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Cycling News and Analysis

News for September 24, 1998

Contracts and Transfers

* Grischa Niermann, a talented German rider has signed for two years with Rabobank. He has ridden this year with the German team Die Contientale and has been a professional for 3 years. Rabobank team manager Theo de Rooij says Niermann is a good climber and time trial rider.

* Both Frank Vandenbroucke and Jan Ullrich have stopped for the rest of this season. VDB has dental problems which saw him exit the Vuelta and while Ullrich was mean't to start in the GP Wilhelm Tell (September 23-27), he has now been advised by his doctor that the inflammation in his Achilles' tendons needs a long rest period. Steffen Wesemann, 24, will take Ullrich's place in the race.

* Festina has becomes a Swiss team. Riders who will remain with the team are Zuelle, Dufaux, Armin Meier, and Jeker. Bruno Boscardin will leave. New to sign are Alexandre Moos (Saeco), Rolf Huser (Post Swiss) and probably Frédéric Vifian (Post Swiss).

* The Post Swiss Team is undergoing changes also. Riders to join include Philipp Buschor (Saeco) and probably Rolf Jaermann (Cacino). Other maybes include Elite riders Marcel Strauss and Ruetimann. Riders who are leaving the team are Markus Zberg and Nicki Aebersold (Rabobank) and Rolf Huser and probably Frédéric Vifian to Festina.

* Mauro Gianetti will probably leave La Francaises des Jeux.

* Pascal Richard will leave the Casino team and will probably ride for an Italian team.

* Oskar Camenzind will change to the new Lampre team. He has also been in discussions with Vitalicio.

* Servais Knaven has resigned with TVM/Farm Frites until the end of 2000.

Willy Voet goes for Virenque

Richard Virenque's personal soigneur, Willy Voet has accused the rider of using drugs and has said he was part of the systematic doping that involved 6 of the 9 Festina Tour riders.

He told the French newspaper Le Parisien: "How dare Richard say to me he doesn't take drugs. He takes the same products as the other racers - no more, no less."

Despite the entire team being expelled from the Tour de France for alleged illegal doping, Virenque has maintained that he has not used any illegal drugs. Voet has named three Festina rider - Christophe Bassons, Patrice Halgand and Laurent Lefevre - who were drug free. He said the team doctor suggested to riders that they could improve with drugs but the riders were free to refuse to participate. He said he had witnessed the doctor, Belgian Eric Ryckaert giving riders injections. If he was not there for the riders they would self-administer the drugs.

Meanwhile, the French Cycling Federation has announced that the French riders on the Festina team who were expelled from the Tour will not be allowed to race in the upcoming World Championships in Valkenburg. The Federation said they had delayed the investigations into the riders because: judicial authorities have not authorised (the FFC) to use the verbal depositions of those charged, either as civil parties or merely as witnesses ... the FFC believes it cannot exercise its disciplinary power. For these reasons, it is adjourning the said procedures. This was the statement from the President of the FFC Daniel Baal.

Lucy Tyler-Sharman Interview

This interview between presenter Ray Martin and rider Lucy Tyler-Sharman was presented on the Channel 9 program - A Current Affair - on Tuesday, September 22.

Ray: ..... you said that you had been sabotaged, do you stand by that?

Lucy: I do. It's been a very difficult and frustrating year, and a lot of events led up to what happened in KL and when I spoke out there it was an accumulation of frustration from the previous months and also the devastation that day.

Ray: But, why would any Australian - a coach, or a mechanic, or an official - want to sabotage you Lucy?

Lucy: Well, that's easy to answer. back in July in Colorado Springs I turned them in to the Australian Sports Commission for a variety of what I saw to be wrongdoings. The harassment has been ongoing. I've been denied equipment. I've been disallowed from training with the boys. It's just gone on and on - disallowed using facilities.

Ray: Let's have a look at the pedals - the pedals were such an issue - the bolt pedals. I understand that you didn't want to use these pedals?

Lucy: Okay, I had a different pair of pedals on. It's unusual to change anything on the day of the event. as I was rolling up the ramp on a road bike, before the first ride that day, the mechanic said, "We want to change your pedals." I was concentrating on the event, of course, so I let them. I was criticised yesterday on the "TODAY" show for having a style problem which might have meant I'd pull out of the pedals. It's a very positive connection. You are absolutely bolted into the pedals, you can't come out. It should not have happened. I should have been able to ride a bucking bronco in those pedals and not come out !

Ray: Was this against your wish, to use this particular pedal?

Lucy: It was against my wish to change ANYTHING at the last moment. And I was surprised by that, but, again, I was concentrating on my event, so I just let it happen.

Ray: So, okay, even in practice you didn't use them?

Lucy: Yeah, and everything had gone off without a hitch. In fact, that week I'd had my bike locked up in the container of another team because I was a bit worried about stuff that might go on in KL.

Ray: If you were wearing the bolt pedals - that I've also confirmed with a former Australian champion, makes it almost impossible to get your feet out - how come your feet came out twice? Do you blame the mechanic?

Lucy: I don't know who to blame. I mean I'm devastated by the whole thing. I went about it just trying to do my job. I just started to go out of the gate and "SNAP!" I'm out. I didn't know what to do.

Ray: But, I'm told that the mechanic is as good as they get.

Lucy: He is as good as they get.

Ray: Well, were you given a pedal that was faulty?

Lucy: Must have, but both pedals? It seems highly unlikely to me!

Ray: Now, you don't think you're paranoid about this?

Lucy: I've been telling the high performance manager, and other members of our staff, all season long that I have no trust or faith in the staff anymore, because I stood up and turned them in.

