Is the UCI's Biological Passport flawed?

Oct 11, 2010
777
0
0
http://www.cyclingnews.com/news/is-the-ucis-biological-passport-flawed

It’s an invitation to dope at an earlier age. The passport has been prepared since around 1997 so I’ve been looking at it for around 15 years and the riders have been able to adjust to the passport being introduced and that’s just an invitation. Not only is it unsafe to convict someone it invites doping. Technically it’s not up to standards but there’s also a lack of vision.
 
hrotha said:
I don't understand the bit about it being an invitation to dope.
As Bernard Kohl said, "it almost helped us". Riders know how much they can dope and still stay within the passport parameters. It's an invitation in that your physiology is allowed to be within a certain range, so you know you can dope up to the limits of that range. Not only will you not get caught, but since you are passing the passport, you will be less likely to be targeted for extra attention.

The principle underlying the passport is appealing--detecting doping by changes in physiology, rather than detecting some foreign substance--but it's very difficult to distinguish natural variations from those caused by a sophisticated doping program. Objections were raised when it was being developed, and they were always dismissed by, "this is just a tool in the arsenal against doping". IOW, like the 50% HT rule. But now that they're trying to use the passport as a standalone test, the chickens are coming home to roost.
 
May 8, 2009
133
0
0
He is right, it is flawed. It is flawed as proof of doping (at least from a sanctioning point of view) and I think the UCI is going to lose any doping case that relies solely on the passport data. At best it identifies those who are likely doping, which then can be targeted for more testing.

I also understand and somewhat agree that the passport could encourage earlier doping to establish your historical values at a level that won't raise red flags down the road.

In my view the passport has really been most effective at putting upper limits on doping. I think that is exactly what we saw at this year's Tour. Not a clean Tour, but a reduced doping tour.
 
hrotha said:
I don't understand the bit about it being an invitation to dope.
Judging from the article the scientist is saying that it is an invitation to dope from a young age to set one's personal testing parameters prior to the initial test as normal for them (while they're juiced) and to maintain being juiced throughout their career to maintain that level of supposed normalcy.
 
Aug 27, 2010
970
0
0
Angliru said:
Judging from the article the scientist is saying that it is an invitation to dope from a young age to set one's personal testing parameters prior to the initial test as normal for them (while they're juiced) and to maintain being juiced throughout their career to maintain that level of supposed normalcy.
That is how I read it as well.
 
Mar 10, 2009
6,158
0
0
If it was so good why are they continuing to not conclude on suspected passports?

Imagine if you're a cyclist and you get tested, right after that you can take pretty much anything you want because they're not coming around for another while! Then as is stated all the rider has to do is keep his blood in the same range as the last test so if when you initially become pro you stack up the doping you will be allowed to keep it that high for a long time. Yes you can't have the dope in your system when you test but you can have everything else at its highest range. So any new rider would be wise to dope before turning pro to have their numbers high, assuming they're into that.
 
Oct 11, 2010
777
0
0
Merckx index said:
As Bernard Kohl said, "it almost helped us". Riders know how much they can dope and still stay within the passport parameters. It's an invitation in that your physiology is allowed to be within a certain range, so you know you can dope up to the limits of that range. Not only will you not get caught, but since you are passing the passport, you will be less likely to be targeted for extra attention.
What is their response to this kind of criticism? I know they have made statements in regards to this, however I don't feel like searching for them.
 
Aug 17, 2009
4,153
0
0
Just keep the numbers in range. Makes it fair for the other riders and hopefully doesn't allow death from too much sports medicine.
Guarantee that guys like wig Pellozotti and Ballan are absolutely on dope control radar. I am sure that dope control will be watching them and their team mates for the rest of their careers.
In that fashion the passport is working.
 
Angliru said:
Judging from the article the scientist is saying that it is an invitation to dope from a young age to set one's personal testing parameters prior to the initial test as normal for them (while they're juiced) and to maintain being juiced throughout their career to maintain that level of supposed normalcy.
+1000
I strongly believe the Bio passport was the UCI's solution to "Standardize" & level Doping among the peloton. I also wrote in some old thread how doubtful is to have very young riders nowadays reaching high levels of competition too soon, for what they should have taken couple of years of development & training to achieve that kind of performance...
so basically what the article mentions is nothing new, just the fact the Bio passport is now getting a lot of attention due to the wrong disqualifications caused by it.
 
I'm surprised that as yet nobody has commented on the sublimely intelligent remarks McQuaid made to contrast the scientist's claims of biased conclusions.

