News for December 6, 1997

French Report

This is a new report from a friend who remains anonymous. Thanks E.

An Eighth Team

Louis Mattei, dissident from the team BigMat-Aubervilliers and instigator of a project to create an 8th team is very optimistic now. On the 3rd of December, he received the assurance of having at his side for 1998 a sponsor from the building industry, the name of which will be revealed next week.

The budget of the new team, which will have 14-15 riders, will be between 5-6 million francs. Concerning the riders, he has never hidden the fact that he has a large choice: "I've received more than 40 requests" he said. But his dearest wish is to recruit Philippe Ermenault, pursuit world champion. Apparently he agreed to join the team some 10 days ago and he will probably be joined by Hubert (Gan), Talmant (BigMat), Pontier (Casino), Masdupuy (Cedico), Neuville, who received a bronze medal in team pursuit in Perth, as well as Leproux and Leroscouet, amongst others.

The new sponsor, who wants to be involved in cycling during the symbolic year 2000, will receive help from the town of St. Denis (Paris suburbs), which will give logistical support to the team. As for the sporting director of the new team, Louis Mattei has already chosen someone but will only indicate that the person comes from amateur racing.

Olano honoured

Abraham Olano (Banesto) has been elected best Spanish rider of the year and will receive the Marca-Sprint trophy. Olano, who has recently had a tonsil operation and therefore had to put back his winter training program by some weeks, came in ahead of Fernando Escartin (Kelme) and Jose-Maria Jimenez (Banesto). Just for the record, Olano has won for the second year running and therefore joins Miguel Indurain, who also won two years running (1994 and 1995). The trophy will be presented to Olano on the 11th December in Madrid, with Miguel Indurain present.

Goodbye Lemarchand

After 13 years of a career spent in the professional peloton, the road captain of the GAN team, Francois Lemarchand, 37 years of age, will say goodbye to competition on Saturday 6th December in Lavarot in the Calvados region. The race will reunite the many friends of Lemarchand, notably Arnaud Pretot, Cedric Vasseur, Cyril Bos, Eddy Seigneur, Thierry Gouvenou, Daniel Leveau, Serge Beucherie and Michel Laurent.

Some December events:

5 :  World Cup Cyclo-Cross - Solbiate (Italy) 
7 :  Cyclo-cross of Tours-L'Ile Aucard (France) 
9 :  Cyclo-cross of Goujounac (Lot region, France) 
9-14 : Six days of Liepzig (Germany) 
14 : Cyclo-cross in Camors (Morbihan, France) and of Gye (Meurthe-et-Moselle, France) 
21 : World Cup Cyclo Cross - Koksijde (Belgium) 
28 : final of World Cup in Cyclo-Cross in Bollene (Drome, France) 

Dutch Drugs Scandal - Part 13

Krikke: "I was not well informed about what Sanders did

Former PDM Manager Manfred Krikke was not well informed about the practices of the team doctor Wim Sanders. He feels responsible though for the things that the doctor did.

"But primarily it was the responsibility of each rider and the business between him and the doctor", Krikke said on Wednesday afternoon December 3 during the Dutch TV program, Studio Sport. Krikke claimed he defined the boundaries for the doctor in terms of banned substances which he should not cross. "We had no other choice if we wished to ride in the Tour de France."

Drugs for sale on the Internet

If you want banned substances you no longer have to go to the doctor or to a chemist. You can now buy on the internet to your heart's content. And without prescriptions. Only the quality of the drugs is not known.

The Eijsden-based sports medicine doctor Fred Hartgens (Eijsden is a border town near Maastricht), who is also a medical researcher at the Dutch Centre for Drug Problems, heard of one leading sportsperson who was able to get drugs from the Internet. He said to prove that there is a world wide network selling forbidden drugs he placed an order. Two days later a packet arrived from Spain with ampules and a short note: "With friendly greetings" in Spanish.

The Internet as a retailer of drugs also was revealed during an investigation of sports shools and fitness centres for leading sport's people and recreational bodybuilders. Last year, an investigation by motion scientist Rens van der Kleij revealed at least 35,000 visitors to fitness centres and gyms were taking performance enhancing drugs.

