Implementation of the biological passport: the experience of the International Cycling Union

Drug Test Anal. 2010 Nov-Dec;2(11-12):542-7. doi: 10.1002/dta.173. Epub 2010 Dec 20.


The concept of the biological passport is to evaluate, on an individual and longitudinal basis, the effects of doping substances and prohibited methods--blood doping and gene doping--on the body. Indirect biological markers can be measured and used to establish an individual's biological profile, when variations in an athlete's profile are found to be incompatible with physiological or medical conditions; a disciplinary procedure may be launched on the presumption that a prohibited substance or method has been used. As such, an athlete with a biological passport is his or her own reference. The International Cycling Union (UCI) launched the biological passport programme in January 2008 in cooperation with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). The UCI programme includes more than 850 athletes. These athletes are subject to urinary and blood anti-doping tests both in- and out-of-competition several times a year. Almost 20 000 samples were collected in 2008 and 2009. In this article, the real-time process from sample collection to the opening of a disciplinary procedure is described. The establishment of this large-scale programme is discussed; the modalities which have to be applied and the difficulties encountered are presented. As for the results, some examples of normal and abnormal profiles are illustrated and indirect deterrent advantages of the programme are shown. Suggestions to improve the efficacy of the fight against doping through the implementation of the biological passport are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Athletes
  • Doping in Sports / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • International Agencies
  • Performance-Enhancing Substances / blood*
  • Performance-Enhancing Substances / urine*
  • Substance Abuse Detection / methods*


  • Performance-Enhancing Substances