Latest Cycling News for November 9, 2007
Edited by Hedwig Kröner
Reactions to Rasmussen's side of the story
By Katharina Schulz and Susan Westemeyer
Rabobank partly confirms, 'no-comment' until Monday
Team Rabobank has responded to Michael Rasmussen's statements concerning the situation leading up to his dismissal, saying it will wait until an independent report is released on Monday. Rasmussen has admitted having lied about his whereabouts leading up to the Tour de France, which made him miss an out-of-competition doping test, but said that the team management knew that he was in Europe in June. Rabobank took Rasmussen out of the Tour de France in July and fired him, saying the team management thought he was in Mexico.
Henri van der Aat, the interim team manager, partly confirmed Rasmussen's version. "The team management knew that he was not in Mexico the entire time in June. We knew that already. But if it is true that he was not there at all, then it is clear that [former team manager] Theo de Rooij was right to dismiss him. We will see what the commission has to say about that on Monday."
De Rooij, who had been with the team 12 years, stepped down this summer in light of the Rasmussen affair. A team statement issued at the time said, "After the disappointments of the most recent Tour de France, De Rooij wishes to have the time and rest to consider the future. Rabobank understands and respects this decision."
Van der Aat denied Rasmussen's claim that the team had offered to give him the report early. "That we promised this to him is the first lie," Van der Aart said. "We have agreed with his lawyer that we will give it to him Monday at 9 a.m."
The Danish rider had also claimed that sport director Erik Breukink knew that he was in Italy and France and even met with him in Bergamo, Italy. Breukink responded, "I will wait until Monday as we have agreed. It does not seem wise to me for everyone to speak out now."
UCI to open diciplinary case
The head of the UCI's antidoping unit, Anne Gripper, thinks it possible that Michael Rasmussen faces a two-year suspension for giving false information about his whereabouts in June this year. Confronted with yesterday's statement from Rasmussen while on her way back from a holiday in Australia, she told the Danish news agency Ritzau, "It's good he finally said it."
The antidoping unit had been looking into the case for a while, and they also tried to get a statement from Rasmussen: "I expect we are now going to open a disciplinary case against him. We have been investigating the case and had made several appointments with Rasmussen and his lawyer, but for different reasons they were cancelled. Now a meeting with him has become unnecessary."
Unlike Rasmussen himself, Gripper thinks the existing rules form a basis on which he could be suspended. "In the course of the investigation we have looked at which antidoping rules are relevant in this case. We are going to comment on that this week. After this confession it is likely that we are going to go for a breach of the rule about 'avoiding a test', which generally results in two years' suspension."
Blood values suspicious according to CSC's Damsgaard
The Danish newspaper B.T. showed the blood profiles which Michael Rasmussen published yesterday at his press conference in Hellerup to doping expert Rasmus Damsgaard. He is the man in charge of CSC's antidoping programme.
In his opinion, the blood values are suspicious. During the Tour de France, Rasmussen's haemoglobin values rose, which, according to Damsgaard, is unusual: "The haemoglobin values of the seven CSC riders [taking part in the Tour de France] dropped by 12 to 22 percent, which is completely normal. That the opposite happens, that the values rise during a hard race like the Tour de France, indicates that there has been a blood transfusion.
"We conclude that an increase in haemoglobin alone should be sanctionable."
Danish federation unhappy
The head of the Danish Cycling Federation (Dansk Cykle Union, DCU), Jesper Worre, is not very pleased with the extent of Michael Rasmussen's statement.
"It's not really much use, since he doesn't elaborate anything at all," he told DR Sporten. "But there is not really any excuse for delivering wrong whereabouts, otherwise the system wouldn't work."
Worre sees Rasmussen's biggest problem, however, in the fact that he lied to the UCI. "He has more than just one credibility issue, for he also has a problem with the UCI which has to open a case. I can't see that they have other options, because he deliberately delivered wrong whereabouts, and that is tampering with where he was," Worre concluded.
