Franck Bonnamour provisionally suspended for abnormal Biological Passport

Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale climber will be out of action until further notice, as UCI suspends the Frenchman for 'unexplained abnormalities'

Clock16:36, Monday 5th February 2024

© Sprint Cycling Agency

Franck Bonnamour opened his season with a block of racing in Australia

Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale's Franck Bonnamour has been suspended by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) for having unexplained abnormalities in his Biological Passport.

The news was revealed by the governing body on Monday afternoon, just weeks after the 28-year-old Frenchman had finished his first stage race of the 2024 season at the Santos Tour Down Under. The winner of La Polynormande in 2022 will now be out of action until further notice.

"The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) informs that French rider Franck Bonnamour has been provisionally suspended in accordance with the UCI Anti-Doping Rules due to unexplained abnormalities in his Biological Passport," read a brief statement released by the UCI.

"The UCI will not comment further while the proceedings are ongoing."

Shortly after the UCI announced the decision, Bonnamour's team Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale released a statement of their own, which served to suspend the Frenchman from their ranks with immediate effect.

"The Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale team takes note of the decision of the UCI to temporarily suspend Franck Bonnamour," read the statement. "This decision is based on tests carried out before he joined the team on 1 January 2023.

"In this context and while the UCI procedure is ongoing, the team provisionally suspends Franck Bonnamour with immediate effect. The Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale team advocates the practice of cycling in accordance with stringent ethical rules."

Part of the near-100km breakaway on the final day of the Tour Down Under, Bonnamour was slated to ride the Classic Var and the Tour des Alpes-Maritimes in his home country later this month, but those races will now be off the cards as the 28-year-old becomes the first Frenchman to fall foul of the UCI's Biological Passport.

In their statement, the French WorldTeam were keen to point out that the abnormalities in Bonnamour's Biological Passport relate to tests carried out prior to him signing with the team at the beginning of 2023. Prior to promotion to the WorldTour, Bonnamour rode for B&B Hotels-KTM and previously, Arkéa Samsic.

Introduced in January 2008, the Biological Passport produces an electronic record for all riders registered for either a WorldTeam or ProTeam, along with those who wish to mount a challenge on the Hour Record. Within this passport are routine anti-doping measures such as the results of blood tests, urine tests, a steroid profile and a haematological profile.

By bringing this framework together, the International Testing Agency (ITA) conducts independent oversight of athletes registered with the UCI and this includes carrying out urine and blood tests on riders throughout the year, both in and out of competition.

Whilst the Biological Passport has been used to expose those committing doping offences, such as a flock of seven Portuguese riders from W52-FC Porto back in 2022, the announcement of a provisional suspension has not always proved damning against the accused.

In one of the more well-known cases brought forward by the UCI in 2014, Czech rider Roman Kreuziger missed the Tour de France through suspension and his career was in jeopardy for 12 months, before new evidence arose which allowed for his name to be cleared.

In Bonnamour's case, we should not expect further comment until the case has been further examined. At the time of writing, no comment has come forward from Bonnamour himself.

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