First Edition Cycling News for June 25, 2004
Edited by Chris Henry
Millar out, but not out of the woods
David Millar was released from police custody Thursday after having been held for questioning since Tuesday night when he was met at a restaurant in his home of Biarritz by French police. Millar was called in for questioning as a witness in the drug trafficking investigation which has surrounded the Cofidis team since January. Police also searched Millar's home.
According to an AFP report, sources close to the investigation have indicated that Millar may soon find himself under formal investigation, however no announcement has been made by the judge Richard Pallain, in charge of the ongoing investigation.
"This isn't about Millar, it's a follow-up to the Gaumont affair," Cofidis team manager Francis Van Londersele told AFP. "I find it regrettable that they wait this long to question someone, several days before the Tour de France."
Cofidis suspended two of its riders, Médéric Clain and Cédric Vasseur, immediately after they were placed under formal investigation in the same case. Clain was later fired after he admitted to having purchased (but not used) certain banned substances. Vasseur maintained his innocence and at the beginning of June was allowed to race once again.
The team appears to have shifted its stance somewhat, preferring now to count on riders' innocence until proof is offered that they may have violated team rules or crossed any legal lines concerning doping substances. Cofidis is the only major French team which has not yet signed the charter of AC 2000, the association of French professional teams. Under the charter, any rider placed under investigation must be suspended from competition.
De Cauwer faces charges
Belgian national selector José De Cauwer will face charges of possession and distribution of amphetamines in an Antwerp, Belgium court. According to a Belga report, De Cauwer faces charges that he provided amphetamines to an amateur rider in 1995, for having taken part in the trafficking of banned substances in 1995, and for possession of corticoids found in his house during a 2001 police search. De Cauwer denies the charges and his lawyers plan to appeal any decision against him.
One week for French inquiry
Investigator to make call on possible doping offences and 'conduct' unbecoming of an Olympic athlete
By Gerard Knapp
The Australian Federal Government has allowed one week for its recently appointed investigator to deliver a report on the allegations made by suspended 19 year-old track sprinter, Mark French, that five other cyclists at the Australian Institute of Sport had used his room for injecting a variety of substances.
The Honourable Robert Anderson has arrived in Canberra to commence work and by July 1st, he is required to deliver the Government with a report that could affect the careers of five elite but so far unnamed cyclists that were with the AIS in the second half of 2003.
The terms of reference of the inquiry call for the retired Supreme Court Justice to further investigate French's claims and seek new evidence that could indicate there have been further breaches of doping policy.
A previous inquiry and court hearing found French guilty of doping offences, but the inquiry found there was insufficient evidence to serve infraction notices on any other rider.
However, the investigator will also be asked to determine if there has been "conduct by a person that may warrant that person being excluded from further participation in programs, teams or events organised or selected by any of the Australian Sports Commission, Cycling Australia, the Australian Commonwealth Games Association or the Australian Olympic Committee".
There is no further legal definition provided for "conduct" as outlined in the terms of reference, although there is a 'code of conduct' for cyclists issued with a Cycling Australia racing licence. Similarly, there is another code of conduct for athletes attending the AIS, as well as athlete agreements for participation at the Olympic Games.
It's unknown if using needles for the purpose of injecting vitamins or other non-doping substances within the AIS would qualify as conduct that warrants exclusion from an Olympic team. French has alleged that other riders at the AIS used his room for injecting a variety of substances, although he could not identify the substance. However, the AIS has already served letters of reprimand to two athletes for injecting vitamins while at the same Adelaide facility.
Yesterday, the president of the AOC, John Coates, said, "We are saying we want to be satisfied that you five are the proper sort of people we should be including on an Olympic team, and we're throwing the onus back on them through this inquiry to establish that".
(Within the Australian community, there is resistance to the practice of athletes injecting vitamins, supplements or other legal (non-doping) substances. The local media has featured several 'colourful' columns by commentators unfamiliar with elite sport, where such practices are not uncommon.)
Although much of his testimony to CAS was described as "implausible", French's allegations were first raised in the Australian Parliament by the ALP's Senator John Faulkner, who had obtained a copy of the then-confidential report.
The following day, the Olympic body expressed its concern with the allegations and indicated it would exclude the riders from the Australian Olympic team unless a new inquiry could clear them.
In a statement last Saturday, the AOC's in-house legal counsel, Simon Rofe, said, "We have approximately 470 athletes in the team, we can't allow their reputations to be sullied by five possible drug cheats".
The investigator's tight deadline is due to the Olympic Games looming in August and Cycling Australia has to name its final squad for Athens by July 9. It's understood that the five riders named by French are members of the shadow squad.
The investigator arrived in Canberra to on Wednesday to begin assembling a secretariat and on Thursday he received the final terms of reference from the Minister for the Arts and Sport, Senator Rod Kemp.
