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Latest Cycling News for June 26, 2006

Edited by Jeff Jones, with assistance from Susan Westemeyer

Hamilton and Ullrich linked to Operación Puerto

Spanish newspaper El Pais has published its next two articles in relation to the 'Operación Puerto' affair, which has implicated 58 people in the world of cycling, including several members of the newly renamed Astana-Wurth team. El Pais is considered one of the top newspapers in the country, and Cyclingnews understands that it is in possession of the full 'Operación Puerto' dossier.

Although it is not known whether the Spanish courts will announce anything officially before the Tour de France, the information that has been leaked will likely put pressure on the UCI and ASO to reconsider Astana-Würth's invitation. ASO has already refused the right of Comunidad Valenciana to race the Tour, and the Spanish teams have been up in arms at what they claim is "orchestrated harassment" after the publication of confidential 'Operación Puerto' files.

Tyler Hamilton revisited

El Pais turned its attention away from Spanish cyclists in its first big article on Monday, "The transfusions and the dollars of Tyler Hamilton". In September 2004, Hamilton tested positive for a homologous blood transfusion after winning the time trial at the Vuelta a España. He also returned a positive A sample for a homologous transfusion after winning the Olympic games time trial a month previously in August. His B sample was inadvertently frozen, and no result could be determined from it. Although he is still in possession of his Olympic gold medal, he was stripped of his Vuelta stage win and suspended until September 22, 2006, despite appealing to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

According to El Pais, the documents seized by the Spanish civil guard during Operacion Puerto show that Hamilton was not as innocent as he claimed. It's alleged that he not only received blood transfusions, but also a full doping program involving EPO, anabolics, growth hormone and IGF-1.

The paper claims that among the files of Dr Eufemiano Fuentes and Jose Merino Batres, are some details of Hamilton's financial dealings in 2002 and 2003, including a copy of a fax sent to his wife Haven to a hotel in Gerona, where he lived. On the fax, it's shown that he had paid €31,200 with €11,840 still owing: €35,000 was for the medical program, and €8,040 was for the medication.

The doctors' files allegedly consisted of two pages. In the first, a calendar of the racing season is laid out from November to October, with the races that the rider wanted to do well in being marked along with the medication that he should take. The markings were in the so-called "Sanskrit of Eufemiano", a notation system of substances, doses, and procedures. Before the 2003 season, Dr Fuentes indicated that Hamilton should start taking EPO from December 21, with 2000 units daily, up until Christmas Eve, and then on alternate days until January 9. On the 14th of January, before his first training camp with CSC, he was instructed to withdraw blood. On January 24, he was to start with anabolics. In March, after racing had started, he was to take HMG - a hormone used by menopausal women - to mask the anabolics, as well as taking growth hormone and insulin.

The second page of the file allegedly showed that he won Liège-Bastogne-Liège six days after a double transfusion of blood, won the Tour de Romandie shortly afterwards, and prepared for the Tour by not racing in May and taking anabolics and EPO. He then raced only the Dauphiné Libéré in June - completely anonymously, and didn't even start the final stage. At the time, he claimed to be suffering from stomach problems all week, but El Pais alleged that according to Dr Fuentes files, it was during another period of blood extraction. In the final lead up to the Tour, he was to take more growth hormone and re-infuse the blood, as well as doing so on the first rest day of the race.

Ullrich: the 'son of Rudy'?

In the second El Pais article, "The blood of the 'son of Rudicio'", it's alleged that Jan Ullrich and several others were among those earmarked for a blood transfusion. On May 23, when Jose Luis Merino Batres was arrested, he was carrying an accounts receivable book, which had the following written in the back of it:

1 - Hijo Rudicio. 2 - Birillo. 4 - Nicolas. 5 - Sevillano. 6 - Sancti Petri. 12 - Guti. 13 - Serrano (alcalde). 14 - RH. 16 - Vicioso. 17 - Porras. 19 - Oso. 20 - Bella (Jörg). 24 - Clasicómano (Luigi). 25 - Amigo de Birillo. 26-Huerta. 32 - Zapatero. 33 - Clasicómano.

The numbers corresponded to those on the blood bags that were seized from the apartment in Madrid, and the names were allegedly the nicknames of the athletes who owned the blood. Although some were obvious, it was speculated that the 'Hijo Rudicio', or 'son of Rudicio' referred to Jan Ullrich as the 'son' of Rudy Pevenage, Ullrich's long time mentor.

Furthermore, in a page of notes referring to the contents of one of the fridges dated June 26, 2004, it's recorded that on the top level of the refrigerator, there were three units of blood with JAN printed on them. A similar survey taken on May 15, 2006, showed six bags marked with number 1 [corresponding to 'Hijo Rudicio'], two dated 18/09/05, two dated 29/05/05, another dated 22/12/05, and one dated 20/02/06.

