News for January 11, 1998

Polish Team News

Piotr Cegielski,'s Polish source provided this news from Poland. The Mroz team for 1998 is now completed. The seventeenth and the last rider who has signed a contract with this Polish group is Osamu Kurimura from Japan. The whole team is as follows:
Name                 Country  UCI Ranking     UCI Points     
                               31/12/97	   31/12/97

Piotr Wadecki         Poland 	 123     	264.0
Jacek Mickiewicz      Poland  	 247       	132.0
Cezary Zamana         Poland 	 255        	127.0
Andrzej Sypytkowski   Poland 	 300        	104.0
Grzegorz Rosolinski   Poland  	 479       	 52.0
Dariusz Wojciechowski Poland	 824         	 17.0
Arkadiusz Wojtas      Poland  	1080           	  8.0 	Neo
Marcin Gebka          Poland  	1269              4.0  	Neo
Pawel Rychlicki       Poland 	1413              1.0
Tomasz Brozyna        Poland                     	ex US Postal
Grzegorz Wajs         Poland                            Neo
Dainis Ozols          Latvia  	 197            168.0
Czeslaw Lukaszewicz   Canada   	 257            126.0  	Neo
Raimondas Rumsas      Lithuania	 498             49.5
Aleksander Charapow   Belarus  	 769             20.0
Uwe Ampler            Germany  	 912             13.0
Osamu Kurimura        Japan    	1171              6.0  	Neo

Team begins the new season in Malaysia (Tour of Langkavi cat. 2.5) on February 18th.

Lance Armstrong

Lance Armstrong wakes up early and heads to the ocean side roads. The American pedals 6 hours a day already, starting from the headquarters at Santa Barbara, California. Lance is doing a lot of kilometers to recuperate the time he lost while fighting the cancer.

On October 3, 1996, at Saint David Hospital in Austin, Texas, Armstrong was operated of cancer in a testicle. Lance went through that Winter with the big question and hoping for life. In those days he forgot about the road, the bike and training: Lance would only dream about being normal.

For 1997 he realized that in his case it was better not to hurry. Fifteen months after the testicle operation, Lance Armstrong feels reborn. "I have rediscovered the pleasure of living. I have found a great woman who's close to me, I have gained an understanding on what really is important and I'm finally ready to be a rider".

"The situation has normalized. The blood tests are encouraging and I can train without worry. The other day I went out for 5-1/2 hours and yesterday I rode for 6 hours. I'm surprised with how things are progressing. I feel good and I'm super motivated". To better prepare, Armstrong has left Texas and gone to California. "It looks like I have returned to how I was two years ago. I'm able to push beyond my anaerobic threshold and it seems like I can recuperate like I used to. The heart goes up to 190 beats per minute without any problems and I seem to have gained 15 watts of power".

Lance can't wait for the time when he will be able to measure himself against his adversaries in races, although his doctors have recommended an gradual increase in the effort. "The directors for my new team, Us Postal and myself had agreed that my debut should be at the end of March in the United States, but now we have decided to anticipate my re-entry into competition. I will ride the Ruta del Sol (February 15-19) and I will race at Paris Nice. For this year no Tour de France, if everything goes according to plan I will ride la Vuelta as a key for the Worlds".

Armstrong will return to live in Europe for the whole season and to put a seal on his rebirth he has decided to get married. "At the beginning of February I will go to Europe to live in a house that I located at the Costa Azzurra - says the American -. I will live there with Christine, the girl from Austin that he will marry in May. I met her a year ago and we are very close. With her I rediscovered the pleasure of living".

Next week Armstrong will meet with his new teammates from the Us Postal. "This team has put their trust in me. I have put it in them. Director Johnny Weltz is an old friend, there won't be any problems. I have been following via the internet all that has been happening in European Cycling. But I'm tired of 'virtual cycling, I crave to race".

A young Berzin arrives

Eugenio Berzin has become a father. Elena Cagnoni, the Russian's companion has given birth to a boy who weighed 3 kilos and will be called Paolo. Berzin will remain next to Elena until January 19, when he will meet with his new team La Francaise des Jeux at Perpignan.

Spanish teams for 1998

The six teams that make up the Spanish peloton are preparing to start the 1998 season. The new Team Vitalicio Seguros, is going to be the one meeting the earliest. They will meet at the Parador Nacional de Jávea, next to the Mediterranean, from January 12-22. After 10 days of pedaling under the Costa Blanca sun, the 23 cyclists will travel to Barcelona, so that on the 23rd they can attend their official presentation. Vitalicio Seguros is also the team that will enter competition earliest: February 3rd at the GP Apertura La Marsellesa.

