News for June 17, 2001

Recent results and new features

Museeuw for the Tour?

There is some speculation about whether Domo's Johan Museeuw will ride the Tour de France this year, with a couple of weeks to go before the final selections are made. In a recent interview with Belgian daily Gazet van Antwerpen, Museeuw said that he was still undecided.

"I have not worked it out yet," said Museeuw. "It's not a problem of will, but I want to wait to see how I go in the high mountains in the Tour de Suisse. After then I will decide."

"Gianni [his son] is old enough to know that I raced in the Tour. Stefano [his other son] is only four and already crazy about cycling...It would mean a lot to see his papa in the Tour. Tchmil has the same reasons for starting? I didn't know that, but it would make it a lot better."

"I have ridden since the Tour de Picardie for some form in the Tour. I did that myself, no-one asked me too. The Tour de France is a circus, I have a love-hate relationship with that race. In 1999 and 2000 I went to a stage in St Moritz and it felt odd, as though they were there and I was here, that wasn't right."

He also stated that he was "glad that I didn't win the Hell" referring to his second place in the Paris-Roubaix in April.

"Last year, I raised my knee on the track in Roubaix. This year I would have raised my bike on the finish line and would have stopped being a professional rider...Three times in the Ronde van Vlaanderen, three times in Paris-Roubaix: the circle would have been completed. Even if stopping at a high point would have been nice, I have invested too much energy in my comeback to quit."

The recent police raids in the Giro have made him irritated. "A few years ago, I wouldn't have cared...but now some of my colleagues are continuing to walk on the wrong line, which is bad for cyclists like me who live for their sport and take care of their bodies."

"The cheats must be gotten rid of, cycling must be cleaned up, whatever it takes. The sport will survive regardless, it lives too deep in people's hearts."

Police search during Tour of Luxembourg

Judicial authorities in Luxembourg carried out their own version of the Italian "razzia" yesterday, searching team hotels after the second stage. No details was given as to what was found, however it was learned that the room of US Postal's Benoit Joachim was searched.

There is currently an inquiry in Luxembourg into an affair involving the importation and concealment of medical products, after a 25 year old policeman was placed in custody on June 8 when anabolics and respiratory drugs were found in his home. The policeman was a former amateur cyclist, and had good contacts with the Luxembourg professionals including Luxembourg champion Benoit Joachim.

After riding in the Tour de France last year, Joachim was involved in a nandrolone doping affair, which saw him sacked and later reinstated into the US Postal team. In late November last year, the Luxembourg Cycling Federation claimed that the large time discrepancy (3 months) between taking the samples and analysing them meant that they couldn't say that Joachim was definitely positive.

Demol refuses comment

US Postal leader Dirk Demol did not wish to discuss the affair involving his rider Benoit Joachim, who was questioned by police when his hotel room was searched. "There is no link," said Demol when asked about the nandrolone case in 2000. "Joachim was not detained for long on Friday evening. He spent the night in his own hotel room. He showed up for the start of the third stage, and there was no problem. I think that people are looking to nail him."

"The affair has just blown up. The US Postal team will not discuss it this year. Trust me, other than Benoit Joachim, no-one else was questioned...It's a storm in a teacup."

High prevalence of asthma in sport

By Jeff Jones

The prevalence of asthma amongst sportspeople is, in general, higher than for the standard population. In cycling, it has been claimed to be quite elevated in various scientific studies. For example a study of 699 athletes who competed in the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta reported that 45% of the cyclists had active asthma and were taking medication for it [Weiler JM, Layton T, Hunt M., J Allergy Clin Immunol 1998 Nov;102(5):722-6].

It is quite common to exhibit symptoms of asthma in a sporting context, meaning that it is comparatively easy to obtain a medical certificate for asthma medication, e.g. salbutamol, terbutaline and salmeterol; all of which are considered stimulants and anabolic agents on the IOC drug list, but can be used in inhalant form with authorisation.

With the current investigation in Italy involving up to 60 cyclists, including German Jan Ullrich, the subject has arisen again: Are cyclists justified in carrying around corticosteroids?

It should be noted that in inhalant form, the drugs will be administered only to the lungs, as opposed to injections of cortisone which can spread around the body. In cycling, corticoid injections have been, and still are used in situations where removing pain is an advantage. Long one day races are a prime example, where the anti-inflammatory effects can outweigh the catabolic effects. They can also be used to ride through an injury, even though this isn't a good long term solution.

The science in this area is not clear. Some people can experience a euphoric effect when given large amounts of steroids, but in others it can have the opposite effect (Willy Voet's book gives an example of a riders using Synacthen where it didn't work).

However, it should be stressed that inhalant corticosteroids are not considered to be performance enhancing, and the results of the analyses of the raids in Italy will be therefore reviewed with interest.

Thanks to Dr Michael Owens for his contribution to the above story

Mapei-Quick Step's full statement

Mapei-Quick Step, one of the top professional cycling teams, yesterday released a two page press release to explain why they will not be following the FCI's request to suspend racing activities outside Italy. Part of this was reproduced yesterday, however the full text is worth reading.

"As you are probably aware, the Italian Cycling Federation (Federazione Ciclistica Italiana - FCI) taking up the request by CONI, has decided to "suspend all national cycling activity - competitive and amateur - from the 18th June until the approval of an ethical code of practice comes about."

They have sent to and asked all "sporting groups and societies that are affiliated with the FCI to suspend all of their proposed participation at races that form part of the national calendar within the national suspension period."

Our Sporting Group will not be adhering to this invitation of self-suspension of one's participation in overseas races for the following reasons:

The news that has come to light in these past few days is something that has been known by all members of our sport for many years, including the press. Doctor Giorgio Squinzi - president of the Mapei Group - our principle sponsor, right from 1995 understood the seriousness of the situation and of the fact that this may have jeopardised the development of cycling in general, and informed the relative competent organisations (above all the UCI) asking for urgent controls against doping.

