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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

Latest Cycling News, November 12, 2008

Edited by Bjorn Haake

Stevic appeals lifetime-ban from CONI

By Gregor Brown

Is Ivan Stevic done racing?
Photo ©: Mitch Clinton
(Click for larger image)

Serbian Cyclist Ivan Stevic has appealed a lifetime-ban handed down by Italy's anti-doping court in September. The Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) charged the 28-year-old with serious anti-doping violations, and his team, Toyota-United, has since suspended its rider, pending a decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

"He was disqualified in Italy for his involvement in the Oil for Drugs investigation," said CONI's Danilo di Tommaso to Cyclingnews. "He can't come into Italy because he committed criminal offence -- if he comes to Italy they will arrest him."

CONI charged the rider with use or attempted use of, possession of and illegal trafficking of prohibited substances. It based its charges on a May 2004 sting by the Italy's Anti-Narcotics Group (NAS) of Firenze in conjunction with the Oil for Drugs investigation. The same investigation that banned Doctor Carlo Santuccione for life and brought about suspension for several riders, including Danilo Di Luca.

NAS found a stash of banned substances in the residence of Stevic, which included corticosteroids and human growth hormone (HGH) Jintropin 10. CONI opened the Oil for Drugs hearings in 2007 based on NAS' operations in 2004 and it called Stevic for official hearings on two occasions -- March 18, 2008, and May 30, 2008. The cyclist did not show up for either meeting with CONI's anti-doping prosecutors.

Based on the evidence and Stevic's absences CONI recommended a lifetime-ban on June 23. The national anti-doping court followed through with CONI's recommendation on September 17.

Stevic claims CONI never made an honest effort to contact him and that its correspondence went to his old residence in Italy. Toyota-United team owner Sean Tucker stands behind the rider who gave the USA team many wins since joining in 2006.

"It is ridiculous, they could have easily picked up the phone to call the UCI, the federation or Googled Ivan Stevic to find our website. No one knew about this, even Ivan," said Tucker to Cyclingnews.

Tucker attributes NAS' findings to other riders who were staying with Stevic at the time of the raids. He explained that Stevic was away racing when the search took place and that the rider knew of the drugs, but explained they were from his teammates. "He said, 'Several of my teammates were taking drugs.'"

Stevic did not tell Team Toyota-United of the drug raid when he joined in 2006. Tucker inquired, as with all of his riders, about Stevic's past before offering an official contract.

"Do you take drugs, have you ever taken drugs, do you have any positives we don't know about? Those were the questions we asked and he answered 'no' to them all."

Tucker will wait for word from CAS before lifting Stevic's suspension. CAS confirmed to Cyclingnews that Stevic filed an appeal on October 24 and it should hear him within the next six months..

Dominguez: Cuban Missile aimed for Europe

Ivan Dominguez will get a shot at racing in Europe with Rock Racing.
Photo ©: Kurt Jambretz
(Click for larger image)

Ivan Dominguez, 32, has been one of the most successful sprinters in North American racing for the past six years. His story is truly American, coming from the very bottom when he defected from Cuba to the United States ten years ago after success as a track racer for the national team. Since then he has risen through the top professional teams, winning major races along the way. Dominguez could see the biggest changes in his career in 2009 as he joins the Rock Racing team, including his first shot at racing in Europe and with US citizenship almost complete. Cyclingnews' Mark Zalewski spoke with him about the changes.

The Cuban Missile, as race announcers like to call Ivan Dominguez, shocked the cycling world recently... Well, shocked his cycling 'friends' in the online world that were part of his Facebook and MySpace pages. With his current Toyota-United team folding without a sponsor, and no contract signed for next year, he posted his status as retired from cycling.

"A few days ago I put on my Facebook and MySpace that I had no team for next year, I was going to stop racing and move on. I was just joking, but I had so many e-mails from people saying they couldn't believe it. 'Oh, no way, how can you stop?! We need you!' I had to go back and change it right away."

Read the full Dominguez interview.

ACE's demise triggers new anti-doping system for Garmin and Columbia

Jonathan Vaughters has transformed Slipstream
Photo ©: John Pierce
(Click for larger image)

Jonathan Vaughters announced that a new system for extra testing of Garmin-Chipotle and Team Columbia's riders will be created to replace work done by the now defunct Agency for Cycling Ethics (ACE).

Vaughters told Cycling Weekly that the scientists responsible for the new system will have access to ACE's anti-doping records for the two American teams. The new system is likely to be run in collaboration with cycling's governing body, the Union Cycliste International (UCI).

Throughout 2008, ACE had been taking blood and urine samples from Columbia and Garmin riders every two weeks as part of a reinforced system of anti-doping testing that guaranteed maximum credibility. The tests were not specifically to search for banned drugs, rather to look for indications of their possible use. ACE recently ceased operations for unspecified reasons, although they were rumoured to be in financial difficulty.

Garmin and Columbia have worked together to create a new system that will carry on ACE's work in 2009. Crucially, just like ACE, the new system will be independent of the teams, guaranteeing maximum credibility. The other team that was using ACE's services, BMC Racing, is not included.

"ACE did a great job, but we're optimistic that this new system will be even better," said Vaughters, whose line up in 2009 will include Bradley Wiggins, David Millar, Magnus Backstedt and Dan Martin.

"We're going to talk this through with the riders first at the team get-together in mid-November, and then we'll be revealing specific details to the press later on in the month or in December."

Vaughters is optimistic that things are getting even more transparent. "We'll be able to use the profiles forwarded from ACE and as the UCI's biological passport gets more effective with more and more data, we'll be able to have an even more accurate picture than we already had in 2008."

