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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for August 25, 2005

Edited by Jeff Jones & Hedwig Kröner

Leblanc in favour of retrospective testing

One day after the substantial allegations made by French newspaper L'Equipe against Lance Armstrong, according to which he had used banned drug EPO in the 1999 Tour de France, one of the topics of discussion in Europe includes the question whether retrospective testing should become an additional method in the fight against doping.

Jean-Marie Leblanc, director of the Tour de France, welcomes the idea. "This affair adds a new element to the fight against doping: retrospective detection is possible and, in my point of view, an additional tool," Leblanc told L'Equipe. "We are so sick of doping that all means can be used as long as they are morally acceptable. It would mean that two, three, four years after [an event], if science progresses, it could come back in time and say this or that sportsman cheated."

While Leblanc as race organiser has no legislative or disciplinary power, he is supportive of changes to the rules allowing retrospective testing on a disciplinary level. "It's a new phase opening up. Because the regulations are not adapted to this new situation. Therefore, an update is necessary. [...] The powers in the sport have a mission, which is to adapt disciplinary rules to the new order, and to possibly take sanctions. If they have the means and the courage to sanction, we will be on their sides entirely."

The opinions on the matter of the institutions concerned, the International Cycling Union (UCI) or the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) are not yet known. While UCI president Hein Verbruggen had to use the day to grasp the details of what is already known in Europe as 'the Armstrong affair' ("We have nothing official. We have to wait and see if the information are correct."), WADA Chairman Richard Pound points at the UCI as the institution in charge. "WADA did not formally exist at the time of the event [1999], so it can't do anything," Pound told L'Equipe. "The management of this dossier is up to the UCI now. In any case, Lance Armstrong as well as the other riders who were controlled positive in the study of the Parisian laboratory will have to explain themselves."

Pound did not reveal whether WADA will ask the UCI for the identity of the six remaining positive samples. "We will discuss it with David Howman, WADA's Director General," he said.

UCI Ethics Commission meets

By Hedwig Kröner

The UCI Ethics Commission met for the very first time in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Friday, August 19. The meeting was convened after UCI Management Committee member and former German national federation president Sylvia Schenk filed several complaints regarding the payments of UCI president-elect Pat McQuaid in March and June 2005, and UCI president Hein Verbruggen complained against her in return. (Also see: interview with Sylvia Schenk and interview with Pat McQuaid).

Ethics Commission president Pieter Zevenbergen had been rejected by Sylvia Schenk as biased already before the meeting of the UCI Ethics Commission, because he is involved in the case as member of the UCI Management Committee. "For my part, I'm now waiting for the outcome of the IOC Ethics Commission investigation of the case," Schenk told Cyclingnews.

The German lawyer had filed her complaints with the UCI Ethics Commission in March 2005 and another one on June 27. "But then, as nothing happened, I also filed with the IOC Ethics Commission on July 18," she said. "So I did everything I could to solve the problems within the UCI and not in public."

The UCI Ethics Commission was brought to life after the UCI proclaimed its Code of Ethics in June 2004, but this was its first meeting. In autumn of last year, American Lisa Voight was agreed to become a member of the Commission. German lawyer Peter Barth joined the Commission in June 2005.

Schenk, who also has doubts about the ProTour's conformity with European Union competition laws, is determined to continue her quest for what she says is questionable legal conformity of the UCI electoral proceedings, even beyond the UCI Congress' vote for presidency at the World Championships in Madrid on September 23, 2005.

"If my other complaint with the UCI Appeals Board [on whether McQuaid is legally eligible for presidency - ed.] is rejected I might appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). There is also another complaint against the Asian Confederation's changing of its voting delegates from Darshan Singh to the Appeals Board and this as well may go afterwards to the CAS or to a Swiss Court. So if no solution is found before the Congress of the UCI there will be doubts about the legality of the whole Congress," Schenk concluded.

T-Mobile builds around Zabel for Vuelta

T-Mobile is sending an experienced nine-man roster, built around Erik Zabel, to the Vuelta a España, which starts this Saturday in Granada. Zabel, riding his last Grand Tour in the magenta colours, is the team's designated sprinter and points jersey contender. It will also be an interesting chance to see mooted future team mates Zabel and Alessandro Petacchi go head-to-head in the sprinters stages. With Stuart O'Grady, Oscar Freire and Robbie McEwen all missing the Vuelta for different reasons, it could be a straight Petacchi-Zabel battle for the blue jersey, which Zabel has won three times already. Both men will also use the race as build-up for the upcoming World Championships in Madrid, over a course designed to favour sprinters.

