Garmin-Chipotle, Columbia and BMC sent scrambling after ACE closes it's doors
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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Garmin-Chipotle, Columbia and BMC sent scrambling after ACE closes it's doors

by VeloNation Press at 5:11 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
The Agency for Cycling Ethics (ACE), who was responsible for conducting independent anti-doping tests for Garmin-Chipotle, Team Columbia and Team BMC, is closing it's doors for business effective immediately. The company collected blood and urine samples every couple of weeks, to create a baseline of the rider's key biological markers. With this baseline, a rider using performance enhancing drugs would be exposed if test results had a major deviation from their profile and could be disciplined by their team.

CEO Paul Strauss said in an email to ESPN, "I can confirm that the Agency for Cycling Ethics is closing operations. We have no other comments regarding this." This is certainly a blow to the three US teams using ACE's services, since the anti-doping program remains core to their team values.

Beginning with Garmin-Chipotle and team director Jonathan Vaughters' vision for a clean sport, ACE became a weapon against the war in doping that erupted as Operation Puerto wiped away much of the sport's credibility. Backed by successful businessman Doug Ellis, the team set out on a mission to race clean at all costs. Team Columbia owner Bob Stapleton followed Vaughters lead when he took over the reigns at the now defunct T-Mobile team, and Team BMC with backing of Andy Rihs - former Team Phonak owner - also made the move.

Unless Ellis, Stapleton, and Rihs decide to try to keep ACE afloat, all three teams are faced with the challenge of finding a new program to keep their anti-doping policies intact.

Bjarne Riis, owner of CSC-Saxo Bank, was the first person to create an internal anti-doping program by partnering with Danish expert Rasmus Damsgaard. At a six figure price tag, only time will tell if Damsgaard can logistically afford to add more teams to the program he runs for Riis.

The UCI is currently working on a "blood passport" system that is similar to the team centric programs in place. The major difference is that the passport information will be stored by the governing body, and sanctions could be made against athletes based on abnormalities.

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