It is the tip of the iceberg Hartgens said. The sports doctor said that possibly 10,000 people, were using forbidden drugs in the age groups of 16-35 years. In the 3 months investigation of the sports school circuit, it was revealed that more than 800 different vitamin products were being used. Similarly, more than a hundred different doping products were being used. The drugs were being supplied from all points of the compass. From Asia to Africa. The users knew virtually nothing about what they were swallowing or injecting by syringe.

Time Bomb in the Bodies of Drug Users

There is a time bomb in the bodies of ten thousand Dutch sports school visiter who are taking drugs and no-one knows when it will explode.

Drug users are buying their banned substances in an enormous black market, with aronud 5-10 per cent coming - with or without prescription - from the chemists. Trainers, coaches and middle-men (persons!) account from around 90 per cent of the trade.

Popular anabolic steroids taken by the drug users in sports schools include deca-durabolin, primobolan and stanozolol (the strength building drug used by Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson in 1998 during the Seoul which cost him the Olympic Gold Medal after he had set a world record in the 100 metres.

Visiters to sports schools combined two to five substances during a phase of 6-20 weeks and used doses which were much higher than would normally be taken. Fred Hargens: "If we have a headache then two aspirin or paracetumol would be fine, but in this world they would take 8 times above the therapeutic recommendation."

The consequences of lengthy anabolic steroid use are not small. Hartgens argues that the users will experience heart problems in the future. Data proves that lengthy use of steroids damages the heart cells. There are cases of top sportspersons who have died from this source. Higher cholesterol levels in combination with higher blood pressure are further examples. The situation becomes worse without medical supervision.

Looking for a drug to build muscle mass and improve performance? Want to know how to beat the drug tests? Just log onto your computer, click onto the right web site and phone in your order. It's as easy as that.

So learned the International Olympic Committee, which discovered that a U.S. company was selling steroids over the Internet. Dr. Patrick Schamasch, the IOC medical director, recently stumbled on the steroids-for-sale web site while surfing the net.

On offer, he found, was a new drug called Androstenedione.

The company, identified as Price's Power International of Newport News, Virginia, identifies the drug as a supplement for ``building lean mass (muscle) faster than ever imagined'' and offers step-by-step advice on how to avoid detection.

The web site lists a toll-free 800 number to order the product, which is offered at $49.95 for one bottle, $134.85 for three bottles and $239.70 for six.

Prince Alexandre de Merode, chairman of the IOC medical commission, announced Wednesday that Androstenedione was being placed on the IOC's official list of banned substances.

De Merode said he was asking the U.S. Olympic Committee to take counter-action on its own Internet site.

``We want the USOC to explain the health dangers posed by steroids and to remind people that they are banned,'' he said.

USOC executive director Dick Shultz said he wasn't aware of the offending web site but would comply with de Merode's wishes.

It is believed that the case raised Wednesday is just the tip of the iceberg, that many other Internet sites are doing the same thing.

``There's no question the cheaters are ahead of the testers,'' Shultz said. ``There's not enough control on what's going on on these web sites.''

Meanwhile, the IOC is putting pressure on the USOC to make sure the drug-testing lab at University of California-Los Angeles installs the latest high-tech machine for detecting steroids. Otherwise, the lab will lose its IOC accreditation.

De Merode said UCLA is the only one of the 25 labs around the world accredited by the IOC which does not have the ``mass spectrometer'' testing equipment.

The deadline for installing the expensive machines is Dec. 16.

But de Merode said he could extend the deadline for three months if he receives assurances the American lab will fall into compliance soon.

Shultz said that will happen.

"UCLA will be OK,'' he said. ``We are searching for the right piece of equipment. We will do whatever it takes to get the equipment. I think the IOC will be lenient as long as they know UCLA is working to get the machine.''

The High Resolution Mass Spectrometer is designed to detect miniscule amounts of drugs in the body, including banned substances that were ingested months earlier.

