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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for September 16, 2005

Edited by Hedwig Kröner & Jeff Jones

Pound: "Verbruggen was the leak"

By Hedwig Kröner

The Chairman of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), Dick Pound, has told reporters in a telephone press conference on Thursday that it was UCI president Hein Verbruggen himself who leaked the doping control protocols of the 1999 Tour de France to French sports paper L'Equipe, which in turn provided the basis for the allegations that Lance Armstrong took EPO for the first of his Tour victories.

"It certainly wasn't WADA," Pound replied when asked who provided the official forms to L'Equipe. "And it certainly wasn't the French laboratory. Neither of us had that information.

"It's quite clear. Mr. Verbruggen told us that he showed all six of Armstrong's doping control forms to the journalist of L'Equipe and that he gave them a copy of at least one of the forms. As I understand it, one of the forms goes to the UCI, one to the athlete, and another one to the National Federation, one went to the French Ministry [of Sport]. The French Ministry destroyed its copies, I think, two years later. I have no idea whether the French Federation have them or if so, where, but the UCI has kept them. I don't know whether they have kept their own requirement to destroy the forms two years later but they obviously haven't."

Interestingly, the forms reproduced on the L'Equipe headlines of August 23 show the mention "Feuillet 1" (literally Sheet 1). Cyclingnews understands that the first sheet of the protocols always goes to the UCI.

So it was really Verbruggen himself who gave the documents to the L'Equipe journalist? "That's what I understand from the letter that he [Verbruggen] sent to us," Pound replied, adding he didn't know whether Verbruggen knew of the purpose the information would serve. "They certainly knew who [the journalist] was. But I certainly don't know how it was that the UCI would have made available those forms with the code numbers on them. If they were worried about confidentiality and so forth, you would have thought that would be a fairly routine and precautionary step."

Asked if he would be willing to publish the letter, Pound, replied, "If the investigation is thorough and the report is clear, then the exchange of correspondence doesn't mean too much. But if it's not a complete report and we have to comment on it, then the correspondence would probably be quite relevant."

Pound also said that WADA was concerned about the way in which the UCI conducted its investigation of the affair. "We're working with the UCI and we're willing to continue to work with them as long as we are convinced that they're going to do a full and complete investigation on this," he continued. "But if it's simply a matter of them looking for some kind of a scapegoat, then that, to us, is not an investigation."

Pound's allegations are quite surprising, given that Verbruggen himself has been calling for the head of whoever it was that leaked the information to L'Equipe. In light of next week's UCI presidential elections, it doesn't look good for the current president. But in its defence, the UCI told AFP that L'Equipe journalist [Damien Ressiot] "came to the UCI on a false pretext and with the approval of Armstrong. He left the UCI with a copy of just one document."

EPO is not created in frozen urine

Dick Pound also rejected any doubts concerning the age of the tested samples. "If you find EPO in a frozen urine sample, it means that it's been there since the beginning. There might be certain substances that even if the urine is frozen for a number of years that might disappear, but there aren't substances that appear. So if it's there it was there all along."

Finally, Pound didn't rule out that retrospective testing could one day serve in a disciplinary manner. "Within the Anti-Doping Code, we now have a provision that allows us to go back eight years on retesting samples, whether they have been taken in our out of competition. What we have to make sure now is the appropriate legal rule. So that if we do find something in what would then be the B sample, that we have the ability to impose a sanction. But you have to provide the athlete with some means of assuring that it's been properly done - either be keeping enough of the B sample to allow for retesting, or by checking the DNA markers of the urine or blood for identification. We're going to work on that because it is a feature that will become increasingly important."

As far as Cyclingnews understands, the 1999 B samples still provide enough material for yet another test.

