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The current time in Athens is 20:14 on June 26, 2022

Olympic Cycling News for August 9, 2004

Edited by Jeff jones

Camenzind positive for EPO

Swiss cyclist Oscar Camenzind (Phonak) has tested positive for EPO, and has been pulled out of the Swiss Olympic Team. The result was confirmed by the Swiss Olympic Association, which said that it was still deciding whether to send a substitute for Camenzind.

Camenzind was tested on July 22 by the Swiss Olympic Committee's anti-doping commission and traces of EPO were found in his urine A sample. Camenzind has not asked for a B sample analysis. Thus, he has been fired by his Phonak team in accordance with its anti-doping policy and been withdrawn from the Swiss Olympic team.

In a statement issued by Phonak, Camenzind said that he has accepted full responsibility for the incident and has absolved the Phonak team of any blame. "The team has nothing to do with this incident," said Camenzind.

Phonak's team manager Urs Freuler clarified the team's position on doping. "Any rider who is tested positive in a race or in training for a race for a performance-enhancing substance or who has such substances on his person, will have to reckon with immediate dismissal," he said.

32 year old Camenzind won the World Championship and Giro Di Lombardia in 1998, as well as the Tour de Suisse in 2000 and Liege-Bastogne-Liege in 2001.

Dajka's appeal unsuccessful

After a five-hour hearing, Jobie Dajka's appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport was unsuccessful today and the Australian sprint cyclist will not be rejoining the team for the Athens Olympics.

"It probably won't hit home until the next couple of days," he told reporters after the hearing in Sydney. Dajka's place in the squad was "terminated" by the Australian Olympic Committee due to the "untruthful denials" the rider gave before the inquiry headed by Robert Anderson.

Dajka had told the inquiry he was not one of the riders to have allegedly used the room occupied by suspended rider Mark French at the Australian Insitute of Sport in Adelaide. However, this was contradicted by DNA analysis of injecting paraphernalia found in French's room, where nine items revealed a profile that was an exact match for Dajka.

His omission from the Australian sprint team has created a gaping hole in the team's sprint squad, as the 2002 world keirin champion was set to compete in three events in Athens; the sprint, keirin and team sprint.

Dajka's troubles have not yet ended, as he also faces a disciplinary hearing before Cycling Australia and the Australian Sports Commission over the Anderson inquiry revelations.

Australian sprint squad still juggling

The four member Australian men's sprint team is still juggling riders among the four sprint events to be contested in Athens (Sprint, Kilo, Team Sprint, Keirin), and at this stage it's still uncertain whether Ben Kersten will get a ride at all. In response to a question about the likely line up of riders in the team sprint, Australian track coach Martin Barras told AAP that Sean Eadie, Ryan Bayley and Shane Kelly [not necessarily in that order] would comprise the team sprint, if he had to pick the team now.

The fourth member of the team, Ben Kersten, brought in as a replacement for Jobie Dajka, would be a reserve as he has been posting the slowest times of the quartet so far in training. However, given that Shane Kelly will be riding the Kilo the previous day, things could change.

"At this stage I'm on the outer in the starting lineup," said Kersten today. "I've not been given any trials to change that. Their opinion is if something goes horribly wrong physically with one of the riders then I'll fill in. But I'd much rather be given an opportunity to change that starting lineup because it's not very flexible at the moment.

"The team's been picked and through my training if I broke a world record they'd consider it, but even if I do faster times, they're sticking with their original selection."

Barras confirmed Kersten was fourth choice and would find it hard to force a change in his policy of allowing team members plenty of time to prepare without feeling their place was under threat.

"If he wants to set a world record in training, we would look at that," Barras said. "But as it stands, we've had our trials and the starting line up is [if we had to pick it now] Sean Eadie, Ryan Bayley and Shane Kelly. And we told him so when he arrived."