A new machine costs up to dlrs 500,000 and another dlrs 500,000 to install and maintain _ more than a university lab like UCLA's can afford.

The UCLA lab is one of the biggest and most highly respected of the IOC-accredited labs around the world. It is headed by Dr. Don Catlin, who has worked closely with de Merode and the IOC over the years.

The IOC and USOC have been debating the UCLA issue for the past year, Catlin said, noting that purchasing such a machine is not as simple as searching the classified ads.

"I'm very definitely worried,'' Catlin said. ``I don't know how much of this is posturing and politics. ... We're certainly not happy to be in the position we're in.''

Shultz said the USOC was offering to help UCLA pay for a less-expensive used machine and was looking into the possibility of acquiring one of the two spectrometers that will be employed at February's Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan.

The other IOC-accredited lab in the United States, at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, had also faced the possibility of losing its license.

But the USOC recently announced it would pay for a machine at Indianapolis, and de Merode said the lab now met the IOC's requirements.

On other doping matters, de Merode:

- said the IOC was adding Carphedon to the list of banned substances. He said the drug is a stimulant found in Russia, similar to Bromantan. Five athletes of the former Soviet Union tested positive for Bromantan in Atlanta but escaped punishment for technical reasons. Bromantan has since been added to the banned list.

- confirmed that an isotope machine would be used in Nagano to test for illegal use of testosterone, a naturally occurring hormone which has been difficult to detect.

- said the international skiing and biathlon federations will be allowed to conduct blood tests in Nagano. But the tests - which can detect higher than normal counts of red blood cells - will only be for health purposes and will not be connected with doping controls.

KNWU asks for extra meeting with Dutch Olympic Committee

The Dutch Cycling Federation (Koninklijke Nederlandse Wielren Unie - KNWU) has requested another meeting with the Dutch Olympic Committee (NOCNSF) after the revelations about the widespread use of banned substances in Dutch sport.

The scandal that came into public light last week after a search by the Tax Department of the Geleen doctor Wim Sanders has prompted the action.

The KNWU last Friday week has informal contact with the NOCNSF. On Thursday, the meeting was formalised. They are seeking a united approach to the handling of the drug problem in Dutch top sport. They want action by the first week in January. Joop Atsma (KNWU President) wants all the Olympic sports to be involved. This doping affair is not confined to cycling.

The KNWU will outline a plan for the outlawing of drug supply, and increased prevention and disclosure. The Dutch Centre for Drug Problems (Nederlands Centrum Dopingvraagstukken - NeCeDo) will help with the problem. It is important to find out the role that is played in the widespread use and supply of banned substances by - doctors, physiotherapists, and sports masseurs (known in cycling as soigneurs).

From a search about a year ago of physiotherapists it was found that around a million guilders is passing hands to finance illegal anabolic steroid trades. The KNWU wants to know what is going on. What is there to find? What percentage of tested sportspeople test positive? The KNWU will interview all the people named in the publications over the doping scandal in the next 14 days. "We want to hear everything." Aldus said. "Amateurs, professionals, coaches and team leaders. All are required to tell us what they have been doing."

Dutch Tour for Women

The Dutch Tour for women is now taking shape. The Organiser Wim van Duivenbode has planned for the first women's tour since 1986. The Tour will start on September 14 and finish on September 20.

Van Duivenbode said: "We must now only choose between the stage places. The Tour will begin in Ter Aar. The finish is in Valkenburg."

The promoter hopes that the Tour Teams will get a good preparation for the World Championship, 2.5 weeks later in Valkenburg. The organisation has been able to assemble a strong field because there is also a Round of the World Cup in Spijkenisse close to the programmed start. Between the start in Ter Aar and the finish in Valkenburg the women will pass through Huizen, Neerijnen, Veldhoven, Bergeijk and Tegelen.

Paul Herijgers still out

Paul Herijgers (Bel) has withdrawn from the World Cup Race in the Cyclo Cross next Saturday in Solbiate-Olona, Italy. He has still not recovered from a broken left elbow. He will be replaced by Ben Berden in the Belgian team.