First Edition Cycling News for December 8, 2006
Edited by Laura Weislo
Spanish soccer clubs linked to Fuentes?
By Hedwig Kröner and Shane Stokes
The latest of the Spanish doping investigation called Operación Puerto seems to have spread beyond the world of cycling into another, globally even more popular sport: soccer. French national newspaper Le Monde claims to have in its possession several documents revealing the involvement of Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes in the training schedules of the two greatest soccer clubs in Spain, FC Barcelona and Real Madrid.
The confidential, but non-nominative documents are reported to be seasonal preparation plans for the two clubs, hand-written by Fuentes himself. The newspaper claims that the papers, which also concern the FC Valencia and Sevilla, are not part of the documents seized by the Guardia Civil. If the reports are proven to be true and it emerges that high-profile footballers have been receiving illegal treatments, it will mean that the Operación Puerto enquiry will be much more far-reaching and have even more serious consequences than was anticipated.
On these sketches appear the objectives of the FC Barcelona in the season 2005-2006 (the Champions League, won by the team in may 2006), as well as notes regarding individual players, targeting the World Cup. Arrows, pointing either up or down, allegedly marked intensive competition periods or physical tests.
Codes such as small circles or the letters "IG", apparently the same ones as found on Fuentes' training programme documents attributed by the investigators to the former Liberty Seguros team, would then mark preparation or recuperation phases. According to the investigation report of the Guardia Civil, these codes would correspond to the administering of steroids and IGF-1 (Insulin Growth Factor).
Furthermore, the soccer training plans include codes such as an encircled "e", which would correspond to blood extraction or re-injection, and a dot inside a circle, signifying the intake of EPO - all allegations made by Le Monde.
When the Operación Puerto scandal broke, in may 2006, initial reports suggested that Eufemiano Fuentes did not only include cyclists on his list of clients, but also soccer players and athletes. The Spanish government denied that other sports were involved, but Fuentes himself contradicted this claim in July.
In an interview with Cyclingnews, Spanish ex-professional Jesús Manzano insisted that some athletes and soccer players were also involved with Fuentes, but since then, no more news of the other sports' implication filtered from the investigation.
Cycling has received the vast majority of the negative publicity from the Operación Puerto affair, with several big names being sidelined from the Tour de France and other events. UCI president Pat McQuaid responded to the reports, saying "It doesn’t surprise me. I have said all along that with the sophisticated methods which Fuentes had developed, it was certain that he wasn’t making his money only from cyclists. There had to be other sportspersons involved."
Speaking from the Asian Games in Qatar, McQuaid declined to compare the treatment cycling has received with that of football. "I do not wish to discuss any other sport, my concern is cycling and getting to the end of this process for the sake of cycling’s reputation. If we can begin the process against the those riders implicated and ultimately need to sanction some of them, then cycling will benefit."
McQuaid stressed that, since the 1998 Tour de France scandals, the sport has made concerted efforts to deal with doping issues, and that cycling is ahead of other sports in this regard. "The UCI have always maintained that cycling goes further than all other sports in the fight against doping. This continues to be the case and currently there is a lot of work going by the teams and the UCI, both independently and together to come up with new methods in the fight against doping. Yet again, cycling will be the pioneer in the fight against doping." In comparison, at the Football World Cup in Germany this summer, all 228 anti-doping controls came back negative, but the world-governing body of the sport, FIFA, did not carry out a single blood control
The days and weeks ahead will show how accurate Thursday’s reports of doping in football are. McQuaid was hesitant to draw any conclusions about the effect the Le Monde reports will have, or if he felt that cycling has undeservedly taken the lion's share of the burden, saying "This, so far, is only a newspaper report and so can only be treated as such," he responded. "I would have to await further information before I could speculate as to if and why cycling might have been treated unfairly."
Ullrich and Operación Puerto - the confusion continues
By Susan Westemeyer
Will Jan Ullrich have to testify in Operación Puerto? The answer to this question, as it is to most questions associated with Operación Puerto, is who knows? A mild sensation raced through Germany Thursday afternoon after Ullrich's spokesman Michael Lang announced the spanish court had indicated that they "do not lay any value on his testimony in this case."
Lang told Cyclingnews that this meant that Ullrich would not have to testify in the matter at all. However, later he said that it appeared that the court was concentrating on the Spanish riders at the moment, and that therefore Ullrich would not be required to testify at this time, and that "he is not involved at this stage of things."
"That's good news. We take things step by step, and this is a positive step," Lang said, but refused to comment on whether Ullrich might be involved in the case later on.
Cyclingnews' recent coverage of 'Operación Puerto'
May 18, 2009 - Valverde to start Catalunya
Swiss Cycling expects court to uphold Hondo' ban
By Susan Westemeyer
Swiss Cycling expects the Bundesgericht (Swiss court) to uphold Danilo Hondo's two-year ban from cycling after he tested positive for the drug Carphedon. "I consider it as highly unlikely that the Bundesgericht will uphold Hondo's appeal and return the case for a new ruling.," said Bernhard Welten, of the national federation. "I believe that the Bundesgericht will reject the appeal and so uphold the CAS' decision."
