Latest Cycling News for June 30, 2006
Edited by Jeff Jones
Ullrich, Sevilla and Pevenage suspended
Photo ©: AFP
At 9:34am on Friday morning, T-Mobile announced that it has suspended
Jan Ullrich, Oscar Sevilla and Rudy Pevenage in the wake of the Operacion
Puerto affair. The three were implicated in the doping scandal as
being clients of Dr Eufemiano Fuentes. None of them will take part in
the Tour de France.
As the announcement was made, the three sat in the team bus on their
way to what was supposed to be a "meet-and-greet" press conference. They
were informed on the way.
Team spokesman Stefan Wagner said that the team had received documents
from the ASO which made it "impossible" for the team to further work with
the three. Wagner also confirmed that the team would take two of its reserve
riders and would ride the Tour: Lorenzo Bernucci (Ita) and Stephan Schreck
"We have only now gotten the evidence," said Wagner. "As soon as there
were suspicions, we asked to see the files. We don't know why we didn't
get them until today. The facts in the case contradict Ullrich's claims
of innocence so strongly that we had to take this step, in order to follow
our goal of a clean sport."
"Our stance was always unequivocal," said T-Mobile's spokesman
Christian Frommert, in a statement. "If we are presented with evidence,
which leads us to doubt the credibility of one or other of our riders,
then we act upon it immediately. That is the case now."
Team manager Olaf Ludwig was also deeply disappointed. "We talked to
the riders several times and even have their declarations of innocence
in written form." Following the first reports emanating from Spain
about the possible involvement of T-Mobile Team riders in the Madrid-based
doping scandal, the team management instructed all its athletes to sign
a written declaration certifying that they were not involved in the scandal,
which everybody did. "There are clear guidelines arranged with the riders,
which leave no room for interpretation. This was also clear to Jan Ullrich,
Oscar Sevilla and Rudy Pevenage," added Ludwig.
Against this background, the sponsor as well as the team management repeatedly
questioned the riders and the sporting director. "At first we had no reason
to doubt the riders' statements. Therefore, we couldn’t make any decision
merely based on speculations, rumours and guesses," said Frommert.
But the situation has now changed. "Accordingly, we will now live up to
our responsibility towards making cycling a clean sport."
Although it hasn't yet been established that Ullrich and Sevilla doped,
it has been proven that they had contact with the doctor, which they lied
about to T-Mobile.
The list gets longer
On the eve of the Tour de France, Spanish radio Cadena SER has
published a more detailed list of names that are among the 58 (56, according
to the radio station) cyclists implicated in Operacion Puerto.
The list still includes big names such as Jan Ullrich and Ivan Basso,
as well as a sizeable representation from Astana-Würth and Comunidad Valenciana.
The riders are alleged to have used the services of Dr Eufemiano Fuentes,
who is alleged to have prescribed them with detailed doping programs.
The Spanish Civil Guard collected four boxes of papers, according to
Cadena SER, and has deciphered three of them, identifying the riders
by using the key to the codes hidden in Dr Fuentes' notebooks. In addition,
El Pais has published copies of the alleged doping programs of
Comunidad Valenciana and Joseba Beloki.
The Spanish Secretary of State for Sport, Jaime Lissavetsky, is meeting
with his French counterpart Jean-Francois Lamour today in Strasbourg to
discuss the implications of the official 500-page court report, which
could lead to the ejection of 22 riders from the Tour de France.
