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Wednesday 03, Apr 2013

  Doping On Cycling Team Was Tolerated By Rabobank

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Doping On Cycling Team Was Tolerated By Rabobank

A Dutch newspaper has revealed that Team Rabobank tolerated the use of doping up until at least 2007. It was revealed by de Volkskrant that the riders were allowed to use their own products and medical staff of the team ensured that they didn’t hurt their health.

Three former riders, including Michael Boogerd, one of the Netherlands’ most popular riders, were said to have been involved in the HumanPlasma blood doping ring. A key witness in the Humanplasma scandal, Stefan Matschiner, revealed that three riders of the team were customers of the Swiss blood doping expert.

Boogerd had admitted to using banned blood booster EPO, cortisone and, late in his career, blood transfusions and said he used the banned substances from 1997 to 2007, the end of his career. He even admitted using the Austrian blood lab, Humanplasma, for transfusions. The cyclist won the Amstel Gold classic in 1999, edging Lance Armstrong in second place, and had two stage wins in the Tour de France.

Six former riders – Danny Nelissen, Marc Lotz, Thomas Dekker, Levi Leipheimer, Michael Rasmussen, and Grischa Niermann — and former manager Theo de Rooij have admitted doping. Nelissen confessed to using EPO while riding for the team and confirmed that a doping system was implemented after the Rabobank had endured a low-key start to the 1996 season. Nelissen remarked the pressure of supporting a family had influenced his decision to dope. He claimed he had EPO administered by the team doctor Geert Leinders at the Tour de France in 1996 and 1997.

Rolf Sorensen of Denmark admitted to doping in the 1990s and said he used EPO and cortisone. Theo de Rooy who was team manager from 2003 to 2007 did not deny that there was doping on the team and remarked if there was doping, that was a deliberate decision by the medical staff but claimed not to know of the HumanPlasma involvement.

Theo de Rooy added it was the responsibility of each rider to determine how far he would go into the medical field and said the team management did not encourage or pay for doping, and was not officially allowed. He went on to remark that he had disciplined riders who wanted to organize their own medical care outside the team structure. De Rooy left the team shortly after Rasmussen was removed from the 2007 Tour de France after the 16th stage and was handed over a ban of two years July 2007 to July 2009, for lying about his whereabouts. The cyclist later admitted to using EPO, growth hormones, insulin, testosterone, DHEA, IGF-1, cortisone, and blood doping, for most of his professional career.

Team Rabobank announced its withdrawal from sponsoring the team in October 2012 after 17 seasons in the peloton. The team however announced its intention to continue as a ‘white label’ under a new foundation yet to be established and made an announcement that it would participate in 2013 under the name Blanco Pro Cycling Team (successor of the former Rabobank), with the intention to find a sponsor for 2014 or to stop the team otherwise.

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Thursday 24, Jan 2013

  Ex-UCI Head Says Riders Were Warned

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Ex-UCI Head Says Riders Were Warned

The world governing body of cycling warned Lance Armstrong and other riders when they came close to testing positive for performance enhancing drugs, according to the former President of UCI, Hein Verbruggen.

Verbruggen, in an interview with the Dutch magazine Vrij Nederland published on Wednesday, said dozens of the top riders and team managers were invited to the headquarters of the UCI in Aigle “one by one”, where the chief doctor of the cycling body, Mario Zorzoli, gave them presentations on its anti-doping strategy and information about suspect values. The former UCI President this was part of a conscious strategy to try to reduce doping.

Verbruggen justified his defense of Armstrong during his tenure despite the fact that the world governing body of cycling warned him about his red blood cell values being suspect. He further added that he is not responsible if a cyclist is tested 215 times and he is always negative and the problem lies in the test itself.

The Australian anti-doping expert instrumental in developing the biological passport for the UCI between 2008 and 2012 before he resigned, Michael Ashenden, remarked he was not aware of any other international federation pursuing a similar strategy.

The World Anti-Doping Agency and the United States Anti-Doping Agency have refused to cooperate with the independent commission set up by the UCI to look into claims that the governing body covered up a positive drug test in 2001 in return for a donation of $125,000 from Lance Armstrong.  Meanwhile, Brian Cookson, the president of British Cycling, has remarked that he is fully supportive of UCI president Pat McQuaid who since his election in 2005 has done an impressive job in frequently difficult circumstances and added that it is absolutely vital for the future of our sport that we all remain united.