Every time that guy opens his mouth, just loads of fetid BS magnificently spew forth. :D
 
Angliru said:
Judging from the article the scientist is saying that it is an invitation to dope from a young age to set one's personal testing parameters prior to the initial test as normal for them (while they're juiced) and to maintain being juiced throughout their career to maintain that level of supposed normalcy.
Some riders might try that. But remember, the passport is a range with both an upper and a lower limit. If you establish your baseline while juiced--say, with a higher than natural HT--you must stay juiced whenever you're tested, or you risk failing (if your HT is lower than the baseline, that will raise a red flag; you might argue you're sick, but then, riders with higher than normal parameters may also argue that).

The nature of blood transfusions is that you can't do them all the time. You do them in advance of important races, and maybe sometimes in training, but most of the time a doper is going to have natural blood values, determined by genetics and to some extent by training. He will spend much more time in that condition than in a freshly-transfused condition, which means he is much more likely to be tested in that state.

I think, like JZ, that the passport has been successful at limiting doping (as did the 50% HT limit). It probably decreases the likelihood of doping to an extent that endangers health, and it may also reduce the performance benefits that doped riders have over clean ones. The problem is, if word gets around that a rider has no chance of being busted for failing the passport, riders will naturally be tempted to push the limits.

In retrospect, it might have been better not to try to sanction riders with questionable parameters, but simply tell them that their values are suspicious, and they will be watched closely. That won't stop doping, but it could limit it.

Remember that unknown rider who claimed Contador doped after the Dauphine. He implied that 150 ml. of blood was transfused (packed cells, so perhaps equivalent to 300 ml. of whole blood). That is significantly less than the unit (450 ml.) of blood that riders were thought to transfuse in the past. Likewise, of course, EPO testing has resulted in micro-dosing. The doping goes on, but at lower levels. As long as riders feel no one is doping any more than they are, they may be able to live with these narrower limits. They always claim they dope because everyone else does; to the extent that's true, narrower limits won't bother them if they're sure everyone has to work within those limits.
 
Jul 22, 2009
3,355
0
0
Merckx index said:
As Bernard Kohl said, "it almost helped us". Riders know how much they can dope and still stay within the passport parameters. It's an invitation in that your physiology is allowed to be within a certain range, so you know you can dope up to the limits of that range. Not only will you not get caught, but since you are passing the passport, you will be less likely to be targeted for extra attention.

The principle underlying the passport is appealing--detecting doping by changes in physiology, rather than detecting some foreign substance--but it's very difficult to distinguish natural variations from those caused by a sophisticated doping program. Objections were raised when it was being developed, and they were always dismissed by, "this is just a tool in the arsenal against doping". IOW, like the 50% HT rule. But now that they're trying to use the passport as a standalone test, the chickens are coming home to roost.
Well, before the trick was to do whatever it took to appear below 50%. IOW, a rider could go from -40% to like 49%, and there was nothing anyone could do about it. Now, the trick is to keep your parameters rather consistent, so as to keep the appearance of a naturally high crit rate. Problem is, there are people that do have naturally high rates or do tend to recover well from the quiet confines of the peloton. So sanctioning becomes difficult for some swing rates.

It's difficult to sanction in it's current, but at least the riders are more protected from themselves as they have ever been. And to date, there is no better alternative.
 
Its hilarious that McQuaid states that the critics of the system don't have an understanding of it, but him, being one of those that admittedly doesn't understand the system, fully supports it. It's his responsibility to have a general understanding of it so that he can make an objective statement on its merits. Essentially what he's saying is that he doesn't understand, doesn't care to take the time to do so AND that the only people that do understand it are those that support it. :confused:
 
Mar 19, 2009
832
0
0
Faber has excellent credentials as a statistician but at the same time he undersells the experience of anti-doping specialists who evaluate the passport. To some extent it's the question of seeing the trees or the forest, this type of argument is played out by dueling specialists in courtrooms around the world every day as well as in sport doping hearings. I'm sure there are traditional doping hearing decisions Faber would question if he were presented with all the data involved. At some point those judging the arguments have to decide what evidence to accept and what to dismiss. It's up to the UCI to strengthen their legal argument after the Pellizotti case but I wouldn't take Faber's conclusion as gospel.
 
May 26, 2010
28,144
1
0
hfer07 said:
+1000
I strongly believe the Bio passport was the UCI's solution to "Standardize" & level Doping among the peloton. I also wrote in some old thread how doubtful is to have very young riders nowadays reaching high levels of competition too soon, for what they should have taken couple of years of development & training to achieve that kind of performance...
so basically what the article mentions is nothing new, just the fact the Bio passport is now getting a lot of attention due to the wrong disqualifications caused by it.
i agree, it was a nod and a wink to the peleton to say guys here's the limit keep below it. But that is pathetic and stupid not to mention unfair.

It has just led to teams, riders and doctors developing methods to beat the bio passport and it also far to loose and not enough testing.
 
