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Sunday 20, Jul 2014

  Anti-Doping Advocate Questions Team Sky Ethics

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Anti-doping advocate and French former professional rider Christophe Bassons has questioned the ethics of Chris Froome and Team Sky.

Bassons also issued a warning that rejection of Lance Armstrong by the cycling community may have dire consequences. The former French professional rider said he does not want to hear that Armstrong has been found hanging from a ceiling, because he thinks it is possible. Bassons, who was nicknamed ‘Mr. Clean’, said he sees comparisons between Team Sky and US Postal Service team. A key adversary of Armstrong, Bassons claims that the use of therapeutic user exemption certificates by Team Sky riders is no different to using the blood-boosting drug, erythropoietin (EPO).

Bassons, speaking in Leeds for promoting his updated autobiography – ‘A Clean Break’ – said it was wrong for Chris Froome to race in Tour de Romandie using a therapeutic user exemption for an asthma medication. Froome was not violating the WADA or UCI rules but Bassons says he believes Team Sky and Froome have been exposed compromising their principles. Bassons remarked doping is about eliminating all obstacles to win a race and added that the fact is Froome has shown his mentality by taking this product, he had a problem, he was ill, and he took this product and he eliminated the obstacle to him winning. The former rider went on to remark that Armstrong said he had been tested 500 times and never tested positive and this is the same mentality guys have got today and they just don’t want to test positive.

Bassons remarked it is not about where the authorities draw the line, because people thinking about that are also only thinking the priority is not to test positive. Bassons said he may see unfavorable comparisons between Team Sky and the US Postal Service team that ‘prospered and dominated’ under the leadership of Lance Armstrong. Bassons, a member of the Festina team that was busted for carrying doping products in a team car just before the start of the 1998 Tour de France, earned the nickname ‘Mr. Clean’ because of his refusal to dope. He got into an infamous confrontation with Armstrong during the race after Bassons remarked the peloton was riddled with drug cheats.

Bassons also remarked Team Sky has definitely gone against a lot of received knowledge in the sport and there were a lot of things we thought weren’t possible and they’ve shown that they are possible. The rider added they have a collective force like US Postal had as they communicate with people like US Postal did and they seem to produce riders who don’t have any muscles and are very powerful.

Team Sky principal Sir Dave Brailsford said we set out to try to win this race with a British rider and ride clean and we’ve achieved that. Brailsford added we are a clean team, we play by the rules and we are happy that WADA is happy with us and we are happy that the UCI is happy with us.

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Monday 16, Dec 2013

  USADA Chief Slams Door Shut On Armstrong

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USADA Chief Slams Door Shut On Armstrong

Travis Tygart, the CEO of United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), has remarked that he has now closed any door of chance for Lance Armstrong cooperating with the agency and getting his life ban reduced.

Tygart, speaking at a seminar at the Ulleval Stadium in the capital of Norway, said Armstrong told him prior to Thanksgiving that he was not interested in speaking to the United States Anti-Doping Agency. The USADA chief went on to add that the banned cyclist could have done good to image of cycling if he had come all clean when he was first charged by the anti-doping agency.

Armstrong was in discussion with USADA about speaking under oath and remarked that he would be open to speak before UCI’s independent commission but does not want the United States Anti-Doping Agency to get involved.

Former US Postal Service rider, Steffen Kjærgaard, may be called as one of the witnesses called for testifying against former US Postal Service team manager Johan Bruyneel. Kjærgaard admitted to doping and was a teammate of Lance Armstrong on the 2000 and 2001 editions of the Tour de France. He also spoke at the seminar at the Ulleval Stadium.

In January this year, Lance Armstrong made an appearance on the Oprah Winfrey talk show and admitted to doping. The cyclist however refrained from admitting that he used performance enhancing drugs after his return to the sport in 2009, as claimed by USADA in its reasoned decision.

