Roman Kreuziger’s Passport Delays

Monday, 30 June 2014


Several riders had passport problems before the Giro but of the travel kind and could not get a visa for the start in Belfast. Now Roman Kreuziger has passport problems of the other kind with the UCI questioning his blood values and he’s now been suspended by his Tinkoff-Saxo team and won’t ride the Tour de France.

This post isn’t about doping. Instead it’s about procedures and probabilities so apologies if you wanted something scandalous and bloody. What’s happened and what’s coming next?

The Passport Process
A reminder that the bio passport is a record of an athlete’s haematological parameters. A variety of measures are taken when a rider is tested and these are all logged into a database and over time a “longitudinal profile” is established. Unlike the binary positive or negative of toxicology testing where a lab tests for banned substances, the passport looks at changes in levels, using logic and mathematics, for example Bayesian statistics, to look for anomalies and the more data are logged, the more any oddities and anomalies can be observed. Here’s a screenshot of the passport software:

This process is run by the Athlete Passport Management Unit (APMU) which is a WADA-funded scheme based in Lausanne, Switzerland – just around the shore of Lake Geneva from the UCI’s HQ. The software rings an alarm bell if an athlete’s numbers deviate from an established patten. When this happens an expert with a background in clinical haematology, sports medicine and/or exercise physiology reviews the data from the system. The expert has four options:

  • do nothing because the data look normal to the human eye/brain
  • recommend the athlete is placed on a list for target testing
  • alert the athlete that they could be suffering from a serious illness
  • state improbable natural causes, a likely doping case

In the event of the fourth option, the procedures continue for the APMU. Two more experts are asked to evaluate the data and they can each recommend one of the four options above. All three must review the same data set and only if each concludes that, in the words of WADA’s procedural manuals, “it is highly likely that a prohibited substance or prohibited method had been used and unlikely that it is the result of any other cause” will the case proceed. If this is the case then the APMU creates a dossier with the athlete’s age, gender, sport and a range of other information such as the chain of custody for the samples taken, whether the athlete was at altitude and so on. This file is reviewed and once again all three experts have to unanimously concur for an “adverse passport finding” and then an anti-doping organization is notified, in this case the UCI.

The UCI then contacts the rider and WADA to advise them that it is mulling an anti-doping case and includes the APMU dossier with the data, sample custody and more along with the request for the athlete to explain the data in the dossier.

This is what happened with Roman Kreuziger, the three experts have each unanimously concurred there’s a doping case to hear regarding anomalies in 2011 and 2012, the seasons spent with the Astana team. The AMPU experts and have contacted the UCI who in turn have passed the dossier on to Roman Kreuziger for explanation.

This isn’t a case of popping in for a chat:

  • As Kreuziger explains, he was first questioned about his data from 2011 and 2012 at the end of June 2013
  • Kreuziger responded with input from “accredited experts” in October 2013
  • The UCI replied at the end of May this year, informing Kreuziger they did not accept his explanation
  • Kreuziger asked for and obtained a delay to respond to the UCI’s view which runs to the end of the month
  • A statement from the Tinkoff-Saxo team says the UCI is “likely due to instigate disciplinary proceedings against him”

Note the time span, even if we take the end of the suspect data period which was the 2012 Giro it means two years have elapsed before the UCI swings into action. This is not good and we’ll return to the delays and timings below.

What Next?
The UCI can still drop the case but based on his team’s statement, a prosecution is due to start. This will trigger a UCI press release much like the brief one we got for Jonathan Tiernan-Locke last December where it instructed UK Anti-Doping to bring a case against its rider.

Of course like the Tiernan-Locke case and others this is far from the end of the matter. If the UCI instructs the relevant Czech agency to bring a case against Kreuziger this will take time to build and prosecute. There’s a grey area in the rules because it’s not clear that a rider can be provisionally suspended even if there’s a case being opened against them. The WADA Code allows for this but the UCI rulebook only refers to the classic A and B samples, where a rider is provisionally suspended following an adverse test of their A-sample.

However riders have been stopped from racing by their teams, see Carlos Barredo who was stopped from racing by his team even when the UCI were still in the asking questions phase, presumably because the team were in the last chance saloon with their sponsor and couldn’t afford to look lenient. In this case it’s likely Kreuziger is going to be “benched” for months and even years.

