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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for September 28, 2006

Edited by Jeff Jones, Greg Johnson and Hedwig Kröner

Clerc calls for allies in "project which would work"

Tour de France organiser ASO has reacted to the latest statements made by UCI president Pat McQuaid. An independent panel of experts will carry out an "audit into cycling" for the World's governing body, and the Irishman didn't rule out that the length of the three Grand Tours may be one of the reasons the sport was so heavily implicated in doping affairs. Therefore, the need to shorten the biggest cycling events may come up.

ASO president Patrice Clerc
Photo ©: AFP
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"The UCI has announced an audit into cycling," ASO president Patrice Clerc told L'Equipe on Wednesday. "But even before it has been carried out, the UCI assures that the problem certainly resides in the length of the Grand Tours. How can you give any credit to the conclusions of an audit if they are already established upon command?"

Clerc continued by heavily criticising the way in which the UCI promotes its top end calendar, the ProTour. "The UCI doesn't listen to anyone anymore: the voices of the race organisers, be they big or small, the voices of the national federations who have expressed doubts on the validity and the basics of the ProTour," he said. "The UCI doesn't listend to the groupes sportifs (teams) either, who have said that some things are wrong, or certain cyclists. Jens Voigt has expressed himself against the obligation of the teams to participate in all the ProTour events. Did they listen to him?"

Confronted with the fact that a number of talks had been carried out last week at the World Championships in Salzburg, where none of the participants had contested the validity of the ProTour, Clerc commented, "We assisted another World Championship there - one of self-satisfaction and disinformation. How can you believe a communiqué that says that everything is fine, that professional cycling has never been better, that the ProTour has the unconditional support of everyone, that TV audiences are increasing? Today, the UCI wants to brainwash everyone, saying that only the villain ASO is against it. This irresponsible autism prevents the collective awareness necessary to come out of the crisis."

Even if the boss of the Tour de France organisation gave the UCI credit for recently announced anti-doping measures ("Everything that goes into the direction of the fight against doping is fine by me"), the Frenchman is not afraid to continue his stance against the UCI ProTour series, which is planned to bundle up the TV rights of all ProTour races as of 2009. "The UCI defends a economic and marketing project," Clerc continued. "It wants to install a commercial trademark which belongs to (the UCI), which would feed off other, already existing trademarks - ours. If the ProTour calendar was only a sporting calendar, I'd have no problem with it. But in this case, we will be careful over the defense and protection of our trademarks. If we have to go to court, we'll go."

Clerc added that it wasn't the role of the Court of Arbitration for Sport to rule on the case, as had been suggested by the UCI recently. On the creation of a separate calendar, which would include the three Grand Tours as well as numerous classics owned by ASO, RCS and Unipublic, Clerc stated, "Today, I ask all the players in this sport: Do you want to build up a true project, which would work, even if it is a compromise at first? We will take up the dialogue again with the people who have been soliciting us, and those who haven't dared to do it yet. I appeal to all good faith, to all who want to work with us. We, our means, our brains and our organisation are ready to be at the disposal of all those who are not heard by the UCI, to come out of the crisis."

Basso could be cleared on Friday

By Gregor Brown

Ivan Basso could be cleared this coming Friday. Franco Cosenza, anti-doping lawyer of Italian Olympic Committee (CONI), does not seem to have the concrete evidence needed to defer Basso to the disciplinary commission of the Italian federation (FCI)) and it is likely the case against the 2006 Giro d'Italia winner will be filed. The two will meet this Friday, 29 September, in Rome, where Basso has been summonsed to appear for the second time in front of the CONI lawyer.

Ivan Basso
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

The 28 year-old Italian has been linked to the Spanish investigation Operación Puerto last May, when Guardia Civil officers found bags of blood with the name "Birillo" on them. According to the Spanish investigators, this was Basso's code name used by Doctor Eufemiano Fuentes, as "Birillo" was allegedly the name of Basso's dog. Then, there were two telephone calls: One on May 14, at 21.46, an intercepted conversation between Ignacio Labarta, former directeur sportif of the Comunidad Valenciana team, and Fuentes, where Labarta refers to Basso and José Enrique Gutierrez (Phonak) as clients of Fuentes. Finally, there is a fax, hand written by Fuentes, explicitly using the name "Ivan Basso", and sent to Labarta prior to the start of the Giro.

But the evidence against Basso is said to be circumstantial in the legal sense, and not enough for Cosenza to defer Basso to the FCI disciplinary commission. The news has angered Pat McQuaid, president of the International Cycling Union (UCI). While in Salzburg for the World Championships, the Irishman made it known that he wished CONI would not rush to a decision, and wait for further evidence out of Spain.