If Kersten is not selected, he may have a chance to ride in the Keirin, where Australia has qualified two spots. It's likely that Ryan Bayley will take one, but the remaining position would be between Eadie, Kersten and Kelly. And in the Match Sprint, it's likely that Bayley and Eadie will gain the two positions.

Australia has been allotted 14 spots in total for the track team, consisting of 3 women and 11 men. The men's team is further broken down into 7 endurance spots and 4 sprint positions. If Kersten had qualified for the second spot in the kilo in Melbourne it would have meant the men's squad would be 6 endurance and 5 sprinters, not 7 and 4 as it currently stands.

Kersten happier to be here than at home

Off the track, Kersten said he had not enjoyed "a very nice lifestyle" since last weekend when he joined a team under stress from the Mark French injecting saga, including Eadie whose position he challenged through the courts. He admitted to feeling it was him against the rest and he has only just started talking to Eadie, which he considered a breakthrough.

"We didn't really speak for a while. I'm directly challenging him, I can understand why he wouldn't want to be my pal," Kersten said.

Kersten was unsure whether he was enjoying himself in what should be an exciting buildup to his first Olympics. "Yeah, sort of, yes and no. It's been really difficult," he said.

He even questioned the point of all his dramas, until he realised that an Olympics, even one in a strained atmosphere without competing, was still worthwhile. "I guess being over here, even if I don't get to ride, makes it somewhat better. I get to go to the village, get to go to the track, wear my pass, wear the clothes, go to the closing ceremony, see the sites, it's much better than sitting at home looking for a job."

© AAP (Cyclingnews also contributed to this report)

Bates explains

Ben Kersten's manager Phill Bates has issued a statement in response to a recent story where he alleged that Kersten may have been slipped a drug by a teammate before an incident in Moscow in 2003 that cost Kersten his place at the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS). The AAP story quoted Bates as saying that Kersten had lost control because someone had slipped the so-called date rape drug Rohypnol into one of his drinks during celebrations after the competition. Kersten was suspended for three months as a result, and subsequently had his AIS scholarship terminated.

Kersten reacted to the story with a statement, saying that, "I've never accused nor would I ever accuse my team mates of such a crime." He has now been backed by his manager Phill Bates, who issued the following statement, reproduced here in full:

This issue originated from an AAP journalist who phoned me on Friday morning with a fist-full of allegations that he had received on Ben Kersten and one of his brothers dating back to 2000.

In all aspects I defended Ben's position and made my intentions known that his source was mud raking on a person that has done nothing wrong.

During this entire saga that has threatened the track cycling program over recent months, Ben Kersten has been completely supportive of his team mates and has made no derogatory claims about anyone.

All Ben has done is win National title medals, post record times and display great form.

In mid July, I decided to stand aside from the CA Board in support of Ben over concerns with the selection process. It was a decision that I made in the best interests of both parties and to ensure that I had no influence on any decision made by the Board.

I am appalled at the article that originated from the AAP correspondent and recent assertions made by journalist Leo Schlink.

I was not at Moscow during the World Cup, am still not aware of who was in the team but can state that Ben Kersten was exonerated by an independent tribunal that invoked a forensic expert to give evidence.

I was stunned at the misrepresentation of what I said and at no time would I have accused AIS athletes of doping Ben Kersten. I did not even think that it was a story to be told.

The statement made by Ben Kersten was indeed directed to the person that contacted the AAP correspondent for the mud slinging.

I wish to say that I have done nothing but promoted positive aspects for the sport over a long period of time, respect the honour of being a CA Board member and taken the stance of standing beside Ben, a person that I have known throughout his cycling career and have sponsored for considerable number of years to help him achieve his ambitions.

It would be far better if the media focussed on the tasks ahead and ensuring the entire cycling team was given media coverage on what they may achieve in Athens. This is without question the best cycling team we have ever sent to an Olympic Games.

