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Archive for  March 2015

Wednesday 11, Mar 2015

UCI Colluded With Lance Armstrong, Says Report

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UCI Colluded With Lance Armstrong, Says Report

A 227-page report by the Cycling Independent Reform Commission (CIRC) was published on Monday after a year-long probe. The report criticized the UCI, the world governing body of cycling, for allowing doping and covering up Lance Armstrong, the sport’s star rider.

The report also criticized former UCI leaders Hein Verbruggen and successor Pat McQuaid for letting doping flourish and breaking rules. The present UCI President Brian Cookson said Verbruggen should give up his honorary presidency and added that cycling still has “an endemic problem of lower-level doping.”

The UCI chief remarked the advisers of Lance Armstrong were allowed to become “directly and heavily” involved in Emile Vrijman’s 2006 report. Vrijman, the Dutch lawyer, was examining accusations by L’Equipe newspaper in 2005 that Lance Armstrong took Erythropoietin (EPO) in winning the first of his seven Tour de France titles. L’Equipe linked back-tested samples from the race to the cyclist.

 

The CIRC investigation found the UCI “purposely limited the scope of the independent investigator’s mandate” against the suggestion of Vrijman. It was also revealed that the primary goal was to ensure that the report reflected UCI’s and Lance Armstrong’s personal conclusions. It was also revealed by the investigation that the UCI exempted Lance Armstrong from rules, failed to target test him despite the suspicions, and publicly supported him against allegations of doping, even as late as 2012. It went on to add that the world governing body of cycling saw Lance Armstrong as the perfect choice to lead the sport’s renaissance after the Festina doping scandal at the 1998 Tour de France. It was also added that the fact that he was American opened up a new continent for the sport, he had beaten cancer and the media quickly made him a global star.

The report also highlighted decision of Pat McQuaid to allow Lance Armstrong to participate in the 2009 Tour Down Under even though the former American professional road racing cyclist hadn’t been in the testing group for the required period of time. The report says there was a temporal link between this decision, which was communicated to UCI staff in the morning, and the decision of Lance Armstrong, which was notified to Pat McQuaid later that same day, to participate in the Tour of Ireland, an event run by people known to Pat McQuaid.

After the report was published, McQuaid said if he had not put a lot of his time and energy into the fight against doping, as the report recognizes, and led to significant progress maybe he would have had more time to spend more time on governance and management which the report finds criticism with. He added the area which is under investigation is only one part of an enormously challenging role as UCI president and he is proud of his achievements in developing the sport globally.

Cookson, who set up the three-man CIRC panel, said Lance Armstrong had a positive test for cortisone, which was covered up – and assisted in covering up – by the UCI in 1999 and added that it the UCI was going to prioritize the image of the sport, the business of the sport, over the integrity and honesty of the sport and that was a very bad signal.

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Monday 09, Mar 2015

Team’s Anti-Doping Measures Defended By Astana Doctor

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Team’s Anti-Doping Measures Defended By Astana Doctor

Team Astana doctor Joost de Maeseneer has defended anti-doping policies of the team and claimed that Vincenzo Nibali was tested four times in a day when he wore Tour de France leader’s jersey last year.

In an article published on the Kazakh team’s website, de Maeseneer said involvement of the team in the Movement for a Credible Cycling (MPCC) means that they have to adhere to strict anti-doping measures. The doctor said we are members of the MPCC to check cortisol levels, we follow the no-needle policy, there are no outside supplements allowed, no outside trainers, we don’t use sprays – we think this is a good idea. De Maeseneer added we joined the MPCC in 2013 – not all the teams in the WorldTour are members of the MPCC and said that we think this should not be the case  He went on to remark that it adds to the overall number of blood tests we do in a year and said he would say the top riders are tested approximately no less than 50 times per year and also remarked that Vincenzo Nibali was once tested four times in 24 hours at the Tour.

