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Doping And Climbing Part 1 : An Intro

Doping And Climbing Part 1 : An Intro

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Published by Cycling Fan
The following article appeared in the Le Grimpeur blog written by Guy. He offers a refreshing perspective on doping as it relates to climbing the big mountains featured in the Tour de France.
The following article appeared in the Le Grimpeur blog written by Guy. He offers a refreshing perspective on doping as it relates to climbing the big mountains featured in the Tour de France.

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Categories:Types, Research, Law
Published by: Cycling Fan on Jul 11, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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July 10th, 2010
le grimpeur
A cycling blog for everything climbing
Doping and climbing: an introductionGuy WR posted inDopingon February 19th, 2007
The implications of doping in the pro peloton for climbing and climbers have been profound and le grimpeur will be covering this theme in a series of posts. But for now, a brief history of doping as an introduction.
The recent past as prologue
Operacion Puerto
in Spain last year was another chapter to the long-running and increasingly depressing sagaof doping in the pro peloton. Although no single rider has been officially sanctioned as an outcome, suspicionsremain and have only reinforced perceptions that doping has been widespread since the early 1990s.Of particular implication has been the use of the blood booster EPO and the practice of blood doping, bothused to maintain or to boost the red blood cell capacity of blood and enhance a rider’s ability to maintainhigher tempos for longer.Sources suggest that the use of EPO started around 1993, perhaps peaking in the mid-1990s before the UCIintroduced the 50% haematocrit cut-off measure in 1997, in advance of an actual test for EPO not beingdeveloped until 2001. EPO use became more difficult to hide, although not impossible, given that it can only be detected for a few days after use but its effects can last for weeks. Haematocrit levels for riders had to beclosely monitored and suspicions continued that riders were using EPO to boost their haematocrit levels up to just below 50%.Still, users were caught – Roberto Heras in the Vuelta in 2005 and Raimondo Rumsas in the Giro in 2003 being two examples – while others, such as David Millar escaped detection but later admitted to using EPO.At the centre of 
Operacion Puerto
was blood doping, an athlete storing healthy blood for later transfusion,and nearly 100 bags of stored blood were found in the raid on the clinic of Eufemiano Fuentes. Blood dopingwas perhaps mostly famously used by Francesco Moser to break Eddy Merckx’s hour record, twice, in 1984.Prior to the raid, Tyler Hamilton was a high-profile blood doping case when he was suspended in 2004 withtests having apparently shown a mixed blood population. An appeal by Hamilton questioning the testmethodology was rejected and he was banned from racing for 2 years. Fellow Phonak team member SantiagoPerez was also suspended at the same time for blood doping, which may not have surprised some observerswho had questioned his climbing performance in that year’s Vuelta, where he placed second.
Following the bread crumbs
What is interesting about the history of EPO and blood doping is the recurrence of certain individuals andteams associated with these practices.For example, in the Festina Affair in 1998, rider Alex Zulle admitted to using EPO and claimed that its use
le grimpeur Doping and climbing: an introductionhttp://le-grimpeur.net/blog/archives/91 of 1010/07/2010 23:33
 
