News for January 6, 2000

Dutch Doping

Rooks et al. called by KNWU

As a result of their comments on the Dutch TV show "Reporter", Steven Rooks, Peter Winnen, and Maarten Ducrot were summoned by the Dutch Cycling Federation (KNWU) to explain themselves. President, Joop Atsma has requested more information from the three riders who claimed that there was systematic doping in several major Dutch teams last decade.

Cyclingnews recently reported the comments of Jan Gisbers, former team director of PDM who said that "every teamleader in cycling knows that riders - in cooperation with doctors or soigneurs - use doping." While Gisbers' comments annoyed team directors, Jan Raas and Peter Post who denied them, they should not be taken to mean that he ordered doping amongst his riders. A passive condoning of the practice maybe. According to one of his riders in a smaller Dutch team, they were never asked to dope by the boss.

Norwegian silent observers speak up

By Tomas Nilsson, correspondent

Several Norwegian top cyclists rode for Dutch teams in the eighties who now confirm the stories told by Peter Winnen, Steven Rooks and Maarten Ducrot, in Norwegian paper Verldens Gang:

"We had a big laboratory in Eindhoven. Everybody saw what was happening. It is important that Winnen and Rooks now step forward on Dutch television and tells what actually happened, said Dag-Erik Pedersen, who rode for PDM with Rooks and Ducrot in the late 80's.

Pedersen has no doubts that his unwillingness to dope himself was a reason to why he wasn't selected for the Tour.

"Our team was ranked number one two years in a row, I rode all the classics, but when it came to the Tour, the bosses wanted an overall winner at any price. That race was only for riders who want to use stimulants."

Pedersen then had a 10th place in the 1984 Giro, with two stage wins, as his top stage race result. He also won a stage in 1986 and a stage in the Vuelta in 1990. Dag-Erik Pedersen, who now works as a sports journalist for the Norwegian National Broadcasting Company, NRK1, lost his appetite for cycle racing when two of his team mates (Oosterbosch and Draaijer) died of heart failures within two years, and a couple of years ago a third died.

The only Norwegian to ever win a Tour stage was Pedersen's contemporary Dag-Otto Lauritzen, who rode his last pro years for TVM: "I wasn't blind. Everybody knew that illegitimate things were going on. It was up to the riders if they wanted to be doped, far from everybody did," he said.

"I'm still one hundred per cent convinced that you can win the world's greatest cycling races without being doped," said the former policeman who made his pro debut after a bronze medal in the Olympics in 1984 and a sixth place in the Pro World Championships some weeks later at the age of 28.

Steffen Kjaergaard, who will ride for US Postal this year, also rode for TVM some years ago and he is suffering from the doping discussion. "I feel the suspicions, even from people that are quite close," he told "Verldens Gang". Old buddies in Tønsberg (his home town) won't talk to me about it, but approach my girlfriend instead."

Kjaergaard feels the Dutch confessions, and comments from Pedersen and others as a burden: "If I'm doing well people start asking questions about doping and the problems around it. On the other hand it's in many ways positive for me that it's brought into the light now, which will favor clean cyclists. I belong to a generation of professional cyclists that will have to take this shit and we undoubtedly will have to live with it for years to come."

Kjaergaard made his pro debut for TVM in 1996 and had two seasons without any success. In 1998 he rode for the Danish amateur squad, Team Chicky World which became professional in 1999. During that year, Kjaergaard rose from 324th to 117th on the UCI rankings in a couple of months due to good performances of the team in minor races, the best performance being the victory in cat. 2.4 Circuit de la Sarthe.

However, burden or not Kjaergaard will continue his pro career, that he already broken once, after the TVM years: "You have to be tough when it comes to doping substances, and the reason that nobody offers me any is that I have clearly stated that I am against doping." But Kjaergaard also admits that if he wanted, he could get hold of banned substances without any problems.