Verbruggen, who is still an honorary president of the UCI, and his successor, Pat McQuaid, have been under intense pressure ever since the Lance Armstrong doping scandal wherein the disgraced cyclist was stripped of his seven Tour de France victories and admitted doping throughout each of them. A lifetime ban was imposed on the cycling icon by the UCI after the United States Anti-Doping Agency submitted its reasoned decision that was supported by the testimony of many of 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).

The evidence brought forward by USADA included direct documentary evidence including financial payments, emails, scientific data, and laboratory test results that proved the use, possession and distribution of performance enhancing drugs by Lance Armstrong and confirmed the deceptive activities of the USPS Team.

After this, Lance Armstrong and two other members of the USPS Team, Dr. Michele Ferrari and Dr. Garcia del Moral, also received lifetime bans for perpetrating this doping conspiracy while three other members of the USPS Team (Johan Bruyneel, the team director; Dr. Pedro Celaya, a team doctor; and Jose “Pepe” Marti, the team trainer) decided to contest the charges and take their cases.

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Tuesday 01, Jan 2013

  Crawford On Why Leipheimer And He Used EPO

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Crawford on why leipheimer and he used epo

Rick Crawford, a coach of top American talent and collegiate cycling royalty (now at Colorado Mesa University), recently admitted to doping two riders — Levi Leipheimer and possibly Kirk O’Bee — from 1999 to 2001. After his admission, the coach was immediately fired.

Crawford said that he knew Leipheimer since before anybody had really heard of him and they were gaining a lot of success just with normal training methodology, just good old working hard. He added that Levi was not getting the same performance enhancing drug treatment as his contemporaries on the U.S. Postal Service team. Crawford added that Levi was never a part of a circle in the Postal team and Levi decided to go ahead with using drugs after the two were trying to figure out how to be competitive at that world level and added the decision was just to compete in a world where it seemed there was no other way.

Crawford was sourcing — and shipping EPO, through the U.S. mail. The drug had the ability to increase the ability of the body to transport oxygen and in no time, the name and the ability of Leipheimer  was on the rise. After Leipheimer’s third-place finish in the 2001 Vuelta a España, Crawford said he and his pupil parted ways and Leipheimer headed to Rabobank, leaving the coach on the fringe of the top level of the sport and let down. However, Leipheimer said continued to work together for a time after he joined Rabobank.

Leipheimer did not address specifics but provided no defenses for his and his former coach’s decisions. He said he is not going to try and make a justification. Of Crawford’s decision to come out clean, Leipheimer said he’s glad and added that he was positive and motivating when he worked with him. Leipheimer is currently serving a reduced ban of six months tied to his testimony in the Lance Armstrong case.

In another development, Erik Dekker and Marc Wauters (both sports directors with WorldTour teams) have both denied having used doping whilst riding for Rabobank. The denial was in a response to an anonymous former Rabobank rider and details that have emerged from the USADA reasoned decision in the Lance Armstong case. In an affidavit in the USADA case, Levi Leipheimer discussed his doping use during his time with Rabobank, saying he was assisted by a team doctor. NOS television a few days back said that an anonymous retired Rabobank rider described doping on the team, starting in 1999, with the name of Dekker being mentioned. Reacting to the news, Dekker said you may wonder whether the anonymous source who accuses me is telling the truth, or whether he has his own truth. Meanwhile, Wauters remarked that it is painful to read about such allegations and he can only confirm that he have never taken drugs.

Dekker rode for Rabobank from 1996 to 2006, and served as a sport director for the team, to be known as Blanco Pro Cycling Team next year, since 2007 and Wauters was with Rabobank from 1998 to 2006, and is a sport director for Lotto Belisol.

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Friday 02, Nov 2012

  Doping Inquiry Into Cycling Bronze Opens

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Doping Inquiry Into Cycling Bronze Opens

On Thursday, the International Olympic Committee opened an investigation into the role of Lance Armstrong in a doping scandal that has tarnished the image of professional cycling besides wiping out his seven Tour de France titles. The investigation would also mean that the cyclist may lose his Olympic bronze medal he won in the road time trial at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

The cyclist finished behind winner and U.S. Postal Service teammate Vyacheslav Ekimov of Russia and Jan Ullrich of Germany and now his medal will go to Abraham Olano Manzano of Spain, who stands to move up to bronze if Armstrong is stripped of the medal. Vyacheslav Ekimov was upgraded to the gold after the IOC stripped a former Armstrong teammate, Tyler Hamilton, of his gold medal from the 2004 Athens Olympics after he admitted to using performance enhancing drugs.

