The UCI vs Roman Kreuziger

Monday, 4 August 2014


The UCI issued a statement on Saturday announcing the provisional suspension of Roman Kreuziger.

It’s a big test for the athlete passport system. So far the UCI has won every case it’s launched or asked others to prosecute, including winning appeals at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). We might want the instant verdict of a toxicological test with a positive A and B test in the lab but the passport just doesn’t work like this. It works on statistics and takes time to build up patterns and then riders are given plenty of time to respond. But so far it’s won against small fry riders or those, like Dennis Menchov, who have simply retired with a shrug rather than a legal fight. Kreuziger’s case is different, he’s an active rider, a millionaire and already employing high-profile lawyers to defend him.



If you want a longer explanation of the procedural process to explain what’s happened so far, see Roman Kreuziger’s Passport Delays from June. In summary an athlete’s blood values are checked and software rings an alarm bell if an athlete’s numbers deviate from an established patten so a medical expert can review the data. In the event there’s no obvious explainer beyond doping, two more experts are asked to evaluate the anonymous data. 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.

Then the UCI builds a file with details of the anomalies plus other information, for example the custody chain of of the samples, tests taken at altitude and more and this is sent to the athlete asking them to explain themselves.

“According to the UCI’s Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation (CAFD) its Experts Panel has concluded that Roman Kreuziger’s blood passport profile shows abnormalities established from March 2011 until August 2011 as well as from April 2012 until the end of the 2012 Giro d’Italia, periods prior to the rider signing with TCS”
– Tinkoff-Saxo team statement, June 2014

Why does it take so long?
We might want the instant verdict of a toxicological test with a positive A and B test in the lab but the passport just doesn’t work like this. It works on statistics and takes time to build up patterns and then riders are given plenty of time to respond.

We don’t know the Kreuziger case details but it seems that comparisons between recent and past data could have allowed some past data to stand out. The more data is logged, the more patterns can be established. For illustration, imagine someone cheating in school maths exams, they get very high scores in a series of exams. Then the school tightens its exam protocols and in test after test the star pupil now gets average grades, even failing questions on subjects they’d aced before. Let’s not go too far with this example but it shows how high or odd numbers might not be suspicious by themselves, it’s only with more targeted testing that a profile can be built-up and exceptions looked for. With this in mind it’s possible Kreuziger’s numbers looked curious at the time but with more data logged, and perhaps zealous target testing, the numbers from certain periods stand out sufficiently to launch a prosecution.

A further delay is comes when the UCI contacted Kreuziger and asked him to explain the anomalies and rightly he was given time to prepare his dossier. This takes time but it’s reasonable.

It’s different this time
The UCI started its bio passport prosecutions with some small names, think Franco de Bonis or Pietro Caucchioli. This seemed deliberate, to prosecute the most obvious cases and against riders who couldn’t lay siege to the UCI with lawyers. Precedents were established before the prosecution of Franco Pellizotti, a case which went to the CAS and the UCI won and got Pellizotti banned for two years. A more recent case saw Leif Hoste try an appeal but again he lost. More cases have since been established and other sports have adopted the athlete passport too, eg the IAAF.

This time the stakes are higher. Roman Kreuziger’s been fighting the case from the start and already on record saying “my biological passport does not have anomalies“… while UCI President Brian Cookson seems happy to brief the media, telling cyclingnews that “there are very serious anomalies“.

In a recent interview with supercycling.cz says Kreuziger has engaged Czech lawyer Jan Stovicek and others. Curiously Stovicek sits on the FIA‘s Court of Appeal along with Antonio Rigozzi… the UCI’s new lawyer. Sports arbitration is a small world. In addition team owner Oleg Tinkov tweeted he wanted to sue the UCI but he’s on holiday this week and tweeting like a drunken sailor on a  luxury yacht so don’t mistake one tweet for a policy.

Provisional suspension
The UCI has suspended Roman Kreuziger. He’s innocent for now although it’s clear the UCI want to prosecute him and have rejected his explanations. There’s been a fuss over the suspension and rightly so because the provisional suspension is unprecedented and it’s not in the rulebook: Chapter VIII of the UCI’s anti-doping rules say provisional suspension only relates to “analysis of an A Sample”, it does not mention the passport procedure.

When Carlos Barredo was being investigated he got “suspended” by his Rabobank team but this was a team policy, the squad was beleaguered by doping revelations and had to take a cautious stance. Similarly Jonathan Tiernan-Locke was first suspended by Team Sky and not by the UCI (although a small paragraph in the UCI rulebook means a rider under investigation can’t race the world championships – funny how the UCI deploys special protections for its own races). This time Tinkoff-Saxo “suspended” Kreuziger from the Tour de France but decided to enter him for the Tour de Pologne. I’m in two minds about this:

  • Kreuziger is innocent because we’ve yet to have a hearing and his case deserves to be reviewed, so in this sense he should be riding
  • Many professional bodies use suspension for protection, for example a teacher, surgeon or accountant accused of wrongdoing may be suspended pending an investigation, it’s a precautionary protection

There are pros and cons to the provisional suspension but they apply asymmetrically. What may protect the sport’s image is damaging for the rider, especially when the UCI President wades in. There’s also Tinkoff-Saxo’s side, the team meets Kreuziger’s monthly salary but cannot use him in races and all because of something related to the rider’s time at Astana.

Summary
The provisional suspension of Roman Kreuziger sees the UCI acting where teams had acted before, formalising a process that previously was murky, was a rider being rested from races because they were tired, off to another team… or under investigation?

It’s harsh to suspend an innocent rider but the sport already does this with A-sample “adverse analytical findings”, for example Diego Ulissi was pulled from the moment his Giro A-sample came back. The difference with passport cases is the process of data gathering can take years and presenting the evidence to the athlete and their entourage takes months. It cannot be rushed either.

