Biological passports: Is that it?

Five riders named as having produced values irregular enough to warrant sanction was never going to be enough to meet expectations that had built up over months. I think my initial reaction on twitter summed it up pretty well:

“@stephenfarrand Not even enough to qualify as anti-climatic. at least Fofanov had the decency to be on a team that made it newsworthy”

Perhaps the problem lies in how the blood/biological passport has been explained and perceived. Lack of information and a the desperation of fans to see an end to the latest phase in the arms race have led to it being forced into a place it was never meant to be.

Was it ever going to bust everyone? Probably not and maybe some were wrong to hope it would.

Was it allowed to grow a reputation to be feared as the ultimate weapon against doping? Almost certainly, but who is responsible for that is more difficult to define. One person who certainly shouldn’t be blamed is Anne Gripper who has resurfaced now that the first results are out and perhaps shed some light on it how it works:

“The passport software actually interprets the raw blood results and it provides information for the experts to review. It also requires the human touch and knowledge of an expert to look at the data and interpret it. Just because a profile exceeds certain limits we’re looking at doesn’t mean that the rider is doping. The experts then decide if the results can’t be explained by anything pathological or physiological or if the rider has been doping through manipulation of his blood.”

Read the Anne Gripper interview on

I don’t think these first cases will be the last but whether it becomes an effective weapon against doping remains to be seen.

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