News for November 27, 1998

Drugs Update

Bruno Roussel, the former director of the Festina racing team, has told the French Cycling Federation (FFC), that he will not be attending disciplinary committee of the FFC which is investigating the doping practices of Festina and other teams. In a letter that was published on Thursday in the daily newspapare, Le Parisien he said: "I inform you that I will not be answering your request to attend. The French Cycling Federation carries, by its behavior over several years, on both the professional and amateur levels, a significant share of responsibility in this. They have shown that they did not want to know about these practices, to see what was really happening and to act when they did know. All these practices have been known by the FFC for years now, and, at the very least were tolerated by all the official structures of cycling and in particular the FFC. One could also add the UCI to this list. These authorities never assumed their responsibilities and the crisis of July 1998 is the direct consequence".

Bruno Roussel was to be heard Thursday morning at the head office of the FFC. He was to be accompanied by the ex-soigneur Willy Voet. Voet had affirmed on Wednesday, via his lawyer, his intention to be heard in front of the disciplinary committee to correct, in particular, some distorted perceptions that had already been published. He also claimed it was a whitewash because it had no intention of banning any of the French Festina riders.

Creatine - the little white pill has become the latest controversy in sport and doping. There are claims that two US wrestlers died from using it. For the record, it is currently not on the IOC list of banned substances. Creatine is a performance-enhancing amino acid which is produced by the liver and kidneys. It is legally available worldwide in tablet or powder form, in addition to occuring in meat-diets.

Many sportspersons are using it - football, rowing, athletics, cycling and more. Leading sportspersons make money endorsing it as a valid training food. The controversy stems from the fact that increasing evidence is mounting that it is associated with liver and kidney failure. In large proportions, the substance is clearly dangerous.

Reports have indicated that people are consuming huge quantities of it (equivalent in some cases of 8 kgs of meat per day) and these amounts are far beyond what the body could every naturally produce.

Any attempts to ban its use will involve sport's officials in a labyrinth of problems defining adequate tests and limits.

Priem is free but stays in France - after four months in custody Cees Priem is finally free. The TVM manager is now able to travel back to the Netherlands without constraint. The investigating judge Odile Madrolle decided after a 6 hour hearing that he could go free. Priem said that: "On Wednesday it seemed that I was not going to be allowed to go hom. But I now have the feeling that finally I am being listened to."

Madrolle has declared that a compromise is possible over the continued detention of Priem. Madrolle had listened to Priem's lawyers Joost van Mierlo and Bertrand Lavelot tell him how it was unfair to keep holding him in France. Priem however will remain in France out of solidarity with the other two TVM staff who have not been allowed to leave. The soigneur Jan Moors and the doctor Andrej Michailov. He said: "Together we are released, together we go home." At present, Madrolle is not prepared to risk letting them go.

But more recent news says Van Mierlo has once again met with Odile Madrolle and have struck an accord over a practical calendar for the release of the other two members of the detained TVM entourage. It seems that within this accord, Priem, Moors and Andrei Michailov will be able to go back to the Netherlands.

Joost van Mierlo said: "We are close to an agreement. But it will not happen this week. This weekend no-one will be going home. Today we will finalise some agreed dates. It is a compromise. Until it is finalised, Priem will remain in France. He plans to go back to Zeeland on Monday. He said: "I am free. In the interests of the investigation I will remain here though. I will be working for the others now."

Jan Moors was interviewed by Madrolle on Tuesday afternoon. Later in the day it was the turn of Andrei Michailov to speak. The Russian has been detained for 4 months. The investigator had questions to ask over the medical report that arose from the analysis of the hair, urine and blood of the TVM riders which was done following the Tour de France. Further, more questions were asked about the 104 EPO ampules siezed from TVM in March.

Peter Van Petegem has been spending his vacation in Mexico with his girlfriend Anoesjka. He had to stay longer than expected because of the effects of the Hurricane Mitch. "The whole town was under house arrest." he said. But events back in Belgium have really upset him. "There have been allegations that the French police found EPO on me. And there are allegations that my second-place in the World Championship road race is due to the lasting effects of doping. If it wasn't so serious I would laugh."

Peter Van Petegem and his TVM teammates must return to Reims on Decembe 15 to meet with the French judges again. They will be confronted with the results of the tests that were done on the samples taken during the Tour de France. All this is being used as evidence against Cees Priem.

The name of Van Petegem is foremost in the discussions this week. From the analysis of one of his hair follicles the French police say they have evidence of EPO usage. Van Petegem laughs. "It is ridiculous to examine my hair. It is too short. The second lie concerns the blood tests. Our lawyer has shown that the tests are not even validated by the IOC. There is a great problem using these tests because they cannot definitely say anything. "

Van Petegem also rejects the allegations that he had high indicators for the anabolic tests. He was also critical of the French judicial system which held Priem in custody for four months without a trial.

