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Cycling News and Analysis

News for May 20, 1999

Willy Voet goes for the jugular in his book

Willy Voet has gone for the jugular in his book which was published this morning in Paris. The book "Massacre à la chaîne" published by Calmann-Lévy, outlines in minute detail the frightening world of doping in the peloton. He argues that Richard Virenque played "an active role in the distribution of the doping products."

The former soigneur to Richard Virenque and Laurent Brochard who has been involved with cycling for 30 years has now broken his silence. The book is subtitled "Révélations sur trente ans de tricheries" (Revelations about 30 years of Cheating) and details how vulgar the doping business is in the sport and seeks to break the legend surrounding the Tour de France.

He has told recent Dutch TV interviewer that: "In my opinion 90 percent of the peloton is using banned substances at the moment." In the book he goes into this allegation chapter and verse. He continued in the Dutch TV interview that: "I have to stay in France and be at the police station every week. And I don't know when the trial will be. But I am liable to get 5 years in prison." On the question of whether the PDM team was straight (recall that when PDM pulled out most of the riders and management went straight over to Festina) he said: " Jan Gisbers and Ryckaert had already instituted an organised doping system at PDM. That was the beginning of the EPO use in the Festina team. All the Dutch riders used it: Rooks, Van Aert, Van Poppel, Gert Jakobs." Jan Gisbers was interviewed on Dutch TV the night after (Monday) and he said that: "Voet only tells lies."

Jan Gisbers reacted to the allegations made by Voet about his involvement in the sale of EPO in 1993 to the Festina team. He said: "I swear that I did not sell an ampule of EPO. I was only with Festina for 4 months. It was at the end of 1992 when I and Dr. Eric Rijckaert and some riders from PDM went across to Festina. We found that the team was in chaos. There were factions that didn't speak to each other. I never got to the bottom of it.

Gisbers, however, does not plan to take any legal action against Voet. "I won't be talking to my lawyer. It has all been said before. For 6 years the guilty finger has been pointed at me. This is just another storm in a teacup. The real actos who have been trapped at in my eyes now trying to spread their guilt."

Also on Monday night on Dutch TV was an interview with Erwann Mentheour, who also recently published a book about his experiences with drugs in the peloton. He said: "You can't ride several stages without using drugs. After 3 days you are empty. The soigneur comes with vitamins and iron. Not via tablets but via injections. That is the start of doping." Mentheour is now a speaker at schools. He said: "I had 61 urine tests and never tested positive." His brother Pierre Henri said: "Every rider in the Tour de France uses banned drugs. I have seen it. How can you climb a difficult mountain in the same way as riding on a flat road? I know that there were riders who had to use their brakes on the curves at the beginning of some climbs because they were riding so fast." The Italian doctor Donati also said on the program: "They use a lot of EPO. It is dangerous for their lives now."

Voet, a former cyclist himself, quoted names which have been central to the long history of the Tour de France and explains all the devious subterfuges that the riders engaged in to avoid detection. He says the riders had condoms filled with clean (foreign) urine to use when they were asked to provide a urine sample. The condoms were put into the anus and used whenever the rider had to do a urine test. The simplest method employed to escape the controls.

As soigneur to Richard Virenque it is not surprising that he gets a lot of attention in the book. He says that the first usage by Virenque that he can document goes back to 1993 during his first year at Festina. "We were on the national Critérium. He said to me on the evening before the race while I was giving him a massage that he wanted to take some drugs. I injected him with half a ampule of Synacten on the Sunday morning, one hour before the start. He was outside the time limit and so we abandoned the use of that product from then on." He describes how Marc Madiot knew that Virenque was taking drugs.

The breadth of the doping revealed by Voet is staggering. He outlines some of the arguments that the riders employed to justify the drug taking. He said that when Pascal Herve arrived at Festina he came to Willy Voet and he said to Voet: "Listen, I am 29 years old and I have four or five years at the most to earn money as a professional. I have already told the team doctor and I say the same thing to you. I don't have any problems with using drugs and having injections. I know how the way it works. I know the system. With me, one should not raise the issue."

