First Edition News for February 22, 2003
Edited by Jeff Jones
Eye in the sky: Italian TV broadcasts alleged doping video
By Tim Maloney, European Editor
As Italian cycling fans sat down for their usual pasta asciutta lunch on Friday, many may have choked on their spaghetti if they were watching the RAI2 Telegiornale news. RAI2 has obtained some bizarre footage of alleged pro riders injecting themselves in a hotel room in an unknown location during the 2001 Giro d'Italia, which was aired during the 1pm edition of Telegiornale2. It seems that the Guardia di Finanza (Italian Tax Police) of Padova had placed a hidden camera at the request of the Padova and Florence prosecutors' offices, which subsequently captured shocking images that allegedly may have led to the San Remo "blitz" at the 2001 Giro.
Shown without sound, the grainy black & white images first showed a semi-nude man preparing a syringe, then going into the bathroom. According to the narrator, the man then made an intramuscular injection and came out of the bathroom cleaning himself after having thrown away the syringe. The second part of the televised images without sound, showed three men together in another hotel room, one of whom, according to the TV reporter, was "an important rider who had won the Giro a few years ago and was advising his two companions what (substance) to take to climb better...one of the other men thanked the first one and said in Veneto dialect 'you're smarter than the devil'."
Reminiscent of the Marion Barry videos that caught the then Mayor of Washington, DC. in the USA allegedly using cocaine, the low-tech Italian images are more confusing than conclusive.
Looking at the route map of the 2001 Giro d'Italia, the first indications of this case started on May 27th, when a maid in a hotel in Montecatini found used syringes and other suspicious items in a hotel room there used by cyclists who had stayed the night before after Stage 7. This was reported to the Florence prosecutors office, who alerted the Carbinieri's NAS (Drug Squad).
So the said images could have been taken after Stage 9 which ended in Rovigo, or Stage 10 in Lido di Jesolo. However, the climbing stages weren't until Stage 13, but most of these stages were in the Veneto region, where the Padova office of the Guardia di Finanza would have had jurisdiction to place surveillance devices.
Italian law is governed so that unlike the United States, Australia or the UK, the prosecutors' offices have much broader powers to obtain evidence without a search warrant. However, it is highly irregular that these type of police surveillance tapes would be leaked to the government controlled media, while Italian law is relatively strict compared to other European countries on the enforcement of personal privacy laws.
The provocative TV images provoked an immediate reaction from the president of the Italian Cycling Federation Giancarlo Ceruti. "If these were images taken by RAI, they would have been proper reporting, but I can't understand the usefulness of showing this kind of video," said Ceruti. "We have been working for years to fight the problem of doping and to allow the Prosecutors to enforce the laws."
However, the currently embattled Ceruti, who has had many critics for his alleged mishandling of the Italian Cycling Federation and conflict of interest charges from the Federation's publication has not had the power to strongly enforce doping regulations for Italian cycling.
(Editor's note: Clearly someone in RAI2 TV has taken a page out of the scandal mongering broadcast tactics of France2 TV and their TDF dumpster diving. Beyond the initial impact of these bizarre images, one has to question the integrity of whatever Italian government official who leaked them to RAI2 TV, as the inconclusive images show nothing of substance that may combat doping in cycling.)
Lance sans-family in Europe
Four time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong is returning to Europe on his own this weekend, without his wife of over four years Kristin, and their three young children.
As Armstrong heads back to Europe in search of a fifth consecutive TdF victory, his wife and children will remain in Austin, Texas. The couple issued a statement to their local newspaper, the Austin American-Statesman, saying they had been experiencing "difficulty" in their marriage. "We may experience a period of time apart from each other as we reflect on our relationship".
The full text of the Armstrongs' statement to the newspaper: "Like many couples, we have recently experienced difficulty in our marriage. We are working through these sensitive issues in the same way we have met other challenges in our life: together with determination and dedication.
"We may experience a period of time apart from each other as we reflect on our relationship and work to preserve and protect the interests of our family and children. We are like any other couple, except that we live in the spotlight of constant media attention, which makes working through his situation even more difficult. So, we particularly respect and appreciate any and all considerations for our privacy as we work through this difficult period in the months ahead.
Wicks and Snedden join Kona Clarks Factory Team
The Kona Clarks Factory Team have signed top U23 American cyclo-cross and mountain biker Barry Wicks and up-and-coming Canadian mountain biker Kris Snedden to the team for the 2003-2004 racing season.