Theunisse - confesses

The ex-Dutch cyclist Gert-Jan Theunisse, has admitted to using illegal substances, according to an interview published by the Dutch regional newspaper Dutch "Eindhovens Dagblad". The rider, who was the best climber in the Tour de France in 1989, confessed "to having used a great deal of Celestone," a corticoid, but he denied to having taken testosterone which he was accused of using in the KRO TV documentary "Reporter",

"'Reporter' tried to make out that I had taken testosterone after I had tested positive. I do not know if I should laugh at this or cry," Theunisse said. Accused of doping in 1988, the Dutch champion was relegated from fourth to eleventh position in the general classification of the Tour after he gave an abnormally high rate of testosterone in a control. The following year he was king of the mountains in the Tour, was fourth overall and won the stage to L'Alpe d'Huez. Theunisse quit cycling in 1994 at the age of 31.

Verbruggen takes a dim view

Hein Verbruggen, president of the UCI has criticised Rooks and co. for their recent confessions, especially as they were made years after the fact. Verbruggen believed that they would have a negative impact on aspiring cyclists, and commented that this "cannot bring any good and it makes those riding clean feel guilty. They are giving the impression that doping practices were structured in their teams.

"A rider is the first one responsible of his doping. They could have said: no to doping. About these three riders, another Dutch rider told me that if they were ethical they would return the prizes they won thanks to doping".

He does hold optimism that the current hematocrit "controls" are working, and that the attitude is changing within the peloton. However, there is still a long way to go, as evidenced by the current trials in Italy.

Bartoli on the road

Former World Cup champion and world number one, Italian Michele Bartoli is getting back into shape again, despite still experiencing problems with his shattered knee. He is training every day up to four hours, but not without some pain. He reports that he still has problems with his knee joint, possibly as a result of a cyst or callous.

1999 was a frustrating year for the Italian, and he spent a lot of time watching TV. He commented favourably on Francesco Casagrande and Mirko Celestino, winners of late season classics, and Tour winner, Lance Armstrong.

He is optimistic for this season and aims to peak for the Olympics and World's, the latter being a race he strongly desires to add to his palmares.

Italian doping inquest in Bologna inconclusive

By Tim Maloney, correspondent

Massimo Guandalini, a pharmacist from Bologna, and Doctor Michele Ferrari of the University of Ferrara's Sports Medicine Clinic dispensed products that are considered "bad for health" by Italian criminal authorities. Products like DHEA (steroid), Adrenaline, Igf1 ( insulin based growth hormone), Saizen (growth hormone), Erythropoetin (EPO), Androstene (steroid), Sunsurenne (corticosteroid), among others. These substances were dispensed, according to the court records, up to August 1998.

But, due to some obscure Italian legal processes, Bologna prosecutor Spinosa has decided to not prosecute directly, but to refer the case to the Anti-Doping Prosecutor assigned to CONI (Italian Olympic Committee). Some of the names who have turned up in Guandalini's files are big; Cipollini, Gotti, Rominger, Escartin, Axel Merckx, Kevin Livingston and cyclo-crosser Daniele Pontoni. But these athletes, according to the bizarre interpretation of Prosecutor Spinosa are to be considered more as victims than as criminals. CONI will likely take a further review of the Bologna case in early February.

Toto & co. Down Under

Italian professional champion, Sal "Toto" Commesso and seven of his Saeco - Gaggia teammates have headed to Australia for the "Tour Down Under," from 18-23 January. Commesso is ready to rock in Oz, as he's been putting in solid warm-weather training in the Canary Isles on a pre-Christmas camp, preparing for the Australian season opener. Saeco - Gaggia will also send Massimiliano Mori, Sandro Guerra, Valentino China, and new signings Dario Pieri, Jorg Ludewig and Tom Nietsche (Germany) and Brandt (Belgium).

Faliero Masi passes away

Renowned bicycle artisan, Faliero Masi passed away on Tuesday, January 4th. His world-famous atelier under the curve of Milano's Vigorelli Velodrome had created some of the greatest racing bikes of the 20th Century. Masi learned his trade with Gloria in the thirties, building bikes for some of Italy's champions, and after WWII, he branched out on his own. Masi was predominantly a "servizio corse", building less than 1000 frames per year, mostly for trade teams and racers.