Passport Delays
If you saw the timeline above for Kreuziger’s case and found the delays astonishing then think twice. Because all these cases have a tendency to take many months if not years. Carlos Barredo has been mentioned above, the UCI asked for a case against him to be opened in 2012 and there’s still no verdict today. Belgian’s Leif Hoste case saw an 11 month gap between the UCI requesting a case and his conviction.

It could be that Kreuziger’s experts prove all’s well once the case is heard and it’s wrapped up quickly but given the UCI seems to be unsatisfied with his response it’s suggests a to-and-fro that could go on for some time.

Another delay is the gap between the apparent anomalous data and the UCI starting to ask questions. But this is how the system works, it is unlikely the AMPU “alarm bell” rang the instant the data were logged. Instead it’s the pattern over time that allows retrospective analysis.

Regardless of explanation and excuse, these delays are cruel and frustrating for all. It’s bad enough to be linked to the bad news – innocent until proven guilty – but the delays are terrible. However this is a subject that just can’t be rushed. We’re not talking about toxicology and the positive or negative of a sample analysis but instead a sophisticated analysis of data and trends. It’s a matter of nuance and a degree of proof rather than the certainty of a banned substance in a test tube with arguments and investigation on both sides.

Conclusion
Hopefully you have a better idea of how the biological passport review process works. It sounds serious for Roman Kreuziger given three experts agree on a high probability of doping. He says “no” so this sets up a lengthy clash and one that could go on and on to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

ShortsNL June 30, 2014 at 8:53 pm

Excellent piece man, I was hoping you’d write some background exactly on this because I have some questions for you:

-What’s the reputation of the AMPU in regard to following protocol? The way you described it, it looks great, but then again, so does the UCI’s wordings on the supposed TUEC….

-In relation to the previous point: what many people on the forums who started bashing the UCI seem to forget, is that Kreuziger has not released a single piece of evidence that supports his, or his experts claims (like Horner did after releasing his passport data after the Vuelta). Why do you think this is, and who do you currently find more credible? The APMU or Roman/TCS?

-Again in relation to the previous ones: As far as I know UCI has had no press release yet. Why did Roman come out with this now? Even more so: Why has TCS bothered to suspend him if its not mandatory? Do you think Tinkov/Riis feared a press release during the Tour so much that they decided to blow it open?

-An “adverse passport finding” sounds exactly like what Henao had as well, if I remember Sky’s press release on it. If so, what can you make of that situation in comparison? Sky said they found it by monitoring Henao’s values, and then contacted UCI, but this looks so unbelievable in my eyes, especially when you clearly show the complexity of the APMU like this. I don’t like speculating or thinking in conspiracies, but could it be Sky was somehow alerted by this in advance, allowing them to come up with a PR crisis plan?

I really don’t expect you to go into much detail in the commentary section man (it would probably be enough for another article ;)) but I hope you can quickly touch on them at least.

Keep it up man, another good read.

The Inner Ring June 30, 2014 at 9:40 pm

A lot of questions. In general it’s hard to take sides, we don’t know what the AMPU has seen and we don’t know what Kreuziger has tried to refute, nor who his experts are. On the timing, it’s presumably come about because the team/rider knew a procedure is likely to be launched in days and so he can’t ride the Tour de France with this over him, better to come out now rather than see him in a media storm at the Tour.

As for your point on Sky, the team said it had discovered the issues with his numbers and then told the UCI and not the reverse.

ckrracing July 1, 2014 at 1:06 am

My question is why are teams like Sky allowed to monitor their riders without passing all information (i.e. Data) on to the UCI ? In my opinion it does allow for the possibility of well funded teams to detect if a rider would indeed have trouble with the testers and then bench them.. This is not a jab at Sky but due to point raised about Henao. They may well have passed that information on but I am fairly sure that there would be no obligation on the team’s part to do so.

The Inner Ring July 1, 2014 at 10:08 am

Certainly and a doping rider and their team/coach/doctor has in the past carefully monitored their values in order to track and even adjust them so as not to arouse suspicion. Ex Ferrari client Leonardo Bertagnolli’s deposition explains some of the means to do this.

