Tour de France Cycling News Extra for June 30, 2006
Edited by Jeff Jones and Hedwig Kröner
More riders named by UCI
After the Spanish sports minister and Tour de France organiser ASO officials,
the International Cycling Union has also been given the detailed report
on Operación Puerto, which links many pro cyclists of the international
peloton the Madrid-based doping ring. The UCI has issued an official statement
on Friday afternoon, saying that it "assumes that the following riders,
registered to participate in the 2006 Tour de France, are involved in
the affair: Sergio Paulinho, Isidro Nozal, Allan Davis, Alberto Contador,
Joseba Beloki, Francisco Mancebo, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich and Oscar Sevilla."
Four more cyclists (Paulinho, Nozal, Davis and Contador) thus join the
list of five riders that have already been refused the right to start
the race tomorrow. According to the UCI, "The involvement [of these riders]
does not mean that an anti-doping violation has been established. However,
the indications of the mentioned report are serious enough."
At this point, it is not clear whether 'only' these nine riders will
be excluded from the race; or if there will be more. The fate of team
Astana-Würth is also still not known - even though the International
Court of Arbitration for Sport yesterday ruled that the team was granted
the right to participate, ASO has refused to accept that decision. Moreover,
it is highly unlikely that the team should start with only four riders,
as five of them seem to be caught up in the doping affair and that it
is said that none of the excluded riders will be replaced.
Later during the evening, ASO is expected to issue the new, official
start list of those cyclists that will take on the Tour de France tomorrow.
Leblanc: "An open Tour with clean riders"
Tour de France general director
Photo ©: AFP
Tour de France director Jean-Marie Leblanc has appreciated the actions
taken by various teams in the light of the serious accusations against
some of their riders. T-Mobile suspended its leader Jan Ullrich, on Friday
morning, which Leblanc called "a courageous move and a good example for
the other directeurs sportifs."
The former bike racer and journalist, wo was already in his current
position in 1998 when the Festina scandal rocked the race, was ready to
'clean up the peloton' if the teams did not do it by themselves. "We will
ask the teams concerend to apply the ethical charter that they've signed
and to expel the implicated riders," Leblanc continued. "If they don't,
we will do it ourselves."
Even though this will mean that many teams will be reduced in number
- as excluded riders will not be replaced - the Tour de France will get
underway tomorrow, Saturday. ""Why shouldn't it?" asked Leblanc. "If the
Spanish judiciary told us that, of the 200 riders starting in the Tour,
there were 150 riders on their lists, we would have to think about it.
But at the moment, there are only 5 or 6 riders (sic) that are concerned."
Leblanc still looks forward to the Tour de France, which will be his
last one as director of the race. "I hope we can all start serenely on
Saturday," he continued. "This is an organised mafia that spreads doping
practices. I hope we can clean up everything now; all the cheats should
be kicked out. then, maybe, we will get an open Tour with clean riders;
a Tour in which there is space for ethics, sport and entertainment."
Team CSC: Ignorance or bluff?
By Anthony Tan in Strasbourg
Photo ©: Anthony Tan
Although not available for comment after today's dramatic news, Team
CSC was less tight-lipped at yesterday's press conference.
Asked about the problems stemming from 'Operacion Puerto', the now excluded
team leader Ivan Basso replied: "My opinion is that I work hard for this
Tour, and I think only about this race. My job is to ride the bike fast,
and after the Giro, I put 100 percent [effort into] the Tour de France.
I only read what has been written... I don't know more."
Said team manager Bjarne Riis: "I think it's obvious it's not good for
cycling, but I'm in a situation where I cannot do much about it. I really
don't know what to do or say about it... it affects us all, and it's bad
for us all. Whether one should be doing this Tour or not, again, it's
not up to me to decide that.
"As I said before, it's never good when things like this happen in cycling,
in any sport. So... I don't know - you have to wait and see what comes
out, and know what the situation is. There has been a lot of rumours,
a lot of talking, a lot of noise... and it's been very difficult to handle;
it's frustrating for us all, for the teams, for the press. I think a lot
of positive things came out of '98... I don't know, let's wait and see."
Riis didn't have to wait long. Less than 24 hours later, the Tour de
France world - in fact, the entire sporting world - has been turned upside
down. Following a meeting between the French and Spanish ministers of
sport this morning, and confirmed by race organisers A.S.O. at noon today,
Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Oscar Sevilla, Francisco Mancebo, among at least
16 others, have been withdrawn out of the 2006 Tour de France, and will
not be replaced.
