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Third Edition Cycling News, Thursday, September 30, 2010

Date published:
September 30, 2010, 1:00 BST
  • Sicard extends with Euskaltel

    Romain Sicard (France) with his Under-23 gold medal and rainbow jersey.
    Article published:
    September 30, 2010, 9:00 BST
    Cycling News

    Young French talent commits for four years

    French rider Romain Sicard has agreed to a three-year contract extension with Spanish team Euskaltel-Euskadi. As he was still under contract until the end of the 2011 season, the up-and-coming talent will thus be riding for the Basque outfit until 2014.

    "I felt very honoured by this proposal," said Sicard to L'Equipe on Thursday. I didn't think about it for very long before accepting. A four-year of contract means that I'll be able to work in serenity. I still owe them a lot."

    The 2009 U23 World Champion will be watching events in Melbourne, Australia, from his home in the Basque region of the French Pyrenees this weekend with great attention.  "It will have an effect on me even if I'm not nostalgic," Sicard said. "You have to be able to turn the page."

    Although he did not score any wins this season - his first within the ProTour ranks - Sicard is rated as one of the most talented young Frenchmen in the peloton at the moment. The Euskaltel rider took the overall of the Tour de l'Avenir last year, as well as the Subida Naranco in Spain, when he was still with the Orbea team. This season, he finished second on a stage at the Critérium du Dauphiné.

    Other teams, especially some French squads, have been courting Sicard but the 2009 U23 World Champion has remained faithful to the Basque cycling foundation that has supported him since 2009.

  • Lemond shocked by Contador positive

    Greg LeMond
    Article published:
    September 30, 2010, 10:46 BST
    Daniel Benson

    American surprised Contador would risk all

    Three-time Tour de France winner and strong anti-doping advocate Greg LeMond has reacted with surprise to the news that Alberto Contador (Astana) has tested positive for clenbuterol.

    “I find it hard to believe that a professional like Alberto Contador would risk a detectable drug and I can’t believe how many people have left a certain team and then gone positive,” LeMond told Cyclingnews after hearing the news.

    Contador was tested several times during this year’s Tour de France but traces of clenbuterol were found in a sample from July 21, the second rest day of the race. The UCI stated that the amount of was 400 times less than the minimum amount World Anti-Doping Agency accredited labs must be able to detect. Contador went on to win the Tour de France by 39 seconds, ahead of arch-rival Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank).

    LeMond has been critical of drug testing measures within the sport before, lambasting both the procedures the transparency of several cases including the fallout between the UCI and AFLD. However the legitimacy of the latest storm to engulf cycling has raised eyebrows.

    “I’m all for eliminating drugs but the powerful ones aren’t detectable but I don’t think that this is a black and white drug test. Look at the quantities that he was detected with,” he said.

    “There’s some crazy stuff in cycling with people going positive for things that have little to no benefit to performance. To risk a Tour de France victory for this….”

    Despite Contador claiming that the positive test was down to a cut of meat he faces a fight to clear both his name and a possible suspension. However, LeMond believes that his image as well as the sport’s has been permanently tarnished no matter the outcome.

    “Anything like this is devastating but this is like someone going positive for marijuana, I don’t think there’s a...

  • German television considers dropping Tour coverage

    The doping control van isn't hard to miss.
    Article published:
    September 30, 2010, 13:42 BST
    Cycling News

    Contador's positive only one of a series of doping problems

    German broadcasters are once again threatening to drop coverage of the Tour de France, with the news of Alberto Contador's positive test for Clenbuterol only the latest in a series of year-long doping scandals.

    The country's two public broadcasters ARD and ZDF share Tour coverage, and are currently holding talks as to whether they will continue with live coverage.

    “We are having discussions with ARD now. But there is basically no decision,” said ZDF spokesman Walter Kehr.

    After Patrik Sinkewitz's positive doping control for testosterone was announced during the 2007 Tour, the Germans stopped broadcasts for the rest of the race. They returned in 2008, but then were struck by the doping positives that year for Stefan Schumacher and Bernhard Kohl of the German team Gerolsteiner. They provided only 30 minutes of live daily coverage in 2009, and increased it to 60 minutes daily this year.

    The broadcasters are required to show the race by a contract with the European Broadcasting Union and the race organizers Amaury Sports Organization. The contract, which runs through 2011, requires them to provide daily coverage of the race.