But let’s flip it around, the UCI and others should be testing more often to build up its own set of data rather than waiting for teams to send in data. UCI testing means validated methods, approved conditions, chain of custody info etc while a team blood check is more informal.

beveringo July 1, 2014 at 11:45 am

Whilst this system is a clear step in the right direction, as with most innovations in procedure it does create as many questions as it answers. It would be interesting to know how many occasions APMU flagged up a potential case of doping but could not get consensus amongst all 3 experts. I’m going to be incredibly generous to Sky here, but the Henao case may be an instance where 1 or even 2 APMU experts believed there was doping and Sky’s own expert believed there was doping but becasue the APMU could not get 3 expert consensus they did nothing. As I understand the procedure the UCI would never be informed of this near miss and it would be up to the team to choose to be proactive and do something about it.

If the APMU were to publish results that show for example that 1% of cases that the 1st expert flagged as scenario 4 fail to get 3 expert consensus or 99% of cases fail to get 3 expert consensus it would give a far better view of how well the passport works and how genuine teams such as Sky are in voluntarily withdrawing a rider based on suspicious results.

Sam July 1, 2014 at 11:54 am

You are aware that teams such as Garmin do exactly the same thing?

beveringo July 1, 2014 at 12:56 pm

And this is where a better understanding of the conclusiveness of the data would help greatly. If 1 APMU expert says scenario 4 is it incredibly likely that all 3 will say scenario 4 or whether there is far more suspicion out there that never gets reported because 3 expert consensus is incredibly difficult to get.

The problem with teams doing testing and reporting / withdrawing their own riders (admirable as it is) is that it gives the perception, and perception is incredibly important here, that the official system does not work. So lets say it takes until 2015 before the APMU system flags up Henao and the UCI take action. The system is working as designed, but because Sky are doing their own testing and have flagged an issue early 2014 based on data we don’t have visibility of, it appears that the official system is broken and the UCI are out of touch.

One system and set of rules that we all agree to (WADA / UCI / teams / riders) and everybody consistently sticking to them. If any team want to take a step further and bench a rider on less evidence than the APMU would act on then fine, but they should make clear at the time why they are doing what they are doing to maintain confidence in the official system.

BC June 30, 2014 at 9:00 pm

I am sure everyone is concerned about the length of time these cases take. I think you make the point well that the BP relies on data collection over a period of time. Lets take the hypothetical case that Kreuziger was doping whilst at his previous team, meaning that the data for that period appeared constant, with no discernible anomalies. If he then rode clean at his present team, anomalies from the previous period might well become apparent. It is not always going to be possible, much as we would all like, for these cases to be resolved over a short time scale.

I think Kreuziger is in a very difficult place, and the time aspect aside, it is somewhat encouraging that the BP and the associated software does at last appear to be producing results. That the rider has denied any wrongdoing should surprise no one.

Tovarishch July 1, 2014 at 7:24 am

The point is that this is a statistical analysis of a living (and self healing) organism. If you apply Statistical Process Control to a factory process, once it has gone outside the accepted parameters you have to go in and fix it. The human body does this itself so you have to look at an equal period of time after the anomalous results ceased to be anomalous to understand how the body reacted and get an indication of whether the cause was internal or external. June 2013 sounds the earliest possible date to form a conclusion, in my opinion.

Jeremy June 30, 2014 at 9:19 pm

inrng, thanks for the great insight in to an often discussed, but rarely understood topic of the sport. Another wonderful article, as usual.

General Shrek June 30, 2014 at 9:45 pm

Good piece. Thanks. Look forward to reviewing the evidence in due course.

Raouligan June 30, 2014 at 10:24 pm

Surely the BP system actually raises more questions than it actually answers, it’s taking current perceived expert data which could quite easily be flawed on both sides, see the issue with statins, in medicine.
It also seems to raise the issue that riders should really be tracked at least a couple of years into retirement to check that there’s no anomaly in data?
I’m not sure how you could do this?
I really do commend the effort that the UCI has gone to with the BP, put it seems to be a rod for its own back that’s messy and not entirely conclusive.

Shawn June 30, 2014 at 11:12 pm

One would naturally expect the blood levels of retired cyclists to change radically, as they are no longer training at the same level.

channel_zero July 1, 2014 at 6:21 am

it’s taking current perceived expert data which could quite easily be flawed on both sides

Actually, no. The process on the APMU side is publicly documented and designed to prevent false positives. The documentation is on WADA’s site. I suggest you read it.

