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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for January 19, 2007

Edited by Laura Weislo

Pereiro threatened with exclusion from Tour

French antidoping agency wants medical justification for asthma drug

By Susan Westemeyer, Laura Weislo and Antonio J. Salmerón

Oscar Pereiro (Caisse d'Epargne)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)
The French newspaper Le Monde has reported that 2006 Tour de France runner-up Oscar Pereiro tested positive twice for the asthma drug salbutamol. The rider's urine tested positive for the drug after stage 14 and again after stage 16. Poised to take the title of Tour winner ever since Floyd Landis' positive control for testosterone, Pereiro might instead find himself banned from the race because of a dispute between the UCI and the French antidoping agency over what the agency views as excessive medical exemptions.

The UCI had apparently granted Pereiro, along with dozens of other riders, 'therapeutic use exemptions' (TUE's) for drugs that are normally banned in competition unless the athletes can show a medical need for the substance. However, the French antidoping agency AFLD was not satisfied with Pereiro's documentation for his exemption for the asthma drug, and were suspicious of the large number of riders being granted exemptions.

UCI President McQuaid said he knew nothing of the case and would not comment on the specifics. However, he told the Associated Press that "there have always been differences of opinion" between the UCI and the French agency on the medical waivers. The UCI uses the WADA guidelines, "and the French agency has a different view of this."

The AFLD requested further documentation to demonstrate a true medical justification for the TUE from both Pereiro and the UCI, but the requests went unfulfilled. The agency threatened to ban the rider from competition on French soil unless he provides adequate justification for use of the asthma drug. The AFLD plans to meet next Thursday to review the case and open proceedings against Pereiro if he does not fulfill their requests.

Meanwhile, Pereiro's Caisse d'Epargne team played down the story. "Oscar received two letters from the AFLD in October and November," said Francis Lafargue, the team's spokesman, according to AFP wire reports, "He had the documents but he forgot to respond to the agency, it is carelessness." The team promised to deliver the documentation to the AFLD by the end of the week.

Rafael Blanco, the director of the Spanish Sport Superior Council, defended Pereiro to the Spanish press agency EFE. “Neither the National [Cycling] Federation nor the National Antidoping Commission have received any notification on the matter”, insisted Blanco, adding, “and given the time passed (since July), if there had been some incidence, they must have given notice to these two organizations”.

Blanco explained that, "salbutamol is a substance that can be used in the sport with a medical prescription and for therapeutic reasons, and if Pereiro had this, that is perfectly legal”. Blanco insisted that the process to obtain a medical authorization is rigorous and demands a series of previous tests.

Pierre Bordry
Photo ©: AFP
Click for larger image

In September, AFLD president Pierre Bordry had released information that 12 doping controls from the 2006 Tour de France were positive, but all the riders had TUEs for the detected substance. Pereiro is the first rider to be named in these cases, but the Le Monde report says that six other cases of "doubtful" medical waivers will also be looked into.

Pereiro isn't the first high profile cyclist to run into trouble with the French agency over the drug. The case almost identically echoes one of another Spanish cyclist, Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano, who tested positive for salbutamol during the 2002 Tour de France. Gonzalez de Galdeano was allowed to continue racing but was ultimately banned by the French antidoping agency, then called the CPLD, from competing in France for six months, which would have excluded him from the 2003 Tour had a broken collarbone not done the same.

The prevalence of asthma in the professional peloton has been the subject of debate for more than a decade. One study before the 1996 Olympics showed that 45% of cyclists had asthma that required medication. While other forms of corticosteroids offer some performance enhancing benefit, inhaled versions such as those found in asthma drugs, and beta-agonists like salbutamol, are not considered to be performance enhancing, and are allowed in competition with a TUE.

Aussie Pro-Continental team upset at Tour Down Under exclusion

Drapac-Porsche demands enquiry as Australian cycling grapples with increased investment

Australian cycling is developing so quickly that it now has a special problem - too many ambitious new pro teams and too few slots in its premier stage race. Mark Zalewski of Cyclingnews reports from Adelaide.

Drapac-Porsche rider Darren Lapthorne
Photo ©: Shane Goss
(Click for larger image)

The ninth edition of the Tour Down Under (TDU) is currently on the road in and around the South Australian capital of Adelaide, with fourteen teams invited to take the start in the country's premier international stage race. Eight of those teams are from Europe, with four ProTour level teams among them, the maximum allowed by UCI regulations.

There are four professional continental squads from Europe, as well as one from the USA and a 'composite' team invited from New Zealand. There are two Australian teams in the race, the South Australian-based 'composite' team Australia-UniSA, as well as the UCI-registered Continental squad, South, the country's national U23 development squad that has raced in Europe for many seasons in its previous identity as the Mapei-AIS team. However, the lack of more Australian teams, specifically privately-funded UCI trade teams, has ruffled some feathers.

The Drapac-Porsche team, which is Australia's first ever UCI Professional Continental team (see feature on the team), issued a press release on Monday, January 15, in the wake of its success that previous weekend, where it scored an impressive one-two in the country's major one-day road race. The release revealed its frustration with the organisers of the Tour Down Under for not inviting the team to participate, and Drapac-Porsche also pointed to the exclusion of two other UCI-registered Australian professional teams; the Continental status Savings & Loans squad, also based in South Australia, as well as the FRF Couriers-NSWIS team, based in NSW).

