- Article published:
- July 10, 2012, 17:30
- Cycling News
Armstrong, Bruyneel and Celaya cases may go to arbitration
The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) announced today that Dr. Luis Garcia del Moral (cycling team doctor), Dr. Michele Ferrari (cycling team consulting doctor) and Jose "Pepe" Martí (cycling team trainer) have all received lifetime periods of ineligibility as the result of their anti-doping rule violations in the United States Postal Service (USPS) Cycling Team Doping Conspiracy.
The other three respondents in the case, Lance Armstrong, Johan Bruyneel and Dr. Pedro Celaya, have either asked for arbitration to go forward or have been given five-day extensions. Armstrong's attorneys yesterday filed a federal lawsuit against USADA, calling the investigation "unconstitutional", but it was dismissed by a Texas judge for containing too much extraneous information.
USADA CEO Travis Tygart confirmed to Cyclingnews that Ferrari, Del Moral and Marti accepted their lifetime bans. "The respondents chose not to waste resources by moving forward with the arbitration process, which would only reveal what they already know to be the truth of their doping activity.
"The objective of USADA's investigation into the sport of cycling is to protect the rights of clean athletes by ridding sport of those in the system, whether coach, doctor, trainer, or manager who abuses their influence by encouraging, coercing or assisting athletes in cheating through the use of dangerous performance-enhancing drugs," said Tygart.
"When USADA has information about the existence of a sophisticated, far-reaching doping conspiracy, it is our duty under the established rules to conduct a thorough, fair investigation to uncover the truth. Permanently banning these individuals from sport is a powerful statement that protects the current and next generation of athletes from their influence, and preserves the integrity of future competition."
Dr. Michele Ferrari, already banned for life in Italy for alleged doping offenses, consulted with the US Postal Service team and Discovery Channel teams during Armstrong's seven-year Tour de France reign, USADA stated. The Italian was accused in this case of developing a mixture of testosterone and olive oil which was administered orally to help with recovery. He is also said to have advised riders on the use of EPO, of which he once famously said "is not dangerous, only its abuse. It's as dangerous as drinking ten litres of orange juice".
Ferrari is said to have helped riders to inject the drug intravenously to avoid having the EPO be detected in the urine test, as well as having assisted in blood doping. He provided riders with detailed training plans with codes indicating when EPO should be used and at what dosage.
Armstrong, as recently as last autumn, denied any involvement with Ferrari, stating that the Italian was a friend only - despite an international investigation that reportedly found otherwise.
Dr. Luis Garcia del Moral, of Valencia, Spain, was the team physician for the USPS Cycling Team from 1999 through 2003. He was accused of helping cyclists including the USPS team members to carry out performance enhancing doping including blood transfusions as well as saline infusions to prevent the doping from being detected by blood value checks. Del Moral was also accused of administering EPO, testosterone, corticosteroids and human growth hormone, all of which are banned by the WADA code.
Del Moral was famously videotaped disposing of the USPS team's medical waste at the 2000 Tour de France, which journalists searched, finding packages of Actovegin, an extract of calf's blood. The incident was investigated by the French authorities, but was eventually closed without incident.
In 2011, a visit with Del Moral led Australian Trent Lowe to be sacked from the Garmin team along with his then-director Matt White, although Lowe insisted the visit was for a normal UCI health check.
Marti served as a trainer for the USPS and Discovery Channel teams from 1999-2007, and followed Bruyneel to the Astana Cycling Team. He was given a lifetime ban for delivering doping products "including EPO, testosterone, human growth hormone (hGH) and cortisone from Valencia, Spain to locations where the riders were living in Europe including Nice, France and Girona, Spain and at training camps and cycling races", and assisting with the administration of "EPO, saline infusions for avoiding detection by drug testing and in transfusing blood to riders".
USADA cited "aggravating circumstances including involvement in multiple anti-doping rule violations as well as trafficking, administration and/or attempted administration of a prohibited substance or method" to justify the lifetime bans.