Experts discuss legal side of doping in sport
By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor in Chicago
The sports law committee of the Chicago Bar Association hosted a panel discussion regarding legal issues involved with doping in sport on Tuesday. Moderated by Lester Muson, a well-known American sports writer with ESPN and himself a lawyer, the panel consisted of Bill Bock, the newly appointed general counsel for the US Anti-doping Agency (USADA), Steven J. Thompson, a frequent defense counsel to athletes in drug testing cases and Greg Lemond, three-time Tour de France winner and advocate against doping in cycling.
The seminar, entitled Legal and Ethical Issues of Testing for Performance Enhancing Drugs in Sport, was focused for the audience, made up of association lawyers continuing their required ongoing professional education. However, the discussion by the panelists included interesting angles on the issue - both from the enforcement and the defense sides - as well as Lemond continuing his public fight against doping.
Bill Bock was the first to speak, and much of his presentation was of a general nature - trying to bring the audience to a common level of understanding of doping in sport. His examples centered mostly on U.S. track and field athletes that involved the BALCO scandal, which spawned US Attorney and Congressional investigations. Bock showed evidence obtained by USADA from confessed performance enhancing drug users - including disturbing emails from BALCO's Victor Conte and detailed calendars of drug regiments from Kelli White, the disqualified world champion runner.
To read the full feature on the legal side of doping, click here.
Toyota-United signs Rollin
The Toyota-United Pro Cycling Team has announced the signing of Dominique Rollin for the 2008 season. The 2006 Canadian national road champion is the first Canadian on the Toyota-United roster in the team's two-year history.
Rollin, 25, won nine races as a first-year professional in 2007 and finished third overall at the inaugural Tour of Missouri. "Dominique represents one of the best of a new batch of very eager, young and talented riders from Canada," said Toyota-United assistant team director Scott Moninger. "I think he possesses extremely mature racing habits for someone of his age and the fact that he's such an all-around rider makes him ideally suited to the U.S. circuit."
Rollin said he was excited to be a part of the team known for its lead-outs that led to a stage win at the Amgen Tour of California and two stage wins at the Tour of Missouri. "To be a part of a winning team and be one of the last men for the sprint is kind of an honour," Rollin said. "I hope I can prove that I can be a good help to the team and get some results as well."
Rollin's addition to the lineup presents Toyota-United with multiple options for the 2008 National Race Calendar and US ProTour circuits. He joins three other newcomers already announced: Ben Day and brothers Hilton and Jonny Clarke. All three are Australians, bringing to six the number of riders from Down Under now on the Toyota-United roster.
George to MTN Microsoft for 2008
By Shane Stokes
Multiple South African national champion and 2006 Tour de Langkawi winner David George will race for the MTN Microsoft professional team in the coming season. George competed for US Postal Service, Barloworld and Relax-Gam in the past but was without a pro contract in 2007. He rode for an amateur Cape Town squad and guested with other teams at stage races, finishing fourth in the Tour de Langkawi and third in the Giro del Capo. He was also second in the national road race championships behind Malcolm Lange, making him the only rider in the top seven who was not in MTN Microsoft colours.
MTN team owner Douglas Ryder has welcomed the signing of the 31 year old, saying that it will add an extra dimension to the squad. "In 2007 we did really well in single-day races, but weren't a big enough force in the stage races. So for 2008, we've boosted our tour-riding capabilities by signing David George," he stated. "David is this country's leading stage racer and we believe he'll add some genuine depth to our team for races like the Giro del Capo and the new Tour of South Africa.
"Our plan is to use David as a tour specialist. He will be our first-choice General Classification rider on the road team for the Giro del Capo, the Tour of South Africa and possibly also the Tour of Morocco. But we'll also use him in the Absa Cape Epic to partner Kevin Evans."
George rode the Absa Cape Epic mountainbike race this year for the first time, performing strongly despite the withdrawal of his original partner after stage three.
Apart from stage races, George is aiming for a good performance in road and time trial disciplines at the Olympic Games. He will also work to help the development of younger riders on the team. "My position on the team as a rider and mentor is what I've been looking for," said George, who has a UCI Level 1 coaching qualification and will soon complete Level 2. "I am relishing my responsibility in helping build this team to become world class. With the backing of MTN we can be ambitious and innovative and that's what modern cycling success requires."
