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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News for April 29, 2005

Edited by Jeff Jones & Hedwig Kröner

An interview with Tyler Hamilton

Tyler's side of things: Hamilton reacts to doping ban

Following the passing of a two year suspension on him last week, Tyler Hamilton has told Cyclingnews' Shane Stokes that he has every intention of fighting his case. Although the Olympic champion was found guilty of committing a doping offence by the USADA-appointed American Arbitration Association panel, he has remained both defiant and optimistic about his chances of eventually being cleared, taking consolation from the dissenting voice of one of the three arbitrators judging the matter.

Gold for Hamilton
Photo ©: AFP Photo
Click for larger image

"In May, we will file an appeal that will be heard by the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland," Hamilton told Cyclingnews. "We will ask for an expedited hearing to try and resolve my case as quickly as possible, but we assume it will take a couple of months to schedule. We still feel very good about our case, and look forward to the appeal process moving ahead. We are encouraged by the fact that Christopher Campbell, who has been on more doping arbitration panels than perhaps any CAS arbitrator, agreed that this is a bad test that should not be used. We believe his dissent is the first written opinion by a CAS arbitrator finding that a specific doping test is invalid."

Responding to a number of questions put to him by Cyclingnews, Hamilton outlines the problems he had with the process. Apart from his dissatisfaction with what he said were inaccurate UCI measurements of his blood in the run-up to last year's Tour de France, he highlights several factors specific to his positive test which he feels weakens the case against him. Firstly, Hamilton cites the lack of a false positive study which, he says, makes the test unacceptable within the scientific community. He also criticises the lack of quantifiable criteria for a positive test, rejecting the 'I know it when I see it' approach, and blasts WADA for what he says was selective interpretations of peer-reviewed studies.

"The peer-review article and the comments of the peer-review committee determined that the test had a lower limit of detection or minimum threshold that should be applied before calling a sample positive for a blood transfusion," he explains. "All experts agreed that my sample was below that minimum threshold. But WADA and the Panel completely disregarded the minimum threshold. That was very disappointing."

Hamilton says that his Olympic 'A' sample was twice deemed negative, before being changed. He says that such a modification of a result is a violation of WADA code, as was the lack of anonymity in the case. 'All tests conducted for anti doping purposes are supposed to be anonymous. None of mine were. Ever. Which is not only a violation of the WADA code, but my right to privacy as well,' he states. Furthermore, he feels that statements proclaiming his guilt by WADA president Dick Pound call into question the whole impartiality of the process.

"I don't think it's fair for officials from any governing body to speak out about a case before athletes have had the chance to defend themselves," he says. "At the onset of my case I was told things would remain confidential until there was a conclusion. But before my B sample testing could begin news of my case was leaked to the press. What if my B samples came back negative all the way around? It seems that some folks are comfortable with trying cases through the media before the judicial process resolves them. I don't think this is appropriate. Nor am I comfortable with the concept of guilty until proven innocent."

The UCI and WADA remain convinced that they have a case, that Hamilton is guilty and that he will serve a two year ban. Everything hinges on how the CAS appeal progresses; if it accepts the UCI/WADA/USADA view, his career is almost certainly over. But, if it goes the other way and they agree with Hamilton's arguments, he will be back racing this year. Seven months have passed since news of his positive tests, but the final outcome still remains to be decided.

Click here for the full interview

Exum claims large scale cover-up of doping positives

By Jeff Jones

The former director of the United States Olympic Committee's drug control administration, Dr. Wade Exum, has re-filed a discrimination suit that claims, among other things, that USOC has covered up a large number of doping positives in the last 20 years. USOC no longer handles doping control in the US, as that has fallen to the US Anti-Doping Agency, the US branch of WADA.

Dr. Exum filed a federal suit that included numerous discrimination claims on July 17, 2000, after he claimed he was forced to leave USOC due to his objections to "USOC's dangerous and unethical doping policies." He has now transferred his five athletic doping counts against USOC to the El Paso County District Court in Colorado Springs after the federal courts declined to judge his case. Specifically, he is suing USOC for 1) fraud and misrepresentation, 2) wrongful termination in violation of public policy, 3) breach of contract, 4) promissory estoppel, and 5) tortuous interference with prospective financial advantage.