Jul 22, 2009
3,355
0
0
Benotti69 said:
i agree, it was a nod and a wink to the peleton to say guys here's the limit keep below it. But that is pathetic and stupid not to mention unfair.

It has just led to teams, riders and doctors developing methods to beat the bio passport and it also far to loose and not enough testing.
Sooooooo.....

How do you propose going about the fix? Keep in mind there is a budget with which you need to address.
 
Jan 19, 2010
214
0
0
scribe said:
Well, before the trick was to do whatever it took to appear below 50%. IOW, a rider could go from -40% to like 49%, and there was nothing anyone could do about it. Now, the trick is to keep your parameters rather consistent, so as to keep the appearance of a naturally high crit rate.
Actually, I think the riders are getting by with HCTs much below 50% now and do not need to get it up that high.

The HCT is a measure of the proportion of blood volume that is occupied by red blood cells compared to the total voulme of blood.

In the past they doped up to the 49% level and left it there with no repurcussions. After the EPO tests came along, they switched and started the micro-manipulations.

Microdose EPO (iv according to Floyd) and dring a ton of water so it clears from the urine before a dope test, then remove blood (at the same HCT range as you want to maintain) in smallish volumes. Then when you add back the blood, your volume goes up too but as your body clears the extra fluid you have a short term higher HCT. Then when the dope testers come, you go to the shower and give yourself a shot of iv saline equal to the volume of blood you have added and your HCT is back to the normal value for the passport.

The passport means that today's riders manipulate/manage the blood volume as much or more as they apply EPO, clenbuterol, testosterone, etc... That is why hydroxyethyl starch is now showing up because it is a blood volume expander that means you don't have to do the daily saline shots on days after you transfuse.
 
Epicycle said:
Faber has excellent credentials as a statistician but at the same time he undersells the experience of anti-doping specialists who evaluate the passport. To some extent it's the question of seeing the trees or the forest, this type of argument is played out by dueling specialists in courtrooms around the world every day as well as in sport doping hearings. I'm sure there are traditional doping hearing decisions Faber would question if he were presented with all the data involved. At some point those judging the arguments have to decide what evidence to accept and what to dismiss. It's up to the UCI to strengthen their legal argument after the Pellizotti case but I wouldn't take Faber's conclusion as gospel.
That eloquently sums up my immediate reactions to Faber's thoughts versus the validity the UCI's faith in the biopassport system. Still, McQuaide could have spared us all with his inanities.
 
Squares said:
Actually, I think the riders are getting by with HCTs much below 50% now and do not need to get it up that high.

The HCT is a measure of the proportion of blood volume that is occupied by red blood cells compared to the total voulme of blood.

In the past they doped up to the 49% level and left it there with no repurcussions. After the EPO tests came along, they switched and started the micro-manipulations.

Microdose EPO (iv according to Floyd) and dring a ton of water so it clears from the urine before a dope test, then remove blood (at the same HCT range as you want to maintain) in smallish volumes. Then when you add back the blood, your volume goes up too but as your body clears the extra fluid you have a short term higher HCT. Then when the dope testers come, you go to the shower and give yourself a shot of iv saline equal to the volume of blood you have added and your HCT is back to the normal value for the passport.

The passport means that today's riders manipulate/manage the blood volume as much or more as they apply EPO, clenbuterol, testosterone, etc... That is why hydroxyethyl starch is now showing up because it is a blood volume expander that means you don't have to do the daily saline shots on days after you transfuse.
Now that's a good post. I'd like to know how you know these tricks.
 
Jul 22, 2009
3,355
0
0
Squares said:
Actually, I think the riders are getting by with HCTs much below 50% now and do not need to get it up that high.

The HCT is a measure of the proportion of blood volume that is occupied by red blood cells compared to the total voulme of blood.

In the past they doped up to the 49% level and left it there with no repurcussions. After the EPO tests came along, they switched and started the micro-manipulations.

Microdose EPO (iv according to Floyd) and dring a ton of water so it clears from the urine before a dope test, then remove blood (at the same HCT range as you want to maintain) in smallish volumes. Then when you add back the blood, your volume goes up too but as your body clears the extra fluid you have a short term higher HCT. Then when the dope testers come, you go to the shower and give yourself a shot of iv saline equal to the volume of blood you have added and your HCT is back to the normal value for the passport.

The passport means that today's riders manipulate/manage the blood volume as much or more as they apply EPO, clenbuterol, testosterone, etc... That is why hydroxyethyl starch is now showing up because it is a blood volume expander that means you don't have to do the daily saline shots on days after you transfuse.
Good information. I had missed this in previous discussions.
 
Jul 22, 2009
3,355
0
0
aguirre said:
guys, next step is contador cleared of all this. You will see, uci is dealing the whole doping story in a way that it will revolve against them
go dopers!!!!!!!
 

ASK THE COMMUNITY