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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News, October 2, 2008

Edited by Sue George

Clerc leaves ASO

By Laura Weislo

Patrice Clerc
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
Click for larger image

Patrice Clerc, the patron of the Tour de France for the past eight years, has been replaced as president of the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), the Amaury Group announced Wednesday. Jean-Etienne Amaury, the son of the media giant's founder Philippe Amaury, is taking over presidential duties from Clerc.

Gilbert Ysern, the Director General of the ASO, will also leave the organisation to be replaced by Yann Le Moenner, who has been in charge of marketing, media and legal affairs for the ASO since 1992.

The change in leadership at the Tour de France offices comes after an accord had finally been struck between the Grand Tour organisers and the International Cycling Union. The two sides had been at odds for more nearly four years over the UCI's ProTour series.

The announcement of an agreement by the UCI in August revealed that it had been in negotiations with Editions Philippe Amaury (EPA), not the ASO. Following the accord, Hein Verbruggen, the former UCI vice president, and president during the inception of the ProTour announced his resignation.

Last week, the EPA and UCI officially ended the long-running conflict. "The International Cycling Union and the Editions Philippe Amaury (owner of ASO and Société du Tour de France), RCS and Unipublic have signed an agreement today to put an end to the disputes that have existed over the past four years," a UCI statement read.

"These agreements provide a framework within which the parties will work together for the sport of cycling going forward. All parties believe that this marks the start of a new positive era for a united cycling family."

The peace deal was novel in that both sides appeared to agree to the terms without exception. In the history of the struggle between the organisers and UCI, the sport had come to the brink of crisis several times only to be stitched back together by temporary deals, only to have the whole fight unravel over the same points a few months later.

Clerc was strongly critical of Verbruggen and his successor as UCI president, Pat McQuaid not only on the ProTour but also on the issue of doping. The Frenchman felt the UCI hadn't done enough to combat doping, and fought for the ProTour rules to include a code of ethics.

He also railed against what he called "an American-style closed system" where the teams within the ProTour are set. He opposed race organisers being told which teams they must invite to their races, and fought against the UCI putting its branding on his race as well as attempts by the governing body to share in the television rights to the Tour de France.

The conflict nearly ground the cycling season to a halt two years in a row - first in 2007 when the ASO refused to let the team, which had a ProTour license, into Paris-Nice, the first series race of the year and threatened to hold it under the sanction of the French Federation. The next season, the ASO went one step further, and actually organised both Paris-Nice and the Tour de France outside the of the UCI's control.

As a result of the new peace deal, the UCI will be restructuring the ProTour by 2011.

Schleck heard by Luxembourg Anti-doping agency

Fränk Schleck (Team CSC) gives an interview
Photo ©: Gregor Brown
(Click for larger image)

The Luxembourg Anti-Doping Agency (ALAD) issued a statement after a meeting with Fränk Schleck at the Luxembourg National Institute of Sports on Wednesday.

"Following an international rogatory commission, the prosecution in Bonn, Germany, found during an investigation (against Jan Ullrich, Oscar Sevilla and Rudy Pevenage) payment by rider Fränk Schleck of Luxembourg... in the amount of 6991.91 euro made on March 9, 2006 to a corporation owned by doctor Eufemiano Fuentes," read a statement on the ALAD website Wednesday night.

"The German authorities are of the opinion that it could be an indication of a possible doping violation... ," continued the statement.

The hearing came after German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung reported last week that investigators had evidence of nearly seven thousand euro being wired to Spanish Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes' Swiss bank account in March 2006. Dr. Fuentes' clinic was raided by Spanish police in 2006 as part of Operación Puerto.

It appears as if the information will warrant no further action against Schleck in Luxembourg. "The (Luxembourg State) prosecutor told the ALAD that it received the information and it will further clarify that the facts provided by the German authorities are not punishable under Luxembourg criminal law - regardless of whether or not those facts are substantiated."

ALAD staff at the hearing will report to the Board of Directors, but no other follow-up action was prescribed in the statement.

Judge dismissed Puerto again

Judge Antonio Serrano dismissed the Operación Puerto case on Wednesday in Madrid. According to the Spanish, Serrano did not find evidence of criminal offenses in the investigation conducted by the Spanish Civil Guard. In May 2006, the Guard had conducted raids of two Spanish clinics and found performance-enhancing substances and 200 bags of blood thought to be used in blood doping.

Serrano had previously dismissed the case in March of 2007, but he was forced to revisit it after the practices described in the police report were considered to perhaps be "harmful to health", something considered a criminal offense in Spain.

Although Spanish anti-doping laws have since been passed to make doping offenses into a criminal offense, they were not in effect at the time of the Puerto raid.

According to Spanish law, Serrano's latest decision could still be appealed upon new evidence, but since Judge Serrano considers the practices described by the Civil Guard report not to be a criminal offense at the time they happened, no trial or further action in the case is planned.

Former Liberty Seguros team manager Manolo Saiz was arrested in the original raid along with four others, but neither he nor Dr. Fuentes have been convicted of Operación Puerto - related charges.

Since Operación Puerto, the Spanish have passed a law elevating doping infractions to a criminal level, meaning that future dopers who are caught could be tried as criminals by the Spanish justice system.

Cyclingnews' recent coverage of 'Operación Puerto'

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

Cyclingnews' complete coverage of Operación Puerto

AFLD proposes more testing for Armstrong samples

"For the sake of objectivity and justice, and to enable the cyclist Lance Armstrong dispel any unfounded rumors", the French Anti-Doping Agency (AFLD) proposed Wednesday to offer for analysis six of Armstrong's residual urine samples (B samples) taken during the 1999 Tour de France.

