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Archive for  March 2014

Sunday 30, Mar 2014

Tygart Warns Cycling Running Out Of Time To Change Things

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Tygart Warns Cycling Running Out Of Time To Change Things

Travis Tygart, chief of the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) who exposed Lance Armstrong, has urged the world governing body of cycling to correct things at the earliest. Tygart remarked that cycling is running out of time for overhauling the sport and restoring the trust of fans in the wake of successive doping incidents.

Tygart remarked the UCI should accelerate its Cycling Independent Reform Commission if faith of everyone in the sport was to be restored. He remarked time is of the essence and we have been pounding this issue in the press, in front of the European Union, in front of the French senate, the German parliament, and that now is the time to take and fulfill the promise that the UCI leadership made to take decisive and transparent action. He also said another day can’t go by in his opinion until it is put in place in proper fashion and this process starts. Tygart, speaking at the Tackling Doping in Sport conference, said we’ve had communication with the CIRC that we are going to present this all to them because there is a whole lot of information out there that would be helpful in cleaning out the system that is there. He also remarked just because you change the top, the dirty system doesn’t necessarily change.

The USADA chief added the “honeymoon period” brought about by the election of Brian Cookson is at an end and believes that he is thinking of providing an unredacted version of the “reasoned decision” that brought down Lance Armstrong to the UCI to help the CIRC to “clean out the system”.  Tygart remarked he feels that it was not imperative that the CIRC heard from Armstrong as there’s plenty of information outside of them showing up to testify that can be useful for putting a stake in the ground and moving forward.

Tygart added everyone, including Lance Armstrong, deserves a second chance to cooperate and added he hopes Armstrong from a reputational and a rehabilitation standpoint comes in and helps clean up to the extent that his information is still valuable for that as it would absolutely be the best thing for him from a reputational stand point. Tygart added he doesn’t think it was just limited to an Armstrong story and he believes American enterprise decided to come over and capitalize financially in the United States on the Tour de France.

Brian Cookson took over UCI after replacing Pat McQuaid as president of the UCI and established the Cycling Independent Reform Commission to examine the role of the governing body in fostering a culture of doping. The three-person panel of CIRC has promised to report by the end of January next year and has promised reduced sanctions to riders and others involved in the sport, including coaches and team directors if they agree to cooperate.

Martin Gibbs, the UCI director general, said we must not pretend it’s already fixed and added that we are acutely aware we have to make a difference now in key areas with the independent commission. He also remarked we are a sport that has had an omerta about doping.

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Friday 28, Mar 2014

Sports Coaches Are Important To Anti-Doping Attitudes Among Athletes

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Sports Coaches Are Important To Anti-Doping Attitudes Among Athletes

A study examining the perspective of Scottish coaches on anti-doping has highlighted the influence coaches have on the views of an athletes. The study also urged sport governing bodies to embed anti-doping procedures and policies for ensuring Scotland is able to maintain its clean reputation.

This study, commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), was conducted by coaching and anti-doping experts at the University of Stirling, Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence. For this study, experts and coaches interviewed Scottish performance coaches. It was found that the excellent anti-doping record of Scotland was heavily linked to the anti-doping attitudes of Scotland but it also revealed that the role of a coach is not being maximized as it should. This study also recommended the development of further case study examples on how and when to engage coaches and athletes in anti-doping conversations and experiences. The study also suggested integration of anti-doping information into wider topics like optimization of performance preparation and recovery where discussion might include nutrition and supplement use along with anti-doping.

Dr Justine Allen, Lecturer in Sports Coaching and lead author of the study, said we found there was a strong stance from Scottish coaches towards anti-doping and their ethos is based on athletes achieving success through hard work and not through taking any shortcuts. Dr Allen also remarked that the foundations are there in that respect, but many coaches said they lacked knowledge around anti-doping and for some it was a low priority due to the established anti-doping culture in the UK and few incidents in their sport. He further added that there are very good examples of anti-doping best practice and integrated programs in some governing bodies, but this tends to be in sports with a history of doping issues internationally when it should be across the board and there is a need to establish clear roles and responsibilities within each governing body of sport in relation to anti-doping.

