First Edition Cycling News for September 22, 2004
Edited by Jeff Jones & John Stevenson
Hamilton and Phonak protest innocence
In the wake of two A-sample tests that showed evidence of homologous blood transfusions, Olympic time trial champion Tyler Hamilton has strongly defended himself. After the news broke on Tuesday morning, the American gave a press conference on Tuesday evening in Zurich, together with some of the other members of his Phonak team.
"First of all I'm devastated to be here tonight," Hamilton told the press conference. "My family is devastated, my team is devastated, my friends are all devastated. If there's one thing I can guarantee you, is that I'm 100 percent innocent."
Hamilton explained that he was told by the UCI last Thursday that he had tested positive for a blood transfusion during the Vuelta. He did not start the 13th stage on Friday. There was more to come on Saturday when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) informed him that during the Athens Olympics last month, he had also tested positive for a blood transfusion. The test can supposedly detect blood transfusions for between 6-8 weeks.
"I've always been an honest person since I grew up," added Hamilton. "My family taught me to be an honest person since I was a kid. I've always believed in fair play. This result on Thursday night and another one on Saturday afternoon was a major surprise to me. I've been accused of taking blood from another person, which if anybody knows me, knows that that is completely impossible. I can tell you what I did and did not put into my body. Cycling is very important to me but not that important. If I ever had to do that [doping] I'd hang the bike on the rack.
"I've always been a clean rider; I've always been a fair rider. I've been taking part in the out of competition tests for the last five years. And for someone to accuse me of doing that... number one that's risking my life. Number two that's risking my wife's life. It's a big blow to me. It's a big blow to my team."
The results of the B sample tests are expected soon, and if these are also positive, then Hamilton will become the first rider to fail a doping test for a blood transfusion. But Hamilton has vowed to fight it. "As you all know I have a lot of energy. I can guarantee you the gold medal will be staying in my living room until I don't have a cent left. I've worked hard for it and it's not going anywhere. At the moment I don't have any answers, but I can guarantee that I will find the reason why."
Phonak's CEO Andy Rihs told Reuters that the team will stand behind Hamilton, no matter what. "We don't fire innocent people and if the 'B' test is positive as well we'll still stand behind Tyler. We believe Tyler independent of these results. We don't believe the test is reliable. It's more of a probability test. We have scientific papers that question the reliability of these tests. We think this test (at the Vuelta) or the IOC test at least, were done sloppily. The IOC test is suspect because [the results] came out one month after it was done."
Hamilton won both the Olympic time trial on August 18 and the first individual time trial (Stage 8) of the Vuelta on September 11. If found guilty of blood doping, he could be stripped of his Olympic gold medal. That would mean that 2000 Olympic Champion Viatcheslav Ekimov (Russia) would be awarded the gold, Bobby Julich (USA) the silver and Michael Rogers (Australia) the bronze.
Also see: Anti-doping measures get tougher - The UCI's latest methods for combating doping in cycling.
From the emails we're getting at Cyclingnews, there seems to be some confusion - even among the medical profession - as to the exact meaning of the jargon used to describe different types of blood transfusion. As far as we can ascertain from various dictionaries, on and off-line, and the usage of the terms in scientific abstracts, medical science differentiates between three different types of blood transfusion:
Autologous: Transfusion of blood from the same individual.
Hamilton news overshadows Julia stage win
Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme's Jose Julia won a rather nondescript 16th stage of the Vuelta a España yesterday when he took advantage of a momentary lull in proceedings to attack his remaining breakaway companions with 3 kilometres to go. Julia had no-one in sight behind him as he crossed the line to take Kelme's third win of the race following those of Valverde and Jimenez. He said afterwards that, "It is always difficult to get into a break on a day like this and then difficult also to win from it. I followed and then when there was a change of pace, I took my opportunity". As he thanked people for his win, the caravan sat back to wait for the other news of the day, the news that broke before the start.
No one really seemed interested in the stage as such, though. A boring stage across plains inhabited by sheep, cows, pigs, fields of wheat and corn and gnarly trees that are reminiscent of the ironwoods of outback Australia. Everyone was more interested in the news regarding Tyler Hamilton.
Julia was one of six survivors of a 13-rider breakaway that escaped after 40 kilometres and built a gap that peaked at over 17'30". With no general classification threats in the break, and their minds on other things, the peloton declined to chase and the final six still had almost a 12 minute advantage at the finish.
French world's team takes shape
The French cycling federation has announced the make-up of the team that will represent France at the world championships, in Verona Italy, from September 27 to October 3.
The men's road race team will be built around Laurent Brochard, Sandy Casar, David Moncoutié and Jérôme Pineau. Three of the riders selected for the Olympic Games in Athens recently - Sylvain Chavanel, Richard Virenque and Thomas Voeckler - have already declined to be selected for Verona as have several other qualified riders.
The two French representatives in the men's time trial will be national time trial champions Eddy Seigneur, who was fifth in the GP des Nations on Sunday, and Frédéric Finot, second French rider in that race.
Full French world's roster
Elite men time trial: Frédéric Finot et Eddy Seigneur (RAGT)
Rasmussen comes out for Hamburger
Danish Rabobank pro Michael Rasmussen has spoken out in favour of the inclusion of his countryman Bo Hamburger in Denmark's team for the world championships in Verona. The Danish Cycling Union attempted to exclude Hamburger from the country's Olympic team, but he had gained automatic entry after his sixth place in the 2003 world championships. Now, Hamburger has not been selected for the Danish team for Verona.
