Teams Columbia and Garmin-Slipstream have confirmed they will be using leading anti-doping scientist Don Catlin and the Anti-Doping Sciences Institute (ADSI) for their internal testing programmes for next year.
Columbia Team Manager Bob Stapleton told Cyclingnews that he initially approached Catlin and the anti-doping institute before working with Agency for Cycling Ethics (ACE). However once ACE went out of business working with Catlin became an easy choice. Lance Armstrong brought Catlin and new Under 23 recruit Taylor Phinney to his Interbike press conference in late September, but the Texan and UCLA scientist haven't finalised an agreement yet.
"I tried to push ACE to work with him last year but I'm really excited to work with such a smart guy who has a real background in this line of work. What impressed me was his interest in supporting clean athletes. I really like that," said Stapleton.
Both USA-based teams will share all their stored data with Catlin.
"We will be working with Garmin to bring the programme together," Stapleton said. "The direction is quite different to ACE as the UCI [International Cycling Union - ed.] now have the biological passport in place, and we've already done a lot of baseline testing. We have a complete database on our athletes. That's a pretty powerful tool with a year or more of history."
Catlin will target his testing based on rider history, lab results and race programmes in order to determine who will be tested and when.
Garmin Team Manager Jonathan Vaughters confirmed that Catlin would go further than UCI testing and that this step was a natural one for both teams.
"Both Bob and I sat down and discussed this at length," Vaughters said. "We weighed up the pros and cons for each option but both teams share a similar philosophy on anti-doping, so it was a good direction to move in.
"We have a complete database on our athletes. That's a pretty powerful tool with a year or more of history."
"Don Catlin isn't restrained by so much protocol when it comes to testing, he can look at results and test for drugs that aren't even on the market and can then come to us and say 'the results for this guy are very strange' and from there we can act," he said.
Vaughters also confirmed that Catlin would have full access to the UCI's biological passport programme and that both anti-doping bodies would work with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the ADAMS whereabouts system. He also confirmed that Catlin had already tested his riders in November in order to build up his own off-season profiles.
Garmin rider Will Frischkorn said that Catlin's work would go further than the tests run by the UCI.
"They'll be running full bio-marker testing and looking for drugs and blood modifiers in a far more rigorous manner than the UCI," he said. "At this stage I think we'll be tested on a monthly basis."
One of Columbia's newest recruits, Mark Renshaw, shared the general optimism for the future.
"It's going to be interesting to see what [Catlin] can bring and it's good that both teams are using him, but I'd be a lot happier if everyone in the peloton was under the same rules and testing," he said.