One year after the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) delegated its anti-doping operations to the International Testing Agency (ITA), the two bodies are pleased that cycling’s anti-doping programme has not only maintained its high level, but developed even further to protect the integrity of cycling.
Following the decision of the UCI Management Committee in January 2020 to join forces with the ITA, the UCI and ITA worked closely to ensure the smooth transfer of anti-doping operations from the Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation (CADF), an entity that had successfully managed the clean sport activities for cycling for over a decade. From 1 January 2021, the CADF’s expert staff integrated the ITA’s new Cycling Unit, meaning their in-depth knowledge of the sport could be combined with the extensive resources of the ITA, which oversees the anti-doping operations of around 50 other sports.
As of that date, the ITA officially began operating cycling’s anti-doping programme , and despite the challenges of integrating the largest clean sport programme of any International Federation into its structure during the Covid-19 pandemic it has been an undeniable success, further confirmed by the in person audit conducted at the end of 2021 by the World Anti-Doping Agency.
Uninterrupted testing throughout 2021
The ITA maintained a robust cycling anti-doping programme throughout the year and even adopted innovative testing strategies to further develop the effectiveness of its programme. The ITA was present for testing purposes at the UCI World Championships for all cycling disciplines as well as the main cycling events such as the road cycling’s three Grand Tours, the Giro d’Italia, the Tour de France and the Vuelta Ciclista a España.
While the ongoing pandemic required flexibility and vigilance, the ITA maintained a high level of out-of-competition testing. Overall, the ITA collected close to 13,000 samples, of which almost 8,500 were collected out-of-competition.
Moreover, for the first time, the cycling anti-doping programme was managed by the same experts for UCI Calendar events and the Olympic Games, resulting in a seamless management of activities throughout the year, including in the lead up to and during the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
In addition, all ITA Doping Control Officers (DCOs) obtained the ITA IDCO certification to ensure that testing is carried out professionally by trained experts in strict compliance with the World Anti-Doping Code and according to current best practice.
Focus on Intelligence & Investigations
Over the past year, the ITA has focused on expanding its Intelligence & Investigations (I&I) capabilities, as the sharing of information and the impact of intelligence is proving to be a highly effective complement to testing activities. Today, the cycling anti-doping programme benefits from a highly specialised I&I department which strives to cooperate closely with relevant public law enforcement authorities, international intelligence agencies and other I&I units to increase information-sharing and collaborate on investigations.
In February 2021, the ITA launched its own reporting platform called REVEAL, where anyone can confidentially share their suspicions on doping violations.
In conclusion, after this first year of partnership, the ITA and the UCI are confident that the programme is on the right track and will become even stronger.
UCI Director General Amina Lanaya said, “The decision to transfer cycling’s anti-doping operations from the CADF to the ITA arose from the UCI’s desire to continually call its activities into question in order to advance. For more than 10 years, the CADF did a fantastic job of managing our sport’s anti-doping programme. With the ITA, cycling still benefits from the expertise it enjoyed previously, but can also draw on new synergies, and more resources. We are delighted with the result after the first year of collaboration.”
The ITA Director-General Benjamin Cohen added, “Integrating the world’s largest anti-doping programme for a single sport into our structure was a significant undertaking. We managed to work side by side with all parties involved to ensure that quality did not suffer at any point while setting the building blocks for increased efforts moving forward. We did reach this objective, but we must remain modest and vigilant. As doping becomes more sophisticated, our programmes have to as well – there is no place for complacency and we will continue to work tirelessly to protect the integrity of cycling.”
While the ITA has taken over operations including testing, the Athlete Biological Passport (ABP) management, Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUE) administration, risk assessment, Intelligence & Investigations (I&I) and the initial reviewing of potential anti-doping rule violation (ADRV) cases, the UCI Legal Anti-Doping Services (LADS) continue to be in charge of results management. This is carried out independently from the UCI Management but in consultation with an External Legal Counsel.
* It is worth noting that « 274,254 doping control samples were collected by 256 ADOs in 2021, compared to 168,256 samples collected by 207 ADOs in 2020 and just over 305,881 by 253 ADOs in 2019 », according to the latest figures announced by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), meaning that the UCI collected 4.68% of all samples collected worldwide in 2019, 5.66% in 2020 and 4.68% in 2021.