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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Latest Cycling News for May 11, 2007

Edited by Gregor Brown

Landis claims deal offered for low-down on Armstrong

By Susan Westemeyer

Armstrong and Landis ride together in 2004
Photo ©: AFP

With his own doping case set to commence early next week, 2006 Tour de France winner Floyd Landis has come out with headline-grabbing claims that the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) offered him a deal to reduce his potential suspension on his alleged doping infringement if he would provide incriminating evidence against Lance Armstrong "or anyone more important than me," according to ESPN.com.

Speaking at a press conference Thursday in Los Angeles, Landis claimed that Travis Tygart, USADA's general counsel, made the offer to his lawyer, Howard Jacobs, shortly after Landis' positive test was confirmed in August last year. Landis claimed that the agency was willing "to do harm to my reputation in order to get to Lance.

"It was clarified for me that if I gave information that would incriminate Lance then I would be given a shorter sentence," Landis said, according to a Reuters news agency story. He added that he had not responded to the offer, saying, "I don't think that offer justified a response".

According to USAToday.com, he was offered "the lightest possible sentence", that being "as little as one month".

Landis' claims have generated significant publicity around the world, but because USADA is prevented from commenting on doping cases, there has been no response from the American doping regulator.

Landis rode with Armstrong on the US Postal Service team before leaving to join Phonak, the Swiss-registered team that has since folded. Landis won the TdF while with Phonak, continuing the Americans' grip of road cycling's biggest prize after Armstrong had secured seven consecutive Tours de France from 1999-2005.

(As background, the former US Postal Service rider, Jonathan Vaughters, has claimed that Landis has photos of a motorcycle courier who is allegedly transporting blood in a refrigerated case. It is alleged that this blood was to be used for enhancing the performance of cyclists during major races. Vaughters subsequently clarified that his comments - one of many revelations of an instant messaging conversation between Vaughters and another former US Postal Service rider, Frankie Andreu, tendered as evidence in an unrelated court case in the USA - were based on hearsay.)

Landis also released a lengthy statement summarizing his arguments for his hearing, which is scheduled to start next week, and announced that he intends to file an ethics complaint against World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) president Dick Pound.

Tygert told ESPN that he is not allowed to comment on ongoing cases, but that "if Mr Landis wants to waive the rule and allow USADA to comment, I will be more than happy to comment".

Armstrong said that he was not surprised by the news, nor did it bother him that Landis made the story public. "I think Floyd has to make a case for himself," Armstrong said, according to ESPN. "This says a lot about USADA's methods, their tactics and their confidence in their case. He has a scientific case to fight, but it's also a case of ethics and morals. This makes USADA look petty."

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"I think it's absurd," he added about the alleged search for information against him. "There's nothing to find. They've looked everywhere and can't find anything. The other thing I've said is that it will never go away."

Cyclingnews' coverage of the Floyd Landis case

May 29, 2009 - French authorities summon Landis and Baker
September 28, 2008 - Landis takes case to US federal court
September 10, 2008 - Landis signing with current Health Net-Maxxis team for 2009
July 1, 2008 - CAS delivers final blow to Landis legal challenge
June 30, 2008 - Landis loses final appeal
June 28, 2008 - Landis decision due Monday
March 12, 2008 - Landis' judgment day nears
October 21, 2007 - Landis files appeal with CAS
October 18, 2007 - AFLD takes another look at Landis case
Thursday, October 11 - Landis continues fight, appeals to CAS
Saturday, September 22 - UCI officially names Pereiro 2006 Tour champion, Landis case raises issues
Friday, September 21 - Landis' appeal denied, two year suspension levied

Cyclingnews' complete coverage of the Floyd Landis case

Honchar stopped by team for 30 days

By Susan Westemeyer

Serhiy Honchar will not ride for 30 days, following questionable results from blood tests taken at Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Tour de Romandie, T-Mobile Team has announced.

The blood test results are all within UCI limits and no doping violation has taken place, the team emphasized on its website, t-mobile-team.com. The 36 year-old Ukrainian will now undergo follow-up tests and a medical evaluation.

Bettini in Worlds special jersey

Comments on Basso and Puerto

Bettini wins in 2006
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

"The people along the roads, the enthusiasts and the workers all expect me," said World and Olympic Champion Paolo Bettini in an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport just two days prior to the start of the 2007 Giro d'Italia.

"Maybe it is because of all that I have won that they look to me. If I am here it is because of the Italian public."

Bettini, who is also the current Italian Champion, will line up with the number 1 on the back of a specially designed jersey. The UCI has given him permission to wear a World Champion jersey with a tricolore (red, white and green) boot of Italy on the front. There were only ten of the jerseys made and three will be auctioned on the internet for charity.

