Cyclingnews this morning clarifies some of the stories surrounding drug testing at the Tour of California and by extension other UCI races outside the ProTour schedule. For the 2007 edition, Amgen requested EPO testing as it did in 2006. This year that request was honored.
The lab at UCLA conducted the testing on behalf of the TOC organizers AEG. The test conducted was the less sophisticated urine test as opposed to the blood test that can detect EPO use out much further. I’m sure that Amgen, who is one of the two companies who market of EPO worldwide, has a vested interest in keeping the race they sponsor as clean as possible. Amgen has two versions of EPO, Epogen and Aranesp.
What was interesting is that Pat McQuaid confirmed that outside of the ProTour calander, the UCI does not test all that much.
“The UCI does blood tests at most but not all but most of the major ProTour events. Outside of the ProTour events we don’t do as many blood tests. (The Tour Of California) being in its second year would not warrant the blood test to be done.”
My favorite part was the following quote delivered with a straight face:
“The effort it takes to bring the equipment here and the people to administer the test is very expensive. The people who administer the test are specialists and they are trained to read the machines that they bring so it is very expensive.”
If the UCLA Olympic Analytical Laboratory is WADA certified and can conduct the blood test, why does the UCI need to bring in equipment and specialsts to the Tour of California? I don’t quite get it. But it may explain the next quote:
“At the moment (EPO blood testing) has only ever been done in Europe. I would certainly say that as the race progresses in the next year or two and becomes more important and prestigious, blood tests will be a factor that will be introduced.”