The list so far (31 riders)
Astaná-Würth: Michele Scarponi, Marcos Serrano, David Etxebarria, Joseba
Beloki, Angel Vicioso, Isidro Nozal, Unai Osa, Jörg Jaksche
CSC: Ivan Basso
Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears: Constantino Zaballa
Saunier Duval: Carlos Zarate
AG2R: Francisco Mancebo
T-Mobile: Jan Ullrich, Oscar Sevilla
Phonak: Jose Enrique Gutierrez, Jose Ignacio Gutierrez
Comunidad Valenciana: Vicente Ballester, David Bernabeu, David Blanco
Rodriguez, Jose Adrian Bonillla, Juan Gomis Lopez, Eladio Jimenez, David
Latasa, Javier Pascual, Ruben Plaza, J.Luis M. Jimenez
Unibet.Com: Carlos Garcia Quesada
Retired/suspended riders: Roberto Heras, Angel Casero, Santiago Perez,
ASO rejects CAS decision
Photo ©: AFP
The Court of Arbitration for Sport's decision to allow
Astaná-Würth to race in the Tour has been rejected by organisers ASO,
who issued a statement to that effect late Thursday. ASO pointed out that
"CAS nevertheless recognised that the Tour de France has to 'take its
responsibilities' and that it wished to preserve its race and 'to defend
the interests of the sport of cycling'.
"The organisers of the Tour de France regret CAS claimed "the absence
of official information" and the fact that "there is currently more uncertainty
than facts established concretely" while, according to its own terms,
'many disturbing elements were revealed on this team.' For all that, facing
the blight of doping, the determination of the Tour de France remains
Franc info reported on Friday morning that ASO also received
the official Operacion Puerto report last night, and have been studying
it. "We will take the responsibility if the teams don't take responsibility
themselves," said race boss Jean-Marie Leblanc, who pointed out that the
teams are bound to the code of ethics.
Bruyneel bearish on TDF doping situation
Bullish on Discovery Channel's Tour chances
By Tim Maloney, European Editor in Strasbourg
Photo ©: AFP
Cyclingnews caught up with Discovery Channel's sports manager
Johan Bruyneel after his team returned from the Tour de France medical
checks at the Tour HQ in Strasbourg. Rumours were flying and we asked
Bruyneel for his take on the situation with Operacion Puerto. "Definitely
what has happened in Spain (with Operacion Puerto) is probably the biggest
doping scandal in cycling and maybe even in sports ever," explained Bruyneel.
"Much more than the Festina affair in 1998. And everyday, people are aware
as it becomes bigger and bigger and it's definitely damaging the sport
of cycling. There's been a lot of damage done already but it's getting
so big that cycling is losing credibility. When people like the UCI, teams,
our sponsors who are not implicated (in Operacion Puerto) start to have
the impression that this is damaging their image, that is something else.
That's a serious problem for cycling. It's a big deal."
We also asked Bruyneel what his team sponsors were saying to him about
the current doping scandal and his frank reply was that "they know that
the Discovery Channel team doesn't have anyone involved in this...but
at the same time, I think it would be very difficult to start negotiations
with a new sponsor for any team. Obviously for teams directly involved,
but like with iShares, there was no reason for them to not sponsor (Phonak).
"I don't know exactly the situation is there, but it's bad for everybody.
And it's not good that certain teams might go out of the Tour and others
might not. It should either be all or nothing. All the information (from
Operacion Puerto) needs to be acted on. I don't think we can start the
Tour de France with those kind of doubts and uncertainty. It's bad for
the riders and there's already enough suspicion around. No one, not the
riders, or the media or the the fans will be able to focus on the race.
I don't think the Tour De France needs this and I hope their will be something
resolved soon for everybody's sake."
As for how the tumultuous situation was affecting his Discovery Channel
riders as they embarked on their first Lance-less Tour De France, Bruyneel
was far more optimistic. "We've got a good vibe; the guys are motivated
and they've all been preparing for the Tour for a long time knowing that
Lance won't be here. The team atmosphere is relaxed; everybody is in good
spirits and we're going to go out in this year and take every opportunity
we can get. It won't be in the past like with Lance; we're interested
in it all...stage wins, sending someone in a break, team classification.
Everything that's in front of us and we have a shot at it, we're going
to go for it and try to get it. It's a logical choice that we make an
about face in our tactics as we have a different ballgame now. So I am
confident that the team is good, that we have some very strong guys and
that we're going to be an important factor in this year's Tour De France."
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
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2006)