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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for August 8, 2006

Edited by Hedwig Kröner, with assistance from Susan Westemeyer

McQuaid and Prudhomme side by side in fight against doping

By Hedwig Kröner

High officials of the International Cycling Union and the Tour de France organisation, whilst in disagreement over details of the current cycling calendar ProTour and its marketing revenues, have found common ground again in the fight against doping. In the aftermath of the latest doping affairs involving the greatest stars of the sport, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich and now the 2006 Tour de France winner Floyd Landis, both UCI president Pat McQuaid and Tour director Christian Prudhomme have spoken out in favour of enforced anti-doping rules which would not only call the cheating cyclists to account, but also their immediate team surroundings.

"At the moment, only the riders are sanctioned," said McQuaid while visiting the French Cup race Tour de l'Ain on Monday. "The UCI will reflect the current situation. We have to see how we can make the team managers accountable, too. The answers are often in the hands of the sports directors. It's up to them to make the right decisions."

Independently of the Irishman, the new head of the Tour de France, Christian Prudhomme, had evoked the same idea in an interview with L'Equipe on Monday. "We need new measures so that the riders do not remain the only ones to be punished (in a doping case)," he said. "It has to be possible that a team manager or sports director can be concerned. And above all, that the doctors or pseudo doctors are punished."

The often-used excuse of some team directors, according to which the directing personnel of cycling teams cannot control every move of its riders, especially during long home-based training periods, could therefore become obsolete. At Paris-Nice earlier this year, Cyclingnews had asked the former director of the Liberty Seguros team, Manolo Saiz, why he thought that team directors were never held responsible when there is a doping infringement. "That's because we cannot control the riders one hundred percent. They go home and stay there for a month... it's very hard to hold other people responsible when this happens," replied Saiz, who as one of the longest-running directors in pro cycling has now been discovered to have organised drug and blood doping within his team for years.

"I'm very happy about Pat McQuaid's clear statements," continued Prudhomme. "What he is saying today goes exactly in the direction we are hoping for."

Ullrich verdict this month?

The Swiss cycling federation is still waiting for the papers in the Jan Ullrich case, but director Roland Schläfli is optimistic that things will go quickly once they arrive. Once the documents about Ullrich's involvement in Operacion Puerto arrive, "we will need about a week to determine whether we will present the case to our disciplinary committee, which would then open proceedings. If that happens, then a final decision could be reached with another week," he told German press agency dpa. "As far as I know, that would be the first case in which we opened proceedings where there was no positive doping test."

UCI spokesman Enrico Carpani said that the papers are underway. "It can only be a matter of days until the Swiss federation receives the documents. The Italians have already received them." He noted that the national federation has one month to open proceedings after receiving the paperwork. "Then the UCI would be on. If we are not satisfied with the decision of the national federation, we can go to the international sports court."

Meanwhile, the Italian cycling federation has announced that Ivan Basso will be heard in front of its disciplinary commission on August 29.

Jan Ullrich at the pre-Tour medical check
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

German attorney Michael Lehner, who is defending Danilo Hondo in his drawn-out doping proceedings, thinks that Ullrich has good chances to come out of the affair unscathed. "A charge wouldn't be easy, since there is neither a positive A or B sample. There is only circumstantial evidence," he said.

On the other hand, Dr. Werner Franke, German anti-doping crusader, assumed that Ullrich is guilty, and more importantly said that he was risking his life. After looking at the list of products which the German rider was alleged to have used during the 2005 Tour de France, Franke told Bild newspaper, "The substances in the medications are extremely dangerous. In the past it has been shown that these things can cause death or lead to serious health problems."

And Franke wants actions to follow his words. "I am considering filing charges of serious bodily injury; not against Ullrich, because I don't believe that he had any idea how dangerous all of that was," he affirmed. "I'm concerned with those behind the scenes, the real criminals. I am so far the only one in Germany who has gone to court to fight against doping; the other people like Mr. Scharping [Rudolf Scharping, head of the national federation - ed.] are just talking about it," he concluded.

Cyclingnews' recent coverage of 'Operation Puerto'

May 18, 2009 - Valverde to start Catalunya
May 15, 2009 - Valverde not welcome in Denmark
May 14, 2009 - Spanish federation wants proof in Valverde case
May 13, 2009 - Spanish Olympic Committee defends Valverde
May 12, 2009 - Valverde responds to sanction
May 11, 2009 - Italian tribunal delivers Valverde two-year suspension
May 8, 2009 - Valverde case: Italian Olympic Committee defends Torri
May 7, 2009 - Valverde to take legal action against CONI prosecutor
May 5, 2009 - WADA and Spanish federation join CONI and UCI on Valverde
May 1, 2009 - International Cycling Union joins in on Valverde's hearing in Italy

Kohl opts for Gerolsteiner

Bernhard Kohl (T-Mobile) at the 2005 Regio Tour
Photo ©: Andrea Hübner
Click for larger image

Austrian champion Bernhard Kohl is leaving T-Mobile and joining rival German team Gerolsteiner next season. "The T-Mobile Team has a lot of big names and good climbers on the team. That doesn't make it easy for a young rider to make his mark," explained Kohl, who revealed the extent of his talent in this year's Dauphiné Libéré, where he placed third overall.