Sam July 1, 2014 at 2:59 pm

Once an athlete retires and removes themselves from the testing pool….that’s it. They can’t get tested any longer. And that’s not unique to cycling, that’s what laid down within the anti-doping framework.

Besides, what purpose would there be in looking at data from a period when they’re no longer doing the same athletic activities, day in day out, with their body put through such high, extreme levels of stress etc? It would be a case of professional athlete vs a ‘civvy’. Absolutely useless for comparison purposes.

The Inner Ring July 1, 2014 at 3:02 pm

Agreed but note there’s a short period following retirement where they can still be tested. And of course retirement is no barrier to an investigation as Jan Ullrich, Lance Armstrong and many others have discovered.

Whaleoilbeefhooked June 30, 2014 at 10:31 pm

Another excellent article on the “nitty-gritty” lurking within cycle sport sir (madam?).

When the 2 further experts are consulted do they know they are providing second opinions or do they approach it “blind” to the knowledge others are involved?

Are there data to reveal how many times the experts flag the alleged anomalous patterns as normal? I assume they know which sport is involved.

This might reveal how cautiously the experts approach each case.

The Inner Ring June 30, 2014 at 10:51 pm

Once it goes to the three experts they review it alone but can then confer amongst each other.

If anyone wants the full guidelines they’re here: http://www.wada-ama.org/Documents/Science_Medicine/Athlete_Biological_Passport/WADA-ABP-Operating-Guidelines_v4.0-EN.pdf (PDF)

tid July 1, 2014 at 11:04 am

The INRNG article seems to suggest that Teams medical staff provide many of the data points that make up the biological passport – but this wada document only talks about ADO samples.

On the one hand it doesn’t seem there’d be enough data if it was just drug-test samples being used, and on the other how much trust would they place in in-house testing?
How many times does the average rider get drug tested by ADO in a year/career?

The Inner Ring July 1, 2014 at 11:27 am

It’s not the teams, but the formal anti-doping tests that provide the data, when I mean “testing” above it’s giving blood to the anti-doping agency of the UCI.

As for the average, there’s no point in looking at an average because some get a lot more. Win races and you are tested a lot more; have curious numbers and you are tested a lot more. Some nations test a lot more too. The UCI website has recently added some stats on the number of tests done.

othersteve June 30, 2014 at 10:59 pm

Great article, unfortunate timing as we are about to start the tour.

I assume that the BP system and the adjunct screening and abnormality protocol is the best available for the price. I see it as a back office procedure ( part of the business of administration) Any rider who
signs a contract for a Protour team should know the consequences of the procedures you address above. As well as the possible lag time for secondary analysis and confirmation.

The question I have is does a rider on “probation” get paid and if yes if found guilty do they owe salary back to the club. Perhaps all contracts are unique to each rider and his particular employment contract? Again perhaps another topic related.

Netserk June 30, 2014 at 11:15 pm

Minor note: Kreuziger hasn’t been suspended by his team (yet), he has ‘just’ been pulled from the Tour team. The team will suspend him if the UCI asks them to.

The Inner Ring June 30, 2014 at 11:21 pm

Good point in case people read “suspended” as a formal thing. Instead perhaps “benched” or “parked” is better as he’s not racing until there’s more information.

Shawn June 30, 2014 at 11:25 pm

Do you know whether the AMPU experts are dedicated to only examining BP cases or is the BP one of many cases/jobs that they have? I ask b/c I’m trying to understand the 1 year lag between the suspicious BP readings and the rider being notified. Is the time delay a product of a lack of dedicated resources (e.g. experts), bureaucratic inefficiencies, or somehow necessary (which I have a hard time believing)?

The Tashkent Error July 1, 2014 at 8:38 am

He was notified in June 2013, right after the data from the earlier period of the year 2013 could have been compared to the same period of 2012 (and 2011), there was no lag, that’s how longitudinal profiling is designed to work.

hoh June 30, 2014 at 11:28 pm

Was the data anomious when it went through to the experts the first time? Or did experts know whose data they are looking at once softwares flagged them up?

