McQuaid hails historic step in fight against doping

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PARIS, Oct 23 (Reuters) The president of the International Cycling Union (UCI) has hailed the creation of a biological passport for all professional riders as a landmark development in the war against doping.

''This is a new and historic step in the fight against doping,'' Pat McQuaid told reporters today, the second of a two-day international meeting on doping in cycling held in Paris.

''As far as cycling is concerned, we can be proud the sport is in the forefront in the fight against doping.'' However, McQuaid urged all parties present at the meeting to continue their efforts.

''A working group needs to be set up quickly and we will be ready to start this project on the first of January,'' he said.

''If everybody stays will be us -- riders, teams, organisers and media together we can build a better future for this sport.'' The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the UCI said on Monday they planned to collect blood samples from all professional riders in 2008 to create a medical profile that would then be compared to the data registered in doping tests.

UCI also announced that around 15,000 dope tests would be carried out next year, compared to 9,790 tests in 2007.

''I am extremely excited by the commitment shown by all,'' WADA chief executive David Howman said.

''Cycling is showing major leadership for sport. It is one step.

Many other steps can be taken: research, education, gathering of evidence and legal back-up.'' REUTERS TB AS1633

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