PARIS — The World Anti-Doping Agency praised a plan by cycling's governing body to create medical profiles of riders, calling it a major step in the fight against doping.
WADA director general David Howman, speaking Tuesday at a two-day conference on doping in cycling, praised the International Cycling Union (UCI) for devising the so-called "biological passport."
"It is a significant advance, and it is a message to all sport," Howman told The Associated Press. "But it cannot be a cycling issue only. It must be something that we can deliver across all sport."
The UCI, Tour de France organizers and the World Anti-Doping Agency have often pointed fingers about who deserves blame for the doping scandals in cycling.
The "biological passport," first announced by UCI last week, would monitor a series of blood parameters of a rider and create a medical profile that could be used for comparison after doping tests.
UCI president Pat McQuaid cautioned that the initiative, to take effect in January, will not erase the doping problem but serve as a new element in the anti-doping "arsenal" along with blood and urine tests.
"For each rider, you'll have an individual set of parameters that are his norm ... his blood parameters. There is a norm — and above and below, it can only go a certain distance," he said.
"If you see that during the tests the number goes above the norm, then you know he's done something, that he's manipulated something and it's not a natural occurrence," McQuaid said.
The UCI plans to increase doping tests by more than 50 percent next year, to about 15,000. More than half of the tests will be conducted out of competition, when it is easier to evade tests.
"It's a landmark decision for sport," McQuaid said. "It's something that's going to cost us quite a lot of money — you're talking about $2.8-$4.2 million per year, because you are talking about a huge number of tests on an awful lot of riders."
WADA and the UCI were to sign an agreement later Tuesday creating a working group to consider details of the biological passports in time for a January launch.