The Inner Ring June 30, 2014 at 11:59 pm

The ID isn’t known for privacy/confidentiality reasons.

brent July 1, 2014 at 12:07 am

In the process above there seems little point in the athlete providing an explanation back to the UCI unless something extraordinary has happened (ie. major medical incident) because once 3 experts have flagged it no matter how convincing is the athlete’s explanation the uci would have no real authority to overrule the panel. Imagine the outcry if the media found out that they had overturned the experts. Such an outcry would not in any way depend on any facts.
They may as well do away with the step plus the UCI case and go straight to CAS and save time and money. For the same reason as above the uci process must result in a positive finding or wada will go to CAS. The athlete will quite possibly appeal to CAS. Therefore just go straight there.

Cilmeri July 1, 2014 at 12:19 am

I do feel sorry for the cyclists in the middle of all of this. Law in most countries rely on the principle of innocent until proven guilty, but this seems to be turned on it’s head here. I think JTL, Kreuziger etc. should be allowed to race until proven that they were doping. Admittedly this raises other issues if they’re subsequently found guilty, but it’s still a good principle to adhere to.

Tovarishch July 1, 2014 at 7:29 am

They are spending time on remand. Quite a normal legal procedure. You could suggest a bail system to allow them to continue riding.

Paul Jakma July 1, 2014 at 2:14 pm

This isn’t nation state level criminal or civil law. These are professional rules, mutually agreed to by riders. Those rules are there to protect their own, collective interests.

Peter Downs July 1, 2014 at 12:37 am

Is this Passport system that WADA has set up only used in Cycling or is it used across other sports under WADA’s governance? Thanks in advance, oh and once again very good thought provoking article!

The Inner Ring July 1, 2014 at 8:06 am

It’s used in a few other sports, for example skiing and athletics.

channel_zero July 1, 2014 at 5:58 pm

It’s used in a number of sports as mentioned, but both Russia and Jamaica’s National Anti Doping Organizations were not really being used for purpose.

In Russia’s case, no information that I am aware of ever made it into Western press regarding how it was 30+ athletes in a number of sports suddenly were retroactively positive. Apparently, they were positive all along during an Olympics year and no case ever opened.

In Jamaica’s case, Jamaican Track and Field was using JADCO to test their athletes “never test positive” before leaving Jamaica for international meets.

The point being, the system has been abused/corrupted already and has lots of opportunities for federation athletes to “never test positive.” I realize this is the opposite of the IOC and UCI/Zorzoli’s messages, but it’s the reality.

Inrng, you forgot the “Contador option” of having a positive and never opening a case. Yes, Contador got sanctioned in the friendliest way possible, but bottom line the positive leaked and the UCI could not pretend there was no positive values. Also, Armstrong apparently had numerous suspicious/positive results and no cases opened. This from the federation that was reluctant to enforce the USADA sanctions.

Brad July 1, 2014 at 1:10 am

So this can affect a rider being able to ride and make money for years? Kreuzingers guilt aside, this is insane. A teams sponsor demands clean wins, and strict no doping policy but the UCI takes years to clear a rider, so teams have to suspend them, Essentially holding the rider hostage.

Effective anti doping? I guess, but if its just an anomaly and not an actual offence, the rider gets the shaft.

Wow.

AK July 1, 2014 at 1:26 am

What is the control group for this passport data? How do you find a group of a few hundred athletes with similar training and competition regimes as pro cyclists of whom you are 100% certain they don’t dope?

Tovarishch July 1, 2014 at 7:32 am

They are their own control. The body has highly sophisticated and complex methods to maintain certain biochemical and physiological parameters within very strict limits. You have to hit it with a fairly big hammer for them to go outside those limits.

The Inner Ring July 1, 2014 at 8:41 am

It’s not so much the comparison to others but any significant deviation from the riders own values that sets off alarm bells. The more data are logged, the more any odd changes can be reviewed.

AK July 1, 2014 at 10:24 am

I know. But to have an idea of what is statistically significant you have to know the underlying distribution. For example you have to know whether everyone has similar deviations or this varies naturally from one person to the next. using the data pool you have from the pro tour cyclists doesn’t work because you have no idea what they are on. Using lab data from regular people ignores the effects that the extreme excercise may have. Simply assuming an unskewed normal distribution based on a few tens of points and using a 0.05 threshold p-value might be good enough to get your data published in a scientific journal but in my view it’s not enough to take away someone’s livelihood. Given the complaints you hear from some riders about the low frequency of testing I really wonder how solid the data is.
I’m not saying the experts are wrong. All I’m saying is we don’t know what their threshold of ‘highly likely’ is. But I’m fairly sure it’s far away from the 5 sigma criterion that is used at CERN.