Behind Zabel will be veterans Rolf Aldag, Andre Korff and Daniele Nardello, who will provide invaluable support because of their experience. Spanish riders Paco Lara and Oscar Sevilla give the roster some Iberian flavour. The two climbing specialists have spent the last few weeks building up their national tour and Sevilla, Vuelta runner-up in 2001 and fourth in 2002, has what it takes to challenge for a podium place.

Two T-Mobile rookies will also get their first taste of Grand Tour action in Spain. Riding alongside Zabel are neo-pro's Marcus Burghardt and young Austrian Bernhard Kohl. 22 year-old Burghardt already demonstrated at the Tour of Flanders that he has what it takes. "Marcus will get another sniff of ProTour action here, and tactically, he will have carte blanche to try out things here," said T-Mobile's sports director Frans van Looy. "It is another chance for him to gather experience, as well as supporting our captains. It is always something really special for such a young cyclist to ride such a big race."

The ProTour status elevated the Giro d'Italia to a higher level, and it's expected that it will do the same for the Vuelta, which has traditionally been the terrain for mainly the Spanish teams. The Spanish riders are still likely to dominate the big mountain stages, but with 20 ProTour teams in action, the race is bound to have a more international flavour than last year, when no non-Spaniard featured in the top ten and only two non-Spaniards managed to break the top 25.

Wild card entries for the 21 stage Tour have gone to local Continental outfits Comunidad Valenciana and Relax. The race kicks-off with a prologue in Granada and then takes the peloton northwards from Andalusia to the Pyrenees, before winding up in front of the Camp Nou stadium in Madrid on September 18.

Full T-Mobile riders: Rolf Aldag (Ger), Marcus Burghardt (Ger), Andreas Klier (Ger), André Korff (Ger), Bernhard Kohl (Aut), Daniele Nardello (Ita), Paco Lara (Spa), Oscar Sevilla (Spa) and Erik Zabel (Ger).

Åberg cleared

By Gabriella Ekström

Swedish cyclist Thomas Åberg won the Masters World Championship time trial last year, but lost his gold medal and received a two year suspension after he failed to show up at the post race doping control. Åberg has appealed against the decision ever since, claiming that he as a veteran rider never received enough information about the doping tests.

Although it is the rider's responsibility to show up for a test, the Court of Arbitration for Sport has now reduced his suspension by one year, leaving Åberg able to race after October 5, 2005.

CAS writes, "The Panel finds that the Appellant's negligence for not appearing to the anti-doping control was not significant and deems the two-year suspension unduly harsh. In accordance with Art 265 ADR, the two-year suspension may be reduced not more than to half of this duration. The Panel considers that a one-year suspension is appropriate in the circumstances. The appeal is thus partially and the suspension imposed on the Appellant reduced to one year, starting on 5 October 2004."

Thomas Åberg himself says that it feels as if he has won half a victory, and that he is coming to terms with the fact that he will never get his gold medal back.

Contrini renews with LPR

Daniele Contrini has become the next rider to renew his contract with Team LPR. The 31 year old with two victories this season described himself as very happy and relaxed with his current team. "The renewal of the contract was almost a natural conclusion," he said. "I'm convinced that my results are born out of the great tranquility that exists in this squad."

Contrini added that he has achieved his main goals as a professional cyclist, and is thinking of retirement. "It would make me happy to remain in the world of cycling," he said. "Maybe with a team of my own. Here, I can see myself in the clothes of a team manager. Oscar Piscina [LPR team manager] is getting worried!" he joked.

De Goede continues, Wild signs for Van Bemmelen-AA Drink

The Dutch team Ton van Bemmelen-AA Drink has extended the contract with Suzanne de Goede until the end of the 2008 Olympics, the team confirmed. De Goede will therefore have a solid team behind her in the build up to the Games in China, with Dutch cycling legend Leontien Zijlaard-van Moorsel looking after her. De Goede, still only 21, won the Dutch Time Trial Championship last week to bring her season tally of wins to 16. She also has a Junior World Title (2002), the Dutch Road Championship (2003), and the Wellington World Cup (2005) on her palmares.

Team van Bemmelen-AA Drink has also signed its first new rider for 2006. Team manager Michael Zijlaard has contracted Kirsten Wild, an all-rounder with sprinting capabilities. She has ridden for the @Work cycling team since 2003.

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