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Thursday 02, Nov 2017

  UCI Chief Wants To Totally Eliminate Mechanical Doping

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International Cycling Union (UCI) President David Lappartient has pledged to restore credibility of cycling in relation to the issue of mechanical doping.

Tests to prevent mechanical doping were introduced in 2016 but only one rider has been caught. Critics of UCI have raised questions on the robustness of the current testing protocol and determination of the world governing body of cycling to handle the matter.

Lappartient, who was elected president last September, had mentioned in his manifesto that he wants to totally eliminate mechanical doping from the sport. The UCI President has promised to outline his plans for the future by the end of the year before he would roll out a new program for detecting motors from the start of 2018.

The International Cycling Union chief also commented that we need to avoid any suspicion that we have it in our sport. Lappartient remarked it is really bad for our image and said he wants everyone to trust the credibility of the UCI. The Frenchman also remarked that he wants people to know that we are doing our best and checking in the most professional way. It was also commented by Lappartient that people should trust in the results of racing and this is what we have to deliver.

Lappartient said testing at races and events will become more robust in the coming year. The UCI President added heat guns would work alongside the criticized UCI tablets. Lappartient remarked the UCI concentrates on the top level, but we have to understand that we can have the same problem at all levels, even at mass participation events. The chief of International Cycling Union added it would be a disaster to see a guy at this low level using this kind of technology just to get his name in the newspaper.

Lappartient said Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme has asked the cycling’s world governing body to work on tackling the menace of mechanical doping. The UCI chief said we will be ready for the next season and during the winter we will make some announcement on this, probably at the beginning of December.

Less than a month after the election of Lappartient, a French amateur rider was caught with a motor in his bike at a local race. The incident highlighted the fear of many that mechanical doping had already spread to all levels of racing.

Lappartient also advocated for a reduction in team sizes to six riders per team. The newly elected UCI president also made a vow to stop the use of race radios in the sport over concerns that it may result in race fixing. Lappartient said the connection officially goes from a team car to the rider and added there is however nothing technologically that prevents him or anyone from calling the wearer of the yellow jersey during a stage of the Tour. The Frenchman said there have been no claims regarding the adverse use of race radios, but he wants to address the issue before it arise like that of mechanical and biological doping.

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Wednesday 02, Aug 2017

  Use Of Mechanical Doping Denied By Italian Rider

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Alessandro Andreoli, the 53 year-old Italian rider who was reportedly caught with a hidden motor in his bike, has denied any wrongdoing.

Andreoli said he recently started to do well in local age-related races after resolving a back problem. The Italian rider claimed his rivals may have tipped off race organizers as he had managed to beat them and because of his wealthy lifestyle. Andreoli refused to visit a specialist mechanic to have the bike dismantled after being caught and claimed he had to go to a wedding.

The hidden motor was detected after a thermal camera was used by the race organizers to scan suspicious bikes. The race was organized under the auspices of the Centro Sportivo Italiano, an amateur sports body affiliated to the Italian Olympic Committee. It was announced by Emiliano Scalfi, the vice-president of the CSI in the province of Brescia, that there was a tip-off and the CSI decided to deploy an expensive heat gun provided by a local businessman and cycling fan.

Scalfi remarked we had some precise information and we proceeded accordingly. The vice-president of the CSI said we saw when we looked that in the seat tube of one rider it looked as though there was a fire.

Andreoli finished third in the race and was asked to bring his bike to the commissaires for further inspection. The 53 year-old Italian rider refused to take the bike to a specialist and Andreoli refused and reportedly admitted to using mechanical doping. He later backtracked and said he would suspend himself from racing until formal investigation and eventual trial is held. Andreoli remarked they wanted to control my bike, the judges kept it for an hour and a half while he was getting changed and said they later claimed there was a hidden motor but they didn’t find anything and the wheels didn’t turn. Andreoli added if the reports of mechanical doping about his bike were true then riders who finished with him had motors too and also commented that he had seen a lot of people finish ahead of him without them suffering. The Italian rider also said he had to go to a wedding and it was getting late. Andreoli remarked he never admitted anything about mechanical doping.

A photo of the alleged bike was published by La Gazzetta dello Sport. The picture suggested a motor was hidden in the down tube, with a bulge under the right-hand brake lever covering the button that activated the motor. The bike has race number 891 and it was confirmed by Andreoli that race number 891 was his number for the event. Andreoli said he purchased the bike from someone in Tuscany while on holiday. Andreoli has reportedly won several races this season after rarely being in the results and went on to suggest that his rivals who tipped off the race organizers were simply envious.

The incident is the second confirmed instance of mechanical doping after Femke Van Den Driessche was discovered to have had a bike containing a motor at the 2016 Cyclo-cross World Championships. The rider was banned for a period of six years and fined 20,000 Swiss Francs by the UCI, the world governing body of cycling.

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Wednesday 15, Feb 2017

  Armstrong Fails To Block Government Lawsuit

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Lance Armstrong, the American former professional road racing cyclist, has lost his bid to block a $100m (£79m) lawsuit by the US government.

The U.S. Justice Department had accused the cyclist, who had won the Tour de France a record seven consecutive times from 1999 to 2005, before he was banned for life and stripped of his titles, of defrauding the government by accepting millions of dollars in sponsorship money from the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency accused Armstrong in a report of engineering one of the most sophisticated doping schemes in sports.

On Monday, a federal judge cleared the way for a U.S. government lawsuit that seeks nearly $100 million in damages from the former professional cyclist to go to trial. Judge Christopher Cooper of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia wrote in a 37-page ruling that the Court must deny Armstrong’s motion for summary judgment on this issue because the government has offered evidence that Armstrong withheld information about the team’s doping and use of PEDs and that the anti-doping provisions of the sponsorship agreements were material to USPS’s decision to continue the sponsorship and make payments under the agreements.

Armstrong’s cycling team, the now-defunct Tailwind Sports Corp, received around $32.3 million from USPS from 2000 to 2004. Cooper said in his ruling USPS looked to capitalize on the Tour de France victories of Armstrong as well as his “compelling personal story.” The US federal government now wants the money back and Armstrong may likely end up paying triple under the False Claims Act.

In defense, the attorney of Armstrong claimed USPS suffered no damages and received far more in value from the sponsorship than the amount paid by it. The Judge responded by saying the argument should be decided by a jury at trial.

Cooper wrote the Court concludes that the monetary amount of the benefits USPS received is not sufficiently quantifiable to keep any reasonable juror from finding that the agency suffered a net loss on the sponsorship, especially if one considers the adverse effect on the Postal Service’s revenues and brand value that may have resulted from the negative publicity surrounding the subsequent investigations of Armstrong’s doping and his widely publicized confession. The Judge also said determination of damages must therefore be left to a jury and the Court accordingly declines to grant Armstrong summary judgment on damages and will set the case for trial.

The former cyclist admitted to making use of banned performance enhancing drugs in seven of his Tour wins.

In another development, Armstrong’s former directeur sportif Johan Bruyneel poured scorn on legendary cyclist Greg LeMond. Bruyneel said LeMond has an unnatural obsession with tarnishing the reputation of Lance Armstrong. Bruyneel, who is currently serving a 10-year ban for his involvement in doping, said LeMond has realized that people are less and less outraged by Lance, because it has become clear that he was only one of many who were doping, and that is why LeMond is now looking for something new with which to tarnish his name. Armstrong’s former directeur sportif added LeMond is not going to manage it and went on to comment that they can keep trying until the year 3000 and they are not going to find mechanical doping.

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