Bettini trains with mates
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

"It has great significance, and thanks to the UCI for this special privilege. In 2005 I came here after winning the Olympics and bonded with the public; I won the first stage and took the Maglia Rosa. Last year, I again won a sprint stage. This year, it would be enough for something in between.

"This is cycling," commented the 33 year-old on the current Ivan Basso and Operación Puerto scandal. "When we first heard of the names in Operación Puerto it was said that now is the time to find a remedy. It has become more concrete, because the names of the involved riders have come out, other than Basso, Ullrich and the known names.

"It was like it was all a stunt in Spain, however, he [Basso] and Scarponi made it known how the game functions," he continued. He noted that Puerto is one of the scandals that has become habitual in cycling, and pointed out that there could be more to come. "In the peloton you hear other voices that talk of a blood bank in Valencia. And could the Guardia Civil find this before the Tour, the Vuelta or in two years?"

Giro's island times

The 2007 route
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

The Corsa Rosa will depart tomorrow from Caprera, on the island of Sardinia. It has been 16 years since the last time the Giro d'Italia has started on the island; in 1991 the Giro visited Sardegna for four stages, with victories by Philippe Casado, Gianni Bugno, Gianluca Pierobon and Mario Cipollini.

The only other time the Corsa Rosa has visited the island was in 1961, with one stage, won by Oreste Magni.

Alberto Loddo, the only professional rider from the island, will not take to the start since the team he races for, Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Selle Italia, was not given a wild card invitation. The 28 year-old sprinter from Cagliari has 18 professional wins, with eight from this year.

Ivan Basso visits CONI for a third time

Ivan Basso, the ex-Discovery Channel rider embroiled in Operación Puerto, was heard by Ettore Torri, CONI's head anti-doping prosecutor, for the third time this May. Yesterday's hearing in a secret Rome location, combined with the ones on May 2 and May 7, made for a total nine hours that the two have talked.

"I can only say that I saw him; Ivan Basso is one that wants to say and do a lot. We will see," commented Torri yesterday to La Gazzetta dello Sport after a three hour meeting with Basso.

"It was to have some clarification of the explanations that Basso had given and that contradicted with the other legal investigations related to Operación Puerto," he added.

Torri indicated that Basso is "collaborating" and that he has provided useful information. "There are not any new names," Torri concluded, which could indicate that Basso has already provided a list of other riders or that he is continuing to keep a tight lip.

CONI questions Kalc

"I don't know [Ivan] Basso but I know [Michele] Scarponi," said Alessandro Kalc yesterday, after exiting his hearing with Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) anti-doping prosecutors. The ex-mountain biker was allegedly a courier of blood bags for Eufemiano Fuentes in Italy.

According to La Gazzetta dello Sport, the man from Trieste originally tried to negate every charge from CONI's Ettore Torri. Kalc was allowed to carry on for some time - the hearing lasted two hours - but then Torri showed the proof; a fax from Fuentes prescribed 'therapy,' a table of telephone calls and SMSs.

After the evidence was shown Kalc and his lawyer, Guido Fabbretti, asked for a five minute recess and then returned to say "maybe it is better we adjourn."

Kalc will return to CONI on Wednesday, May 16, at 12.30.

"There are many controversies but it does not seem right to talk in this moment, even if the proceedings are not secret," said Fabbretti. "If Kalc knew Fuentes on a personal level is yet to be known. A fact is that there were documents traded between the two and there will be an explanation for this."

After Torri has heard both Basso and Scarponi it is likely that he has enough proof to demonstrate Kalc's relationship and responsibilities to Fuentes, the doctor at the centre of the Operación Puerto investigation.

However, Basso refuted any relationship with Kalc. "The famous [Alessandro] Kalc, the presumed carrier of blood bags, I know nothing of him. I said what I know to the prosecutor but certain names I have never heard mentioned," noted Basso in Thursday's La Gazzetta dello Sport.

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

LNDD President warns of synthetic doping products

Pierre Bordry
Photo ©: AFP
Click for larger image

Pierre Bordry, director of the French anti-doping agency (AFLD), claimed that athletes are able to slip past testing because labs are not looking for synthetic substances when their test results fall under accepted limits.

Bordry made his point by referring to the case of American Floyd Landis, which his lab oversaw the testing. "Is it good to have limits in place for [steroids], for testosterone?" he questioned. "The Landis story shows this well. If he is under the limit, we don't look for the origin of the testosterone. Whether it is a synthetic testosterone or not."

Last month, French newspaper L'Equipe reported that the analysis of seven of Floyd Landis urine 'B' samples, taken during the 2006 Tour de France, show traces of synthetic testosterone. The tests were carried out at the request of the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), who is investigating Landis.

Landis' disciplinary hearing in front of the USADA that is scheduled to start on Monday, May 14.

