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Saturday 28, Dec 2013

  Michael Rogers Suspended For Doping

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Cycling veteran Michael Rogers of Australia has been provisionally suspended by the world’s governing body of cycling. The three-time world time trial champion and 2004 Olympic bronze medalist tested positive for Clenbuterol, a drug used to treat asthma and used by athletes to cut body fat.

The 33-year-old has however claimed that the positive urine sample during his victory at the Japan Cup Road Race on October 20 may have been caused by contaminated food. The Saxo-Tinkoff rider denies deliberate doping but the UCI said the provisional suspension of Rogers would remain in force until a hearing convened by Cycling Australia identifies whether or not Rogers has committed an anti-doping rule violation. The cyclist competed in China a week before his positive drugs test. This was despite the UCI and the World Anti-Doping Agency issuing a warning in the past to exercise a high sense of care and caution in China because of the use of illicit use of the growth promoter in livestock there.

In a statement, Saxo-Tinkoff said Michael Rogers immediately informed the team management about the notification from the UCI and the Australian explained to the team management that he never ingested the substance knowingly nor deliberately and fears that the adverse analytical finding origins (came) from a contaminated food source. It added that Rogers participated in the Tour of Beijing the week before the Japan Cup and traveled directly from China to Japan.

Rogers won three consecutive World Time Trial Championships between 2003 and 2005 and was upgraded to bronze in the time trial at the 2004 Atlanta Olympics after Tyler Hamilton was disqualified. The cyclist has the right to request and attend the analysis of his B sample. A veteran of nine Tour de France campaigns, Rogers left Team Sky where he rode in support of 2012 Tour winner Bradley Wiggins. He left Team Sky after he was named in evidence in the Lance Armstrong case as working with Michele Ferrari, the favored doctor of Armstrong.

Meanwhile, Interim Cycling Australia chief executive Adrian Anderson has remarked Rogers should face maximum ban if found guilty. He remarked Cycling Australia would support the maximum sanctions under the World Anti-Doping Agency code if the veteran cyclist is found guilty of doping and added that the fact that the drug testing process continues to uncover positive tests should be a lesson to all cyclists that if they chose to dope they can expect to be caught. In a statement, Cycling Australia said Michael Rogers does not hold an Australian racing licence and sanctions against him would not be determined by Cycling Australia if charges against Rogers are proven right. Anderson added that Cycling Australia would support the World Anti-Doping Agency, the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority, and the applicable national federation in whatever action they deem appropriate.

The world’s governing body of cycling also announced that Belgian rider Jonathan Breyne has also been suspended for a positive test for Clenbuterol at the Tour of Taihu Lake in China on November 5.

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Sunday 29, Sep 2013

  No Point Just Blaming The Riders, Says Ashenden

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No Point Just Blaming The Riders, Says Ashenden

Anti-doping researcher Dr Michael Ashenden has defended cyclists and said they are afraid to tell the truth about doping.

Ashenden added there are more skeletons in the closet and remarked there is no question cyclists are afraid to tell the truth about what has happened both in the past and what’s continuing to happen today. The anti-doping researcher, who was behind the highly successful blood passport system with the International Cycling Union (UCI), said he is in touch with cyclists who have told him things that he is not able to take to the authorities because they (cyclists) won’t put their name to it. He went on to add that he would certainly pass the information anonymously to the authorities but unless there’s a name they can then go to corroborate that evidence, there’s nothing they can do.

The researcher added the issue of doping in cycling is bigger than the individuals who are found guilty and remarked it is not just about pulling out more cyclists and labeling them drug cheats. He said it is about asking them who was encouraging you or who was aware of this and was there any sort of structural flaws that need to be brought into the open. Ashenden said he believes that it’s the environment more than anything that has led to the problem we’ve got today.

Michael Ashenden and the UCI were clashing often in the last few months after the world governing body of cycling claimed Ashenden has an ‘astonishingly inaccurate knowledge’ of the system. UCI spokesman Enrico Carpani dismissed the anti-doping researcher’s assertion that he never had the opportunity to review Lance Armstrong’s profile. Carpani remarked Ashenden was the only one to have defined Armstrong’s profile as “normal” without making any other remarks, comments, or reservations and added the relevant documents are available for inspection by Dr Ashenden at any time should he wish to come and verify the truth of the above information.

Ashenden, replying to Carpani’s allegations, said given Armstrong’s blood results have been published and are public record, and given we now know that the anonymous code assigned to Armstrong’s results is BPT374F23, it may be possible for the remaining experts to check their own records to confirm whether they ever saw Armstrong’s suspicious results. He went on to add that he has checked his archives and cannot find any trace of the profile BPT374F23 having been sent to him again after May 2009. Ashenden concluded that whereas he had suspected this previously, it has now been confirmed that he was never asked to review the suspicious blood results of Lance Armstrong from the 2009 Tour de France.