The bans will preclude all three men from having any involvement in sports which are signatories to the WADA code.
- Article published:
- July 10, 2012, 19:19
- Pat Malach
Pro Contiental outfit bounces back from California disappointment, earns Colorado invite
While most of the cycling world's attention is turned toward France and the second Grand Tour of the season, Team Type 1-Sanofi has quietly been stacking up results at two UCI 2.HC races on nearly opposite ends of the globe, and the hard work appears to have paid off with an invitation to the USA Pro Cycling Challenge in Colorado at the end of August.
A spokesman confirmed Sunday evening that on the same day Team Type 1-Sanofi's David Colli won the final stage at the Tour of Austria, the second-year UCI Pro Continental squad also received an invitation to the Colorado race.
The recent success is a welcome burst of good news for a team that got off to a rough start this season when it was the only U.S. Pro Continental team not to receive a coveted invitation to the Tour of California. The bad news from America also hit the team about the same time a wayward moose wandered in front of the team bus in Norway, resulting in a smashed front end for the vehicle and messy ending for the moose.
"Our bus is like 15 meters long, and it's hard to stop that machine," Team Type 1-Sanofi General Manager Vassili Davidenko told Cyclingnews as he drove from Vienna to Golebiewski Karpacz for the start of the Tour of Poland on Tuesday. "The front-end was totally smashed. It was, of course, a bad moment, but it's in the past. And again the supportive crew reacted quickly and we were back in the peloton with what we needed."
The bus was back on the road within a week, and the human element of team Type 1-Sanofi jumped back just as quickly from the California let down and almost immediately started piling up results, most recently wrapping up the Tour of Austria with both the mountain and sprint jerseys in hand along with two stage wins. Another squad in China has been simultaneously fighting at the Tour of Qinghai Lake for more jerseys, stage wins and the GC.
But the first shots came at the TD Bank Philadelphia Classic in early June when the team finished first, second and fourth with Aleksandr Serebryakov, Aldo Ino Ilesic and Colli. Only veteran sprinter Feddie Rodriguez (Team Exergy) was able to break the team's stranglehold on the end of the race. American Kiel Reijnen earned the KOM jersey in Philadelphia and hit the podium at U.S. road nationals a few weeks later. Vegard Stake Laengen followed up the Philly success by winning the Quebec City circuit stage at Tour de Beauce, a UCI 2.2 race, and then the team split up to head for Austria and China.
Alessandro Bazzana struck first in Austria with a sprint win on the first of eight stages, taking yellow for a day and then finishing out the race in the sprint jersey. Georg Preidler, who also won the mountains classification earlier in the season at the Tour du Haut Var and Ronde van Drenthe, took the KOM crown in Austria as well. And Colli capped it all off with his his win on the final day.
The squad at China's Tour of Qinghai Lake has found equal measures of success, placing Reinjen in the GC hunt and carving out at least one more stage win. Reijnen's three consecutive second-place finishes lifted him into 10th overall, 1:15 off the race lead, while Ilesic added to the team's string of success by winning a bunch sprint at the end of stage 7. The 13-stage race continues through July 12, providing Reijnen several more opportunities to improve his GC spot as the rest of the team battles for him and for stage wins.
The team's ability to persevere through early setbacks and eventually find success comes as no surprise to Davidenko, who said it was just a matter of having the right pieces in place and waiting for it all to come together.
"I always believed in the team and in the teamwork," Davidenko said. "Every person on the team is super important. When you have the right guys on board and they do their jobs properly, things get way, way easier and it brings you to success. You just need to work hard and wait for your time."
The team will send six fresh new riders to reinforce Laszlo Bodrogi and Jurie Cocjan at the Tour of Poland and will then turn its attention toward the USA Pro Cycling Challenge Aug. 20-26. After missing out on the California tour, the opportunity to race in one of the biggest events in the U.S. will give riders a chance to race against top-level competition on their sponsors' home soil, as well as helping spread the team's message about diabetes education to another target audience.
