ITA’s cycling unit fully operational since 1 January 2021

Jan 21, 2021, 18:04 PM

The International Testing Agency (ITA) and the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) are pleased to announce that the ITA’s cycling unit, which heads up the agency’s efforts to tackle doping in cycling, has been fully operational since 1 January 2021.

Newly created by the ITA, the cycling unit is made up of former employees of the Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation (CADF), a body that led the fight against doping in cycling between 2008 and late 2020. Most of the CADF’s staff (11 of its 13 employees, including its director, Olivier Banuls) chose to join the ITA as part of a strategic reorganisation of the fight against doping in our sport.

The transfer of anti-doping activities to the ITA follows the UCI’s decision in autumn 2019 to explore new avenues in ensuring that our sport maintains and strengthens its leading status in protecting clean athletes. In 2019, cycling carried out more drug tests than any other sport, among International Federations, with more than 14,000 samples taken. Cycling is also recognised for the quality of its work: the biological passport, target testing, collaboration with national anti-doping organisations, and investigations. The need to constantly call into question as a means of becoming more efficient – an approach that has seen cycling held up as an example in the last few years for its commitment to clean sport – has been brought into sharp focus by Operation Aderlass, which revealed once again that doping knows no frontiers, either between sports or countries.

Following a process of consultation with the families of cycling (teams, organisers and riders) and having listened to the ITA and the CADF as part of an audit, the UCI Management Committee chose to work with the ITA in January 2020. Based in Lausanne and founded in 2018, the ITA has become a key player, earning recognition across the board in the field of anti-doping. The services of the ITA have been commissioned by 45 major sporting organisations, among them International Federations of Olympic sports. Created by the Olympic movement with the support of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), it is now an integral part of the anti-doping community, working with the police, anti-doping bodies, and the sports movement. Its global approach guarantees synergies in key areas such as research, science, intelligence-gathering and investigations, testing, and education, while also pooling costs and resources.

Following the UCI’s decision, preparations were made throughout 2020 for the transition, with six meetings held with the families of cycling.

Along with the stakeholders, the UCI also oversaw the transfer process, ensuring first and foremost that the CADF’s expertise and know-how remained intact within the new organisation. The parties agreed to create a unit dedicated to cycling, give CADF employees the opportunity to join the new body, and keep in place the Funding Committee – comprising the UCI and the aforementioned families of cycling – which will set out the budget allocated to the fight against doping in cycling.

The UCI and the families of cycling have kept their financial contribution to the anti-doping programme unchanged for 2021, making CHF 7.5 million (EUR 7 million) available for it.

The ITA now has around 60 employees, including the cycling unit. Thanks to the seamless transition, conducted in a spirit of constructiveness and collaboration between all parties, the new structure has been fully operational, as scheduled, since 1 January 2021, despite the ongoing global health crisis.

One of the most active organisations in the fight against doping, the UCI will also strive to share its expertise, through the ITA, with other International Federations in the sports movement and to help step up of the fight against doping in sport.

ITA Director General Benjamin Cohen: “I would like to thank the UCI and the families of cycling for their faith. The cycling unit and its experienced staff will benefit from the support and expertise of all the ITA’s other departments to further promote the UCI’s anti-doping programme. We are thrilled to be working side by side and to be stepping up the fight against doping in cycling and in sport in general.”

UCI Director General Amina Lanaya: “The UCI is delighted with this new partnership, which combines cycling’s experience and know-how with the ITA’s cutting-edge resources and 360-degree approach. I would like to thank all parties for making the transfer of operational activities in our anti-doping programme so smooth. Cycling has once again shown its ability to move forward as one and to make the big decisions that need to be taken to stay out front, all in the interests of the sport and its athletes.”

Olivier Banuls, head of the ITA’s cycling unit: “This transfer to the cycling unit is an excellent opportunity to step up the existing anti-doping programme and enable our sport to benefit from a multi-sport environment. Our minimum requirement in 2021 will be to maintain last year’s level of quality, taking into account the uncertainty caused by the pandemic. Beyond that, our objective is to become more efficient and take the programme to the next level.”