Already a past member of Kona's cyclo-cross teams, Wicks will join the Kona Clarks Factory Team on a full time basis and will be competing in mountain bike and cyclo-cross races for the team. Last year, Wicks was the 2nd American at the World Championships in Kaprun, Austria, was the 1st American U23 rider at the Cyclo-cross World Championships in Monopoli, took the silver medal in the U23 US Cyclo-cross Nationals, and placed 10th the next day in the Elite Men's race.
Kris Snedden is 21 years old and is from Sechelt, B.C. In 2000 Kris was the Junior Expert Canadian National Champion. Kris currently is living in Victoria and is training with Kona/Clarks teammate Geoff Kabush.
Atlas Cold Storage/Italpasta Division III team
The Atlas Cold Storage/Italpasta cycling team, based in Toronto, Canada, has registered itself with the UCI as a division III squad this year. The team is directed by John Harris along with Annie Segat. After medalling at the Canadian National Championships last year, the team is keen for more success in 2003.
National team rider Andrew Pinfold will be joined by Patrick Shea, Jeff Hansen, Simon Small, Paul Rego, Antoine Varghese and Ross Hooker. Canadian newcomers to the team are Joe Giluliano and Matt Hansen from the Sympatico team, and Bryan Rusche and Gerard Woloviec. Two New Zealanders, Oliver Tompkins and Silas Cullen, will complete the squad. Atlas Cold/Italpasta is also taking junior rider, Andrew Wilson, under its wing this season.
2003 U.S. Postal Service Masters Cycling Team
There's no such thing as a Masters Tour de France (yet), but if there was, then the U.S. Postal Service Masters Cycling Team would probably warrant selection. Containing riders such as Kent Bostick, Ken Carpenter, Vic Copeland, John Howard, Scott McKinley, Mike McCarthy, Wayne Stetina, Larry Nolan and the big boss himself, Thom Weisel, this team could organise a fairly formidable lead out train.
Dallas Cowboys Courage House team
The Dallas Cowboys Courage House Cycling Team is back for its second year, with a Texas-sized goal to raise $25,000 in sponsor donations for their team charity, Happy Hill Farm Academy/Home. The Farm is a privately funded children's academy/home that caters to abused, abandoned and neglected children ages 6-18.
Former British champ killed
Graham Bufton, a former British national junior road race champion, was knocked off his bicycle and killed yesterday (February 20) less than a mile from his home in a country lane just north of Telford.
Bufton (62) rode for many years as a English based pro and ran a bike shop in Telford. He still trained regularly with the fastest training groups in the Shropshire area. He won three national veterans' cyclo cross championships and was at one time one of the youngest riders to compete in the Milk Race Tour of Britain.
Courtesy of Alan Godding
Verge New England Championship Cyclo-cross Series 2003
Although the U.S. cyclo-cross season has only just finished, the organisers of the Verge New England Cyclo-cross Series have already begun to plan for next season. At their first meeting in January, the schedule for the 2003 season was released:
Round 1: October 18 - The Downeast Cyclo-cross (ME) UCI Cat. 2
In addition to the Verge NECCS events, the Central Massachusetts Cyclo-cross to End Homelessness (UCI Cat. 2), will be held on Nov. 1st, making it an important weekend for any riders seeking to gain maximum UCI points.
For next season, the organizers are planning on bigger prize lists, continued movement towards equal prize money for the elite women, and higher UCI status for some of the races.
"With the level of success the Verge Series experienced last year, and the possible move of nationals to January next year, thinking ahead to next season is more important than ever before," said series promoter Adam Hodges Myerson. "We firmly believe, that for a cyclo-cross series in the U.S. to be considered an elite event now, the organizers need to be planning next season well before the current season has ended. We want to continue to set the standard for cyclo-cross in the U.S."
For more information, visit the Verge NECCS website at www.necyclocross.com.
Sports Supplements Seminar in Perth
The West Australian branch of Sports Medicine Australia will hold a seminar next Wednesday, February 26, on the use of legal nutritional supplements in sport; how and why they are used, the potential benefits and the potential risks. The following popular supplements will be discussed:
Protein Supplements, presented by Sports Dietitian Terreen Stenvers
Date: Wednesday, February 26, 2003
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