If the case of Basso is archived by CONI, then the UCI can appeal the decision to Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which the Cycling Union has already announced they will do so.

Basso, if freed, could be on the search for a team. His current squad CSC has been waiting until a final decision is made by the sporting authorities. However, team manager Bjarne Riis, who was also in Salzburg for the World's, made his thoughts known on DNA testing. "I would prefer that Basso makes a DNA test," Riis told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "The decision is his and I can't force it but it is something I would like to see."

The DNA testing, which Basso has rejected, would clarify if the blood found last May in Spain is from the Italian. DNA testing is not currently required but the UCI is examining wether or not these blood samples should be collected in the future.

The final decision regarding Basso's ability to return to racing could come from the ProTour teams. CSC, or another possible team, will have to decide wether or not a rider who has been linked to the Operación Puerto investigation would represent their sponsors' interests.

Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

A license for Ullrich in 2007?

By Susan Westemeyer

"If Ullrich applies for a license, he'll get one," said Lorenz Schläfli, director of Swiss Cycling, the Swiss national federation. "If he has a team,Ullrich will be able to ride." Schläfli criticized the slowness of the process. "Nothing is happening," he said. More than four weeks ago he sent the documents he had received in the Ullrich-Fuentes case back to the UCI, because they were not certified as to conform with the originals. "Since then, I have heard nothing. I need certified documents for a disciplinary hearing or a trial. That's the way Swiss law is. But nothing is happening. If the UCI doesn't help us, then the case will be closed. At the moment we have no doping case in Switzerland and there are no investigations into riders with Swiss licenses."

If that is good news for Ullrich, then he also received bad news on Wednesday. Sportfive Agency has cancelled its marketing of Ullrich, according to the trade magazine, W&V. The agency had signed a marketing contract with him in April of this year, but is cancelling it because of the doping charges. In addition, his largest private sponsor, the Swiss clockmaker IWC, will not renew its contract with Ullrich which expires at the end of this year, the magazine reported.

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

Four losses for Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Caisse d'Epargne - Illes Balears' Francis Lafargue has revealed that four riders will not return to the Spanish squad in 2006. Eusebio Unzué told Velo-club "We have four losses: Iker Leonet, Mikel Pradera, Cayetano Juliá and Jose Luis Carrasco." Lafargue also said that, "at the moment, Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears has not signed any other rider." The Frenchman affirmed that Óscar Pereiro will continue with them: "We had great results and it is not necessary to introduce many changes".

In regards to Tino Zaballa, who is affected by Spain's Operación Puerto, Lafargue announced that, "we suspended to him as soon as we were informed. At the moment, we are hoping to that the Spanish federation decides on the subject".

Milram for Zürich

German-Italian team Milram has announced its line-up for the Züri Metzgete, the next-up ProTour race held this Sunday, October 1. Mirko Celestino, Michele Gobbi, Andrey Grivko, Alessandro Cortinovis, Alberto Ongarato, Fabio Sacchi, Alessandro Vanotti and Giovanni Visconti will be directed by DS Gianluigi Stanga in Switzerland.

T-Mobile to Franco-Belge

German team T-Mobile has made public its roster for the Circuit Franco-Belge from September 28-October 1. Seasoned sprinters Olaf Pollack and André Korff will line up alongside the younger Eric Baumann and André Greipel in the four-day competition, as well as young stagiaire Mark Cavendish.

Frans van Looy
Photo ©: AFP
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"After all it's typical sprinter's parcours here in Western Flanders," said sporting director Frans van Looy. "You are well-advised to have enough fast men onboard. In Andreas Klier, T-Mobile also has a classic specialists in their ranks, who - like Italian Lorenzo Bernucci and Dutchman Bas Giling - will be looking to jump away in likely breaks.

The fiercest competition is likely to come from the Belgian hosts, most notably Quick.Step and Davitamon-Lotto. Former World champion Tom Boonen will be assisted by Wilfried Cretskens, Servais Knaven and Nick Nuyens, while Davitamon-Lotto have Nico Mattan as the ace up their sleeve. The 700km course will take the riders from Maubeuge in France to classics terrain in Western Flanders. The notorious Belgian crosswinds are sure to make it a tricky race, in which Unibet's Marco Zanotti will try to defend his title.

The T-Mobile roster in brief: Eric Baumann, Lorenzo Bernucci, Bas Giling, André Greipel, Andreas Klier, André Korff, Olaf Pollack and Mark Cavendish.

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(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2006)