"The USA Pro Cycling Challenge is a great American stage race," a team spokesman said via email. "Team Type 1-Sanofi is proud of its achievements and success on the bike this season and grateful to the organizers for the opportunity to race in Colorado this August."
After Colorado the team will send a squad back to Asia for the Tour of China in September, while the rest of the team's riders compete in France and Italy. The squad's season won't end until mid-November, Davidenko said.
- Article published:
- July 10, 2012, 20:15
- Cycling News
Lawsuit placed against Euro Media over incident
It was an easier day for Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil-DCM) during stage nine of this year’s Tour de France - compared to exactly one year ago. It was during the ninth stage of last year’s Tour de France when Hoogerland was taken out by a media vehicle, driven by a Euro Media employee, whilst in the breakaway, more than five minutes ahead of the field and with 36km remaining.
It was his big chance for a stage win but it was not to be. He ended tangled amongst a barbed wire fence with deep cuts to the backs of his legs. Hoogerland finished the stage and was partially compensated by taking the lead in the King of the Mountains classification.
Hoogerland and his manager Aart Vierhouten have filled a lawsuit against the Euro Media, the company and driver who recklessly drove into his breakaway during last year’s Tour. It would be logical to believe the Tour organiser’s, ASO are responsible for ensuring the safety of its participants but according to Vierhouten, they want nothing to do with the matter.
"I sent a letter to them on 14 May and have only received an answer last week. They have again offered their apologies, but still pull their hands off the incident. They refer us to the insurance [company]," Vierhouten told De Telegraaf.
Race footage shows the driver of the vehicle clearly swerve into the breakaway while trying to pass the group. The driver was employed by Euro Media and was subsequently not an official ASO employee. As is the case, the Tour de France organisers want little to do with the situation.
"Sunday, I called Prudhomme, but there was little progress. I now want to discuss the matter. But he Tour organisation is not making it easy."
- Article published:
- July 10, 2012, 20:45
- Cycling News
Polka dot pillow, Liquigas, Evans
After ten straight days of intense competition, crashes, illness and other drama, the 178 riders remaining in the Tour de France had a much deserved rest day outside Mâcon.
After taking the maillot jaune of race leader on stage 7 from Fabian Cancellara, who held it for a week, and extending his lead in the general classification to 1:53 over Cadel Evans in the time trial yesterday, Team Sky's Bradley Wiggins relaxed in Quincié-en-Beaujolais, holding a press conference and posing for the classic rest-day maillot jaune photo shoot with yellow coffee cup and today's edition of L'Equipe.
Evans enjoyed a visit from his family, including son Robel who was on his lap during the low-key press conference.
Argos-Shimano was busy renewing contracts with its riders. Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) headed home after the time trial to heal up his broken hand ahead of the Olympic Games.
Astana's Fredrik Kessiakoff relaxed with his polka dot-covered pillow, Ivan Basso kept his feet up while reading his iPad and all of the riders tried to maximize their recovery for the grueling Alpine climbs ahead.
Cofidis had its rest day interrupted to deal with a raid on its hotel and doping allegations of its rider Remy di Gregorio, other drama erupted from across the Atlantic, where the US Anti Doping Agency banned former US Postal and Discovery Channel team staff Michele Ferrari, Dr. Luis Garcia del Moral and Jose "Pepe" Martí for life as part of the alleged doping conspiracy involving Lance Armstrong.
In other words, it was just a typical rest day at the Tour de France. Enjoy a few photos from the day of relaxation here.
- Tour de France
- Article published:
- July 10, 2012, 21:15
- Cycling News
Voeckler's ideal line, Stortoni chased by police
Lampre's Matthew Lloyd has been forced to drop out of the Tour de France with a fracture to his elbow, Lampre announced today. The Australian crashed on stage 8 to Porrentruy, but soldiered on through to the end of the stage and in the time trial before submitting to x-rays.