was widespread, including in his previous team, ONCE, managed by Manolo Saiz. ONCE withdrew from theTour in 1998 in protest at police tactics, but a team doctor, Nicolas Terrados, was charged with illegallyimporting doping products (although no team members were implicated).Saiz was arrested as part of 
Operacion Puerto
and his team, Liberty Seguros-Würth, for which Roberto Herasrode for in 2005, was denied a place in the 2006 Tour de France.It was not the first time that the Tour organization had banned a whole team. The Kelme squad was banned in2004 following accusations by team rider Jesus Manzano of systematic doping. The doctor for the team was,of course, Eufemiano Fuentes. Suspended Phonak rider Santiago Perez rode for Kelme in 2002 and wasnamed in the
 Puerto
investigation. Two more former Phonak riders, José Enrique Gutierrez (2nd place in theGiro in 2006) and Santiago Botero were also implicated – both having ridden for Kelme.Botero was allegedly filmed entering Fuentes’ clinic, but was cleared by the Colombian cycling federation toresume racing. Interestingly, he was suspended early in his career for high testosterone levels.Another former Kelme alumni, Oscar Sevilla, riding for T-Mobile last year, was also implicated but, in theabsence of a suspension, is still racing. Roberto Heras also rode for Kelme from 1995-2000 before joining USPostal from 2001-2003 to support Lance Armstrong. Javier Pascual Llorente was the only rider to fail a drugtest in the 2003 Tour, blaming French detection methods for his positive test for EPO. In a further historicaltwist, Kelme also withdrew from the 1998 Tour following the police crack-down.
 Alex Zulle at the Giro in 1998 for Festina, 3 stage wins and 11 days in the Maglia Rosa
Twists and turns
Operacion Puerto
did not just appear out-of-the-blue. Recall, of course, the lengthy legal process in Italyfrom 2000 to 2004 with the trials of Professor Francesco Conconi and his former assistant Dr. MicheleFerrari. Files seized in the process revealed a list of 22 cyclists that had their blood data recorded duringConconi’s research, including many high-profile Italian riders from the 1990s such as Ivan Gotti, ClaudioChiappucci, Gianni Bugno (to name only three from the list) as well as other international riders such as PavelTonkov. (Bugno was caught up in another scandal in 1999 when a Mapei soigneur Tiziano Morassut, who waslater charged, sent amphetamines to team member Bugno in Italy).The judge in the case concluded that systematic EPO doping had taken place, which threw the varyinghaematocrit levels of riders such as Bjarne Riis and Marco Pantani during that time right into the public
le grimpeur Doping and climbing: an introductionhttp://le-grimpeur.net/blog/archives/92 of 1010/07/2010 23:33
 
spotlight. For other riders, reports at the time said that Conconi’s files showed that Tonkov’s haematocritfluctuated from 40.9% to 51.5% in June 1996 (when he won the Giro); Gotti’s between 35.2% in January1997 to 50.7% in June 1998 (he won the Giro in 1997); Chiappucci was at 35% in January 1994 and 60% inJune of that year, when he placed 5th in the Giro.Later, Ivan Gotti (who also won the Giro in 1999 after race leader Marco Pantani failed a haematocrit testand was ejected) was investigated in the 2001 Giro after doping products were found in a family campervanthat was following the race. It was also the year that Dario Frigo was ejected from the race when in second place behind Gilberto Simoni – who withdrew from the 2002 edition after a postive cocaine test – and after having worn the
maglia rosa
for eight days, when a massive police raid, the San Remo Blitz, netted literally‘buckets’ of doping products but yielded few actual charges against riders, Frigo excepted. In 2003, Gottiagreed to an out-of-court settlement of a five-month suspended prison sentence to avoid facing a trial for charges of possessing banned doping products. Frigo was arrested in 2005 whilst competing in the Tour deFrance after EPO was found in his wife’s car. His 2001 Giro case was resolved in 2005 and he, along withAlberto Elli and Giuseppe Di Grande, received suspended sentences.
 Ivan Gotti in great form, winning the Giro in 1999
 None of riders in the Conconi files tested positive for doping during that time, not that the test for EPO had been developed. It was the fluctuations in the riders’ haematocrit levels, generally expected to be no morethan 10% under natural conditions, that led the judge to conclude that doping had taken place. Broader conclusions remain difficult, however, with reports suggesting that Stephen Roche, for example, might have been inadvertently caught up in the scandal when the results of his blood tests were passed on to Conconi in1993.Riis’ high haematocrit levels were cited in Conconi’s files for 1994 and 1995. By 1996, Riis was beingcoached by Dr. Luigi Cecchini, a disciple of Conconi. Cecchini was cleared in 2001 of any involvement inConconi’s doping ring and went on to have a coaching role with many well-known riders including Tyler Hamilton and Jan Ullrich (with Ullrich later implicated as allegedly at the centre of Fuentes’ doping ring).Riis brought Cecchini into Team CSC, in a consultative role, but that role was apparently terminated in early2006. Riis reportedly said that some of his riders maintained a private relationship with Cecchini in a coachingcapacity but told Velo News in 2004 that: “None of my riders are allowed to work with a doctor outside of my team.” Riis went on to say that: “He’s a trainer that works with our team, that’s the only thing that hedoes. He has nothing to do with medicine. He only works with training programs and nothing else.”Ivan Basso was one of the CSC riders that had a relationship with Cecchini, although Basso was at pains to
le grimpeur Doping and climbing: an introductionhttp://le-grimpeur.net/blog/archives/93 of 1010/07/2010 23:33

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