Phill Bates AM

Coach confident in Australian team

Australian track coach Martin Barras believes that his 14 member team full of current and former world champions as well as world record holders in the team pursuit has the potential to win a swag of medals in Athens. But he laments the fact the team will go to the Athens Olympics under a cloud of drugs controversies, appeals and personal squabbles.

"It's frustrating, there is this perception in Australia that there seems to be this crisis," Barras said today at the team's camp in the German town of Büttgen. "What's happening and what's being talked about (in Australia) and what's taking place here are two different realities, two different worlds.

"I don't have any hesitation in saying this is the strongest team ever put on the track, period. Not just the best Australian team."

But with the various controversies surrounding the team, there has been little talk about the triple world champion team pursuiters, Shane Kelly's bid for gold, Brad McGee's chances in the individual pursuit, Katie Mactier's attempt to convert two world championship silvers into Olympic gold or women's world time trial champion Anna Meares.

"That's what it seems, that's what it appears but that reflects on a different reality," Barras said. "In a sense, it's probably going to serve us well with the rest of the world because no-one seems to want to take notice at the moment. We're just going to get on with our business, stand up tall, stand up and be counted."

Barras was impressed with the way the team had handled the various scandals and dramas and he attacked French, who sparked the dramas when he was banned for two years in June.

After being banned, French named Dajka, Kelly, Sean Eadie, Graeme Brown and Brett Lancaster as being part of an injecting culture at the AIS centre in Adelaide. Kelly, Brown and Lancaster were cleared while Eadie was later dumped but reinstated after it couldn't be proved he tried to import banned substances. Dajka was axed for lying to investigators about injecting himself.

"People just need to see these riders for what they really are instead of through the distorted view of a fairly fickle situation, the distorted views of allegations of disgraced drug cheats," said Barras.

French-Canadian Barras, who joined the Australian team in 2002 after guiding Great Britain to one gold, a silver and two bronze medals at the Sydney Olympics two years earlier, would not make any medal predictions, but was confident the team would live up to his billing.

"I made myself a little pact a month and half ago when things didn't look particularly good," he said. "I was going to come out of this Olympic experience with no regrets whatsoever about what we've done and no regrets whatsoever about the cards that have been handed to us.


Blackgrove to ride TT for NZ

The New Zealand cycling federation BikeNZ has named Heath Blackgrove of Waimate as its choice for the 46.8 km Men's Individual Time Trial at the Olympic Games on August 18. "Heath has shown remarkable form all year in the lead up to the games, but particularly in the last 4 months," said BikeNZ's head road coach Jacques Landry. "He has had several top five finishes in a variety of events, and was a member of the Teams Pursuit Team at the Track World Championships in Melbourne in May this year."

Blackgrove will also compete in the Men's Road Race on August 14, held over 239 km.

Blood testing to be widespread at Olympics

Athens dope testers have extended blood sampling to all Olympic sports for the first time. "It's the first time there will be blood tests across all sports," an IOC official said.

Blood testing was previously limited to endurance sports, which was screened for the blood-boosting synthetic hormone erythropoietin (EPO).

More than 3,000 tests will be conducted at Athens, a 25 percent increase from the 2000 Sydney Games, according to IOC officials. Blood samples taken from athletes will also be frozen and stored for potential retroactive tests, IOC officials said.

Testing of this kind led to a breakthrough against the so-called designer steroid tetrahydrogestrinone (THG). Last year scientists tested frozen blood samples from the athletics world championships in Paris for the newly-discovered THG, which is at the centre of a doping scandal tearing apart US sport.

The top four athletes in all events will be tested as well as a random selection of other competitors. IOC medical director Dr Patrick Schamasch refused to comment on reports that the new tests for human growth hormone (HGH) will be used during the Games.


