UCI's Verbruggen says UCI warned riders close to testing positive
UCI Honorary President Hein Verbruggen says the International Cycling Union (UCI) held meetings with riders, including Lance Armstrong, to warn them when suspicious test values showed they were coming close to testing positive for performance enhancing drugs.
In an interview with Dutch newspaper Vrij Nederland, Verbruggen states that he initiated a UCI policy to warn riders during his 1991-2005 UCI presidency period.
In the interview Verbruggen says the UCI notified Armstrong that his test values were suspicious, but claims he had to defend Armstrong publicly in spite of the suspicious test values.
"It was hard for me to the extent that you know more than you can say. You have questions but you can’t express it publicly."
According to Vrij Nederland confidential documents show leading professional riders and managers of professional cycling teams were invited to meetings in the Aigle, Switzerland-based UCI headquarters. At these meetings the UCI chief doctor Mario Zorzoli presented the riders and managers with Powerpoint presentations detailing the International Cycling Union's anti-doping strategy and informing them of any suspicious values found in anti-doping tests.
Some riders were called on the phone, either by Zorzoli or Dutch member of the UCI anti-doping commission Lon Schattenberg. Former Rabobank rider Karsten Kroon explained to Vrij Nederland how Schattenberg warned him about his abnormal doping test values in 2004.
According to Australian anti-doping expert Michael Ashenden the UCI's policy of warning riders and team managers about suspicious values is extremely problematical because it made it possible for riders and team managers to adjust riders' doping intakes so they would not test positive.
Ashenden said he was not aware of any other international federation pursuing a similar strategy.
Ashenden cooperated with the UCI on developing the biological blood passport from 2008-2012 but left this position because he felt the UCI was forcing him to withhold important information he preferred to share with the public.
Verbruggen, himself, claims he does not believe the UCI policy of informing riders and managers about suspicious doping test values reduced the chance of catching riders who doped and their traffickers and masterminds. According to Verbruggen "It might convince them not to use doping anymore and it might not."