According to the doctors' the desk planner, number 1 had three units of blood and half of 'siberias' (frozen red cells) re-infused on May 1, which corresponded to five days before the Giro d'Italia. The next transfusion for number 1 was due on June 20, 10 days before the start of the Tour. That would have involved the removal of two units of blood and the re-infusion of two 'siberias'.

The Ullrich link is still clearly speculative, and T-Mobile's spokesman Luuc Eisenga told Cyclingnews today, "Obviously those accusations are very strong. It's difficult to react to articles in newspapers and therefore we insist on seeing the official documents in the case before we issue any further comment."

"I have nothing to do with this situation," said Ullrich in a statement on the team's website. Rudy Pevenage commented, "There is nothing to these charges."

May 18, 2009 - Valverde to start Catalunya
May 15, 2009 - Valverde not welcome in Denmark
May 14, 2009 - Spanish federation wants proof in Valverde case
May 13, 2009 - Spanish Olympic Committee defends Valverde
May 12, 2009 - Valverde responds to sanction
May 11, 2009 - Italian tribunal delivers Valverde two-year suspension
May 8, 2009 - Valverde case: Italian Olympic Committee defends Torri
May 7, 2009 - Valverde to take legal action against CONI prosecutor
May 5, 2009 - WADA and Spanish federation join CONI and UCI on Valverde
May 1, 2009 - International Cycling Union joins in on Valverde's hearing in Italy

Caisse D'Epargne-Illes Balears for the Tour

The Caisse D'Epargne-Illes Balears team has been named for the Tour de France, and will feature the ProTour leader Alejandro Valverde and the new French champion Florent Brard. The other riders include David Arroyo, sprinter Isaac Gálvez, José Vicente García Acosta, Vladimir Karpets, Oscar Pereiro, Nicolas Portal, and Xabier Zandio. The team will be directed by Eusebio Unzue.

Van Bon returns to Rabobank

Leon van Bon will ride for his former team Rabobank next season, according to ANP. Van Bon started his career with Rabobank, but left after 2000 to join the ill-fated Mercury-Viatel team. He then signed for Domo-Farm Frites, which became Lotto-Domo and then Davitamon-Lotto. He was annoyed at the politics within the team, which he blamed on his non-selection for the Tour de France. His departure followed quickly, and he has signed a one year contract with Theo de Rooij's squad.

Savio to Venezuela

Colombian national technical director Gianni Savio (also the manager of the Selle Italia team), will leave his post after five years in the job to take up a similar role with the Venezuelans. During the recent junior Pan-Am championships, Savio worked out a three year deal with the president of the Venezuelan cycling federation, Artemio Leonett, and will take the national team from the World's in Salzburg this year through to the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008.

Leonett also announced that he has signed a large Venezuelan business to sponsor the national team from next year.

Pacific Coast Highway Share the Road sign unveiled

Share the Road Sign
Photo ©: Mitch Friedman
(Click for larger image)

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) held a news conference at the Topanga State Beach parking lot last Friday to unveil a new bicycle sign, as part of the public awareness safety campaign for the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH).

The project, which has been instigated by Caltrans and the Bicycle Safety Task Force brought forward by Senator Sheila Kuehl, will install 18 "Share the Road" signs along PCH from Decker Canyon Road to Chautauqua Road to raise public awareness to the mixed use of this heavily travelled scenic route. In conjunction with the sign installation, new requirements will be implemented when maintenance and construction work is performed through the area. Wherever possible, a four-foot shoulder will be maintained and a new "Share the Road" black and orange construction sign will be used as part of closure signage.

A PCH Bicycle Safety Task Force was formed in October 2005, following the deaths of two cyclists. It is supported by several local elected officials, various state agencies, the county, cities, law enforcement, Auto Club, bicycle clubs and the community.

"Last year, after a fatal accident in which two cyclists were killed on PCH, members of the cycling community approached me with a number of ideas for ways to improve safety on PCH for cyclist and for all users of the state highway," said Senator Kuehl. "The installation of the Share the Road signs on PCH will help to make PCH safer for cyclists and motorists alike. I applaud Caltrans, the cycling community, and all the members of the PCH Task Force for their time and commitment to make our wonderful coastal roadways safer for everyone."

"We are very pleased that the cooperative efforts of elected officials, government agencies and the community will result in greater safety on PCH, a unique and treasured resource," said Raja Mitwasi, Chief Deputy District Director covering Los Angles and Ventura counties. Also present were County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky and Duncan Lemmon of the Velo Club La Grange Cycling Club.

The Task force is ongoing to identify other possible safety enhancements for PCH. The $12,000 sign installation is estimated to be completed by the end of the month.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Mitch Friedman/www.mitchophoto.com

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