ONCE is also planning to meet during this month, although the dates have not been decided. What is certain is that it will be sometime next week. Manolo Sáiz has decided to return to El Bosque for their retreat. With a budget of 900 million pesetas (US$5,814,000) the most powerful team of the Spanish peloton shows up for the 1998 season with the highest budget and some changes in terms of the equipment that they will use. New bicycles?, new clothes and new cars with Chrysler substituting Audi?.

Just like Vitalicio, the eldest of all the teams, Kelme, will accumulate kilometers under the sun of Alicante. It wouldn't be any other way with Alvaro Pino's team which counts on the support of the Costa Blanca tourism board. The specific place where the 22 riders will train is still unknown, but the encounter will be on the first week of February.

Also the first week of February will be when the meeting for Team Estepona will happen, the place will obviously be in Estepona (Málaga). During next week the 15 riders under the orders of Suárez Cueva will undergo medical testing, after having already 45 days of training.

On January 28th will be the official presentation of Banesto '98 in Madrid. Taking advantage of their stay in Madrid the riders will undergo medical testing and will then go somewhere in Murcia or Almería? Maybe Mojácar? to have their retreat.

The new doctor for Euskadi, Alfredo Cordova, is already running the medical tests for the twenty cyclists that form the Basque team. The time & place where the debuting sport director Julián Gorospe will have his training camp is unknown as of yet.

Tomorrow I will put up a summary of the Spanish Teams.

Fisher Cycles Press Release - Paolo Pezzi

By now, you've surely heard that Paola Pezzo tested positive for a substance on the UCI's medical control list at the World Cup Finals in Annecy, France. The urine test administered by the Chatenay-Malabry lab in Paris, came back as positive for the substance Nandrolone, a long acting anabolic steroid often used by body builders to build muscle mass. The situation has been made more confusing by the circulation of rumors and misinformation.

Unsurprisingly, the Internet leads the way in supplying incorrect information. On various sites, we've read that Pezzo has been suspended, fined, and had either her World Cup or World Championship titles rescinded, or both. None of this is true. For her part, Paola denies the charges completely. From her home in Boscochiesanuova, Italy, she said, "I've never taken this stuff - I've never taken anything. I an innocent...and despite the difficult situation, I'll come back and race in 1998."

To help set the record straight, we've included a chronology of events to this point, a schedule of what comes next, some relevant information surrounding the situation and text of a paper by the medical expert who examined this case on behalf of Ms. Pezzo. In the next few days, we'll forward you some more technical information on specific testing procedures. Our Italian contacts are in the middle of translating it all and it's pretty complicated stuff.


10/29/97 - The UCI informs the Italian Cycling federation that Pezzo was positive for Nandrolone at the World Cup Finals, in Annecy, France, after a test at the Chatenay-Malabry lab in Paris, the lab that has been contracted by FIFA to administer the medical control for the FIFA World Cup soccer tournament in France during the summer of 1998.

11/27/97 - The analysis of Paola's Annecy sample was declared positive again after a second test by the Chatenay-Malabry lab.

12/23/97 - The test results, which were supposed to have been kept secret until a hearing scheduled for January 3, were leaked to the media by an individual at the Italian Olympic Committee.

1/3/98 - Pezzo has a hearing with the Italian Olympic Committee's Medical Control Commission, to decide whether to send her case to the Italian Cycling Federation's Discipline Committee, or to throw it out.

1/17/98 - The deadline, (subject to change), for a decision by the Italian Cycling Federation.


* Nandrolone is a steroid used to build muscle mass - a logical choice for body builders or offensive tackles, but not for cross-country cyclists. It also stays in the body for a comparatively long time, which makes it unlikely that Paola would have used it between the last two World Cup races and just weeks before the World Championships.

* Paola tested negative at the World Cup race in Houffalize, Belgium, one week before her positive test at Annecy. She tested negative again, one week after Annecy, at the World Championships. In all, she tested negative ten times in the course of the ?97 season.

* The Chatenay-Malabry lab is quite controversial. Last summer, the lab reported positive tests, also for Nandrolone, for several French soccer players. Like Paola, the soccer players protested vigorously, pointing out the unsuitability of Nandrolone for their sport.

* Regardless of the findings or discipline imposed, Paola's World Championship status is not in jeopardy. Any discipline will involve only the Annecy race and the World Cup standings. (Remember, she tested negative after the World's).

* There were some major discrepancies with the scientific standards and parameters of the test, as compared to the standards of the International Olympic Committee. (This issue will be followed up in more detail, when our translation arrives today).