As to training, he said that he was riding about 3 hours a day with some further efforts on the track in Gent.

Heiko Salzwedel

I received a fax from Heiko today telling me about his new job in Germany and the challenges he faces. He is living in Frankfurt which does not thrill him. But his job is very interesting. He will be home in Australia for about 5 weeks in late December.

He was also keen to scotch rumours that he was giving personal advice to the WA trio who were alleged to be taking coaching by correspondence from a "German" coach. He said to me that he is now coaching the German team and will not be helping any Australian riders to beat them.

Oskar Camenzind

The cold air, a lake covered with fog, like a scene out of a movie. Oscar Camenzind gets lost out of sight. This scene could be somewhere around his home, on the outskirts of Lucerne. Instead we are in Arona, at Lago Maggiore, the city that will host the Italian National Championships next year. Close to here, in front of the Rocca di Angera, the Swiss showed up with the jersey of World Champion on the eve of the Giro di Lombardia, which he dominated. A little more than a month has passed since he was here, and here he is again for the first meeting of the teammates and staff of the new team Lampre-Daikin.

His usual short hair, an earring on the left earlobe - Camenzind seems the same, but he isn't. In the last month of vacation, he has understood that his life, at least athletically, has changed.

"I spent some time in a Greek island and had fun mountain biking and then spent three weeks in California and Texas with my girlfriend Angela. I had time to think about what happened. In a matter of a week I won the World Championships and the Giro di Lombardia, two races that can make a career. Now I find myself as team captain".

Camenzind has left the super team of Mapei, where he was one of the leaders, to go to the new Lampre-Daikin, where he will be 'the' leader, at least at the major stage races. Giuseppe Saronni and Pietro Algeri, team manager and sport director have a lot of faith in the Swiss. They see him as the great rival for Marco Pantani at next year's Giro d'Italia.

Oscar, who's a smart fellow, asks himself: will I be able to perform at the level of expectations?

"I've never been in this role, so I must test myself. I'm 27 years old, on my fourth season as a Pro and it is a good time for me to search for my limits. Leaders are born, a good captain can become one. Gianni Bugno has taught me many things, for example, he has motivated me to believe in my possibilities".

Camenzind, now, is aware that he is one of the major players in the current cycling scene. "With more conviction I could have won last year's Tour de Suisse and could have been at the podium of the last Giro d'Italia. In 1997, in Switzerland, I was the strongest, but I lost to Agnolutto, because I didn't have the courage to ask for a sacrifice from my teammates. I should have asked Bugno to pull for me, but I was a young rider, a second year Pro. It seemed like something too big for me. And at the Giro? I had to wait for Tonkov at la Marmolada, because that was my assignment. That day is I would have been able to respond to Pantani and Guerini, I would have probably ended in the podium in Milano".

Camenzind has time to try it again. The route of the 1999 Giro inspires him. "It's a Giro designed for Pantani, but it also suits m. On paper, the stage with the Gavia and the Mortirolo looks grandiose. The Pirate will be the man to beat and he will have all the responsibility on his back. A difficult situation. I hope to be one of Pantani's great adversaries. Climbing has always being my specialty and I defend myself well in the time trial. In the time trial, I think that I'm stronger than Pantani, although this year Marco has grown as a time trialist. I expect a bog struggle at the Giro, because I'm convinced that also Tonkov, Gotti & Jimenez will aim for the Italian race".

Chubby and rested, Camenzind is getting back on the bike. "I'm defining my program with Algeri and Saronni, but I will start calmly. I'm aiming for the period from Liege-Bastogne-Liege to the National Championships, with the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de Suisse as main goals. I could race la Vuelta, so that I can gain form for the end of the season. I have a jersey to defend, at the home of my Italian friends".

At this moment Team Lampre-Daikin has 17 riders, but to race the whole season Saronni wants to sign one or two more riders. They are in contact with Finnish climber Joona Laukka and Italian Marco Della Vedova.

Lampre-Daikin - Camenzind (Swi), Ballerini (Ita), Svorada (Cze), Missaglia (Ita), Spruch (Pol), Codol (Ita), Frutti (Ita), Serpellini (Ita), Piccoli (Ita), Bertoletti (Ita), Padrnos (Cze), Verstrepen (Bel), Behlovsciks (Lit), and neo-professionals Hunter (RAS), Pinotti (Ita), M. Algeri (Ita).

The team manager is Giuseppe Saronni, Sporting Directors - Pietro Algeri and Maurizio Piovani. They will ride Colnago bikes.