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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

Latest News for October 17, 2003

Edited by Jeff Jones

UCI maintain "no positive" line in World's testing affair

The UCI is continuing to downplay widespread media reports that four riders - including World Champion Igor Astarloa - are under suspicion of doping after their blood tests at the World's revealed "abnormalities". "It's ridiculous to speak of a positive case," UCI president Hein Verbruggen told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "The head of our medical commission said to me that the laboratory in Lausanne only received the samples yesterday, and already there is talk of a positive case. It is ridiculous, I repeat is it completely ridiculous."

According to the Italian press, Igor Astarloa, Italian Danilo Di Luca and Spaniards Manuel Beltran and Aitor Osa are the riders who were subject to surprise urine and blood tests last Saturday, a day before the World Championships road race. The UCI's chief doctor Leon Schattenberg said that it is perfectly normal for extra testing to be done, and it was not indicative of an abnormal blood test.

Astarloa and Di Luca both ride for the Saeco team, which will hold a press conference today to "clarify its point of view regarding the ridiculous press campaign against Igor Astarloa and Danilo Di Luca about their supposed-to-be positive response to the anti-doping test, considering that test tubes from Hamilton arrived in Lausanne only yesterday and then they have not been analysed yet."

Astarloa told La Gazzetta dello Sport that "I'm absolutely calm and I'm able to say that there is no shadow on my rainbow jersey. I submitted myself to numerous controls during the year and all the results have been negative. I also had a test before Paris-Tours. For us, the riders, these tests are not a surprise, we have become used to them."

Danilo Di Luca, who did confirm that he had been urine tested, echoed Astarloa's words: "I am totally calm. The slander based on this is unacceptable. The anti-EPO urinary controls, which permit a cyclist to be declared positive or not, require at least three to six days to analyse."

Belgian Peter Van Petegem, who finished third in the World's behind Astarloa and Valverde, commented to the Belgian press that, "I don't know any more than what's in the papers. The fact that a Belgian was involved has already been retracted. How certain is it that a sample from Astarloa has been sent through? So long as there are no results, I am not bothered by it. If Astarloa is positive, then I'll be outraged."

It's expected that the results of the analyses will be known next week.

Armstrong rides through Indianapolis on a Tour of Hope

By Mark Zalewski in Indianapolis

Even though Lance Armstrong wasn't in Hamilton for the World Championships, it doesn't mean he wasn't busy, nor riding his bike - he was doing both. This week, Lance and the drug company Bristol-Myers Squibb are promoting the Tour of Hope, a bike "race" across the country. However, this race isn't for medals, but to gain support for research and clinical treatments of cancer.

Beginning in Los Angeles and finishing in Washington, D.C., 26 cyclists, some of whom are themselves cancer survivors, are taking turns riding more than 3,000 miles, stopping along the way to collect signatures of support and spread the message of hope. At the end of the week, Lance and the 26 riders will present the signatures to Congressional leaders in hopes of increasing future support.

One of the stops along the way was in Indianapolis - a place near and dear to Lance's heart, since he received his treatment in 1997 at the Indiana University School of Medicine, under the guidance of Dr. Larry Einhorn. He hadn't returned since his treatment, but also hasn't forgotten. "Why is it so special for me to be in Indianapolis when I'm a kid from Texas?" Armstrong said. "Because when I was diagnosed I became passionately involved and interested in my treatment, and that led me from Austin to Houston to Indianapolis - a place I had never been before and thought I would ever go to. But I had done enough research to know this is where I had to be, the Mecca of my disease."

Hundreds of people, many of whom were cancer survivors themselves, gathered at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis to hear Lance speak, and help support the Tour riders. In fact, 80 fellow testicular cancer survivors posed for photos with Lance, and stayed to watch the presentation which consisted of an introduction to what the Tour was all about.

One of the tour riders, Wendy Chioje, was on hand to give an update on the Tour's progress. "The tour is going fantastically," she reported. "We ride in blocks of 60 miles at a time, about three hours a time. Morale is great, and we all feel strong. Lance came last night of course, and we pulled him across Illinois!"