Cyclingnews coverage of the L'Equipe allegations

June 27, 2006 - Carmichael defends Armstrong, Armstrong answers L'Equipe & LeMond
June 26, 2006 - LeMond: "Armstrong threatened my life"
June 19, 2006 - Armstrong calls for Pound's exit
June 18, 2006 - Lance Armstrong's open letter against Dick Pound
June 4, 2006 - UCI hits back at WADA
June 3, 2006 - WADA slams the Vrijman report
June 2, 2006 - L'Equipe stands by its story, UCI supports Vrijman's findings
June 1, 2006 - UCI, WADA and Armstrong react to Vrijman's report
May 31, 2006 - UCI lawyer asks for Armstrong's name to be cleared
May 14, 2006 - Two more weeks for Armstrong investigation

Click here for full coverage of the L'Equipe allegations.

Vuelta stage 18 wrap-up

Sørensen strongest in CSC vs Balears battle

Nicki Sorensen (CSC)
Photo ©: Unipublic
Click for larger image

CSC's Nicki Sørensen achieved his first Vuelta a España stage win today by outsprinting Javier Pascual Rodriguez (Comunidad Valenciana) in an exciting three-man battle also involving José Vicente Garcia Acosta (Illes Balears), who finished third. Sørensen had been part of the day's main breakaway since kilometre 12, and proved to be the strongest in the cobblestone section around Avila's ancient Murallas, the fortress-like boundaries of the inner city.

In the finale, third-placed Garcia Acosta made an enormous effort to bridge the gap back to Rodriguez and the Dane, who were leading the race since the last climb, the Puerto de Navalmoral some 22 kilometres before the finish line. Only a few seconds behind, he paid for it in the end and finished the race 22 seconds later than the winner.

The remnants of the early breakaway, Daniele Nardello (T-Mobile), Oscar Pereiro (Phonak), Mario Aerts (Davitamon), Pablo Lastras (Illes Balears) and Gorka Gonzales (Euskaltel) arrived in the finish just in front of the chasing bunch, led out by Francisco Mancebo (Illes Balears), who gained some seconds on CSC's Carlos Sastre in the battle for third overall placing - but Sastre still leads this spot by 58 seconds.

Golden jersey wearer Roberto Heras (Liberty) arrived in Avila after what must have been an 'easy' day for him, as the bunch let the initial breakaway leave and lead by a maximun of over 10 minutes. Illes Balears drove the pace in the second half of the race, with Mancebo attacking on the final climb. But it was no use - CSC today proved stronger by taking the stage win and maintaining the General Classification as it is.

Also see:

Stage 18 full results & report
Live report
Main
Stages & results
Map
Start List
History
Photos

Vuelta shorts

Phonak makes Gonzalez take a break

Swiss team Phonak has taken out Spaniard Santos Gonzalez from the Vuelta a España. He failed an internal test carried out within the team, which showed that his blood levels exceeded the team's self-imposed tolerance level, which has been announced to be lower than the one used by the UCI. Director John Lelangue told reporters at the start of stage 18 in Avila that the rider wasn't suspended, only stopped from racing for his own safety. Gonzalez was placed 8th on General Classification until today, and finished third in Stage 17.

Petacchi continues, Perdiguero quits

By Hernan Alvarez Macias

The men's road race of the World Championships will be raced in exactly ten days: September 25. Italy’s Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo) is one of the candidates for the victory in the capital of Spain. 'Ale-Jet' remains in the Vuelta a España, even though the courses taken by the race these last few days are not the ones that he likes most: small mountains, medium mountains, big mountains. Petacchi is still among the 129 riders who finished stage 18 in Avila.

The great sprinter has scored four victories in the current Vuelta: Puertollano (stage 3), Argamasilla de Alba (stage 4), Lloret de Mar (stage 8) and Burgos (stage 12). A few days ago, he told to Cyclingnews that he wanted to stay at least two weeks in the Vuelta and he is currently up to the challenge. He also said that there was a chance to quit ten days before the World’s, but so far Petacchi has kept on racing. It wouldn’t be surprising at all if the Fassa Bortolo rider doesn’t sign in tomorrow for stage 19.

On the other hand, Miguel Angel Martin Perdiguero (Phonak) decided to abandon the Vuelta. He told the media that a toeail was disturbing him very much, which was why he quit. Perdiguero is probably also thinking of the World’s that will take place in his home town, considering he is one of the most important riders for the local victory.

