First Edition Cycling News for November 22, 2003
Edited by Chris Henry & Tim Maloney
Unnamed Italian pro claims widespread doping
An Italian professional cyclist, speaking anonymously on the television
program "Striscia la Notizia", has created a stir by indulging viewers
in his confessions that doping is rampant in the professional peloton
and that he himself relied on performance enhancing drugs. Said only to
be an active racer and "very well known", the cyclist offered the statement
that "90% of the riders are doping".
"If I hadn't been doping I could never have finished races or kept pace,"
he said. At the same time, the interviewee insisted that doping was causing
serious health problems in the peloton.
"I've found a lot of young riders who are reacting badly to the drugs,"
he said. "They have trouble sleeping, suffer from respiratory problems,
heart problems, and that sort of thing. That also concerns riders who
every morning receive injections of EPO or growth hormone in their abdomens.
With any other treatment they wouldn't have been able to ride the next
The damaging statements didn't stop there. Shifting his accusations to
race organisers, the cyclist alluded to lax controls at major races and
a certain complicity with cyclists known to be doping.
"One time I was called for testing and I went to the medical control,"
he explained. "But they said to me, 'go ahead, the doping didn't happen.'
And this was a very important international race."
"Everyone is afraid to speak out because we're in a world that's hard
to escape," he said, explaining the decision to conceal his identity.
"If you talk, if people know that it's you, you're excluded from the system.
The majority of the riders in the peloton didn't finish school and wouldn't
know what to do besides ride a bicycle."
Following the Striscia la Notizia program, a satirical news show, the
Italian website dagospia.com reported that the masked rider was in fact
Mario Cipollini. That same day, Cipollini promptly denied having said
anything to Striscia la Notizia.
"Regarding the news about me making these declarations to Striscia
la notizia, I want to say- and this has already been explained by the
press office of Striscia la Notizia- that these comments [from the website
Dagostia] have no basis in fact," Cipollini said, quoted on Datasport.
"I'm really surprised, and very bitter, to have to come out and
explain these absurd lies that are being thrown around," he continued.
"I spoke with my lawyer and I am going to sue whoever is responsible
for these accusations."
Subsequent to the first rider, another cyclist appeared on Channel 5,
speaking to Striscia la notizia about his early years in the pro ranks.
"I started to race when I was eight years old," the younger
rider explained. "The first year I was a professional I had to really
face what was going in the sport with the usage of GH [growth hormone],
EPO, cortisone, caffeine and steroids. I decided not to take any drugs,
and I finally I had to quit the sport.
"Personally I did two years without getting any results as a pro,
so in the third year without any results there was nothing left to do,"
he added. "The logic in this situation is that the team had to see
the investment they made in me as a rider pay off somehow. I had to deal
with doping after I saw the team doctor. I had normal haematocrit values
in my blood; actually, too low with respect to my teammates. The team
doctor gave me a list of medicine I had to take, and when I came out of
that visit I ripped the list up and decided to retire from cycling."
By not revealing the sources of these accusations, the at times sensationalist
Italian media may be repeating their actions of last spring when hidden
camera footage was broadcast of riders supposedly taking drugs. Some viewers
of this week's program may wonder whether the rider making the allegations
is Striscia la Notizia's Gabbibo and not former world champion Mario Cipollini.
Julich to CSC, Luttenberger extends
The move Julich wanted
Photo ©: Robert Naish
Team CSC continues to reinforce its roster for 2004, and after a push
to enhance the team's classics squad, Bjarne Riis has signed two stage
race riders. American Bobby Julich joins CSC after several seasons with
Team Telekom, and Austrian Peter Luttenberger, who joined the team mid-season
this year, has extended for another year. Riis expressed his satisfaction
in signing Julich, who was not offered an extension with Telekom for next
"We have not seen much of [Julich] since he placed third in the 1998
Tour de France but I strongly believe that we can more out of him than
he has shown in the previous years," Riis explained on the team's website.
"Our team will give him the opportunities he needs and I look forward
to seeing him getting back to the level that he used to have. He is an
experienced stage race rider and I think that he will be able to benefit
from the way run our team."
Julich is pleased to join CSC and looks forward to the 2004 season. His
contract is for one year.