"It is very important that it [the USADA] had the go-ahead to see if there is synthetic testosterone," Bordry continued in an interview with the Associated Press.

He noted that some cyclists are likely using synthetic products up to the accepted limits.

"It puts forward that certain well-advised sportsmen have a product that puts them under the limit ... which is still a synthetic product, but one which we will not look for because it falls under the threshold. There is a negative reading. But, after all, is there [synthetic] testosterone?"

Bordry concluded by supporting more randomised testing. "If you say in advance that such and such ... the first, second and third will be tested ... and not the others, [then] you only need to arrange to finish fifth. The important thing is random testing."

Unibet and Garcia Quesada agree to terms

Unibet.com announced Thursday that it has reached an "amicable agreement" ending its dispute with Carlos García Quesada, and that the Spanish rider is now free to join another team.

García Quesada, who has not ridden for the ProTour team this year, was suspended by it in July 2006 after his name appeared in relation to Operación Puerto. He was later cleared of any charges.

He claimed that the team discontinued his salary, which the team justified by saying that he had not clarified his role in the affair. The rider sued, and the team announced in February that it had parted ways with him.

Unibet to Eindhoven

Unibet.com has been assured of an invitation to the team time trial in Eindhoven, Netherlands, on June 24. The Swedish team was the first to receive an invitation from the organizers of the ProTour race.

"We symbolically wanted the Unibet.com ProTour Team to be the first team to receive an official invitation for our ProTour race", said organizer Anton Ganzeboom. "We consider the Unibet.com team as a worthy ProTour team. In this way, we want to support Unibet.com in their current participation problems," the team noted on its website, unibetcycling.com.

Unibet has been kept out of recent races by the ASO, which has expressed concerns over the team's sponsor.

Gómez confirms Spanish Puerto deal

By Susan Westemeyer

The Spanish cyclists named in Operación Puerto "have arranged to collaborate to look for a solution to this complicated situation, but we want guarantees that the law will be correctly applied," José Javier "Pipe" Gómez, head of the Spanish riders' association said.

It was announced yesterday that the riders were trying to negotiate a deal with the Spanish cycling federation which would let them confess and serve a short suspension, allowing them to ride the Vuelta a España in 2008.

Gómez noted that the anti-doping law in Spain had only recently come into effect, and that it "contemplates the reduction of sanctions," according to todociclismo. He pleaded for combined efforts by the federation, riders, teams and organizers, since "we do not have a magic wand and that it is not the riders' problem alone."

He noted that the UCI's code of ethics foresees a two-year ban, followed by a two-year ban out of the ProTour. He suggested that the UCI amend the code, to return to a two-year instead of a four-year ban.

"In addition, we want the innocent to be allowed to demonstrate their innocence, and the guilty who wish to collaborate to receive a sanction reduction, as allowed under the Spanish law. But it cannot be forgotten that there are many innocent parties," Gómez concluded.

Boycott of the Spanish ProTour races?

By Monika Prell

There's a rumour in the world of cycling about a possible boycott of Spanish ProTour races on the part of the foreign teams, which could begin on August 1, according to AS. If carried out, the boycott would affect the Clásica San Sebastián (August 1), the Vuelta a Burgos (August 14 to 18) and the Vuelta a España (September 1 to 27).

The teams may use this tactic if the position of the Spanish teams that are implicated in the Operación Puerto is not clarified.

"The involved Spanish cyclists can compete with impunity and even win races," according to a letter from the Association of Italian professional riders (ACCPI) to the UCI.

Victor Cordero, the General Director of the Vuelta a España, affirms that "we have information about the possibility of this boycott. But in any case, this won't affect us. We will impose to the invited teams the same condition as to the ProTour teams. Anyone whose situation is not clear will be allowed to ride the Vuelta."

Jaime Ugarte, the General Director of the Clásica San Sebastián, is away on vacation. "I prefer not to give any commentary before I return and before understanding well what has happened," he noted

Leipig looks to defend climbing title

Tina Leipig hopes to defend her German mountain championship title this weekend, despite her hay fever. The Getränke Hoffmann rider will lead her team in Saturday's race in Berchtesgaden.

"Otherwise, I'm in good shape," she said optimistically. "Naturally I want to defend my title, and as a new team, we especially want to bring a good performance."

She will be supported by teammates Birgit Hollmann, Stefanie Pohl and Virginia Hennig, who won the junior title in 2005.

Ullrich to be a father again

By Susan Westemeyer

It has been hard times lately for Jan Ullrich, who recently retired from pro cycling after being named as a customer of Doctor Eufemiano Fuentes. But he now has good news and something to look forward to. He and wife Sara are expecting their first child in September.

"This wonderful situation makes up for a lot and shows again what really counts in life: family, happiness, health and love," he wrote on his website, janullrich.de.

He has a three year-old daughter by a previous relationship.

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