Latest News for October 17, 2003
Edited by Jeff Jones
UCI maintain "no positive" line in World's testing affair
The UCI is continuing to downplay widespread media reports that four
riders - including World Champion Igor Astarloa - are under suspicion
of doping after their blood tests at the World's revealed "abnormalities".
"It's ridiculous to speak of a positive case," UCI president Hein Verbruggen
told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "The head of our medical commission said
to me that the laboratory in Lausanne only received the samples yesterday,
and already there is talk of a positive case. It is ridiculous, I repeat
is it completely ridiculous."
According to the Italian press, Igor Astarloa, Italian Danilo Di Luca
and Spaniards Manuel Beltran and Aitor Osa are the riders who were subject
to surprise urine and blood tests last Saturday, a day before the World
Championships road race. The UCI's chief doctor Leon Schattenberg said
that it is perfectly normal for extra testing to be done, and it was not
indicative of an abnormal blood test.
Astarloa and Di Luca both ride for the Saeco team, which will hold a
press conference today to "clarify its point of view regarding the ridiculous
press campaign against Igor Astarloa and Danilo Di Luca about their supposed-to-be
positive response to the anti-doping test, considering that test tubes
from Hamilton arrived in Lausanne only yesterday and then they have not
been analysed yet."
Astarloa told La Gazzetta dello Sport that "I'm absolutely calm and
I'm able to say that there is no shadow on my rainbow jersey. I submitted
myself to numerous controls during the year and all the results have been
negative. I also had a test before Paris-Tours. For us, the riders, these
tests are not a surprise, we have become used to them."
Danilo Di Luca, who did confirm that he had been urine tested, echoed
Astarloa's words: "I am totally calm. The slander based on this is unacceptable.
The anti-EPO urinary controls, which permit a cyclist to be declared positive
or not, require at least three to six days to analyse."
Belgian Peter Van Petegem, who finished third in the World's behind
Astarloa and Valverde, commented to the Belgian press that, "I don't know
any more than what's in the papers. The fact that a Belgian was involved
has already been retracted. How certain is it that a sample from Astarloa
has been sent through? So long as there are no results, I am not bothered
by it. If Astarloa is positive, then I'll be outraged."
It's expected that the results of the analyses will be known next week.
Armstrong rides through Indianapolis on a Tour of Hope
By Mark Zalewski in Indianapolis
Even though Lance Armstrong wasn't in Hamilton for the World Championships,
it doesn't mean he wasn't busy, nor riding his bike - he was doing both.
This week, Lance and the drug company Bristol-Myers Squibb are promoting
the Tour of Hope, a bike "race" across the country. However, this race
isn't for medals, but to gain support for research and clinical treatments
Beginning in Los Angeles and finishing in Washington, D.C., 26 cyclists,
some of whom are themselves cancer survivors, are taking turns riding
more than 3,000 miles, stopping along the way to collect signatures of
support and spread the message of hope. At the end of the week, Lance
and the 26 riders will present the signatures to Congressional leaders
in hopes of increasing future support.
One of the stops along the way was in Indianapolis - a place near and
dear to Lance's heart, since he received his treatment in 1997 at the
Indiana University School of Medicine, under the guidance of Dr. Larry
Einhorn. He hadn't returned since his treatment, but also hasn't forgotten.
"Why is it so special for me to be in Indianapolis when I'm a kid from
Texas?" Armstrong said. "Because when I was diagnosed I became passionately
involved and interested in my treatment, and that led me from Austin to
Houston to Indianapolis - a place I had never been before and thought
I would ever go to. But I had done enough research to know this is where
I had to be, the Mecca of my disease."
Hundreds of people, many of whom were cancer survivors themselves, gathered
at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis to hear Lance speak, and help support
the Tour riders. In fact, 80 fellow testicular cancer survivors posed
for photos with Lance, and stayed to watch the presentation which consisted
of an introduction to what the Tour was all about.
One of the tour riders, Wendy Chioje, was on hand to give an update
on the Tour's progress. "The tour is going fantastically," she reported.
"We ride in blocks of 60 miles at a time, about three hours a time. Morale
is great, and we all feel strong. Lance came last night of course, and
we pulled him across Illinois!"
