False Alarm: UCI Backpedals on Passport Story
A story in the British newspaper The Guardian reported today that the UCI would announce the names of the first riders who would be sanctioned under the bio-passport program. The Guardian confirmed that the announcement would come on 9 May, before the start of the Giro d’Italia. UCI spokesman Enrico Carpani told the newspaper:
With the first case we need to be absolutely sure. We need to be sure we can defend ourselves in a court, so it has to be safe, reliable. So the [anti-doping] experts are working on it, but also the legal department. But before the Giro I expect the first [doping] cases to be confirmed.
The internet swooned. And quickly speculation arose over who might be on the list of riders. Let’s see… Who has withdrawn suddenly from races lately? Who has come down with an obscure illness lasting several months? Who was recently seen wearing one red tennis shoe?
Not so fast, says Carpani. According to a subsequent statement, Carpani claims that it was all a misunderstanding. “I never said there were definitely positive cases,” he explained to the Italian site tuttobiciweb.it. He suggested that “there must have been some misunderstanding” by the journalist at The Guardian. Carpani explained:
In my interview, I simply said that there will probably be an announcement before the grand tours about the progress of the biological passport program. But the content of that communiqué could also be, and we hope that it will be, that ‘all is well, nothing to announce, more of the same.
Now, the writers at The Guardian aren’t exactly hacks, and it’s hard to see how they could have mis-interpreted Carpani’s statement which reads quite clearly in their rendering. Carpani looks to have gone beyond his brief in the original interview and now is forced to respond to the controversy his comments have raised. In particular, the Italians are not exactly stoked (yes, Italians can be stoked, and no, I do not how one says stoked in Italian) to hear that the UCI intends to make a major doping announcement just days before their Centenary Giro party starts. Talk about party-poopers. There is nothing fun about blood samples and such.
If the UCI does have a case, they do need to get a move on, though. For sure, the story of that the bio-passport positives are coming is way past its sell-by date. And me, I like my doping news fresh, not past-due. Not like the UCI asked me, or anything, of course.