News for December 3, 1997

Contracts and Transfers

- John van den Akker (31) formerly with Foreldorado-Golff was expected to return to the top amateurs in 1998. But he has got a contract via the team "De Jonge Renner" with MGI, a bike factory. MGI will train him as a sales-manager over the next two years.

Dutch Drug Scandal - Part 9

Doping trail goes to Festina

The best team in the World at present, the French Festina team, is now being accused of a new drugs scandal in Belgium and the Netherlands. In 1992, Team Doctor Erik Ryckaert, was the successor to the Geleen team doctor Wim Sanders for the Dutch team PDM, and was suspected of having bought the blood doping substance EPO from a Gent chemist.

It is not a regular occurrence for a Gent chemist to supply to a colleague in the Netherlands. The Dagblad De Limburg (a daily newspaper in Maastricht which has broken this whole story) and the Flemish newspaper, Het Volk have discovered these linkages. According to sources, police have conducted a house search of the Festina doctor Ryckaert in the East Flanders village of Oostwinkel and the chemist Kris Vanderstichele (48) in Gent. The EPO supplies were found in an investigation of black money, false prescriptions and various swindles involving at least 10,000 guilders from health insurance funds.

A similar search 2 years ago was conducted on the ex-PDM doctor Sanders in Geleen by the FIOD (Fiscal Enquiry and Tracing Service - Tax Department). That search detected an extensive drugs network, where chemists in Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany were supplying an assortment of forbidden drugs to Sanders. The affair came out in the open for the first time last week. The drug revelations in Belgium is more recent data to support the more general hypothesis that the PDM matter is not an isolated affair. The chemist, who is in his free time the President of a football club, spent a day alone in a prison cell last month. He had EPO and had supplied to Ryckaert. The Belgian doctor finished with PDM in 1993 when the ex-team leader Jan Gisbers finished. He then went over to Festina. Ryckaert has denied having EPO and have supplied it to his cycling team.

Festina is currently the best cycling team in the world. The last two years they have won the team's classification in the Tour de France. Richard Virenque is the best climber in the peloton and Laurent Brochard won the World Road Championships two months ago.

Festina came into disrepute this year after allegations of EPO abuse. In the Giro d'Italia, the team was blood tested and Thierry Laurent was forbidden from starting because he had an excessive haemocrit level, allegedly a sign of EPO doping.

In the 1993 Amstel Gold Race, Festina rider Pascal Lino returned a positive drug test. The French rider who had worn the yellow jersey in the Tour de France for several days that year was not prosecuted or suspended by the authorities.

This second drugs scandal in a short time is new evidence that there is widespread abuse of EPO in international cycling and provides a renewed signal that serious questions have to be asked about the supply chain of EPO and other forbidden substance between chemists and doctors in Belgium and the Netherlands.

Now they are evading the drug tests

The Belgian Cycle Crosser Danny de Bie has risked a six month suspension (and the end of his career?) by turning up to his drug test several hours after the appointed time. He was required to go to the doping control after the race in Kalmthout last weekend. The former World Champion was involved in a doping affair in 1990.

Last week it was drugs and sex... now we go lower!

In Krakow, Poland, it is dangerous being a bus driver. At least if you are a bus driver that overtakes a certain cyclist. I received a report today about an angry cyclist who caught a bus which had overtaken him and when it came to the next stop, he climbed in the bus and ... wait for it ... "bit the driver's genitals".

A case of causing actual bodily harm was before the Polish courts on Monday. The incident happened in early September and the bus driver said he gave two warnings by horn before he overtook the cyclist. The PAP news agency reports: prosecutors alleged on Monday. "At the next stop the enraged cyclist left his bike, got onto the crowded bus and began a row which prevented it from driving on. Then he beat the driver, broke his nose, bit him in the stomach and genitals."

The 30-year old rider said that the bus had endangered his life. He claimed the bus driver had slammed the door shut when he tried to argue with him. The cyclist faces 3 years jail.

[Bill notes: Now I know what to do next time the Morisset Bus gives me the pip! I feel inspired.]

Change of Date for Big Perth Criterium Series

The RideSafe criteriums hosted in Perth for the last two years in Perth are moving to either October or November in 1998. Despite the popularity of the events, a decision has been made to move the races to late October or early November in order to attract more international riders to the series. The current sponsors have agreed to the change and an announcement of a new format and dates should be made by the end of January or early February.

World Championship Cyclo Cross Site 2000

The World Championship Cyclo Cross in the year 2000 will go to the Netherlands, after Luxembourg withdrew. The race will either be in Heerlen (Limburg - near Wim Sander's House!) or Sint Michielsgestel (near Richard Groenendaal's house)

Teleflex Tour in Doubt

One of the most important Dutch stage races, the Teleflextoer, is in trouble for 1998. The organization has not renewed the contract with the biggest sponsor Teleflex.

The consequence is that their budget is reduced by around 200.000 guilders. They are looking for another new sponsor and there will be problems if they can't find a sponsor in the next few weeks.

The Teleflextoer is scheduled for April 14-19, 1998.