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Photo ©: Swift

News for August 1, 2002

Edited by Jeff Jones

Rumsas stays in Italy

Third place finisher in the Tour de France, Raimondas Rumsas, has not yet made the trip to France, where he is due to answer questions relating to the seizure of allegedly a large amount of performance enhancing drugs from his wife Edita last Sunday. Edita Rumsas(*) is currently imprisoned in Bonneville, under investigation of "administration, supplying, transporting and aiding the use of doping products."

Raimondas was due to catch a plane to Bonneville on Wednesday morning, but missed it. According to his lawyer, Pierre-Louis Piloix, "He is very concerned about the fate of his wife, but he's not sure that throwing himself into the mouths of wolves will resolve the situation...he could come tomorrow, or in two days, we don't know yet."

"I hope Raimondas Rumsas hasn't followed advice other than we gave him via his Italian lawyer, which was that he should present himself to the police in Lyon with the attitude of someone who isn't afraid of questions and answers."

Edita was stopped on Sunday morning by French customs officials while travelling to Italy. Customs officials seized a large quantity of drugs, including EPO, testosterone, growth hormone and anabolic and cortico steroids. There were also two prescriptions for medicine written in Polish that have been accounted for (see below). Raimondas had told La Gazzetta dello Sport in an interview that the products were intended for his mother-in-law, Yakstenia.

Her lawyer Veronique Coudray said that "I hope her husband will give additional information which will allow me to ask for her release."

(*) Note: Lithuanian readers inform us that Edita's name is "Rumsiene" in Lithuanian. However, the English version will be used to avoid confusion.

All Tour controls negative

The results of the final series of drug controls taken during the Tour de France have been reported to be negative for banned substances. That means that Raimondas Rumsas is closer to having his third place finish in the Tour de France confirmed. The Lithuanian rider was not tested after the second rest day in Vaison-la-Romaine on July 22. However, on that day he was subjected to two controls, after a morning blood test revealed that his hematocrit was higher than usual.

"The variation of between 1.6 and 1.8 of the rider's hematocrit was non-significant, because it was extremely hot," specified a source who had access to the results. The urinary test was carried out on Rumsas as a verification, and it was found to be negative for EPO. In addition, there were no suspicious results concerning testosterone, another one of the drugs that was seized from Mrs Rumsas.

"At the analytical level, Rumsas' urine does not show any prohibited products," added the same source. The test had been carried out using Gas-chromatography/Combustion/Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometry (GC/C/IRMS), which is a highly sensitive analytical method.

Polish doctor recognises prescriptions

The two prescriptions written in Polish found (amongst everything else) in the car of Mrs Edita Rumsas have been identified by a Polish doctor. Krzysztof Ficek explained to Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza on Tuesday that the prescriptions were for legal drugs - vitamins, anti acids and homeopathic remedies for racing cyclists [Edita Rumsas is also a cyclist].

"It is true that these prescriptions are for the use of these medicines," he said. "I gave them to Mrs Rumsas a month ago before her departure from Poland, so that she wouldn't have any problems at the border. This was not necessary but she had requested it in case that an association was made between her husband and the medicines that she was transporting."

"On my prescription, there was no medicine that is registered on the list of forbidden substances," added Dr Ficek, who commented that Mrs Rumsas could have bought the other products in France, that were subsequently seized.

Finally, he believed that Raimondas "had nothing forbidden in his possession."

Working group formed over Rumsas doping scandal

An ad hoc work group has been formed on the initiative of the Lithuanian Physical Culture and Sports Department (KKSD) to coordinate further developments in the Rumsas affair, according to Lithuania's ELTA newsagency. The seven member group is headed by senior anti-doping official Rima Berloviene and top officials of Lithuanian National Olympic Committee (LTOK), Lithuanian Cycling Federation (LDSF).

On Tuesday, LDSF sent an inquiry to the UCI asking for more detailed information in the Rumsas case. Today (Wednesday) it received the answer from the UCI's anti-doping commission, which vowed it has read about the Lithuanian cyclist and his wife in the press only, but had no additional information about the incident.

The investigation into illegal medical preparations has been done by French authorities, and the information on it has not been available for the UCI, the letter said

Armstrong comments on Rumsas affair

Lance Armstrong was asked about the Rumsas affair, at the post-Tour criterium in Stiphout on Tuesday night. The Tour champion commented that it was "A new bad affair for the sport of cycling, if it is possible. Maybe it's not as it looks. I have not examined the affair closely, because I have been with my wife and children since the end of the Tour."

Teams still boycotting Meisterschaft von Zürich

The eighth round of the World Cup is still under threat from a mass team boycott, due to a prize money dispute from the 2001 race. Thirteen teams qualified for this year's Meisterschaft von Zürich have threatened not to start on August 18, until they are paid what they are owed from last year. So far, only five teams are guaranteed to start.