Voet alleges that Virenque and Herve: "played an active role in the distribution of the doping products - one as a leader, the other like his lieutenant. Since 1994, Virenque became very informed about the way to administer EPO and growth hormones. He asked many questions especially in relation to using drugs during the Tour de France. Virenque clearly knew what he was doing. To say as he does that he didn't know what was happening is scandalous insincerity. He was the leader. He was the chief and the spokesman. Nothing could be decide without consulting him. In the period leading up to the Tour when the team was in preparation he was the person who pushed the use of banned substances the most." Virenque has heard these allegations before and consistently denies them. His word against the others.

In other chapters (12 in total) he outlines how Festina would swap HGH for EPO with other teams.

Were there any clean riders? He said that Eric Caritoux won the Vuelta in 1984 without "using anything". But later he became involved in the scene. He said that in his knowledge that Charly Mottet and Gilles Delion were against using drugs. But as a consequence, Mottet never had the success that he could have had if he had have used drugs. He said that the peloton used to laugh at Delion when he used to open his suitcase up with all the herbs.

He talks about Sean Kelly. He says: "He won the Tour of Lombardy three times and on at least one of times he did it with the help of a corticoide injection. Kelly was positive after Paris-Bruxelles in 1984 and that came as a surprise because he used the urine of a mechanic. But the mechanic was using banned substances himself because he had to work long hours at night and needed the lift to stay awake."

He talks about Hein Verbruggen: "He was one of the people who made necessary arrangements to ensure that the doping scandal surrounding Laurent Brochard during the 1997 World Championships in San Sebastian never became public.The doctors made a statement that Brochard was positive to Lidocaim when he was tested at the end of the race. But the statements was delayed and outside the time limit."

He talks about the World Championships in 1994 in Sicily (Agrigento). Luc Leblanc took gold and Virenque got the bronze. He says: "After this excellent outcome for the French team, they all went out to celebrate. To be sure that the party stayed high all night all of them took something from the 'Pot Belge'. For Leblanc it was the first time he had taken any amphetamines. The following year, in Colombia, the team did not perform as well but even so they still had a wild party afterwards. - he never used till that moment any amfetamines - this was his first time. Their Colombian driver arranged cocaine and the riders used it (lines sniffed with a dollar bill).

At the end of his book, Voet draws up a macabre list of runners who have died early in life from heart attacks. He lists the Spaniard Vicente Lopez-Carril, who died at the age of 37; the Belgian Marc Demeyer, died at 32 years; the Belgian Geert Van de Walle, died at the age of 24 years; the Dutchman Bert Oosterbosch, died at 32 years; the Pole Joaquim Halupczok, died at 26 years, and so on. He says it is impossible to prove but the questions about the association between these early deaths and the drugs taken while racing have to be asked.

He talks about the deceased rider Bert Oosterbosch and the 1982 Grand Prix des Nations. Oosterbosch came in 18th at more than 2.5 minutes behind the winner Bernard Hinault even though he was favoured to take a podium place. The press of the day talked about his bad tactics going to slow at the beginning and then having too much left at the end. The truth was simpler than that. He said: "Oosterbosch was flat from the start due to the Synacten he had taken. The drugs initially blocked his ability to work hard. An hour after the injection it started working as planned and his tempo increased."

Spaniard says that doping is a French problem

The head of Unipublic, the organisers of the Vuelta a Espana, Luis Felipe Sainz, has told the press that drugs in cycling is a French problem which has been created by their laws. He said that: It's not normal that you should have to bring an aspro instead of a Spanish aspirin when you go to France. In the rest of Europe we go about things differently." He also said that the Vuelta was successful because there was not a campaign of persecution against the common rider which has become the norm in France.

He said: "Riders have to make a huge effort, they need total concentration and here they know that if their anti-doping test comes up positive they'll be expelled and that's the end of the matter."

From Lance Armstrong

It's almost time for the LAF's 1999 IKON Ride for the Roses (May 28-30). We're doing something new this year that is new - an On-line auction. There will be lots of cool cycling related stuff.

