- Article published:
- October 19, 2012, 14:54
- Cycling News
McQuaid to hold press conference in Geneva
Over a week after USADA published its reasoned decision on the Lance Armstrong case, UCI president Pat McQuaid will formally state the governing body’s position on matter at a press conference in Geneva on Monday at 1pm local time.
The United States Anti-Doping Agency delivered its reasoned decision on the lifetime ban of Lance Armstrong to the UCI last Wednesday in the form of a 1,000 page dossier that detailed systematic doping practices at Armstrong’s former US Postal Service team.
Armstrong declined to contest USADA’s charges in August and he has been stripped of all results from August 1, 1998, including his seven Tours de France. The UCI had 21 days from the receipt of the file in which to decide whether to ratify the USADA decision or appeal the matter to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Tour de France organisers ASO have already intimated that they no longer recognise Armstrong as the winner of the 1999-2005 Tours, but at the Tour of Beijing last week, UCI president McQuaid refused to be drawn on commenting on the matter.
“It would be wrong of me to pre-empt or second-guess what our lawyers are going to advise us about it, so that’s as much as I want to say about it,” McQuaid said in Changping.
McQuaid’s predecessor Hein Verbruggen has been somewhat less circumspect, telling De Telegraaf in a text message that: “All I can say is that there are many, many stories and suspicions, but no trace of PROOF. There is none. LA [Armstrong] never tested positive, not even by USADA.”
As well as formally accepting or rejecting USADA’s Armstrong findings, the UCI will also reveal whether or not it accepts the reduced six-month bans USADA handed to Christian Vande Velde, David Zabriskie, Tom Danielson, George Hincapie, Michael Barry and Levi Leipheimer in return for their testimony on the doping programme operated at US Postal.
- Lance Armstrong
- Article published:
- October 19, 2012, 15:25
- Cycling News
Austrian will not follow Cavendish to Omega Pharma-QuickStep
A day after Mark Cavendish confirmed his departure for Omega Pharma-QuickStep in 2013, Team Sky announced that Bernhard Eisel has extended his contract with the team until the end of the 2015 season.
Cavendish’s closest domestique since their time together in the Team Highroad set-up, Eisel joined Sky with the Manxman last winter but has now opted to stay put rather than follow his erstwhile master to Omega Pharma-QuickStep.
“The fact that Mark Cavendish is leaving us made this one of the toughest decisions of my life, and I wouldn’t have stayed if I hadn’t felt absolutely at home here,” Eisel said. “Mark and I have ridden together since 2007, and he was my only roommate during most of that time. I haven’t just looked after him on the bike, I also regard him as a brother, so it will be strange competing against him in the future.”
While Cavendish’s departure had been widely anticipated since the end of the summer, Eisel’s contract extension means that he is the first rider to be confirmed at Sky for 2013 since it was announced on Wednesday that all riders would have to sign an anti-doping declaration in order to remain at the squad.
Following former rider Michael Barry’s recent admission of doping during his time at US Postal and the team’s belated decision to dispense with the services of former Rabobank doctor Geert Leinders, Sky team principal Dave Brailsford told a small gathering of reporters on Wednesday that all riders and staff would have to sign a declaration confirming that they have no past or present involvement in doping.
Team Sky took the first two spots on the podium at the 2012 Tour de France through Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome, and Eisel said that he was pleased to be a part of the line-up in July.
“Although I haven’t had a win this season, I’ve had a really enjoyable first year with the team and have been able to contribute to some historic performances,” he said. “I’ve loved taking on a senior role in the squad. Having the chance to advise the younger guys is something I’ve really enjoyed doing, and want to continue doing that over the next three years.”
Eisel’s stand-out individual performance came at E3 Harelbeke in March, when he finished third behind Tom Boonen and Oscar Freire in a bunch finish. Winner of Gent-Wevelgem in 2010, the Austrian is hopeful that he might greater scope to pursue his own goals in 2013.
“I’m sure I’ll have more chances to get my first victory for the team, and at the same time I’ll continue doing what I am best at, which is helping other people win,” he said.
- Article published:
- October 19, 2012, 16:01
- Stephen Farrand
Lampre-ISD riders claims he only underwent tests with disgraced doctor
Michele Scarponi responded to accusations that he is a client of Dr. Michele Ferrari with a carefully worded statement.
On Friday Gazzetta dello Sport published extracts from police documents allegedly giving details of conversations between the Lampre-ISD rider and Dr. Ferrari. A conversation apparently captured by a listening device in Dr. Ferrari’s camper concerns what Scarponi may have needed to win the Giro d’Italia.