  • Contador press conference: Tour de France winner blames food for positive test

    An emotional Alberto Contador during his press conference in his home town of Pinto
    Article published:
    September 30, 2010, 13:57 BST
    Hedwig Kröner

    Spanish Tour winner assures he did not take Clenbuterol knowingly

    At a press conference held on Thursday in Pinto, Madrid, Alberto Contador explained to the press his version of his positive doping control for Clenbuterol on the Tour's second rest day, July 21. In a well-prepared statement he gave reasons for the adverse analytical finding, as he was notified of it already more than one month ago, and maintained that he was "the victim of contaminated food" and did not take the substance on purpose.

    "The UCI informed me on August 24," he said.  "I had a meeting with the UCI medical staff on August 26, where I explained how this could have occurred."

    Contador added that the reason for his positive doping control was contaminated meat that a person close to the team had brought to France for the Tour's second rest day.

    "The organiser of the Vuelta a Castilla y León, José Luis López-Cerrón, planned to come to the Tour and asked our team cook if he wanted him to bring anything. Our cook asked him to get some good meat, which he did. So when this person came to the Tour on July 20, he brought some meat, which he had bought in Spain."

    Contador continued by explaining that he hadn't been the only rider on the team to eat the questionable meat, but that the only rider who also had doping controls performed on July 21 was Alexandre Vinokourov, and that the Kazakh didn't have any of it because he had dinner earlier that day.

    Once again, Contador pointed to the infinitely small amount of the substance found in his urine sample, saying that this could not have in any case had an effect on his performance.

    "It's actually impossible to take such a small amount," he continued. "The administration of it is just not possible. So this points again to food contamination. Moreover, regarding performance, this amount is totally insufficient and doesn't serve anything."

    He added that the fact that the anti-doping tests prior and after July 21 did not detect the...

  • Millar calls for calm in Contador case

    David Millar (Great Britain) on the podium with his silver medal
    Article published:
    September 30, 2010, 14:17 BST
    Les Clarke

    Worlds silver medallist wants due process to occur

    David Millar has backed under-fire rider Alberto Contador after the Spaniard was outed as having failed an anti-doping control during the Tour de France.

    It was announced that the three-time Tour champion tested positive for clenbuterol in an almost-undetectable microdose of 50 picograms/millilitre, which is apparently 400 times less than the required limit of detection.

    Speaking after taking silver in the elite men's world championship time trial, Millar called for understanding and patience from the media, fans and the administration. "Let's wait until all the information is out and give him the benefit of the doubt," said the British rider. "I think he's a fantastic athlete and a great human being. I think there's a very strong chance this is being blown out of proportion.

    "It's a microdose, [the sample was taken] on a rest day and it makes no sense. It makes no sense because it would have come up in other controls," he added.

    Millar himself was banned for two years after confessing to the use of EPO whilst riding for French squad Cofidis. Since returning to the professional peloton he has been one of the sport's biggest anti-doping advocates and a staunch supporter of cleaning up cycling.

    He came under intense criticism during his spell on the sidelines and knows just how ferocious the backlash can be for a rider suspected of using banned substances. Consequently he's adamant that whilst catching cheats is important, following protocols dealing with doping cases to avoid undue pressure from all parties is also vital.

    "I think we need to wait for all the information - at the moment it just doesn't make sense. He's a phenomenal athlete, he's a great human being and it just seems like such a glitch, a blip, and it's a shame it's just been released when it hasn't been resolved," said Millar.

    "I think it's something that should be resolved behind closed doors and done the way it should be done... I don't...

  • Team Nutrixxion plans women's professional team in 2011

    Team Nutrixxion plans for a women's professional team in 2011.
    Article published:
    September 30, 2010, 15:00 BST
    Cycling News

    Manager wants to ensure women's cycling in Germany

    A new professional women's cycling team in Germany is set to continue that country's continued presence in the pel. The Continental men's Team Nutrixxion squad wants to expand its Elite 2 women's team, Team Nutrixxion Ladies, to become a professional team.

    The partnership would continue the trend of men's professional teams adding women's programmes. HTC-Columbia was the first to combine forces, and was followed by Cervelo whose team will continue with Garmin-Cervelo in 2011. The new Team Geox will bring in the Italian Safi-Pasta set up in 2011.

    The only women's team currently in Germany is Equipe Noris Cycling, which is stopping since it has been unable to find a sponsor. It was the follow-up team for the Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung, which lost its sponsor after the 2009 season.

    Team Nutrixxion Ladies has been made up of a mixture of professionals and amateurs. Its biggest name rider this season was Christine Becker, who has ridden for Nürnberger, Getränke Hoffman and T-Mobile.