Go to http://lance.citysearch.com to see what it is all about. There are some very unique items available like Miguel Indurain's and Greg Lemond's autographed bikes, private rides with Lance and MTB legend Joe Breeze, autographed jerseys and posters. The auction runs through to May 30th. Please support the LAF.

Tour of Ireland

Harm Jansen and Pelle Kiil are in good form over in Ireland. They dominated the first of the nine stages in the Tour of Ireland. 160 participants from 11 different countries are racing.

May 15, Dublin - Waterford, 95 miles.

Early in the race Harm flatted, and with the opening stage being traditionally the most nervous one it took Harm 30 minutes to catch back on. When the first serious brake went up the road it was Pelle who simply bridged a 20 second gape solo to join the leaders! Harm initiated a chase group and also joined the leaders after a mad chase. When this 23 man lead group hit the hills the Dutch duo started attacking. On the last climb Pelle crossed the KOM with a 10 second lead. With a surge over the top Harm joined Pelle and together the Dutch Duo started driving!! Quikly they took 40 seconds. Unfortunately the last 15 miles were on a freeway, with a strong headwind and slightly up hill. Just when our boys got caught, Pelle attacked again and was followed by two others. With 4 miles to go this trio defended a 5 to 10 (!!) lead. With half a mile to go the strongest man of today left his two break away companions behind to solo to the finish two seconds ahead of his chasers. Victory nr 10 for 1999!!! Harm finished 7th.

After yesterday's stage where Harm and Pelle lost 9 minutes, they came back and showed off their deadly two man attack in the 3rd stage of the Tour of Ireland. Since this race is a preparation for the First Union Classics (US prime events in the beginning of June), the two riders will carefully work on their shape and take the race form day to day.

Stage 3, Charleville- Killaloe, 88 miles.

Rough roads, hilly terrain, wind and still a 140 hungry riders made this stage another attack festival. In the final of the race a 3 man break defended a 1min30 lead. With 15 miles to go, Harm and Pelle placed another two man attack and simply powered away from the field. A six man chase group struggled 15sec. behind but could only watch how the Dutchmen slowly pulled away. When the three leaders came in sight they were caught, overtaken and left behind on the last climb of today's stage!! Finishing side by side in Killaloe the emormous crowd (cycling is very popular in Ireland) went crazy when our boys crossed the line. Harm took the stage to even out the two man finish in New Zealand where Pelle took the win. Clay (ENG, Linda McCarthy) is leading the GC.

Women's Giro del Piave

Karen Kurreck writes that we finally did an Italian race that I know the name of and it even had UCI categorization - the Giro del Piave. It is in a really beautiful area right in the Alps. Lucky for us, the race stayed in the valley though! The Piave is the river that runs through here, I think. I only know that because I saw a sign as we crossed it on the drive in.

We had the usual 100+ field. About the only addition was Barbara Heeb's Nurenberger team (minus Barbara). The course was fairly technical with lots of tight turns and ups and downs and narrow roads through towns. We had a couple of short cobblestone sections. The race was 106km and we did about 20km and then got onto a loop of about 20km that we dfid 4 times. There was 1 QOM climb, that was 1-2km long. TO make things exciting, it rained for about the first 40km of the race. The descents were quite technical so it was a bit sketchy.

The first half of the race, there were the usual short-lived attacks, but nothing stuck. Our team covered everything and Louisiana, Nada and Cathy tried a couple of attacks themselves. Early in the 3rd lap, we hit a tight corner and Zita Urbonite went down right in front of me. I somehow managed to stay up, but I decided then that it would be a lot safer in a break! It was hard for a bit after that and then and there was a hesitation in the pack so it seemed like a good time to attack and I did. Soon after Zita (who was not hurt in her crash) of the Dream Team and Svetlana Bubnenkova (Alpha Lum) came up to me. We had a sizeable gap on the field. Bubnenkova wanted to work but Urbonita didn't. Zita is a pretty good sprinter, but maybe she was worried about Bubnenkova on the climb - I don't know. She was talking a lot on her radio. With such a big team, I am sure they are not allowed to work unless they know they can win. I didn't know if our sprinter, Greta was still in the field, but I assumed she was, so it really wasn't my job to drive a break. As we got closer to the climb, I stopped pulling through as well, but Bubnenkova didn't seem to mind. She just put her head down and kept going. I think she wanted to lock up the QOM, which she did.