"From the outside, Riis' organisation seems to be one of the best functioning
teams around and I have long been interested in riding for Team CSC,"
Julich said. "I think that Bjarne will be able to make the most of my
talent and I look forward to developing my skills on his team. The team
will be very strong next year and I look forward to becoming a part of
Luttenberger, who was without a contract in 2003 until Riis signed him
prior to the Dauphiné Libéré, went on to finish 13th
in the Tour de France, a great satisfaction for Riis and team, which along
with Tyler Hamilton's fourth place overall claimed victory in the team
"I am very pleased that we have been able to sign a new contract with
Luttenberger," Riis added. "I have wanted to seal that deal for a long
time. He did well in the Tour this year and he was one of the main reasons
why we were able to win the team classification. He fits well into the
team and he will be another strong stage racer on the team."
Saiz signs Baranowski and three amateurs
Manolo Saiz continues to build the roster for his new Liberty Seguros
team, which will carry on in the wake of departing sponsor ONCE in 2004.
Saiz has picked up Polish veteran Dariusz Baranowski, an ex-iBanesto rider
who spent this season with the Polish CCC-Polsat team. Three riders from
the amateur ranks will also join the team: León Sanchez, Carlos
Barredo and Javier Ramírez Abeja. The team roster is up to 16 riders
confirmed thus far.
Agnolutto extends with Ag2R
Christophe Agnolutto will ride another year with the French Ag2R-Prévoyance
team. Ag2R Manager Vincent Lavenu was for a long time undecided about
Agnolutto's future in the team but has opted to offer a one year contract
extension. Agnolutto, who turns 34 next month, has been with Lavenu since
joining the Casino team in 1996. His biggest career victory remains the
overall classification (and stage win) in the 1997 Tour of Switzerland,
along with stage wins in the 2000 Tour de France and 1998 Tour de Romandie.
Zajicek joins Navigators
Phil Zajicek has signed a contract to join the Navigators Cycling Team
in 2004. Zajicek leaves the Saturn pro team, which will disband at the
end of the year. "It's shaping up to be a season," Zajicek said. Zajicek
joined Saturn in 2003 after a ride as a stagiaire with Mercury in 2000
which led to a pro contract with the team until 2002.
As for his participation in the Tour de Tucson on a tandem with Saturn
teammate Chris Horner, Zajicek explained that the news was just a rumour.
"I can't think of anything that would be more painful than jumping on
a tandem with Horner," he said.
Gilbert extends with FDJeux.com
Promising Belgian rider Philippe Gilbert has re-signed with FDJeux.com,
securing a deal through 2005 with the French team directed by Marc Madiot.
Gilbert, 21, was selected for the Belgian World's team in his first year
as a professional. His strong riding in the Tour de l'Avenir helped secure
his place in the team for the coming seasons.
Vries to continue
At one point contemplating retirement, Dutchman Pieter Vries will carry
on in the professional peloton with Bankgiroloterij. Vries, 28, has suffered
through two seasons with a groin injury but a doctor's help in relieving
pain from a pinched nerve has prompted him to reconsider his decision
to stop riding. He has signed a one year contract with Bankgiroloterij,
according to Dutch news agency ANP.
Elli to direct Barloworld
Former professional Alberto Elli replace Michel Gros as director of the
South African Team Barloworld. Frenchman Gros helped bring Barloworld
to race in Europe, but was dissatisfied with the team's financial offer
for 2004, according to a l'Equipe report. Elli rode professionally with
teams such as Ariostea, GB-MG, MG-Technogym, Casino, and Telekom. He finished
his career with Index-Alexia in 2002 after being released from Telekom
following a doping suspension stemming from the 2001 Giro d'Italia.
Danny Clark to ride Melbourne Cup
One of Australia's best ever track cyclists, Danny Clark, will ride the
Melbourne Cup on Wheels in Australia on November 29, 2003. Clark, 52,
retired from professional track cycling eight years ago, but has kept
himself active, winning a few World Masters Titles on the track and road
in recent years. He is expected to be given a handicap of around 80m for
the main event, a 2000m wheelrace, which will see Shane Kelly, Jobie Dajka
and Todd Wilksch off scratch.
Clark doesn't intend to stop there however, and wants to ride the Tasmanian
Christmas Carnivals this year. "I need some races beforehand to put myself
under pressure and I thought the Melbourne Cup on Wheels might be a good
race to start off with," he was quoted by
news.com.au as saying. "It will be pretty hard, I know that. All the
young guys are so quick nowadays and I'm 52, but we'll see what happens."
Previous News Next News
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2003)