Dr Justine Allen also went on to remark that it might be the responsibility of the coach, an anti-doping officer or the physiotherapist and it’s up to the governing body to determine the best fit for them, but the crucial thing is that they define the responsibilities clearly as it should be an around the clock role – not just at a tournament or doctor’s appointment. He also said if it is clear where the responsibility lies, it becomes a priority for them and they are more likely to ask themselves if they know enough and seek out available education. Dr Allen added, Scotland most athletes are not full-time professional athletes in Scotland, nor are the coaches necessarily, so they don’t see one another all the time and there is a lot of trust and responsibility put on the athlete. He also said for instance, if they go to their GP, it’s up to them to intimate they are a competing athlete so they don’t receive medication which contains a banned substance.

WADA President Sir Craig Reedie welcomed the findings and said this study has been insightful in highlighting the importance of anti-doping policies, and the role coaches and the athlete entourage may play in influencing athletes.

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Wednesday 26, Mar 2014

Athletics Australia President Slams Uneven Treatment

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Athletics Australia President Slams Uneven Treatment

The President of Athletics Australia has questioned the concept of different punishments within the world sport for failure to be present for doping tests. David Grace made this remark after it was announced that Anthony Alozie, a member of the Australian men’s sprint relay squad, has incurred a sanction for 20 months for missing a drug test and breaching the “whereabouts” rule.

Alozie, the 27-year-old Nigerian-born sprinter, participated at the 2011 International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championships in Daegu. Alozie competed with Matt Davies, who was banned for a period of two years in December after he tested positive for a banned stimulant, and Josh Ross, recently lost a challenge in the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Alozie, Davies, and Ross raced in the same team at the 2009 IAAF World Championships in Berlin.

Athletics Australia confirmed that the 27-year-old Alozie received an infraction notice by the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority for two failures over the filing of his whereabouts while the other breach was for missing a drug test. Grace remarked that negligence or carelessness is not the same as being a drug cheat. Last year, Australian Football League side Western Bulldogs received a small fine after it failed to properly lodge whereabouts documents for their players while no individual player was banned.

Athletics Australia President said this case again highlights the uneven treatment under the AFL drug code and what allowed the Western Bulldogs to be fined rather than players being suspended and added we could not waive the requirements even if we wanted to and it is our obligation under the ASADA that our athletes are compliant and we have no leeway. Grace also remarked they have been drug tested umpteen times each one of them, but in between each one of those tests they have missed a drug test or missed a whereabouts listing and added there is nothing to suggest that Ross, the third-fastest Australian on record with a 100 meters best of 10.08sec, or Alozie are drug cheats.

Under present rules, athletes are required to advise their National Federations of one hour every day they will be in a specific location so they can be tested. An athlete, failing to lodge his or her whereabouts properly or missing at the specific location, constitutes a breach and three whereabouts breaches or missed drug tests in a period of 18 months are treated the same as having returned a positive result, which means that the athlete can be banned for a period between 12 months and two years.

In one of the high-profile cases, Britain’s 400m runner Christine Ohuruogu in 2006 was suspended for failing to be present for doping testers on three occasions but returned the next year in Osaka to win the first of her two world titles.

Last year, Jarrod Bannister was banned for missed drug tests. The javelin thrower missed three drug tests, despite one of the three missed tests occurring when the hotel Bannister was staying in under an Athletics Australia group booking did not know the athlete was still staying there.

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Monday 24, Mar 2014

Backstrom To Receive Silver Medal From Sochi Olympics

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Backstrom To Receive Silver Medal From Sochi Olympics

Nicklas Backstrom will receive his silver medal from the Sochi Games, according to a ruling by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The Swedish ice hockey player participated in the XXII Olympic Winter Games in Sochi but was kept out of the gold medal game for testing positive for a banned substance.

The test results of Backstrom revealed an elevated level of pseudoephedrine that is found in his allergy medication Zyrtec-D. The medication is a permitted drug and specific levels of pseudoephedrine are prohibited by the IOC and the World Anti-Doping Federation. It was ruled by the IOC Disciplinary Commission that the provisional suspension of Backstrom for Sweden’s gold medal game vs. Canada was “fully justified” but decided to award him the medal as there was no indication that the ice hockey player was trying to enhance his performance.

The IOC Disciplinary Committee remarked it took into account in particular that the athlete had been cooperative, had disclosed the medication in question in the doping control form and had relied on the specific advice of his team doctor that the intake of the medication would not give rise to an adverse analytical finding. The IOC Disciplinary Committee added that there was also no indication of any intent of the athlete to improve his performance by taking a prohibited substance. Based upon these mitigating circumstances, the IOC Disciplinary Committee considered that the athlete should be entitled to receive the silver medal and diploma awarded for men’s ice hockey. The IOC Disciplinary Commission (DC) was composed of Anita L. DeFrantz (Chairperson), Nawal El Moutawakel and Claudia Bokel.

