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Phonak defends itself

By:
Tommy Campbell, Irish Independent, Evening Herald, Sunday Independent
Published:
June 16, 2005, 1:00 BST,
Updated:
April 20, 2009, 23:58 BST
Edition:
First Edition Cycling News for June 16, 2005

In an official communiqué Swiss team Phonak hearing Systems has taken a stand against Swiss...

In an official communiqué Swiss team Phonak hearing Systems has taken a stand against Swiss newspaper's allegations against the squad, which stated that two of its riders, namely Tomasz Nose and Santos Gonzalez, have been suspended from racing because of illegal substances or too high hematocrit values. Whether or not Nose is still part of the team, remains uncertain as Cyclingnews reported previously. As to Gonzalez, Phonak announced last week that Steve Zampieri would replace him in the Team's Tour de France roster, as directeur sportif René Savary explained that the Spaniard did not "stick to the rules".

In an effort to elucidate what exactly the team's rules are, Phonak issued a statement firmly negating all of the allegations and explaining that the team's medical staff applied "an internal code of medical control" to its riders, in order to "be informed, with the biggest possible certainty, about the state of health, fitness and physical condition of the riders." The Swiss ProTeam explains that "the established parameters within the team also serve as a basis to decided whether or not a rider takes part in a race or is imposed a break in his program."

The statement continues saying that the riders selected for a specific race undergo various blood tests five days prior to it, including such values as red blood cells, reticulocytes, hemoglobin and hematocrit. "If these values exceed the limits established by our team - which are significantly more stringent than those set by the UCI - the team may choose not to make a rider participate in competition and put him to rest. Within this framework, the team's manager, John Lelangue, in consensus with his directeurs sportifs and medical staff, may have to take certain decisions with regard to the composition of his team and the exclusion of certain riders of one or more races. The decisions resulting of internal medical analysis will not be commented, nor communicated for the basic reason that they are subject to the medical secret."

Phonak did not go into detail as to the exact parameters of its internal medical control and their differences with the ones established by the UCI.

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