Latest Cycling News, October 8, 2008
Edited by Gregor Brown
Tour boss Prudhomme expects more positives
Tour de France director, Christian Prudhomme, expects more positives to come from the French anti-doping agency (AFLD) blood testing. The Frenchman thinks there will be one or two more riders, according to Reuters.
"I imagine there could be one or two more cases but we are a long way from the list announced by some," he said, referring to media reports that AFLD might reveal up to 14 positive controls.
The AFLD is testing for a third generation of EPO – CERA (Continuous Erythropoietin Receptor Activator) – on the blood samples it took during the Tour de France, July 5 to 27. Monday it announced the positive controls of German Stefan Schumacher and Italians Leonardo Piepoli and Riccardo Riccò.
"The police seem to be ahead of thieves, which is something we could not have imagined a few years back. ... Those who have cheated must tell themselves that they will get caught."
German federation confirms two positives
The German Cycling Federation (BDR) confirmed Tuesday that it had received the papers concerning Stefan Schumacher and opened its investigation into the case. The BDR said that it had received the documents from the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) and it had immediately contacted Schumacher to present his position.
Schumacher, 27, tested positive for a third generation of EPO – CERA (Continuous Erythropoietin Receptor Activator) – based on controls taken at the Tour de France, July 5 to 27. The French anti-doping agency (AFLD) tested blood samples from the race this week after urine samples were inconclusive during the race.
He must return his response to the BDR within five workdays after he receives the notification, "or request the opening of the B sample within this time period. After his response or the analysis of the B sample, proceedings can be opened."
Team Gerolsteiner confirmed it received official documents from the BDR about two positive A-samples. "He tested positive for EPO (CERA) on July 3 and July 15, 2008." (SW)
AFLD reveals Riccò positive again
The French anti-doping agency (AFLD) revealed that Riccardo Riccò tested positive for CERA on two other occasions during the Tour de France, making a total of four positive controls for the Italian. According to La Gazzetta dello Sport, his samples from before the Tour – July 4 – and the rest day – July 15 – were positive.
The Italian cycling federation (FCI) gave Riccò a two-year suspension last week. He will not face further punishment for the latest results, as all four positives were for the same substance at the same event.
The AFLD is testing blood samples this week after some urine tests taken during the Tour were inconclusive. Riccò's urine samples taken on July 8 and 13 tested positive for CERA and he was ejected from the Tour on July 17 as a result.
Tour positives bring strong reactions
Monday's announcement by the French anti-doping agency (AFLD) that it had found three riders positive for EPO-CERA based on Tour de France samples produced strong reactions from riders and team staff. Swiss Mauro Gianetti, Team Manager of Scott-American Beef (ex-Saunier Duval), was not surprised by the announcement of two new positive controls for Riccardo Riccò.
"I'm not surprised by the other two positives Riccardo [Riccò], because the CERA lasts a month and then it was unusual that he had been caught only twice," he said of his former rider, according to Tuttosport. "That of Leonardo [Piepoli], however, is a matter that affects me deeply ..."
Gianetti fired Piepoli in July for breaking the team's code of ethics after being unsatisfied with his response to the earlier positive of Riccardo Riccò. "I thought that Piepoli could become a director of our team, one that could explain to new recruits how to stay afloat for many years with commitment and professionalism. It was a grave mistake that I made.
"Piepoli and Riccò did all the damage. In the past I gave a great opportunity to David Millar [after Millar confessed to EPO use and served a two-year suspension] and I do not regret it. Cycling has betrayed me so disgracefully, nullifying years of working with youth and humanitarian initiatives in the third world. I am really disgusted."
"This is dramatic because it shows that cycling is far away from achieving a change of consciousness," Thomas Bach, International Olympic Committee Vice President said, according to the Frankfurter Allgemeine. "The stupid boldness apparently is continuing."
"I hope that this isn't the last nail in the coffin, which will seal the fate of cycling. It is still only the A sample and we have to wait for the B sample. If it is true, then this is a tragedy of the largest proportions," said Jens Voigt of Team CSC-Saxo Bank, according to dpa, regarding the news of fellow German Stefan Schumacher.