Sweden lost the final to defending champions Canada 3-0. Swedish team manager Tommy Boustedt said at a news conference that the IOC have given amateurism a face and it’s sad that it will affect Nicklas and the hockey organization and added that the timing with this was awful and my suspicion is that this is political and they got the decision two days ago and they waited until it would make a really good impact on you journalists. The adverse finding had come from an over-the-counter medication he uses to treat a sinus condition, said Backstrom and remarked he had been using the medication for years without any problems. He also remarked he told the drug testers he was taking the drug when they asked him for a sample after his team’s quarter-final win over Slovenia. Backstrom told a news conference that he was ready to play probably the biggest game of his career then two and a half hours before the game he get pulled aside.

Swedish Team doctor Bjoern Waldeback said Backstrom has problems with sinusitis and allergic problems and he has for several years taken one pill a day of medication called Zyrtec-D and it contains psuedoephedrine. Waldeback added Nicklas was tested several times before the Olympics and Nicklas also asked him before the Games if he could use this pill, and he told him he could take one. He went on to remark that we could’ve never imagined the consequences of taking a medication that hardly affects the person and ruins the greatest day of his life.

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Saturday 22, Mar 2014

Doping Case Of Tiernan-Locke Is Imminent, Says UK Anti-Doping Chief

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Doping Case Of Tiernan-Locke Is Imminent, Says UK Anti-Doping Chief

UK Anti-Doping chief executive Andy Parkinson has remarked that the doping case of Team Sky rider Jonathan Tiernan-Locke is likely to be heard within a month.

Speaking at the Tackling Doping in Sport conference at Wembley, Parkinson said that was now close to being heard. “imminently,” and added that clearly the issue with that case is that it was in the public domain earlier than was ideal, and earlier than we put out a notice of charge.  Parkinson added the process has seemed longer than it has been because we only received the notification after Christmas and biological passport cases are difficult to run and you need a lot of expert witnesses.

The former Tour of Britain winner became the first rider of Team Sky to be charged with doping, a charge that he vehemently denies. This was after discrepancies in his biological passport were found by the International Cycling Union (UCI) suggesting that the rider had taken drugs. The findings came from the rider’s time on the Endura racing team for whom he won the Tour of Britain in 2012, said Team Sky.

The UCI confirmed that it had initiated disciplinary proceedings against the 28-year-old rider. In a statement, the UCI said the analysis of the biological passport of Jonathan Tiernan-Locke by the experts panel has demonstrated an anti-doping rule violation (use of prohibited substances and/or methods) and the UCI has requested his national federation to initiate disciplinary proceedings consequently, and in compliance with the UCI Anti-Doping Rules. The UCI statement also revealed that the World Anti-Doping Agency and UK Anti-Doping have been notified of the matter pursuant to the UCI Anti-Doping Rules and the WADA code.

The representatives of Tiernan-Locke issued a statement protesting his innocence and confirmed he would fight the charges. The statement reads that Jonathan Tiernan-Locke was notified that the UCI wish to instruct British Cycling to instigate proceedings against him regarding an abnormality in his biological passport. It also revealed that Tiernan-Locke vehemently denies the charges brought against him and has informed the UCI that he fully intends to contest them and Tiernan-Locke will not ride for Team Sky, attend training camps or undertake any team duties until a decision is made in these proceedings and added that Tiernan-Locke is looking forward to a speedy and just resolution of these unfortunate charges. The statement by the rider’s representatives added that Tiernan-Locke will make no further comment on the matter until a decision has been reached.

According to a confirmation by the UK Anti-Doping director of legal Graham Arthur, the doping case of the rider has been handed to it for management. Arthur added we are progressing on a case relating to a possible anti-doping rule violation and the matter is subject to confidentiality restrictions imposed by the Anti-Doping Rules, and as such we are unable to comment further as this protects the rights of all involved. He also added that all violations of the World Anti-Doping Code are published on our website if confirmed, when sanctions have been agreed and all appeal windows are over.

