LONDON, July 26, 2012 – World cycling chief Pat McQuaid is convinced
there will be no repeat of the aftermath of the 2008 Olympics when Italian
Davide Rebellin tested positive after winning the silver medal.
Rebellin finished second in the men’s road race in Beijing behind Spain’s
Samuel Sanchez, only to be stripped of his medal when a sample taken from him
at the Games later tested positive for EPO (erythropoietin).
EPO is a hormone which boosts the oxygen-rich blood cells in the blood,
allowing athletes to work harder for longer and thus gain a significant
advantage over clean opponents.
Since 2008 cycling has been, according to International Cycling Union (UCI)
chief McQuaid, the most proactive sport in the fight against doping.
Its pioneering blood passport programme has proved such a success that
other sports, including athletics, have partly adopted it, and so great a
deterrent, McQuaid believes, that riders will think twice about cheating.
He now believes there is little chance any of the podium finishers at these
Olympics will later be unveiled as drugs cheats.
“Since then (2008) the biological passport has come in and the products
that they were using at that time were new products that they didn’t think
were being tested for, but they were being tested for and they ended up
getting caught,” McQuaid told Bicycle.net on Thursday.
“Today, it’s much more difficult for a rider to come in with a new product
because the new product, whatever it might be, will show parameter changes in
“And the passport deals a lot with that particular issue.”
The blood passport programme acts, theoretically, as a deterrent because
the blood samples given by riders are registered, analyzed and charted over a
period of time.
Any changes or spikes are then examined further, and if any are suspect
those riders involved can be specifically targeted by a random test.
Going into the Games, however, McQuaid says the UCI has made an extra
effort to make sure cycling emerges from London unblemished.
“We’ve certainly done more testing on the Tour de France this year than
we’ve ever done before, particularly in the last week,” he added.
“And we’ve also been doing more out of competition controls on riders who
we know weren’t riding in (the Tour de) France or (the Tour of) Poland, and
who we know will be coming to London.
“It was a double-pronged approach… partly for the Tour, and partly for
the London Olympics.”
With doping cases being announced recently athletics, McQuaid says he is
satisfied cycling’s efforts — largely thanks to the passport programme — are
beginning to pay off.
“It’s been recognized by the IOC (International Olympic Committee), it’s
been recognized by my colleagues in the IAAF (International Association of
Athletics Federations) and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) that cycling is
the most advanced sport in the fight against doping,” he said.
“With the passport, the UCI is certainly ahead. The others (sports) are
playing catch-up, but I don’t think they’re too far behind.”