Germany's Linus Gerdemann of Team Columbia, who wore the Tour's maillot jaune like Schumacher, was not pleased. "If this is true, then it is of course shameless and impudent. I just don't know what to say. That was thoughtless against all of cycling. You don't just damage your own career but also do massive damage to an entire sport. It is very depressing that there are still people who are destroying cycling."
"It's really hard when you keep hearing all this stuff, but I guarantee you the sport has never been cleaner," Baden Cooke of Team Barloworld said, according to the Herald Sun. "There are probably only five blokes out of 200 doing it, but they're the reason the sport's in turmoil and the reason there's a lot of really good riders who can't get a contract.
"There's a lot of anger among them because it's costing everyone a lot of money and their careers." (SW/LW)
Questions over UCI's biological passport
Despite the implementing of a biological passport system this year, it is the French anti-doping agency (AFLD) who is catching the sport's biggest names and not the International Cycling Union (UCI). The AFLD, who controlled the Tour de France, announced the positive control of German Stefan Schumacher and confirmed Italian Leonardo Piepoli this week.
The UCI is normally in charge of anti-doping controls for all major cycling events, but organisers of his year's Tour de France refused to hold the race under the aegis of the UCI due to the two parties' pre-existing feud. The French Cycling Federation (FFC) sanctioned the race and the AFLD carried out doping controls.
Despite the conflict between the UCI and the Tour organisers – Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) – the AFLD made the results of the Tour de France doping controls, including the most recent blood tests, available to the UCI for inclusion in the biological passport. The UCI may not yet have a use for the data. "The biological passport was introduced this year and will soon be fully operational," it said in a statement yesterday.
The UCI began testing riders at the start of the year, with the intent that regular blood and hormone values taken from each rider could allow experts to detect the effects of doping by examining fluctuations in these values over the course of the season. The UCI said that it had irregular values for 23 riders and a "top rider" under suspicion in May. At the end of that month, Milram fired Igor Astarloa for "irregular blood values."
The UCI announced in June that it was ready to act on a "no start" rule for riders with suspect passports, but it never formally stated it subjected any rider to the rule.
The UCI is targeting certain riders. It made its biggest catch when it found Emanuele Sella positive for EPO-CERA in August. (LW)
World Champ Ballan adds horsepower via Ferrari
Alessandro Ballan gifted himself a Ferrari F430 for his win in the World Championships one week ago. The Italian, 28, confirmed to Cyclingnews the purchase of the car made by the famed car producer of Modena, Italy.
He purchased a Ferrari F430 with dark grey exterior and red leather interior. Estimated cost on the F430 Coupe is €137,700.
Ballan won the World Championships in Varese, Italy, thanks to strong teamwork. In the last lap the Italian team had three men in the escape group – Ballan, Damiano Cunego and Davide Rebellin. Ballan attacked out of this group with three kilometres remaining and won solo. His teammate, Cunego, took second ahead of Denmark's Matti Breschel.
World Champion Alessandro Ballan arrives home
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Roberto Bettini/www.bettiniphoto.net
Swift Racing launches "Own our team" initiative
Britain's top professional women's team invites supporters to own a share of its success via an innovative Internet venture.
"Our title sponsor, Swift Motorhomes, to whom we owe a great deal of gratitude and support, have decided that because of the economic climate they cannot sponsor us next year. This means that there is a risk we may not be able to race next season and the team will have to fold," the team said in a press statement.
"In order for Swift Racing to continue next year, we need to raise funds now and we're turning to our fans and supporters who have backed."
Swift Racing was the UK's first professional women's cycling team in 2006 and has grown every year since, developing and showcasing the women's international cycling. The team is allowing its supporters the donate money and own part of its operation.
"Until we find our next title sponsor, we will be called Team You."
Those interested can donate directly to online via PayPal using firstname.lastname@example.org Alternatively, cheques can be made payable to Global Racing Limited and sent to the following address: 15 Stuart Road, Barton-le-Clay, Beds MK45 4ND, UK
The team offers options multiple levels of donations. For all enquiries about Team You and the campaign, please contact Team Manager Stefan Wyman at email@example.com
(Additional editorial assistance provided by Susan Westemeyer and Laura Weislo.)
(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing (Overseas) Limited 2008)