Dr. Exum has been supported in his case by his predecessor, Dr. Robert Voy, M.D., Chief Medical Officer of the USOC from 1983 to 1989, who left the USOC and reported doping abuses in his 1990 book Drugs, Sports, and Politics. Dr. Voy submitted an affidavit for Dr. Exum's case that stated, "Based on my experience and expertise, I believe that the USOC and/or the various NGBs, have covered-up evidence of American Olympic level athletes testing positive for banned PEDs (performance enhancing drugs)." After Dr. Voy left, Dr. Exum began working for the USOC as the Director of Drug Control Administration.

Since the two doctors started their campaign, evidence has come to light of doping cover-ups involving high profile athletes. Track and field athlete and nine-time Olympic gold medal winner Carl Lewis is perhaps the best known of these, after it was revealed that he had tested positive for three types of stimulants during the 1988 Olympic trials. He went onto win the gold medal in the 100 metre sprint after Canadian Ben Johnson was famously disqualified for testing positive for steroids.

There is further evidence that a US athlete who tested positive for steroids in 1999 was allowed to compete and win a gold medal at the 2000 Olympics. And this, according to Dr. Exum, is merely the tip of the iceberg.

"Plaintiff Exum made a sincere effort to establish and develop tests, protocols, procedures and methods for effective and fair enforcement of anti-doping policies," read part of his complaint. "However, the USOC has thrown road blocks in the path of anti-doping enforcement. For example, in recent years, absolutely no sanction has been imposed on roughly half of all the American athletes who have tested positive for prohibited substances. Moreover, in his nine years of uncovering scores of athletes presumed positive for testosterone, Plaintiff Exum has never once seen an athlete sanctioned by the USOC for using that prohibited substance. Additionally, USOC has jeopardized its International Standardisations Organisation (ISO) certification for doping control."

Dr. Exum and his attorney, John Pineau, have subpoenaed documents that have not yet been disclosed by the USOC; specifically, a fifteen year summary of all U.S. Olympic drug test results which lists the identity of the athletes, the substances involved, and any sanctions imposed.

"It is anticipated that there will be attempts to quash the subpoenas and further avoid disclosure of the true extent of the doping problem," said Pineau. "Dr. Exum will fight vigorously to assure that these documents are produced because it is his belief that a drug abuse problem can not be cured through denial and concealment. Only by exposing the truth will the USOC begin to become accountable for its role in the doping of American athletes."

Former USOC employee Joan Price has been subpoenaed by Pineau to supply the alleged missing documents, and has been asked to appear in the El Paso court at a hearing on May 23. Ms Price wrote to Exum in July 2003 that she had "printed out a complete results report from the AS 400 data base and turned it over to the USOC. I'm sure you will remember it to be the one that contained names, positive substances and sanctions or lack of sanctions dating back to the 1980s. At any rate, I am sure that the missing information can be found in that document."

USADA's testing results coordinator Linda Barnes has also been subpoenaed to supply documents as described by Joan Price in her July 2003 letter at the hearing scheduled for May 23.

Bettini training on Giro route

Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step) will be training on the route of the 7th stage of the Giro d'Italia on Friday. The Giro stage heads to Pistoia from Grosseto and will take place on Saturday, May 14. The Olympic Champion will start his ride at the bottom of the San Baronto climb, riding the final 50 kilometres of the stage leading to Pistoia stopping en-route to view the Sammommč climb. All in all he will cover almost 200 kilometres.

"This stage suits me," explained the 31-year-old Quick.Step rider. "Considering the distance from the the finish I predict a breakaway of a small group of riders. I don't want to leave anything to chance. I've been told that the Sammommč climb is tough with at least three kilometres that are very testing. I think it's a good idea to understand how I'll have to ride it."