Kreuziger’s case has the potential to be different because he’s wealthier than all the others who have faced prosecution before and is set firm against the UCI. If this is UCI vs Roman Kreuziger, we’ve had several rounds of discussion already, now there could be sustained challenge to the passport. Given the apparent certainty on both sides, an eventual appeal to the CAS seems inevitable.

  • Technical Update: there’s been a problem with all the comments on the site, a tech issue relating to the server that hosts the site and some comments were deleted. Sorry Most have been retrieved and copy/posted below.
Sam August 5, 2014 at 12:19 pm

If any employee at any firm for whom I’ve worked over the years has an allegation of something serious made against them (theft, abusive behaviour towards another employee etc), they are told to stay at home pending an investigation and its subsquent findings.

Personally I have no problem with this move by the UCI. And I’d rather whilst all this is going on, the possibility of Kreuziger getting results over other riders be eliminated. If Tinkov won’t take the step to pull him, I’m fine with the UCI stepping in.

Just my two cents…

The Inner Ring August 5, 2014 at 12:41 pm

It’s the protection element and I quite like it. The issue for me with it though is that it needs to be a systematic response that applies, ie in the rulebook in black and white, so it applies to all rather than a response to a team that doesn’t want to “bench” a rider.

ArgyllFlyer August 5, 2014 at 12:20 pm

As noted, the UCI only open passport cases against riders they’re certain have doped hence the 100% conviction rate. Tinkoff should have suspended RK permanently as soon as the letter dropped. Their negligence has led to this shift of policy by the UCI. Innocent until proven guilty is one thing, but as Cookson says, should someone who is highly suspected to have doped ride against riders assumed to be racing clean?

Rider August 5, 2014 at 12:21 pm

Don’t underestimate Danny, mr Inrng. He’s a very big fish, GT winner with Makarov on his side. We are still don’t know what have happened after his retirement until DSQ anouncement. Personally I don’t believe that he came out without legal fight or something of that kind. Or the anomalities in his BP was more than obvious.

Tovarishch August 5, 2014 at 12:23 pm

Could you provide some quotes to back up your argument rather than making accusations based on reported statements. I think the UCI genuinely believed that Tinkov would act is a reasonable fashion and keep Kreuziger under suspension. When he (Тиньков) decided to thumb his nose at the UCI, they had to act and enforcing the suspension until the case is settled is the right thing to do. Should athletes continue to compete with a positive A sample?

Nick August 5, 2014 at 12:24 pm

One point: a person isn’t innocent until proven guilty. They are *presumed* to be innocent *for the purposes of the hearing* until they’re proven guilty. Whether they are *actually* innocent or guilty depends on whether they doped; not what the results of the hearing were.

As to whether a rider should be suspended pending a BP hearing, it does make sense that there should be similar procedures for test positives and BP positives. But that doesn’t mean that the UCI should simply impose suspensions outside the rules (and if they tried to, the CAS would probably overturn them). They need to have rules in place that allow suspensions in these circumstances. Presumably, WADA don’t have such a rule in place for the UCI to adopt, which is why they can only suspend from the events that they run themselves – i.e., the Worlds.

Megi August 5, 2014 at 12:25 pm

There is a major difference between disciplinary hearings for a positive doping control and for a passport anomaly. In the former, the rider has no chance to give an explanation for the medical finding before the disciplinary process starts, in the latter, the disciplinary process only starts after the rider has given an explanation and seen it rejected.

Jimmymatamata August 5, 2014 at 12:25 pm

Is it possible that Tinkoff Saxo team was trying to make a point, about presumption of innocence and delays, when including him in the roster?

I can’t see the issue with having him race, as the periods in question are from a few years ago and there seems to be no indications that he has doped while on the Tinkoff Saxo team.

Surely even if he is found guilty only his results from the periods in question will be expunged.

Bilmo August 5, 2014 at 12:26 pm

‘tweeting like a drunken sailor on a luxury yacht'”
He has been on great form this weekend. You didn’t mention how retweets would affect transfers in your previous posts…

hoh August 5, 2014 at 12:26 pm

Bio-Passport needs a separate procedural that takes into consideration the nature of the tool and the long time period needed to gather further data to establish a solid baseline against suspicious data. Treating a bio-passport flagging as a A sample is just not the way to go forward.

I am also not convinced that the 3 expert format can eliminate the bias towards doping. The very fact that an athlete’s data is flagged up for scrutiny would have the word “doping” ringing at the back of the experts’ mind. Would they work that hard to establish an alternative explanation? Would their professional pride stop them from admitting they are wrong when somebody else points out that they’ve overlooked something? Especially when this somebody else is less established academic than they are.

Unless you have a group of experts who’s explicit goal is to prove an athlete innocent and pit them against another group who’s explicit goal is to prove an athlete guilty, there’s always a tendency to default towards a guilty verdict. On the other hand, I can’t think of a clear cut method to get a conclusion out of the opinions of those two group of experts. Maybe a American jury type of system, where a jury is selected precisely because they are not experts and does not have presumptions regarding issues at hand?

I don’t think you get that many Bio-passport cases (well, at least not that much compared to the amount of criminal cases you get in any given country), so the Bio-passport Jury system is probably to some extent practical. On the other hand, where do you find your Jury? I suppose the pool is more limited than your usual criminal case jury pool?

Glasses August 5, 2014 at 2:32 pm

I do not agree with you on the first point: The experts have, at the first stage of the process, no incentive whatsoever to give a profile positive. They will certainly also think about the odds of winning a case before they go forward ?
There are actually close to 100 Biopassport cases across sports, so its quite a significant number.

hoh August 6, 2014 at 12:37 pm

It depends on how the experts reach at the verdict of doping. If it’s a case of doping case has to follow certain pattern, then yes it’s not baised. However, as with chemical tests, the approach of “unless a proper reason is found to explain the blood value abnormally, it must be doping” is adopted.