"(Scarponi) tells Ferrari that he could have won the Giro, and Ferrari replies that if he'd had a bag, he could have had a chance," Gazzetta reports the police report as saying in investigative documents.
Scarponi replied in a press release issued by his agent Raimondo Scimone, who is also embroiled in the Padua investigation into Dr. Ferrari. Scimone has admitted he is also under investigation but has denied this is for any doping crimes.
Last year he denied ever working with Dr. Ferrari to Cyclingnews. Now he has changed his version, claiming he only underwent two tests with the disgraced Italian sports doctor. He also claims he did not work with Ferrari after signing a contract with Lampre in 2011. Scarponi finished fourth in the 2010 Giro d'Italia and was declared the winner of the 2011 Giro after Alberto Contador was disqualified as part of his doping ban.
Ferrari was banned for life by the Italian Olympic Committee in 2002, and Scarponi now risks a getting a ban for working with him.
Filippo Pozzato was banned for three months for his links with Dr. Ferrari recently. Other riders may face similar bans and could be involved in doping investigation following the revelations of the USADA documents.
“There is only one truth: In September 2010, on my own initiative, I did a test, divided over two different days, in the presence of Dr. Ferrari,” Scarponi says in the statement.
“After I signed my contract with Lampre, which started on January 1, 2011, I followed the orders of the team and the Mapei Center for all my preparation and training.”
“I was searched in April 2011 while I was training at altitude on Etna with other members of the team and at the same time at home, and also received official notification about the investigation by the Padua investigators. I showed the statement (from the search) to my team, which stated that no illegal drugs had been found (the article claims that illegal drugs were found in all the searches).”
“Any other affirmations other than these are not true and to be considered false and damaging to my image and that of the team. As a result, the authors will have responsibility for them and will be called to do so by my lawyers. They have already contacted the Italian Anti-Doping investigators to explain my position, as was already done in June.”
The June hearing was pushed back upon the request of Scarponi. The Padua police have refused to reveal the details of the evidence they have on Scarponi and any other Italian riders, fearful of leaks that could compromise the case.
They expected to formally conclude their investigation in a month’s time and so the full details will soon emerge.
- Article published:
- October 19, 2012, 16:45
- Peter Cossins
Ex-Postal domestique calls Michele Ferrari “the best coach there is”
Very few words have been said in defence of Lance Armstrong in recent days, but his former domestique José Luis Rubiera has declared that he still views the Texan as the greatest rider of his era. Speaking to El Diario de Mallorca, Rubiera, who rode with Armstrong at US Postal, Discovery Channel, Astana and RadioShack, also said that he never saw the American take banned products and eulogised the ability of controversy-mired coach Michele Ferrari, calling him “the best coach there is”.
Asked about the accusations laid against Armstrong and the US Postal team in the USADA dossier, Rubiera responded, “I'm very relaxed about it. They were very happy years for me. For all those who competed in that era, or for the immense majority at least, Armstrong was the best. There were great riders who were close to him such as [Jan] Ullrich, [Ivan] Basso and [Alex] Zülle, but he was undoubtedly the best and he showed that by winning the Tour seven times.”
Speaking specifically about doping, Rubiera said, “I never saw him dope. The regulations are evolving and you have to judge events in each era according to their context. I think that you have to look to the future and also judge the sporting quality of a person like Armstrong.”
Rubiera did have some words of criticism, but they were directed not at his former team leader but at those who have confessed to past misdemeanours. “They are acting out of personal interest. They recognise that they have done something and by collaborating they are able to reduce the penalty they receive.
“They are trying to pay for what they have done with a six-month suspension when others have had to have a two-year ban. If they are so sorry about what they have done and want to save cycling, they ought to give the money they’ve earned to the grassroots of the sport,” said the Spaniard.
Rubiera added that by its very nature professional cycling is not a healthy sport. “Don’t let the UCI tell me that they are concerned about our health when we have to ride in 45-degree [Celsius] temperatures up the Tourmalet after riding 220km the day before and with another 200km to follow the day after. That’s not healthy,” he said.
Rubiera acknowledged that he had been advised by Michele Ferrari in the past, and has no reason to hide the fact. “He was and is the best coach. Training with him had its price. I worked with him for two years and learned a lot about training and diet, but I decided to leave him because it seemed very expensive,” said Rubiera.
