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Thursday 25, Jul 2013

  1998 Tour de France Top Three ‘Were Doping’

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1998 Tour de France Top Three ‘Were Doping’

Ahead of a French parliamentary commission’s report, French daily Le Monde has revealed that the top three riders in the 1998 edition of the Tour de France were all taking the banned blood booster erythropoietin (EPO).

According to reports published by the French daily, Italian Marco Pantani, Germany’s Jan Ullrich, and American Bobby Julich who were the top three during the 1998 Tour de France were all taking EPO. These revelations come just ahead of a French parliamentary commission that is all set to release a report shortly. On May 15, the commission made waves after it announced that senators from the upper chamber of parliament would reveal the identities of those riders using erythropoietin during the race.

A few days back, a delegation of professional riders, including Jens Voigt, Jérémy Roy, Samuel Dumoulin, Jerome Pineau, and Luis Angel Mate, met with French sports minister Valerie Fourneyron to delay the release of the report before the start of the Tour de France. After the delay request was accepted, Dumoulin remarked we never said we did not want the fight against doping, but simply were asked for equality between sports. He added that given the media coverage of the Tour, we know that a spark would trigger a huge fire as viewers would be reminded of the old doping cases. Dumoulin added that now we can concentrate on the sport, and once we have turned the page of the Tour, we will focus on the findings of the investigation.

The French parliamentary commission questioned 84 witnesses under oath, from sportsmen and women to organizers and anti-doping experts, to lift the lid over the subject. The senators are aiming to frame legislation on sport and put it before parliament for debate next year.

French former rider Laurent Jalabert was alleged last month to have been one of those implicated through comparison of retrospective testing results from 2004 and a list of anonymous samples from 1998. The cyclist immediately stepped down as a television and radio pundit for this year’s Tour de France that was won by British rider Chris Froome. Marco Pantani’s family said they were against identifying riders; the rider died in 2004. Pantani, the Italian road racing cyclist, was widely considered one of the best climbers of his era in professional road bicycle racing. He was found dead in a hotel in Rimini. Nicknamed “The Pirate”, Pantani won the 1998 Tour de France and Giro d’Italia but was thrown out of the 1999 Giro d’Italia for failing a blood test. He was the last man to win the Tour before American Lance Armstrong embarked on a record-equaling five straight victories.

The professional cyclists’ union the CPA also opposed to publication. In a statement, the union remarked publication of a list amounts to an accusation of doping without any means of defense and argued that no counter-analysis was possible as the original samples no longer existed. But this opposition may not deter the senators who are still likely to publish the identities of the riders and could equally include lists of samples taken on the 1999 Tour, which was won by US rider Lance Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour wins and banned from cycling for life last year for doping in a scandal that engulfed cycling into crisis.

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Friday 30, Nov 2012

  Bobby Julich Leaves Team Sky

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Bobby Julich Leaves Team Sky

American coach Bobby Julich became the victim of Team Sky’s anti-doping purge after he confessed to drug offenses fourteen years ago and team principal Dave Brailsford admitted it was “highly likely” further backroom staff will be sacked.

Brailsford recently asked staff and riders to confirm that they had no history of doping as cycling tries to clean itself in the wake of the Lance Armstrong doping scandal. A teammate of Armstrong at Motorola and Cofidis between 1995 and 1997, Julich has now admitted to doping during the late 1990s, when he finished third in the Tour de France.

Brailsford remarked it is painful and it is the cost of being at the forefront of people being able to believe that we can do it clean and further added that Bobby has shown courage in admitting to the errors he made long before his time with Team Sky and it is critical to emphasize that there have been no doubts about his work with Team Sky or his approach as a coach and Julich has done a good job and been a good colleague during his two years with Team Sky.

Brailsford also remarked that Team Sky has made its commitment clear to being a clean team and it believes this is the right thing to do although it is never easy to part. The Team Sky Head said the attention is bound now to turn to senior directeur sportif Sean Yates, who also rode with Armstong at Motorola and helped coach him at the 2005 Tour de France with Discovery and again four years later with Astana. Julich insisted that he stopped making the use of performance enhancing drugs in 1998 after finishing third in the Tour and his then fiancée Angela, now his wife, stumbled across his drug use.

Julich, an Olympic silver medalist in the 2004 time-trial, has been a time-trial coach at Sky for two years and his role included working closely with time-trial specialists such as Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome. The cyclist will receive an undisclosed parachute payment from Sky under the interview and disclosure system Sky have put in place after the United States Anti-Doping Agency report but his contract would have been terminated without any financial package if he had failed to admit his doping past, and it subsequently came to light.

Julich made a full confession to his doping past when he met Brailsford and elaborated further last night when he published an open letter to “Sky, family, friends, fans and supporters of cycling” and said those days were different from today and he knew that he was doing wrong over those two years but the attitude surrounding the use of EPO in the peloton was so casual and accepted that he personally lost perspective of the gravity of the situation.

Although Tour de France victory of Brad Wiggins in the Sky colors this summer has widely been accepted as clean and untainted, leading anti-doping scientist Michael Ashenden has warned that nobody can be considered above suspicion.

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Thursday 15, Nov 2012

  Team Sky Head Praises Zero Tolerance Policy

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Team Sky Head Praises Zero Tolerance Policy

Dave Brailsford has remarked that the anti-doping policy of the team may hurt them in the short term but its impact in the long term will surely make it worthwhile.

The Team Sky Head said the team was started with a very clear policy and it will try to recruit the riders and the staff who had not had previous convictions for doping and had no previous involvement in doping to the best of our knowledge. Brailsford added that it was critical to stick with the policy and there may be some pain in the short term, some medium-term pain, potentially and maybe even some performance pain, to get to our vision and objectives.

The team recently asked its riders and management to sign a pledge declaring they have never doped. After this, sports director Steven de Jongh and coach Bobby Julich have quit. De Jongh left his role as sporting director at Team Sky after he admitted to making the use of performance enhancing drugs during his cycling career, while Julich went after admitted to using the blood-boosting agent EPO as a rider. Sporting director Sean Yates also retired from cycling after spending three decades in the sport though the team insisted that it was his decision and was not related to doping.

This pledge came in the wake of the Lance Armstrong doping scandal wherein the Texan rider was accused by the United States Anti-Doping Agency of using and promoting the use of performance enhancing drugs and even pressuring riders of the team to do the same.

Founded in 2010, Team Sky set the goal to win the Tour de France within five years and achieved its target in only its third season when Britain’s Bradley Wiggins won the race this summer.

Wiggins meanwhile is back home after spending a night in hospital after a bike crash. Britain’s Tour de France winner and the Olympic champion was treated for rib and hand injuries after he collided with a vehicle near a petrol station close to his Lancashire home. Team Sky confirmed that the 32-year-old Team Sky rider had sustained only minor injuries and was kept at the Royal Preston Hospital as a precaution and no long-term injury problems are suspected. The incident took place in the village of Wrightington, near Wigan, at around 18:00 GMT on November 7, 2012. A father of two, the cyclist is among the favorites to be named the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year after he became the first British winner of the Tour de France in July.

In a separate incident, British Cycling head coach Shane Sutton was involved in a bike crash in Manchester while pedalling along the A6 in Manchester suburb Levenshulme on Thursday morning in a collision with a blue Peugeot 206 being driven by a 61-year-old man. The head coach at Team Sky was diagnosed with bleeding on the brain after a bike crash in Manchester. Sutton was conscious and breathing when taken by ambulance to Salford Royal Hospital, the North West Ambulance Service said and is now in a stable condition.

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