Now imagine some rider with a very rare genetic reason or obscure environmental influence that is causing a blood value abnormally which is not related to doping. How motivated and how much resources (time, financial) are at the expert panel’s disposal to find this obscure cause? Not very much I suppose. For one, I don’t believe the experts are full time on this (maybe they should be), they must have other obligations and ambitions that gets in the way.

Now imagine one experts of the original panel, or the defence experts , finds a theoretical possibility to explain the abnormally away from doping, how could the expert prove that it’s actually the case with the rider or even that the theoretical possibility even does happen with real human beings? Without proof it’s just hypophysis. And to prove the theory, extensive testing in a controlled environment is required. Would the expert panel or the defence experts be able to carry out the required test to gather data? If so, who should foot the bill?

The Heno case came to mind. It’s quite possible that sky’s actually confident that he’s not doping but needs more data to prove that this is the case. If such effort is required to prove one innocent against the BP, I don’t think the same resource is available for just “any rider”.

Austin August 5, 2014 at 12:27 pm

I completely understand why, given where our sport is after years of doping scandal, the UCI want to be proactive in handing out a suspension in this case. Given their success rate they obviously feel confident that they will be justified in the end and will protect the sport in the meantime.

However, unlike the professions you mention where an individual may be suspended pending investigation – those occupations will likely mean suspension on full pay (as an employee). In this case I would imagine it is a more complex affair due to potential loss of earnings to a cyclist, partially through race winnings perhaps but more likely through lucrative contacts that will be lost or not offered as the athlete suffers a loss of reputation. The key here being that Kreuziger has not yet actually been found guilty of a violation nor sanctioned by his cycling union.

If this goes to a civil court I cannot see how the UCI have a leg to stand on due to an individuals right to work, until he is actually charged and sanctioned?

What is worse for me though is that the UCI seem to be once again making up policy on the hoof, just as they so often did under PMQ. I though Cookson has separated himself from the drug testing arm of the UCI so as to have apparent independence and was not going to comment on these cases whilst active? Next thing we here is him making public statements as to the seriousness of the ‘anomalies’.

I had great expectations of Cookson as a new broom at the UCI and was impressed by his first few months in office. The last couple of weeks have been an utter embarrassment however. The statement he issued which included the line ‘my friends at Team Sky’ was incredibly ill-judged and displayed a crass lack of understanding of how important the perception of independence for the UCI is, especially given his former position in British Cycling and his son’s role in Team Sky. I feel sorry for Oliver Cookson, his blundering father will make his position and Sky untenable if he continues on like this!

Joel August 5, 2014 at 12:32 pm

I don’t see how being friends with teams can affect things. I have always tried to be friends with clients throughout my career, albeit understand that there is a line that can’t be crossed.

The problem the UCI face is the length of time this is taking. Imagine a 34 year old having suspicious readings, he can just make it drag on for a few years until his retirement. To my mind Cookson has done the right thing as suspending him can only speed the process up. Having said that the UCI will have to ensure that they play their role and keep the process moving as quickly as possible so as not to be overly detrimental to the cyclist in the unlikely event he will be found innocent.

Sam August 5, 2014 at 12:32 pm

‘my friend’ or ‘my friends’ is a figure of speech for Cookson. He’s used in before in various contexts, and will no doubt use it again in the future. Nothing to do with Sky – though I can appreciate how some find it off. He needs to knock it on the head.

Tovarishch August 5, 2014 at 12:34 pm

He also referred to Oleg Tinkov as “my friend”. Is that also ill-judged?

Austin August 5, 2014 at 12:36 pm

Thing is Joel, Team Sky are not a client of the UCI, although I understand your point.

In this case the UCI is the governing body, responsible amongst other things for handing out licenses and for instilling/upholding the anti-doping programme and therefore independence is crucial. We have seen what happened before when a president was too close to a rider/team (back-dated TUE anyone?) and although I have no doubts that Cookson is an honourable man, perception is crucial for his and the UCI’s credibility.

As for calling every one ‘friend’, he may well have done in the past but is is inappropriate language in his current role and although innocent enough perhaps, looks dreadful and can be misinterpreted. Cookson seems a decent chap but he need to appear professional and even-handed – he could start by treating all doping cases equally.

Paul Jackma August 5, 2014 at 12:28 pm

Hi Inrng,

On “Kreuziger is innocent because we’ve yet to have a hearing”. I don’t think this is correct. The WADA Code and UCI rules require that, before a provisional suspension is issued, the athlete be given a right to to a provisional hearing to provide their side and alternative explanations. So, that Kreuziger has been provisionally suspended means he *has had* a hearing.

Further, AFAICT, the reason this is a provisional suspension, not a ban, has nothing to do with the process still considering Kreuziger to be potentially innocent. Rather, it has to do with the fact that, under UCI rules, the sanction is determined by the rider’s national federation. At this stage, the UCI has *issued* its ADR violation – and that finding is final, so far as the UCI is concerned (IMU). The process now goes to the national federation to have its disciplinary process act on that finding.

Under the WADA Code, the rider should have another right of appeal as part the national federation’s process. If they are unhappy with the result, they have a final right of appeal to CAS.

In short: The UCI’s independent BP unit *has found* Kreuziger guilty of a doping violation.

The process has gone a little bit past the “still innocent” stage.

The Inner Ring August 5, 2014 at 12:42 pm

The “hearing” is the formal disciplinary process but yes there has been an iterative process where the UCI/CADF have been sending the dossier to Kreuziger and reviewing his responses, so what he/his entourage had to say has already been heard.

maria August 5, 2014 at 12:31 pm

There is a very simple reason why Menchov didn’t appeal. That would trigger an investigation, people being brought on to testify, etc. People nobody from the Russian&Co brigade doesn’t want outside in the sun, like employees of RUSADA. And when I say the Russian brigade I mean Katusha, Astana (though technically not Russian), Rusvelo, etc.

