First Edition Cycling News for May 3, 2007
Edited by Sue George
CONI adjourns Basso hearing
New date to be announced in 'ongoing' investigation
By Gregor Brown
Ivan Basso testified in front of Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) anti-doping prosecutors, and after two hours, the hearing was "adjourned." The Italian cyclist from Varese appeared in Rome to answer to questions of alleged involvement with Doctor Eufemiano Fuentes. The recently re-opened case was originally opened last year and shelved two months later, in October.
"Adjourned to a date to be determined," said Basso's lawyer, Massimo Martelli, to ANSA. "Ivan Basso is calm, serene; he replied to the requests of the prosecutor and he has agreed to this adjournment."
The 2006 Giro d'Italia winner was allegedly linked to Fuentes via documents, faxes and SMSs marked 'Birillo' and with the number 2. Last fall, in light of a pending legal battle, Basso agreed to a mutual termination with former team CSC, and, just last week, he ended his contract with his new team, Discovery Channel. "This was a very difficult decision, for me and my family, but I think it is the right thing to do,"said Basso in regards to the termination of his contract.
The hearing should take place before the start of the Giro d'Italia on May 12.
"The interrogation is still formally ongoing and hence is confidential," said lawyer Fabio Filocamo of CONI to tuttobiciweb.com after the hearing. "There was not time to conclude. Basso has the attitude of a person ready to confront any circumstances; he has his line of defence and we hope that he collaborates."
Neither Martelli nor Filocamo would comment on whether or not Basso would submit his DNA. "We have not talked of this nor have there been any decisions made," continued Filocamo, clearly under "confidential" orders from Ettore Torri, head of anti-doping at CONI.
"Soon we will agree to the new hearing date."
New evidence out of Spain could contradict Basso's previous 2006 statements to CONI and created a situation of 'deception.' "We have enough material out of Madrid to draw our conclusions," Torri indicated last week. "We will go forward all the same."
Basso was escorted out of the hearing by Martelli. He only answered to one media question: "Good," when questioned how he was.
McQuaid laments lack of time to resolve Operación Puerto before Grand Tours
The UCI lamented the lack of time to go through the 6,000 page dossier recently released by Spanish investigators with regard to Operación Puerto. President Pat McQuaid said it could take until the rest of the year to determine which riders were involved and therefore the UCI may not be able to prevent implicated riders from competing in the Grand Tours.
"There is no way we have the eyes to go through these 6,000 pages and determine who is guilty and who is involved in some way or another," McQuaid said according to the Associated Press. "There is no way we can be finished before the end of this year. They are the practical issues which make it difficult for us with the best will in the world."
Grand Tour organizers are eager to find out which racers are involved before their events start. The Giro begins May 12 and the Tour de France starts July 7. Last year, nine riders named in the scandal were not permitted to start the Tour.
McQuaid has been asking for the identities of the additional 49 racers mentioned in conjunction with the scandal earlier this week. The UCI is hoping to gain access to the 6,000 page dossier. A Spanish judge had shelved Operación Puerto two months ago, but an appeal is underway to re-instate the probe.
"We don't know of 49 names because we have never seen the files," McQuaid said. "We don't know what is in there. ... There is no way to know that until the (Spanish) judge makes his decision" in the appeals case.
McQuaid admitted that Operación Puerto could cast a shadow over this year's Tour, but he said little notice would be needed to expel suspected riders. "A day before is time enough, (but) it would blessed if we had that information a couple of weeks before the tour," he said according to the AP. Technically implicated riders could race until otherwise found guilty and sanctioned, but organizers may decide to take matters into their own hands and exclude accused riders.
"Morally I agree completely with the Tour, and morally it would be better if the riders in the Puerto (probe) would not be there," said McQuaid.
Cyclingnews' recent coverage of 'Operación Puerto'
May 18, 2009 - Valverde to start Catalunya
Savoldelli keeps leader's jersey for Astana in Romandie
By Susan Westemeyer
In stage 1 of today's Tour de Romandie, Astana successfully defended the Paolo Savodelli's leader's jersey.
"The team's tactics were, of course, to control the race, and that it was what we did," said Savodelli. "Eddy Mazzoleni did most of the work on the climbs. In the last 3 km, Kacheshkin took over. I was very cold. We are very happy to have kept this jersey."
Savoldelli finished comfortably in the front group in 17th place finish while Markus Fothen handed Gerolsteiner another ProTour win by escaping late in the race with Caisse d'Epargne's Francisco Perez, and then out-sprinting his companion to take the stage. A chasing peloton, with 80 riders, weakened by four categorized climbs could not close the gap in time to overtake the duo, but did catch up just in time to get the same time for the day.