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Thursday 20, Mar 2014

Team Sky Drop Sergio Henao

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Team Sky Drop Sergio Henao

Colombian rider Sergio Henao has been withdrawn from racing by Team Sky to conduct further tests after questions over his blood values were provoked by the team’s monthly review.

According to Team Sky, the 26-year-old Henao will be subject to an “altitude research program.” Meanwhile, the rider has been withdrawn from racing for a period of eight weeks that means Henao is unlikely to start the opening Grand Tour of the season, the Giro d’Italia, which begins in Belfast on May 9th. A biological passport violation may lead up to a ban of two years for a first-time offense.

Henao, whose younger cousin, Sebastian, joined Team Sky for 2014, was believed to start the Tour de France as a support rider for Chris Froome, the defending champion. Henao was expected to race the Dauphiné Libéré stage race in June and then was believed to make his debut in the Tour in support of the title defense of Froome.

Team Sky Principal Sir Dave Brailsford said our experts had questions about Sergio’s out-of-competition control tests at altitude – tests introduced this winter by the anti-doping authorities and we need to understand these readings better. Brailsford added we contacted the relevant authorities – the UCI (International Cycling Union) and CADF (Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation) – pointed to these readings and asked whether they could give us any insights. The Team Sky principal also remarked we have also taken Sergio out of our race program whilst we get a better understanding of these profiles and his physiology and said we want to do the right thing and we want to be fair and it is important not to jump to conclusions.

Brailsford went on to add that our own understanding is limited by a lack of scientific research into ‘altitude natives’ such as Sergio, who was born at altitude in Rionegro, near Medellín, at an altitude of 7,000 feet and lives & trains in the region outside of the racing season. He also remarked we are commissioning independent scientific research to better understand the effects of prolonged periods at altitude after returning from sea level, specifically on altitude natives and added the independent experts are looking to use WADA-accredited laboratories and Team Sky will make the data and findings available to the World Anti-Doping Agency, the UCI, and the Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation (CADF).

Sir Dave Brailsford also said Sergio will help with this program and we expect him to be out of the race schedule for at least eight weeks and once we have completed our assessment, we’ll decide on the right steps and give a full update.

Team Sky’s move was supported by the UCI that said we as a matter of principle are supportive of teams pursuing a policy of closely monitoring their athletes. A UCI spokesperson said this is something that has been monitored by the team and this is Team Sky’s own program and that’s very important.

This is the second blood anomaly involving Team Sky after anti-doping disciplinary action was faced by Jonathan Tiernan-Locke, the 2012 Tour of Britain winner, after his blood passport data was found to contain anomalies.

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Tuesday 18, Mar 2014

Chael Sonnen Could Stop His UFC Participation

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Chael Sonnen Could Stop His UFC Participation

American mixed martial artist Chael Sonnen has admitted that his fighting days may be over. Sonnen made this stunning announcement after the apparent elimination of therapeutic-use exemptions (TUEs) for Testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) in the sport of Mixed Martial Arts.

Sonnen said on an edition of “UFC Tonight” that he may not continue competing in the Octagon if he cannot find a good way to help improve his lagging testosterone to a normal level. The #8 in official UFC light heavyweight rankings and #15 in middleweight said he may have to stop the sport if it does not work and it is as simple as that. These comments made by Sonnen were part of a discussion on the recent decision of the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) to ban Testosterone replacement therapy exemptions in the state. Chael Sonnen also remarked that he and his team are educating themselves on the new process and potential alternatives. Till a solution is reached, the UFC fighter said his days in the cage could be quickly drawing to a close. He added that an athlete should not have to choose between sport or health and it should be a combination of both.

The decision of NSAC was soon followed by the UFC and later on by the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) that issued a “total ban” on testosterone replacement therapy (TRT).

At the age of 19, Sonnen made his MMA career by defeating Ben Hailey in 1997. He then went on to defeat future ICON Sport Middleweight Champion and Strikeforce Middleweight contender Jason “Mayhem” Miller. Chael Sonnen made his UFC debut against former IFC Light Heavyweight Champion Renato Sobral at UFC 55. He then debuted in May 2006 for Bodog Fight and defeated Tim Credeur via TKO. Sonnen defeated future Ultimate Fighter member Kyacey Uscola at SuperFight 20: Homecoming. Sonnen was suspended by the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) for one year and fined $2,500 after his loss to Anderson Silva at UFC 117 on August 7, 2010. It was revealed that Sonnen had an unallowably high testosterone/epitestosterone (T/E) ratio of 16.9:1 at the time of the fight while the T/E ratio of an average man is 1:1 and a ratio as high as 4:1 may be allowed by some testing bodies for athletes undergoing Testosterone replacement therapy treatment.