Thing is with the new offensive, they might decide to take care of the problem at the root: aka, get rid of Cookson. I know a lot (and I mean a LOT) of second and third world federations can hardly wait to see the back of him. I have a feeling that in 1-2 years we will remember 2014 fondly as “the times when cycling was clean”.

Larrick August 5, 2014 at 12:33 pm

Though I agree that a process needs to be put in place for a BP anomaly, it’s worth reiterating that RK wasn’t suspended as soon as the problem was identified. If RK had an explanation that convinced the experts that it wasn’t due to doping, it would never have come to the suspension stage.

I see it more as there has been firstly, a case to answer, then motions made by the defence, expert opinion on the motions, in effect a preliminary hearing and then a suspension until sentencing. Then the rider can appeal. it’s the equivalent of remand without bail based on a judge believing that he will be found guilty.

As for BC and his ‘my friends at Sky’ comment. It does sound bad and is ill advised but he does call pretty much everyone ‘his friend/s’. Even PMQ from memory!

Tom J August 5, 2014 at 12:34 pm

Given the length of time necessary to build a case using the bio-passport, it is inevitable that there will be an increasing number of occasions in which effectively Team B (in this case Tinkoff) suffer repetitional and actual loss on account of the actions – real or alleged – of a rider while riding for Team A (in this case Astana).

Given the above, a thought experiment: If Kreuziger is ultimately found not guilty, would Tinkoff have a viable legal claim against Astana for their loss of earnings while he is sidelined? What about if he is ultimately found guilty? Or is it a case of “caveat emptor” in the transfer market?

Tom

The Inner Ring August 5, 2014 at 12:45 pm

Any case against Astana would need to prove the team knew his values were suspicious, hard since it seems that it’s only in the light of new data that the older numbers came up for review.

Tovarishch August 5, 2014 at 12:34 pm

Shouldn’t that be up to WADA as part of the Operating Guidelines? If each governing body were to decide its own procedures it would give the lawyers a field day.

beev August 5, 2014 at 12:37 pm

Read the CN release.

BC “…So what we’ve decided to do is look at all of these cases and treat them, if we can, as the equivalent to being an A sample positive test.” + “and we are now in a situation where we would have had to take disciplinary action very soon and we’ve done that as quickly as we could.”

– these would suggest that the procedure is now being manipulated to exact a suspension, rather than it being an explicit protocol part of a BP case. the fact that OT has forced the hand of the UCI is somewhat irrelevant.

BC “There are very serious anomalies” + “The UCI and CADF experts have a very strong indication of manipulation….”
– these are prejudicial statements from the head of the UCI regarding an independent body studying an ongoing case”

imo, BC would have been far better off saying;

1. OT/TST actions have highlighted weaknesses in the BP procedure, and we are moving to remove uncertainty by having BP irregularities considered as sample A violations.

2. I have no further comment on the RK case as it is ongoing.

One question for you though Tovarishch – if you had to put a date on when the UCI could reasonably known/identified these BP anomalies, when would that be?

Tovarishch August 5, 2014 at 12:38 pm

It depends on the extent of the anomaly. If it deviates from the norm by more than 3SD’s then you could probably take immediate action. If it deviated by 0.5 SD’s and you took samples every 2 months it would take you at least a year to identify it as anomalous. It is all about statistics.

And Cycling News is famous for its ability to misquote, even in English.

beev August 6, 2014 at 12:34 pm

Tovarishch

Apologies for the delay – the excellent inrng blog would appear to have had a case of comment gremlins, and my draft response/content below may not now appear as timely as i had intended

Whilst i do not have a detailed understanding of the statistical measures used in the BP (who does outside of it?), as a mathematician i do have a very strong understanding of statistics (my own speciality practised over the last 25+ years). So, based on your statements and your presence on this blog i consider you as a cycling fan/expert and indeed a mathematician also. Therefore, there is no way you believe (or perhaps i should say, like me you would love not to believe) that RK has only been tested every 2 months, especially considering his palmares and “windows of suspicion”.

So, how about a date please? A reasoned decision would do ;-) I have my own i’m happy to share

Re CN. Far be it from me to comment on the veracity of its journalists, but i believe in this instance the statements attributed to BC are correct, and certainly have not been denied. This view would appear to be shared by many others;

http://www.tinkoffsaxo.com/news/open-letter-uci-president-mr-brian-cookson/

Furthermore, the official UCI release confirms the reactive nature of the measures taken, as opposed to following established rules/protocols. Additionally, i note it is also far more circumspect with respect to comments made (in line with my own suggestions) than BC appears to have been.

http://www.uci.ch/Modules/ENews/ENewsDetails2011.asp?id=MTAxMTY

Tovarishch August 5, 2014 at 12:44 pm
The Inner Ring August 5, 2014 at 12:45 pm

Yes, thanks for posting this, it explains plenty.

LM August 5, 2014 at 1:13 pm

As an interesting aside, RK may very well have been busted by cleaning up his act. That, or changing his regime if he’s guilty.

Generally, it seems with this “new era”, regardless of anyone’s good or bad opinion, that the sport could benefit from an extensive rules rewrite.

The Inner Ring August 5, 2014 at 12:39 pm

*** All quotes above this one were lost due to a server problem. Sorry. ***

I’ve managed to copy/paste them from records but they replies might not flow as they were meant, some are responses to others rather than the article but I can’t work out which ones. A few comments have been lost as have my original replies.

Netserk August 5, 2014 at 1:11 pm

Just like the riders should follow the rules, UCI should as well. I have no doubt that Kreuziger doped and that his passport indicates that, but riders still have rights. If the UCI didn’t want Kreuziger to race, then they should have suspended him immediately and not have hoped the team would simply bench him, only to suspend him the moment he was no longer benched. You can’t blame the team for following the rules and letting a non-suspended rider race.

