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Sunday 10, May 2015

  Giro d’Italia May Seek Damages From UCI Over Astana Doping Affair

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Giro d’Italia May Seek Damages From UCI Over Astana Doping Affair

RCS Sport, organizer of the Giro d’Italia, has said it is ready to ask the world governing body of cycling for damages if the ongoing Astana WorldTour License case has an adverse effect on its 2015 race.

Race Director Mauro Vegni wants to avoid a repeat of Giro d’Italia of 2011 when Spanish cyclist Alberto Contador won the overall title and was stripped of the title because of an ongoing doping case stemming from the Tour de France event in 2010. The case of Contador where he defended himself against using Clenbuterol took 18 months to resolve. Vegni said he is ready to ask the UCI for damages if we should have a repeat of the 2011 case with Contador and remarked that it still bothers him to think of that Giro title they stripped. In 2011 Giro d’Italia, Italian Michele Scarponi who was placed second received the title after the case of Contador closed.

Vegni also remarked he hopes this is a Giro without controversy and a little sun, but he is worried with the Astana case still in the hands of the UCI’s license commission. The Race Director added he told Brian Cookson, the UCI President, that he does not want a team that is under investigation in the Giro d’Italia.

Vegni’s concerns may now have been answered with the UCI License Commission granting the WorldTour license to Team Astana.

This May, Team Astana’s rider Fabio Aru is one of the favorites to win the Giro along with Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo), Team Sky’s Richie Porte, and Rigoberto Urán (Etixx-Quick Step). Fabio Aru finished third last year behind Colombian winner Nairo Quintana (Movistar).

In another development, Team Astana has revealed training methods for Grand Tour team leaders Vincenzo Nibali and Fabio Aru who are preparing for the Ardennes Classics, the Giro del Trentino, the Tour de France, and Giro d’Italia. Nibali and Aru have been training at altitude at Teide on the Spanish island of Tenerife under the eye of Astana team coach Paolo Slongo and his assistant Maurizio Mazzoleni. Astana team coach explained that Tour de France 2014 winner Vincenzo Nibali required the long training camp for clearing his mind of the responsibility and pressure of being the current winner of the Tour de France. Nibali is targeting the Amstel Gold Race, Fleche Wallonne, and Liege-Bastogne-Liege while Aru is all set to rider in Giro del Trentino before taking on Contador and Porte at the Giro d’Italia.

Slongo remarked a lot has changed for Vincenzo after winning the Tour de France. The Astana team coach said Nibali arrived at Teide a bit overloaded with all the extra things he’d been doing and let us say he was more stressed out than usual. He added the camp was useful in helping clear Nibali’s head and rediscover himself. Slongo also remarked that we worked with him a lot, on what he was missing in the first part of the season such as the changes of rhythm and above threshold efforts. He also commented that the Amstel Gold Race and Fleche-Wallonne will polish his form, while Vincenzo has something to prove at Liege-Bastogne-Liege.

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Monday 28, Jul 2014

  Nibali Wins 2014 Tour De France, Praises Doping Controls

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Nibali Wins 2014 Tour De France, Praises Doping Controls

Vincenzo Nibali emerged on Sunday as the first Italian winner of the Tour de France in 16 years on Sunday. The Italian rider praised the efforts of cycling’s anti-doping agencies before he won the coveted trophy.

The 29-year-old said he would not be here if there had not been all these controls, targeted controls, and the biological passport. In 2008, Nibali finished 19th in the Tour that was the same year in which the biological passport was implemented by the International Cycling Union (UCI). The Astana rider remarked a lot of progress has been made and we can see the results now. Nibali also added he is ready to accept the idea that his samples would be stored for future testing.

After his Tour win, Nibali said the Vuelta for him was the most important because it showed him that he could aim to win big tours like the Giro and the Tour in the following years. The Italian professional road bicycle racer, considered one of the strongest stage race riders in the world, added it is obvious that for him (as Italian) the Giro is very important but it is also special for the Italian fans and added but what makes the Tour so much bigger is the international attention it demands.

Vincenzo Nibali added he has taken his place in the history of the Tour and that is very important, but those others also made their names in other great races, such as the classics. Nibali added he never thought about making history, and said he just concentrated on trying to win the Tour, like he won the Giro and the Vuelta, because he is a stage racer. The cyclist went on to add that of course there are other races that he want to win, like the Tour of Lombardy in which he had come close many times but not had the luck or the World Championships, which he tried to win last year, or Liège-Bastogne-Liège. The Astana rider added he had always liked these races and he did like to try to win them, even though he is more suited to stage races.

