Blood Tests For Pros AgreedIn an effort to limit significantly the use of EPO in the professional peloton agreement has been reached on a system of blood tests to take effect in March.
The agreement was reached at a meeting in Geneva on Friday (January 24} between UCI officials, Division 1 directeurs sportifs and team doctors, rider representatives and medical researchers. It is hoped that the testing regime will be set up in time to be used in the Paris--Nice stage race, which starts on March 9, and it will definitely be in effect in time for Milano--San Remo, the first race of the World Cup series, on March 22.
In the absence as yet of a urine or blood test positively identifying EPO, the test will be for a maximum haemocritical level set at 50% (based on an index that takes account both of haemoglobin cell numbers and size). It is expected that between 750 and 1,000 tests (presumably random) will be administered in 1997. As GAN directeur sportif and president of the French professional cycling league Roger Legeay noted: "In terms of probability, all the riders [in the pro peloton] will be tested at least once [in the season]."
The testing system will be separate from the post-race drug controls and riders could, for example, be tested on the morning before a race, since results can be obtained within 15 minutes. Riders who exceeded the 50% limit would be immediately excluded from the day's race and would only be relicensed and therefore able to race again after a subsequent negative test. No mention of penal sanctions has been made which seems reasonable since riders who exceed the limit cannot be proven to have used EPO.
UCI president Hein Verbruggen noted: "At the moment neither urine nor blood tests can detect EPO. Studies carried out by specialists from Quebec who have worked with members of the University of Lausanne have demonstrated this. But one can say that EPO use will be greatly reduced with these new tests. By accepting blood tests and a 50% limit the riders are freeing themselves from big risks [to their health]."
A special commission will be created to oversee the blood tests which will include the German Werner Gohner (president of the Union Europeene de Cyclisme), Dr Schrattenberg (president of the medical commission of the UCI), Dr Testa (former Motorola team doctor), the Italian Signor Crespi (representing the groupes sportifs) and Roger Legeay. One or two riders will be picked to take part in the work of the commission.
The commission will be empowered to change the 50% limit if indications that a different level is appropriate become apparent and to study each positive case. Hein Verbruggen noted, for example: "When the Colombians arrive in Europe after several months of training at altitude, a level of 52-53% would be understandable."
BerzinEvegny Berzin, the Russian Champion from Team Batik-Del Monte looks ahead after an opaque 1996. He won in 1996, the first Russian in Pink, now he will attempt it again, three years later, with the hope of being reborn. Berzin can see himself in pink in Milano for the finish of the Giro d'Italia (from May 17 to June 8) and he will arrive there with the following schedule: Trofeo Laigueglia, Alto Var, GP Haribo, Etna, Pantalica, Paris-Nice, Settimana Sarda, Liege-Bastogne-Liege, Fleche Wallone, Vuelta Alentejo, GP Jornal de Noticias and Giro del Friuli.
Eugenio Berzin was born in Vyborg, Russia, bordering Finland on June 3rd, 1970. As an amateur, he was World Champion in the Team Pursuit at Maebashi '90, in Japan. He became a professional in 1993 and has always ridden for Emanuele Bombini: first with Mecair-Ballan, then Gewiss-Playbus and for 1997, Batik-Del Monte.
In 1994 his first win was the ITT of Avignon at Criterium International. After that, Liege-Bastogne-Liege and the Giro dell'Appennino. Berzin conquers the maglia rosa at the Giro d'Italia at the stage of Campitello Matese, where he won the ITT of Follonica, at del Passo del Bocco and at the stage to Aprica when he defended the attack from Pantani. In the overall, he beat Pantani and Indurain.
In 1995 Berzin finished second at the Giro, after Rominger, winning at the stage of Luino. For 1996 the Russian won five ITTs (one at Tirreno-Adriatico, one at the Giro, two at the Tour of Switzerland and one at the Tour), but didn't do well in the overall in the major stage races. He was 20th at the Giro and 10th at the Tour, plus two days with the Yellow Jersey.
