WADA pulls Athlete Passport project from UCI

Anti-doping measure first casualty of legal fight

The World Anti-Doping Agency has withdrawn its pilot Athlete's Passport project from the International Cycling Union (UCI) after the UCI launched a lawsuit against a former WADA chief. Given that the Agency announced the decision the day after the UCI launched a new biological passport section on its website, the move appears designed to cause maximum embarrassment to cycling's governing body.

The UCI said this week that it intends to sue former WADA chief Dick Pound for "continual injurious and biased comments" against the UCI's former president Hein Verbruggen.

When both were in office, Verbruggen and Pound were involved in a bitter war of words, with Pound especially vocal about the UCI's need to address its doping issue.

But WADA announced Thursday that because of "its obvious and inherent legal and practical implications, WADA has withdrawn its support of the UCI in relation to WADA's pilot project of the Athlete's Passport".

"WADA agreed to pilot its Athlete's Passport project with the UCI, rather than any other sport, in an attempt to help restore cycling to a cleaner and more credible state," WADA president John Fahey said in a statement."This came following a cycling season and Tour de France in 2007 in which cycling was yet again wracked with doping scandals.

"Since October 2007, WADA has supported the UCI, in financial and human resources, with this pilot project.

"But in light of the UCI's attack on WADA, we now find a partnership with the UCI untenable and will therefore initiate dialogue with other sports in order to advance the Athlete's Passport project."

An Athlete's Passport is in essence a biological passport primarily focused on testing the blood but also urine of athletes throughout the season to monitor any irregular biological changes happening in the body.

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