By Susan Westemeyer
Team Barloworld has reacted angrily to suggestions that Ryan Cox's death was doping-related and that the UCI should investigate the matter. "To ask the UCI to carry out an investigation into the reasons for Cox's tragic death so soon and to do so without knowing anything about his physical problems is wrong. It is very sad that people who do not know the facts are speculating about Cox's death," team manager Claudio Corti said.
Cox died Wednesday morning of complications following surgery on a leg artery.
The South African cyclist started his pro career with the team Amore & Vita, whose manager Ivano Fanini this week said that he hoped the death was not related to doping. "How many riders have resorted to EPO, which renders the blood dense and can cause serious vascular problems." He called on the UCI to "open an investigation into the true cause of this death."
"As the management of his team, we obviously want to understand what caused this tragic death but creating stupid theories and castings aspersions is yet another evidence of the terrible atmosphere that has surrounded cycling in recent years and especially in recent months," Corti said. "I think it is important to respect the death of a young rider who died tragically at the age of just 28. I won't say anymore because this is not the right time to begin arguments with people who are only looking to attract attention and grab the headlines."
Cox's funeral will be held Tuesday in his home town in South Africa. A memorial bike ride will be held Sunday in Italy, followed by a short service at the Madonna del Ghisallo cyclists' chapel.
Meanwhile, Cox's teammates will be mourning him while continuing to race. The team will wear black armbands during the Tour of Portugal and the Giro dell'Appennino. In the latter race, the team will be led by Tour de France stage winner and mountain jersey winner Mauricio Soler, "as they try and win the Italian race and dedicate it to their teammate."
Barloworld for Giro dell'Appennino: Mauricio Soler, Giampaolo Cheula, Alexander Efimkin, Paolo Longo Borghini and Kanstantsin Siutsou.