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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for July 28, 2006

Edited by Jeff Jones & Anthony Tan

Landis looking for answers

By Jeff Jones

"All I want to do before I take any questions is ask that everybody take a step back - I don't know what your position is now, and I wouldn't blame you if you were a bit skeptical because of what cycling has been through in the past and the way other cases have gone - but all I'm asking for, just for me, is that I be given a chance to prove that I'm innocent. Cycling has a traditional way of trying people in the court of public opinion before they get a chance to do anything else. I can't stop that but I would like to be assumed innocent until proven guilty, since that's the way we do things in America."

Floyd Landis was speaking to reporters in a teleconference from Europe, attempting to explain why his A sample showed an abnormally high testosterone-epitestosterone (T:E) level after stage 17 of the Tour de France. Landis was understandably devastated by the news, as he realised the task that lay in front of him to prove his innocence. If the B sample confirms the A result, then the battle will become harder than anything Landis did to win the Tour de France.

Landis was informed of the result on Wednesday morning by fax, and subsequently cancelled all his scheduled criterium appearances and interviews. "My immediate reaction was to look for the alcohol bottle," said Landis with his typically nervous laugh.

"My secondary reaction was a bit more logical...It's hard to put into words what I had - everything I could have possibly hoped for and dreamed of for the last 10 years and at the exact moment I was told, every single scenario went through my head about what was going to happen. There was no way for me to be able to tell myself that this wasn't going to be a disaster, no matter what. Whether I come out of this proving myself innocent, no matter what happens next, I knew it was going to be a long road. So my immediate reaction was, from a very very high to a very low."

So far, he doesn't have an answer as to why his T:E level was so high. "I've heard a lot of things because that's the subject right now. But I'm trying to be careful not to jump to any conclusions. I would like to hear things from experts who know exactly what they're talking about and not just speculation...But there must be an explanation. I don't know we'll ever get an explanation because what I need to do now is try to prove now is that there are variations in my testosterone level which are out of the ordinary. As to what actually caused it on that particular day, I can only speculate, because when you race your bike every day, I don't know exactly what happens."

Asked whether he had ever taken any performance enhancing substances, Landis replied, "I'll say no. The problem I have here again is that most of the public has an idea about cycling because of the way things have gone in the past. So I'll say no, knowing that a lot of people will assume I'm guilty before I've had a chance to defend myself, but there you have it."

Landis said that today [Friday] he will ask for the B sample to be analysed, and it could take another week or more before the results are known.

Landis positive: Reactions from Spain

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Fulgencio Sanchez, president of the Spanish Cycling Federation, said that the presumed positive of Floyd Landis in the Tour de France "is another hard blow against cycling, and there will be other ones".

Sanchez rejected the UCI's stance not to act until Landis' B sample is confirmed, saying "perhaps they prefer the scandals, before a renewed cycling".

Five-time winner of the Tour of France, Miguel Induráin, showed his surprise upon hearing the news that Floyd Landis could have his latest victory stripped from him. However, he told Spanish news agency EFE to be cautious until knowing the result of the B sample.

"I do not know what to say," said Induráin. "It is a rare for something like this to happen, but it is necessary to accept them."

"This does not benefit anybody," he added, emphasising the one most harmed is cycling itself.

Caisse D'Epargne-Illes Balears team manager, José Miguel Echávarri, said to Marca that "the Landis affair hurts me because our sport is damaged.

"We come [away] very satisfied from the Tour and now they make us reflect. Cycling is spectacle, and there has been that, although there has been a person who seems to have deceived [us]. There are many ways to be heroic; as well as being the first, [a hero is one] who arrives seven minutes later and is defeated."

Echávarri hopes "cycling is [still] alive. People must understand that times have changed. It is not an accusation against anybody, but cyclists have a short life and, sometimes, [they] want to optimise it."

Former Comunidad Valenciana assistant director, Ignacio Labarta, spoke to the Heraldo de Aragón about the case of Floyd Landis in light of the doping affair that preceded it, Operación Puerto.

"Cycling is one of the hardest sports, and perhaps, for this reason, it is closer to the subject of doping," said Labarta, "but, of course, we are not the only ones."

"Why is it always cycling implicated?" he asked.

"Cycling must gain respect. It must not be considered as the first one which took a step ahead in order to be controlled, but, except for the cross-country skiing, only cycling has done it. Later, the health controls arrived, but what happened with the rest of sports?