Hondo tested positive in March 2005. Swiss Cycling originally issed a one-year ban. The World Anti-Doping Agency appealed that decision, and the CAS-TAS, the international sports court, issued the two year ban last January, effective until March 2007. Hondo was able to take advantage of a loophole in sports law because of where he lives in Switzerland and appealed the CAS decision in the Swiss court system. In June the Swiss Bundesgericht lifted the ban pending a final decision, allowing Hondo to ride over the summer.
Welten indicated that he did not know when the final decision would be issued. However, since the two-year ban expires on March 31, 2007, it seems unlikely that either side would have any interest in appealing whatever decision might be issued, as the ban would end before the appeal process would end.
Hondo has signed to ride with the continental professional team Tinkoff Credit Systems for next season.
Shorter Bayern Rundfahrt
By Susan Westemeyer
"Short and sweet, " is how organiser Ewald Strohmeier describes the 2007 edition of the Bayern Rundfahrt, which will cover only 761 km in five stages from May 30 to June 3. "We have selected a course which fulfills all the requriements of a race in this category, even if it is 20 to 30 kilometer shorter than usual."
The organization noted that it is difficult to select a fair course in Bavaria, and that is purposely avoids the steepest Alpine climbs and exceptionally long stages. The race considers iteself a good preparation for the Tour de France "because it offer the perfect mixture."
The race expects a starting field of 16 teams of six riders each, including the ProTour teams Milram, CSC, T-Mobile, Gerolsteiner, and Astaná.
2007 Bayern Rundfahrt
Stage 1, Garmisch Partenkirchen - Gundelfingen, 211,1 km
Rujano signs with Unibet.com
By Gregor Brown
It looks like the embattled Venezuelan star José Rujano will be riding with Unibet.com for the 2007 and 2008 seasons. Thursday, the 24 year-old signed a contract with the Belgium-based team. Unibet.com is one of a handful of teams vying for a ProTour license in the 2007 season.
Rujano rocketed to stardom in the 2005 Giro while riding under Gianni Savio at Selle Italia-Colombia. He won one of that year's most demanding stages, from Savigliano to Sestriere, which included the unpaved Colle delle Finestre. The stage and a solid three week performance granted him the right to the third step on the Giro's final podium in Milano and the maglia verde for best climber.
2006 was a big transition year for Rujano, who competed in Savio's team through the Giro, when he bizarrely abandoned in stage 13, before switching over to Patrick Lefevere's Quick-Step formation. His debut in the Tour de France was lack-lustre, and personal problems spelled an end to his time with Belgium's biggest team.
With Unibet.com Rujano may have found a team with the same fighting spirit as Selle Italia and it could enable him to be back in the thick of the action. According to tuttobiciweb.com, Hanegraaf and Unibet.com Team Manager Terryn Koen got the official signature of the climber, accompanied by agent Giuseppe Acquadro, Thursday afternoon in Milano's Malpensa airport.
"Rujano will definitely be our team leader in the big tours. He's got the ability to compete with the world's best climbers", said Jacques Hanegraaf, director sportif of Unibet.com. "Rujano is very ambitious and wants to race the Giro d'Italia as well as the Tour de France, but we'll make up his race programme later on!"
Rite Aid Pro Cycling for 2007
The Rite Aid Pro Cycling team has strengthened it's team for 2007, signing is Alejandro Barrajo, a rider from the Miche team, who garnered seven top ten finishes in the 2004 Giro d' Italia, including a third place to Alessandro Petacchi in stage 6, and also took second place to Eric Zabel in the 2005 Rund um den Henniger Turm. The Argentinian's most recent result was a win in the 2006 South American Road Championship this past November.
Women's development foundation created
The AE Sport Development Foundation has been created by American Espoir, operator of the 2006 CPT-Colnago Professional women’s team, with the goals of providing development opportunities and assistance to women in cycling. The foundation will provide resources and guidance for women identified as Olympic and world-championship talents.
Seven to eight athletes will be selected for the 2007 program scholarship, and the foundation will provide guidance and training within the Performance Enhancement Team (PET) model, which uses an assortment of experts within the fields of sport psychology, physiology, medicine, and nutrition to overcome obstacles and maximize each athlete’s growth toward their potential.
A significant portion of the nonprofit organization’s budget comes from public sport grants and private funding, which ensures the longevity of the program. AE Sport Development board director Chris Wentz said, “The development program is something I and the other partners are very proud of because it provides long-term support for riders. Women have brought home many medals at World Championships, and, in my opinion, many corporate sponsors are dismissing their wide audience and wholesome character. This program will work with athletes over several years, and because of that stability I see only success for the Foundation’s goals.”
For more information visit www.americanespoir.com.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2006)