Amongst those he will be advising are three other new signings, Bradley Potgieter (18), Jay Thomson (21) and Juan van Heerden (21). Potgieter is the national junior champion for road and time trial, Thomson won the 2006 Jock Tour and Van Heerden was second in the 2005 Cape Argus Pick ‘n Pay Cycle Tour. 2006 junior national champion Jonathan Kinnear was signed earlier this year.
Jaksche appeals to reduce ban
Jörg Jaksche is doing everything he can to have his one-year doping suspension reduced. After having asked the Austrian cycling federation to reduce his sentence by six weeks, he has now announced that he will appeal that sentence to the independent arbitration committee of the 'Österreichische Bundessport Organisation', a public Austrian sports institution. "I was forced to this step, in order to keep all my legal options open," he told sport1.
Jaksche admitted that he wanted to be eligible to ride again as soon as possible in order to help find a contract for the coming season. "Six weeks more or less can make a big difference during the season. I will be of interest to teams only if I can prepare for and ride the Tour de France. Or the Giro."
He didn't regret his decision to confess to his doping past, but noted that, "In a sense, I am the dumb one, because I was the first to take this step and therefore got the hardest sentence. I didn't have to do a 'coming-out', I had never tested positive, had no pressure and I had a contract with Tinkoff."
The sentence should be reduced, he said, because, "I have paid and suffered enough, lost a lot of money, paid my dues and learned my lesson. Six weeks more won't change anything. I simply want to ride again."
He did not dismiss the idea of going all the way to the Court of Appeals for Sport. "I don't want to do that, though. The whole reason for asking the federation to reduce the sentence was to find an unbureaucratic way to be re-integrated. I was being a role-model for many pros, who followed my example. Now they will just think, my confession didn't serve much..."
Pollack to Volksbank
German rider Olaf Pollack has signed a one-year contract with the Austrian Professional Continental Team Volksbank, he has announced. "I am very satisifed, because Volksbank will support me in my plans for the Olympics," he said.
Pollack rode this season for Team Wiesenhof-Felt, where he won a stage in the Criterium International. The 34 year-old turned pro in 1997 with the team Agro-Adler Brandenburg, and later rode for Gerolsteiner and T-Mobile.
Pollack is a fomer track world champion and is on the national track team. He is currently racing in the Munich Six Days race, where he was in seventh place with partner Peter Schep after the first day.
Wegmann big in Japan
Fabian Wegmann has finally ended his season, closing it out with a second place in the Japan Cup the end of last month. Looking back, he calls the trip to Japan "one of my best experiences as a cyclist," adding, "I was totally impressed by the friendliness and hosptitality of the people. Japan, I will come again."
Writing on his website, fabianwegmann.de, he noted that the main problem with the trip had been the weather. The unending rain was part of a typhoon, and prevented him and his teammates from training and exploring the area. "Our hotel, which was directly on a golf course, was about a half-hour taxi ride away from Utsunomiya's downtown. We went there evenings for dinner and fortunately we had a Japanese guide, because we would never have figured out anything on the menus written in the Japanese script.
"I tell you, the fans in Japan are crazy," he continued. "It's hard to believe everything they came up with to let us know how they felt. From the self-made cardboard Fabian Wegmman mask to a Specialized headband with the Gerolsteiner 'star' as a take-off on their national flag, to the home-made German national champion jerseys, they had everything that you could imagine."
But the highlight was all about a mobile phone: "Shortly before the start of the race, he tried to tell me something in Japanese – which of course I didn't understand at all – and he kept pointing to his phone. At some point I finally looked at what he wanted me to see. I almost fell off my bike. It was about a minute-long clip of the 2006 Tour stage to Karlsruhe. I was ahead and so on, you know how that stage went. The guy was really great. But I had to go to the start and couldn't watch the finale."
(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing (Overseas) Limited 2007)