After some playful banter, Lance revealed his thoughts on the actual
ride component of the Tour. "Most of [the riders] I didn't know before...but
now I've had a chance to ride with all the teams. I started with them
in Los Angeles and I will finish with them in D.C. It's an amazing group
of people that each have their own special stories and special reasons
for being there. The kickoff in L.A. was really inspirational...and I
just felt this incredible urge to go back and be with them, in the middle
of nowhere in New Mexico. Going with the team last night, watching the
moon rise in Western Illinois - it was special."
Armstrong has said publicly that his days as a professional cyclist
are nearing an end, and people may wonder what he will do after racing.
"It's true, there definitely is more on the back end [of racing] than
the front," he acknowledged. "This will be a serious part of my life going
forward - for as long as they'll listen, for as long as they'll have me,
for as long as I have some sort of impact on this community. I have the
story, and I have the passion to tell it, really for as long as I live.
It's a commitment that I made back in 1996, and I still love to do it
and I still believe strongly that I can help."
Being so close to Indiana University, the home of the famous Little
500 college bicycle race, many current students and riders came to watch
their hero speak. One student asked if he would ever return to the race.
"I was telling that story to somebody yesterday, that I was the Grand
Marshall there one year, back in 1997," Armstrong explained. "The timing
isn't good now because that year I had the year off and I could do it...
certainly I couldn't do another April for the next year or two, but after
that I would love to come back - more than be the Grand Marshall... I
would love to be on one of the teams!"
THG bust hailed as a success
After uncovering what's been referred to as the "possibly the largest
anabolic steroid drug bust in U.S. history", anti-doping authorities are
hailing the recent tetrahydrogestrinone (THG) affair as a big success
in the fight against doping. The drug, believed to have been manufactured
in a Californian nutritional supplement laboratory, was supposedly an
"undetectable steroid" that could be used by athletes (particularly track
and field) to enhance performance without risk of testing positive. The
difference between THG and other banned drugs is that it appears to have
been designed with the specific purpose of doping in mind.
Acting off a tip-off from a track and field coach in June, the US Anti-Doping
Agency together with the US Department of Justice pinpointed the drug's
source allegedly to the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO), which
supplies high profile athletes such as baseball play Barry Bonds and sprinter
Marion Jones. The USADA issued a statement to the effect that several
athletes have tested positive for THG, with CEO Terry Madden quoted as
saying, "I know of no other drug bust that is larger than this that has
involved the number of athletes we have involved."
The athletes in question have the right to a B sample analysis, and
if this is also positive they could face up to a two year sanction for
steroid use. They were all collected in-competition during the 2003 U.S.
Outdoor Track & Field Championships and out-of-competition.
"What we have uncovered appears to be intentional doping of the worst
sort," Madden was quoted by the Associated Press as saying. "This is a
far cry from athletes accidentally testing positive as a result of taking
contaminated nutritional supplements. Rather, this is a conspiracy involving
chemists, coaches and certain athletes using what they developed to be
'undetectable' designer steroids to defraud their fellow competitors and
the American and world public who pay to attend sports events."
The WADA stance
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) expressed both "satisfaction and
concern" over the affair, and commended the laboratory breakthrough that
led to the detection of tetrahydrogestrinone. A test developed by the
IOC and WADA accredited anti-doping laboratory headed by Professor Don
Catlin at the University of California, Los Angeles, detected the substance
in the "A" samples.
"We have to wait until the "B" samples are analysed and proper process
completed", said WADA president Dick Pound. "But this is a serious warning
for cheaters. It shows that supposedly undetectable substances can be
detected as new tests are developed."
WADA also expressed extreme concern about what Terry Madden described
above as "a conspiracy". "This case shows the degree of ingenuity that
some cheaters may have developed with the assistance of support personnel
in order to intentionally get an unfair advantage", said David Howman,
WADA's director general. "This is exactly why independent agencies such
as USADA and WADA have been created, and why cooperation is crucial to
stay ahead of cheaters. WADA will monitor this case very closely and will
be happy to assist in any way. We look forward to learning of the outcomes
as quickly as possible."
Saturn sweeps 2003 National Racing Calendar Series
Photo: © Mitch Clinton
Last weekend's Michelin Classic in Greenville, S.C. marked the completion
of the 2003 National Racing Calendar Series and when the points were tallied,
it was the Saturn Cycling Team who came out on top of all four categories
claiming the men's and women's individual titles with Chris Horner and
Lyne Bessette as well as the men's and women's team classifications.