Notable Masi bikes were the Superias ridden by Rik Van Looy's "Red Guard" in the '50's and '60's and the Faema bikes Eddy Merckx rode from 1969-1972. With the worldwide bike boom of the '70's, Masi's creations like the elegant Gran Criterium became famous around the globe.

Eventually, Faliero Masi sold the rights to his name to an American company, who made Masi bikes in Southern California.

Perhaps Masi's most important contribution to bicycle design was his early use of oversize tubes in his early '80's Volumetrica design. The steel bikes, which were light for the time had innovative internal lugs. Masi Volumetrica's were used successfully in many international races by the Leningrad Lokomotiv / USSR team of Alexender Kuznetsov.

Pantani - Voet connection?

The net around Italian star, Marco Pantani is tightening. The public prosecutor Raffaele Guariniello in Turin has heard evidence from Willy Voet, who started the whole "Festina affair". According to Italian daily "Corriere della Sera," the doctor did have contact with Pantani during the year of 1998, when Pantani won the Tour and the Festina affair started.

This week, Guariniello is examining all of the people who had relations with Pantani (in the sports medicine sense) over the past few years.

New Danish team

Courtesy of Jes Bastholm

According to Danish press, a new Danish trade team will emerge this season. After the closing of Chicky World and Acceptcard, the numbers of Danish trade teams was down, but now it looks like a new one will start up instead.

The founder of the team is the amateur club in Horsens, a Danish town, who apparently has already cleared the formal registration with the UCI.

The team will consist of (UCI points): Stig Dam (13, winner of stage 4 in Tour of Langkawi '99), Jakob Nielsen (8), Morten Christiansen, Michael Larsen, Brian Larsen (10), Michael Skelde (15), Tue Houlberg Hansen (4) and Morten Pedersen with one more rider expected to sign.

The team will therefore start up at a level around 50 points on the UCI teams-list, which in 1999 would result in a place of around 11-12th among the third division teams.

Also last year's Danish third division squad, Team Kvickly Odder might go on for another season despite a meager five ranking points, taken by two Swedes abandoning the team. Riders have been contacted and next week there will be a meeting with sponsors.

Trampusch top in Austria

21 year-old Gerhard Trampusch has been awarded the Gestetner Trophy as the best Austrian cyclist all categories 1999. Consistent good performances all season long, not the least in the Bank Austria Tour, impressed the jury. Another even younger rider, the junior Bernhard Eisel, was ranked third behind experienced pro Georg Totschnig.

1.  Gerhard Trampusch                           411 pts
2.  Georg Totschnig                             330
3.  Bernhard Eisel                              197
4.  Florentina Möser (MTB)                      175
5.  Matthias Buxhofer                           161
6.  Jochen Summer                               140
7.  Peter Wrolich                               107
8.  Gerrit Glomser                               97
9.  Hannes Hempel                                80
10. Wolfgang Fasching (Extremsport)              54
11. Siegfried Zorn (MTB)                         51
12. Arnold Eisel                                 49
13. Peter Luttenberger                           47
14. Thomas Mühlbacher                            41
    Josef Lontscharitsch                         41
16. Sabrina Theiner/Sarah Kohl (Artistic)        40
    Franz Stocher                                40
18. Simone Dür (BMX)                             31
    Michael Weiss (MTB)                          31
20. Markus Weber (MTB)                           27
21. Rene Haselbacher                             19
22. Ulrike Baumgartner                            6
    Thomas Burtscher/Martin Lingg (Cycleball)     6
24. Marco Schallert/Dietmar Schneider (Cycleball) 5
25. Harald Deutschmann (MTB)                      4
    Hannes Mähr (Artistic)                        4

Bartko for Telekom - in 2001

The double track World Champion Robert Bartko, will not be allowed to race for Telekom this year, despite both he and team director Walter Godefroot wanting it to happen.

The problem is that Bartko has a personal sponsor contract for this year, which is impossible to combine with a full contract for Telekom. He does, however intend riding for the German team in 2001.