One of Team CSC's American riders, Bobby Julich, was the victim of a
similar situation at the 1998 Tour de France, when the Festina doping
scandal overshadowed a podium finish in Paris. Yesterday, Julich showed
either ignorance or bluff when asked if he knew any more about the situation:
"It has nothing to do with me and has nothing to do with my team, so we're
absolutely focused on fulfilling our objectives of winning the Tour and
being competitive as we can," he said.
Continued Julich: "A lot of it is still unknown, but in 1998, French
cycling sort of purged itself because of the Festina thing. Obviously,
it's very bad and very stressful to deal with in the Tour, but there was
a positive outcome.
"Italy followed a few years later, and now it's Spain. That's always
the negative thing, to have this sort of thing come out in the Tour de
France, but if it's going to make this sport better and it's up to young
riders like Frank Schleck or Cancellara to make sure this sport is clean.
Y'know you have to clean it before you can expect things to change...
Whatever happens in Spain is going to happen."
McQuaid: Saddened rather than shocked
By Shane Stokes
UCI head man Pat McQuaid
Photo ©: Mark Johnson
Contacted by Cyclingnews today at the UCI offices in Aigle, Switzerland,
UCI president Pat McQuaid has said that he is "saddened, but not surprised"
by what has happened today at the Tour de France.
"I’m sad that some of our top riders find themselves implicated in a
doping affair but, on the other hand, if they are eventually proven guilty,
then cycling is better off without them – we must insist on a clean sport,"
"This development is not a shock, because it is something that we knew
was coming. We have known about this affair for several weeks, I have
been down in Madrid and spoken to the Spanish minister. We have had indications
as to who is going to be involved, and now we have the actual facts.
"Now it is a question of clearing up the sport. There have been some
courageous decisions taken by T-Mobile to exclude their riders and likewise
there were courageous decisions taken by the teams today to exclude any
rider involved on the list of names which has emerged. It is on the basis
of the code of ethics of the UCI ProTour that they are excluding the riders."
McQuaid did underline the need for caution until further facts emerge.
"No riders have been sacked, they have all been suspended until this affair
"I have to stress that everything we are dealing with at the moment
is allegations. Everybody is innocent at the moment, until we go through
a process which proves them guilty. That has got to be stated. These riders
that are being sent home from the Tour de France today are being sent
home on the presumption of innocence, but because their name is implicated
in this report, they have been suspended. They have not been fired, they
will continue to get paid, they have been suspended."
However, he says that if they riders concerned are found guilty, they
deserve to be punished. "From the sport's point of view and the Tour de
France’s point of view, it is a disaster that such big names are going
out of the race…. But if these allegations are eventually found to be
true, it means that we lose these guys out of the sport. At that point
in time, I won't really have much sympathy for them.
"Anybody that gets involved in doping will be found out and will be
thrown out from cycling. We have the strictest rules of all sports as
it is, in relation to the sanctions, and in the ProTour if any of these
riders are eventually proved guilty, you could virtually say that their
career is over. They will not just get the two years of the Wada code,
they will also get two years extra out of the ProTour. So they are facing
a four-year sentence out of the sport, that effectively will finish their
"This is hard for cycling, but I have to look at the positive side.
It has to be a message to all the other riders in there that no matter
how clever you think you are, you will eventually get caught out."
McQuaid also says that harsh penalties will also await any manager who
is found to have encouraged systematic doping within their teams. When
asked if they could face longer bans, he agreed. "Yes, you could take
them out of the sport for good. We have that rule currently in there,
as far as I know, and if through the information we are getting me find
out that that has been happening, you can be sure that the managers involved
will not be involved in cycling any more."
As to the rumoured involvement of other sports, McQuaid says that he
believes more details about this will come out in time. "You must bear
in mind also that this isn't just a problem of cycling. We have got this
list from the authorities in Spain because we forced the issues; pressure
came from the UCI and the French Ministry as well that we wanted this
list before the Tour de France. There are other sports people from other
sports involved this affair as well, and in time their names will also
come out... I have been told that athletics, basketball, tennis and football
are involved in this. Those details will all emerge over time."
A full interview with Pat McQuaid will appear on Cyclingnews
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
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(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2006)