UCI to increase number of anti-doping tests

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PARIS, Oct 22 (Reuters) The International Cycling Union (UCI) will increase the number of anti-doping tests next year by more than 50 per cent.

Some 8,000 in-competition tests will be conducted next season as well as 7,000 out-of-competition tests, UCI Anti-Doping manager Anne Gripper said today on the first day of a two-day international meeting on cycling and doping.

In 2007, 9,790 tests were conducted while 8,253 were carried out the previous year.

The creation of a biological passport is expected to top tomorrow's agenda at the Paris meeting attended by UCI president Pat McQuaid, Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme and World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) chief executive David Howman.

The UCI said earlier this week they planned to collect blood and urine samples from all professional riders in 2008 to create a medical profile that would then be compared to the data registered in doping tests.

''A haematological profile associated with a steroid profile will form the biological passport,'' said Gripper.

''It is something essential but there must be an independent body to control this,'' said Prudhomme.

Cycling has been hit by an unprecedented number of doping cases this season.

Dane Michael Rasmussen was sacked by his Rabobank team as he led the Tour de France for allegedly lying about his training programme.

Kazakh Alexandre Vinokourov was found guilty of blood doping during the world's greatest stage race and was kicked out of the event along with his Astana team.

American Floyd Landis, who had won the 2006 Tour, has been handed a two-year suspension by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) and then stripped of his title by the UCI following a positive test for testosterone during his victorious ride on the French roads.

Reuters TB DB1955

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