Ray: You mean not just the coach, but the coach's team as well?

Lucy: Well, it's all one thing, if they're all together.

Ray: We are still left with the impression of WHY would anyone do it. Why wouldn't they want to win gold?

Lucy: A lot of reasons. First of all because I had turned them in to the Sports Commission, for a lot of reasons. Then I went onto the World titles and succeeded despite them. The week of the World titles things were really bad. The head coach wasn't speaking to me. He insisted, at the last minute, that he be involved with my ride there as well. In fact, I was not allowed to sit with the Australians at the World Championships! They were alienating me. It was all on purpose and designed to undermine me. I'll admit I'm a fairly high-strung athlete. No secret about that. And I've been through so much, that it's made me harder. And that's why just harassing me psychologically by things like alienating me, and denying me equipment and denying facilities, that wasn't working anymore. So, that's why I would naturally assume they might take it further.

Ray: So why didn't you just apologise, retract the comments that you'd made on camera and then go back and win a bronze medal at least.

Lucy: The Commonwealth Games Committee were not to blame. They were looking for ways to keep me at the Games but they said I'd have to give a full retraction and apology. Im not going to retract that which I believe to be true! I'd been harassed so much this year it's been unbelievable. I've nearly quit the sport and flown home about six times this year. The problems in cycling are deeply rooted and they've gone on a long time. As far back as 1989 there was a stat. dec filed by another rider who'd been put out of the program, and it addressed many of these problems that exist today, many of the problems I'm talking about right now.

Ray: Lucy, why didn't the Australian coaches sabotage you at the World Championships, obviously they were more important than Commonwealth Games?

Lucy: I don't know. I have no explanation for the way they operate. But, again, things were not good there either. I was not treated like a regular athlete there either, I was not allowed to sit with the rest of the team. I was forced to count on a coach, who had not spoken to me for ages, to be my eyes in the pursuit, to come and read the schedule. They forced that on me. We had lobbied (Darryn Hill, Graham and I) to be able to have a separate and neutral coach come to Buttgen and then to the World titles, and we were denied that flat - they said, "No way!"

Ray: But, why didn't you, I mean you insist on other things, like training outside, you're obviously not a push-over, why didn't you simply say, "Look, I'm not going to have Charlie Walsh here holding the stopwatch. I want someone else?"

Lucy: I did. The Ray Godkin issued an ultimatum that it had to be Charlie. He had a complete faith in Charlie. I was to respond to him as the head coach and we could not question it. It was an ultimatum.

Ray: And yet after you won the World title in Bordeaux you told reporters, "You can have no one better in your corner than Charlie Walsh." Why did you say that?

Lucy: I was just trying to deflect the tension. It was made clear to me that if I was critical in any way during or after the World titles, that I would be denied a start in the Commonwealth Games. I'm sorry that I said that but I was just trying to get on with the job. I was just trying to get on with the job of winning bike races.

Ray: Is the problem Charlie Walsh, or is the problem you?

Lucy: My personal belief is that I'm the symptom and not the disease here. I'm just the first one yo speak out. I can't take it anymore, the situation has been intolerable.

Ray: What about the suggestion you're too big for your boots? Do you think you are?

Lucy: Hardly. I mean I've never asked for anything but equal treatment with the team one of my beefs with them has been equipment. The actual bike that I'm riding in the pursuit is three years old. I have no explanation for that ..... it's past it's usefulness. Where is all the money going for new equipment?

Ray: Again, you don't think someone might say, well obviously, and I have to ask it, she's a whinger, she's lost there, she got upset, she's now looking to blame someone, for a scapegoat.

Lucy: Well, let them say that, my priority, my goal for the year, in fact the goal for my entire career has been to win the world title. I finally realised that goal. I proved everything that I wanted to prove to myself and hopefully put forever to rest the question of who should have had the ride in the Olympics. With that in mind, I beat the world, in the world forum, with all the eyes on me. I'm devastated that things went badly in KL, but it's certainly not the worst thing that's happened in my life.

Ray: There is a theme coming here, I mean, I keep hearing this description of the Australian Cycling team as a festering rat's nest, that's pretty harsh stuff.

Lucy: It's not the athletes. you know I've trained with some terrific athletes, we have a bevy of Australian talent. We have so much talent, so much potential to do well in Sydney, I can't imagine that people would want to sweep this back under the rug and let it continue in this direction before Sydney.

Ray: So, what do you think needs to be done before Sydney 2000.

Lucy: I think we need a full inquiry into every aspect of Australian track cycling.

Ray: Are you prepared to stand by that, if the inquiry comes and finds that Charlie Walsh is right and you're wrong? Will you accept that?

Lucy: Of course.

Ray: Can you ever ride in a Charlie Walsh team again, do you think?

Lucy: No, I don't think it's possible. This is why we must look into it. It MUST be investigated. It's necessary for Australian cycling, and necessary for me too.

Ray: But, from what you have said to me tonight, if nothing changes, it's doubtful that you're going to be in the Australian team in Sydney 2000.

Lucy: Well, if the power of selection rests ultimately with Charlie still the, I guess it would be doubtful. But, I'm hoping by then we're going to have some other voices enter. I'm hoping by then that we don't have an absolute rule by anyone in sport. I think that is really basically wrong. It's fundamentally wrong to have one guy controlling everything. Let it not be said that I'm gutless. This is a matter of survival, both for me and Australian Cycling. That's why I'm going for it.

Ray: Alright, Lucy, thanks for talking to me.

Lucy: Thanks a lot, Ray.

Ray: And maybe we could talk to coach Charlie Walsh tomorrow. Just a reminder that Australian taxpayers contribute $2 million to Cycling Australia.