President of Cycling Australia Klaus Mueller said he believed Australia led the way in terms of its anti-doping practices. He added there is no suggestion that the sort of conduct that we’re speaking about that’s happening overseas in the peloton, is happening over here and said he thinks we’ve got in place in Australia world’s best practices and that’s not to say that they can’t be made substantially better, but they are presently world’s best practices in relation to detecting and clamping down on dopers.

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Tuesday 30, Jul 2013

  Cycling Australia Shattered By O’Grady’s Doping Admission

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Cycling Australia Shattered By O’Grady’s Doping Admission

Cycling Australia (CA) says the doping admission of Australian cyclist Stuart O’Grady is a “real disappointment” but expressed confidence that cycling can regain public confidence.

The cyclist admitted to using the banned blood boosting agent Erythropoietin (EPO), just three days after he announced his retirement from cycling. The 39-year-old cyclist had been named in a French Senate inquiry into sports doping, which looked at the 1998 Tour and found the top three finishers, Italian Marco Pantani, Germany’s Jan Ullrich, and American Bobby Julich, were taking EPO. The cyclist remarked he used EPO in the 1998 Tour de France that was overshadowed by the Festina doping scandal. The celebrated cyclist recently announced his retirement after helping his GreenEdge team to a time trial victory in this year’s Tour, his 17th appearance tying the record of American George Hincapie. The Australian cyclist was among 12 riders whose tests were said to be “suspicious” and the 39-year-old did not waste time confirming he had used EPO.

Cycling Australia chief executive Graham Fredericks says his organization was shocked by O’Grady’s admission and added this is a real disappointment to us as a custodian of the sport. He added Cycling Australia can only take a fairly hard line in response to this news overnight. Immediately after his confession, the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) called for him to resign from its Athletes’ Commission. However, his most recent professional team, GreenEDGE, released a statement supporting his decision to admit to doping, and said it is now O’Grady’s responsibility to help rebuild the public trust in the sport. The statement also said that one mistake should not tarnish an exceptional career.

A six-time Olympian and world champion on the track, O’Grady insisted his doping in 1998 was a one-off bad decision. Cycling Australia chief executive Graham Fredericks however said the decorated career of the cyclist would remain clouded and remarked Stuart has been one of Australia’s most enduring road riders who appear to have made a poor decision which will regrettably now have an impact on the legacy of his career.

The cyclist may be stripped of his Olympic medals after admitting to using performance enhancing drugs at the 1998 Tour de France. Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) spokesman Mike Tancred remarked it’s a matter for the international federation in regard to the medals, so the UCI (International Cycling Union) will consider the medals and they will then make some recommendation to the IOC (International Olympic Commission). O’Grady may also stand to lose his three national citations, which include an Order of Australia Medal awarded in 2005.

Cycling Australia however declined to condemn O’Grady, blaming the era and the European “environment”. In a statement, the governing body said the late 1990s was clearly a dark period in cycling’s international history. AOC president John Coates said in a statement remarked the “everybody else was doing it” line was no defense for cheating and remarked this was a shameful period for the sport of cycling which has been well documented, that is no excuse for the decision taken by Stuart O’Grady.

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Friday 05, Jul 2013

  Testimony From Cycling Team Director Being Used To Build Cases Against Others

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Testimony From Cycling Team Director Being Used To Build Cases Against Others

According to a statement by Australian anti-doping investigators, the testimony of Matt White is being used to build cases against others.

The Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) released more details of the suspension that the cycling team director served earlier this year after White orchestrated the first Tour de France stage win for Orica-GreenEDGE. White was given a backdated ban of six months that was reduced from the original ban of two years. His ban ended in early May and he returned to Orica-GreenEDGE in time for the Tour. The Australian former professional road racing cyclist who started his career on the track under Charlie Walsh, competing in the Junior World Championship in Athens apologized for doping during his time as a professional cyclist.

In a statement, ASADA said Cycling Australia imposed a two-year period of ineligibility under its anti-doping policy with three-quarters suspended for the substantial assistance White provided to ASADA during the course of its cycling investigation. It was further revealed that Cycling Australia, in applying the full three-quarters reduction in suspension, acknowledged in its decision that information provided by White is helping establish violations against others and this reduction is in line with the provisions of the World Anti-Doping Code. The statement also said White chose to be a part of a solution for the betterment of the sport and its athletes when faced with an opportunity to cooperate fully with an anti-doping organization.