The team doctor found a fracture to his radius near the elbow, which will need to be immobilized for 8 days.
"I'm really sad to quit the Tour de France after a bad first part and just before the stages that could suit me better. I would have given my support to the team and to Michele [Scarponi]. This morning I had pain in the elbow, so I'm not surprised it's broken. I'll wait to recover and I'll try to be ready for Vuelta a Espana," Lloyd said.
Cancellara to abandon?
Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad seems to have inside information regarding RadioShack's Fabian Cancellara, and alleges that the Swiss powerhouse could leave the Tour early. While it is public knowledge that Cancellara's wife is pregnant with the couple's second child, the exact due date has never been revealed. "Sometime in summer," Cancellara was always quoted as saying.
Now, the paper's website wrote that the baby was expected just after the Tour de France, but that the delivery could reportedly be even before that. "It's happening very quickly and the baby could be coming sooner than expected," an inside source was quoted.
"If it is so, then I will take a helicopter to the hospital to be with my wife when she delivers," commented Cancellara, who would thus be abandoning the race. "I still have two important goals this year: an Olympic medal and the birth of my second child." (HK)
Voeckler feared Prost over ideal line
He may have been struggling with on-going tendinitis in his knee, but Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) was focused on delivering a solid performance when it came to the Stage 9 individual time trial in Besançon. The Frenchman finished 66th for the stage, 5:22 down on the winning time of Bradley Wiggins (Sky).
"I had a secret weapon: Alain Prost was in the Europcar team car," he revealed to Nieuwsblad.be. "I had to follow the ideal line, because I did not want criticism from Alain."
The four-time Formula One Drivers' Champion has long been a fan of cycling, and often takes part in the L'Etape du Tour and this year he rode the Cape Epic in South Africa. Nicknamed ‘The Professor’ for his analytical approach to motor sport, Prost praised the efforts of his compatriot.
"He went fast, he has done well," Prost said.
Stortoni chased by police?
Simone Stortoni of the Lampre squad received lots of public attention on Monday's time trial, but it was not because of his fast speed. Unfortunately for him, the Italian did not have a team car to follow him on the 41.5km course to Besançon, nor a neutral mechanical assistance car.
At the start, it was thus quickly decided that a police car should follow him on the road in case he needed a new wheel. But the spectators alongside the parcours were quite surprised, and some even thought that Stortoni was being chased by police... (HK)
And what of Contador?
Alberto Contador is conspicuous by his absence at La Grande Boucle, as the Spaniard is currently serving a doping ban from a positive test for clenbuterol at the 2010 Tour de France, but we've got official word that Contador is 100 percent confirmed for the Eneco Tour. Contador's first day of freedom from his doping ban happens to coincide with the first day of competition at the WorldTour race, taking place August 6-12 in Belgium and the Netherlands.
"The Eneco Tour will be a very special event for me, for many reasons," said Contador. "To begin, I am eager to return to competition because what ultimately each rider wants is to compete with others. In addition, the Tour crosses two countries where cycling culture is rooted in the genes and where I've always felt at home. Maybe the parcours is not quite to my advantage, but it is my duty to make sure of finding the right rhythm in view of my future goals this season."
- Article published:
- July 10, 2012, 22:00
- Barry Ryan
Wiggins and Froome on message ahead of mountains
Control has been the keyword for Sky so far in this year's Tour de France, and that thinking extended beyond the bike at the team's rest day press conference in Brouilly on Tuesday. Questions on the Rémi Di Grégorio affair and Twitter doping suspicions were deemed strictly off limits, with journalists curtly warned that any attempt to raise either matter would be cut off immediately.
Though disappointing, such fastidious management of the agenda is perhaps simply a reflection of the manner in which the team sponsored by the media behemoth has dictated affairs on the bike to date: after twin shows of force at La Planche des Belles Filles and Besançon, Sky holds a commanding overall lead through Bradley Wiggins, with Chris Froome lined up in 3rd place.