Bettini will also be taking a look at the Vitolini climb that forms part of the time trial on Saturday, May 15 from Lamporecchio to Florence. "I already know this climb," Bettini continued, "But I want to take another look at the descent, which is very technical."

Phonak's Giro roster

Phonak Hearing Systems has announced its team roster for the 2005 Giro d'Italia. The riders participating will be: Tadej Valjavec, Aurčlien Clerc, Johann Tschopp, Uros Murn, Ignacio Gutierrez, Sascha Urweider, Gregory Rast, Daniel Schnider and Steve Zampieri. Team management: René Savary, Adriano Baffi, John Lelangue.

Lampre line-up for the week-end

Lampre-Caffita's Gilberto Simoni is looking forward to the last races before the Giro d'Italia. "The victory on Sunday [at the Giro dell'Appennino - ed.] made me feel good about riding the Giro next week," he said. "I will be using these last two races this weekend to wrap up my condition, obviously another victory will be even better for the morale."

These last two races will be the Gran Premio Industria e Artigianato on Saturday, April 30, and the Giro di Toscana on the following day, May 1. The Lampre team for both events are: Daniele Bennati, Juan Fuentes Angullo, Oleksandr Kvachuk, Marco Marzano, Andreas Matzbacher, Dario Pieri, Daniele Righi, Michele Scotto d'Abusco, Gilberto Simoni and Sylvester Szmyd.

Liberty for Alcobendas and Catalunya

At the Clásica de Alcobendas taking place from May 7-8, Spanish team Liberty Seguros-Würth will be represented by Carlos Barredo, Koen de Kort, Jesus Hernández, Aaron Kemps, Daniel Navarro, Sergio Paulinho, Luis León Sanchez and Iván Santos. These same eight riders will also participate in the Volta a Catalunya from May 16-22.

T-Mobile looking to Henninger Turm

Only one week after Alexander Vinokourov's victory at Liege-Bastogne- Liege, T-Mobile will hunt for another important win at the "Rund um den Henninger Turm" one-day race in Frankfurt, Germany, where Erik Zabel will be the squad's leader. "We will be expected to control the race. As German ProTour teams, the load will be shared on our shoulders and Gerolsteiner's," said T-Mobile sports director Mario Kummer, who is hoping that the team can notch up its first win on home turf this season.

Joining Zabel in the line-up are Matthias Kessler, Tobias Steinhauser and the Spaniard Paco Lara, whose climbing prowess will be put to good use supporting Zabel over the rolling hills of the Taunus region around Frankfurt. Also participating are Steffen Wesemann, Bram Schmitz, neo-pro Marcus Burghardt and local Christian Werner. "Even without some of our leading riders, such as Vino and Rolf Aldag, we have enough quality in the team to ride for the victory," Kummer added.

"The smaller German teams, like Wiesenhof and Lamonta, always want to mix it at the big traditional races," Erik Zabel commented. "I have ridden this race a dozen times as a pro. It's the toughest one-day race in Germany." The 206 km race is selective, as the peloton will tackle countless leg-breaking climbs, of which the short but sharp Mammolsheimer Berg is the hardest and a guarantee to split the field into pieces. The riders tackle this climb twice before riding into Frankfurt where they complete three laps of a five kilometre city circuit

DFL continues

The British based Driving Force Logistics team has reported that it will continue, despite losing five riders after incidents that occurred last weekend (see related story). Tony Gibb, Michael Scherer, Travis Allen, Jai Crawford and Luke Bettany are no longer with the team after their contracts were cancelled by mutual consent. However, the management said it was already on the lookout for new riders "and will be considering all interested parties." James Louter will move from the role of director sportif to that of operations director.

The team says it will now be focusing on "regaining its momentum" as it works towards getting a start in the Tour of Britain. In a statement team owner Nick Collins said, "The goal of starting the Tour of Britain remains a key objective of the team and our prospective new sponsor. We have created interest in the sport and offered opportunity to young British riders all of whom remain within the team."

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(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2005)