After the climb I rolled through and then all of a sudden, Sonia Rocca (Alpha Lum), Tanja Schmidt (Fanini) and Roberta Bonanomi (Dream Team) come flying by. I wasn't expecting another group, but I managed to eventually get on Bonanomi's wheel. Tanjia and Sonia were pretty motivated but Robereta wouldn't work at first. Then Fabiana Luperini (GAS) and another rider ("purple jersey") came up. Now all the strongest teams were represented. There was one of each of us and with the size of the Dream Team, I figured that was about the best odds we could hope to get. Even ROberta started working eventually and we pulled away from the field. I don't now any time gaps because I didn't get a radio today, but the team cars came up to us, so since this was a UCI race, I assumed we had at least a minute gap.

I think everyone was expecting Luperini to try to go on the climb (I was) and as we got closer, the break became disorganized. Then another Alpha Lum rider - Daniela Veronesi came up. Now they had the upper hand in the numbers game. Luperini didn't really do anything on the climb - I guess it was too short for her. Alpha Lum pushed the pace but mainly for Daniela to take the QOM sprint. Now we were about 6-7km from the finish. After the descent, the 2 Alpha Lum riders tried attacking in turns. It seemed that Bonanomi was covering them, so I just covered Bonanomi. I didn't know it at the time, but Roberta had reinforcements coming...The break was starting the cat and mouse games for the finish.

With less than 2km to go, all of a sudden Pia Sundstedt (GAS) comes flying by! This was a new face and I realized that unfortunately a group of 7 riders had caught us including DIana Ziluite and Marion Brauen from the Dream Team. Now we were 13 and I still had no teammates.

The finish was a long (about 1km) gradual (2-3%) uphill. The attacks were going right and left. Among others, an Alpha Lum rider went, "purple jersey" went and Ziluite went at about 500m to go but was caught with 300m to go. I just tried to cover the people who were covering the attacks and not get boxed in. With about 200m to go I jumped as hard as I could. I opened a gap which I (just barely) held to the line for my first victory in Italy! Greta took the field sprint for 13th, 33 sec. behind us. Nada was 17th.

Results:

 1. Karen Kurreck (USA)                      2.57.00
 2. Sonia Rocca (Alpha Lum)
 3. Tanja Schmidt (Fanini)
 4. Tatiana Stiajkina (Ukraine)
 5. Fabiana Luberini (Gas)                       s.t.

Troubles in Melbourne

This article was written by Michael Stevens' and published in the Melbourne Herald-Sun on May 19, 1999.

Victoria's multi-million dollar indoor velodrome is behind schedule and unlikely to be completed in time for next year's track season. And the state's $5 million dollar alternative cycling venue is yet to be announced. The indoor velodrome at Melbourne Park will be part of a multi-purpose venue, hosting tennis and basketball.

But while the tennis show court, with seating capacity for 10,000, is set for completion in time for next year's Australian Open, the building of the velodrome component is clouded. Premier track builder Ron Webb is believed to be frustrated by delays to access to the stadium.

Speaking at a cycling lunch last week, Webb is understood to have expressed concerns that he would be unable to begin building the 250m board track until February or March 2000. He was originally scheduled to begin work on the track in October. The indoor velodrome will be complemented by an alternative training centre, earmarked for either Deakin University, LaTrobe University or The City of Darebin (Northcote).

While the three training centres have been short-listed by the Olympic Park Trust, no announcement has been made on the winning tender. It is hoped work on the alternative track will begin in August, which means it also will not be completed in time for next year's track season. Cycle Sport Victoria is believed to be concerned by construction delays.

Victoria's premier track events, including the Austral Wheelrace, Melbourne Cup on Wheels, Forges Wheelrace and Australian Madison will all have to be rescheduled to other venues.


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