After his now (in)famous outburst on Sunday afternoon, control also permeated the measured words of the yellow jersey Wiggins, who looked to downplay wherever possible the growing expectations surrounding his chances. In particular, he warned that defending champion Cadel Evans (BMC) would pose a formidable challenge over the coming two weeks.
"I've said it a few times, I don't for one minute underestimate Cadel," Wiggins said. "We're in a dream scenario right now but we're just taking it one day at a time. I'm certainly not going to underestimate the guy at all. I've got huge respect for him and I know what he's capable of. I expect a fight from him."
In his own press conference on Tuesday, Evans was taking solace from the fact that he holds considerably more Grand Tour experience than Wiggins. In effect, the Briton has only twice chased a podium place in a Grand Tour for a full three full weeks, at the 2009 Tour and the 2011 Vuelta a España, and on each occasion his chances had been dented by the dreaded jour sans.
"Every year we get better," Wiggins said. "Obviously when I was 4th in the Tour, I had one bad day and again at the Vuelta last year, but that's just experience and Cadel has more Grand Tour experience than me."
Even at this early juncture, there appears to be consensus among Wiggins' rivals that the only way to prise the yellow jersey off him will be to isolate him from his teammates in the mountains.
"That's cycling, that's what it's all about," Wiggins said calmly. "I don't expect anyone at this stage of the race to say ‘yeah, it's fine, he's won it.'
"We expect this to be a shit fight for the next two weeks. That's how we've been preparing for it. That's what cycling's about."
In spite of his unease with comparisons between Sky and Lance Armstrong's infamous US Postal Service team, Wiggins was asked what he thought of the American's maxim that the Tour was decided in two time trials and one mountain stage.
"It's all very good doing that but you could have five bad days," he said. "Every Tour is different but we've been very calculating and businesslike about how we go about things here."
Froome stays on message
Wiggins has in recent months looked to posit Miguel Indurain and Banesto as the blueprint for his Tour challenge, and the Sky one-two in the Besançon time trial was something of an echo of the Spanish team's startling showing in Luxembourg in 1992. The Armand De Las Cuevas to Wiggins' Indurain on Monday was Chris Froome, although the 2011 Vuelta runner-up is now in a stronger position to challenge his leader than the mercurial Frenchman ever was (indeed, De Las Cuevas was eliminated five days later on the road to l'Alpe d'Huez.)
While it might be argued that Froome could have won last year's Vuelta had Sky rowed in behind him as team leader earlier in the race, the Kenyan-born rider stayed resolutely on message, insisting that Wiggins was in sole command of the Tour squad.
"It's definitely the priority to make sure the top step of the podium is filled by Bradley," he said. "After that, if I can be up there, then personally that would be a fantastic experience for me but the number one priority has to be Bradley and the top spot of the podium."
Snuffing out leading questions with the same disarming facility he showed when controlling the tempo at La Planche des Belles Filles, Froome refused to take the bait when asked if he would wait for Wiggins if he were to have an off-day in the mountains.
"It's got to be the priority to be with him and carry him to the line as best I can," he said quietly. "It's not worth me pushing on to get 2nd or 3rd when it's him who's got to win. I'm already two minutes behind him so unless the gap is more than two minutes – which I don't see happening – then it wouldn't make sense logically."
Instead, it seems that at 27 years of age, Froome is ready to sacrifice his own ambitions for the common cause in the hope that such loyalty will be rewarded in the future. "I know I'll get an opportunity one day in the future where I'm here with a team that is backing me like Sky is backing Bradley now," he said. "I'm not going to go out of my way to get an opportunity for the polka dot jersey or a stage win when we're here to defend something a lot more prestigious than that."
On Tuesday, Froome, Wiggins and Sky step back into the breach, as they face the testing 194.5km stage over the Col du Grand Colombier to Bellegarde-sur-Valserine. After an afternoon spent controlling questions and expectations, the men in black will look control the agenda again, this time out on the road.