The words of De Maeseneer came after the UCI, the world governing body of cycling, asked its License Commission to withdraw the WorldTour license of Team Astana after anomalies were thrown up during an independent audit in the team’s procedures. This recommendation was made by the UCI after it received audit on the Astana team’s practices from the Institute of Sport Sciences of the University of Lausanne. In a statement, the UCI revealed the audit revealed a big difference between the policies and structures that the team presented to the License Commission in December and the reality on the ground. The decision taken by the cycling’s governing body is not solely based on the audit as the UCI also reflected on evidence offered by Italian authorities in the context of Padova files that features a number of Astana riders.

The UCI statement also said the Italian authorities have provided the UCI with the sections of the Padova investigation which it has been authorized to share. It was also mentioned that as some evidence concerns Astana Pro Team members, the file has been passed to the License Commission as part of this referral and added the UCI for the sake of due process is not in a position to comment further on the content of the audit report, nor the Padova investigation, until the License Commission has assessed the situation and rendered its decision. But this decision to refer the matter to the License Commission was reached taking all circumstances and potential consequences into consideration.

Like Team Astana, De Maeseneer is not new to controversies. In his tell-all book The Secret Race, Tyler Hamilton said De Maeseneer gave illegal prescriptions to riders at team CSC. Jorg Jaksche said in a 2007 interview that he and his teammates took cortisone “all season long” in his 2004 year with team CSC. The doctor then replied that the team only worked with “ethical, professional way” and did not use prohibited substances. De Maeseneer indicated that the doping cases of Team Astana last year were not part of an organized system and were isolated events and remarked that the team has everything in place for riders who want to succeed without doping.

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Saturday 07, Mar 2015

Kevin de Weert And Greg Van Avermaet Plead Innocence

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Kevin de Weert And Greg Van Avermaet Plead Innocence

Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) has been asked by the Belgian Cycling Federation (KBWB-RLVB) to appear before the Disciplinary Commission on March 13 to answer questions in relation to the investigation into Doctor Chris Mertens, along with cyclo-cross stars Bart Wellens and Tom Meeusen.

Van Avermaet pleaded innocence and said he was a patient with Doctor Mertens and he is going to explain himself to the federation, why he was there. The Belgian professional road bicycle racer, currently riding for UCI ProTeam BMC Racing Team, said he doesn’t have anything to blame myself for and he is going to give his explanation and then all will be behind him.

The Belgian cyclist came very close to winning the World Tour race Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec in 2012 and went on to win the Flandrian of the Year award in 2013 because of his consistency in high profile races along with Chris Froome. Van Avermaet won the Flandrian of the year for the second season in a row after he won the GP Impanis-Van Petegem in 2014.

In a press release, BMC Racing Team said it is aware that Van Avermaet was treated by Dr. Mertens, but is unaware of any treatments that would be in violation of any rules. The team added no decision based on the information available to the team at the present time has been made to remove Van Avermaet from active status. It was added the team will continue its investigation and will evaluate new information at such time as it becomes available and added the team will not comment further on the matter at the present time out of respect for Van Avermaet.

Dr Chris Mertens is under investigation for providing ozone treatment to athletes. It is claimed that Mertens allegedly doped blood of athletes with ozone by drawing blood and then enriched it with ozone and transfusing it back into their bodies. Mertens is also accused of encouraging athletes to dope. The Belgian Cycling Federation is investigating Mertens and a list of 19 athletes potentially treated with ozone therapy. Mertens is also accused of prescribing Vaminolact injection. The infant medication is not illegal itself but administering it with an infusion breaks the no-needle policy of the world governing body of cycling, the UCI. The list of athletes reportedly includes prominent Belgian cycling and cyclo-cross riders, including the likes of Tom Meeusen.

In another development, Kevin de Weert said he is not under investigation in the Mertens trial. The Belgian professional road bicycle racer for UCI ProTeam Omega Pharma-Quick Step said he was a patient at doctor Mertens’ practice for a short period of time in 2012, which is close to his home. The cyclist added he received a court letter at the end of 2013 with the request to voluntarily provide them with DNA material as they wanted to close the case and remarked he voluntarily gave samples of his DNA to them in the beginning of 2014. Kevin de Weert also added he does not have to justify himself at the court or his sports federation, because he never received any summons for hearing.