Nibali joins Italian Felice Gimondi, Belgian Eddy Merckx, Spaniard Alberto Contador, and Frenchmen Bernard Hinault and Jacques Anquetil as the only men to have won all three Grand Tours. He also joined five other cyclists, including Eddy Merckx, who have won all three of cycling’s grand tours — the Tour, the Vuelta a España, and the Giro d’Italia.

His previous best finish in the Tour de France was third place, behind Britain’s Sir Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome in 2012.

Nibali’s Tour win was benefited from the misfortunes of Chris Froome and Alberto Contador. Froome quit early after three crashes and Contador (who was stripped of his Tour de France 2010 win for using Clenbuterol, a banned substance) hit a hole in the pavement and broke his leg. Nibali won decisive four stages of the Tour, including the Vosges, the Alps, and the Pyrenees. The rider also wore the yellow jersey as the race leader for 19 of the 21 stages.

On Saturday evening, Nibali had remarked the Tour de France this year was a great race, very different than the Tours we’ve had in the past. He added it was just about made to measure for him and it was very difficult from the beginning.

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Monday 30, Jun 2014

  Tinkoff-Saxo Sidelines Kreuziger

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Roman Kreuziger has been sidelined by Tinkoff-Saxo team because of doping allegations. It was further disclosed that Kreuziger will not support Alberto Contador in the Tour de France.

According to a statement published on website of the team, the Union Cycliste Internationale is likely due to instigate disciplinary proceedings against Kreuziger arising from an alleged violation of its anti-doping rules due to abnormalities detected in his biological passport in 2011 and 2012.

In a press release, Roman Kreuziger denied taking any forbidden substances or using any forbidden methods and said that an independent inquiry concluded that his passport values were due to causes that were not due to the use of doping substances or methods. The Czech professional road bicycle racer for UCI ProTour team Team Tinkoff-Saxo remarked he asked the UCI for an extension, past the end of June 30 this month but was not allowed.

Tinkoff-Saxo team said in a statement the team has decided, in agreement with Roman, that he will not ride in any races including this year’s Tour de France until more information becomes available to the team and added though he won’t be racing for now, until more information becomes available to the team it will not provisionally suspend Roman unless required by the UCI or the Czech Federation.

It was alleged by the UCI’s Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation (CAFD) that the blood passport profile of Kreuziger revealed abnormalities from March to August 2011 and from April 2012 until the end of that year’s Giro d’Italia when Kreuziger rode for Astana. In June 2013, Kreuziger was notified by the UCI that CAFD considered his data as suspect and he thereafter informed his team. The team’s press release said Kreuziger was adamant that he never used doping methods or substances and added the team through its own medical staff and independent verification was satisfied that Roman’s blood profile had valid medical and scientific explanations other than the use of doping methods or substances and this was subsequently confirmed by the expert opinions Roman shared with the team.

Two exculpatory medical opinions were provided by Kreuziger to the UCI in October 2013 but the world governing body of cycling refused to accept his explanation for the passport abnormalities. Kreuziger provided a third opinion arguing that the profile fluctuation may not be attributed solely to doping methods and that the conclusions of CAFD’s Experts Panel had limited scientific supporting evidence. Kreuziger remarked in order to obtain a certain technical evaluation of the data in his biological passport, he should emphasize that the experts he appointed are trustworthy, independent and of three different nationalities and he requested an assessment from them that was absolutely and totally unbiased and as objective as possible.

Kreuziger, while racing for Liquigas, admitted to having worked with Michele Ferrari in his first year as a professional in 2013. The rider occupied the fifth place at Giro d’Italia in 2011 and at Tour de France in 2013.

The Tour de France starts on July 5 with Contador, a two-time winner, expected to be the main challenger to Chris Froome, last year’s champion.

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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 11, Jun 2013

  Armstrong Calls Di Luca ‘Stupid’ For Positive Test

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Armstrong Calls Di Luca ‘Stupid’ For Positive Test

The first major race of cycling since the end of the Lance Armstrong case was rattled by another high-profile positive doping test with former Giro d’Italia winner Danilo Di Luca testing positive for EPO in a surprise check at his home before this year’s race.

Di Luca risks a lifetime ban since this is his third offence if the same is confirmed in a backup “B” sample. Di Luca said upon leaving his team’s hotel in northern Italy that he was not expecting the test and it was a surprise for him and he is disappointed. Luca added that he will be asking for the backup analysis. The test on Di Luca was carried out April 29, five days before the Giro started.

The positive test of Luca surprised Lance Armstrong who said on twitter, “really Di Luca? Are you that … stupid??”

This is the second doping case from this year’s Giro d’Italia after French rider Sylvain Georges tested positive for the banned stimulant Heptaminol in a urine sample after the seventh stage after which he was immediately withdrawn from the race.