In another development, Chris Weidman who has been one of the more outspoken critics of TRT expressed satisfaction on the recent decision by NSAC. Weidman said he had made it no secret at all for his stance on TRT and added he always thought it was cheating and went on to remark that there was just guys taking advantage of it, so it’s a huge step in the right direction for the sport to get rid of that. Weidman added there has always going to be people cheating out there, but when it was guided cheating and people were allowed to cheat, that was not right and it’s a step in the right direction.

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Sunday 16, Mar 2014

Total Ban On TRT Announced By California Commission

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Total Ban On TRT Announced By California Commission

The California State Athletic Commission has announced a total ban on testosterone replacement therapy (TRT). This move was announced by Commission officials, a week after the Nevada State Athletic Commission issued a ban on TRT and urged other regulatory bodies to follow suit to ban Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUE).

The NSAC recently became the first commission to outright ban TUEs for testosterone replacement therapy.

The move by Nevada also prompted the UFC-backed Comissao Atletica Brasileira de MMA (CABMMA), Brazil’s regulatory body, to ban exemptions for testosterone replacement therapy. CABMMA however allowed Dan Henderson (29-11 MMA, 6-5 UFC) to use the hormone for his fight with Mauricio “Shogun” Rua on March 23 at UFC Fight Night 38. Ironically, Henderson was the first MMA fighter to receive a TUE for testosterone replacement therapy in Nevada and he is the last in Brazil.

In another development, New Jersey counsel Nick Lembo said the commission will look at Nevada’s decision but would not be making any immediate changes.

According to a statement by the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC), it will soon require World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) standards to receive a testosterone replacement therapy exemption and no therapeutic use exemptions (TUE) will be granted in the state of California until those rules are enacted. In the statement, CSAC Executive Officer Andy Foster said the California State Athletic Commission fully supports the Nevada State Athletic Commission’s decision to eliminate Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUE) for Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) in boxing and mixed martial arts. Foster added that California is a strong supporter of anti-doping efforts and as part of California’s anti-doping efforts, the Commission recently began the rulemaking process to require meeting World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) standards as the only way to obtain a TUE for TRT.

The California State Athletic Commission Executive Officer also said this standard is so high that it is an effective ban except under the most extreme circumstances and remarked that until the rulemaking process is complete and the regulations are fully adopted, the Commission has a total ban on TRT. California remains committed to protecting the health and safety of athletes and having strict anti-doping standards is one of the ways this is accomplished.

Meanwhile, President of the Association of Boxing Commissions has recommended that member commissions follow current protocols for testosterone replacement therapy exemptions. Tim Lueckenhoff said he will ask the medical committee to consider and review Nevada’s new position on the matter which is a strong deviation from their past practice. Lueckenhoff added he will also ask our legal committee to counsel us about the legal ramifications, if any, from an outright ban without exception for any reason.  Lueckenhoff also remarked that we are always interested in the subject of PED usage and proper testing and are pleased that Nevada’s action is igniting a healthy debate on the subject matter.

In 2011, the Association of Boxing Commissions crafted guidelines for testosterone replacement therapy exemptions as part of its Handbook of Ringside Medicine. New Jersey chief ringside physician and ABC medical committee director Dr. Sherry Wulkan were at the forefront of crafting the policy.

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Friday 14, Mar 2014

UFC Bantamweight Fighter Fails Test For Marijuana

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UFC Bantamweight Fighter Fails Test For Marijuana

According to representatives from the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, the split decision win of UFC bantamweight fighter Jessica Eye over Sarah Kaufman at UFC 166 on October 19 in Houston has been changed to a no-decision. This was after Jessica, the American professional mixed martial artist who currently competes in the Ultimate Fighting Championship in the bantamweight division, tested positive for marijuana after which she was fined $1,875 and placed on a “one year fully probated suspension.”

Kaufman, after learning of the failed test of Jessica Eye, remarked she hates to see our sport marred by athletes who can’t seem to control what substances they put in their bodies and it’s disrespectful to their opponents and employers.

Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation public information officer Susan Stanford remarked Jessica can still fight in the interim while she is effectively “on probation as long as she complies” with the administrative order.