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Thursday 05, Mar 2015

Germany Football Coach Caught Up In 70s And 80s Doping Scandal

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Joachim Löw, the current manager of the German national football team who led the German team to victory at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil against Argentina, has distanced himself from doping allegations.

An evaluation commission from Freiburg’s sport medicine clinic recently claimed that anabolic steroids were used at VfB Stuttgart and SC Freiburg, Bundesliga clubs during the late 1970s and early 1980s. The present Germany’s World Cup-winning coach was a part of both these clubs. Löw played in midfield for Freiburg from 1978-80 and from 1982-84 and spent the 1980/81 season at Stuttgart, whom he later coached.

The former football midfielder said doping has no place in sport and he completely disapproves of it and that is as true for him as a player as it still is today as the national coach.

Stuttgart, who is currently bottom of the table, said they will cooperate fully with the investigation but asked for a full copy of the commission’s report to retrace the evidence. Stuttgart’s director of sport Robin Dutt told Sky Sports said it is hard for us to give out any information because we don’t have any facts at hand and it happened well before our time. Dutt added nevertheless, we want to give a water-tight explanation, because we are interested in clean sport and also remarked there is regular drug testing in professional football and it appears there are no irregular findings.

Freiburg said they will also support an investigation and remarked they are also waiting to see “detailed results or a full report”. The club spoke strongly against the use of performance enhancing drugs.

Ottmar Hitzfeld, the former Bayern Munich and Switzerland coach who played for Stuttgart from 1975-78, said he is totally surprised by these reports and added he can’t imagine that one of his teammates knowingly doped.

Wilhelm Schänzer, the director of the prestigious Cologne Institute of Biochemistry, said football does not currently have a doping problem like other sports which are constantly caught up in cases involving the use of banned substances. Schänzer added there is absolutely nothing that points to it being a problem in German football while referring to the accusations about the use of anabolic steroids by Freiburg and Stuttgart during the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Hans-Jurgen Sundermann, Stuttgart’s coach from 1976-79 and 1980-82, said findings of the report are absurd and he cannot imagine that happening and can entirely rule it out. Rainer Koch, chairman of the German Football Association’s (DFB) anti-doping commission, said he was concerned that the commission had not been informed beforehand. Koch remarked there have been serious allegations made which obviously must be completely cleared up and went on to add that it is strange however that the anti-doping commission has not previously been informed. He also said the commission’s findings are new to us and we have seen neither the results nor the report, therefore we can’t comment and also remarked that we must see a detailed report in order to assess the matter seriously.

pdf_iconDownload in PDF: Germany Football Coach Caught Up In 70s And 80s Doping Scandal

Tuesday 03, Mar 2015

Tiger Woods Suspended For Drug Test Failure, Claims Former PGA Tour Player

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Tiger Woods has been suspended for one month under the anti-doping program of the PGA Tour, according to a former PGA Tour player.

Dan Olsen made this sensational claim on radio station WVFN to host David DeMarco. Olsen, who has made 35 career PGA Tour starts and was an exempt player for the 2004 season, claimed the information came to him from “exempt Tour players” and added he heard that Woods is on a month-long suspension. The former PGA Tour player also remarked that the suspension is not due to testing positive for Testosterone but for something else. Olsen went on to remark that Tiger Woods is all set to surpass Lance Armstrong in infamy.

In a statement, Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg said these claims are absolutely, unequivocally and completely false and added they are unsourced, unverified and completely ridiculous. Steinberg added the PGA Tour has confirmed that there is no truth to these claims.

In response to Steinberg’s statement, PGA Tour media official Joel Schuchmann released a statement saying that regarding the allegations made by Dan Olsen concerning Tiger Woods, there is no truth whatsoever to his claims and the PGA Tour categorically denies them. PGA Tour executive vice president Ty Votaw also said there is no truth whatsoever to these claims and we categorically deny these allegations.

Olsen later backed off his claims and said everything he said on that radio interview was only his opinion and not based on any first-hand knowledge or facts. The former golfer also said he wants to make a full retraction to everything he said for the entire radio interview, and he apologizes to Tiger, Nike, Phil Mickelson, Commissioner Tim Finchem, and the PGA Tour.

