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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Latest Cycling News for August 14, 2006

Edited by Anthony Tan

Pound attacks Landis and USADA

By Tim Maloney, European Editor

In a tersely-worded opinion column in a Canadian newspaper, Dick Pound, ranking member of the International Olympic Committee and president of the World Anti-Doping Agency, took aim at 2006 TdF winner Floyd Landis and the United States Anti-Doping Agency, claiming the latter may subscribe to a theory that Landis was "ambushed by a roving squad of Nazi frogmen".

Pound appears to be struggling to contain his cynicism in his capacity as WADA chief. In the August 9, 2006, edition of the Ottawa Citizen, he authored a column titled "It's time to come clean", where he beseeches Landis and 100 metre sprinter Justin Gatlin - who's also tested positive to testosterone - to inform on their "enablers".

An extraordinary aspect of Pound's column - given he is chief of WADA - is his seeming assumption that Landis is already guilty, well before the American cyclist has faced any official charges that may be brought against him by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) for a positive test for testosterone at the Tour de France.

"Landis, winner of the fabled Tour de France, following a Cinderella comeback late in the race, erasing a disastrous day-before, now seems to have taken a morning-after pill to recover from the previous failure and will likely be stripped of the crown that is the dream of all cyclists - the Yellow Jersey in the showcase event of cycling," Pound wrote.

The WADA chief doesn't stop at Landis, however; he also targets the USADA and cycling in general. "We will have to wait for the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) to organize an appeal process, since both (Landis and Gatlin) are American athletes, before any formal sanction can be pronounced.

"Who knows, USADA may subscribe to a suggestion that both athletes (Landis & Gatlin), in separate sports, were ambushed by a roving squad of Nazi frogmen and injected against their will with the prohibited substances. But, if USADA does not bite, Mr. Landis faces a two-year suspension."

In his Ottawa Citizen op-ed piece, he went on to connect Landis' positive test for testosterone to the Operacion Puerto affair in Spain, then makes a plea for cycling to enter a twelve step program.

"As in alcoholism, or other addictions, if one refuses to acknowledge the existence of a problem, no cure is possible. The next step is to reach out for help."

Pound was scathing about cycling in general, making more generalisations in one statement than any ill-informed tabloid columnist has achieved thus far following the Landis announcement.

He wrote, "Take cycling in 2006. If 2006 were to be measured in the Chinese cycle, it would be the Year of the Excrement". Pound cites the fall-out of 'Operacion Puerto' with several big names in the sport also withdrawn prior to the start of the 2006 Tour de France.

Pound believes the "Spanish investigation" (Operacion Puerto) has "established that there was an organized scheme to cheat, involving riders, teams, doctors and even UCI officials".

He doesn't name the "UCI officials", but adds, "Whatever has been done to date is sadly lacking in effectiveness".

(Alternatively, it's claimed that cycling is currently the most stringently-controlled sport worldwide. An opposite, statistical, view is that if a sport does more testing, then it's likely to result in more positive dope tests.)

The answer is WADA - with raids and interrogation?

In Pound's column, he says the answer to the issue of doping in cycling, "lies in the formula established by the World Anti-Doping Agency". Working with governments on "all five continents", it would appear that Pound sees a greatly enhanced role for WADA and its signatory agencies in the future; one where the scientific specialists acquire the power of law enforcement agencies.

"Sports authorities have no power to seize evidence, to compel people to provide evidence and to enforce trafficking rules. Possession and use of most doping substances without medical prescriptions are already illegal (as in Canada), so the combination of the sport and public authorities provides a means to get at the full range of the evidence needed to stop doping," Pound wrote.

In the absence of any likely interrogation for Landis, the WADA chief insists that Landis' lawyer (Howard Jacobs) instruct his client to offer a full confession.

"If I were Floyd Landis's lawyer (which I am not), I would say that, 'if you love your sport and want to get back into it as soon as possible, tell it like it is - like it really is. Give everyone who has been subverted into the conduct that has exposed you the chance to clean it up, or take the risk that, in the Year of the Excrement, your sport may be flushed into the toilet."

Pound said that Landis should seemingly launch a counter-suit against what he calls "the enablers" (presumably the people who allegedly provided doping products and services).

"You will never, ever, have more credibility than you do today," Pound wrote of the American. "They are the ones who wrecked you and your sport. The athletes are not acting alone and may well be the compliant victims of a system that coerces them. Mr. Landis, exposed as he is now, could become the saviour of his sport. Continued denial will only consign him to a life of ridicule and obscurity."

