Twenty-four hours after the publication of a 'Manifesto for Credible Cycling' by a number of major European newspapers, Italian team managers Roberto Amadio (Liquigas-Cannondale) and Luca Guercilena (RadioShack-Nissan-Trek) have supported the proposals, insisting that cycling has cleaned up its act in recent years.
Both Amadio and Guercilena attended the meeting of the AIGCP – the Association International des Groupes Cyclistes Professionels, in Paris on Tuesday, where the association called for an independent commission to investigate and analyse the anti-doping measures across the sport.
Team managers are rarely held responsible for doping offences in their teams, but are now under intense pressure from sponsors following the devastating effects of the USADA investigation into Lance Armstrong and doping in the US Postal Service Team.
Amadio is a member of the UCI WorldTour Professional Cycling Council, representing the teams. He raced as a professional between 1985 and 1989 and then worked as a directeur sportif with the Jolly Componibili, Aki, Vini Caldirola and the Liquigas team in 2000 and 2001. Davide Rebellin and Serhiy Hončar both rode for the team. Amadio became team manager of the current Liquigas team in 2005 and will manage the Cannondale Pro Cycling Team in 2013.
“All the initiatives that help improve things have to be considered carefully, investigated and taken forward,” Liquigas-Cannondale team manager Roberto Amadio told Gazzetta dello Sport.
“We agree with the idea of an independent committee and for anti-doping controls that are given to WADA. Increasing the length of bans for doping are also ok: there’s nothing wrong with that. We’ll accept any rules by those who govern us.”
“I’m optimistic because there’s been a huge change in the peloton. The manifesto seems to contain a correct message but more for the past than the present. We shouldn’t forget that huge advances in prevention have been done thanks to the introduction of the Biological Passport and the whereabouts programme in 2008.”
The manifesto for credible cycling calls for the return of the ‘Gentleman’s Agreement’ between team managers that allowed the temporary suspension of riders caught up in a doping investigation. In 2008 Amadio broke a similar agreement created to stop leading teams signing riders who had been banned for doping when he signed Ivan Basso. Amadio does not regret that decision, even though the Italian rider was implicated in Operacion Puerto after months of denials.
“I broke the agreement because a person was showing and has shown their credibility as a man and as a champion. Basso was a unique and exceptional case,” Amadio said to Gazzetta dello Sport.
“Our history (as a team) shows that we haven’t hired a rider linked to doping. While on the other hand, we’ve got rid of a lot of riders…”
Guercilena was appointed as the new team manager at RadioShack-Nissan-Trek after Johan Bruyneel left the team following the USADA investigation revelations. Bruyneel faces an arbitration hearing in the USA after he was widely accused of being a key member of the doping ring at the US Postal Service Team. Bruyneel has always defended his innocence.
Guercilena worked with the Mapei team and then joined Quick Step as a directeur sportif and coach in 2003. He worked as a directeur sportif at RadioShack-Nissan-Trek this year.
“I think that its not being highlighted enough what the teams are doing. The ‘Armstrong Case’ is the long wave of mistakes from the past but there’s been an important cultural change in the peloton, even by the older riders,” Guercilena told Gazzetta dello Sport.
“We’re pushing forward an important strategy of dissuasion during the training of staff. Those who are found guilty after a trial are expelled. However we follow due process and so there has to be a verdict from those who are responsible by who is in charge.”