After some playful banter, Lance revealed his thoughts on the actual ride component of the Tour. "Most of [the riders] I didn't know before...but now I've had a chance to ride with all the teams. I started with them in Los Angeles and I will finish with them in D.C. It's an amazing group of people that each have their own special stories and special reasons for being there. The kickoff in L.A. was really inspirational...and I just felt this incredible urge to go back and be with them, in the middle of nowhere in New Mexico. Going with the team last night, watching the moon rise in Western Illinois - it was special."

Armstrong has said publicly that his days as a professional cyclist are nearing an end, and people may wonder what he will do after racing. "It's true, there definitely is more on the back end [of racing] than the front," he acknowledged. "This will be a serious part of my life going forward - for as long as they'll listen, for as long as they'll have me, for as long as I have some sort of impact on this community. I have the story, and I have the passion to tell it, really for as long as I live. It's a commitment that I made back in 1996, and I still love to do it and I still believe strongly that I can help."

Being so close to Indiana University, the home of the famous Little 500 college bicycle race, many current students and riders came to watch their hero speak. One student asked if he would ever return to the race. "I was telling that story to somebody yesterday, that I was the Grand Marshall there one year, back in 1997," Armstrong explained. "The timing isn't good now because that year I had the year off and I could do it... certainly I couldn't do another April for the next year or two, but after that I would love to come back - more than be the Grand Marshall... I would love to be on one of the teams!"

THG bust hailed as a success

After uncovering what's been referred to as the "possibly the largest anabolic steroid drug bust in U.S. history", anti-doping authorities are hailing the recent tetrahydrogestrinone (THG) affair as a big success in the fight against doping. The drug, believed to have been manufactured in a Californian nutritional supplement laboratory, was supposedly an "undetectable steroid" that could be used by athletes (particularly track and field) to enhance performance without risk of testing positive. The difference between THG and other banned drugs is that it appears to have been designed with the specific purpose of doping in mind.

Acting off a tip-off from a track and field coach in June, the US Anti-Doping Agency together with the US Department of Justice pinpointed the drug's source allegedly to the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO), which supplies high profile athletes such as baseball play Barry Bonds and sprinter Marion Jones. The USADA issued a statement to the effect that several athletes have tested positive for THG, with CEO Terry Madden quoted as saying, "I know of no other drug bust that is larger than this that has involved the number of athletes we have involved."

The athletes in question have the right to a B sample analysis, and if this is also positive they could face up to a two year sanction for steroid use. They were all collected in-competition during the 2003 U.S. Outdoor Track & Field Championships and out-of-competition.

"What we have uncovered appears to be intentional doping of the worst sort," Madden was quoted by the Associated Press as saying. "This is a far cry from athletes accidentally testing positive as a result of taking contaminated nutritional supplements. Rather, this is a conspiracy involving chemists, coaches and certain athletes using what they developed to be 'undetectable' designer steroids to defraud their fellow competitors and the American and world public who pay to attend sports events."

The WADA stance

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) expressed both "satisfaction and concern" over the affair, and commended the laboratory breakthrough that led to the detection of tetrahydrogestrinone. A test developed by the IOC and WADA accredited anti-doping laboratory headed by Professor Don Catlin at the University of California, Los Angeles, detected the substance in the "A" samples.

"We have to wait until the "B" samples are analysed and proper process completed", said WADA president Dick Pound. "But this is a serious warning for cheaters. It shows that supposedly undetectable substances can be detected as new tests are developed."

WADA also expressed extreme concern about what Terry Madden described above as "a conspiracy". "This case shows the degree of ingenuity that some cheaters may have developed with the assistance of support personnel in order to intentionally get an unfair advantage", said David Howman, WADA's director general. "This is exactly why independent agencies such as USADA and WADA have been created, and why cooperation is crucial to stay ahead of cheaters. WADA will monitor this case very closely and will be happy to assist in any way. We look forward to learning of the outcomes as quickly as possible."

Saturn sweeps 2003 National Racing Calendar Series

Chris Horner
Photo: © Mitch Clinton
Click for larger image

Last weekend's Michelin Classic in Greenville, S.C. marked the completion of the 2003 National Racing Calendar Series and when the points were tallied, it was the Saturn Cycling Team who came out on top of all four categories claiming the men's and women's individual titles with Chris Horner and Lyne Bessette as well as the men's and women's team classifications.