Vino set for Athens

Alexandre Vinokourov (T-Mobile)
Photo ©: Christine Schramm

T-Mobile did have something to celebrate in the Rothaus Regio-Tour International, which finished today in Kaiserstuhl. Alexandre Vinokourov won the race ahead of his teammate Stephan Schreck, while T-Mobile's Cadel Evans, Tomas Konecny and Paolo Savoldelli finished 5th, 6th and 7th respectively. Vinokourov won two stages along the way, and looks set for Athens next week. "This is the confirmation that I am back again after my injury period," Vinokourov was quoted by "This final stage was perfect training - in Greece it's similarly hot."

Hauptman ambivalent about Olympics

Slovenian Andrej Hauptman (Lampre) will represent his country in the Olympic Men's Road Race next weekend. It will be Hauptman's second Olympics, after finishing 24th in Sydney 2000. But the experienced fast man has had several good placings in World Cup and World Championship events, such as his third in the 2001 World's in Lisbon, fourth in the 2002 World's in Zolder and fifth in the 1997 Clasica San Sebastian.

Like many of his colleagues, Hauptman is not placing a big emphasis on the Olympic Road Race, which this year will be only the third time it has been a fully professional race. "For me it is a race like all the others," he said. "For a professional the World Championships is much more involved. That's not to say that it is a race that I don't feel is mine, but I am not particularly excited about participating in the Olympic Games."

Slovenian national coach Penko expressed the opposite opinion: "In November last year we went to Athens to look at the course. We will ride in the centre of the city, and there are four sections of 1100 metres all on uneven, narrow streets," he said. "Compared to Sydney or the World's in Lisbon, it seems to be a more demanding and difficult course. If I have to pick a potential favourite rider, I would say that Bradley McGee, O'Grady and even Astarloa would be able to make their mark."

The Slovenian team will be comprised of Andrej Hauptman (Lampre), Gorazd Stangelj (Saeco), Uros Murn (Phonak) and Tadej Valjavec (Phonak).

Voeckler stays, Chavanel goes

French champion and Tour star Thomas Voeckler has extended his contract with the Brioches la Boulangère team. Although team manager Jean-René Bernaudeau has yet to announce a sponsor to follow the bakery franchise, it's expected that he will do so soon.

Meanwhile, Brioches' other young French talent Sylvain Chavanel will, according to L'Equipe, sign on Monday with Cofidis for the next two seasons. The 25 year old, who was also courted by Phonak, Quick.Step, CSC and US Postal, will thus guarantee his spot in the UCI Pro Tour. It's possible that his brother Sébastien will follow him to Cofidis.

Haywood loses appeal

Susan Haywood's appeal to be reinstated into the U.S. Olympic women's mountain biking team has been dismissed by a judge in Denver, who declined her request to have her case reassessed by another arbitrator. Haywood was originally awarded the spot, but lost it when her friend Mary McConneloug successfully appealed to the American Arbitration Association that due to a clerical error by USA Cycling, McConneloug had in fact accumulated the most Olympic selection points, and not Haywood.

Haywood commented to the Associated Press after the final ruling, "In my mind I will always know that I was the one who won the points race. I got the most points in one year and I should be going, but I will still give her [McConneloug] a hug when I see her and I wish her the best in Athens."

Haywood argued that USA Cycling credited her with 15 UCI points from a race in Sandpoint, Idaho in July 2003, and had assured her that these points would be counted. However, the race results weren't sent to the UCI and the points were not counted by the world cycling governing body. These points, which Haywood believed she'd earned, were enough to give her the sole Olympic spot by one point over Mary McConneloug when the selection was made on July 12.

McConneloug argued that USA Cycling shouldn't have credited Haywood with these point, and instead should have relied on the UCI rankings, as laid out in USAC's Olympic selection criteria. The AAA ruled in McConneloug's favour, stating, "While, Ms. Haywood sadly bears the brunt of this...she and all other athletes will benefit if this decision leads USA Cycling and other national governing bodies issuing clearer, more transparent procedures that allow athletes to compete on a level and open playing field."

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