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Latest Cycling News for June 30, 2006

Edited by Jeff Jones

Ullrich, Sevilla and Pevenage suspended

Rudy Pevenage
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At 9:34am on Friday morning, T-Mobile announced that it has suspended Jan Ullrich, Oscar Sevilla and Rudy Pevenage in the wake of the Operacion Puerto affair. The three were implicated in the doping scandal as being clients of Dr Eufemiano Fuentes. None of them will take part in the Tour de France.

As the announcement was made, the three sat in the team bus on their way to what was supposed to be a "meet-and-greet" press conference. They were informed on the way.

Team spokesman Stefan Wagner said that the team had received documents from the ASO which made it "impossible" for the team to further work with the three. Wagner also confirmed that the team would take two of its reserve riders and would ride the Tour: Lorenzo Bernucci (Ita) and Stephan Schreck (Ger).

"We have only now gotten the evidence," said Wagner. "As soon as there were suspicions, we asked to see the files. We don't know why we didn't get them until today. The facts in the case contradict Ullrich's claims of innocence so strongly that we had to take this step, in order to follow our goal of a clean sport."

"Our stance was always unequivocal," said T-Mobile's spokesman Christian Frommert, in a statement. "If we are presented with evidence, which leads us to doubt the credibility of one or other of our riders, then we act upon it immediately. That is the case now."

Team manager Olaf Ludwig was also deeply disappointed. "We talked to the riders several times and even have their declarations of innocence in written form." Following the first reports emanating from Spain about the possible involvement of T-Mobile Team riders in the Madrid-based doping scandal, the team management instructed all its athletes to sign a written declaration certifying that they were not involved in the scandal, which everybody did. "There are clear guidelines arranged with the riders, which leave no room for interpretation. This was also clear to Jan Ullrich, Oscar Sevilla and Rudy Pevenage," added Ludwig.

Against this background, the sponsor as well as the team management repeatedly questioned the riders and the sporting director. "At first we had no reason to doubt the riders' statements. Therefore, we couldn’t make any decision merely based on speculations, rumours and guesses," said Frommert. But the situation has now changed. "Accordingly, we will now live up to our responsibility towards making cycling a clean sport."

Although it hasn't yet been established that Ullrich and Sevilla doped, it has been proven that they had contact with the doctor, which they lied about to T-Mobile.

The list gets longer

On the eve of the Tour de France, Spanish radio Cadena SER has published a more detailed list of names that are among the 58 (56, according to the radio station) cyclists implicated in Operacion Puerto. The list still includes big names such as Jan Ullrich and Ivan Basso, as well as a sizeable representation from Astana-Würth and Comunidad Valenciana. The riders are alleged to have used the services of Dr Eufemiano Fuentes, who is alleged to have prescribed them with detailed doping programs.

The Spanish Civil Guard collected four boxes of papers, according to Cadena SER, and has deciphered three of them, identifying the riders by using the key to the codes hidden in Dr Fuentes' notebooks. In addition, El Pais has published copies of the alleged doping programs of Comunidad Valenciana and Joseba Beloki.

The Spanish Secretary of State for Sport, Jaime Lissavetsky, is meeting with his French counterpart Jean-Francois Lamour today in Strasbourg to discuss the implications of the official 500-page court report, which could lead to the ejection of 22 riders from the Tour de France.

The list so far (31 riders)

Astaná-Würth: Michele Scarponi, Marcos Serrano, David Etxebarria, Joseba Beloki, Angel Vicioso, Isidro Nozal, Unai Osa, Jörg Jaksche

CSC: Ivan Basso

Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears: Constantino Zaballa

Saunier Duval: Carlos Zarate

AG2R: Francisco Mancebo

T-Mobile: Jan Ullrich, Oscar Sevilla

Phonak: Jose Enrique Gutierrez, Jose Ignacio Gutierrez

Comunidad Valenciana: Vicente Ballester, David Bernabeu, David Blanco Rodriguez, Jose Adrian Bonillla, Juan Gomis Lopez, Eladio Jimenez, David Latasa, Javier Pascual, Ruben Plaza, J.Luis M. Jimenez

Unibet.Com: Carlos Garcia Quesada

Retired/suspended riders: Roberto Heras, Angel Casero, Santiago Perez, Tyler Hamilton

ASO rejects CAS decision

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The Court of Arbitration for Sport's decision to allow Astaná-Würth to race in the Tour has been rejected by organisers ASO, who issued a statement to that effect late Thursday. ASO pointed out that "CAS nevertheless recognised that the Tour de France has to 'take its responsibilities' and that it wished to preserve its race and 'to defend the interests of the sport of cycling'.

"The organisers of the Tour de France regret CAS claimed "the absence of official information" and the fact that "there is currently more uncertainty than facts established concretely" while, according to its own terms, 'many disturbing elements were revealed on this team.' For all that, facing the blight of doping, the determination of the Tour de France remains intact."

Franc info reported on Friday morning that ASO also received the official Operacion Puerto report last night, and have been studying it. "We will take the responsibility if the teams don't take responsibility themselves," said race boss Jean-Marie Leblanc, who pointed out that the teams are bound to the code of ethics.

Bruyneel bearish on TDF doping situation

Bullish on Discovery Channel's Tour chances

By Tim Maloney, European Editor in Strasbourg

Johan Bruyneel
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Cyclingnews caught up with Discovery Channel's sports manager Johan Bruyneel after his team returned from the Tour de France medical checks at the Tour HQ in Strasbourg. Rumours were flying and we asked Bruyneel for his take on the situation with Operacion Puerto. "Definitely what has happened in Spain (with Operacion Puerto) is probably the biggest doping scandal in cycling and maybe even in sports ever," explained Bruyneel. "Much more than the Festina affair in 1998. And everyday, people are aware as it becomes bigger and bigger and it's definitely damaging the sport of cycling. There's been a lot of damage done already but it's getting so big that cycling is losing credibility. When people like the UCI, teams, our sponsors who are not implicated (in Operacion Puerto) start to have the impression that this is damaging their image, that is something else. That's a serious problem for cycling. It's a big deal."

We also asked Bruyneel what his team sponsors were saying to him about the current doping scandal and his frank reply was that "they know that the Discovery Channel team doesn't have anyone involved in this...but at the same time, I think it would be very difficult to start negotiations with a new sponsor for any team. Obviously for teams directly involved, but like with iShares, there was no reason for them to not sponsor (Phonak).

"I don't know exactly the situation is there, but it's bad for everybody. And it's not good that certain teams might go out of the Tour and others might not. It should either be all or nothing. All the information (from Operacion Puerto) needs to be acted on. I don't think we can start the Tour de France with those kind of doubts and uncertainty. It's bad for the riders and there's already enough suspicion around. No one, not the riders, or the media or the the fans will be able to focus on the race. I don't think the Tour De France needs this and I hope their will be something resolved soon for everybody's sake."

As for how the tumultuous situation was affecting his Discovery Channel riders as they embarked on their first Lance-less Tour De France, Bruyneel was far more optimistic. "We've got a good vibe; the guys are motivated and they've all been preparing for the Tour for a long time knowing that Lance won't be here. The team atmosphere is relaxed; everybody is in good spirits and we're going to go out in this year and take every opportunity we can get. It won't be in the past like with Lance; we're interested in it all...stage wins, sending someone in a break, team classification. Everything that's in front of us and we have a shot at it, we're going to go for it and try to get it. It's a logical choice that we make an about face in our tactics as we have a different ballgame now. So I am confident that the team is good, that we have some very strong guys and that we're going to be an important factor in this year's Tour De France."

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

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