I don’t get why Kreuziger is in a worse position now than Valverde was just before he was suspended. He was allowed to race for a long time while it was clear that there was a BB belonging to him.

LM August 5, 2014 at 1:17 pm

Situations like Valverde’s and Contador’s continuing to race is probably what they want to avoid in the future.

Netserk August 5, 2014 at 1:29 pm

I don’t see the problem in Contador’s case, which is very different to the two others. Remember he was suspended right after the analytical finding until he was *cleared*, and only then was he allowed to race. I hope you don’t suggests that athletes should be suspended after they have been cleared just because UCI/WADA appeal the decision.

Foley August 5, 2014 at 7:46 pm

No, the complaint about Contador is that he was ultimately not “cleared” of anything, and should not have been allowed to race temporarily based only on his denials. It happened that way because the process allowed for it, but his appeal and his racing were an affront to the anti-doping cause. The sport cannot afford that degree of impartiality in that face of substantial evidence of doping, and part of the fix is frankly to explicitly limit an accused rider’s options for recourse in BP cases. The rules for appeals need to be lawyer-proof, and we have to place a lot of faith in the BP analysis, since it will be treated as pretty much dispositive. If riders can argue that they are coerced to ride under unfair rules and thus cannot be bound by them, or if BP analysis comes to be seen as not as reliable as it needs to be, then the system will get gamed to death very quickly. Let’s watch who other than Kreuziger himself is interested in undermining the Bio Passport system in this case. I am not sure Oleg Tinkoff is among them, as I think his beef is ultimately with the guy to whom he offered a contract. He may be frustrated by what Astana or the UCI may have known when he was doing that signing, but I see no practical way of addressing that in the rules and in any case the misrepresentation by the rider himself is by far the bigger concern.

Netserk August 6, 2014 at 1:26 am

August 2010: Contador suspended because of an analytical finding.
February 2011: Contador cleared by his NADA. No longer suspended and free to race. UCI and WADA appeal.
February 2012: Contador banned for two years (backdated) by CAS.
August 2012: Contador’s ban ends and he is free to race.

Are you suggesting that after Feb’11 (where he got cleared) that he should have remained suspended because UCI and WADA appealed his case?

Foley August 6, 2014 at 2:22 am

No, I am saying that the rules obviously needed to be amended after that sorry sequence of events.

Foley August 6, 2014 at 2:35 am

Netserk, you’re right that Contador’s case was prosecuted “correctly” in an important sense, and is totally different from Valverde or others in important ways. I was just offering the opinion that, “correct” or not, the sport cannot afford too many more cases like that, it needs to do better.

BC August 5, 2014 at 1:43 pm

Big money, egos and a team with history versus the UCI, bio passport and expert scientific observations. I know where my sympathies lie, and almost certainly where the truth lies.

It is to be regretted that once again the sport is being bought into disrepute and chaos by the selfish actions of a few.

Maybe the UCI would be well advised to reflect on the wisdom of issuing PT licenses to Oligaths !

Tovarishch August 5, 2014 at 1:46 pm

Tinkov isn’t an oligarch. He’s plenty of other things but that isn’t one of them!

The Inner Ring August 5, 2014 at 1:49 pm

True, I keep seeing comments like “don’t upset Oleg or your family will be drinking with the fishes/banished to Siberia” etc but he’s a self-made billionaire, a publicity stunt expert who has done well copying US business techniques into Russia.

More on him here: http://inrng.com/2012/06/oleg-tinkov-returns/

BC August 5, 2014 at 5:59 pm

Tovarishch. Thank you for the correction in both description and spelling ! much obliged.

The term Oligarch however has wider meaning than just a relationship to Putin ! This is going to be an interesting contest, and one in which the winner might well set a long term precedent.

RocksRootsRoad August 5, 2014 at 1:48 pm

The way I would read this – all collections for the passport are “A” samples. Therefore, a provisional suspension does not seem out of the question. A review of the blood values in the passport has shown an adverse analytical finding.

What disturbs me more is the uproar is more about UCI protocols than it is about Kreuziger showing adverse results in his passport. Or isn’t anyone surprised by that?

The Inner Ring August 5, 2014 at 1:50 pm

It’s the “reading” that passport samples are this or that, it should be clearer in the rules. This ambiguity will be tested when Kreuziger’s case is heard at the CAS.

Foley August 5, 2014 at 9:08 pm

As to the level of uproar over the doping itself– I sure some of us are more surprised than others about the fact that Kreuziger in particular was doping in 2011 and 2012. It has to be a pretty big deal considering that he is a prominent rider with an impressive palmares and is still in his prime. The individual reactions to the news will range from total disillusionment on one end to a cynical “meh, we KNEW as much” on the other end. Myself I am not very surprised but fairly disappointed, and very glad he has been found out. I had no trouble looking forward after the news about Contador and Frank Schleck, but the current case seems to portend some serious problems if the UCI protocols prove inadequate, hence the focus on process.

The Inner Ring August 5, 2014 at 11:01 pm

This is why it’s an important test, he’s a high profile and wealthy rider.

denominator August 5, 2014 at 2:36 pm

UCI should hurry with the rules change to put biopassport on the same level as positive A sample. I know it cannot be applied retroactively on Kreuziger, but at least for future cases that will inevitably come. Even more if they would lose this one because of insufficient “paragraphs”.

george August 5, 2014 at 2:44 pm

Apparently Kreuziger is gong to appeal his suspension to CAS. Does this mean there will be two cases,one if he should be suspended provisionally and the other about the actual (alleged) doping? I agree with the idea that if they want to treat Bio passport irregularities like positive A samples, it should be in the rules, which it isn’t. So he might very well be allwed to race (if he wins the first case) and then suspended for doping

The Inner Ring August 5, 2014 at 11:43 pm

He’s going to the CAS for an expedited hearing to try to overturn the provisional suspension so he can ride the Vuelta.

