It only started up this January, but the biological passport program has already revealed 23 riders with potentially suspect samples, the UCI said on Friday.

According to the news agency Reuters, UCI anti-doping chief Anne Gripper said in a press conference that 1,500 blood samples from 854 riders had been analysed since January.

Of them, 23 – less than three percent of the total – had been provided samples that warranted ?further examination.?

Another 11 riders – less than 1.5 percent of the total – are being investigated for possibly failing to give correct indications of their whereabouts.

A further five riders were being investigated following traditional anti-doping tests, Gripper said.

Results from the biological passport system, only implemented from the start of this year, are very much an ongoing process. The UCI have now named nine doping experts who will be able to recommend sanctions should they prove necessary.

In a separate UCI press release, it was revealed that all of the riders who will take part in the Tour of Italy, due to start a week on Saturday, are on the biological passport program.

That includes two of the smallest teams, LPR Brakes and NGC Medical-OTC Industria Porte, who agreed to pay their own way to be on the biological passport program.

The UCI insisted it was too early to draw more than provisional conclusions about the passport, but said there were grounds for a certain amount of optimism.

?According to the riders and teams it appears that things are changing in the peloton. There is a stronger sense that competitions are being raced and won in an honest manner.

?We believe that the large increase in the number of tests (compared with last year) and the introduction of individually tailored profiles, which together greatly improve the possibility of detecting doping, have acted as an effective deterrence.?

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