Paola Pezzo has been a member of the Gary Fisher family for over five years. We have a very close and abiding relationship with Paola, her family and her trainer and at no time have we ever thought or been given any indication that Paola was using any questionable performance enhancing substances. It is our belief, given the history of the lab, the steroid allegedly involved, and her testing history, that Paola's positive test result is a lab error. Gary Fisher and Gary Fisher Bicycles is remain steadfast in support of Paola Pezzo and we're certain that whatever happens Paola will successfully defend her rainbow jersey in Mont. Ste-Anne, Quebec this fall.

We'll keep you updated as we receive information. In the meantime, please give me a call anytime with questions or observations. Just don't ask me how to pronounce Boscochiesanuova

Prepared By Dr. Guido Norbiato

(Interdisciplinary Research For Clinical & Experimental Advancement ) via Moscova, 12 20121 Milano, ITALY

Memo On The Presumed Positive Test Of Paola Pezzo For The Anabolic Steroid Nandrolone

In the case of the suspected use of Nandrolone, there are a number of questions as to the presence of this substance in the human body. Was said Nandrolone present in meat that was ingested, and if this existed, what was the concentration of Nandrolone over that where an athlete should be automatically declared positive?

Were there errors in the initial collection and processing of the athlete's urine sample, or other errors in the actual analysis of the sample which could have significantly changed the lab results ?

A: Is Nandrolone a product of the human body ?

Nandrolone, also known as nortestosterone, is an anabolic hormone that can increase muscle mass. It is a derivative of testosterone which lacks a carbon atom in position 19 in the molecular structure. Nandrolone can be produced synthetically in a laboratory, but it can also be produced spontaneously in the body. (1)

Studies by Bjorkheim (2) and Kieman (3) indicate that Nandrolone and its metabolized urinary components norandrosterone and noretiocolanone are present in humans because they are intermediate products in the synthesis of estrogen (female hormones). Estrogens are formed from androgens (testosterone and others) which in an intermediate stage are made up of nortestosterone or Nandrolone. (3) A part, more or less made up of nortestosterone can be present in the bloodstream and eliminated in the urine during the synthesis of estrogen in the body.

Debruyekere and others (4), in a specific research on this subject, reported elevated values of Nandrolone and its metabolized components norandrosterone and noretiocolanone in the urine of three of the 26 subjects studied. None of these subjects took Nandrolone; but in the urine tests, results of 9, 14 and 37 nanograms per milliliter were registered. The authors suggest the possibility that not only can these levels of Nandrolone be produced by the human body, but also that this substance could inadvertently be introduced into the human body by food.

B: Can Nandrolone be in food products and ingested into the human body?

The answer is yes. Expert researchers have found relevant quantities in animal meat that was treated with anabolic steroids, introduced by farmers to promote weight gain in animals. (4,6)

These hormones, involuntarily introduced into the human system due to ingestion in treated meat products can be the source of Nandrolone in the human body.

This data clearly indicates that Nandrolone can be present in a normal person, since it can be produced both naturally and also introduced inadvertently in food products.

C: So it is necessary to find a base value over which a test for Nandrolone will be positive for doping purposes. But what should be the base value?

Since there is no specific base value established by the UCI for Nandrolone, we have used the information from a document from the International Olympic Committee (IOC). This memo from 22 August, 1996, circulated to heads of IOC accredited laboratories by Dr. Jordi Segura, Secretary of the IOC Subcommission for Doping & Biochemistry Of Sport, stated that a base value of 2 nanograms per milliliter were considered as positive, but that with more sensitive high sensitive mass spectrometer techniques when laboratories find concentrations lower than 5 - 10 ng/ml of any anabolic agent, it appears of interest for the interpretation of results and the comparison with previous analyses of the same competitor to mention specifically in the reports that a low concentration has been found and to specify the technique used.

But according to the medical literature cited previously (1-3), the hypothetical base levels of Nandrolone are much higher. The cited studies, which come from three different groups, all agree that the base value for Nandrolone may be around 100 ng/ml, a value 50 times higher than that established by the IOC and with such a low base level established by the IOC, there is a great risk of medical controls that can unfairly find an athlete positive.

D: Can Pre Analysis and Analytical Errors Interfere With The Dosage Of Nandrolone?

Again, the answer is yes.

1) Nandrolone dosage from a urine sample obtained at the end of a race. If the tested sample is 1 milliliter, the values that indicate the concentration of Nandrolone in the sample refer only to the sample itself and not the actual amount present in the urine. The same is true for creatine, a substance that is produced and excreted in the urine in a constant manner. The result is that if the athlete did not drink much prior to the sample and produces a concentrated sample, the values of substances such as Nandrolone per milliliter can be double or triple as compared to whether said athlete had ingested fluids prior to the test.