"Team Gerolsteiner looks to young riders, and there I see my chance," he said on his website, "A big name is leaving the team in Levi Leipheimer, opening a position I hope to fill. In the last years, Team Gerolsteiner has showed that it can work well. I think that I can develop better there than in a team studded with big stars, such as T-Mobile."

But Kohl didn't forget to honour his current team, with which he turned professional in 2005. "It wasn't an easy decision," he noted. "T-Mobile brought me into pro cycling and I am thankful for that. I have always felt well with the team, but I think I can achieve my sporting goals better with Gerolsteiner."

Too little fluid for Glomser

"It wasn't a classic example of not having eaten enough," is how Team Vorarlberg's Gerrit Glomser explained his weak performance in Monday's mountainous stage of the Deutschland Tour. "I had that two days ago, when everything went black. But today I was pretty close to it again."

Glomser finished three minutes behind winner Jens Voigt, in 33th place.

The day started out well for the Austrian. "I quickly found my own rhythm and didn't lose too much time up to the mountain ranking. On the descent I joined the group again. But I forgot to eat and drink." And he paid for this mistake: "Directly at the start of the final ascent I had to let the others go."

Glomser found himself in that oblivious situation again when al that counts is the finish line. "I practically had to push my bike," he continued. "The ascent was more of a battle than anything else. I only looked to make it to the finish line."

He knew who to blame, too: "In the end it was my own fault. Half a litre of liquid in five and a half hours is rather too little than too much."

Casper extends

French sprinter Jimmy Casper has extended his contract with current team Cofidis for another two years, after winning the first stage of this year's Tour de France. The 28 year-old started his professional career in 1998 with Française des Jeux and has been with Cofidis since 2004. Casper also won the GP de Denain and the Tour de Picardie this year.

Meyer from hospital to podium at Junior Track World's

West Australian teenager Cameron Meyer was discharged from hospital just hours before joining his teammates to win gold in the teams pursuit at the Junior Track Cycling World Championships in Gent, Belgium. It was Cameron's third gold medal in 24 hours and the second gold medal for his brother Travis. The pair, along with Victorian Leigh Howard and South Australian Jack Bobridge, rode a time of 4'09"249 to crush their New Zealand rivals, the defending World Champions.

"We went out harder in the first half than the boys had in qualifying and then we used our training and fitness to roll over the top of them in the second half," said Cameron of the strategy that had the teams level at half way. "We really put the boot in for the last half and beat them by more than two seconds."

Cameron had already experienced the spoils of a solo victory in the individual pursuit the night before and a gold medal ride with Travis in the Madison but says the teams pursuit win was extra special. "It's great to win as an individual but to win with the guys you've been training so hard with for this goal has got to be up there as one of the best feelings in the world."

Cameron had spent the night in a local hospital suffering concussion after he and his brother crashed in the Madison final. Travis, who crashed a second time, needed three stitches after doctors removed a 9cm splinter from his back which he has kept as a souvenir. In both instances the crashes were caused by other riders.

"I tried to ride round the crash but the Belgian guy slid straight in front of me and I ended up flying over the handle bars and whacked my head," said Cameron. "It was a bit nerve wracking because we had to quickly get back in the race.

"The second crash for Travis was nerve wracking again," he continued. "But when you're out there and the adrenalin is pumping you really don't think about anything else." It wasn't until after the Madison medal ceremony that Cameron, who was also sporting several cuts and bruises, complained of a headache and nausea. But at the hospital he was more concerned about rejoining the team for the next morning's teams pursuit qualifying round.

"After the cat scan cleared me I felt a little bit better and I was able to talk," said Cameron whose parents Frances and Ken, in Belgium to cheer on their sons, visited him in the hospital. "I told Rik (Team Manager) to make sure he picked me up early and that the mechanics had my bike ready." However, the team management wisely decided to give him more time to recover and Hayden Josefski stepped in for the first round ride in which the Australians posted the second fastest time to qualify for the gold medal final.

"The doctor at the hospital cleared me to leave although he didn't think it was such a great idea for me to race but said it was my call," said Cameron. "I got out of hospital at about four in the afternoon, went to the hotel to grab my gear and then went to the track."

After an impressive trial the team officials gave him the option of whether to race or not. "We then had a pretty emotional team meeting because it meant one of the other guys would miss out on the final," said Cameron. "There were some tears because we're all pretty close but in the end it was Hayden who had to sit it out. He showed great sportsmanship though in helping us prepare for the final, coming with us to the start line and cheering us on."

Cameron now heads to Spa-Francorchamps for the Road Cycling Junior World Championships where he will contest the time trial and road race.

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