Savoldelli's Astana teammates kept the gaps of various break members in check before other teams contributed to chasing. The charging peloton was often led by the turquoise Astana train, with even Savoldelli's yellow leader's jersey covered by a turquoise vest in the cool temperatures.
Thursday's stage two has the usual innumerable ups and downs, but has only two ranked climbs, one each Cat. 1 and Cat. 3. It runs 166.9 km from La Chaux-de-Fonds - Lucens.
For complete coverage of Stage 1, click here.
Pound voices confidence in French lab
Dick Pound, the head of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) expressed his total confidence on Wednesday in the French Chatenay-Malabry lab that tested Floyd Landis' samples from the 2006 Tour de France.
The lab has reported elevated testosterone levels and evidence of synthetic testosterone found those samples, but throughout his defense, Landis and his lawyers have questioned the credibility of the French Lab, noting procedural mistakes.
"It is an accredited laboratory by WADA," Pound said during a conference call according to the Associated Press. "That means it has met some very stringent quality-control requirements in the sense of being able to detect the presence of prohibited substances in samples."
"It's one of the leading laboratories in the world and has spearheaded some of the breakthroughs in tests for EPO and so forth," Pound added. "We have no reason to think that the work done in that lab, and frankly in any of our other labs, is sub-par. We have confidence in what it's done."
Landis and his team are preparing for a May 14 arbitration hearing. The case may influence any decisions on whether he will get to keep his 2006 Tour de France victory. In the meantime, Landis has promised not to compete in the 2007 edition. If the doping allegations stand, he may also be subject to a two-year ban from competition.
In response to L'Equipe's report last week that Landis' B tests found evidence of synthetic testosterone, Pound said he did not know how the information was leaked to the press, but that it was a possible issue for discussion between WADA and the lab. "The lab itself must be concerned about that," he said.
Pound's comments follow new accusations from the Landis' team earlier this week about how the French lab of improperly handled samples and erased computer data files relating to his tests.
Also earlier this week, the French Anti-Doping Agency had requested that independent experts review testing procedures carried out on Landis' doping samples, but said that this was a routinely scheduled review and not related to recent accusations of wrongdoing from the Landis camp.
Wanted: tougher Chinese anti-doping measures
Dick Pound also noted that China is viewed as a source for illegal drugs via the internet, and he called for tougher anti-doping measures leading up to the Beijing Olympics.
"I don't know whether there is a solution prior to 2008, but it is a problem and they recognize it and are trying to address it," said Pound to the Associated Press.
Specific measures outlined by Pound included an increase in the number of doping tests carried out, the creation of a national anti-doping agency, and a system for conducting drug testing for the Olympics.
"The world is going to assess the success of the games in Beijing not just if the buses run on time but on whether or not their (sic) is an effective national anti-doping process in China," he said. "If China appears with athletes who nobody ever heard of and wins all the gold medals, that would be a problem and the games would not be a success."
China, which has more citizens than any other country, carried out 2,000 doping tests in 2005, as many as Australia, a country with 21 million people according to the AP. China's population exceeds 1.3 billion, or one-fifth of the world's total, according to Wikipedia.
Tougher doping standards under consideration in general
As part of tougher doping standards in general, Pound also said WADA is considering doubling the standard two-year ban for doping offenses.
"There has been some scientific research done which suggests that benefits of using steroids last much more than two years," Pound said to the AP. "That gives some weight to increasing the penalty in some of those cases. There's a good argument to be made for it and we will consider it."
Multiple broken bones for Pfannberger
By Susan Westemeyer
The rider for the Austrian Professional Continental team will have surgery Friday to repair the damage. "The broken collarbone will have to be fixed with screws and plates, so that it will heal faster and better," he said, adding, "I hope to be fit again for my season highlight, the Österreich Rundfahrt." But if not, then he's not too worried. "There are other good races on the calendar later in the season."
"I'm very sorry that I crashed because of a technical defect, because I was in a good position and thought I had a chance to win. That almost hurts more than the broken bones," he concluded.
Liquigas may release Paolini
Liquigas described in a press release the conditions under which it may suspend Luca Paolini and cited the ProTour ethical code signed by all ProTour teams.
Thus far, Liquigas has taken no disciplinary action against Paolini, but it confirmed that "if there is a request for a trial in front a magistrate or if there is an inquiry by the CONI anti-doping commission, the rider will be submitted suspension, while waiting for the investigations to develop."
30 year-old Paolini is still being questioned regarding the evidence found during the raids of homes and gyms in Italy, last fall. 22 people were arrested (none cyclists) and evidence worth six million euro was sequestered during an investigation dubbed Operazione Athena (named after a gym in Lombardy, 'Athena,' were one of the raids were made - ed.).