Brits Bradley Wiggins and David Millar are both riding for Garmin-Chipotle in 2009, and Mark Cavendish is staying at Columbia, as boss Bob Stapleton restructures the team around him.

King and Rollin sign with Cervélo TestTeam

Ted King moves from Bissell Pro Cycling to the Cervélo TestTeam
Photo ©: Tom Ewart
(Click for larger image)

Cervélo TestTeam has signed Ted King of the United States and Dominique Rollin of Canada, bringing its roster up to 24 riders. Rollin comes from the Toyota-United squad, while King was racing for Bissell this year.

King was racing his second year as a pro and finished second overall in the NRC individual rankings. The 25-year-old from New Hampshire won the Hanes Park Classic, wore the KOM jersey for one stage at the Tour of Georgia and won a stage at the Joe Martin Stage Race. He also finished third overall at the Fitchburg Longsjo Classic.

Rollin hails from Boucherville, Quebec. Also 25 years old, he already won six Canadian National Championships. Rollin won stage 4 at the Amgen Tour of California, as well as the points classification. He also won the general classification at the Rochester Omnium, as well as winning stages at the Cascade Cycling Classic and the Vuelta Ciclista CROC. Rollin just capped his 2008 campaign by winning the final stage of The Southland Tour in New Zealand this past weekend.

Rollin's personal coach, Brian Walton, was full of praise for his athlete. "From a physiological standpoint, Dom is incredibly talented, a once in a generation special athlete. From a tactical standpoint, Dom has the mental mindset of a winner. I look forward to watching him progress next season and complement the leaders on the Cervélo Test Team." Walton is also Vice President of Performance, Cadence Cycling & Multisport Centers.

King is an accomplished cyclo-cross racer and was a collegiate cycling champion. He is planning to go back to school after his cycling career, to pursue a business degree with an emphasis on environmental issues.

Bartko/Keisse win in Munich

Robert Bartko and Iljo Keisse won the six days in Munich with a slim margin of four points over Erik Zabel and Leif Lampater. It was the last race for Zabel in Munich, where he desperately tried to add his fifth win.

In the end Zabel came up short, but won the prize for most sympathetic rider. Zabel waved good-bye in his final Munich appearance under the standing ovations of the crowd.

Zabel had won the Munich six days in 2006 with Bruno Risi and in 2005 with Robert Bartko, today's winner with Keisse. Zabel also won in 2001 with Silvio Martinello and in 1995 with Etienne de Wilde.

Is soccer learning lessons from cycling?

England's soccer players will be next to join the ranks of those who have to report their "whereabouts" and make themselves available for out of competition doping controls, just like their fellow athletes on bicycles.

Around 30 athletes, drawn from at least 15 teams ranging from seniors to youth-teams, will be tested a minimum of five times a year, both after matches and out-of-competition. They will be required to inform UK Sport for Drug-Free Sport of their whereabouts for at least one hour a day.

They will also have to specify their residential address and can be visited for tests outside the specified hour. In that case, not being reachable may not count as a missed test.

Russell Langley, Head of the press at UK Sport for Drug-Free Sport, told Cyclingnews about the development of the programme. "The selection process of those 30 football players is still being determined and it will probably be another couple of months." The limit to 30 athletes is to make it equal to other sports in other countries, according to Langley. UK Sports wanted to keep the programme manageable. It has also worked together with FIFA, the international football association, to bring in a comprehensive programme consistent with other countries.

Langley said that cycling was not the only role model for the reporting system. "We looked at a number of sports that have a whereabouts system in place." He also emphasised that football wasn't singled out by UK Sports. "It has the potential [of doping]. We are trying to protect football, but also other sports."

Langley felt no need to put additional measures on British cycling for the moment. "British cycling has a strong [anti-doping] programme. There are 400 test a year carried out on British cyclists and there is a strong emphasis on education." Langley was specifically referring to the 100% ME team, which centres around a strong education programme for a clean sport. The 100% ME team is comprised of multiple sports, not just cycling.

Langley described the 100% ME programme as sending a strong message to the young riders early on. "There are regular education sessions. The younger athletes are taught that they don't have to take drugs, but need the right mind set."

Langley wasn't sure if the third-party testing, like Garmin, Columbia and CSC are doing, would be a general concept. "We will have to look at the need of each sport. Doping never stands still." Langley thought the latter was the real challenge, as there would always be people trying to get ahead.

BikeNZ bolsters coaching resource with Cheatley

Former international cyclist and respected Junior Worlds Championship Track coach, Dayle Cheatley, has been appointed Coaching Manager for BikeNZ. Cheatley, currently Southland Regional Coach, will remain based at the ILT Velodrome in Invercargill where BikeNZ will focus its High Performance track programme. He will be responsible for developing coaching resources and will act as a key conduit between BikeNZ and the regional coaches through the Coach Force system.

BikeNZ High Performance Director, Mark Elliott said the appointment was another important step forward in coach development. "Dayle has excellent credentials and has already established himself well working at the ILT Velodrome which is a world class facility and will form a key part in our track programme," Mr Elliott said.

"The ILT Velodrome was integral in the Olympic medal success we achieved in Beijing and we see this appointment as a key step in the next chase for medal success in London 2012. Dayle has the important role of developing coaching knowledge within the ILT Velodrome and the links to the Coach Force system which will play a lead role in the development of the coaching resources in this country."

Elliott said Cheatley will also continue to be available to assist the Southland cycling region with his coaching expertise.

Cheatley was a competitive cyclist for nearly two decades including 10 years of international competition mostly on the track where he won more than 10 Oceania and national titles. He is married to Beijing Olympian Catherine Cheatley and is the son of Ron Cheatley, former long time New Zealand coach.

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(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing (Overseas) Limited 2008)