In the past, players who have been suspended under the anti-doping program of the Tour have been banned from the PGA Tour and its umbrella tours for one year. In 2013, Vijay Singh admitted to using deer-antler spray and was expected to receive a suspension of six months by the Tour. The Tour decided not to suspend Singh after consulting with the World Anti-Doping Agency. WADA had declared that the illegal insulin-like ingredient found in deer-antler spray is required to be injected directly into the blood stream to be effective. The golfer is presently pursuing litigation against the PGA Tour over their handling of his case.

Tiger Woods, the American professional golfer, has been one of the highest-paid athletes in the world for many years and is considered as one of the most successful golfers of all time. Awarded PGA Player of the Year a record eleven times, Woods has won 79 official PGA Tour events including 14 majors. He has spent the most consecutive and cumulative weeks atop the world rankings and is the only player to have won all four professional major championships in a row. Woods is the youngest player to achieve the career Grand Slam but has struggled since to regain his dominant form ever since he had back disc surgery in April 2014.

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Sunday 01, Mar 2015

AWMM To Feature Unprecedented Anti-Doping Protocols

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Organizers of the Abbott World Marathon Majors (AWMM) have released details of a new race series format that will be launched at the Tokyo Marathon.

The event marked the official start of the Abbott’s title sponsorship of the series. It will see the introduction of a new one-year cycle of qualifying races featuring what is described by AWMM as unprecedented anti-doping protocols.

The series that included the Boston, Tokyo, BMW Berlin, Virgin Money London, TCS New York City, and Bank of America Chicago Marathons already has a policy under which no athlete is eligible to win the AWMM Championship title if he or she is found guilty of any anti-doping rules that are enforced by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), any of the individual AWMM races, or national federations.

Starting from 2015, the anti-doping efforts have been stepped up with the AWMM creating a pool of championship-eligible runners who will be undergoing additional out-of-competition drug testing. The AWMM will also be adjusting prize money payments that will be adjusted for taking advantage of long-term biological mapping of athletes. From now on, the $500,000 awarded each to the male and the female champion will not be a one-time lump sum affair but it will be paid out over the course of five years at $100,000 each year.

World Marathon Majors suffered its most dramatic doping setback when Kenyan marathon runner Rita Jeptoo tested positive for Erythropoietin (EPO), a blood-boosting steroid. Jeptoo was banned for two years by Athletics Kenya, effective from 30 October 2014 to 29th October 2016, after her A and B samples revealed the presence of EPO.

In 2014, Jeptoo set the course record in Boston Marathon with a time of 2 hours, 18.57 minutes. Jeptoo, a winner of the Chicago Marathon twice and Boston Marathon thrice, is now ruled out of the World Championship in Beijing this summer but also the Rio Olympics in 2016. Any financial reward earned by Rita Jeptoo, as a result of her winning the 2013/14 World Marathon Majors, has already been rescinded. The Kenyan athlete faces possible forfeiture of her 2014 titles and could be asked to repay the $15,000 she received for conquering the Boston Marathon and the $25,000 bonus for setting the course record.

Erythropoietin is a protein hormone used by athletes and bodybuilders to enhance performance. The hormone, which is produced by the kidney, stimulates the production of red blood cells in the body when it gets released into the blood stream. It is worthwhile to note here that Erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (ESAs) have been used in endurance sports like boxing, cycling, horseracing, rowing, race walking, cross country skiing, distance running, Mixed Martial Arts, cross country skiing, and triathlon. Medically used to treat anemia, EPO can increase oxygen carrying capacity of the body. In addition to these distinctive advantages, Erythropoietin is also beneficial to speed up the process of wound healing. It also plays a critical role in response of the brain to neuronal injury and can improve absorption of iron by suppressing hepcidin (a hormone). Erythropoietin is also useful in stimulating angiogenesis and stimulating proliferation of smooth muscle fibers.

pdf_iconDownload in PDF: AWMM To Feature Unprecedented Anti-Doping Protocols

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