Earlier this week, anti-doping lawyer Maria Cristina Rota said she will not shelve the particular case against the Liquigas rider. His case could be sent back to the justice system.
The homes of Basso and Paolini were part of the raids last fall, just prior to the running of the 2006 Worlds. Paolini went on to help long-time friend, Paolo Bettini, win the rainbow jersey for Italy. Last month, he finished third in the Ronde van Vlaanderen.
Ethical code Article IX states, "Without prejudice to the right to terminate the contract for serious misconduct, not to enter any licence-holder for events who is subject to judicial proceedings or investigation for facts relating to sporting activity, or any act constituting a breach of the UCI antidoping regulations, or any other intentional criminal act: 1. as from the opening of the investigation or proceedings if the facts are admitted by the party in question, or if information from an official source available to the UCI Pro Team shows that the facts in question cannot be seriously contested; 2. in other cases, as from the date of referral by the investigating body or, where no such procedure applies, the date of the summons to the accused to appear before the trial judge for sentencing.
Cycling Australia considers mandatory DNA samples
Governing bodies and teams worldwide are becoming increasingly interested in the possibility of collecting DNA from racers should it be needed for future doping investigations. Cycling Australia (CA) joined that list Thursday. According to the Herald Sun, CA is considering mandatory storage of athletes' DNA samples.
The measure comes after the German Cycling Federation announced earlier this week that all Olympic team athletes for the Beijing Games would have to provide DNA samples. "No DNA sample, no Olympics," Scharping had told press agency dpa.
CA is now evaluating legal implications of such a decision in Australia.
"We've taken legal advice on the use of DNA," Fredericks said to the Herald Sun. "We're not entirely sure what the legal situation is in Australia in terms of being able to insist on it (DNA storage). But we would like to think at least as a minimum if people were caught (doping), there would be the potential for mandatory DNA sampling."
On Friday, May 4, UCI President Pat McQuaid, Tour de France head Christian Prudhomme, and International Professional Cycling Teams (IPCT) leader Patrick Lefevere will meet to discuss Operación Puerto and anti-doping strategies, including DNA testing.
Walker replaces Löwik for Giro
Australian William Walker will replace Dutch racer Gerben Löwik for the Giro d'Italia according to the Dutch Press Agency. Löwik will not be competing for health reasons due to "injury on his buttocks" according to Rabobank's team website. Löwik is having a rough 2007; he could not start several races earlier this year due to an injured his wrist.
Walker, 21, is in his second professional year. The Australian is currently riding the Tour de Romandie but will make the journey from Switzerland to Sardegna this week.
Rabobank previously announced its Giro line-up, so the roster now consists of Mauricio Ardila, Léon van Bon, Koos Moerenhout, Graeme Brown, Michael Rasmussen, Max van Heeswijk, Dimitri Kozontsjoek, Pedro Horillo, and William Walker.
Euskaltel Euskadi line up for the Vuelta a Asturias and the Giro d'Italia
By Monika Prell
Euskaltel - Euskadi has announced the line ups for the Vuelta a Asturias that begins today with a stage from Oviedo to Llanes, about 150 kilometers and two mountains, the Alto de la Tornería (2nd category) and the Alto de Rales - Carriles (3rd category).
Xabier Carbayeda is acting as the Director of the young team, which consists of Iñaki Isasi, Andoni Aranaga, Iban Mayoz, Lander Aperribay, Unai Uribarri, Iban Iriondo, and Andoni Lafuente. As the team does not have a leader who would be able to fight for the overall victory in such a hard race, they will instead aim for a stage win.
Euskaltel also announced its team roster for the Giro d'Italia (May 12 to June 6). Koldo Fernández de Larrea, Aitor Hernández, Joseba Zubeldia, Antton Luengo, Beñat Albizuri, Markel Irizar, Iván Velasco, Aketza Peña, and Dioni Galparsoro will compete in the three-week race which begins with a 24km team time trial from Caprera to La Maddalena.
Lehigh Valley Velodrome holds cycling swap
The Lehigh Valley velodrome will host the largest pre-season cycling and fitness outdoor expo and gear swap in the US on Saturday, May 5. The swap will feature all things cycling, new and used. At least 15 different commercial vendors and 115 individual vendors are expected. Last fall's expo drew over 2,000 people.
This year's event was slipped until later in the calendar to accommodate spring weather. Given that the May 5 date coincides with Cinco de Mayo; therefore, the Velodrome will be providing Mexican cuisine along with its traditional menu to celebrate Cinco de Mayo.
This event is open to the public and there is a US$5 admission fee. Children 12 and under get in the gates for free. For further information, visit www.thevelodrome.com.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2007)