"The race is neglecting the professional teams of Australia which is hindering the development of the teams in here," team manager Scott McGory, a gold medallist in the Madison in the Sydney Olympics, told Cyclingnews. "The last year to 18 months there have been many developments in Australian cycling, including our team taking an upgraded UCI registration, which shows we are taking more than a few steps."

The press release, titled "Australian Champion not good enough for Tour Down Under," cited the team's recent one-two finish by Darren Lapthorne and Robert McLachlan, respectively, at the Australian Open Road Championships (AORC) as one of many indications to garner an invitation.

To read the rest of the feature, click here.

Tinkoff continue in Marina di Grosseto

By Gregor Brown

Serrano and Hamilton
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Tinkoff Credit Systems continue its two-week stint in Marina di Grosseto, Italy. The team, with star riders Tyler Hamilton and Salvatore Commesso, have been on the costa Toscana since January 8, where they have been enjoying mild winter temperatures, around 15°C. The camp runs through January 24, which could be a good time to leave, since Italy is expecting colder temperatures.

The team, backed by Russian Oleg Tinkov, will be officially presented in Roma on Tuesday, January 23. Shortly after the presentation Tinkoff Credit Systems will make its 2007 debut in Malaysia, on February 2 (to 11) at the Tour de Langkawi.

The team confirmed to Cyclingnews yesterday that the boys for Langkawi will be "Sergey Klimov [Rus], Salvatore Commesso [Ita], Steffen Weigold [Ger], Pavel Brutt [Rus] and Elio Aggiano [Ita], with the sixth rider to be determined." Meanwhile, another contingent will make the team's European debut in the GP d'Ouverture La Marseillaise on February 6.

A full listing of the team can be found on the Cyclingnews teams database.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Roberto Bettini/

Italian national championships scheduled

By Gregor Brown

Always the pro.
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

The week of the Italian national championships, La Settimana Tricolore, has been scheduled for June 26 to July 1. The locations will vary, from Novi Ligure (Piemonte) to home of navigator Cristoforo Colombo, Genova (Liguria).

The week is a highlight for any Italian racer who hopes to vie for the maglia tricolore, the national championship jersey in red, white and green. Last year the elite men's road title went to Paolo Bettini, who no longer gets to wear the jersey because he took the rainbow jersey in the world championships three months later.

According to La Gazzetta dello Sport, the racing starts on June 26 in Novi Ligure with all five time trials (42.8 km for the elite men). The day after, in Diano Marina, will be the scene of the elite "without contracts" championship (163 km). The women will contest their road races in Varazze, 28, which is appropriately known as la città delle donne (city of women). The juniors will race 71.8 kilometres and the elite will race 113.7.

Friday in Bolano, June 29, will the juniors will have their road race (120 km), Saturday the under-23 in Lavagna (163.5 km) and the grand finale, the men's road race, on Sunday in Genova. On July 1, the elite men will contest a 262 kilometre race; including a city circuit parcours of 15 km, with two serious ascents, to be repeated 10 times. Tune in to see if Bettini will try again for the maglia tricolore.

German athletes successfully eluding doping controls

By Susan Westemeyer

German athletes seem to be successfully avoiding the national doping controllers, according to a report on German ARD television. It reported Wednesday night that in some 400 instances out of 4500 tests, the athletes could not be found by the controllers for unannounced testing. No names were released, but the sports of cycling, track and field, swimming, skiing and triathlon were mentioned.

According to the ARD, the athletes who missed the tests - whether it was accidentally or on purpose - included 32 world champions and seven Olympic medalists. One Olympic champion allegedly could not be reached for control five times within "a few months".

Under the German national antidoping association rules, the first missed test requires an official warning, the second a ban of at least three months, both sanctions to be handed out by the responsible sports federation. However, the ARD reported, the sanctions do no appear to have been used.

NADA director Roland Augustin told the Süddeutsche Zeitung that there are a number of athletes who regularly outwit the controllers: "But they do it so cleverly, that we are powerless against them."

German Olympic Committee General Director Michael Vesper said, "We are concerned and have asked for an explanation. If the problems in the report turn out to be true, then it is up to the NADA to correct them immediately."

Richard Pound, head of the WADA, said he was "very surprised", noting "I thought that the German anti-doping program was first class."

Zabriskie to pedal for cancer

David Zabriskie will be in California next month to pedal the long route from San Francisco to Long Beach, but first he'll join local San Francisco residents to pedal in place. Zabriskie is due to take part in the 2007 'PedalFest', a fundraiser for Amgen's 'Breakaway from Cancer™' initiative, which raises awareness and funds for cancer patients and caregivers.

PedalFest is part of the lead-up to the Amgen Tour of California professional road race, and is a unique, stationary cycling fundraiser in which miles pedaled will earn matched dollars.

For a five dollar minimum donation, individuals are invited to ride a stationary bike for five minutes. Union Bank of California, AEG and the Amgen Tour of California will each donate one dollar for every mile ridden over the course of the day.

"Cancer touches not only the person who is sick, but also their entire network of family and friends," said Ellen Stovall, president and CEO, National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship. "The goal of Breakaway from Cancer is to provide resources and support to cancer survivors and their caregivers, so they have the knowledge they need to effectively manage and navigate the disease."

The event will take place Thursday, Jan. 25, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Union Bank of California’s main San Francisco branch, located at 400 California Street.

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(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2007)

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