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Thursday 04, Jul 2013

  Enough Is Enough, Riders Say About Doping

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Enough Is Enough, Riders Say About Doping

On the eve of this year’s Tour de France, riders protested angrily against the burden of suspicion they have been forced to carry because of the doping practices by the previous generation.

In a statement, the riders said it is degrading to be dragged through the mud and be run down by some who look to make money on our backs. The statement was issued after Lance Armstrong was quoted by Le Monde newspaper as saying it was impossible to win the Tour de France without doping.

The cyclist, stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and banned for life from cycling, also said he still considers himself the record-holder for Tour victories. He added that his life has been ruined by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency investigation and said the USADA investigation did not paint a faithful picture of cycling from the end of the 1980s to today. He added that all the investigation did was to destroying one man’s life that did not benefit cycling at all.

A few weeks ago, sports daily L’Equipe said a urine sample from Frenchman Laurent Jalabert in 1998 showed traces of EPO, the banned blood-booster, when it was re-tested in 2004. The rider issued a statement in response to the publication, “Enough is enough!!!!!!,” and added today the limits of the bearable have been reached and we have for many years shown our will to work for a flawless fight against doping. Jalabert also remarked if there was a culture of doping in the 1990s, in the past 15 years our sport has been fighting alone against the plague of doping. He added that we are professional bike riders and we are proud of that but do not treat us like sub-citizens as you have been doing for too long.

In another development, Garmin-Sharp manager Jonathan Vaughters said cycling was cleaning up its act and the science points to a trend that racing is cleaner, that it is possible to win the Tour de France clean. Vaughters said cycling cannot let its guard down and we should gather information from the past to find a way to correct those mistakes the next time around.

Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme backed the complaints of the riders and said almost every year a doping-related story breaks days before the Tour and remarked the Tour is a unique opportunity for some to communicate their message. Prudhomme said he can appreciate that some agendas have nothing to do with cycling but 14 times in the last 15 years, it cannot be a coincidence.

A former doper turned anti-doping campaigner, Garmin-Sharp rider David Millar, remarked it was important cycling learned from previous mistakes. The former Armstrong teammate said what needs to change is that we need complete truth and transparency into what happened in the 15-year era of the 1990s and early 2000s so we can understand what mistakes were made and we can make sure those mistakes do not happen again. He added this is because he thinks racing has cleaned up a lot, and he believes the Tour de France can be won clean.

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Tuesday 06, Nov 2012

  Jonathan Vaughters Calls For UCI To Split

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Jonathan Vaughters Calls For UCI To Split

Former professional cyclist Jonathan Vaughters who admitted to doping in an affidavit to USADA recently said the UCI, governing body of cycling, needs to distance itself from anti-doping controls.

The International Association of Professional Cycling teams (AIGCP) head Jonathan Vaughters said he would like an independent audit on all the presently running anti-doping efforts and this will be of great use of the World Anti-Doping Agency.

AIGCP said its management committee will make an announcement this week on which sports body would be nominating members and define the scope of the commission. UCI had not yet contacted his organization, WADA’s director general, David Howman, said in an interview.

AIGCP members voted for supporting a proposal for an independent review of the anti-doping program of cycling ahead of UCI’s announcement of its plans for a commission. Pressure is mounting on UCI after Lance Armstrong was stripped of all his titles and banned for life by USADA, a decision that was later ratified by the governing body of cycling. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) found through testimony from 11 of his former teammates, including Vaughters, that the disgraced cyclist doped for much of his career.

It was alleged by former teammates of Armstrong, Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamilton that UCI had a part in Armstrong’s doping legacy and the cyclist bragged that the UCI helped cover up an alleged positive doping control from the 2001 Tour de Suisse. The allegation was however denied by UCI president Pat McQuaid but the management committee provided the green signal to a commission for examining it. The UCI stated, in a press release, that the scope of the commission will be to look into the different allegations made about the cycling’s governing body related to the Lance Armstrong doping scandal and to identify ways for ensuring that sportsmen caught for doping were no longer able to take part in the sport, including as part of an entourage.

The UCI has yet to respond to the proposal of the AIGCP, Vaughters said and added that he hopes the commission will examine the present anti-doping structure and explained that ideally the commission should make a recommendation to separate UCI from anti-doping operations as this will reduce the  chances of cover-up and bribery claims. He added that the anti-doping group should move to a different office and must be funded by teams and race organizers directly and WADA should have the ultimate authority and auditory power.

