News for August 4, 1998

Marco Pantani to Mapei

Giorgio Squinzie the boss of Mapei wants to sign Marco Pantani for three years for a monthly salary of $US150,000. More immediate is the fact that he has agreed to race in the Netherlands on August 10 at Roosendaal. He will compete in the annual criterium - the Draai van de Kaai. A day later he will start in the Profronde Surhuisterveen. He will come to the Netherlands with fellow Italian and teammate Fabiano Fontanelli. I was told today that the fees Pantani gets for each night are enormous (something around 50,000 guilders).

Some Danish news

Jon Jay Neufeld, who keeps us in touch with Danish news writes that in an effort at restoring the sport's good image in these troubled times, Acceptacard, the Danish credit card company which is the primary sponsor for the 2nd Division team of the same name, has announced that it has donated 250,000 Danish Kroner (approximately $US50,000) to help combat doping in Danish cycling. Half of the money is to go towards the purchase of new detection equipment, while the other half is to be invested in the establishment of a fund intended to inform young atheletes of the dangers of doping.

Ullrich to ride at Chaam

Jan Ullrich has been contracted to race in the 60th edition of the Acht van Chaam, this Wednesday evening. The German will be accompanied by his teammates Jens Heppner and Christian Henn. On Monday, they will be given a large welcome back in Bonn at the Telekom HQ. 8,000 cycling fans are expected to be there.

The drugs scandal update

- Marianne Priem left her house on Monday (lunchtime) to be with her husband, Cees Priem who has been held in custody in Reims for over one and a half weeks. The team leader for TVM is being investigated for illegal drugs activity. Priem's lawyer, Joost van Mierlo has arranged for Marianne Priem to spend 30 minutes with her husband.

- Meanwhile things turned worse for the TVM team as the French investigating judge jailed the masseur for suspician of possessing drugs and breaches of French customs laws. The detention came as the police were questioning 14 TVM staff and riders. The investigation is now gathering pace and it appears that riders are now "naming names". The soigneur, Johannes Moors joins manager Cees Priem and team doctor, Russian Andrei Mikhailov. All are now charged with similar offences. On Monday morning in Reims the police questioned 6 Tour riders from TVM to try to find out who is running the wide drugs ring that the riders are using to obtain and spread performance-enhancing drugs. The problems compounded for TVM after the police found allegedly prohibited substances in their hotel room last week.

- Another team implicated by Festina riders in the drugs network, the Spanish ONCE team have declared they are clean. The team manager Manuel Saiz has told the press that his team rider have never used banned substances and that the team doctor Nicolas Terrados, who has been placed under investigation, is innocent. Saiz said to the press: "If there's a team that represents morality in this world then it's us. We have never had a positive blood or urine test. We don't have the slightest doubt about the legality or professionalism of our riders. At the moment they are all preparing for next month's Tour of Spain."

I have done some enquiries myself and an anonymous source has told me that riders at ONCE are offered the choice - to go fast or to ride as they want. To go fast you enter a program!

The police found banned substances at the ONCE team hotel in their raids last week. Terrados has admitted to that but says they were medicine used by the support staff. He told the press that: "In the team bus, and in my personal baggage, there were medicines, some of which could be beneficial (to riders) and are on the French list of banned substances. At a meeting of doctors on the Tour we were advised to get rid of such items but I decided I couldn't throw away medicines for the normal use of accompanying members of the team, the mechanics, the masseurs and officials."

The drugs are believed to be AIF's and hayfever tables which Terrados said in his statement to the press were: "logical for a doctor to carry this type of medication so it never occurred to me to throw them away."

- The President of the UCI has summoned representatives of race directors and team leaders to a top-level crisis meeting in Paris next Thursday. A day later the UCI will talk with representatives of the riders probably also in Paris. The UCI will initially (on Tuesday) conduct an appraisal of the events during the Tour de France.

- More TVM - the TVM group which was questioned all day today at the Police bureau in Reims have not been released as yet (late Monday). The first car to arrive was carrying the riders - Bart Voskamp, Jeroen Blijlevens, Steven de Jongh and Servais Knaven kwam. Later, the two Russian riders arrived Ivanov and Oetsjakov, along with assistant manager, Belgian Hendrik Redant, PR man Guido van Calster, 3 mechanics and a masseur. They were without legal representation.

The all met in a hotel in Gent on Sunday with their loved ones and two lawyers from the Netherlands and France. This was strategy meeting. They refused to speak to the press because they do not want to provoke the French judiciary. It is unknown how long the TVM riders and staff will have to remain in Reims. Already three of them have been officially charged.