The United States Anti-Doping Agency disclosed that the USPS Team doping conspiracy was designed professionally for pressuring and grooming athletes to make use of dangerous drugs and evade detection while ensuring secrecy of superior doping practices to gain an unfair competitive advantage. USADA’s reasoned decision was supported by different categories of eyewitness, documentary, first-hand, scientific, direct and circumstantial evidence and testimonies from Armstrong’s former teammates: Frankie Andreu, Michael Barry, Tom Danielson, Tyler Hamilton, George Hincapie, Floyd Landis, Levi Leipheimer, Stephen Swart, Christian Vande Velde, Jonathan Vaughters and David Zabriskie.

Armstrong also denied before Oprah that the world governing body of cycling, the UCI, and its then President Hein Verbruggen, had helped him cover up his doping. He however claimed last month that Verbruggen had been complicit in a bogus and the backdated prescription for a saddle sore cream for covering up a positive test for a corticosteroid in the 1999 Tour de France.

Meanwhile, wife of Frankie Andreu has questioned the motives of Armstrong for his apparent contrition. Betsy Andreu remarked the disgraced cyclist is still trying to manipulate the situation to his advantage and was acting out of self-interest. She added nothing has changed with Lance and he is still desperately trying to control the narrative but the problem for him is not many are listening. Betsy also noted that Lance has a history of reaching out to people before key legal dates and said she believes that Armstrong’s episodes of reaching out to the likes of ex-pro cyclists Christophe Bassons and Filippo Simeoni are influenced by a court appointment in the whistleblower case and the arbitration hearing of Bruyneel.

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Friday 28, Dec 2012

  Sanction On Bassons Dropped From One Year To One Month

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Sanction On Bassons Dropped From One Year To One Month

Cyclist Christophe Bassons who was banned for one year after he missed a post-race control in the French mountain bike marathon championships has a sigh of relief after the ban was reduced on appeal to just one month. However, the 38-year-old rider said he will fight on and seek to have the sanction overturned on a point of principle.

Bassons remarked that he was hypoglycemic at 25 kilometers from the finish and missed the last refuelling point and had nothing to eat. He further added that his car was not parked far from there as he had ridden the last twenty kilometers the previous day and therefore he decided to leave. The cyclist said he received a phone call two hours later saying that he had been selected for a post-race doping control and he had half an hour to return for the test and remarked that he was already too far away. Bassons added that the communication was going badly and the person on the phone calling for the test never heard his answer. He therefore decided to stop on the highway and called back with his professional phone as his personal phone’s battery was empty but he was unable to reach him. As a result, Bassons was given a ban of one year and protested that the organizers should have contacted him much earlier than they did; the cyclist also objected to the severity of the punishment.

Though the sanction was reduced dramatically, the cyclist while accepting that he made a mistake said the reduction of the ban by the French cycling federation (FFC) is an admission of sorts that he was not guilty of an offense. Christophe Bassons is also emphasizing on clearing his name for another reason. He spoke against doping thirteen years ago in the 1999 Tour de France and was bullied off the race by Lance Armstrong and others. Bassons had a reputation as a clean rider but he was marginalized and his career eventually petered out because of his stance on doping. His stance was recognized in November 2012 by Sports Illustrated writer Alexander Wolff who said that the stance had assumed a new and important significance in the light of the Lance Armstrong doping scandal and named Bassons as his own nomination for Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year. Wolff said the example of Christophe Bassons is good for cycling and he is my Sportsman of the Year for his courage, principle, and symbolism.

Armstrong was banned by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency after swearing testimonies from 11 of his former teammates that he used and encouraged the use of performance enhancing drugs to stay on top of cycling.

Bassons said the federation may have reduced the sentence from one year to one month, but this sanction remains completely absurd in principle. He added that he will be making an appeal to the administrative court and will counter attack. Between 1996 and 2001, cyclist Christophe Bassons raced as a professional and was part of the Festina team between 1996 and 1998, and was named by many on the team as being the one rider who never took banned substances.

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