News for June 25, 2004
Edited by Chris Henry
According to Friday's edition of L'Equipe, World Time Trial Champion
David Millar (Cofidis) has allegedly confessed to taking EPO. Millar allegedly
made the confession to French police while he spent 48 hours in custody
in Biarritz this week.
L'Equipe reported that empty ampoules of Eprex (EPO) were found
by French police in Millar's house whilst he was being detained, writing
"Millar recognised that he used Eprex (erythropoetin) in the practice
of his profession which puts him in the same position as a positive rider
in the eyes of the UCI."
If this is the case, Millar will likely be charged by Nanterre judge
Richard Pallain, who is heading the investigation into the Cofidis team,
with illegal possession and use of toxic substances. So far, eight others
have been charged in the affair which began early this year: Cédric Vasseur,
Philippe Gaumont, Robert Sassone, Médéric Clain, Marek Rutkiewicz and
Daniel Majewski (all riders), Boguslaw Madejak (ex-Cofidis physiotherapist),
Oleg Kozlitine (former directeur sportif of Oktos).
Millar out, but not out of the woods
David Millar was released from police custody Thursday after having been
held for questioning since Tuesday night when he was met at a restaurant
in his home of Biarritz by French police. Millar was called in for questioning
as a witness in the drug trafficking investigation which has surrounded
the Cofidis team since January. Police also searched Millar's home.
According to an AFP report, sources close to the investigation
have indicated that Millar may soon find himself under formal investigation,
however no announcement has been made by the judge Richard Pallain, in
charge of the ongoing investigation.
"This isn't about Millar, it's a follow-up to the Gaumont affair," Cofidis
team manager Francis Van Londersele told AFP. "I find it regrettable
that they wait this long to question someone, several days before the
Tour de France."
Cofidis suspended two of its riders, Médéric Clain and
Cédric Vasseur, immediately after they were placed under formal
investigation in the same case. Clain was later fired after he admitted
to having purchased (but not used) certain banned substances. Vasseur
maintained his innocence and at the beginning of June was allowed to race
The team appears to have shifted its stance somewhat, preferring now
to count on riders' innocence until proof is offered that they may have
violated team rules or crossed any legal lines concerning doping substances.
Cofidis is the only major French team which has not yet signed the charter
of AC 2000, the association of French professional teams. Under the charter,
any rider placed under investigation must be suspended from competition.
T-Mobile announces Tour team
At its official presentation in Bonn on Friday afternoon, T-Mobile has
named the nine riders that will take part in the Tour de France. Led by
Jan Ullrich, who in six Tours has finished first once and second five
times, the team contains Rolf Aldag, Santiago Botero, Giuseppe Guerini,
Matthias Kessler, Andreas Klöden, Sergei Ivanov, Daniele Nardello and
Erik Zabel. Overall, the team is weighted towards helping Ullrich as much
as possible, with particular emphasis placed on the team time trial and
the mountain stages.
"We have prepared well and we have a good team, despite missing Vinokourov
and Steinhauser," said Ullrich at the presentation. "We'll have a very
strong team at the start and we'll try our best."
Ullrich reiterated his satisfaction with his one second win in the Tour
de Suisse, saying that it was proof that his hard training had paid off.
He added that he saw "four or five" favourites for the Tour. "Hamilton,
who has a very good Phonak team; Mayo, who was very strong in the Dauphine;
Heras and Ivan Basso, who has improved his time trialing. These are my
favourites, but of course Lance is the one to beat."
A key man for Ullrich in the mountains looks likely to be Giuseppe Guerini,
who showed his climbing prowess during the Tour de Suisse. "I think that
we have a very strong team in the mountains," said Guerini, who didn't
think the mountains would pose as much of a problem to Ullrich in 2004.
"I think that Jan is stronger than in other years."
Ullrich releases autobiography
Jan Ullrich is a busy man, having officially released his autobiography,
Ganz oder gar nicht (All or Nothing) together with author Hagen
Boßdorf presented the book in Cologne's Hyatt Regency on Thursday evening.
The book describes the highs and lows in his personal and professional
life, including the time he tested positive for amphetamines after taking
ecstasy at a nightclub in 2002, as well as his love for chocolate.
After the book launch on Thursday and the T-Mobile Tour presentation
today in Bonn, Ullrich is now getting ready to ride the German Championships
on Sunday in Freiburg.
Euskaltel aiming for another orange tide
The Euskaltel-Euskadi team is aiming for a repeat of the "orange tide"
during the mountain stages of this year's Tour. Next week, the team will
distribute thousands of orange t-shirts to its fans who traditionally
line the roads in the Pyrenees in the last half of the Tour. The t-shirts
are similar to previous years, and are distributed free following sms
and email requests to Euskaltel.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2004)