The teams have a dispute with last year's organiser DPO. This year the Meisterschaft von Zürich will be organised by Upsolut, who will also organise this Sunday's HEW Cyclassics in Hamburg. Upsolut hope to come to an agreement with the teams on the weekend.

McEwen happy with Belgian support

Despite an unhappy cycling fan who threw a beer glass in front of his wheel, Robbie McEwen stayed calm and friendly towards the Flemish public which gathered in Aalst to see the post Tour criterium.

"The crows generated a unique atmosphere," said McEwen to Het Nieuwsblad. "I think we gave them a fine spectacle and true cycling fans really enjoyed it. I did notice that the public would rather have Ludo Dierckxsens win, but when you have a super team working for you, you need to finish things off properly. I have a lot of respect for Ludo but I wanted to avoid us to be called lazy if I let the veteran win," apologised the Aussie.

Robbie was still a bit emotional about the reception he received on Sunday night in his "home-town" of Everbeek, in the Vlaamse Ardennen. "I remain very proud about wearing the Australian National Jersey, but by now I feel three quarters Belgian. I didn't know I had that many fans in the town where I live. In Everbeek I saw the respect for my Green Jersey on their faces. I am totally accepted, and I celebrated with the neighbours till early morning. By four o'clock I managed to get to bed, only to be woken up at lunch time by a radio-reporter."

Walter Planckaert may join Demeulenaere

Next Friday, Lotto team manager Christophe Sercu will announce a few names that will be linked to the Lotto-Domo team for 2003. Even though Lotto had a fantastic Tour, tension remains high within the team.

Claude Criquielion, one of the team directors, is agitated: "It's Tuesday and I still haven't heard a word from Christophe Sercu; neither have any of the Wallonian riders. I think I have proven my efficiency in the Giro and the Tour."

A lot has got to do with the tension surrounding the sport directors. On one side there are Jef Braeckevelt and Claude Criquielion, and on the other side there is Sercu's right hand man Walter Planckaert. During the first week of the Tour, Walter Planckaert criticised Braeckevelt for not selecting Glenn D'Hollander and Kurt Van de Wouwer.

"These games have got to stop," said Romain Schollaert, director of the Belgian National Lottery to De Standaard. "I want there to be serenity within the team. I don't want Planckaert to be part of the team next year. I can't be more clear. Planckaert was contracted to lead the youngsters."

So it looks like Walter will have to go and look for a job elsewhere, and a role as sport director with Noël Demeulenaere's Berry Floor team is quote possible.

Sabaliauskas renews with Saeco

Marius Sabaliauskas has renewed his contract with Saeco-Longoni Sport for 2003. The young Lithuanian said that "It's very important for me to have been successful in gaining the trust of my team manager Claudio Corti and to remain in a big team. As I'm still young it's good that I should put myself at the service of the team and my three captains Simoni, Di Luca and Commesso in order to gain experience for my future in the professional world."

Lampre-Daikin for Volta a Portugal

Juan Manuel Garate will be back racing in the 64th edition of the Volta a Portugal, scheduled from August 2 to 15, after claiming a stage win in Giro d'Italia and Tour de Suisse. For Garate, the Portuguese race is "the ideal race to get ready for Vuelta."

In the team there will also be Manuel Quinziato, who performed well in the Volta a Catalunya: "I hope to have worked well also because I know that the Volta a Portugal will be a tough race for me as I have never faced a two-week race."

Luciano Pagliarini will start in Maia on August 2 as well, after overcoming the troubles to his knee that occurred during the Tour de France. Milan Kadlec, winner of the Tour de Bohemia, will also be present.

The complete team is as follows: Juan Manuel Garate, Luciano Pagliarini, Sergio Barbero, Simone Bertoletti, Massimo Codol, Milan Kadlec, Alberto Loddo, Manuel Quinziato, Johan Verstrepen.

Phonak for HEW-Cyclassics Hamburg

The Phonak team has been selected for this Sunday's 6th round of the World Cup, HEW Cyclassics Hamburg. The riders are as follows: Reto Bergmann, Matthias Buxhofer, Oscar Camenzind, Martin Elmiger, Bert Grabsch, Stefan Kupfernagel, Alexandre Moos, and Sven Teutenberg.

UK team for European Mountain Bike Championships

The UK team for the European MTB championships is as follows: Nick Craig, Zak Toogood, Liam Killeen, Phil Dixon Phil Spencer, Simon Richardson, Jordan Aveyard, Sue Thomas, Ed Perry, Steven Clarke, Alex Cutler and one other to be announced. The team is managed by Simon Burney, with Adrian Timmis (Masseur), Craig Denning (Mechanic) and Gary Foord (Coach and fourth official) as extra staff.

(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2002)