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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Latest Cycling News for July 31, 2006

Edited by Jeff Jones

Phonak's Michaud defends Landis

By Tim Maloney, European Editor

In an interview with French newspaper La Provence Dimanche, Jacques Michaud, Phonak directeur sportif came out with a strong defence of Tour De France winner Floyd Landis.

"The thing that bothers me the most in all the comments that have come out (about Landis) is that no one is talking about his intrinsic qualities. This guy, he's certainly an athlete who has special talents, who had exceptional physical talents and people forget that he's been working towards winning the Tour for ten years."

Talking about the extraordinary ride that brought Landis his Stage 17 win, Michaud said, "Yes, that day was a big exploit by It was an exploit, but that is the kid of ride a competitor of the calibre of Floyd can accomplish. Floyd has the talent of a great cycling champion, like Indurain, Armstrong or Ullrich. When one is in that league, one can perform like Floyd did on July 20th."

Michaud made the cogent point that, "In modern cycling, people have forgotten what it's like to see something like Floyd did that day."

Discussing the doping allegations, Michaud said, "Frankly speaking, if Floyd was doping, (Phonak) would have known it."

Testosterone, epitestosterone and the doping tests

The situation of Tour winner Floyd Landis has focused attention on testing for testosterone.
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

The standards of testing necessary to find an athlete guilty of doping with testosterone are among the most complex in anti-doping science because testosterone is a naturally-occurring hormone. Cyclingnews fitness panelist Dr Pam Hinton, assistant professor of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Missouri-Columbia, looks at the science of detecting testosterone use.

Many fans of cycling want to know that an elevated ratio of testosterone (T) to epitestosterone (E) is not synonymous with testosterone doping. It is not. In fact, the World Anti-Doping Agency's Guideline for Reporting and Management of Elevated T/E Ratios states, "An elevated T/E may be an indicator of the use of a prohibited substance." Before declaring an athlete positive for testosterone doping, additional testing is required. As with GH and EPO, doping with testosterone is difficult to detect.

This is because the form of the hormone that is available for exogenous administration is chemically identical to what is produced naturally in the body. Only a small fraction (about one percent) of the testosterone produced every day is excreted in the urine. Blood and urine levels increase after taking testosterone. But because the half-life of testosterone is very short, about one hour, blood and urine levels return to normal very quickly. Thus, measuring testosterone levels in urine is not an effective means of detecting steroid abuse.

There are two alternate methods currently in place to detect testosterone misuse. The first is to examine the ratio of testosterone to epitestosterone. Epitestosterone also is produced naturally in the body; it is chemically identical to testosterone with the exception of the hydroxyl group on C-17. A study of nearly 4000 male athletes reported the median T/E ratio to 1/1 with 99 percent of the men having a ratio less than 5.6/1. Another sample of about 5000 male athletes found the mean ratio to be 1.5/1.

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Verbruggen-Pound polemics continue

UCI honorary president pounds Pound again

By Tim Maloney, European Editor

UCI Honorary President and IOC point man for the 2008 Olympics, Hein Verbruggen, stepped out from the shadow of his patron, IOC president Jacques Rogge, to strike out again at Rogge's former IOC rival Dick Pound, head of the World Anti-Doping Agency.

Speaking to La Gazetta dello Sport on Saturday, Verbruggen pulled no punches when he said, "Dick Pound is a liar when he says that cycling isn't doing enough to fight doping. He never offers a clear picture of the situation. Dick has mentioned our meeting last April 12th. We had that meeting thanks to the intervention of (IOC President) Jacques Rogge."

Pound, who accused then-UCI president Hein Verbruggen of leaking documents about Lance Armstrong's 1999 Tour De France medical control tests to L'Equipe in The Guardian, had angered Verbruggen. "The codes to ascertain which athlete had been tested at the 1999 Tour De France were held by the UCI and the French Sports Ministry," said Verbruggen. "The UCI never circulated any photocopies with this information (as claimed by Pound), but WADA did intervene to circumvent the privacy rules that the same laboratory (Chatenay-Malabry) regarding the athlete's privacy and gave the lab this information for experimental tests. That is for sure."

