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PRESS FILE "HEALTH AND SAFETY"


THE SPORTING SAFETY AND CONDITIONS COMMISSION
Lausanne, 29th January 1998
  • History
  • 1997 activity report
  • Analysis of results
  • Conclusions
History of the Sporting Safety and Conditions Commission

The creation of the Sporting Safety and Conditions Commission was approved by the UCI Management Committee on 6th March 1997, following the unanimous decision taken by the members of the SSCC at a meeting in Geneva on 24th January 1997.

The UCI in agreement with its main partners, aware of its moral duty to protect all licence holders, who should be able to practise their sport without unacceptable risks to their health, on an equal footing, decided to organize a plan for the health and safety of cyclists from all categories and disciplines.

The increasing allegations and suspicion that cyclists were using EPO, a product which is performance-enhancing but at the same time poses risks to the health of the rider and causes the blood to thicken, made this problem urgent and the first phase of the new health protection system had to be implemented without delay.

Since the antidoping controls currently in force were not able to detect EPO in urine and because the effects of the suspicion and accusations could have been disastrous for cycling in general, the UCI in co-operation with all the parties concerned decided to immediately launch its health protection programme.

The fixing of a maximum level of haematocrit above which the cyclist is disqualified from taking part in races (50% for men - 47% for women) and the institution of blood testing necessary to detect the level, were the first steps in a somewhat brave and ambitious project, but absolutely vital even in spite of the controversy that it sparked off.

The strategy of this system, dependent upon the co-operation between the various sports organizations, aims to regularly monitor the risks to which riders are exposed and to take all possible steps to avoid them. To clarify:

  • the blood test is not an antidoping control, but a medical examination to detect and avoid unacceptable risks to a cyclist's health.
  • the result of this examination determines their capability of taking part in cycling races.
  • the length of the period of unfitness is fixed by a specific time limit following which the rider can request another test
  • since it is not an antidoping control, the blood sample cannot be used to prove the use of doping substances.
  • the riders accepted this by consensus.

The UCI health protection plan which was worked out on the basis of 700-1000 tests per year and which is carried out early in the morning by staff from an independent institute was started at the Paris-Nice race (09-16.03.1997).

The selection of Trade Teams to be tested is done in the strictest confidentiality. The inspectors/doctors are informed at the last minute. One of our main concerns is to test each team an equal number of times.

In 1998 the SSCC plans to double the number of blood-tests, but also work on the implementation of a medical follow-up system for professional riders. A list of obligatory annual examinations has already been planned.

1997 activity report on the Sporting Safety and Conditions Commission

The following pages of this report sum up the activities of the SSCC in the various categories and disciplines and the data attached shows the results of one year's work.

In this report, you will find:

  • list of blood tests in 1997
    list
  • percentage of blood tests per discipline
  • percentage of fit / unfit Road Elite riders
  • percentage of fit /unfit Mountain Bikers
Conclusions

The actions taken so far by the SSCC have been very positive. The results of the examinations carried out throughout the 1997 season, which have satisfied the expectations of the health protection programme launched by the UCI, can therefore be considered entirely satisfactory.

Some riders have a certificate stating that their percentage is higher than 50%. The results show that very few riders have exceeded the minimum level of haematocrit.

We would also like to emphasize that the mean haematocrit level is around 45.4 and not very close to 50%. It is therefore clear that the blood is not manipulated to reach this limit, which has often been suggested and written.

In addition, the UCI would like to announce that starting from this year these blood tests will be partially financed by the Trade Teams themselves.

The UCI would like to underline the excellent spirit of co-operation which exists between Trade Teams, Federations, national teams, riders and medical teams in charge of the testing.

The UCI would like to thank in particular the members of the Sporting Safety and Conditions Commission for their valuable work.

The help and co-operation of everyone involved has led to the success of this important project and the UCI hopes to continue the work in the years to come to ensure safer and healthier cycling for everyone.

Lausanne, 29th January 1998

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