The Italian Cycling Federation have agreed with CONI's proposal to suspend all cycling races on the national calendar in Italy, beginning Monday 18, in the wake of the drug scandal in the Giro d'Italia. Although internationally ranked UCI races cannot be effected, it may be that there will be no Italian championships this year on July 1.
However, the FCI have called for a review of the suspension on June 23, five days after it gets under way. FCI president Giancarlo Ceruti said that the aim of the suspension was to make cycling "a sport without shadows."
UCI president Hein Verbruggen did not believe that this was the correct course of action, instead advocating a stronger fight against doping by the government. Italy now has some of the harshest penalties for sports doping in the world, with sentences of up to three years possible.
Joop Atsma, chairman of the Dutch cycling union (KNWB) said that "This makes no sense. This action works counter productively. The Italian teams are allowed to ride abroad. We don't have to forget what happened in the Giro. But now it's time to take action against this criminal circuit."
"Probably there are certain products on the market which are still in the experimental phase. Mostly only two or three factories works with such products. We have to ensure that all medicines are marked, so we can find the trail and source of these products."
Jean Pitallier, new president of the French Cycling Federation, has said that he is "not convinced" by the measures proposed by CONI to suspend all cycling in Italy to stop the doping problem.
Pitallier told AFP that "this measure will at least make the Italian riders realize the problem and to reflect on this question."
However, he also questioned its effectiveness. "It is always cycling that is the test case and not other sports. There is a generation of riders to recycle. It would be wise to restructure the competition and the supervision of the riders."
"I hope that the Tour de France, with its preventive measures, will not realise the same problems", he finished.
Bernard "The Badger" Hinault, the last French rider to win the Tour and arguably France's greatest ever cyclist, has said that suspensions for doping need to be much longer than they are currently. Speaking to French radio on location at one of the stages in the 2001 Tour de l'Avenir, Hinault said that "instead of suspending them for 6 months, we need to do so for 2 to 3 years.
"It is one way, when you know the wages of some riders. If the next day you find yourself with 200,000, 300,000, 400,000 or 500,000 francs less per month, I think that there will be cause for concern for some," he said.
He was asked about CONI's proposal to suspend all cycling in Italy, replying that it was a "good thing. If they did not understand that they are not allowed to dope, and if the history of the Tour in 1998 was not useful to them, then at the moment the calendar should be scratched."
"One should not assume that because one has doped, one can climb. It is absolutely necessary to go training every day, to do it conscientiously, to do it well, and the results will follow. One does not need a drug to climb a mountain."
Dario Frigo broke his silence today in northern Italy where he gave a press conference in Biella. The 27 year old stated that "I never doped, and I never informed on my colleagues."
Frigo, a winner of Paris-Nice and the Tour de Romandie, was found to be in possession of a variety of illegal and exotic substances during the police raid last Wednesday night before stage 18. His wife found out that he was under investigation, and that led to Fassa Bortolo DS Giancarlo Ferretti sacking him on Friday evening.
"It was wrong to have those drugs in my possession, but I did not use them. They found them in my luggage, and not in my blood," he said, adding that all the doping controls that he undertook were negative. He did recognise that he should be punished for this offence. "I made a stupid error, I know. I did not know what kind of substances were found in my possession, but they were in a bag and they would have remained there until the finish in Milan. And there, I would have thrown them away."
Frigo said that they were just for security in case he needed something extra to get him through the final stages of the race. "I was looking for something that could have made me feel as strong as the others."
He stressed that he was not the 'informer'. "I did not provide the names of other riders that were leaked to the press. I am concerned only with my own affairs. I did not go to the police to obtain a reduction in my sentence."
"I completely approve of the decision of my team to fire me, I did not respect the rules and therefore they were correct."
Following on from Dario Frigo's expression of desire to help clean up the sport, the president of the Italian Cycling Federation, Giancarlo Ceruti, has called for him to name the people who supplied him with the illegal substances. "Now, Frigo must collaborate with the magistrates, and explain how he got hold of the doping products, who gave them to him," said Ceruti today on RTL TV. "It is only in this way that we can possibly identify who is selling drugs in cycling."
Ceruti added that the large number of riders who are being investigated (around 60) gives cause for concern "but we should not underestimate the degree of doping in other sports where it is likely to be present."
"Frigo, as a person or an athlete, is always correct and honest. So if a person of this kind is implicated in the scandal, it shows that the world of cycling is quite polluted."
German team Telekom is amongst the 18 "not completely clean teams" that are being investigated by the Italian magistracy in the wake of the Giro police raids last week. The team of Jan Ullrich and Danilo Hondo has fallen under the cloud of suspicion that hangs over 86 people involved in the Giro.
PR manager Olaf Ludwig informed the press that caffeine tablets were found in the possession of team doctor Lothar Heinrich and anti-asthma drugs (corticosteroids) in Jan Ullrich's medical kit. However, Ludwig did not believe that there was cause for concern.
The Sociètè du Tour de France has announced that it will closely monitor the events in Italy vis a vis the investigations into 86 people involved in the Giro d'Italia. In an official communiqué, the STF stated that "In the event of confirmed establishment of fraud, we reserve the right to refuse before the start or to exclude during the race, the teams and persons who are found culpable, in contradiction to the principle ethical and sporting values of the Tour de France."