Vaughters of Garmin-Sharp has hired a number of ex-dopers and recently said Tom Danielson, Christian Vande Velde, and David Zabriskie had doped in the past and he treats dopers and clean cyclists the same but with a condition that they will ride clean on his team and said he did not sign Jörg Jaksche not because he was a doper but because he loves to gossip and calling anyone and everyone a doper. Vaughters added that Jorge wants to be a leader but he believes that Jorge doesn’t have the physiological or social qualities to be a leader.

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Thursday 01, Nov 2012

  Anti-Doping Law Flouted By Ban On Armstrong

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Anti-Doping Law Flouted By Ban On Armstrong

According to experts, the decision of the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) to ban @Lance Armstrong and stripping him of his seven Tour de France wins rides roughshod over established anti-doping rules.

Many sport law specialists have remarked that the anti-doping agency report that triggered the downfall of the disgraced cyclist and the endorsement of the same by the governing body of cycling, UCI, ignored the statute of limitations that ordinarily applies in such cases.

Lance Armstrong was banned for life and stripped of all his titles. His results after August 1998 were annulled and all his sponsors, including Nike, left him. This was after former teammates of the cyclist (Frankie Andreu, Michael Barry, Tom Danielson, Tyler Hamilton, George Hincapie, Floyd Landis, Levi Leipheimer, Stephen Swart, Christian Vande Velde, Jonathan Vaughters, and David Zabriskie) condemned him with sworn eyewitness testimonies saying that Armstrong used and even encouraged the use of performance enhancing drugs and even threatened those who refused to take drugs by telling them their place in the team will be given to someone else.

Now the specialists suggest that Armstrong may even have grounds for making an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport over the decision.

Antonio Rigozzi, a doping law professor at the university of Neuchatel in Switzerland, said the case is certainly unique in its scale but it is not a reason not to apply or even ignore the (anti-doping) rules, as we have seen.

According to anti-doping rules, there is a limit of eight years to bring alleged violation cases but eyebrows were raised in legal circles about the agreements made with the former teammates of the cyclist to testify against him.

Alexis Schoeb, a Swiss lawyer specializing in sport, remarked that the fact that former cyclists who are currently owning up the use of drugs are treated in another way and the eight-year limitation has been respected while there is no such rule in the case of Lance Armstrong and this surely suggests that there is a touch of double standards.

USADA pulled off a political coup by allowing access to the public on its website to a very detailed report that practically made any appeal doomed to failure, French lawyer Jean-Jacques Bertrand said and added that dispassionate judges who apply the law as it stands are required for handling this case.

Meanwhile, more humiliation is on the way for Armstrong as his effigy will be burned at a Kent town’s annual bonfire celebration to mark a failed 1605 plot to blow up parliament and kill King James I. A 30ft (9m) model of the Texan rider will go up in flames in Edenbridge. With this, the cyclist joins the list of Cherie Blair, Katie Price, Gordon Brown, Mario Balotelli, Wayne Rooney, former French president Jacques Chirac, ex-British prime minister Tony Blair, Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, and Russell Brand; effigies of all of them were burned in the past. Armstrong’s effigy holds a sign reading: “For Sale — Racing Bike. No longer required.” The effigy of Lance Armstrong also sports a badge around its neck that says “Jim Fixed It For Me”, a reference to the late British television presenter Jimmy Savile who was accused of widespread child sex abuse.

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Wednesday 17, Oct 2012

  Lance Armstrong’s Cat-And-Mouse Game

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Lance Armstrong’s Cat-And-Mouse Game

Disgraced seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong recently said he wanted to see the names of all his accusers. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) soon obliged him by giving him 26 names, including that of 11 former teammates. The agency even provided him with evidence of 200 pages filled with vivid details, from hotel rooms transformed into makeshift blood transfusion centers to the ex-wife of the cyclist rolling pills of cortisone into foil and handing them out to all the cyclists.

The agency remarked that Lance Armstrong’s desire to win at all costs was what made him go dependent on first EPO and then blood transfusions and other performance enhancing drugs like growth hormone and testosterone. He tried the biggest tricks in the game to run the most sophisticated doping program in cycling and had the habit of running from places whenever and wherever anti-doping team came to test him. From 1999-2004, Armstrong won the Tour as leader of the U.S. Postal Service team and again in 2005 with the Discovery Channel as the primary sponsor.

