Cycling's Olympic future may be reconsidered over doping

8th October 2008, Comments 0 comments

Bach: "An Olympic break must be considered if those involved don't make a joint effort against doping."

Hamburg -- Cycling's future at the Olympics may have to be reconsidered, International Olympic Committee vice president Thomas Bach said on Tuesday in the wake of the latest positive doping tests.

"An Olympic break must be considered if those involved don't make a joint effort against doping," Bach told DPA. "The credibility of cycling is at zero. The riders have not used their chance for change."

The statement came after revelations that German rider Stephan Schumacher and Italy's Leonardo Piepoli tested positive for the third generation of the blood booster EPO at the Tour de France in July.

The French anti-doping agency AFLD said late Monday that Saunier Duval's Piepoli twice tested positive for CERA (Continuous Erythropoiesis Receptor Activator). Piepoli was kicked out of the Tour by his team for ethical reasons. He was summoned to an Italian Olympic Committee hearing on Friday.

Riccardo Ricco also failed further doping tests for CERA, the AFLD said, after being the only rider caught using the substance at the Tour. He was kicked out of the race and is banned for 20 months.

The head of Schumacher's Gerolsteiner team, Hans-Michael Holczer, said on Monday he was informed by Tour boss Christian Prudhomme that a retest of Schumacher's samples for CERA was positive.

"There were positive tests on July 3 and July 15 for EPO (CERA)," said Holczer in a statement.

Retests were conducted on riders who returned abnormally high blood readings during this year's Tour. Seven other riders are reportedly still awaiting their fate.

The three riders combined for five stage wins at the 2008 Tour, with Schumacher winning both time trials.

Schumacher's lawyer Michael Lehner named the news "disturbing" and said Schumacher will not make a statement until he has received details of the test results.

The German cycling federation BDR and the anti-doping agency NADA have launched investigations. Schumacher, who has been linked with doping in the past, faces a two-year ban if the B-sample confirms the original finding and he is found guilty of a doping offence.

"Stefan Schumacher must produce a statement within five working days or apply to have the B-sample analyzed," said the BDR in a statement.

The world governing cycling body UCI is yet to release details of the latest positive tests, with spokesman Enrico Carpani only speaking of two new cases.

Bach, who is also head of the German Olympic Committee DOSB, said that the IOC will "discuss with experts whether to open the frozen samples from Beijing (the Olympics in August) now."

IOC boss Jacques Rogge told DPA earlier this year that cycling's place at the Olympics was not endangered as long as the sport fought doping in an efficient way.

The DOSB general secretary Michael Vesper said that cycling was committing suicide and there were also suggestions to sue Schumacher for the money the country spent on him to send him to the Olympics.

Also on Tuesday, German state networks ARD and ZDF were debating whether to continue Tour de France broadcasts in the future in the wake of the latest cases. ARD and ZDF last year terminated their broadcasts during the Tour after several doping cases.

"We will quietly wait and see what else comes out to see if cycling can in any way be saved," ZDF chief editor Nikolaus Brender said on the station's website. "All options including pulling out (of covering cycling) are possible."

ARD spokesman Christian Bauer, meanwhile, described how "cheats" were destroying the sport of cycling.

"It doesn't matter if it's a German, a Spaniard or an American," he said.

However, Eurosport, which broadcasts in 59 countries, has said it will continue its coverage despite the latest case.

"The incident is unfortunate but is evidence that the controls are having an effect," said the company's media director Werner Starz.

-- John Bagratuni/DPA/Expatica

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