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Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Biological passport stands up to test 3

Valjavec ruling:  CAS further strengthens the biological passport

One last short post, just to give a bit of significant news in the world of cycling.

It is significant in that it boosts the efforts of the biological passport even further, and it is significant because it follows on from a series of posts we did just over a month ago on the biological passort, its scientific and legal issues.

That news is that Tadej Valjavec has been banned for two years on the basis of the athlete biological passport system.  The ban is an overturning of an earlier Slovenian decision to clear the rider.

Some articles summarizing the Valjavec ruling can be found here and here, and they explain how the passport has received yet another boost as a result of this decision.  This follows on from the CAS decisions to uphold the ban of Pietro Caucchioli and to overturn a CONI decision to exonerate Franco Pellizotti in early March.  The second decision in particular was significant, because CAS ruled against the Italian federation that had cleared Pellizotti despite biological passport figures that were deemed suspicious.

The same has now happened for Valjevic - he was initially cleared by the Olympic Committee of Slovenia, on the basis that he argued that his suspicious values (strikes, as we called them in our series) were the result of an ulcer.  His case was apparently very well presented, with some serious "heavy-weight" experts arguing it out before the CAS.  This was therefore the most stringent legal test of the passport to date - we discussed in our articles the legal issues, and the chances of "false strikes" against riders.  Valjevic tested that system to its limit, and it came out stronger, and that's a great step forward for the passport system.

CAS said in a statement that "The CAS has set aside the decision of the OCS to exonerate the athlete from any doping offense and has imposed a two-year ban on him starting on 20 January 2011, as well as the disqualification of all his results obtained between 19 April and 30 September 2009 and a fine of EUR 52’500".

Every one of these cases strengthens the legal basis and adds momentum and "clout" to the biological passport system.  CAS used the precedent set in the Caucchioli and Pellizotti cases to make this ruling, and further cases like this are likely. 

Our articles on bio passport, which include some great discussion, including inputs from those scientists who are actually responsible for the passport's creation and implementation (for which we are enormously honoured) can be found here:
  1. The legal, scientific and performance viewpoint of the biological passport
  2. Evidence that the biological passport IS proving effective in the fight against doping
All in all, the passport may not be perfect, and yes, athletes will micro-dose and get away with doping, but as we showed (in Part 2 of the series), it's making a difference.  And now the CAS are supporting that effort and adding weight to it.

That's all, see you after Easter



Grant said...

Thanks for the great material. I have been reading with interest for some time now.

Just fyi, the ads on the sidebar are selling power bracelets!! oh no haha

auskadi said...

I am not sure that the Bio Passport has yet reached the position of being a system based on legal reasoning http://www.newcyclingpathway.com/news/blog/valjavec-cas-decision

The proponents keep highlighting the similarity to the way courts use DNA evidence but the way in which the BP 'opinion' is given is far from the reaching the legal standards used in DNA cases - if a Court had to deal with material it is doubtful they would accept it as reliable evidence