Di Luca has been provisionally suspended by the UCI, the governing body of cycling, pending a hearing with the Italian cycling federation and the Vini Fantini-Selle Italia squad fired the 37-year-old Italian rider. Giro race director Mauro Vegni said Danilo has betrayed cycling once again and added that he is happy he was not a young rider. Vegni also remarked that Danilo belongs to a generation that has navigated through the doping system.

The test result of Di Luca drew a harsh rebuke from Vini Fantini team director Luca Scinto who said Di Luca is an idiot and he never wanted him and added that Di Luca is sick and he needs to be helped. Di Luca signed with Vini Fantini on April 26 after seemingly headed for retirement just a few months ago. Vini Fantini team director and others were against hiring him but sponsors eventually prevailed. Scinto added that the sponsors chose Luca and now they’ve got to take responsibility and the team is now considering the option of suing Di Luca for damaging its image.

This Giro d’Italia saw Di Luca departing in 26th place overall, 33 minutes, 33 seconds behind overall leader Vincenzo Nibali. After the test result was announced, Italian cycling federation president Renato Di Rocco called for the most severe punishment and we can put out there all the prevention instruments we want — both in terms of informing and testing — but we are weaponless when faced with stupidity and Di Luca has especially betrayed the new generation of cyclists that are restoring the credibility and image of Italian cycling.

The cyclist was given a ban of three months after winning the 2007 Giro and saw his name getting embroiled into controversy later in the year for frequent visits to Carlo Santuccione, a physician at the centre of a four-year doping investigation titled Oil for Drugs. Di Luca was stripped of his second-place finish and two stage wins in the 2009 Giro.

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Monday 22, Apr 2013

  CONI Given Access To Mantua Files

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CONI Given Access To Mantua Files

Just a few days before the 2013 Giro d’Italia begins in Naples, the Italian national Olympic committee (CONI), is to be given access to evidence gathered by prosecutors as part of the Mantua investigation into doping in cycling. The doping scandal involves big names like Alessandro Ballan and Damiano Cunego and the date for that hearing was fixed by preliminary hearing judge Gilberto Casari, who also permitted CONI to be joined to the case as a civil party.

The investigation is focused on a pharmacist based in Mariana Mantovana, Guido Nigrelli, and his relationship with the Lampre team, with a number of past and present riders and staff among those implicated. The judge’s authorization came after the session was suspended for 40 minutes while the judge considered lawyers’ requests. This incident is different from another probe that is being conducted from Padua and focuses on banned doctor Michele Ferrari and his alleged relationship with riders from a variety of teams.

Former world champion Ballan, who is currently recovering from a bad crash while training for the current season, and 2004 Giro d’Italia winner, Cunego, are among the 31 people said to be potentially facing charges as a result of the Mantua investigation. The list of suspects includes former Lampre team manager and Giro d’Italia and world championship winner Giuseppe Saronni, Danish ex-pro Michael Rasmussen who confessed to doping earlier this year, and current riders including Astana’s Simone Ponzi, Vini Fantini-Selle Italia’s Mauro Santambrogio, and Daniele Pietropolli, who is now in his fourth season with Lampre.

Alessandro Ballan, the Italian professional road bicycle racer for UCI World Tour team BMC Racing Team, is best known for winning the World Road Race Championships in 2008 and suffered a severe training crash during a descent as he was riding with his team in Spain. Ballan fractured his left femur, broke a rib and ruptured his spleen, which had to be removed and spent a little more than a week in intensive care. Damiano Cunego, the Italian professional road racing cyclist who rides for the Italian UCI ProTeam Lampre-Merida and his biggest wins are the 2004 Giro d’Italia, the 2008 Amstel Gold Race, and the Giro di Lombardia in 2004, 2007, 2008. Cunego finished second in the UCI Road World Championships in 2008 and in the 2008 UCI ProTour. He, in 2008, won the Klasika Primavera and the Amstel Gold Race, with two powerful sprints against Alejandro Valverde and Fränk Schleck, with victory in the latter propelling him to the top of the UCI Pro Tour rankings.

The preliminary hearing into the case will consider whether formal charges should be brought against those who have been implicated or not, as well as whether evidence obtained by phone-taps should be admissible. It is not the first time that the Italian Olympic Committee has been involved in the investigation. Its anti-doping prosecutor, Ettore Torri, summoned some of the riders implicated, including Ballan, for interviews at his offices in Rome two years ago although he decided to take no further action pending a criminal trial taking place.

pdf_iconDownload in PDF: CONI Given Access To Mantua Files