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News for March 1, 2002
Edited by Jeff Jones
The last day of the Frank?
As the Belgian franc ceases to become legal tender tomorrow, we may also be seeing the last of Frank Vandenbroucke after doping products were found in his house by police late on Wednesday, February 27. His Domo-Farm Frites team have already sacked him in accordance with their anti-doping regulations, and it seems as though VDB's fairytale comeback has been utterly demolished.
Judge Christian Du Four questioned both Vandenbroucke and Bernard 'Dr Mabuse' Sainz in Termonde today regarding the discovery of several forbidden products (erythropoetin, morphine and clenbuterol) in VDB's home. Sainz was questioned about the large quantity of syringes and bottles that were found in his car by police after he was booked for speeding on the E17 motorway on Wednesday.
Both men were "evasive" during the questioning, but Vandenbroucke is reported (from Dutch news) to have said that the EPO was for his dog. Other sources report that VDB said the clenbuterol was for his dog. The dog must be in bad shape.
If found guilty of possession of illegal drugs, the pair face fines and prison sentences of anywhere up to 5 years under Belgian law. Bernard Sainz is already under investigation in France for infringing the anti-doping laws there in 1999, with that process still awaiting judgment.
Pictures by AFP.
Domo-Farm Frites press conference
Domo-Farm Frites team management gave a press conference on Thursday to explain their position in the affair. Team manager Patrick Lefevere was visibly disappointed. "I can't believe it," he said. "We didn't expect that it would end like this. We tested him many times in the last few months, and we found nothing. Okay, it is wrong to have this forbidden stuff, but it isn't proof that VDB used it."
"We don't have any other choice other than sack him. We have to do that for our riders and sponsors. In all our agreements it's clear that riders and staff of the team will be sacked in case they use or have forbidden stuff."
Lefevere continued: "We heard two weeks ago there was contact between VDB and Sainz. VDB told us that Sainz showed up unexpectedly to his house. He couldn't say 'stay outside' and he let him in. We thought that it was for one time only."
"I feel it is like a breach of trust from Frank, and I don't have one good word for Sainz - he abused a weak person."
Order of events
A source within the Domo team recalled to Cyclingnews what happened on Wednesday. The team was doing a reconnaissance of the Het Volk parcours, the opening race on the Belgian calendar on Saturday. "Frank looked great, really health and strong. He and Johan [Museeuw] were attacking on the cobble stones. When they finished, the team bus was at Waregem to take them back to the start in Gent."
"When we got there we said let's have something to eat. But later in the afternoon, VDB got a call on his mobile and clammed up. 'I have an appointment. I gotta go,' he said."
He returned home to Lebbeke by 6pm whereupon police from Dendermonde immediately took him in for questioning. He remained in custody throughout Wednesday night before being questioned by the judge Du Four on Thursday. Belgian police have also taken blood and urine samples from him for testing.
"He has completely fooled the team," commented the source. "He looked healthy, motivated, and focused."
Museeuw not impressed
Teammate Johan Museeuw was interviewed on Belgian TV and looked extremely disappointed. Museeuw is one of the biggest sportsmen in Belgium and saw a responsibility to help VDB. This year he did the Tour of the Mediterranean instead of the much sunnier Ruta del Sol because he wanted to support Frank.
Nico Mattan's house searched
The house of Nico Mattan, a good friend of Frank Vandenbroucke, was searched by Belgian police early on Thursday morning. The Cofidis rider also had to submit blood and urine tests. He later told his team manager Alain Bondue that any of the drugs that were seized from his residence could be justified.
"We trust him and if there had been anything, I think he would have told me," said Bondue to AFP newsagency.
Mattan has had links with Sainz in the past, and Bondue was not particularly happy about this. However "one cannot forbid someone from listening to another person, even less if the person does not have an official function."
Bondue did specify that "any rider [in Cofidis] found in possession of doping products will be sacked."
Grand Prix Midi Libre to go ahead
The Grand Prix Midi Libre (May 22-26) was another French race in danger of being cancelled this year due to financial problems, however it has been announced that the race will go ahead as planned. Race president Noël-Jean Bergeroux said that the budget had been balanced and that, combined with the success of the race in 2001, was enough to ensure its continuation.
The 2002 race will be shortened by one day, to the regret of the organisers. It will start at Salses (eastern Pyrenees) and will finish at Espérou at Mont-Aigoual. The full parcours will be presented in April.
Ireland: Cycleways Cup preview
By Tommy Campbell, Irish Independent/Evening Herald/Sunday Independent
The town of Navan in Co. Meath, as they say in the commercials on radio to publicise very gimmicks "Only an' hour from Dublin" is the setting for what should be the indications as to how the strength of the cycling fraternity should be this year. Like all sports, cycling is intent on keeping up its numerical strength but it faces tough competition from the likes of soccer who continue to make inroads because of the success of the National team who have qualified for the World Cup this year.
According to Larry Clarke of the Navan Road Club who will be organising the "Cycleways Cup" on Sunday, "I hope to see FULL HOUSE signs for the cyclists who will have the opportunity of competing in their respective categories," said Larry.
In previous years, Navan were the first club in the country to open the season, but lately that distinction has fallen to the Earl of Desmond Tralee Bicycle Club. With one race under their belt, many of the competitors who raced last Sunday will have that vital edge as they enter their second competitive event.
Eddie O'Donoghue from the Carrick Cidona Club was first home with Paul Griffin and Ritchie Cahill who came second and third respectfully. This trio were very impressive as they negotiated the Dingle Penninsula which was buffeted South Westerly winds which didn't afford any of the 80 competitors comfort in their plight for victory.
Not that, the trio's outing will in any way be a truce to the hopefuls on Sunday who will tackle an 18 mile course via Navan-Bective-Kilmessan-Dunsany-Hill of Tara four times, which, depending on the elements which are very prevalent at the moment and could cause problems.
Interestingly, Colm Farrell of the promoting club has made it home from New Zealand where he had been in action in a number of events with some minor success. Colm was a previous winner as was the sponsor of Sunday's event, Philip Cassidy who still can throw down the gauntlet to his young pretenders. (Along with Philip, Brian Connaughton a partner in Cycleways are the generous sponsor.)
"Cass" as he is known in the peloton, stills harbours for success and on the day could spring a surprise, but O'Donoghue"s emphatic victory last Sunday where the runner-up Paul Griffin was laudable in his praise for the manner of his win, "I tried every trick in the book to shake him on the climb up Castlemaine, but he was in no mood to surrender and in the sprint there is no better finisher," said Paul.
On that basis, the form book would indicate back-to-back wins. Also the Cidona Club are the defending the trophy won last year by Martin O'Loughlin and also in their ranks is Timmy Barry a new signing from the St. Finbarr"s Club in Cork a very formidable adversary. Barry on his day is a match for the best but his status as a stage rider is more renowned.
Racing gets under way from the Navan Rugby Club at 12.30 where the celebrations should still in full swing depending on the outcome of the Ireland-Scotland rugby match played the previous day. The Senior A's do four lap of an 18-mile course, the B's three laps and the Ladies/Juniors/Veterans and the new category of C's doing two laps.
Certainly Larry and his team will have their hands full catering for in my opinion in excess of 500 competitors on the day. It'll be a day for the judges who will be hoping against hope that they don"t have blanket finishes to contend with.
Morgan Stanley Cycling Team
The Morgan Stanley Cycling Team is proud to announce it's 2002 roster. The team is based in Northern California, they will be present at both the Northern California races as well as the NRC events. The team comprises of cat 1's, cat 2's, as well as Morgan Stanley employees.
Morgan Stanley Employees