"The UCI also forced us to communicate which address we are at any time, as delinquents we are. We don't know how to defend ourselves."

As to his role on the Comunidad Valenciana team, Labarta explained: "I have worked until the 31st of May. I was the physical trainer and, sometimes, I also was the director. It is true that Eufemiano Fuentes has been doctor of Kelme, but I cannot believe that Kelme was involved in the Operación Puerto."

"I also had [a working] relationship with other riders, apart from the Comunidad Valenciana ones," he added. "I have not committed any crime. On his connection with doctor Eufemiano Fuentes, Labarta said: "My name appears on the summary [list] in relation to [certain] cyclists' names. I have many relations with Eufemiano, mainly of friendship, but also because he is some of my riders' doctor. Sometimes, we discussed our impressions of them."

Comunidad Valenciana says good-bye

By Antonio J. Salmerón

After being excluded by Vuelta a España organiser Victor Cordero, the Valencian Government has decided to terminate its sponsorship of the Comunidad Valenciana cycling team.

In an official statement, the Valencian Government said after being excluded from the Tour de France and Vuelta a España, it is no longer viable to project [the ideals of] sport through elite cycling. However, despite this drastic decision, the government guaranteed the ongoing support of cycling in general, oriented towards "the promotion of a healthy lifestyle".

In both cases, exclusions from the Tour de France and Vuelta a España were based on evidenced put forward by the Spanish Civil Guard and Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC), following the investigation known as 'Operación Puerto'. The investigation began on May 23 this year.

Belda asks for compensation from Unipublic

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Comunidad Valenciana team manager, Vicente Belda, announced that he will be seeking damages from Unipublic after Vuelta a España organiser Victor Cordero recently announced his organisation will withdraw the team's wildcard invitation to the race.

"He is playing with the bread of 32 innocent families," said Belda to EP, correctly forewarning (see above story) that "from the 1st of January 2007, the Comunidad Valenciana [team] will disappear.

Describing the decision as "catastrophic", Belda declared that on Friday [today], "we will obtain a certificate under Court Instruction number 31 in Madrid to demonstrate that the Comunidad Valenciana riders are neither implicated nor investigated. Then, we are going to request damages from Unipublic."

No Hannover for Jaksche

Jörg Jaksche will not be riding the "Nacht von Hannover" this Friday night, the race management has announced. He informed them on Thursday that he would not participate. The Bund Deutsche Radfahrer (German Cycling Federation) had protested his appearance, since Jaksche was named in the Operation Puerto doping scandal.

Ullrich, Basso & Mancebo not welcome at Vuelta

The organisers of the Vuelta a España, Unipublic, have stated that Jan Ullrich, Ivan Basso and Francisco Mancebo are not welcome in their event, which begins on August 26. This follows Unipublic's decision to exclude Comunidad Valenciana on the basis of its involvement in the Operación Puerto affair. "We are taking this decision for the sake of the sport," said a Unipublic spokesperson.

Cyclingnews' recent coverage of 'Operación 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

Cyclingnews' complete coverage of Operación Puerto

German TV considers dropping Tour coverage

Floyd Landis' positive A-sample may have been the last nail in the coffin for German TV station ZDF. "We have a contract to televise a sporting event, not a pharmaceutical performance," said Chief Editor Nickolaus Brender to the German press agency dpa.

"In this case, we will have to consider ending our coverage of the TdF," Brender said. However, he wants to hold a discussion over doping ethics with the German Cycling Federation and the German teams. In addition, the ZDF is demanding guarantees of successful steps against doping from the UCI and the Tour organisers, as well as an increase in penalties, such as the possible suspension of racing teams.

Saunier Duval for upcoming races

The Saunier Duval team will race in the Vattenfall Cyclassic in Hamburg and the Tour of Germany with the following rosters:

Vattenfall Cyclassic Hamburg: Ricardo Ricco, Luca Pagliarini, Manuele Mori, Olivier Zaugg, Francisco Ventoso, David Millar, Guido Trentin, Marco Pinotti, Piotr Mazur.

Tour of Germany: David Millar, Ricardo Ricco, Luca Pagliarini, Manuele Mori, Leonardo Piepoli, Olivier Zaugg, Guido Trentin, Marco Pinotti, Piotr Mazur, Rubens Bertogliati, Francisco Ventoso (may be modified).

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