In her official statement on the matter that was released through the UFC, Jessica Eye remarked she was recently alerted to the fact that she was issued a fully probated suspension and fine by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation. The UFC fighter added that while she intend to discuss with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation the overturning of my victory at UFC 166, she had accepted the terms of the probation and intend to compete at UFC 170 on February 22. Eye added she pride herself on following the rules and representing her family, teammates, sponsors, and fans in the best light possible and apologized for any distractions this has caused.

Meanwhile, UFC president Dana White has defended Jessica Eye and said she honestly meant no harm in the matter. White remarked so let me explain the Jessica Eye situation – that thing popped up on my radar like the day it happened. The UFC president added that he understands where you guys are coming from, but let me put you in her situation, Jessica finally makes it in the UFC, the big stage, and first thing most of these people have never dealt with media at the level that they deal with now and nobody ever cared what she said and she gets busted for weed.

White also said that Jessica started panicking when all this stuff started happening and she didn’t know what she could say and couldn’t say, and she didn’t want anybody to know. He also said Jessica is not media savvy, she’s scared and she didn’t know what she was going to get in trouble for or not in trouble for. White revealed in Nevada (the legal limit) it’s 150 (ng/mL), she was 16 (ng/mL).  Texas (limit) is 15 (ng/ML). The WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) raised their standard for marijuana last year to 150 ng/mL while the state of Nevada, a commission routinely looked at for drug testing in combat sports, raised their limit for marijuana from 50 ng/ML to 150 ng/mL but Texas has a limit set 10 times less than the recognized testing limit by both WADA and commissions in states like Nevada.

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Wednesday 12, Mar 2014

Chris Froome Backs Doping Inquiry

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Chris Froome Backs Doping Inquiry

In an interview, the reigning Tour de France champion Chris Froome said he backs an inquiry into cycling’s dirty past.

The Team Sky rider said he supports the UCI-sanctioned inquiry into the dirty laundry of cycling. Froome remarked he hopes that anyone who does have anything to contribute would get involved and added he believes that at the end of the day people will be able to say of it and put everything bad about the past behind and stop asking questions about it.

Froome added the current generation of cyclists has an equally arduous task ahead of them to prove to the world that they are riding clean. He remarked it is a challenge for the new generation of cyclists to be able to show people that the sport really has turned around — and that doping is not something that’s done any more. He also said the pressure falls on us now and it is our burden but it does fall on us to tell people that the sport is no longer how it used to be.

A few months back, the Cycling Independent Reform Commission (CIRC) was created by the president of the International Cycling Union (UCI) — Brian Cookson — with the vision of investigating both historic doping in cycling and allegations that the world governing body of cycling had been involved in previous wrongdoing.

Cookson said at that time we can all agree that the Lance Armstrong affair has done immense damage to our sport and added Armstrong wants to be first through the door when the Commission is up and running and he as the UCI President urge him and anyone else to participate.

Froome also said he would not be participating in the Milano-Sanremo as originally planned after organizers were forced to remove the Pompeiana climb due to poor road conditions. Milano-Sanremo takes place March 23.

Team Sky officials revealed that Froome will not be racing Milan-Sanremo because of the change of course and will instead be racing Volta a Catalunya (March 23-29) following Tirreno-Adriatico (March 12-18). Recently, many teams are juggling their rosters for Milano-Sanremo after it was announced that Pompeiana climb’s introduction would be delayed until 2015. Sandwiched between the Cipressa and Poggio, the climb, tilted the race toward climbers and away from sprinters.

Meanwhile, Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) and André Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) both have changed their schedules to start the longest classic of the season while others decided not to change their plans. Cavendish will also contest Gent-Wevelgem, Driedaagse van De Panne (Three Day s of De Panne), and Scheldeprijs. According to Giant-Shimano officials, John Degenkolb remains the team’s captain for the Italian classic and Marcel Kittel will not start.

In a press release, Omega Pharma sport and development manager Rolf Aldag said uncertainty about the route of the Sanremo left Mark’s program open until just a few days ago and therefore, after Strade Bianche and Tirreno-Adriatico races, Mark will be in the starting lineup for the Milano-Sanremo. Cavendish said he is very happy to be riding in Milano-Sanremo, on the same route where he watched his heroes’ race and win when he was a kid. Cavendish added it will be fun and stimulating to ride on this route, which is making this race the only classics monument for the sprinters.

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