UCI could call Verbruggen to doping inquiry after latest Armstrong claims

Former UCI president Hein Verbruggen could be called before the independent commission investigating historical doping allegations, Brian Cookson announced overnight.

Disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong, who was banned for life last year for doping offences, accused Verbruggen of being involved in a cover up over a positive test for a steroid in 1999, the year he won his first of seven Tours de France — now all stripped from the American.

A year earlier the Tour had been rocked by the Festina team doping scandal and Armstrong told Monday’s Daily Mail: “Hein just said, ‘This is a real problem for me, this is the knockout punch for our sport, the year after Festina, so we’ve got to come up with something’. So we backdated the prescription.”

Verbruggen had repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and current UCI president, Britain’s Brian Cookson, who replaced Verbruggen’s successor Pat McQuaid in September, is keen to finally get to the bottom of the matter.

“The UCI’s Independent Commission of Inquiry is in the process of being set up and we are in advanced discussions with stakeholders on its terms of reference to allow full investigation of any allegations relating to doping and wrongdoing at the UCI,” a statement issued by the global governing body said.

“Further announcements will be made in due course. The commission will invite individuals to provide evidence and we would urge all those involved to come forward and help the commission in its work in the best interests of the sport of cycling.

“This investigation is essential to the well-being of cycling in fully understanding the doping culture of the past, the role of the UCI at that time and helping us all to move forward to a clean and healthy future.”

Text via AFP. Click here to read more about the Daily Mail interview.

Verbruggen hits back at Armstrong

Hein Verbruggen has hit back at the accusations made by Lance Armstrong, attacking the Texan’s credibility.

Zaak Lance Armstrong case

“Since when does one believe Lance Armstrong?” Verbruggen wrote via SMS to Dutch TV station NOS. “When with Oprah Winfrey he said he never settled something with the UCI? Or since he (charges a fee!) makes movies and interviews and hints that there are juicy stories to come?

“His story is illogical because it was not a positive/anti-doping offence, in the opinion of the competent authority,” Verbruggen continued. “That authority was not the UCI, but the French Ministry. After allegations a year back of a large-scale complicity at the UCI over doping by Lance Armstrong and his team, we are now back to a cortisone-case from 1999 that wasn’t even from the UCI. Sincerely, Hein Verbruggen.”

Verbruggen was president of the UCI between 1991 and 2005. After being replaced as president by Pat McQuaid in 2005, Verbruggen remained ‘Honorary President’ of the UCI, giving him a seat on the Management Committee.

The International Olympic Committee, with which Verbruggen has been associated on and off since 1996, issued the following statement:

“It is hard to give any credibility to the claims of a cyclist who appears to have misled the world for decades. That said, the UCI is currently working on plans to investigate the matter more thoroughly and we await proper considered outcomes.”

Click here to read more at VeloNation.

Tiff Cromwell to ride for Specialized-Lululemon in 2014

Ever since Orica-AIS published its team roster for 2014 we’ve known that Tiffany Cromwell wouldn’t be riding with the squad next season, but only last night was it announced that the Australian will be joining Specialized-lululemon.

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad 2013 women

“Orica had offered me another year but I just didn’t want to just say yes straight away. I wanted to also see what else was out there. It’s a time when my next major goal is the Olympics so if you’re going to change teams now is the time to do it. So then I contacted Specialized Lululemon to see if they were interested in me and what their programme was like. The opportunities were better with this team than they were if I’d stayed with Orica. Hopefully it’s going to work out well for me,” Cromwell told Cycling News.

Despite enjoying a successful tenure at Orica-AIS, including a win at Het Nieuwsblad and 9th in the World Championship road race, Cromwell is looking forward to more opportunities and a different challenge.

“We [Orica-AIS] always had the opportunities to be up there but obviously when you have someone in your team like Emma Johansson, who is so consistent, it might just seem like it’s more about her but it definitely wasn’t from a background point of view”, Cromwell told Cycling News.

“She’s the stronger rider in the sprints so if want to try and get to her level I think I need to move away and come back and battle against her. She was a fantastic teammate to have and to learn from but when you’re striding to be number one then you need to ride against them.”

Click here to read more at Cycling News.

Nibali could ride the Giro and the Tour in 2014

While Vincenzo Nibali has set the Tour de France as his main focus for next season, the Sicilian refuses to rule out racing the Giro d’Italia which he won earlier this season.

Giro d'Italia 2013 - 8a Tappa

“The programme hasn’t been decided yet,” Nibali told Gazzetta dello Sport. “The Giro is certainly quite tempting. It’s a nice Giro, well-designed, and maybe you could think about being there. But in any case, the centrepiece remains the Tour. Now we’ll start to talk about it at Astana with the calendar in front of us and we’ll put together the programme.”

Trying to win the Giro is almost certain to jeopardise Nibali’s chances of a top performance at the Tour de France, as was seen with Cadel Evans earlier this year.

Nibali’s Astana team has a training camp starting on December 9 and Nibali himself will start his 2014 season with the Tour de San Luis in late January.

Click here to read more at Cycling News.

UCI confirms female representation on all 18 cycling commissions

Before the UCI election Brian Cookson promised to increase the role and influence of women in world cycling and it would appear he’s committed to that promise.

“Members of eighteen commissions have been appointed. In an unprecedented decision in the organisation’s history, at least one woman will sit on each of the commissions newly-designated under the Presidency of Brian Cookson,” said the governing body in a statement.

This announcement is the most recent of several measures to help the development of women’s cycling and the involvement of women in the sport.

Oceania president Tracey Gaudry was elected to the UCI vice presidency shortly after Cookson’s victory and Cookson has also revealed that the UCI will produce highlights packages of the women’s World Cup races, which will be given to broadcasters for free to increase media coverage.

Click here to read more at VeloNation.

The impact of WADA’s new four-year bans

Yesterday we brought you the news that WADA has approved four-year bans for athletes that test positive for certain banned substances, a measure that will come into effect on January 1, 2015.

As touched on yesterday, a four-year ban will rule any guilty athlete out of the next Olympics but as The Inner Ring writes, the lengthier bans are also likely to end careers, unlike two year bans.

Click here to check out The Inner Ring’s analysis.

Sixth London cyclist killed in two weeks

A male cyclist in his 60s was killed in London overnight taking the number of cycling fatalities in London to 14 this year and, most alarmingly, six in the past two weeks.

Meanwhile an initiative by the London Metropolitan Police has seen cyclists stopped in areas of London to receive advice on road safety. There are some suggestions that cyclists have been stopped and even fined for not wearing helmets or high-vis clothing, even though these aren’t legally required in London.

All six incidents in the past two weeks have involved trucks, buses or coaches.

Click here to read more at Cycling Weekly.

Seasucker bike rack test

This video is more than a year old now but if you haven’t seen it we recommend a quick look. It’s a short and simple ad for the Seasucker bike rack system which, while looking reasonably flimsy, seems to do a pretty good of job of holding on to bikes.

The Rocacorba Recap

And finally this morning, here are a few things you might have missed:

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The feature image was taken by Kristof Ramon during stage 16 of this year’s Giro d’Italia, as the riders descended the Col du Montcenis.