WADA condemns Verbruggen's revelation that UCI tipped off riders with suspicious test results

Agency's response to UCI honorary president's admission marks further deterioration of relationship

by Simon_MacMichael   January 25, 2013  

London 2012 Anti-Doping Laboratory (picture credit LOCOG)

The World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) has condemned former UCI president Hein Verbruggen’s disclosure that the governing body tipped off cyclists including Lance Armstrong regarding suspicious drug test results.

"This approach totally contradicts the purpose of an effective anti-doping program," said WADA in a statement, going on to say that anti-doping policies drawn up by governing bodies should be "designed to deter, detect and prevent athletes from doping."

"WADA has no evidence of other international federations `discussing atypical blood test results, or other test results' with athletes," it went on.

The agency added that any sporting body  "that would do such a thing would leave itself open to criticism with regards to its impartiality and integrity."

Verbruggen, who is still honorary president of the UCI, had said earlier this week: “"It used to be the UCI's policy – and indeed also of other federations – to discuss atypical blood test results, or other test results, with the riders concerned.

"Riders who were doping [but who had yet to fail a test] were effectively warned that they were being watched and that they would be targeted in future with the aim of getting them to stop doping.

"However, if the atypical test results were genuinely not caused by doping, the rider also had the opportunity to have a medical check."

Over the years, the relationship between the UCI and WADA has often been a strained one and tensions heightened as the Lance Armstrong scandal developed in the second half of last year.

WADA backed the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) when the UCI insisted it alone had jurisdiction over the case, and has also been critical of a visit USADA chief Travis Tygart says was brokered by the UCI that Armstrong made to the Swiss testing laboratory to learn about its work, including testing for EPO.

That visit is said to have followed Armstrong’s suspect test result analysed at the same laboratory for EPO during the 2001 Tour de Suisse. Armstrong and the UCI insist no such visit took place, but the laboratory’s head said it did.

Currently, they are in stalemate over the issue of whether consideration of a truth and reconciliation process should form part of the brief of the Independent Commission established by the UCI to investigate its role in the Armstrong affair.

WADA says it should, while the UCI says it would be prepared to consider such a process if it were extended to sports beyond cycling and amendments made to the World Anti Doping Code to take account of any potential amnesty.

The Commission had been due to hold a public hearing earlier this week to discuss that and other issues, but the session was rescheduled for today.

4 user comments

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How can a sporting body effectively tip cyclists off. It's like saying '... our doping tests are not picking up any drugs but your blood is significantly out of the ordinary. Do something about it...' And Verbruggen is still the Honorary President despite overseeing the body and its processes during that time. No wonder so few failed an official doping test.

If I was only half as good as I am in my own mind.

posted by JulesW [27 posts]
25th January 2013 - 11:48

12 Likes

Hmmm. Torn about this. As prev post said, tipping people off is bad. On the other hand if they told someone "our doping tests are not picking up any drugs but your blood is significantly out of the ordinary. Do something about it" and it got sorted, is that not good? The dopes are always (just) ahead of the testers, so giving them notice might be enough to put a stop to something. You'd have to be pretty brazen to go on doing it when you've been told the evidence is there and the samples can be held for later testing...

Not so much a six pack as a barrel!

posted by Bigfoz [75 posts]
25th January 2013 - 19:37

8 Likes

I have to say I support the UCI on this one. Understanding the tests available at the time in question, this was about as good as it could get. The guys were micro doping, so the chances of being caught slim, however that chance would be treater if the uci were targeting you. Therefore a warning that we know your up to no good, we are going to make sure we catch you may be enough to stop you doping.
I think the reality is any federation wants less doping in their sport, not necessarily more positive tests.

posted by Jimmy Ray Will [331 posts]
25th January 2013 - 20:25

12 Likes

Tipping them off doesn't say 'Stop it' it says 'Use better masking agents' to think otherwise is deluded, you are asking dishonest people to not test positive, you are not asking them to stop doping.

posted by mybrainthinksim... [24 posts]
25th January 2013 - 20:56

14 Likes