Pound's column seems to add weight to the argument of Landis that he won't get the opportunity to fairly defend himself against doping charges. He recently told AP sports columnist Jim Litke that, "By what I've seen so far, I don't expect to get a fair chance, but I'm hoping that will change."

Julich: "No one is able to cheat anymore"

Writing in depth about the now questionable achievements of the 2006 Tour de France winner Floyd Landis in a special column on, Bobby Julich said he felt disappointed about what has happened, but continues to side with his compatriot. However, the American also admitted at present, "the only people we have to blame are ourselves".

Wrote Julich: "Looking at the Floyd situation, he had to go through some major, major difficulty, mentally, after Stage 16 [of the Tour de France]. I don't believe Floyd would've been arrogant enough to think he would've gotten away with something like this. It's almost like you have to look at the people who were around him that maybe could have influenced him or given him this substance without him knowing."

Julich also criticised the way the news broke about Landis' samples testing positive, comparing the case to that of American sprinter Justin Gatlin, whose test results were announced four months after he first tested positive in April. "And because of a leak, his dream turned to a nightmare very quickly. We just felt that even though he was positive in both his "A" and "B" samples, he should have been given time to defend himself properly, instead of basically being tried immediately in the public eye," he wrote.

Continued Julich, "So it's a simple fact that the tests are in place, and they're obviously catching people. But we don't really understand why it has to be such a long, drawn-out process after someone is caught before he can be punished. Maybe that gives the guilty parties more of a reason - like, 'Hey if we do this, we can get off on a technicality. Even if we get caught.'"

Regardless, the 34 year-old from Reno, Nevada, said it's a confusing time for all cyclists and athletes, but the athletes must recognise the tests are getting better, and calls for tests that are "100 percent waterproof where there is no second-guessing", "where no-one is able to cheat anymore".

"There has to be a line drawn and an agreement made where it's just not worth it. I've believed in that a long time. It's just time that everyone realize that enough is enough. Draw the line in the sand," wrote Julich.

"But I guess at the moment, the only people we have to blame are ourselves. The cyclists, and athletes in general, have been making very, very poor decisions of late. And it has to change.

"I don't feel betrayed. I just feel disappointed that, again, we finally build up a guy everyone seems to really like and support and rally behind, then he's thrown into the same category of so many of the other big riders of late: being under suspicion for doping.

"It's a disappointment, but we have to move on and try to make the sport better," Julich said.

Hushovd to lead CA at Vuelta

Double stage winner at this year's Tour de France, Thor Hushovd, will be leading his Crédit Agricole team at the upcoming Vuelta a España, reports AFP. At the Tour, Hushovd won both the prologue and the final stage on Paris' Champs Élysées. The Norwegian will be supported by Mads Kaggestad, Pietro Caucchioli, Laszlo Bodrogi, Dimitri Fofonov, Mark Renshaw, Anthony Charteau, Benoît Poilvet and Cyril Lemoine.

Elminger to AG2R

Swiss rider Martin Elmiger will ride the 2007 and 2008 seasons with AG2r Prévoyance, reports AFP. 27 year-old Elminger began his career at Post Swiss in 2001 before joining Phonak the following year, where he has stayed till now. He has been national champion of Switzerland twice, in 2001 and 2005.

Le Mevel, Pauriol & Talabardon extend

26 year-old Frenchman Christophe Le Mevel has extended his contract with Crédit Agricole for two more years, reports Compatriots Rémi Pauriol and Yannick Talabardon have also had their contracts extended, with the former till 2008 and Talabardon until the end of next year.

Le Mevel's moment came on Stage 16 of the 2005 Giro d'Italia, while Pauriol won the young riders classification and the mountains classification in this year's Paris-Correze and Route du Sud respectively. Talabardon has so far won a trio of small one-day races, including Mi-Aout Bretonne, the Tour de Jura and Prix du Leon. All three riders will not be participating in the upcoming Vuelta a España.

Milram for Trittico Lombardo

Team Milram will be sending the following six riders to contest the 'Trittico Lombardo' series of races in the Lombardy region of Italy, which include the Tre Valli Varesine (August 15), Coppa Agostoni (Aug. 16) and Coppa Bernocchi (Aug. 17)

Riders: Mirko Celestino, Claudio Ghisalberti, Andry Grivko, Fabio Sacchi, Giovanni Visconti, Michele Gobbi
Direttore Sportivo: Oscar Pellicioli

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