The Agency suggested testing the samples for recombinant EPO. Despite the elapsed nine years, at least five of the samples are considered by the AFLD to be in suitable condition and of sufficient volume to permit such testing. The samples were preserved at the French National Anti-Doping Lab (LNDD) following a January 4, 2006, court tribunal defamation decision involving Armstrong.

In the past decade, several sources have levelled accusations of doping at Armstrong, but perhaps the most famous is the French newspaper L'Equipe, which alleged in 2005 that Armstrong used the banned substance EPO to achieve his first victory in the race in 1999. First used at the Olympics in Sydney, the test for EPO was not validated for use by the UCI until Spring 2001.

In a statement on its website, the AFLD proposed the tests as an act of good faith, although the agency also recognized that even if the results came back positive, "they could not in any case give rise to any disciplinary doping procedure" given the statute of limitations of eight years set by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

"The analysis could be completed within a short time after agreement," said AFLD's statement which suggested testing "at the Châtenay-Malabry lab in the presence of an expert appointed by the athlete or at another laboratory accredited by WADA but using the same method of isoelectric focusing, which has been internationally validated by the AMA to detect the presence of EPO recombinant in the urine."

Armstrong won seven editions of the Tour de France between 1999 and 2005. He has consistently denied taking performance enhancing drugs. He recently announced his comeback to professional road racing and will make an attempt at an eighth Tour de France win in July of 2009.

Cyclingnews' recent coverage of Lance Armstrong's comeback

January 18, 2009 - Armstrong announces start of Catlin's drug testing programme
January 8, 2009 - Armstrong impresses Carmichael prior to Tour Down Under
January 7, 2009 - Armstrong believes Team Astana can dominate Tour
December 10, 2008 - Merckx: Armstrong's return good for cycling and Giro
December 8, 2008 - Armstrong climbs Teide
December 6, 2008 - Rast on life with Armstrong
December 5, 2008 - Armstrong considers Tour of Ireland
December 5, 2008 - Armstrong: Contador is the best
December 4, 2008 - Horner unites with Armstrong despite past differences
December 3, 2008 - Armstrong and Contador ride separate paths towards Tour
December 2, 2008 - Armstrong surfs with Astana
December 2, 2008 - Armstrong plans to race Tour
December 1, 2008 - Armstrong's anti-doping testing program pending
November 23, 2008 - Media out of love with Armstrong?
November 22, 2008 - Andreu caught up in Armstrong fight again
November 19, 2008 - Armstrong concerned about Tour safety
November 17, 2008 - Armstrong to meet with ASO
November 9, 2008 - Armstrong racing in Texas again
November 7, 2008 - Exclusive Armstrong wind tunnel video
November 7, 2008 - Lance Armstrong speaks at Web 2.0 conference
November 6, 2008 - Carmichael dials in Armstrong's comeback training
November 5, 2008 - Armstrong looking for balance
November 5, 2008 - Photos from Armstrong's wind tunnel test
November 3, 2008 - Armstrong doubles up and heads to wind tunnel

Cyclingnews' complete coverage of Lance Armstrong's comeback

Gerolsteiner to Münster

This week Team Gerolsteiner will ride its last race ever in Germany. Local rider Fabian Wegmann, who finished seventh in the recent World Championships, will lead the team in the Sparkassen Münsterland Giro on Friday, October 3.

Wegmann is actually one of four Worlds riders who will be in the race for the German ProTour team, which is stopping at the end of the season. The others are fellow German Sebastian Lang, Markus Zberg of Switzerland, and Tom Stamsnijder of the Netherlands. The team will be filled out by Robert Förster, Thomas Fothen, Heinrich Haussler and Sven Krauss.

Tinkoff Credit Systems prepares for season finale with Cimurri and Lazio

Tinkoff Credit Systems aims to close its 2008 season with strong performances in this weekend's Italian races, the Memorial Cimurri on Saturday, October 4 and the Giro del Lazio on Sunday, October 5.

"Despite the 2008 season nearly completed, the team has an obligation to race with the same aggressiveness and professionalism exhibited thus far," Sports Director Orlando Maini said. "The season is long, and the riders are still focused on performing well, and producing good results."

Tinkoff Credit Systems for the Memorial Cimurri: Yuahen Sobal, Vasil Kiryienka, Nikita Eskov, Jaroslav Marycz, Luca Mazzanti, Daniel Contrini, Alexander Gottfried, and Walter Pedraza.

Tinkoff Credit Systems for the Giro del Lazio: Evgueni Petrov, Ivan Rovny, Pavel Brutt, Mikhail Ignatiev, Alexander Khatuntsev, Bernardo Riccio, Ilya Chernetsky, Alexander Serov, and Sergey Klimov.

Leipheimer to NorCal CycleFest benefit

Team Astana's Levi Leipheimer will be the celebrity guest host of the NorCal High School Mountain Bike Racing League's annual CycleFest dinner on Saturday, November 8, at the Mill Valley Community Center in California. At CycleFest, Leipheimer will recall stories from his most memorable races, talk about the highs and lows of the 2008 season, and speculate on having Lance Armstrong back in the peloton for 2009. The CycleFest benefit weekend with Leipheimer also includes a Friday night cocktail party on November 7 and a Sunday Group Ride on November 9..

In addition, CycleFest will host its own handmade bicycle show, with bicycles on display from 12 of Northern California's most prominent custom frame builders.

Proceeds from CycleFest ticket sales will go to supporting the Northern California Mountain Bike Racing League. Regular tickets are US$150.00, and Patron tickets, which include a cocktail hour with Levi, are $200.00. For more information and tickets, visit

(Additional editorial assistance provided by Susan Westemeyer.)

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