Australian cycling was rocked last October after White and CA vice-president Stephen Hodge confessed to doping during their riding careers within days of the life ban on Lance Armstrong. White confessed to blood doping and the attempted use of testosterone, IGF-1, and the blood booster EPO. Meanwhile, Hodge admitted to taking part in a team doping program for the last six years of his career in order to have a chance to ride big races like the Tour de France. The former Cycling Australia vice-president remarked he had to take drugs to remain competitive at the highest level in cycling while racing for the Once and Festina teams.

In his statement, Hodge remarked there had been no ‘overt pressure’ to take drugs, but that the reality of competition made it a clear choice and added that there weren’t people saying ‘you must do this’, but clearly if you wanted to remain competitive and get selected for the big races like the Tour (de France) you could make a choice to participate in the team (doping) program. Hodge completed the Tour de France six times and represented Australia and was regarded as one of the country’s leading riders during the 1980s and the early 1990s before retiring in 1996. He represented Australia at 10 world championships, as well as the 1986 Edinburgh Commonwealth Games and the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. After Hodge’s doping admission, CA president Klaus Mueller thanked him for his ‘immense contribution’ to cycling and said Hodge became a tireless worker for the sport and for almost 15 years has freely given up his time as an advocate for the rights of athletes and to promote and develop the sport in Australia.

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Sunday 11, Nov 2012

  Australian Government To Launch Investigation Into Cycling Doping

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Australian Government To Launch Investigation Into Cycling Doping

On Wednesday, the Australian government said it will be conducting a review of Cycling Australia over recent doping controversies for helping restore “confidence and trust” in the sport’s national governing body.

Australian Sports Minister Kate Lundy remarked that James Wood, a former chairman of the New South Wales Law Reform Commission, will be performing the review and offering his recommendations to the Australian Sports Commission and the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority in order to formulate and execute a uniform anti-doping code for all sports in the country.

The move follows the sacking or resignation of Australian cycling officials, Matt White and Stephen Hodge. The move follows the firing or resignation of Australian cycling officials Matt White and Stephen Hodge. While White was fired by after his name appeared in the United States Anti-Doping Agency’s report against the disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong as one of the former teammates of Armstrong who used performance enhancing drugs, Hodge resigned after admitting to using performance enhancing drugs but was not implicated in the Lance Armstrong cycling scandal.

Lundy said in a statement that there have been very serious implications for Australian Cycling after the release of the explosive United States Anti-Doping Agency report that confirmed sophisticated doping programs infiltrated the sport at the elite level. Lundy added that it is important to move quickly to ensure the confidence and trust of the Australian public is restored in cycling’s governing body for Cycling Australia and the thousands of competitive cyclists in Australia, in the wake of the resignation of the Australian officials involved in these doping programs.

A former chief judge in the Supreme Court of New South Wales, Wood, recently led an inquiry that resulted in the state adopting legislation for criminalizing match-fixing, Lundy said. She added that the review of Wood will evaluate the governance and administrative practices, including recruitment and employment, of Cycling Australia and Wood will also be examining the anti-doping policies of Cycling Australia and “advise on their effectiveness including any improvement that should be made.”

The Dutch cycling federation meanwhile is poised to launch its own commission for investigating the “culture of doping” in the sport. The Royal Dutch Cycling Federation (KNWB) said professional cycling is in crisis and KNWB believes more can and must be done internationally and nationally. The KNWB said the commission will be established no later than November 30 and will make its findings public “no later than June 1 next year” and will be investigating the facts and findings in relation to the doping culture within Dutch cycling and added that it would then come up “with concrete suggestions on how to improve current measures to combat doping.” KNWU president Marcel J.G. Wintels warned  that cycling faces what he believes is the ‘deepest crisis ever.’  The Royal Dutch Cycling Federation KNWU recently sent a strong letter to UCI president Pat McQuaid and called for wide-sweeping action and reforms in the sport. It said the loss of Rabobank’s backing of the WorldTour team, the Lance Armstrong scandal, and UCI’s response to the scandal are big issues.

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Saturday 10, Nov 2012

  Cycling Probe Judge Named By Australia

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Cycling Probe Judge Named By Australia

The Australian government has named a former judge to lead an official investigation into the governing body of cycling down under in response to the Lance Armstrong doping scandal.

Minister of Sport Kate Lundy said James Wood, chairman of the New South Wales Law Reform Commission, will head the probe.