USADA accused Armstrong of depending on performance enhancing drugs to fuel his victories and more ruthlessly, to expect and to require that his teammates. Among the 11 former teammates who testified against Armstrong are Tyler Hamilton, Floyd Landis, and George Hincapie. The USADA report said Hincapie alerted Armstrong when he found drug testers at the hotel in 2000 after which Armstrong dropped out of the race to avoid being tested. The USADA also interviewed Toronto cyclist Michael Barry, Frankie Andreu, Tom Danielson, Levi Leipheimer, Stephen Swart, Jonathan Vaughters, and David Zabriskie besides Andreu’s wife, Betsy, who was one of Armstrong’s most consistent and unapologetic critics.

The report went to the governing body of cycling, UCI, and it also went to the World Anti-Doping Agency that also has the right to appeal but so far has supported the position of the USADA in the case against Lance Armstrong.

Recently, Canadian cyclist Michael Barry released a statement in which he admitted to taking performance enhancing drugs after feeling pressure to perform from the United States Postal Service Cycling Team.

Armstrong insisted that he never cheated though he find it easy not to fight the USADA charges than to save his reputation and integrity by contesting the charges levied against him. His attorney, Tim Herman, called the report a one-sided hatchet job — a taxpayer funded tabloid piece rehashing old, disproved, unreliable allegations based largely on axe-grinders, serial perjurers, coerced testimony, sweetheart deals and threat-induced stories. Herman, in a letter sent to USADA attorneys, said dismissed any evidence provided by Landis and Hamilton and said the riders were “serial perjurers and have told diametrically contradictory stories under oath.

USADA Chief Executive Travis Tygart said the cyclist was given the chance to take his case to arbitration and declined and rather decided to accept the sanctions in August. Once he decided not to contest the charges, the anti-doping agency stripped him of all his titles and banned him for life and now Armstrong’s bronze medal at the Sydney Olympics is also in the danger of getting lost. However, the International Olympic Committee will wait for cycling’s governing body to act on the doping case before it thinks about taking away his Olympic bronze medal from the 2000 Sydney Games

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Thursday 11, Dec 2008

  Don Catlin and son hired to oversee US cycling teams anti-doping programs

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Tour_De_France_steroidsDon Catlin and his son Oliver are now at the helm of two U.S.-based cycling teams anti-doping programs, according to ESPN.

Pro cycling teams Columbia and Garmin-Slipstream jointly announced on Monday that they had inked a contract with the Anti-Doping Sciences Institute in Los Angeles. ADSI is run by the Catlins.

Both teams’ testing programs were formerly conducted by the Agency for Cycling Ethics which went into the red. The ADSI program will continue where ACE had left off, interpreting samples already in the database.

Garmin and Columbia also received a proposal from Danish anti-doping researcher Rasmus Damsgaard, but they eventually opted for Catlin. Columbia owner Bob Stapleton said Catlin’s program “was the more forward-looking and would add to the body of knowledge in the sport”.

More on this from the ESPN report:

Athletes on both teams will continue to be tested roughly once every two weeks in addition to the tests conducted by other entities including the UCI, cycling’s international governing body. Most of the riders on Columbia and Garmin have been in similar programs for the last two seasons and thus have baseline blood and hormonal profiles already constructed.

In the recent past, independent testing has focused on what is called longitudinal testing, or detecting deviations from an athlete’s normal biomarkers that might indicate use of banned substances or blood doping. The ADSI program will continue to collect blood samples to build profiles, but also will expand urine testing in order to focus on detection of new-generation blood boosters similar to erythropotein, or EPO.

One of those “EPO bio-similar,” CERA, infiltrated the peloton quickly this year. A test was developed almost as quickly, reducing the usual lag time between introduction of a new doping product and its detection. Garmin team director Jonathan Vaughters said his hope is that techniques developed in Catlin’s program will continue to erode the advantage cheaters have over testers — although he doesn’t expect his riders to provide Catlin with any material.

CERA had figured in the doping cases of four riders in this year’s Tour de France, including third-placer Bernhard Kohl. The Austrian cyclist also donned the polka dot jersey for this year’s best climber. Kohl was suspended for two years because of the doping infringement.

ADSI will also continue to test for “traditional” performance enhancers, i.e. testosterone, anabolic steroids, cortisone, and masking agents.