A former Armstrong teammate who won the time-trial bronze at the 2008 Beijing Games, Levi Leipheimer, may also have his medal revoked after he confessed to doping. He is presently serving a reduced, six-month suspension after cooperating with the USADA inquiry. Alberto Contador, the Spaniard who was stripped of the 2010 Tour de France title after testing positive for clenbuterol, finished fourth behind Leipheimer in 2008.

The Olympic involvement of other riders and officials implicated in a U.S. Anti-Doping Agency report will also be examined by the IOC. The USADA report detailed “the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.” After the release of this report, it was sent to the governing body of cycling (UCI) and World Anti-doping Agency (WADA). The UCI endorsed the sanctions imposed on the cyclist by USADA and said Armstrong had no place in cycling. The United States Anti-doping Agency banned the seven-time winner of Tour de France for life and stripped him of all his titles after August 1, 1998.

The International Olympic Committee said in a statement that it will start the process regarding the involving of Armstrong, other riders, and their entourages. The medals could come up for review at the executive board meeting of the IOC next month in Lausanne, Switzerland. Meanwhile, the International Olympic Committee is also evaluating the plans of UCI for an independent investigation for examining the allegations about the own conduct of the federation and its relations with the cyclist as raised by the report by USADA.

The IOC said it has taken note of the decision made by the governing body of cycling and welcomes every measure taken to shed light on the full extent of the episode and to help the sport of cycling reform to move forward. It also added that that finding of the independent commission that will be looking into the role of the UCI and the recommendations for a healthy future for the game are awaited. However, the IOC may find itself in a dilemma whether to apply the eight-year statute for revising Olympic results or not. IOC vice president Thomas Bach said the report by the USADA took an intriguing approach that leaves the eight-year period open to discussion.

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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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Friday 12, Oct 2012

  USADA to Detail Doping Case Against Armstrong

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USADA to Detail Doping Case Against Armstrong

The United States Anti-Doping Agency is expected to release extensive details of its doping case against seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong who was stripped of all his titles, and banned for life. The doping case is expected to include witness testimony from some of the former close friends and teammates of the cyclist.

USADA ordered the results from 14 years of the cyclist’s career to be erased, including his seven Tour de France titles. The agency is planning within a few days to send a detailed report about its reasoned decision” to the governing body of cycling, the International Cycling Union (UCI).

The anti-doping agency claims that it had ten former teammates of Lance Armstrong to testify against him before Armstrong chose not to take his case to an arbitration hearing and the list is expected to include Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamilton and even witness testimony from George Hincapie who was the only rider to be at the side of Armstrong for each of his Tour France victories. Considered one of the most respected American cyclists in recent history, Hincapie, has not tested positive for doping and has never said he has doped but he recently broke his silence and admitted he cheated.

Under the World Anti-Doping Code, the USADA is required to send its evidence against Armstrong to International Cycling Union and the World Anti-Doping Agency and these agencies have the right to appeal the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. The UCI has 21 days to appeal once it receives the file and WADA has 21 days to appeal once the cycling union announces its intentions. WADA general director David Howman said that the agency has got no problem with the process they have followed and there is a need to follow patience and be quiet until the decision comes to hand.

Timothy J. Herman, one of Armstrong’s lawyers, termed the case against his client a farce and said the anti-doping agency now pretends to issue its own ‘reasoned decision,’ even though there was no judge, no jury, and no hearing. Herman accused the agency of “still trying to create evidence and put it in the file now,” long after it supposedly had an airtight case. Lawyers of the cyclist said USADA should send UCI its entire case file, not just a streamlined report packaged to support its decision.

Armstrong has continued to compete in triathlons that are not sanctioned by USA Triathlon, the sport’s governing body, which follows the WADA code and won the SuperFrog Triathlon in California last month and competed in the Revolution3 Half-Full Triathlon in Maryland, racing with a group of about 50 fellow cancer survivors.

It is believed that the riders who provided testimony include several top American cyclists of the generation of Armstrong like Levi Leipheimer, Christian Vande Velde, and Dave Zabriskie. One of Armstrong’s former lieutenants on the United States Postal Service team, Tyler Hamilton, has revealed some particulars about Armstrong and doping in his book, “The Secret Race,” which was published last month in which he accused Armstrong, team management and team staff of encouraging the use of performance enhancing drugs.

USADA to Detail Doping Case Against Armstrong

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