- Article published:
- October 19, 2012, 17:18
- Cycling News
Leipheimer's USADA affidavit describes EPO use at Rabobank
Michael Rasmussen denied that his name has been redacted as part of Levi Leipheimer's affidavit as part of the USADA Reasoned Decision documentation. It follows Michael Boogerd's denial in the Dutch press that he was the rider in question.
As part of his sworn evidence, Leipheimer admitted that he "used prohibited substances and/or prohibited methods during 2000 and 2001 while a member of the United States Postal Service Cycling Team, during 2002 through 2004 while on the Rabobank Cycling Team, during 2005 and 2006 while on the Gerolsteiner Cycling Team and during 2007 while a member of the Discovery Channel Cycling Team."
Specifically referring to his time at Rabobank, the American recounted that he was "aware that Rider-14 was using EPO, and on several occasions we discussed his EPO use."
Suggestions that he is Rider-14 have been flatly denied by Rasmussen.
"It cannot be me that he's talking about because it never happened," the Dane said to ekstrabladet.dk.
"I rode with Levi on the team for two years and I spoke to him like it was the most natural thing in the world during those two years. It is not unlikely that we've talked about EPO, for who has not done it?"
Specifically asked, Rasmussen explained that he was unaware that Leipheimer had violated anti-doping regulations while with Rabobank. Leipheimer also stated in his affidavit that the Rabobank doctor sold him EPO, and assisted him in its use.
"Riders on the team have clearly been treated differently," said Rasmussen. "There is a familiarity between the rider and the doctor, so what they do with each other is not something that others know anything about."
- Article published:
- October 19, 2012, 18:15
- Pat Malach
Two-year bans not enough, says Optum rider
Optum Pro Cycling's Jesse Anthony said this week he believes he and his fellow pro cyclists need to take a greater role in cleaning up cycling and making sure it stays clean.
"The riders themselves have the biggest stake in this," he told Cyclingnews Thursday. "So we need to band together and take responsibility to create a clean, credible racing environment from now on."
Anthony used the power of social media earlier this week to try and spread his message. "I am not going to be bitter, angry or accusational; that doesn't help," Anthony tweeted. "I just want to help create a fair, credible environment in cycling." The 27-year-old, who has been a UCI Continental rider since 2006 and has ridden with Optum Pro Cycling-Kelly Benefit Strategies since the 2010 season, said that unlike what occurred with the UCI's decision to ban race radios, riders need to stick together to make sure their voices are heard this time around.
"I think the first thing we need to do is send the message that we are not OK with this," said Anthony, who won the opening stage at the Tour of Utah in 2011 and the overall at Nature Valley Grand Prix that same year. "We're not OK with doping, organized or individual. We're not OK with competing against guys who are cheating."
One of the ways cyclists can help clean up the sport is to push for tougher penalties for doping infractions, Anthony said. A two-year ban is not enough of a deterrent if riders were immediately welcomed back into the sport after serving their suspension. Anthony also advocated levying fines for doping infractions and then funneling that revenue into more frequent testing and more effective testing methods.
But on the subject of fairness surrounding USADA's deal with all of the former Lance Armstrong teammates who admitted doping in their USADA affidavits in return for reduced six-month bans, Anthony had little to say, preferring instead to focus on the future.
"We could sit around and be bitter and yell about what they should or should not get or whether they should be fired," he said. "I really don't put much thought into what should happen with the riders who have confessed to doping for most of their careers. I hope they use their knowledge and power to help create a clean racing environment in the future. Those guys did what they did, but I don't think that should affect what direction we go now and where or how we stop doping."
As a realist, Anthony doesn't believe cycling will ever be completely clean of banned substance use, in the same way that the world won't be free of cheating as long as humans roam the Earth. It's sentiment expressed in an earlier Cyclingnews interview with SmartStop-Mounatin Khaki's rider Adam Myserson, an outspoken anti-doping advocate who is contemporary of Armstrong, Hincapie and many of the other riders who used banned substances in the US Postal and Discovery eras.
"We know that we're not going to get rid of doping completely, the same way we're not going to get rid of people cheating on college exams or people on Wall Street gaming that system," Myserson said. "Until you ban humans, you're not going to ban cheating. But you can create cultural change, and you can change the culture of the previous generation that discovered doping was part of the culture and didn't feel that they were in a position to stay in the sport and change it. I think it's different now."