    "For next year we plan a German professional team for women," said team manager Mark Claussmeyer. "In the last few days we have had some very constructive discussions and I am confident that we will be able to do our part to ensure that women's cycling in Germany, which has been so successful in the past, will continue to exist. I hope that things will become more concrete as soon as the next few weeks."

    He noted that he was in talks with ABUS, a German-based security products company, which has supported the Nutrixxion teams for five years.

    "This step naturally means that we must strengthen ourselves in the women's field. There are countless female German cyclists, who have brought in some great successes in the past. That Germany is also a land for women's cycling is shown by the fact that the former Equipe Nürnberger set the international standard for more than 10 years. But we also have up-and-coming young...

  • Riccò's house searched as part of doping investigation

    Riccardo Ricco (Vacansoleil)
    Article published:
    September 30, 2010, 15:23 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Suspicious substances found at homes of Riccò and Donato Cannone

    Around 50 unidentified tablets were uncovered in a police search at the home of Riccardo Riccò (Vacansoleil) last week, according to a report in Italian newspaper Leggo.

    Riccò’s house in Serra Mazzoni near Modena was raided as part of a NAS anti-drugs squad operation that was carried out across central Italy. Officers discovered approximately fifty unmarked and partially crushed tablets, stored loose in a cabinet in Riccò’s house. The tablets were sequestered for analysis and identification in a laboratory in Perugia.

    Riccò is currently racing at the Circuit Franco-Belge and his Vacansoleil team has said that it will await formal notification from the appropriate authorities before taking any action.

    “I think it’s old news from a couple of weeks ago,” a member of Vacansoleil's team management told Cyclingnews. “At this moment he’s at Franco-Belge and racing. I want to wait for a formal statement from the police or investigation in Italy before we do anything because at this time it’s just rumours but we’ll do what’s necessary. Until then he will race in Frano-Belge.”

    Riccò returned to racing in March after serving a two-year suspension for CERA use. Vacansoleil last week announced the signing of Ezequiel Mosquera, who today was revealed to have delivered a positive test for hydroxyethyl starch during the Vuelta a España.

    Leggo also reports that police found stimulants and cortisone at the home of Donato Cannone (Ceramica Flaminia). Riccò rode for Ceramica Flaminia before buying out his contract and moving to Vacansoleil at the end of the summer.

    Another of Riccò’s former Ceramica Flaminia teammates, Enrico Rossi, was arrested last week in connection to the investigation named “Cobra-Red.” He is also the brother of Riccò’s partner Vania...

  • Contador's scientific expert De Boer details defense

    An emotional Alberto Contador during his press conference in his home town of Pinto
    Article published:
    September 30, 2010, 17:08 BST
    Laura Weislo

    Says traces of Clenbuterol demonstrate food contamination

    The full report from Alberto Contador's scientific expert, Dr. Douwe de Boer, was made public today by the rider's press officer. In it, De Boer details Contador's test results and provides a long list of examples of Clenbuterol contamination in the general population as a result of food contamination.

    Contador announced early on Thursday that he tested positive for the drug on July 21, during the second rest day of the Tour de France. The report gives the concentration of Clenbuterol in the Spaniard's sample as 50 picograms/ml, a value 40 times (not 400 as stated by the UCI) below the value that the laboratory should be able to detect.

    De Boer also calls into question the lab's declaring an Adverse Analytical Finding for such a low amount, and argues that 50pg is 180 times less than the amount shown to induce physical effects by the drug.

    The report states that Contador showed no traces of the drug on July 19 and 20. After finding 50pg/ml on the 21st, his sample from the next day showed 20pg/ml and then only traces on the following two days.

    De Boer is the same expert used by Team RadioShack rider Fuyu Li, who was found positive for Clenbuterol with similar levels to Contador in May.

    Clenbuterol, a beta-2 agonist formerly used to treat asthma, is being phased out of human use in favour of safer drugs, but is still used in veterinary applications, especially in livestock, according to the report. Although prohibited in most countries, the drug is used to promote lean muscle growth in livestock, and has been shown to be passed on to humans who consume meat.

    "Knowing the history of Clenbuterol intoxications in Spain and knowing the fact that nowadays Clenbuterol can be detected in extremely low amounts, it is obvious that in this particular case the scenario of an accidental intake of Clenbuterol by consumption of meat is extremely likely," the report states.

    De Boer lists "a small sample" of human...