Tovarishch July 1, 2014 at 10:33 am

It is actually quite simple. You take a continuous set of data for an individual, calculate the mean and the SD and if any future value is more than than 3 SD’s away from the measured mean or 3 consecutive measures show variance of greater than 1 SD in one direction, this prompts further investigation.

Tovarishch July 1, 2014 at 10:45 am

You should also note that the equivalent of Biological passports are used every day for every patient in every hospital in the world (those graphs that the doctor always lifts from the end of the bed). Much more critical decisions, for example the use of chemo or radiotherapy, are based on tracking certain parameters within an individual.

AK July 1, 2014 at 12:15 pm

3 SD doesn’t sound too bad, especially if this is the starting point of further investigation. The cancer example doesn’t quite compare though, because in that case the result of not taking action is worse than the result of taking the wrong action. Medical diagnosis has to be done on the basis of the available data, which is usually insufficient but there’s often no other way.
Some may hold the opinion that letting somebody ride while you are only x % sure they are clean (or have been in the past) is worse than suspending them if you are only x % sure they are doped but I don’t.

Tovarishch July 1, 2014 at 3:04 pm

AK. With cancer the decision to stop chemotherapy is based on the value of oncomarkers achieving a stable level or going so far beyond stability that treatment serves no further purpose. The impact of continuing chemotherapy when no longer necessary can be quite severe. I have become something of an expert recently!

Don Macrae July 1, 2014 at 3:32 am

If looking back from 2014 the bp data suggested doping in 2012, at what point do they look at any relevant blood samples? Can they rub a rider out based only on bp assessment?

The Inner Ring July 1, 2014 at 8:46 am

They’ll use the data for as much of the period they have. If you mean “rub out” as ban then yes, many riders have been banned via the passport. It has also been used as means to test more or retest samples from the past, for example this is how they caught Thomas Dekker:
http://www.cyclingnews.com/news/dekker-gets-two-year-suspension-for-epo-use

Larry T. July 1, 2014 at 9:07 am

A messy situation for sure – but one caused by the riders and teams themselves. They have nobody else to blame as they’ve fought dope testing pretty much since the idea was first suggested. I wish these folks would spend as much time on the rest of cycling as they do trying to figure out how to beat the testing procedures and get an unfair advantage over their rivals. A computer spits out data, flags something fishy and then 3 experts look it over before anything is done. The “innocent until proven guilty” idea is a concept everyone who takes out a license agrees to waive, so no tears from me when they get nabbed, even if it’s a year or two late.

Dodge2000 July 1, 2014 at 9:18 am

How accurate is the science? I appreciate that the burden of proof is high and the 3 separate experts is designed to remove bias, but is the actual science something a bit hazy? 3 independent experts could be working off the same incorrect science and are likely to have been influenced by previous cases.

Is BP something we look back on after more years with a mostly clean peloton as something flawed? Can’t help by think think that the same as with armchair experts knowing how fast people can climb, we have insufficient historical data to compare. JTL had only been in BP for a year, how can that give a definitive baseline to show anomalies as signs of doping. Are young riders advised to keep blood in storage from an early age to support a future pro career?

The Inner Ring July 1, 2014 at 9:57 am

It’s not the black and white case but there’s a hearing where both sides get to put their case and the CAS can review. There have been challenges at the CAS but I’m not sure if an athlete has yet to win/overturn a ban.

Sam July 1, 2014 at 11:59 am

As I understand it the thesholds that trigger the alerts are set pretty high. The athlete’s values REALLY need to be out of whack to ping.

channel_zero July 1, 2014 at 6:10 pm

Depending on the test, it can be true/false, or a complex analysis requiring human expertise to evaluate.

For example, clenbuterol does not appear naturally in the human body, so detection is a positive. Another example, artificial Testosterone can similarly be detected, but the test is expensive and time consuming so it is not run until an athlete crosses the T/E ratio test. (A ridiculous 4/1 threshold) Meanwhile EPO-related doping is a rather complicated test requiring extensive training to do, and more training to read the panels.