Horner scored a total of 2841 points, placing him ahead of second place
finisher and teammate Tom Danielson and John Lieswyn (7-Up/Maxxis). Horner
claimed victories at the T-Mobile International, the Redlands Bicycle
Classic, the Solano Cycling Classic, the Tour de Georgia, and the McLane
Pacific Classic as well as a couple of stage wins at the Fitchburg Longsjo
Bessette, who took overall wins at the International Tour de 'Toona
and the Cascade Cycling Classic, also grabbed stage wins in the Pomona
Valley Stage Race, the Sea Otter Classic, and the Nature Valley Grand
Prix on her way to scoring 2085 points ahead of runner-up Tina Mayolo-Pic
(Diet Rite) and third place finisher, Geneviève Jeanson (Rona). Bessette
also ended the winning streak of Petra Rossner (Nürnberger) at the Wachovia
In the team classification, the Saturn Men's Team claimed the top spot
with 7649 points ahead of runner-up, Prime Alliance and third-placed 7-Up/Maxxis.
The seemingly endless list of victories for Saturn in 2003 included the
aforementioned wins by Horner, plus victories at the San Rafael Cycling
Classic, the Cascade Cycling Classic, the Fitchburg-Longsjo Classic, the
Nature Valley Grand Prix, the Pomona Valley Stage Race, the South Carolina
Heritage Series, and the Sea Otter Classic.
The Saturn women also claimed the team classification making for a clean
sweep for Saturn in their final year of existence. In addition to Bessette's
wins were victories at the Fitchburg Longsjo Classic, the Nature Valley
Grand Prix, the Clarendon Cup, Tour of Somerville, and La Vuelta de Bisbee.
USCF National Racing Calendar Final Point Standings
1 Chris Horner (USA) Saturn 2841 pts
2 Tom Danielson (USA) Saturn 1693
3 John Lieswyn (USA) 7Up-Maxxis 1255
4 Viktor Rapinski (Blr) Saturn 1250
5 Mark McCormack (USA) Saturn 1013
1 Lyne Bessette (Can) Saturn 2085 pts
2 Tina Mayolo-Pic (USA) Diet Rite 1681
3 Geneviève Jeanson (Can) Rona 1605
4 Lynn Gaggioli (USA) Velo Bella 1392
5 Laura Van Gilder (USA) Saturn 1257
1 Saturn 7649 pts
2 Prime Alliance 4099
3 7-Up/Maxxis 3238
4 Navigators 2992
5 US Postal-Berry Floor 1433
1 Saturn 5216 pts
2 Rona/Esker 2946
3 Diet Rite 2656
4 T-Mobile 2580
5 Velo Bella 1560
Full rankings: www.usacycling.org/nrc
Peers and Van de Walle to Jacques
Belgian Chris Peers has signed a contract with the new Chocolade Jacques
team, run by Noël Demeulenaere. Peers signed a one year deal on Thursday
evening, bringing the number of riders in the squad to 16. Dave Bruylandts,
Gerben Löwik, Bart Voskamp, Raivis Belohvosciks, Jurgen Van de Walle and
Bjorn Rondelez are all part of the squad, and Demeulenaere expects that
Andy Cappelle and Geert Verheyen will sign soon. The team is also likely
to attract two French cyclo-crossers, including Maxime Lefebvre.
Press agency Belga reported that Frank Vandenbroucke had called up Demeulenaere
recently, but both Demeulenaere and VDB denied that there was any talk
of a transfer. "Sometimes I call Noël at least ten times a year to talk
about private matters," said Vandenbroucke. To conclude that there is
more to it is beyond a joke. I am staying with Quick.Step."
Three more for Saunier Duval
The Saunier Duval team has announced three new signings for 2004: Juanjo
Cobo, David de la Fuente and Italian Alberto Loddo (Lampre). Juanjo Cobo
is one of the best Spanish U23 riders, having done very well in the European
TT championships as well as representing Spain at the World's. David de
la Fuente rode his first pro season with Vini Caldirola-Saunier Duval
this year, and is expected to develop more as a professional next season.
Finally Alberto Loddo has just completed his second year as a pro with
Lampre and has started to show his potential as a good sprinter.
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