Horner scored a total of 2841 points, placing him ahead of second place finisher and teammate Tom Danielson and John Lieswyn (7-Up/Maxxis). Horner claimed victories at the T-Mobile International, the Redlands Bicycle Classic, the Solano Cycling Classic, the Tour de Georgia, and the McLane Pacific Classic as well as a couple of stage wins at the Fitchburg Longsjo Classic.

Bessette, who took overall wins at the International Tour de 'Toona and the Cascade Cycling Classic, also grabbed stage wins in the Pomona Valley Stage Race, the Sea Otter Classic, and the Nature Valley Grand Prix on her way to scoring 2085 points ahead of runner-up Tina Mayolo-Pic (Diet Rite) and third place finisher, Geneviève Jeanson (Rona). Bessette also ended the winning streak of Petra Rossner (Nürnberger) at the Wachovia Liberty Classic.

In the team classification, the Saturn Men's Team claimed the top spot with 7649 points ahead of runner-up, Prime Alliance and third-placed 7-Up/Maxxis. The seemingly endless list of victories for Saturn in 2003 included the aforementioned wins by Horner, plus victories at the San Rafael Cycling Classic, the Cascade Cycling Classic, the Fitchburg-Longsjo Classic, the Nature Valley Grand Prix, the Pomona Valley Stage Race, the South Carolina Heritage Series, and the Sea Otter Classic.

The Saturn women also claimed the team classification making for a clean sweep for Saturn in their final year of existence. In addition to Bessette's wins were victories at the Fitchburg Longsjo Classic, the Nature Valley Grand Prix, the Clarendon Cup, Tour of Somerville, and La Vuelta de Bisbee.

USCF National Racing Calendar Final Point Standings


1 Chris Horner (USA) Saturn        2841 pts
2 Tom Danielson (USA) Saturn       1693
3 John Lieswyn (USA) 7Up-Maxxis    1255
4 Viktor Rapinski (Blr) Saturn     1250
5 Mark McCormack (USA) Saturn      1013
1 Lyne Bessette (Can) Saturn       2085 pts
2 Tina Mayolo-Pic (USA) Diet Rite  1681
3 Geneviève Jeanson (Can) Rona     1605
4 Lynn Gaggioli (USA) Velo Bella   1392
5 Laura Van Gilder (USA) Saturn    1257
Men's teams
1 Saturn                           7649 pts
2 Prime Alliance                   4099
3 7-Up/Maxxis                      3238
4 Navigators                       2992
5 US Postal-Berry Floor            1433
Women's teams
1 Saturn                           5216 pts
2 Rona/Esker                       2946
3 Diet Rite                        2656
4 T-Mobile                         2580
5 Velo Bella                       1560 
Full rankings:

Peers and Van de Walle to Jacques

Belgian Chris Peers has signed a contract with the new Chocolade Jacques team, run by Noël Demeulenaere. Peers signed a one year deal on Thursday evening, bringing the number of riders in the squad to 16. Dave Bruylandts, Gerben Löwik, Bart Voskamp, Raivis Belohvosciks, Jurgen Van de Walle and Bjorn Rondelez are all part of the squad, and Demeulenaere expects that Andy Cappelle and Geert Verheyen will sign soon. The team is also likely to attract two French cyclo-crossers, including Maxime Lefebvre.

Press agency Belga reported that Frank Vandenbroucke had called up Demeulenaere recently, but both Demeulenaere and VDB denied that there was any talk of a transfer. "Sometimes I call Noël at least ten times a year to talk about private matters," said Vandenbroucke. To conclude that there is more to it is beyond a joke. I am staying with Quick.Step."

Three more for Saunier Duval

The Saunier Duval team has announced three new signings for 2004: Juanjo Cobo, David de la Fuente and Italian Alberto Loddo (Lampre). Juanjo Cobo is one of the best Spanish U23 riders, having done very well in the European TT championships as well as representing Spain at the World's. David de la Fuente rode his first pro season with Vini Caldirola-Saunier Duval this year, and is expected to develop more as a professional next season. Finally Alberto Loddo has just completed his second year as a pro with Lampre and has started to show his potential as a good sprinter.

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