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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for August 5, 2004

Edited by John Stevenson

Millar banned for two years, stripped of time trial title

David Millar after the 2003 world championship time trial victory which has now been nullified.
Photo: © Sirotti
Click for larger image

British cyclist David Millar was yesterday banned for two years and stripped of his world time trial title by the British cycling federation for taking the banned performance enhancer erythropoietin (EPO).

The 27-year-old Scot's use of EPO was uncovered when French police raided his Biarritz home in June as part of their investigation into members of his Cofidis team. Two empty capsules of Eprex, a brand name of EPO, were found in his flat. He later confessed to taking EPO in 2001 and 2003, an admission that led to his sacking by Cofidis.

Millar's case was heard by the British cycling federation's disciplinary panel. In a statement, British Cycling said, "The Panel concluded that David Millar was guilty of offences under the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) Anti Doping Examination Regulations Article 134 - Declaration or Admissions of Doping.

"The Panel considered information from a number of sources, including a statement by David Millar and the answers given by him to the questions posed by the Panel."

In addition to the ban, and loss of his gold time trial medal won in Canada last year, Millar was also disqualified from last year's Dauphine Libere stage race, the 2001 Tour of Spain, and fined 2,000 Swiss francs ($A2,225). He has the right to contest the ruling with the Court of Arbitration in Sport.

In an interview last week Millar told The Guardian newspaper that he had opted to cheat after a poor 2001 season. He said he had kept the capsules of Eprex to remind him of how his win in Canada had been achieved.

"I had got to a point where I had wanted to win so much that to guarantee my victory I did something I didn't need to do," said Millar. "I didn't want to forget about it."

Millar conceded that his decision to keep the capsules was, in effect, a subconscious attempt to get caught. "I believe in the power of the subconscious. It was my get-out. I wasn't happy. I wasn't enjoying it. I didn't like the point I'd got to. It was an extreme way of doing it, but it's typical of my style of life," he said.

After racing in the 2002 Tour de France clean, Millar had returned to EPO partly to boost his earnings following a disappointing season, he told the newspaper. "From making a lot of money I went to the basic that I had in 2002. I felt it was wrong. My salary dropped by 300 per cent. It was like: 'I'll make them pay me a shedload of money and run this team,'" he said.

However Millar insisted that his intention had been to compete at the Olympic Games next month -- for which he was one of the favourites in the time trial event - without using drugs. "I wanted to win the Olympics clean, for myself. I wasn't good with myself. I had changed as a person," he said.

Millar's suspension and loss of the time trial title has a silver lining for one rider, Australia's Michael Rogers. Rogers was second behind Millar in Canada, as discussed on Cyclingnews a couple of weeks ago, and with Millar stripped of his victory it only remains for the UCI to formally award the rainbow jersey to Rogers.

©AAP/AFP

Mancebo okay for Vuelta

Illes Balears Banesto rider Francisco Mancebo is expected to be back on the bike in time for the Vuelta a Espana after a medical examination of his wrist yesterday revealed the injuries he sustained in a fall at the Vuelta a Burgos on Tuesday are less serious than first feared.

X-rays carried out at the Clínica Universitaria de Navarra revealed that Mancebo does not have a broken scaphoid, but has damaged ligaments and bruising in his left wrist.

Mancebo's doctors suspect he may have a partial crack in the scaphoid, but say it's "not particularly important" and his main problem at the moment is the pain and restriction of movement as a result of the injury.

Evans ponders move to Lotto

Changes afoot for Evans?
Photo ©: Cor Vos
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After a season in which he won the Tour of Austria but was left out of T-Mobile's squad for the Tour de France, Cadel Evans is discussing a new home at the Omega Pharma-Lotto squad, alongside fellow Australians Robbie McEwen, Nick Gates and Henk Vogels.

While compiling his wrap-up of the Australian experience at this year's Tour, Cyclingnews reporter John Trevorrow spoke to Evans, who told him, "Yes, I am in negotiations with them and it will be finalized one way or the other in a couple of days. And yes, it would be a very good option and it seems like it will have a great spirit."

Sources close to Evans say that the former mountain bike World Cup star is in negotiations with several teams for 2005. He made a strong top-level showing on the road in 2002 with Mapei, wearing the leader jersey in the Giro d'Italia, before moving to the then Telekom team in 2003, but his 2003 season was almost a total write-off due to injury.

Wherever he ends up next year, Evans has had one piece of good news recently. "I have just been told I am riding the Vuelta and I am really looking forward to that," he said.

Cyclingnews analysis: Witch hunting in the 21st century

In the enthusiasm of the media and authorities to catch and punish users of banned performance-enhancing drugs, basic human rights of athletes - both innocent and guilty - are being ignored. Sports lawyer Michelle Gallen, a former senior adviser at the Australian Sports Drug Agency, analyses the issues.

In the sporting world, a nasty 15th century phenomenon has resurfaced in the last few months. I am referring of course to the witch hunt, a sport favoured by some in the UK, France and the USA hundreds of years ago. In this modern version, France and the USA are still key locations, but Australia has joined in. And the witches have necessarily evolved (given witchcraft itself is rather trendy nowadays) into the evil spectre of an athlete on drugs.