My understanding is the APMU detects longitudinal irregularities, but cases, if there is ever one brought, are more difficult to get all the way through CAS. So, the option to not sanction an athlete can be exercised.

Inrng, you need to examine the grand tour hole in the bio-passport system. Apparently, there is no process specific to cycling and three week stage races for tracking irregularities. See Chris Horner’s suspicious profiles.

denominator July 1, 2014 at 9:44 am

There is yet another point of view, let us call it “efficiency of (possible) doping”. I had a look at Kreuziger’s results in cq ranking:
http://www.cqranking.com/men/asp/gen/rider.asp?riderid=3255
and one finds out that his best years were: 2009, 2013, 2010, 2008, 2012, 2011, … (and years when he was too young). If he really did something bad at Astana – 2011, 2012 – it did not work at all.

RC July 1, 2014 at 9:47 am

Lots of questions about the passport but I think we should put a few questions towards Kreuziger and Astana. He’s admitted to being a client of Ferrari.

The Inner Ring July 1, 2014 at 9:54 am

I wanted to make this more a procedural issue rather than link suspicion. Certainly he’s got this mark against him and it’d be good to know more about his values. But this is a story that will rumble on.

Martijn July 1, 2014 at 12:26 pm

Astana is a member op MPCC. Under their rules does this have any effect on the team?

Bundle July 1, 2014 at 10:55 am

Isn’t 7 months too much for the UCI experts to examine Kreuziger’s allegations? The other thing I’m not sure about is the team being the one to go public about the issue… Isn’t it possible to know when the UCI will “instigate disciplinary proceedings” with some degree of certainty? At the very least, the authorities should acknowledge the importance of timing. This being a sport, a game, I think I prefer expeditious justice, with some risk of mistakes, to deadline-free disciplinary procedures.

channel_zero July 1, 2014 at 6:13 pm

There’s no limit to length of processing. See Sky’s Jonathan Tiernan-Locke sp??? slow-motion case. He’s not the first.

Michal July 1, 2014 at 12:08 pm

http://romankreuziger.com/my-biological-passport-does-not-have-anomalies/
Kreuziger saying himself that all 3 experts found his anomalies were not due to doping?
After receiving this notification I immediately had the data in my biological passport checked by two accredited experts, who in September and October last year unanimously concluded that the values were due to causes that were not due to the use of doping substances or methods.

The Inner Ring July 1, 2014 at 12:14 pm

All 3 of his experts, he’s hired people to look into this but don’t confuse them with the three at the AMPU.

Darrin July 1, 2014 at 2:06 pm

Sure, so now you have the opinions of 6 experts, 3 ostensibly hired to find anomalies, 3 hired to show that there aren’t any. Surprisingly, they have different interpretations.

In the meantime, Kreuziger misses out on the Tour, and potentially many other races, for who knows how long. If he’s cleared, he will have missed a lot of racing for no reason. If his interpretations are rejected, say a year from now, and he gets a two year ban, he would have been better off admitting guilt (whether he is or not) as soon as questions were raised, because he would be back racing sooner (if he could find a team) than if he tries to prove that he’s not.

The length of time that these things takes needs to be reduced. The impact on someones career if they get this wrong is far greater than the impact on the sport from a couple of average years (as they seem to have been in this case). Or is it more important to clean up the sport and sacrifice a few innocents along the way?

RocksRootsRoad July 1, 2014 at 2:16 pm

No mention of ADAMS here.

Would be interested to know if the AMPU works in correlation with the ADAMS system?
So likely changes in blood values COULD be explained by altitude training/racing etc

The Inner Ring July 1, 2014 at 2:21 pm

Not so much ADAMS but altitude training is taken into consideration, it is one of the determining elements.

Note the cheats know this too with Doctor Ferrari known to advise riders to time their use of blood bags, filling them and consuming them, to coincide with the altitude training camps.

JEB July 1, 2014 at 3:47 pm

I heard that the BP also looked at things such as %age of ‘young’ red blood cells etc. Is that true? I imagine it would say in the WADA documentation but I have not read it.
Criterion like that could make a very strong case for suspicious activity.

This page looks informative but I haven’t read it all yet.

http://www.sportsscientists.com/2011/03/the-biological-passport-legal-scientific-and-performance-views/

Good work Inner Ring, keep it up.