Shawn August 5, 2014 at 4:21 pm

Why has an official case vs. Kreuziger not been initiated by Czech anti-doping or the UCI? There seems to be a significant lag between the time the UCI rejects the reasons provided by a rider with perceived anomalies and when a case is initiated. By putting Kreuziger into the Tour of Poland, Team Tinkoff seems to be pushing the UCI to actually play their cards and begin a proceeding (perhaps before they are ready). The UCI’s move to provisionally suspend Kreuziger seems like an attempt to preserve this extended time to build their case prior to initiating any official proceeding. I can’t help but feel this is not serving due process well.

The Inner Ring August 5, 2014 at 11:44 pm

The official case is said to be coming but you’re right, it is taking time to go ahead or not.

Kreuziger bounces back August 5, 2014 at 4:58 pm

Please, don´t pass over the following aspect of that case. There is no evidence of values exceeded the specific range set according to the Adaptive Model in Roman´s biological passport. The definition and objective of the Adaptive Model is clear from WADA (UCI) documentation: “A mathematical model that was designed to identify unusual longitudinal results from Athletes. The model calculates the probability of a longitudinal profile of Marker values assuming, that the Athlete has a normal physiological condition.” … “The Adaptive Model predicts for an individual an expected range within which a series of Marker values falls assuming a normal physiological condition.”

So, the novelty of Roman´s case consists in the fact that values within the range of “normality” may be interpreted as “abnormal”. Caucchioli, Pellizotti, Menchov, Valjavec, etc. all of them had irregular values, i.e. out of the limits set by the Adaptive Model, then there in no clear precedent.

Tovarishch August 5, 2014 at 6:38 pm

From my reading it is a stochastic analysis that calculates a mean and a variability. If a series of results are all above (or below) the mean , even if they are within the calculated variability, they can still signal an abnormality.

Kreuziger bounces back August 5, 2014 at 7:09 pm

The definition and purpose of the Adaptive Model is clear and essential for the practical use of the haematologic profile within anti-doping policy. Look at WADA pages or operating guidelines here:
http://www.wada-ama.org/en/Science-Medicine/Athlete-Biological-Passport/Q-A-on-the-Athlete-Biological-Passport/

http://www.uci.ch/Modules/BUILTIN/getObject.asp?MenuId=MTU4ODY&ObjTypeCode=FILE&type=FILE&id=NjA2NzM&LangId=1

The principles of that method are well described in following article:
http://scienceofsport.blogspot.cz/2011/03/biological-passport-legal-scientific.html

Ben August 5, 2014 at 5:05 pm

I thought the MPCC would have a policy on a rider being investigated but again it appears to only refer to the A Sample. Seems a gap in their “rules”. Under the spirit of the MPCC I’d have thought the suspension of a rider announced to be facing an investigation for a Bio-Passport violation would be suspended by the member team.

Ben August 5, 2014 at 5:05 pm
Dodge2000 August 5, 2014 at 5:31 pm

Do we know what RK is challenging the evidence with? It seems we have two groups of experts with different conclusions, so is this a challenge to the science involved?

And what does this mean for others? I am thinking Tiernan-Locke’s case was based on a very short amount of time. The implication in this story is that the BP cases are worked over a long period to identify fluctuations that are at a high level of certainty that it is illegally produced. With JTL how bad must the swing have been for them to prosecute with certainty?

I don’t know why, but I fear that the BP scheme will be tweaked in a few years time after reasons for fluctations get challenged in courts and past cases get re-examined.

Kreuziger bounces back August 5, 2014 at 6:43 pm

Roman summarized his objections in today´s press release as follows:
““His (Roman) blood profile data at no time exceeded the limit values set by the UCI itself, but only approached the limits on one occasion, which was caused by extreme dehydration after (an unsuccessful) mountain stage of the Giro d’Italia 2012,” and ““Three independent experts contacted by Mr. Kreuziger’s management on the basis of anonymity confirmed independently of one another that the assumption of the CADF expert panel is wrong.”

One of aforesaid “independent experts” is prof. Kingsley K. Hampton, expert in hematology from Sheffield University, so “the science” is definitely presented on both sides.

Tovarishch August 6, 2014 at 6:30 am

I’m not sure that Kingsley Hampton (almost a contemporary of mine) is a an expert on haematology related to sports science and physiology, as his main area of interest is thromboses. (He is not Professor, by the way)

Dodge2000 August 6, 2014 at 9:38 am

Either way, it is this challenge about interpretation that bothers me. I know we would love a definite positive test, and the nature of doping and the why BP was brought in means we can’t, but my concerns are that the limits set may not be taking into account quite a few factors that affects elite athletes and it is through these cases and the appeals that a valuable tool gets discredited.

I know this is not that related, but 10 years ago a child going into to A&E with small bone fractures would be taken into care and the parents prosecuted. Those same parents have since had the conviction quashed as the injuries were likely caused by a vitamin deficiency (paraphrasing and summarising) My point is that doctors were lining up and were certain enough in their science that children were removed from parents.

2 years down the line will we see cases where ‘anomolies’ can be explained away with effects of illness, changes in training regime, altitude (henao case?) Or if not explained away, but challenged? If dopers can challenge the science based on these then it ruins the whole BP system.

Kreuziger bounces back August 6, 2014 at 10:35 am

I understand your feelings, also hate pointless never ending lame and stock excuses.

Despite that, please, reconsider your conclusion “the limits set (by WADA, UCI) may not be taking into accout…” Do you smell that odour of possible selectivity and manipulation? Which profile with all values within limits should be examined in detail and which one not? Who and how will decide it? All profiles “in limits” should be administrated anonymously, just remind you.