Apart from the change in target, not much else is different in this contemporary witch hunt. Alleged offenders are still guilty unless proven innocent, with an exceptionally high burden of proof prevailing. (Remember the stories of innocent women told that the only way to disprove their status as witches was to drown when cast into the river weighted with stones?) And guilt, it would now appear, can be first presumed upon evidence as simple as the word of a neighbour.

Click here for the full feature

Van Goolen denies rumours

Quick.Step-Davitamon rider Jurgen Van Goolen has angrily denied rumours in the peloton that he will be the next Belgian cyclist in trouble for using EPO.

Speaking at the Vuelta a Burgos in Spain, where he is currently riding in support of Patrick Sinkewitz, Van Goolen told sportwereld.be, "I find it downright scandalous that these rumours are circulating because I have been inactive for the last few weeks. It's insane, but the worst part is that nobody asks my opinion.

"This crazy gossip possibly got started because I was inactive for a few weeks following a crash in the national championships. My last competition was the Tour of Switzerland and I passed a doping control there."

Van Goolen's team management has also attempted to squash the rumours, pointing out in a statement that he has not been controlled since the negative test at the Tour of Switzerland.

Lelli still in custody

French police have extended the detention of Cofidis rider Massimiliano Lelli for an additional 24 hours following his arrest on Tuesday in connection with an investigation into illegal trafficking in performance-enhancing drugs.

Lelli is due to come before an investigating magistrate of the Nanterre (Hauts-de-Seine) judiciary today to face any charges arising from the investigation.

Two of Lelli's former team-mates, Philippe Gaumont and David Millar have alleged that Lelli assisted them in obtaining EPO in 2001.

Kazakhstan men's Olympic road team announced

The Kazakhstan Cycling Federation has announced the five riders that will represent the country at the Athens Olympic Games later this month.

Alexander Vinokourov (T-Mobile), the 2000 silver medallist, will be the team's designated leader with his T-Mobile team-mate and friend Sergey Yakovlev as first lieutenant. The team is completed by Dmitri Fofonov (Cofidis), 2004 Sachsen-Tour International winner Andrey Kashechkin (Credit Agricole) and current Kazakhstan road race champion Andrey Mizourov (Oktos).

Two of the five will also ride the time trial: Alexander Vinokourov and Dmitri Fofonov.

Two more years for Rast

Swiss road champion Gregory Rast has renewed his contract with the Phonak Hearing Systems team for two years after what the team describes as a "long negotiation" between it and Rast's agent Fabius Perego. Rast will therefore stay with the Swiss-based squad until December 31, 2006.

Armstrong and friends to Tour of Courage

One of Lance Armstrong's many anti-cancer fund-raising events is the Tour of Courage in Calgary, Alberta, September 25-26 - and he's bringing his entourage to this one. As well as Armstrong himself, the two-day event will see George Hincapie, Johan Bruyneel, Chris Carmichael and Phil Ligget turn out for a fund-raising dinner at the Hyatt Hotel in support of the Molecular Epidemiology Cancer Research Chair at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre. The dinner will be followed by a 120km ride over the Highwood Pass for 30 fortunate donors.

Last year's one-day event raised $1.3 million for cancer research and organizers hope to pass that mark this year. For more information see www.tourofcourage.com.

Dajka hearing today

Track sprint rider Jobie Dajka will attempt to regain his place in the Australian Olympic team at a hearing before the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Sydney today. Dajka was expelled from the team last week after it was found that he had lied to the Anderson investigation into Mark French's allegations that several riders had used his room at the AIS to inject themselves.

"I understand Jobie Dajka will arrive back in Sydney early morning on Thursday so he will be available (for the appeal)," Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates told reporters yesterday.

The lawyer who handled Sean Eadie's successful case against non-selection -- Bernie Gross QC -- will also represent Dajka when the CAS hearing begins today at about 1700 AEST.

Sitting on the three-man CAS panel will be former Attorney General Bob Ellicott QC, Sydney barrister David Bloom and former chairman of the Australian Rugby League judiciary Alan Sullivan QC.

Lehigh Velodrome Das Awkscht Fest

The Lehigh Valley Velodrome will host Oldies Night to celebrate Das Awkscht Fest on Friday, August 6, 2004. Featured promotions for the night will include Classic Cars, and free admission for Parkland and East Penn students.

"Parkland and East Penn students will receive free admission to the events on August 6 with a student id. This is an excellent opportunity for students to catch up with their friends from school and to have a fun night out with the family," said Jacob Burns, Lehigh Valley Velodrome marketing director.

Other fun promotions for the evening include live music, classic cars and interactive games. Cathy Loch and the Nessmonsters will be performing live on the plaza stage from 6-7pm as well as after racing. The band will be playing your favorite oldies from the last few decades. Also on hand will be two beautiful classic Ford Mustangs courtesy of Dave Basset. Interactive games including a moonbounce, baseball speedpitch and a track cycling simulator will also be on hand for fan entertainment throughout the entire evening.

Gates open at 6pm with racing to begin at 7pm. For more information see www.lvvelo.org.

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