"A decision was made in connection with the Olympics, and Hamburger was given the right to ride. In that respect it is quite paradoxical that he is not allowed to ride at the World Championships a month later," says Rasmussen on his website.
Hamburger's troubles with the DCU date back to 2001 when he was the first rider to test positive for EPO use under the UCI's then-new urine test. Irregularities in the handling of Hamburger's B sample analysis meant he was eventually exonerated, but he has since been under a cloud.
Rasmussen feels the vagueness of Hamburger's status is unfair. "In this case there are no things such as 'maybe' or 'might be'. It has to be either a 'yes' or a 'no'. A verdict has been made several times in this case," he says, pointing out that Hamburger was found not guilty of using EPO.
Whatever the ethics of the situation, Rasmussen believes Hamburger should be on the team for Verona because he is currently riding extremely well.
"It is rather unfortunate that one of the best riders at the time will not start," he says. "It would definitely have been a lot more fun to sit two riders at the final instead of one. There is no doubt that someone who is able to end up second last week in [Giro delle Colline del] Chianti and fifth yesterday in [GP Industria & Commercio di] Prato, he is in excellent shape."
Prosecution demands prison for Ferrari
The prosecution in the on-going Italian legal action against Dr Michele Ferrari has asked for a prison sentence should Ferrari be found guilty of the charges of involvement with doping riders and receiving doping substances from a pharmacy in Bologna.
According to Italian news agency ANSA, public prosecutor Lorenzo Gestri asked for Ferrari to be given a 14-month sentence, a 900 euro (US$1,100) fine and a one-year ban from medical activity.
Ferrari has long maintained his innocence in the case, which began in 2001.
Sinkewitz out of world's
German Quick.Step - Davitamon rider Patrick Sinkewitz will not be taking part in the world's, according to a statement from his team. Sinkewitz has not completely recovered from the intestinal bacteria problem that forced him to pull-out from the Vuelta España last week.
"I was really looking forward to the World Championships as the circuit was ideal for my style of racing," said Sinkewitz in the statement. "Objectively though, at present I can't guarantee the National Squad the level of competitiveness that is required for such a difficult and selective race like the World Championships. Therefore, I prefer to leave my place to a rider who is at the moment in better form than myself. My objective now is that of getting over this bacterial problem and back in form ready for the last few races of the season - especially for the Giro di Lombardia."
T-Mobile big guns to Italy
The T-Mobile team has announced the riders that will roll out for this weekend's races. While the team will be represented in the Circuit Franco-Belge stage race that starts tomorrow, top riders such as Jan Ullrich and Paolo Savoldelli will be taking in the weekend's Italian trio of Coppa Sabatini, Giro dell'Emilia and GP Beghelli. They will be joined for the latter two races by stagiaire Maxime Iglinskiy.
Circuit Franco-Belge, September 23-26: Rolf Aldag, Mario Aerts,
Eric Baumann, Andreas Klier, Andre Korff, Tomas Konecny, Bram Schmitz.
Fassa Bortolo for Coppa Sabatini
The Fassa Bortolo team has announced the riders who will start tomorrow's Coppa Sabatini. Under directeur sportif Alberto Volpi, the team will field Fabian Cancellara, Massimo Codol, Luca De Angeli, Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni, Gustav Larsson, Roberto Petito, Filippo Pozzato, and Matteo Tosatto.
Cofidis for Circuit Franco-Belge
The Cofidis team has announced its riders for the Circuit Franco-Belge, September 23-26, Under assistant directeur sportif Alain Deloeuil the team will field: Jimmy Casper, Jimmy Engoulvent, Peter Farazijn, Arnaud Coyot, Staf Scheirlinckx and Antoine Cabrera (Stagiaire)
Jeremy Maartens to Barloworld
The Barloworld team has announced that South African Jeremy Maartens (25) has signed to ride for the team for 2005. Maartens has ridden for South African domestic pro teams HSBC and Microsoft for the last four years, and joined barloworld as a guest at the Tour of Britain. His palmares for 2004 includes stage wins in the Tour of Qinghai Lake and FDB Milk Ras, as well as his country's national time trial championships and overall victory in the Tour of Tunisia and Tour of Morocco.
2005 Trust House Classic
Organisers have finalised the dates of the 2005 edition of one of New Zealand's major stage races, the Trust House Cycle Classic, formerly known as the Tour of Wellington. The race will start on January 26 with a criterium in Hutt City, and finish in Petone on January 30.
While the opening and closing stages are criteriums, in between there's no shortage of mountains as the race makes its way through the hilly country of the Hutt Valley, Wellington and Wairarapa. Stage four looks to be especially tough. "Next year's tour is breaking new ground," said race director Jorge Sandoval. "For the first time, riders will complete a hilly 150 kilometre stage from Masterton to Pahiatua and return. This will be hard on their legs as it happens only after two days of racing.
"Over the five days of racing, riders will complete a total of 84 kilometres of hill climbing up some of the region's most tortuous and demanding hills," added Sandoval.
Stage 1 - January 26: Hutt City Criterium, 45km
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2004)