News for November 26, 1999

Dekker cleared

Dutch cyclist Erik Dekker (Rabobank) who was expelled from the team for a high hematocrit during the World Championships in October, has been cleared to ride again. Although his level on the 9th of October was 52%, the UCI laboratory in Lausanne retested him and found him to be within "normal" limits, although no further details were given.

Jose Maria Jiménez avoids the Giro

Banesto rider, Jose Maria Jiménez is not intending to ride in next year's Giro according to manager, Eusebio Unzúe. The team leader for the event will be Leonardo Piepoli.

Unzúe was examining the course of the first mountain stage of the Giro (Prato-Abetone, 140 kilometers) today, in order to determine it's main difficulties. He commented that "it is hard, very hard. Perhaps the Giro does not seem so demanding compared to this year, because there are no long stages and not as many mountaintop finishes, but is equally selective".

Although the director believed that Jiménez gained valuable experience this year from the Giro, it would a better option for the team to replace "Chava" with "grimpeur" Piepioli. "At the time, it was good to take Jiménez and he gained a lot from it. However, next year we will take a different approach and use our younger talent, such as Unai Osa or Mancebo," affirmed Eusebio Unzúe.

When asked about his other star rider, Alex Zülle and his refusal to confront Judge Keil about the "Festina Affair", he had no comment. He merely stated that both Zülle and Jiménez' main objectives will be the Tour de France and the Vuelta.

Gotti auctions his jersey

Ivan Gotti (Polti), winner of this year's Giro di Italia, has put his one of his Maglia Rosa up for auction for charitable purposes. The money will go to the "Aiutiamo la Papaplegia", an organisation devoted to helping paraplegics.

Second trial for Watt

Kathy Watt's defamation action against the Herald Sun has started in the Victorian Supreme Court, and it is expected to run for two weeks. This will be the second of her defamation actions against Rupert Murdoch's News Ltd. newspapers. The first of these (versus the Adelaide Advertiser) was settled out of court two weeks ago, in Watt's favour.

According to a report in The Age yesterday, Kathy Watt was in tears in the courtroom as she related memories of how she had been accused of costing Australia medals at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

"I felt really angry because I've always been very proud to represent Australia and try and win medals for Australia. Charlie Walsh was saying I wasn't helping Australia win medals, but I was just trying my best. And I felt that I followed the processes set out by the Australian Cycling Federation," she said in court.

Her senior counsel, Mr William Houghton, QC said that the articles appearing in the two newspapers had a very negative impact on her reputation, possibly damaging it irreparably. After the Games, she somewhat ironically won the Herald Sun sports star of the year (1992), as well as the Order of Australia in 1993.

The Herald Sun has denied liability in this case, and Watt is to continue her evidence on Monday.