By Gregor Brown in Ley
Roberto Amadio of Team Liquigas is convinced that the anti-doping controls in cycling are working.
"Definitely, I was shocked of yesterday's news," said the Liquigas team manager. "It is serious but the system is functioning. The anti-doping measures are working. If there are some riders that still don't understand this, then it is better they stop cycling and change occupations."
The Italian was referred to the news that Alexander Vinokourov tested positive for a blood transfusion and, subsequently, that Team Astana pulled the plug on its 2007 Tour participation.
"I asked [Astana's General Manager] Marc Biver that the team leave the Tour de France, and he accepted," said Patrice Clerc yesterday in response to the news that Vinokourov tested positive.
The Tour officials explained to the riders at the Grand Départ in London that it was a chance to restart with a clean state. "Still we have riders who think they can be wiser than the others and this is definitely not good," continued Amadio. "However, I believe that they have made 200 or more controls and they have found Sinkewitz and Vinokourov, so, out of the 180 riders here there are two and this is something to take into consideration.
"Without a doubt, the actions of Vinokourov are not good for our image but, I repeat, the controls function and they find the positive riders; this is important."
Amadio has long had the backing of a strong sponsor, natural gas company Liquigas. The management has spoken with the team's leader about the situation. "I have talked with the president [of Liquigas] and the administration, and, logically, they are worried and attentive to the problems. However, they entered cycling knowing of these situations and we have an internal structure that is strongly against doping. It is not good for cycling but they believe in cycling and a clean cycling, and they are backing me."
Prudhomme closed the Vinokourov press conference Tuesday with a note on Rasmussen. "Michael Rasmussen should not have started the Tour," stated Clerc. "Why? In a period of crisis, a champion has to be an example. In addition, his attitude, which we only know now, makes us believe that we should have refused his participation."
"He is within the rules," Amadio claimed, defending the participation of Michael Rasmussen in the Tour. "Based on the system of rules we have in place he is okay, ethically it is different. It is a decision of Rabobank but... We will see how it goes today [to the Col d'Aubisque - Rasmussen won Stage 16 with a time of 6:23:21. -ed.] and who is the winner on Sunday.
"If he wins, it is true that it would leave doubts, but I say that if the rules have put him in doubt then we need to change the rules," concluded Amadio. Less than 24 hours after Amadio's remarks, when Rabobank fired Rasmussen, pulling him from the Tour, no doubt remains.