Regarding Pound's allegations that the UCI doesn't perform enough surprise out of competition testing, Verbruggen scoffed at the Canadian lawyer's comments, saying, "Look, here's an example. Last year (2005), WADA performed 170 surprise out of competition tests and only caught one athlete, a really low percentage."

Verbruggen further defended the UCI's drug testing program, explaining that along with cross country skiing, cycling is the only federation that performs blood testing. "And did you know that it was the UCI that informed the Spanish authorities about the Fuentes lab? We brought up the problems with doping in Spain three years ago with Aznar's Minister of Sport and after that with Zapatero's Minister (Lissavetsky). That is where the doubts and suspicions started. It is clear that in certain cases of doping, only the civil authorities can do an efficient job against doping. Cycling is doing all that is possible. What can we do at the Tour if there is only one case of doping, and if it's just Landis? In closing, I just want to say that I believe in the fundamental role of WADA, but I'm only fighting the distortions of (Dick) Pound."

40 surprise tests in Hamburg

The UCI carried out 40 unannounced drug controls on the eve of the Vattenfall Cyclassics in Hamburg yesterday. At a pre-race press conference, German federation president Rudolf Scharping announced that all the tests were negative. Afterwards, the winner of the race, plus two additional riders, were also tested.

Astana still up in the air

Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana)
Photo ©: Ulrik Møberg
(Click for larger image)

Although Alexandre Vinokourov's baby blue Astana boys raced in yesterday's Vattenfall Cyclassics in Hamburg, and were very active to boot, their immediate future is still uncertain. Astana is not guaranteed a start in Tuesday's Tour of Germany, as the team's ProTour licence is held by Active Bay, which is still part owned by Manolo Saiz. The latter is under investigation in the Operacion Puerto affair, but has not yet sold his part of Active Bay to Astana, even though Walter Godefroot is set to take over as manager in Saiz' absence.

Last week, the UCI voted to allow Astana to continue to race under its old ProTour licence, but only under the condition that none of the riders or staff implicated in Operacion Puerto were involved. Some of the riders (Allan Davis, Joseba Beloki, Isidro Nozal, Sergio Paulinho, Alberto Contador) have been cleared by the courts of any involvement in the affair, but Saiz remains under investigation, even though he claims he is innocent of any wrongdoing.

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

Quick Step-Innergetic to Tour of Germany

Nick Nuyens will lead the Quick.Step-Innergetic squad in the Tour of Germany, which runs between August 1-9. The full team is: Nick Nuyens, Kevin De Weert, Sebastien Rosseler, Hubert Schwab, Jurgen Van De Walle, Geert Verheyen, Davide Viganò, and Remmert Wielinga. Rik Van Slycke and Davide Bramati will serve as directeurs sportifs.

Danish brothers to Konica Minolta

South African team Konica Minolta has signed two Danish riders this week: Dejan and Nikola Airstrup. The two brothers, aged 21 and 19 respectively, caught the attention of team manager John Robertson over the last few weeks in Belgium where they have largely been racing on the domestic scene.

"I was very impressed with their aggressive style of racing. They are never afraid to attack, and both the young riders are serious about their future plans in the sport," said Robertson. "When I found out the two of them were living in an old caravan, with no running water and the nearest bathroom a few hundred meters up the road, then I also knew they were both hungry, and hungry riders win races."

Both brothers have an impressive resume; Nicola was 1st in the Championship of Zeeland and 5th overall in the National Championship of Denmark this season. Both riders possess a good sprint, which falls in line with the team's strategy of signing more sprinters in order to dominate the end of season racing in South Africa, from September till mid November culminating in the pick & Pay 94.7 National Classic.

Nicola Airstrup will be riding for the Danish National Team in the HC Tour of Denmark from the 2nd to the 6th of August before joining up with the team at its base in Belgium.

From the 4th to the 7th August the team will go on a short mid season training camp In the Ardennes region of Belgium. On the 12th and 13th of August the team will be racing in Germany again.

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