It's understood that Mr Anderson will mostly conduct his inquiry in the nation's capital, rather than spending too much time traveling across the country for personal interviews. (A report yesterday in Cyclingnews pointed out the extensive travel involved should the retired Justice wish to interview all parties connected with this affair.)
The terms of reference do not specify using contemporary forensic science tests, such as attempting to identify persons via DNA and fingerprints left on the used injecting paraphernalia that was found in French's room in December last year.
However, the unexplored question in the 'French affair' is the origin of the serious doping substance found in the plastic sharps bucket in French's room. Some 13 empty ampoules of equine growth hormone (eGH) were among the used syringes, swabs and vials. While French has admitted to injecting vitamins and a homeopathic supplement called Testicomp, he had denied any knowledge of the eGH.
However, earlier this month, he was found guilty of possession and trafficking of the Testicomp and eGH by the CAS, a decision he intends to appeal. It was during the CAS hearings that the rider gave his testimony, elaborating on previous claims he was not alone in the practice and naming five AIS riders in his sworn statement made in-camera.
Until this latest enquiry, sports bodies such as the ASC and CA had been prevented from using his testimony to carry out a further investigation, as they required the rider's permission for his testimony to be used outside the court.
But the new Anderson inquiry is also being asked to investigate the adequacy of management and supervision of athletes at the AIS, and the effectiveness of the original investigation into the French affair undertaken by the ASC and CA.
Mr Anderson is asked to wrap up this component of the inquiry by October 31 this year.
(Quoting a section of French's in-camera statements to the Court of Arbitration in Sport, a Sydney newspaper this morning published the names of the five riders French alleges used his room to inject themselves.)
Cyclingnews coverage of the French affair
Rabobank keeps two
The Dutch Rabobank team announced Thursday that two of its international riders, Belgian Marc Wauters and Dane Michael Rasmussen, have extended their contracts for two more seasons.
"Looking at the UCI Pro Tour, Michael Rasmussen is a very important rider for us," said team CEO Theo de Rooij. "In the mountain stages Michael can compete with the very best. That's a necessary quality in the UCI Pro Tour.
"And for years, Marc Wauters has been a solid factor in our team. Guys like that, we like to keep aboard."
Wauters joined Rabobank in 1998 and is in his 14th year as a professional. Rasmussen, a former world mountain bike champion, arrived in 2003. Rasmussen recently claimed a stage victory at the Dauphiné Libéré.
More UCI points for O'Loughlin
By Shane Stokes, Irishcycling.com
Olympic hopeful David O'Loughlin enhanced his chances of being selected for this year's games with an excellent ride in the UCI 1.5 ranked Brussels-Ingooigem race Wednesday. The Mayo rider was lining out many good professionals in the 175 kilometre race, amongst them riders from the Division I Lotto-Domo, Landbouwkrediet-Colnago, Chocolade Jacques and Mr.Bookmaker.com-Palmans teams. In all, 137 riders took part, including the Belgian champion Geert Omloop and British champion Roger Hammond.
O'Loughlin was riding strongly all day, going clear in a 14 rider breakaway after ten kilometres. These were hauled back by the Vlaanderen team, but O'Loughlin went clear again with 26 others after 58 kilometres. A cobblestone section shortly afterwards saw the front group split, Steven Caethoven (Vlaanderen-T Interim), Bert de Waele (Landbouwkrediet-Colnago) and Gorik Gardeyn (Lotto-Domo) forging ahead and opening a commanding lead. They finished in this order.
O'Loughlin was part of a four man chasing group, the quartet also comprising Michael Blanchy (Chocolade Jacques-Wincor-Nixdorf), Tour of Flanders runner-up Leif Hoste (Lotto-Domo) and Sven Renders of the Jong Vlaanderen 2016 team. O'Loughlin finished behind Blanchy in the final sprint, taking fifth and adding six world ranking points to his 2004 total. Equally importantly, he was the only amateur rider in the top 15, underlining his excellent form to the pro team managers at the race and also to the Irish Olympic selectors.
Their final decision with regard to the choosing of a second rider for Athens (Mark Scanlon of Ag2r-Prévoyance is certain to fill the first place) will be taken next week, following the running of the national championships this Sunday.
USA Marathon MTB team
USA Cycling announced Thursday the automatic nominations to the U.S. team for the 2004 UCI Mountain Bike Marathon World Championships in Bad Goisern, Austria July 9-11. Marathon racing is the ultra-endurance equivalent of cross country competition defined by its 100km distance and massive elevation gain.
The U.S. can enter a maximum of seven men and seven women in the Marathon World Championships. The remainder of the roster will be determined by discretionary selections based on international and national performances. The final team will be announced on June 25, 2004.
Automatic Nominations for USA:
*Declined nominations and will not compete
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