One week after five ProTour teams made last-minute contributions to the International Cycling Union's biological passport programme and thus got a green light to take part in Paris-Nice, the governing body has released a list of 36 teams now fully paid up to the anti-doping screening.
All 18 ProTour teams are participating, and will contribute a total of €120,000/US$155,000 each per season. Half of this amount was due by March 5, while the remainder must be paid by the end of June.
According to Friday's UCI communiqué, 18 Professional Continental teams have also paid up. Thirteen of these hold the UCI wild card label and must pay a total of €60,000/US$77,500 per year. These are Vorarlberg – Corratec (Austria), Landbouwkrediet – Colnago and Topsport Vlaanderen – Mercator (Belgium), Andalucia Cajasur and Contentpolis-Ampo (Spain), Barloworld (Britain), Ceramica Flaminia - Bossini Docce (Ireland), ISD (Italy), Skil-Shimano and Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team (Netherlands), Cervelo Test Team (Switzerland), BMC Racing Team (USA) and Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli (Venezuela).
The remaining five did not receive wild card status for reasons unrelated to the passport requirements. These teams are charged a total of €7,300/US$9,428 per rider to participate in the system, a more expensive investment required – in at least some cases – by late paperwork. They are Xacobeo Galicia (Spain), Agritubel (France), CSF Group – Navigare and LPR Brakes Farnese Vini (Ireland) and Acqua & Sapone - Caffe Mokambo (Italy).
Participation in the biological passport programme means that the riders involved will be regularly screened in order to deter doping and promote clean competition. In return, teams will be allowed access to the biggest races in the sport.
According to a statement issued by the UCI, "all riders belonging to the listed teams undergo unannounced blood tests and urine tests both in competition and out of competition."
The results are used to build up a longitudinal profile considered to be a far more accurate predictor of doping practices. Peculiar results can be used to target test riders, but will also leave those concerned open to the so-called 'No Start' rule [a 15 day exclusion from competition] or longer sanctions, akin to those used now for positive tests.
No riders have been sanctioned thus far; this week, President Pat McQuaid once again stated that the UCI was not yet in a position to take disciplinary actions. As this process has not been used before, it is thought that a watertight case is needed in order to stand up to the inevitable legal challenge awaiting the first such sanctions.
Teams are but one portion of those contributing to the costs of running the large number of tests in the biological passport. The UCI pays 1 million Swiss Francs (approximately €650,000/US$839,500), and race organisers are also required to help front the costs.
The extent of their financial input is not yet available. However the UCI verified that ProTour organisers, plus those running Grand Tour/World Calendar races, are all on board. Last year ASO did not pay due to its long-running tussle with the UCI over the ProTour series and other issues.