Amgen Tour of California adopts significant anti-doping protocols

LOS ANGELES (January 22, 2008) – The upcoming 2008 Amgen Tour of California cycling road race will adopt the most comprehensive anti-doping protocol in cycling history it was announced by Andrew Messick, President, AEG Sports, presenters of the race, at a press conference today.
 
Messick was joined by representatives of a partnership assembled to develop and enforce the anti-doping initiative, believed to be unparalleled in scope,  including Steve Johnson, CEO of USA Cycling, Sean Petty, Chief Operating Officer of USA Cycling, Bob Stapleton, owner of Team High Road, an Elite UCI ProTour Team participating in the Amgen Tour of California, Mari Holden, 2000 Olympic Silver Medalist and Athlete Ambassador to U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), Dr. Steve Elliot of Amgen, title sponsors of the race, riders and team officials as well as representatives of organizations and federations who helped to develop and will oversee and administer the groundbreaking program.
 
Scheduled for February 17-24, 2008, the 2008 Amgen Tour of California is a demanding 650-mile, eight day stage race from Palo Alto-Stanford University to Pasadena featuring 17 of the world’s top professional teams. The 2007 race drew more than 1.6 million spectators, surpassing the inaugural year’s turnout and setting records in attendance for a single sporting event in California as well as for any cycling event ever held in the United States.
 
“2008 is a critical year for cycling,” said Messick. “We believe that an aggressive approach to having a clean and fair race is essential to restore the credibility of top-tier bicycle racing.”
 
The groundbreaking initiative, developed by AEG in partnership with the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), cycling’s global governing body and the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), stipulates that:
 
·          All riders will have blood samples collected prior to the race. All of the blood samples will be tested for indications of blood manipulation and 30% of riders will have urine samples collected before the race. Urine samples will be analyzed for the presence banned substances such steroids, hormones, (including EPO) and various masking agents.
The results of the blood tests will be incorporated into the UCI’s Biological Passport program. The “biological passport” is an individual electronic record for each rider, in which the results of all doping tests over a period of time are collated.
·          Every day, the stage winner, current leader of the general classification and three other riders will be have a full screen for steroids, hormones (such as EPO), stimulants and various masking agents. In addition, to the post-stage testing there will be random or targeted full screen testing every day for three additional riders during evenings and mornings;
·          All participating teams have agreed to guarantee that all members of their teams, including coaches, trainers and support staff, are clear of any open doping investigations.
The roster of riders will be provided by the participating team and will then be submitted to USA Cycling and to UCI to confirm that there are no open investigations.
“This testing program represents a strong move towards creating an environment where drug cheats cannot flourish,” said USADA Chief Executive Officer Travis T. Tygart. “I want to commend AEG for being proactive and reaching out to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency to ensure that best practices are included in this anti-doping initiative.”
 
From a statement furnished for the press conference, Amgen Tour of California Defending Champion Levi Leipheimer commented, “As a professional cyclist, I was enthusiastic to know that AEG has made a further commitment to ensure that this year's race is fair. It is the development and implementation of stronger anti-doping programs such as this that will allow us as athletes to be respected as champions. This is clearly another step in the right direction. I'm looking forward to defending my title with my new Astana team in just a few weeks’ time,’ concluded Leipheimer."
 
UCI President Pat McQuaid said he was delighted to see the Amgen Tour of California organizers enthusiastically striving for a clean race by working so closely with the UCI and USADA. He indicated that their organization of pre-event and in-competition testing in close collaboration with the UCI and USADA was a model arrangement between international sport federations, event organizers and national bodies.
 
“UCI is absolutely committed to eliminating doping from our sport and we are pleased to partner with such a determined organizer to protect the integrity of cycling in the USA,” continued McQuaid.
 
“This is a significant step forward for the sport,” said Bob Stapleton, Owner of Team High Road, an Elite UCI ProTour Team based in the United States who was present for the media conference. “We believe that comprehensive and frequent testing using profiles that detect small changes in body chemistry are the best tools available today to effectively fight doping.  This helps level the playing field for all athletes and is a tangible step forward for clean and fair sport”.  This progressive change is the result of united efforts by AEG, the UCI and USADA and we hope this sets an urgent precedent for adoption across the sport,” Stapleton added.
 
 “We are proud to be working in partnership with UCI, our national Federation, USADA, our participating teams and riders and our corporate partners to do all that is possible to ensure a race without doping.” Messick continued. “While no rider has ever failed a drug test at our race, we are committed to doing what is right to eliminate doping from our sport.”
 
 “We are pleased to see that the United States is playing a leading role in the fight against doping in cycling,” said Johnson. “We are committed to ensuring that cyclists in America can realize their potential cleanly and fairly.”
 
 “Amgen commends AEG for its proactive role in setting new and innovative anti-doping standards for the Amgen Tour of California,” said George Morrow, senior vice president, Global Commercial Operations. “Doping is not only unethical and unsportsmanlike, it is potentially very unsafe. We applaud the governing bodies, team management and owners, athletes and others for working together to create this unprecedented protocol that will ensure a clean and safe race for the athletes participating in the 2008 Amgen Tour of California.”
 
About AEG
AEG is one of the leading sports and entertainment presenters in the world. AEG, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Anschutz Company, owns or controls a collection of companies including facilities such as STAPLES Center, The Home Depot Center, Sprint Center, The O2, NOKIA Theatre L.A. LIVE and NOKIA Theatre Times Square; sports franchises including the Los Angeles Kings (NHL), two Major League Soccer franchises, a Major League Lacrosse team, two hockey franchises operated in Europe, management of privately held shares of the Los Angeles Lakers, the ING Bay to Breakers foot race and the Amgen Tour of California cycling road race; AEG LIVE, the organization’s live-entertainment division, is a collection of companies dedicated to all aspects of live contemporary music performance, touring and a variety of programming and multi-media production. For more information, visit AEG today at www.aegworldwide.com.


This Article Published January 22, 2008 For more information contact:
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