2) To measure Nandrolone and its metabolic products norandrosterone and noretiocolanone, a gas chromatograph and a mass spectormeter are used. The procedure compares the medical control sample of urine of ? unknown ? origin (that of the athlete) to that of a control urine sample which does not contain Nandrolone, but to which synthetic norandrosterone and noretiocolanone have been added. Each sample is then tested on the gas chromatograph and a mass spectrometer and the results are compared.

With this test procedure, there are two potential causes for imprecise test results:

a. how pure are the synthetic samples of norandrosterone and noretiocolanone, and how concentrated is the urine sample ? (or how much water contains the molecule of the hormone).

If the precise grade of purity and hydration are not known, this can cause false positives in the medical control sample.

b. To avoid a long testing procedure, the lab will use a reference to only a ? standard ? concentration and not use a series of gradual concentrations derived from the same standard.

So both of these procedures can cause a imprecise test result of the medical control standard.

In conclusion, the pre-analysis variables, as well as the analytical variables can cause the level of Nandrolone and its metabolic byproducts quite imprecise and practically make it impossible to distinguish values that are supposedly normal from those that might be slightly above the base values.

Discussion Of The Specific Case Of Paola Pezzo

The UCI has declared that Paola Pezzo was positive for Nandrolone use at a race in Annecy, France on 6 September, 1997.

? The quantity of norandrosterone found in 1 ml of the medical control sample was 7.1 nanograms and that of noretiocolanone was 12.4 nanograms. The urine in the medical control sample was highly concentrated (specific weight 1026-1026), which shows that Pezzo did not drink and was dehydrated; the worst condition to perform an accurate medical control. (the concentration of Nandrolone could be 3 to 4 times that of urine in a normally diluted sample)

? The reference standard used for Pezzo's test was flawed;

- the grade of purity was not known
- the level of hydration was not known

Only one point of reference was used for Pezzo's test, not a standard procedure of using a reference curve for the sample test. So, in any case, the medical control test that resulted in a finding of positive for Paola Pezzo is, without a doubt, imprecise.

If, by hypothesis, the concentration was not stated by milliliter, but by the quantity of urine produced in 12-24 hours (or by milligram of creatine) and not stated in the imprecise manner, the values of Paola Pezzo's test would have certainly been within any base standard as decided by the IOC.

Another important consideration regarding Paola Pezzo is the negative result of her medical control tests both the week before (30 August 1997 - Houffalize, Belgium) and two weeks after the race in question (21 September 1997 - Chateau D'Oex, Switzerland). This will certainly exclude the possibility that the athlete was injected with Nandrolone, which has a prolonged duration in the body and would have certainly resulted in positive tests in either or both races cited.

And it seems absolutely improbable, if not completely crazy that, taking into account the slow anabolic action of Nandrolone, that Paola Pezzo would have voluntarily taken norandrosterone orally (a hormone that is transformed in the liver into Nandrolone) in the few days between 30 August and that of 6 September, the date of the positive test. In fact. Pezzo stayed in Belgium until 4 September and may have eaten meat which contained high levels of steroids. (Belgian meat is notorious for high levels of hormone treatment)

For these combined reasons, I consider it reasonable that Paola Pezzo did not voluntarily take Nandrolone in the race in question. The low levels of norandrosterone and noreticolanolone that were found can be attributed to imprecise procedures and processes on the part of the testing laboratory, as well as the involuntary ingestion of food that was contaminated with Nandrolone, which would produce the hormone byproducts that resulted in the positive test on 6 September, 1997.


  1. De Brubunder HF, et al, (1994). ANALYST, No.119, 2581-2585.
  2. Bjorkhem I, et al, (1982). Journal of Steroid Biochemistry, No.17, 447-451.
  3. Kieman A, et al, (1988). Journal of Pharm Biomed Analysis, No.6, 473-483.
  4. Williams (1994). Testbook Of Endrocrinology, 808.
  5. Debruyckere R, et al, (1990). Proc. of 4th Symposium On The Anaylsis Of Steroids, S. Gorog (ed.), 363-367.
  6. Vanoosthuyze, K et al, (1994). ANALYST, No.119, 2655-2658.
  7. Daeseleire E, et al, (1992). Journal of Chromat Science, No.30, 409-414
  8. Debruyckere R, et al, (1992). Clinical Chemistry, No.38/9, 1869-1873

Professor Guido Norbiato Faculty Of Endrocrinology and Metabolism Luigi Sacco University Hospital Milan, ITALY 3 January, 1998