Friday, June 30, 2006

Black Friday: Another cycling scandal

Wherein not really surprising

While I've been busy trying to ignore the rest of the World Cup, I'm just realizing there's a huge drug scandal that will probably ruin the Tour de France. Spanish authorities raided a laboratory and came away with a big list of names. Let's round up some stories:

Tour Excludes Ullrich and Basso
The two favorites in the Tour de France plus an unannounced number of other riders including major contenders were excluded from the race on doping suspicions Friday, a day before the Tour begins here.

The biggest names on the list were Jan Ullrich of Germany, the winner of the Tour in 1997 and five times a runner-up, and Ivan Basso of Italy, the winner of the Giro d'Italia this year.

Doping Scandals Throw Tour de France Into Chaos
A sprawling doping scandal has thrown the Tour de France bicycle race into chaos, with three of last year's top four finishers forced out of competition just before the start of the three-week tour on Saturday.

In quick succession today, Jan Ullrich, Ivan Basso and Francisco Mancebo were suspended or withdrew from the race because of fresh evidence of involvement with banned performance-enhancing techniques or drugs. A number of other riders and team officials and one whole team have also been sidelined, in large part because of police raids in Spain that found banned performance-enhancing drugs and other items and were said to have implicated dozens of top riders and coaches.

Tour Favorites Barred in Doping Scandal
Tour officials did not immediately say how many other riders were barred from the race.

The Spanish doping scandal erupted in May when police carried out arrests and raids, seizing drugs and frozen blood thought to have been prepared for banned, performance-enhancing transfusions.

Since then, the names of riders said to have had contacts with Eufemiano Fuentes, a doctor among those arrested, have leaked in Spanish media. Ullrich was among those named.

Then, after more leaks Thursday, Spanish authorities released details from the probe to Tour organizers and other cycling bodies, showing which riders were implicated in the investigation. It was on the basis of that official information that Tour teams decided to act.

McQuaid: Operación Puerto riders will be ejected from Tour
Union Cycliste Internationale president Pat McQuaid has written to all ProTour teams suggesting they ask their riders competing in the Tour de France, which begins Saturday, to provide a written statement saying they are not involved in the affair, known as "Operación Puerto."

"If a false statement is given," McQuaid said, "they would immediately leave the team and pay a large fine and those riders who refuse to give a statement would be replaced.

"If the UCI were to receive official information during the race, it would ask for the immediate withdrawal of any rider involved and that they should not compete until the end of the disciplinary process."

Names of Operación Puerto riders released

Tyler Hamilton
June 26, 2006
I was very upset to read the accusations against me and to see my name associated with the "Operacion Puerto" investigation in Spain. I have not been treated by Dr. Fuentes. I have not done what the article alleges. In addition, I have never been contacted by authorities in Spain regarding these allegations. Therefore, it is impossible to comment on a situation I have no knowledge of.

Phil Liggett
Originally 198 riders on 22 teams were entered for the 2300 miles race, but after Ignacio Labarto, the manager of the Communidad Valenciana team was also named as being under investigation, the Tour organizers immediately withdrew their invitation.

Now, with as many as 22 riders thought to be linked with Dr Fuentes’ list, the prologue this afternoon may see only 170 riders take the start in the Place de Bordeaux.

The opening seven kilometers time trial will be the hors d’oeuvre to the most open Tour for years in the absence of such star names and Americans, Floyd Landis and Levi Leipheimer and Spain’s Alejandro Valverde along with Australian Cadel Evans will find their favourite tag now more than deserved.

Britain’s David Millar, himself re-entering the sport today after serving a two-year suspension for using EPO in June 2003 when he won the World time trial title, could be the winner of this short time test.

Millar said yesterday: “I’m a little bit apprehensive and I feel ashamed, but I lied and cheated and now I want everyone to know that I am riding this race clean.”

And check in with TDF Blog for further updates.


Blogger Icepick said...

And while all of that is going on, Lance Armstrong is winning again, this time a preliminary ruling in a libel case he filed against a British newspaper.

If it's late June or July, Lance Armstrong must be winning something....

6/30/2006 02:06:00 PM  

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