Our Sporting Group consequently started a policy to help face this problem in a realistic manner. This policy had to bear in mind and not forget the presence of an international context characterised by the differing attitudes with regard to doping. Also bearing in mind the objective difficulties that would have to be faced regarding individual behaviour within any sporting society. Our position in favour of the "I don't risk my health" campaign, brought us almost to isolation in the '99 Tour of Italy and has led to a particularly critical relationship with the UCI regarding this argument.

Two years later, we must recognise that the UCI finally started to face the doping problem in a serious and determined manner. They showed themselves to be completely willing to listen to and put into practice the proposals made by members of this movement, amongst which is our Sporting Group. One of these proposals was that of surprise testing and more stringent controls on the use of cortisone based products.

Our society's line on this subject has generated concrete choices within our internal structure:

We have made all of our athletes only use the services of our group's medics, this is because they are working under observation of the Social Doctor, and are therefore fully aware of the Societies decisions and consequent controls.

We have organised things in such a way that any type of medical and physical problems that our athletes may have are dealt with exclusively by our Doctors. We have guaranteed the presence of a Doctor whilst the team is travelling to various races (this will soon become obligatory for all sporting groups)

With the realisation of our Centre at Castellanza (for physiological checks, improvements in training and bio-mechanic aspects) we have tried to offer our athletes a modern solution that allows them to improve their performances using fair and honest methods. This was also done to help the athletes not having to seek advice outside of our sporting group. The Centre's activity has led to an active campaign of prevention for athletes belonging to the "minor teams" (young racers, juniors, amateurs) that are supported by us.

A group of youngsters has been formed within our professional team that we are laying down very strict ethical codes to. We have tried to organise ourselves with internal decisions that help us against doping, using a policy that probably has its limits, but one that can be judged by the number of initiatives that we have already embarked upon.

These choices have meant that we have had to spend a lot of time, money and energy. However, we can see that other Sporting Groups are also moving in this direction.

During all of this time, we would have liked to have seen a more decisive and coherent way of doing things by the people that are asking us today to suspend our racing activities to reflect and think whilst waiting for an ethical code of practice to be written up. This is something that is already written in the Italian State Laws. They are wanting the code of practice to be introduced into sporting regulations and probably also into the working contracts of the main part of professional sportsmen.

For the above reasons, in conclusion we believe that a pause for reflection isn't necessary because this problem isn't a new one, it is something that has been evident for years and cannot only be affronted with initiatives affecting racers of national importance.

We believe that a deeper insight into the ethical aspects is important but we think that the best method of prevention lies with the development of anti doping tests and mechanisms.

It is for all of the above reasons that our racing calendar will remain unchanged.

Mapei-Quick Step
Press Office and P.R.
Castellanza 15th June '01

FCI notes Mapei decision

The Italian Cycling Federation (FCI) has taken note of Mapei-Quick Step's decision to ignore the FCI's request for Italians to stop racing abroad. FCI president Giancarlo Ceruti said that "They had agreements with race organisers who would be penalised by the withdrawal of Italian teams. They received the message, but do not intend to change their program, I will take note of this."

"In our world, a great discussion has been opened. This decision is a benchmark that can be used to realise that we can take more draconian measures in this future," said Ceruti. "Most groups have understood it, and the mood within the peloton is changing."

French team doctors threaten to boycott Tour

French newspaper Le Monde reports that doctors employed by the various French teams enrolled in the Tour de France have threatened to boycott the race if their position isn't clarified.

The doctors will meet with the Conseil de prévention et lutte contre le dopage (CPLD) on Wednesday to discuss the transportation of drugs used to care for the riders. The doctors want the regulations on the open practice of medicine eased. However, the French ministry of Youth and Sports wants to make sure that doctors distinguish between "looking after sick riders" and "optimisation of performance through medical control."

Gérard Guillaume (Francaise des Jeux team doctor) told Le Monde that "We would like to have an official authorization saying that we can transport such and such a product, in such a quantity."

Le Monde writes that approximately 300 products will accompany the team doctors in their bags, which is an infringment of the Public Health Act which allows only pharmacists to administer drugs.

President of the professional cyclists' league, Yvon Sanquer, said that he feared that a possible boycott of the doctors would lead to riders "self medicating" themselves, which could be more harmful to their health.

Hemsley injured

Australian Margaret Hemsley (Farm Frites-Hartol) has been injured in first stage of the international women's race, Emakumeen Bira in Spain. She fell on a descent and broke a bone in her shoulder, as well as also injuring her leg.

Dual slalom World Cup #2 cancelled

The second round of the MTB Dual Slalom World Cup, to be held in Vars (France) this Saturday has been cancelled. Heavy storms in the Hautes-Alpes forced the organisers to stop the test, although it is hoped the conditions will be more favourable tomorrow for the Downhill events.

Amore e Vita for the Tour?

Outspoken anti-drug proponent, Ivan Fanini, has offered his Amore e Vita team as a candidate for the 2001 Tour de France. After the announcement some days ago that the organisers of the Tour may exclude those found guilty in the Italian drug case in Florence, Fanini found some hope. "Our team has been excluded from the Giro for the last three years, after 15 consecutive participations, despite the rigid anti-drug rules established in 1999," said Fanini.

His team is also controversial because of the amount of money it doesn't pay its riders. The team's head sponsor is the "Vatican's message of peace", and its co-sponsor is Beretta meat products. In order to stay viable, it was registered in Great Britain for the past few years, but its registration was nearly cancelled last year by the UCI. This year, the team is registered in Poland and remains as a second division team.

Recent results and new features on Cyclingnews

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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