Blood tests show 23 “suspect” riders – Yahoo! Eurosport UK

A programme to create biological passports for professional cyclists, giving details of their blood analyses, has revealed 23 riders with suspect samples, the International Cycling Union said.

UCI Anti-Doping manager Anne Gripper said 1,500 blood samples on 854 riders had been analysed since January and that 23 riders had given samples “needing further examination.”

There will be no disciplinary proceedings as the tests are not recognised dope tests.

Separately from the passport programme, Gripper told a news conference that the UCI was pursuing five suspected doping cases following traditional anti-doping tests on riders, either during races or out-of-competition.

Significantly, the decision to test one of those riders had been prompted by his previous sample for the passport profile.

Another 11 riders are under investigation for a possible breach of anti-doping regulations after failing to give their whereabouts, Gripper said.

Almost 12,000 tests are scheduled for 2008 at an estimated cost of 5 million euros (£3.9 million).

I’m surprised … the doping stories don’t usually start rearing their ugly heads until the Giro d’Italia (with another ramp up in the weeks before the Tour de France). But we’re still 8 days away from the start of the Giro …

On the bright side, no names have been listed thus far … not even in light of this story:

Unnamed cyclist to face doping charge – Yahoo! Eurosport UK

At least one top cyclist is to face doping charges after thousands of blood samples were analysed as part of the International Cycling Union’s blood passport programme.

The UCI did not reveal the identity of the cyclist concerned, but said he is one of 23 riders who “warranted further scrutiny” following 2172 tests on blood samples as part of their far-reaching passport scheme.

Introduced as the UCI’s new weapon in the fight against doping, the aim of the scheme is to catch cheats, and ultimately deter doping by relying on previously recorded data from athletes’ blood samples.

The UCI believes that because of the comparative increase in the number of tests and the introduction of individually tailored, and more effective, profiles, most riders are now thinking twice about doping.

Proof of that may not be seen until the end of this year’s Tour de France, where the lure of international fame and glory has traditionally tempted many riders to cheat.

The UCI said Friday that of the 2172 tests carried out to April 30, only 23 had warranted further scutiny by anti-doping experts.

And it reassured organisers of the Giro d’Italia by adding that “all riders set to compete in the Giro have adhered to the blood passport scheme”.