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News for December 14, 2000

IOC: Actovegin covered by blood doping ban

No word yet from UCI

The IOC has confirmed that Actovegin, is covered by its rules against blood-boosting products and techniques. In a statement on Tuesday the head of the IOC medical commission Alexandre de Merode said, "I think we need to be very precise that the position of the medical commission is that this is a banned substance. There may have been a bit of hesitation a few months ago. This hesitation no longer exists today.''

Cyclingnews.com has requested clarification from the UCI on the cycling body's position on Actovegin, but no response has been received as yet.

Actovegin is made from calves' blood and has been demonstrated in some studies to improve oxygen delivery to the brain. "It's advertised as enhancing the flow of oxygen to the brain,'' IOC medical director Patrick Schamasch said. "And if it brings oxygen to the brain, it can also bring oxygen to the other parts of the body."

De Merode added that some teams brought Actovegin to the Sydney Olympics with the approval of Australian customs which did not consider the product illegal. It was not specifically banned at the time.

Armstrong threatens to miss Tour

In a statement on his website referring to widespread rumours in Internet discussion forums that he may skip the 2001 Tour, Lance Armstrong has said: "I was surprised to see that being said - even though there might be some validity there. I will say that if the current situation exists then I will not ride the Tour in 2001. Period. I'm not saying that to "threaten" or "warn" anyone as I really don't think the French care either way if I go."

Asked for the "bottom line" on the ongoing investigation of US Postal by French authorities, Armstrong said:

"Here's the bottom line to everyone: I'll start by saying that we are completely innocent. We run a very clean and professional team that has been singled out due to our success. It has been a very frustrating situation that will absolutely be cleared up - I'm confident of that. I'm not going to give a politically vague response like "We've never tested positive" because that's not fair either. I will say that the substance on people's minds, Activ-o-something [Actovegin] is new to me. Before this ordeal I had never heard of it, nor had my team-mates.

"It's pretty simple - our team doctor is on the road with us for three weeks (during the Tour de France) to treat a group of 25-50 people. If something were to go wrong with any of them he would be responsible for their well-being. That's why he would have things like adrenaline, cortisone, scissors, stitches, etc. Some may be viewed as "performance enhancers" but they're not used in that sense. And to so incorrectly call something a substitute for doping is clueless and irresponsible. I can assure everyone we do everything in the highest moral standard."

Armstrong is sufficiently annoyed by the whole thing that he's selling his house in Nice and buying one in Barcelona. Meanwhile, as well as the inevitable lawyers, US Postal has hired a major PR firm to defend Armstrong and the team in the court of public opinion.

Subaru-Specialized announces 2001 team

The Subaru-Specialized mountain bike team has announced its riders for 2001. Olympic silver medallist Filip Meirhaeghe (Belgium), Marga Fullana (Spain) and Elsbeth Vink (Netherlands) will stay with the team, and be joined by Bas Van Dooren (Netherlands), world number one Barbara Blatter (Switzerland) and Caroline Alexander (GB).

Subaru-Specialized finished second in the 2000 UCI team rankings, and is intent on bettering that ranking in 2001. The team will be officially launched in march at traditional Sea Otter season opener.

Austria gets women's team

Women's racing continues to grow and develop with the announcment of a new women's team in Austria, headlined by Isabella Wieser and Andrea Graus and sponsored by clothing company Charly International Trading and Mazda Lietzsport, a chain of car dealerships and bike shops.

The full team line-up is: Isabella Wieser, Austrian TT and road Champion, 1999 and 2000; Andrea Graus, 15th in the European Championships 2000; Petra Pilz; Kathrin Kampits; Alexandra Schöffmann (all five riders have been members of Austria's national squad); Sandra Koll; Michaela Dienstbier; and Italian cross rider Susann Tavella.

The team's main goals are top 10 placings in the major stage races. The focus will be on Wieser for the sprints and time trials and Graus for the hilly stuff.

Bonazzi joins Cannondale

Marketing/media role for ever-cheerful downhiller

Two-time world mountain bike downhill champion Giovanna Bonazzi has been hired by Cannondale's European arm as marketing Coordinator for Italy and media liaison for the Saeco/Cannondale team.

As a racer, Bonazzi was one of the most approachable, friendly and outright cheerful riders on the circuit, so this role, in which she is currently travelling with the Saeco team as media relations coach, is perfect for her.

Bonazzi's career highlights included two world championships, three European Championship and a total of 18 Italian national championships in cross-country, downhill, dual-slalom, and timed competition.

Holland Ladies Tour upgraded

After a protest from the organisers the Holland Ladies Tour (September 2-7) has been upgraded to the same category as the women's Tour de France, Giro, and Tour of Aude.

Tour Down Under teams to be announced today

The full team line-up for the 2001 Tour down Under will be announced at midday, Adelaide time, December 14. However, the Linda McCartney team has already jumped the gun slightly. Announcing the acquisition of Australian winemaker Jacob's Creek as a sponsor, a statement from the Linda McCartney team mentions that the team will appear at the Tour Down Under, which, of course, is also sponsored by jacob's Creek.

Check back here later for the details

New sponsor plonks down for Linda McCartney

Niel Stephens confirmed to management team

Australian winemaker Jacob's Creek will be a sponsor of the UK-based Linda McCartney team in 2001. The team's Australian flavour will be enhanced by the addition of Australian ex-pro Neil Stephens to the management team and Marcel Gono and Pete Rogers to the rider roster.

From January the team will be known as Linda McCartney-Jacob's Creek, but Linda Mccartney general manager Julian Clark waggishly emphasised that free samples were not on the team's provision list. "We'll reserve it for victory celebrations," he commented.

Team maneger Sean Yates emphasised that the squad was still British at heart. Of the new signings he said, "Marcel and Pete will bring a new dimension to the team. They are both strong men and devoted team workers; key attributes for anybody that wants to be in this team." But he added that "we're still very much a British team, with around five UK riders signing for 2001. And they won't even be able to rib us about our cricket team anymore, will they?"