Roman´s case deserves more attention than the previous BP cases, I guess.

Kreuziger bounces back August 6, 2014 at 9:58 am

He was cited as prof. in Czech press. My fault, I didn´t verify it.

Anyway, cca 20 years of research activities in the area of hemostasis looks relevant to me. On the other hand, I must admit that the expert opnion from e.g. dr. M. Ashenden would be more appreciated.

In that connection is remarkable that Roman´s BP was most probably reviewed by Rasmus Damsgaard in the time Riis signed him.

Tovarishch August 6, 2014 at 11:26 am

Really? I thought he was advising Astana around that time.

Kreuziger bounces back August 6, 2014 at 11:51 am

Damsgaard has been working for Riis for years, I think.

Astana? Really? That makes my remark apparently less significant :-)

Javi August 5, 2014 at 7:55 pm

This whole thing smells of politics. Igor Makarov’s close associate, Nikita Kamaev, was placed on the anti-doping committee by Cookson after his election victory. Why Kamaev? Why not an ADA head who has a better history of anti doping governance?
This goes alongside Cookson associate Chris Jarvis, and one of the UCI committee members who received a thank you for the campaign support, Peder Pedersen.
There is a long history of dislike between Oleg Tinkov and Igor Makarov. Makarov is using his influence to cause grief for Tinkov.
The disappointing part for cycling is Mr. Cookson OBE ran on a platform of changing the sport, and ridding it of all the secret handshake deals and politics. Now we’re just getting business as usual, and worse, with the UCI changing their rules on bio passport suspensions in the middle of cases.
I’m all about clean sport, but I hope Kreuziger cleans their clocks at CAS.

The Inner Ring August 5, 2014 at 11:04 pm

So you think this has been artificially created by one team owner to get at another?

It’d take some doing to get three independent experts at the AMPU (who don’t work for the UCI) to flag this up this way. But Makarov is close to the KGB, perhaps some secret spy work hacked the data ;-)

Javi August 7, 2014 at 11:07 pm

I think the methodology for getting flagged is inconsistent. It’s been the complaint for a number of years, with Tinkov whining about it in a cyclingnews exclusive interview. I don’t think it’s an artificial creation, but when an opportunity presents itself, why not cause Tinkov some grief? Billionaire games have high stakes at times.
You’ve reported on KGB stuff in the past and all those secret dealings. I don’t think it would surprise me at all! ;-)
But it’s still bizarre to take the step of a suspension. It’s a dangerous precedent. It’s like many of the haphazard decisions under previous regimes that came back to bite them.

Tovarishch August 6, 2014 at 6:42 am

RUSADA has had a fairly good record recently of prosecuting doping cases both in cycling and in other sports. In fact, I think, they have suspended more athletes for BP anomalies than any other ADA. On what basis do you feel his governance is inadequate?

Nick August 6, 2014 at 1:37 pm

I noticed that about RUSADA. Is that a byproduct of having hosted the Winter Olympics, and therefore having been involved in more cases than other ADAs?

Sam August 6, 2014 at 3:25 pm

Nick, this is a decent article outlining the background – which is that Rogge gave Russia a massive shoeing back in 2010 in the light of their role as hosts of the-then next Winter Olympics…

http://www.trinidadexpress.com/sports/Olympic-hosts-Russia-coming–out-of-doping-doghouse-242855081.html

Javi August 7, 2014 at 11:29 pm

Tovarishch, the Russian have the most banned athletes of any nation except India. German investigative reporters turn up cases like this one: http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/sport/archives/2014/02/06/2003582855
While Kamaev responds by saying they conduct 20,000 tests a year. But that’s not the point. There are others who were on the committee who had a good track record, and others with better credentials who should be on the committee. It’s rather funny how after the election, magically there is a Brit and a Russian appointed to the AD commission. We can count on more controversies to come.

Javi August 7, 2014 at 11:37 pm

I must point out I made a mistake. This post piqued my interest, so I did some more research. Dr. Chris Jarvis has been on the UCI AD commission since 2007, and was not recently appointed as I said above.
My Kamaev comments stand. :-D

kaweh August 5, 2014 at 9:19 pm

I believe it is understandable why the UCI changed its position on suspending riders. Kreuziger was on his team’s roster for the TdF and the Tour of Poland despite the clear rejection of his innocence claim and expert studies meant to support such claim. Still letting him start and then pulling him mid-race to me would seem like a slap in the face of the sport and a show a lack of respect or even indifference on behalf of Kreuziger/Tinkoff with regard to the sport of cycling and its reputation as a whole. Given the background of Tinkoff Saxo with Bjarne Riis, aka Mr. 60%, I get the impression they are trying to strongarm the system.

On the other hand I can perfectly understand the dilemma for an athlete who is innocent until proven guilty in a process that may take more than a year or even two. Even though I do not know anything about Kreuziger’s financial status, surely there are riders with less means to defend themselves than others.

Just my 2c…

ph August 6, 2014 at 4:50 pm

I agree with your point, but just to make things clear: Tinkoff removed RK from the team’s TdF start list to avoid the “slap in the face of the sport” because they assumed UCI would make some moves during TdF. Since nothing was happening (on UCI side) they (Tinkoff) decided not to wait anymore and let RK race in the Tour of Poland. We can just speculate on the real reasons they had to act in this way, but that’s another story.

In a response to some other previous comments: Czech Cycling Federation (not sure about the correct name) received no information on the case from UCI or WADA so far, that’s why they could not do anything with the case.

Most important and interesting to me as a cycling fan and scientist in the whole case is something else – whether the whole BP concept can survive sceptical examination of (hopefully) independent experts. As Dodge200 brought up: Anomalies (broken bones) can sometimes have anomalous causes (vitamin deficiency) and models are just models (although often useful) and usually don’t take into account many relevant factors.