Part of the difference is a peloton that is willing to talk openly about the subject. It's something both Myerson and Anthony advocate, but that sometimes can be hard to coax out of their fellow riders.
"I am overwhelmingly frustrated by it," Myerson said. "I realize I am more outspoken and comfortable being open with what's on my mind than some other people are, but this is how you change the culture, by being outspoken and being plain about what the situation is."
Anthony said that another way to change the culture, while cycling has this opportunity to hit a "reset button," is to reexamine not just the disincentives for doping but also the incentives for racing clean.
"Right now the motivation to race clean, aside from your own moral decision, is fear of the consequence if you get caught – a two-year suspension," Anthony said. "I'd like to see more of a positive incentive to race clean. I don't think the fear of getting caught is really going to end the doping problem in cycling, we need to encourage clean racing in some sort of positive way, but I don't really know how to go about that."
- Article published:
- October 19, 2012, 18:47
- Cycling News
World champion says Verbruggen should resign if involved
Philippe Gilbert has spoken about the doping problems in cycling, saying he is part of a new generation that is good for the sport.
A tweet about Rabobank's decision to end its sponsorship of the professional road teams was also posted on Gilbert's personal Twitter feed just after the news broke but was quickly removed. The message said: "Very sad day for our sport Rabobank leave cycling after 17 years sponsoring. Thanks to the dopers!"
In the interview with SportsPro –the sports business magazine and website, carried out at the recent Sportel TV trade show in Monaco, Gilbert says he is optimistic about the new generation of riders.
"I think it’s up to us to prove to the world that cycling is more clean. I think the big problems are behind us," he said.
"It’s the older generation. Of course there are still some problems sometimes but it’s maybe less than one percent of the new cycling generation. I think we’re all pretty clean and we have a new style and a new image with riders like Wiggo, who’s pretty special, and it brings some new interest to cycling. We are a new generation and it’s good for our sport."
Gilbert suggested that Hein Verbruggen should resign if it emerges that he has been involved in the problems of the past.
"I don’t know, but if it’s true what I saw in the newspaper about Hein Verbruggen being so involved in those problems, for sure he has to leave," he said.
"I don’t know the processes though, and I heard this report is about 1,000 pages so it’s pretty hard for me to say something specific about this."
Gilbert automatically becomes a spokesman for cycling as world champion. He has never been afraid to speak out and discussed rider safety with SportPro.
"My favourite organiser, in terms of safety, is ASO. But there’s still a lot to do. We can do a lot better in other races. A lot of the races are very dangerous," he said.
"I did the Tour of Spain this year, for example, and it was so dangerous. We had cars parked on the road in the last five or six kilometres when we’re going full gas and everybody is taking a lot of risks. In 2012 I would have thought this wouldn’t happen."
Gilbert told SportPro that he hopes to stay with the BMC Racing Team after his current contract that last until 2014 and would like to stay in cycling when he eventually retires. He is only 30 but is already aware of a new generation of classics riders emerging.
"I have a contract until 2014 and then I hope to sign another three-year contract, maybe with BMC but I don’t know yet. And then we will see. But my family situation and my motivation will decide," he said.
"We have had [Peter] Sagan coming the last two years and we have six or seven like him coming in the next few years then it will be hard for me to fight against them. It would be great to stay in the sport world after I finish."
Gilbert has announced that his fan club will hold a special fan day on October 27 in the Belgian Ardennes. More information can be found at www.philippegilbert.com.
- Article published:
- October 19, 2012, 20:01
- Cycling News
RCS Sport suspends other news coverage for remainder of week
At a time of great upheaval in the sport, with the US Anti-Doping Agency's dossier on Lance Armstrong causing a tsunami of repercussions to professional cycling, the Italian cycling community has suffered the additional blow of the death of its great hero, Fiorenzo Magni.
Giro d'Italia organiser RCS Sport announced today that it would suspend any news coverage unrelated to Magni for the rest of the week on its newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport, out of respect for his family.
Magni died overnight of an aneurysm at the age of 91.
In addition to covering only the legacy of the three-time Giro champion, RCS Sport said it will dedicate the maglia rosa, the pink race leader's jersey, of the 2013 Giro d'Italia to Magni, and on May 26 in Brescia, it will have a memorial for him.
Michele Acquarone, the managing director of RCS Sport, recalled Magni's advice. "Fiorenzo used to tell me: 'No one gives you anything for free in life, you have to fight everyday and try to improve yourself.' His panache and his courage will all be an example to follow, by me and by my sons. He will be greatly missed."