subject to 45 tests between July and September 2010, and Garmin-Transitions/Garmin-Cervelo to 68 from 1 July 2010 to 30 April 2011.

The governing body added that “the assertions made by Gerard Vroomen’s are misleading, irresponsible, mischievous and clearly show a very weak understanding of this complex subject, an area which goes well beyond financial questions alone. “The UCI considers Mr Vroomen’s comments particularly unacceptable given the years of research and investments in this area. The result of UCI’s anti-doping work has been unanimously recognised by international experts and its program has become a worldwide reference in the fight against doping.

It also insisted that “the exceptional quality of competition at the recent Tour de France 2011, a Tour which also reflected a cleaner era in cycling.

“Mr Vroomen appears exceptionally poorly informed as he would seem not to have been aware of the tests carried out on the two teams he has been involved with,” it continued. “A simple phone call could have clarified the situation for Mr Vrooman should his concerns have been genuine, but he chose not to do this.

“Further the UCI refutes any suggestion that anti-doping funds have been used to fund legal bills for fighting legal cases.

The UCI therefore suggests that Mr Vroomen, and the media, ensure that facts are correct before making public statements about UCI’s activities,” it concluded.

As yet, there has been no reaction to the UCI’s press release by Vroomen on either his Twitter stream or his blog.

 

 

7 user comments

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"The UCI has therefore decided to provide the following statement in order to protect the public image of cycling...." - oh how I laughed (cried). Angry

bikeandy61's picture

posted by bikeandy61 [419 posts]
11th August 2011 - 12:20

2 Likes

Though I have mocked the UCI in the above, you do have to wonder what Mr Vroomen was thinking. Now his blog did say "I have not heard of.." so he does have a get out there as he could point out that he actually takes no notice of what "his" team are up to. Surely though, especially with the efforts that Slipstream/Garmin/Transitions/Cervelo, have gone to in arguing that they put a LOT of emphasis on their riders being clean, that before you wrote such an inflamitory remark, he might have given JV a bell and asked if he knew anything about testing in the squad.

I'm afraid that IMHO he has only further added to the already very dirty waters that are doping in cycling.

Once again the ability to write your thoughts and air them across the planet, as they form in your head, has been shown to be less than beneficial.

bikeandy61's picture

posted by bikeandy61 [419 posts]
11th August 2011 - 12:28

3 Likes

Nice work by everyone on this one - Vroomen for posting comments without checking facts (pretty inexcusable when his company is a co-sponsor of a major team) and the UCI for taking a gun to a fist fight, thereby ensuring everyone heard all about it. Top stuff Applause

posted by step-hent [711 posts]
11th August 2011 - 12:48

2 Likes

Quote:
It added that Cervelo TestTeam had been subject to 45 tests between July and September 2010, and Garmin-Transitions/Garmin-Cervelo to 68 from 1 July 2010 to 30 April 2011.

Garmin-Cervelo have 29 riders, so 68 tests in 10 months is about 1.5 tests per rider per year, which sounds inadequate to me for maintaining a profile of each rider.

two wheels good; four wheels bad

posted by cat1commuter [1391 posts]
11th August 2011 - 15:04

3 Likes

Vroomen is a clever guy. More importantly, he's an honest, open individual who wants a clean sport. Based on what I have read I can't say that about Pat McQuaid.

The UCI's response is a sad indictment of an incompetent authority lashing out at someone instead of providing a comprehensive answer or even reading Vroomen's post properly. They are the ones that run professional cycling, so the buck stops at their door. If they were doing it properly they wouldn't have to resort to such tactics.

More comment, including a contribution by Michael Ashenden (a member of the UCI’s passport panel), at http://www.cyclingnews.com/news/vroomen-and-ashenden-criticise-lack-of-b...

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [2154 posts]
11th August 2011 - 22:05

3 Likes

I can not understand why the UCI are not working more closely with teams.

What is there agenda here?

posted by Addy TT [6 posts]
12th August 2011 - 12:35

3 Likes

Addy TT wrote:
I can not understand why the UCI are not working more closely with teams.

What is there agenda here?


To "protect the image of cycling" - i.e. avoid positive tests and the subsequent scandals... unless the rider is a no-name pro conti wannabe, in which case it makes the UCI look like they're being proactive.

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [2154 posts]
12th August 2011 - 14:41

3 Likes