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Photo ©: Swift

Latest Cycling News for January 23, 2004

Edited by Chris Henry

Chris Witty retires from Cycling

By Kristy Scrymgeour

Witty to stick to one track
Photo: © Kristy Scrymgeour
Click for larger image

Olympic Speed skating champion Chris Witty has decided to retire from the sport of cycling to concentrate solely on speed skating from now on. As one of the few athletes who have managed to succeed in both a winter and a summer sport, Witty was offered a spot on T-Mobile early in 2003 as one of America's Olympics hopefuls in the sprint on the track, but has now decided that cycling is not really in her heart anymore.

"I am a speedskater at heart," she said, "that is the sport that I really enjoy the most."

Cyclingnews caught up with Vice Chairman of T-Mobile USA, Bob Stapleton at the T-Mobile training camp in Solvang, California Wednesday. Stapleton commented that there is always a place on the team for Witty if she should change her mind.

"Chris is a remarkable athlete with a remarkable opportunity," he said. "If at any time between now and the Olympics she'd like to come back, we'd be glad to have her."

At the Sydney Olympics in 2000, Witty placed fourth in the sprint and was on track to be in the running for a medal in Athens this year. However being able to train for two separate sports is really tough, as Witty explained to Cyclingnews.

"If I went to the Olympics next year that would make it four Olympics in six and a half years and it was all getting too much for me," she explained. "I always feel like I am trying to play catch up. I finish one sport and I'm behind in the other, and by the time I catch up with that one the season is over and I'm behind in the other one."

Knowing what it takes to achieve at this level, Witty wanted to make sure that she could give it everything before taking on such a big task.

"If I was going to do it, I wanted to do it right," she said. "T-Mobile and USA Cycling have been a great support to me and have given me everything I needed. I have a good contract, a great bike, a good coach and a perfect situation, but my heart had to be in it to for it all to come together."

Now that Witty has hung up the bike, she is training hard back on the ice. "My goal now that I'm back into skating is to try to catch up by March next year for the single distance world championships in Seoul and then continue to prepare for the Winter Olympics in 2006."

Track cycling was also turning out to be a bit of a clash for athletes who also competed in a winter sport, with the UCI trying to make track cycling a winter sport. "It was turning out to be a bit inconvenient for me," said Witty. "If I were to race this year I would sacrifice this winter season and next season, leaving only the Olympic year to prepare for Turino."

It takes a strong character to give up an opportunity to represent her country at the Olympics, but Witty feels that this is the best decision for her career. "I feel relieved to have finally made this decision. I've been cycling on and off for 12 years and the experiences I've had have been great. I'm a little sad to end my cycling career but at the same time I'm excited to focus on one thing for the rest of my career. From now on I will be a full time speedskater."

See also Cyclingnews' 2003 interview with Witty.

Museeuw's blood tests negative

Quick.Step-Davitamon announced Friday afternoon blood and urine samples taken from Johan Museeuw in September, 2003 as part of the ongoing Landuyt affair in Belgium (which implicates Museeuw for the use or distribution of prohibited substances), have returned negative. Museeuw appeared briefly Friday morning in Belgium before a Belgian court for questioning.

Museeuw also provided explanations for certain substances which were seized from his house last September, notably the anti-inflammatory drug dexametasone. Museeuw used the drug following his crash in the 1998 Paris-Roubaix in which he suffered a fractured knee as well as serious complications and infection in the following weeks. The drug is permitted by the Flemish government as a locally-administered injection when necessary for athletes. Doctors who attended to Museeuw following his crash provided statements indicating that his use of the medication was absolutely necessary.

Museeuw is currently training for his final months as a professional. Targeting his normal favourites, the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, Museeuw plans to retire as a rider at the end of the classics season in April.

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