Miguel denies comebackMiguel Indurain, present yesterday in Barcelona to receive homage at Camp Nou, made sure yesterday to deny very strongly the possibility of his reconsidering his decision to abandon professional cycling. "The bicycle is hanging at home and by the way, it already has quite a bit of dust on it", explained the Navarran, who explained that "I will not get back into it for any motive". Indurain has not been able to prevent, during the last few weeks the questions about reversing his decision. In that sense, his last meeting with Banesto staff help increase the speculations. "I've only had that meeting just to take care of some pending matters, nothing else. The decision has been made". Indurain confesed that he hasn't ridden in the last few weeks. "I'm not doing well, because I'm not getting used to it, but it has been snowing in Pamplona and it is better to wait for good weather", said Indurain.
Miguel, meanwhile, has not had time to get bored since he retired. "Training and racing has ended, but you could say that I'm busier than before, because I'm taking care of things that I couldn't take care of as a rider".
USA, Men's 1997 National Racing Calendar
Date, Race, Class, Location, Phone, Prize March 4-9, Redlands Bicycle Classic, 2.4, Redlands, Calif., 909/798-0865, $40,000 March 15-16, Wine Country Classic, 1.5, Santa Rosa, Calif., 707/579-0413, $8,700 March 22, Sea Otter Classic, 1.6, Monterey, Calif., 415/306-1414, $6,000 March 22-23, Sequoia Cycling Classic, 1.5, Visalia, Calif., 209/738-0315, $10,000 April 12-13, Trustmark Tour LeFleur, 1.5, Jackson, Miss., 601/956-8130, $16,000 April 17-20, 89er Stage Race, 2.5, Norman, Okla., 405/364-5513, $10,000 April 27, First Union Grand Prix, 1.3, Atlanta, Ga., 203/324-6800, $88,400 May 17, Fresca Twilight, 1.6, Athens, Ga., 706/549-6632, $10,000 June 8, Thrift Drug Classic, 1.3, Pittsburgh, Pa., 203/324-6800, $75,000 June 10, CoreStates Invitational, 1.3, Lancaster, Pa., 203/324-6800, $15,000 June 12, CoreStates Classic, 1.3, Trenton, N.J., 203/324-6800, $15,000 June 15, CoreStates USPRO Championships, 1.2, Philadelphia, Pa., 203/324-6800, $114,200 June 18-29, Evian/Sun Super Center Tour of Ohio, 2.6, Ohio, 614/890-4145, $50,000 June 22, Nevada City Classic, 1.5, Nevada City, Calif., 916/272-7663, $10,000 July 3-6, Fitchburg-Longsjo Classic, 2.4, Fitchburg, Mass., 508/582-0226, $10,000 July 16-20, Cascade Cycling Classic, 2.5, Bend, Ore., 541/382-5962, $17,000 July 27, Mike Nields Bannock Criterium, 1.6, Denver, Colo., 303/755-6468, $10,000 July 30-Aug. 3, Tour de 'Toona, 2.4, Altoona, Pa., 814/949-7223, $37,000 Aug. 8-10, Pocono International, 2.5, Long Pond, Pa., 814/949-7223, $25,000 Aug. 10, USPRO Criterium Championships, 1.4, Downer's Grove, Ill., 312/868-3010, $25,000 Aug. 16, Manhattan Beach Grand Prix, 1.5, Manhattan Beach, Calif., 310/371-6293, $10,000 Aug. 17, Olympic Cup, 1.6, Los Angeles, Calif., TBA, TBA Aug. 17, Grandview Heights Classic, 1.6, Grandview Heights, Ohio, 614/529-4268, $5,000 Aug. 22-24, Hotter'n Hell Hundred, 2.5, Wichita Falls, Texas, 817/766-4545 x1111, $13,500 Aug. 24, Seattle Grand Prix, 1.5, Seattle, Wash., 206/441-7460, TBD Aug. 24, Chris Thater Memorial Criterium, 1.6, Binghampton, N.Y., 607/778- 2056, $15,000 Aug. 28-Sept. 1, Killington Stage Race, 2.4, Killington, Vt., 800/621- MTNS, $15,000