- Tour de France
- Article published:
- July 10, 2012, 22:45
- Cycling News
Fahey promises "most tested Games in Olympic history"
World Anti-Doping Agency president John Fahey issued a strong decree ahead of the 2012 Olympic Games, calling on athletes who are planning to cheat to stay home.
"I say this in the clearest way possible: if you are a doping athlete and you are planning to compete in London then you must withdraw from your Olympic team," said Fahey in a press release.
Fahey said that there will be more testing performed by the International Olympic Committee and the local organisers than at any other Games, stating that the anti-doping program is geared up for up to 6,250 samples and that authorities have already been "sharing intelligence" to target athletes for testing who may fall under suspicion.
"These will be the most tested Games in Olympic history and doping athletes must know that they will be under the severe scrutiny of anti-doping officials from the moment they set foot in the Olympic Village," added Mr. Fahey.
He added that UK Anti-Doping is testing athletes out of competition at their training camps, and has been compiling "much intelligence" with international authorities.
"There has been a coherent effort to make London 2012 as 'clean' as possible and doping athletes should know that their chances of avoiding detection are the smallest they have ever been."
The strategy of using targeted testing on athletes has been used in recent years by cycling's anti-doping authorities, generally relying on blood profiling to identify riders who may be doping for additional testing. Such strategies have led to doping suspension of riders such as Thomas Dekker and Emanuele Sella.
Fahey appealed to athletes to compete clean. "The world's ant-doping community can only do so much. If every athlete decides not to dope then we will have a completely dope-free Games, that's the simple reality.
"It is up to the athletes and I urge them to collectively take more responsibility for the sake of clean competition."
- Article published:
- July 10, 2012, 23:15
- Daniel Benson
Mountain attack on the cards for defending champion
Despite being on the back foot in this year’s Tour de France Cadel Evans is confident that his experience and stamina will make the difference in the Alps and Pyrenees and help secure a second title.
The defending champion sits second overall, a place up from this time last year, but unlike in 2011, when he sat behind Thomas Voeckler and Luis Leon Sanchez, he faces a more robust challenger this year with Sky’s Bradley Wiggins 1:53 ahead of him.
While stage 9’s time trial to Becancon saw Evans lose more time than he and his rivals expected Evans used his rest day press conference to rally his BMC teammates and send out a warning to Wiggins and his other challengers that he would not be relinquishing his title without a fight, even hinting that a daring attack in the mountains may be on the cards.
Realistically Evans has to attack, whether in small incremental stages or in one roll of the dice. The 1:53 is not insurmountable but with 53.5 kilometres of time trialing still in the race the Australian is aware that a cautious approach may see the race slip through his fingers.
"The second half [of the Tour] is where I normally come into my best. That’s more my strength and consistency so now we’ll keep racing," Evans said.
"Having won it I know I can win it and at least having won the Tour I’m no longer asked whether I can win the Tour. I think I can. For the rest, we’re driven and hungry."
Evans isn’t alone in his GC predicament. Wiggins' Becancon time trial served notice to Vincenzo Nibali and the rest of the podium contenders that aggression was needed if Sky were to be fully challenged.
"If you have fourth in your hand sometimes people don’t want to give that up at risk of the podium and sometimes you go with everything and give it everything and maybe I lose second or something so it’s something that you have to assess at the time and make most of these situation."
Asked if Wiggins has a weakness Evans raised the issue of the Sky rider’s experience. Wiggins finished fourth in the 2009 Tour and third in last year’s Vuelta but Evans suggested that his experience of competing for the GC in grand tours for the last 6 years could become a factor.
"Look at his 2009 Tour or the 2011 Vuelta, he doesn’t have much of a three week history to gain on if you compare him to someone like Nibali, or Menchov or Kloden who have a much longer histories in the three week."
Asked if Wiggins was vulnerable, Evans added: "You hope so, you need some optimism. Otherwise I may as well sign on for second now."
- Tour de France