Foley August 7, 2014 at 12:48 am

“whether the whole BP concept can survive sceptical examination of (hopefully) independent experts…”
–That is the entire anti-doping ballgame right there. The system is founded on the assumption that BP analysis as prescribed by the rules is “accurate” enough to be the entire basis for an anti-doping suspension with no need to account for anomalies via rider appeal. If Kreuziger (or anyone else) can argue that BP analysis is not sufficient as a reasonable basis for sanctioning a rider, the doping doctors will be free to resume adding value like they did in the good old days.

Kreuziger bounces back August 7, 2014 at 10:04 am

” If Kreuziger (or anyone else) can argue that BP analysis is not sufficient as a reasonable basis for sanctioning a rider…”

It turns completely upside down Roman´s case. His defense is entirely based on BP analysis. He argues that all the values in his BP are normal according to the scientific methode established by WADA, not by him or his experts. The definition of normal values is included in relevant WADA (UCI) documentation and cited above.

So ironically, only person, who publically doubts the whole BP concept is Mr. Cookson with his “very serious anomalies” and “a very strong indication of manipulation” statements on BP with all the values within range set up according to the Adaptive Model i.e. ex definitione “assuming a normal physiological condition”.

Sam August 7, 2014 at 10:12 am

Yes, I’m sure Kreuziger’s statement is above reproach in terms of its voracity

Let’s see what happens when CAS passes judgement

Sam August 7, 2014 at 10:12 am

^veracity, even

Kreuziger bounces back August 7, 2014 at 11:24 am

Regarding “provisional suspension” I would understand and appreciate UCI new logic: Is there any value in your BP beyond “the range” without reasonable explanation, so you will be treated as rider with A-sample positive and the burden of proof/evidence of your innocence is placed on you.

Then again, what to do in a case, where is no such “alarm bell”? Should be someone charged with burden of proof that his normal values are actually normal? And provisionally suspended?

The “boundaries” of normality are not in question, they are clearly defined by WADA (UCI).

Foley August 7, 2014 at 4:13 pm

As KBB indicates (does he have some way of knowing?), Kreuziger may be aiming for a loophole by arguing (I am not a scientist, nor a lawyer) that his “levels” never went above the limit that is categorically prohibited, so the current rules do not allow for him to be sanctioned on the basis of his passport data. His levels were consistently, abnormally high (although not over “the limit”) relative to his current baseline. So those high readings were not natural, and his readings are now lower because he has stopped doing what he was doing. All of this sounds almost like he had a doctor keeping him in the “allowed” range, knowing that this would be the defense if there was any trouble. KBB’s argument may prevail–he makes valid points about the rules–but we have no reason to believe it is offered in good faith, and really, not much difficulty seeing what is really going on here.

Foley August 7, 2014 at 4:17 pm

I should say, “not much trouble seeing what is going on here” after Mr Ring has laid out the relevant evidence for us. Thanks for the great forum Inrng, and thanks KBB for helping us see the view from the dark side, it adds to our understanding.

Kreuziger bounces back August 7, 2014 at 6:37 pm

You kindly overestimate my contribution to your understanding. You know Roman is cheating, the remaining question is how. I am prejudiced in favour of him so I still allow the possibility he is innocent.

Foley August 7, 2014 at 7:28 pm

The cheating in question took place two years ago or more, so I’d say he “was” cheating. I would not be surprised if he has been clean for come time now (ever since his passport baseline started going down, whenever that was). And of course I don’t “know” for sure, but the evidence against him is very compelling, based on my secondhand understanding of how BP analysis works. I have no desire to change your mind about Kreuziger, but as I have said I think the defense you have suggested for him has very little value except as a legal ruse. I tend to like “eastern bloc” riders as a group and that includes RK. If he would accept a ban I would retain a fair amount of respect for him, but if his lawyers start hacking away at the anti-doping regime for financial gain, my view of him will change.

Darrin August 7, 2014 at 11:08 am

(slightly) tongue in cheek – How about the UCI pay the rider’s salary while they are provisionally suspended, plus compensation to the team who are now down a rider. The team isn’t then penalised for something that happened while the rider was with another team (at least in this case), and the UCI has increased motivation to improve the speed of the process. If the rider is then found guilty, the money paid is returned and the team can decide whether or not they choose to persue the rider for damages (if the offense was prior to them joining that team).

I’d be interested to know if the BP also correlates results in racing with the biological anomalies. Doping is doping, whether you get good results or not, I agree, but “statistically likely that a rider doped but raced poorly” is different from “statistically likely that a rider doped, and performed better than usual”, at least in the degree of confidence that can be had when saying that the anomalies are due to doping…

Kreuziger bounces back August 7, 2014 at 11:34 am

From that point of view is Roman definitely innocent :-) His only value which is approaching the limits is from sample collected after his disastrous stage to Cortina in Giro 2012.

Anonymous August 7, 2014 at 12:53 pm

The UCI are only responsible for part of the process and its associated timing. The rider has several opportunities where they can prolong the process by asking for extensions (which Kreuziger did do). Then when it goes from the UCI to either the NADO or the national fed to issue the sanction, the length of time that takes is outside the UCI’s control. For example, the UCI issued their decision re JTL on 17 Dec 2013, and handed over to British Cycling to issue the sanction. As per the arrangment between all UK sports governing bodies and UKAD, British Cycling immediately handed the case over to UKAD. So it was with UKAD from that point onwards until their ruling on 17 Jul.

Race and training programs for the athletes are factored into the BP process, but results aren’t really a reliable indicator, especially in cycling given the extreme number of external variables in a race (weather, crashes, other riders, tactics, team support etc etc). Having said that, I’m sure that the likes of Santambrogio were target-tested, given his results in early 2013 after an anonymous stay with BMC the previous 3 years….

I’m reminded of the race walker who was done a few months ag0 – he’d finished last but one in the track meet….

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