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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

Latest Cycling News for August 6, 2004

Edited by Jeff Jones

Lelli admits

Italian Massimiliano Lelli (Cofidis) has admitted to taking banned substances, according to a Reuters report quoting a "judicial source". The 36 year old was implicated by former teammates Philippe Gaumont and David Millar as their source for EPO, and was placed under formal investigation on Thursday after his arrest on Tuesday and two days of interrogation. Judge Richard Pallain, who is heading the Cofidis investigation, charged Lelli with the acquisition, possession, and transport of doping products, facilitation of the use of doping products, and accessory to the import of toxic substances.

Upon his release from court late Thursday, Lelli commented to Datasport that, "I don't feel as if I'm an ex-cyclist, and I had no intention of ending in this way. Now I'll return home and reflect a little. I would like to be able to finish with the Vuelta in September, like it was planned. I'm not surrendering. However, to tell the truth, it was a nasty shock."

Kersten may have been slipped drug

Reintegrated Australian cyclist Ben Kersten may have been slipped a drug by a teammate before an incident in Moscow that cost him his place at the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS), his manager said. Kersten's AIS scholarship was terminated in July 2003 after he was found to have breached the AIS code of conduct at a World Cup meet in Russia in February the same year.

Manager Phill Bates revealed on Friday that the 22 year-old was then advised to seek counselling for alcohol abuse. He said Kersten appeared to have got drunk when he went to a tavern in Moscow with AIS cyclists after an event in the Russian capital. His teammates had then left him at the airport because they couldn't get him on the plane and he didn't wake up until hours later, said Bates.

There are suggestions that Kersten's treatment by teammates at the Olympic camp in Germany may have had more to do with his past behaviour than the current appeals saga.

But Bates said Kersten had lost control because someone had slipped the so-called date rape drug Rohypnol into one of his drinks during celebrations after the competition. He said a NSW police expert testified at Kersten's appeal against his AIS expulsion that he had displayed all the characteristics of someone affected by Rohypnol, although there was no forensic evidence to back the claim.

The AIS rejected the claim, according to Bates. "They (the AIS cyclists) went to a tavern which was attached to where they were staying and some of the other teams were there," Bates said. "They had rounds of beers, and subsequently the girls and one of the officials was there as well, and it was proven that someone had slipped him a date rape drug.

"He had to get carried to his bed and he was carried from the bed onto the bus. They carried him to the airport. They couldn't get him on the plane because he couldn't do anything to protect himself. They stuck a passport in his pocket and left him at the airport. But it was some ten hours after the plane had left that he woke up.

"Because he was given a three-month suspension from the AIS and the Australian Sports Commission he appealed that decision. It went before an independent tribunal, which was chaired by John Boultbee, a former head of the AIS."

Bates said the tribunal found that Kersten had been slipped something, but the AIS did not accept it. "It had to be someone playing a prank from his own team or a New Zealander."

Bates said Kersten had no more than six beers that night, "and I can tell you this guy can drink like a fish if he wants to. I've seen him drink a yard glass at his 21st after having 12 schooners and still carry on as if there's nothing wrong with him. Someone's hit him with something that's pretty bad and he's suffered the consequences," Bates said.

Kersten subsequently had his scholarship terminated.

Cycling Australia says all is well

Cycling Australia boss Graham Fredericks has insisted all is well at the team's pre-Olympics camp in Germany, following reports of tension and conflict after Kersten's late arrival. Bates claimed the Wollongong rider was not speaking to the other sprinters, who had frozen him out following his late call-up to replace the disgraced Jobie Dajka and his court challenge for Sean Eadie's place in the team. But Fredericks was adamant the track team was cohesive and working well together.

Meanwhile Dajka, who was dumped last Friday after admitting lying to drugs investigators over injecting himself in an AIS room in Adelaide, will have his case heard on Monday. If he is successful, Kersten will again be on the outer and is likely to be angry that his appeal against Sean Eadie's selection was not heard after he was called into the team when Dajka was axed.

Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) president John Coates took the decision to expel the 22-year-old Dajka from the Olympic team last week after Dajka admitted having lied about his use of syringes in Adelaide last year.

"He has brought himself, the sport of cycling, the team and the AOC into disrepute and censure," Coates said.


Metlushenko and Gryschenko on the hunt

Ukrainian Yuri Metlushenko is searching for a new team after his contract with Landbouwkrediet-Colnago expires at the end of the season. The 28 year old sprinter who has won four races this season is in the same situation as his compatriot Ruslan Gryschenko (23), who will also have to leave the Belgian squad at the end of the year.

Landbouwkrediet's other Ukrainians Yaroslav Popovych and Volodomir Bileka have already found places in the new Discovery Channel Cycling team for next season.

Poll finds Pro Tour not well explained

A poll conducted by sports TV network Eurosport and Sports Marketing Surveys Ltd has found that the UCI's Pro Tour, which is to be launched in 2005, has not been well communicated to the public. The survey asked a mixture of French, German and English "sports fans" about whether they had heard of the Pro Tour. A third of the sports fans in France and Germany responded that they had heard of it, while only 14 percent of British fans gave the same answer.

Among the fans who were aware of the Pro Tour, two thirds said that the reform is or could be a positive thing, but they are waiting to know more about it. A total of 73 percent of sports fans think that the Pro Tour has not been well explained. Also, 50 percent of the fans think that this reform doesn't tackle the most urgent problem in cycling: doping.

Cincinnati brain surgeon makes use of helmet

Dr. John Tew
Photo: © Dr. John Tew
Click for larger image

Health care providers are forever preaching the value of cycling helmets, but Dr. John M. Tew, medical director of The Neuroscience Institute at the University of Cincinnati and University Hospital, made the point in an unusually dramatic style during the Kroger Brand MS 150 Bike Tour, July 10-11, in southwest Ohio, USA. An experienced cyclist, Dr. Tew took a nasty spill while captaining Team Waddell in the annual MS fundraiser when he turned too sharply onto a side street at 32 km/h. The fall cracked Dr. Tew’s helmet in two places, but the neurosurgeon escaped with only superficial scrapes and with all brain cells intact, and he was able to finish the ride.

In addition, Team Waddell's 57 cyclists, representing Cincinnati's new Waddell Center for Multiple Sclerosis, raised well over $20,000 for local and national programs overseen by the USA's National MS Society.

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