The Inner Ring July 1, 2014 at 4:20 pm

See the slide included in the piece above the RET% is the reticulocyte count which measures the junior blood cells.

MClark July 1, 2014 at 6:24 pm

Is there any information on how the “experts” are contacted and requested for a 1st, 2nd, 3rd opinion on the data? It seems like they are only contacted when there is a suspected abnormality – so then they already know that if they are contacted that someone else thinks they have doped, or at least the programs thinks they have. Instead a more fair process should involve more “blind” steps:

– they should regularly be sent the data from athletes who do not set off APMU alarms, call it a regular / periodic review
– 2nd and 3rd reviewers should not know that someone else has already deemed the athlete’s data has “improbable natural causes” – it should appear like the program is sending them data for a regular / periodic review
– and of course any identifying information on the rider should be concealed until the three blind independent experts have reviewed the data

This way it would just be a part of their regular weekly routine for experts to review a case for example. Instead of now where it seems that if they are ask to review a case, that they already know someone else thinks the athlete is guilty. Hopefully a standardized procedure like this could improve the accuracy and consistency of the blood passport in the future – as discrepancies between experts could be reviewed in a scientifically rigorous procedure.

Tovarishch July 1, 2014 at 7:14 pm

If I remember an interview with Ashenden correctly the experts review the data of every athlete (possibly allocating a few to each panel member). If one of them flags an anomaly that specific data is then sent for further review.

cenekh July 1, 2014 at 7:37 pm

I wonder,if UCI survives, once riders have had established their own cycling association not to test dopes and focus on cycling itself, i would bet it does not. I would bet, all the big tours would drop UCI

tid July 1, 2014 at 9:13 pm

So here’s the thing: I made a reply to a comment up above and INRNG kindly directed me to UCI website to go look up numbers. I was interested in how many data points a passport had over a period of time. It would seem that the more you had, the more reliable the info there would be. If I was a clean pro-cyclist I’d surely want my passport to have 6-7 test result every year.
Anyhows I went to UCI site and saw some numbers there, then I went to USADA for more numbers and then WADA for even more. On the face of it there are plenty of tests being done across the number of pro cyclists to give good results, but when you look at it and try to understand what’s going on, dunno but it seems a bit lite… even though from raw data cycling has a much bigger burden of drug testing than similar sports.

So I’d ask folks here to describe a drug testing protocol that they think would work to ensure a clean sport (as much as that is possible). Say why you want cycling to be drug free and design a programme that would make it so. There’s more than one reason to want drug-free sport.

Add up how many tests you’d need to run in a year, and see how that compares to official stats now.
In round numbers there are 1000 cyclists in WT and ProConti teams. (Round numbers are good.)
AFAIK they all have 2x yearly medicals where urine and blood samples are taken, so we can start the number at 4000 tests/year.
According to INRNG there’s around 1200 days of racing worldwide (elite mens) and the womens figure is 180 days-ish. So almost 1400 winners every year, and multiple jersey wearers.
Don’t forget out-of-competition testing – that’s where you catch the cheats eh? And all the cyclists below elite level too: is it ok to say TdF is clean if the Crits are full of stimulants and EPO, and kids on the way up need to use PEDs to shine and gain Pro contracts?

It’d make sense to test high finishers and jersey wearers just to make sure the record books didn’t need to be expunged every few years. But does that mean the domestiques/sprint trains get a free ride?

It’s a nightmare and maybe it’s impossible. Historically it is unrealistic. INRNG in a recent post said:
“The more the sport avoids a scandal, the more new sponsors will start to emerge.” Perhaps it is better not to find top riders that are breaking the rules.

Is there a number of tests that is enough? Is there a number that is too much? Reading the protocols for sample taking and the whereabouts rules, I’m certainly glad it isn’t me at the sharp end.

cenekh July 1, 2014 at 10:07 pm

Well, i think, the dope industry is one maybe more steps in front of dope control technology.i am afraid, the sports cannot be free unless the sponsors push for results.
I mean, the wada practise seem to be contraproductive, if i consider how long uci had shielded Armstron in order not to loose a star from peloton, i think, the interests of the people in behind of cycling stage will allways rule, not the clean sports idea.

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