Mancebo pushed hard in his homeland

By Hernan Alvarez Macias

Paco Mancebo
Photo ©: AFP
Click for larger image

Francisco Mancebo (Illes Balears) really gave it all to join the leading riders before the finish in Avila today. He couldn’t get in the right breakaway with stage winner Nicki Sørensen (CSC), second-placed Javier Pascual Rodriguez (Comunidad Valenciana) and third José Vicente Garcia Acosta (Illes Balears, but Mancebo tried to get rid of Heras, Menchov and company with much effort to win here. In the end, 'Paco' finished tenth, just three seconds ahead of the Vuelta leader.

The race passed through his native town, Navaluenga, at kilometre 41 of today’s stage. His fellow countrymen saluted him there, as well as the fans who gathered in Avila city looking for an autograph signed by their local hero.

When the peloton crossed Navaluenga, many of Mancebo's teammates started chanting 'Paco, Paco, Paco'. "We were calm in the peloton," said Garcia Acosta. "So we started singing his name - not only us as his teammates but also other friends from other teams."

Besides Mancebo, other two riders are from Avila and the race also crossed their native towns. Carlos Sastre (CSC) is from El Barraco and Nacor Burgos (Relax Fuenlabrada) from Navarrevisca. Sastre saw his village greeting him at kilometre 22 of the stage, with Burgos celebrating at kilometre 145.

Varese hoping for 2008 World's

Next Tuesday, September 20, just before the opening of the 2005 Cycling World Championships in Madrid, the Management Committee of the Union Cycliste Internationale will assign the 2008 Road Cycling World Championships to either Varese, Italy, Valkenburg, Netherlands or Lucca, Italy.

Amedeo Colombo, president of the 'Varese Mondiale 2008' promoting committee, is convinced that Varese will succeed: "I think Varese is definitely favourite compared to its opponents ," he said. "The UCI Management Committee will decide on the grounds of three parameters: the validity of the routes, logistics resources and the economic offering."

At the moment, the proposed parcours for a possible Road Race in 2008 is a town circuit of 17,6 km including two climbs, with a technical descent and a finishing straight of 400 metres. For the Time Trial, Varese offers three different routes (starting and finishing inside the hippodrome "Le Bettole", as for road races). The Elite Men's parcours of 45 km would be a loop around the lake of Varese.

The organiser also hosts the Tre Valle Varesine race every year.

The town of Lucca in Tuscany, meanwhile, also received a lot of support within Italy. Its Road Race proposition to the UCI involves a 19.6 km-long circuit from Viareggio to Massarosa, to be completed 14 times for a total of 274.4 km.

Bray Wheelers fundraiser

By Tommy Campbell, Irish Independent, Evening Herald, Sunday Independent

The Bray Wheelers Cycling Club is adding another string to its bow this Sunday, September 18, not in a race, but in a leisure cycle on behalf of a worthy cause: the local Bray Cancer Support Centre. The "Joe Loughman Randonnee" will be using the Route de Chill Mhantain, which is the course that is used for the Shay Elliott event held each year and which has attracted quality participants down the years, one such being Sean Kelly who won the event back in the 1970's.

This year they have an unexpected bonus, which may attract the racing fraternity: An event scheduled for Athlone has been cancelled, which just may tempt some to travel to Bray.

According to organiser Victor Edmonds, a former Olympian, "all funds are being directed to the worthy cause. The club actively promotes racing, but this little detour is a welcome innovation for the cycling fraternity in general. We have had great support from various companies who have subscribed product to keep the hunger pangs at bay for the participants. We are geared to meet the requirements for at least 150, but if more arrive, we can always do the 'loaves and fishes' miracle!" Edmonds continued.

Sign on is in the Presentation College in Bray from 8.30 to 9.30. All donations will be gladly accepted on behalf of the Bray Cancer Support Centre. Certificates, T-shirt and refreshments will be the order of the day.

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