The review will be focusing on anti-doping policies, governance, and recruitment of Cycling Australia after two senior officials rendered their resignations after admitting to making the use of performance enhancing drugs during their racing careers. Australia’s top professional cycling team Orica-GreenEDGE fired its sports director and former pro racer, Matt White, after his name emerged in the United States Anti-Doping Agency’s report against the disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong; White was revealed as one of the former teammates of Armstrong who used performance enhancing drugs. In a public statement, White confessed to doping and was also dropped as an elite road-racing coach at Cycling Australia because of his involvement in the Armstrong doping scandal.

Former professional cyclist Stephen Hodge, the other cyclist, resigned from his position as vice president of Cycling Australia last month after admitting to using performance enhancing drugs while competing though he was not implicated in the Lance Armstrong cycling scandal.

Lance Armstrong, the American former professional road racing cyclist became the world’s most famous cyclist, winning the Tour de France seven consecutive times, from 1999 to 2005. After being accused by USADA and his teammates of using and promoting the use of performance enhancing drugs, the cyclist was banned for life and disqualified from all his results since August 1998 though these charges were vehemently denied by the Texan rider.

Lundy said it has become important for Cycling Australia and the thousands of competitive cyclists in Australia in the wake of the resignation of the Australian officials involved in these doping programs that we move quickly to ensure the confidence and trust of the Australian public is restored in the governing body of cycling.

A report recently published by USADA alleged that Armstrong was at the center of “a massive team doping scheme, more extensive than any previously revealed in professional sports history.” Many former professional cyclists have come forward with confessions of illegal doping since its publication. The Texan rider, Armstrong, continues to deny the allegations of doping but stopped fighting the charges against him after which he was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and banned for life.

The Australian review came after the the Union Cycliste Internationale, or UCI,  cycling’s world governing body, remarked that it would be establishing an external commission for looking into allegations that it turned a blind eye to the doping practices that Armstrong is alleged to have used.

Australia has produced a number of riders who have competed at the highest levels of the sport in Europe and traditionally punched above its weight in international cycling. In 2011, Cadel Evans became the first Australian to win the Tour de France and has not been implicated in any doping charges.

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Monday 05, Nov 2012

  UCI Sued By Sponsor For £1.25m

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UCI Sued By Sponsor For £1.25m

Australian clothing firm SKINS has threatened to sue the governing body of cycling, UCI, for its failure to crack down on doping and run a clean sport.

The Australian company’s Swiss lawyers wrote to UCI saying the company had been involved in professional cycling since 2008 in the belief that the sport had cleaned up its act after the 1998 Tour de France that was hit by scandals. In a statement issued through its lawyers, the company said it concluded that it must revise that view. The statement reads SKINS, as a supplier and sponsor, is particularly concerned with its brand image and is firmly against doping as it strongly believes in the true spirit of competition.

The company said it had acted accordingly after the Lance Armstrong scandal, which saw the Texan stripped of his seven Tour de France titles after a USADA investigation into alleged systematic doping. It was indicated by the firm that the manner in which the governing body of cycling dealt with the case of the disgraced cyclist and its fight against doping in general is the primary reason for the total loss of confidence in professional cycling by the public and added that this loss of credibility and confidence for cycling “harms SKINS, as well as any other sponsor or supplier.”

The company sponsors Cycling Australia, USA Cycling, the Rabobank, Europcar and Telekom teams and BikeNZ in New Zealand, among others.

Meanwhile, a giant effigy of Lance Armstrong went up in flames recently as part of one of the biggest bonfire parties in the UK. The cyclist, accused by the USADA of using and promoting the use of performance enhancing drugs, was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and banned for life, pipped the likes of Jimmy Savile and Chancellor George Osborne after suggestions from members of the public. The effigy came complete with a ‘Jim Fixed It For Me’ medallion and a sign which read ‘For sale, Racing bike no longer required’.

In another development, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has applauded the USADA for its case against the disgraced cyclist who was accused by some of his former teammates of using and encouraging the use of performance enhancing drugs within the USPS team. WADA recently said that it would not appeal against the sanctions imposed by the USADA on Armstrong and said WADA has no concerns as to the complete process and the overwhelming weight of evidence against the cyclist. USADA accused the Texan rider of spearheading “the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen”.

The seven-time champion of Tour de France was accused by teammates including Frankie Andreu, George Hincapie, Floyd Landis, and Tyler Hamilton of using EPO, growth hormone, and other performance enhancing drugs. The veteran American cyclist who raced alongside Lance Armstrong during all of his seven Tour de France victories, Hincapie, said he made use of banned substances during his professional career and remarked he is looking forward to play a substantial role to develop, encourage, and help young riders to compete and win with the best in the world.

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