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Four-year bans for first-time serious offenders, governing body sets up tribunal to deal with international riders

The UCI has drawn up a new set of anti-doping rules that correspond to the provisions of the 2015 World Anti-Doping Code, which came into effect on 1 January.

The new rules include a doubling of the suspension for riders guilty of an intentional first-time anti-doping rule violation (ADRV) in cases involving the “use, attempted use or possession of a prohibited substance or prohibited method” for substances such as steroids, growth hormone, EPO and for blood doping.

A four-year ban will also apply to riders “who intentionally refuse to provide a sample or evade or tamper with the sample collection process,” while the regime surrounding provisional suspensions has also been tightened up.

Riders testing positive as a result of contamination and who can show “no significant fault” – as was the case last year with Michael Rogers, who provided a sample containing clenbuterol after winning the Japan Cup – could receive shorter bans or even just a reprimand.

There will also be reduced sanctions for out of competition use of non-performance enhancing substances such as recreational drugs.

A new offence of “Prohibited Association” has also been introduced, under which riders can be punished for associating with a person who has been formally disqualified by an anti-doping organisation – one obvious example being the banned Italian doctor and trainer, Michele Ferrari.

If two riders from a team commit an ADRV within a 12-month period, the team will be suspended for between 15 days and 45 days, rising to between 15 days and 12 months should a third rider also be found guilty of one.

Had that sanction been in force last year, Astana would have faced a suspension following the positive tests for brothers Maxim and Valentin Iglinskiy.

As a member of the Movement for Credible Cycling (MPCC), Astana voluntarily suspended itself from the final WorldTour race of the year, the Tour of Beijing.

WorldTeams (formerly ProTeams, holding a WorldTour licence) and Professional Continental teams will also face a financial penalty in the case of two riders committing an ADRV inside a year, equivalent to 5 per cent of their budget – in some cases that could be as much as €1.5 million.

Samples held at WADA-accredited laboratories will be held for 10 years instead of eight, with the time within which samples can be retested, and allegations of doping investigated, extended accordingly.

The UCI also says it will overhaul procedures to enable “smarter testing” and make greater use of what it terms “surprise pop-up testing missions,” most of them performed by the Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation (CADF).

The governing bodies efforts will focus on international level riders belonging to the
.Registered Testing Pool (RTP), with national anti-doping agencies – which the UCI says it will continue to forge stronger links – focusing on those at national level.

Following a decision of its management committee last September, the UCI is also setting up an Anti-Doping Tribunal to hear cases involving international-level athletes.

Specialist anti-doping judges, operating independently of the governing body, will try the cases, which the UCI says is aimed at ensuring such riders have “the same consistent process and a clear, short timetable.”

Some countries have come under criticism in the past for what some perceive as a lax approach to their own riders – no Spanish cyclist, for example, was ever sanctioned by their national anti-doping body in connection with Operacion Puerto.

The UCI says that the tribunal “should ensure consistency and uniform quality in the decisions, significantly reduce the number of cases that go to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on appeal and lift the operational burden from National Federations,” which currently deal with such cases.

It adds that most cases will be heard via video conferencing to ensure they are resolved with the minimum delay.

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.