"The organisers of the Tour de France wish to reaffirm that the fight against doping, including spectacular police and legal reforms, remains preferable to concealment. If the events in Italy continue to disturb the image of cycling, the initiatives announced by CONI regarding the development of a code of ethics augurs for a clear reform in the anti-doping fight."
"The question of the respect of ethics appears amongst the 10 measures announced last May by the Tour de France to fight against doping...The organisers of the Tour de France hope to be made aware of the possible decisions of the Italian court concerning the penal sanctions, on one hand, and measures taken by the cycling authorities for sporting sanctions, on the other hand."
Italian sources say that only 2 of the 20 teams investigated during the Giro are "completely clean". One of them was Bonjour, who took a squad primarily composed of neo-pro's and finished with one rider. The other one is an Italian team, yet to be named. In total, 86 riders and team staff have been placed under suspicion of violating the Italian anti-doping law.
Including Bonjour, nine of the teams who took part in the Giro will ride in the Tour de France. In some of these teams, none of the riders were found to be in possession of unauthorised medicines, but the team doctors/mechanics were (see separate story).
Marco Pantani's driving license may be taken away from him for between one to three months, after his latest infringement on Italian roads. The Mercatone Uno cyclist was stopped by police for speeding after he was clocked at 190 km/h on the E45 Autostrada today. He was allowed to retain his license in order to drive back home, but he was fined approximately 3000 euros and will probably be without his license for up to three months.
Pantani's driving skills are noteworthy, especially after he demolished five cars late last year when he drove the wrong way up a one way street.
Lampre's Frank Vandenbroucke will not start tomorrow in the Tour of Luxembourg, after a decision was taken late this evening by directeur sportif Pietro Algeri. At 2100, VDB still had not arrived at the meeting point with his teammates, the Parc Hotel in Luxembourg.
This afternoon, Vandenbroucke had left a telephone message, telling Algeri that he would arrive later because he wanted first to have a medical examination of his arm which he had injured crashing earlier today during his training session.
After several attempts to reach VDB with no success, Algeri decided not to let him start tomorrow. The reason for this decision was that Algeri always has an individual talk with every cyclist before the start of a tour. He wanted to have a quiet talk with VDB in order to clear the negative rumours of the past few days. As this is not possible any more due to VDB's delayed arrival, Algeri prefers not to take any risks tomorrow at the departure.
This probably means no Tour de France start for VDB. "I know the problems of Frank, but I wanted to hear it first from him," said Algeri. "We had a lot of patience with him. We rented a house in Bergamo to get him close to our team. He only stayed there for a few days in February and March. After Milan-San Rmo he told me he preferred to train more in Belgium, because then he had his daughter in his neighbourhood."
The Lampre-Daikin selection for Luxembourg will be Serpellini, Frutti, Pagliarini, Pinotti, Hunter, Matteo Algeri, Belohvosciks and Bertogliati.
Major Races and Events
September 7-29, 2002: Vuelta a España (GT) - Preview, stage list
May 11-June 2, 2002: Giro d'Italia (GT) - Preview, stage list, photos
July 6-28, 2002: Tour de France (GT) - Full preview & official route details
December 8: Superprestige Rd 5 (Cat. 1) - Erwin Vervecken
November 29-December 4: Six Days of Noumea (6D) - Sassone/Neuville victorious
November 26-December 1: Six Days of Zurich (6D) - Day 6 - McGrory/Gilmore/Schnider win
December 1: Melbourne Cup on Wheels (IM) - Scott Moller, Keirin, Sprint, Support races
December 2: Cyclo-cross World Cup #2 (CDM) - Sven Nijs again
November 24-December 3: Juegos Deportivos Centroamericanos (JR) - Final results
December 8-9: Frankfurter Rad-Cross (Cat. 2) - Alex Mudroch, UK National Trophy Series #4 (Cat. 3) - Roger Hammond, Grote Prijs Industrie Bosduin - Kalmthout (Cat. 1) - Bart Wellens, Int. Radquer Obergösgen (Cat. 2) - Björn Rondelez, Trofeo Mamma e Papa Guerciotti (Cat. 3) - Enrico Franzoi, Premio Egondo (Cat 3) - David Seco, Irish cyclo-cross championships - Robin Seymour
Results: local racing
Australia - CycleWest Promotions Omnium Series #2, Eastern Suburbs Summer Criterium Series, Carnegie Caulfield Tuesday criterium, Southern Cross Junior Track Open & Madison Cup, Manly Warringah CC, George Town Track Carnival, Carnegie Caulfield CC, Randwick Botany CC, Gold Coast CATS CC, Caesar's Illawarra CC, Caesar's Illawarra (track)
Denmark - Danish cyclo-cross Post Cup #3
Italy - Gran Premio Città di Bassano
Luxembourg - GP De Kopstal
New Zealand - Cyco Criterium series
Spain - Elorrio cyclo-cross
USA - Georgia Cross Series Championship, Chimborazo Grand Prix cyclo-cross, Boulder Cross Rd 6, New Mexico State Cyclo-x Champs, Sorrento Cyclo-x & California State Champ's, Boulder Cross Rd 5, Verge New England series, Northampton CC Cyclo-cross Championships, Chris Cross International CycloCross
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