Xenon added to WADA’s banned substances list

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has banned the use of xenon gas for athletes after deciding it could be used to improve performance.

The news comes a couple months after it was revealed that Russian athletes have allegedly been using xenon for years in an attempt to generate performance gains.

WADA president, Sir Craig Reedie told Britain’s The Telegraph that national anti-doping bodies have three months to implement the change.

“The two noble gases which come from the same family, xenon and argon, will be added to the prohibited list,” Reedie said after a meeting of WADA’s executive committee and foundation board.

While there is little evidence to show measurable performance gains from the use of xenon, there are those that believe that it does have positive effects if used in the lead-up to competition.

Click here to read our feature article about xenon and the science behind its use as a performance-enhancing substance. Click here to read more about the WADA ban here at CyclingTips.

WADA criticises Spanish court over handling of Operacion Puerto blood bags

Meanwhile WADA has criticised the Madrid Criminal Court over its handling of evidence in the case of Operation Puerto. WADA appealed to the court in May 2013 in an attempt to prevent the destruction of blood bags and other evidence seized in the drug bust.

“WADA’s Foundation Board expressed its disappointment at the substantial delay in the case of Operation Puerto, following WADA’s decision to appeal to the Criminal Court in Madrid on 17 May 2013,” said WADA in a statement.

“The Foundation Board stated that the lack of progress in the case was sending the wrong message to clean athletes right across the world. The Foundation Board was of the view that the Spanish authorities should conclude the case at the earliest possible opportunity.”

WADA and the UCI would like to see the contents of the blood bags analysed, apparently to determine any links to other athletes. It is believed that the blood bags are still frozen in storage.

The 2006 Operacion Puerto case was focused on the doping ring run by Dr Eufemiano Fuentes who assisted many of the sport’s biggest names to administer blood transfusions.

Click here to read more here at CyclingTips.

Niels Albert retires from cyclocross with heart problems

Former cyclocross world champion Niels Albert has retired from the sport, announcing in an emotional press conference that heart problems would prevent him from continuing on.

Kramon_NielsAlbert_retires_DSC7461 - Version 2

A routine scan in March reportedly found built-up scar tissue on his heart with the tissue causing an arrythmia, or irregular heartbeat. According to Albert and his doctors, the issue could prove fatal if he continues training and racing.

Niels Albert won the CX world championships twice — in 2009 and 2012 — and won a handful of races in the recent European CX season.

One of Albert’s long-time rivals, Sven Nys, said on Twitter: “Speechless. No words.”

Click here to read more at CX Magazine.

Wiggins unsure of what lies ahead after the Tour of California

Bradley Wiggins (Sky) might have won the Tour of California in convincing fashion — taking the lead with a win in the stage 2 ITT and never relinquishing it — but the 2012 Tour de France winner isn’t exactly sure what comes next.

Amgen Tour of California 2014 stage 2

“I’ve been on the path to Roubaix and to this, that’s been my goal,” he said. “After this, I’ve never really known what comes next in terms of race program.”

Wiggins ended up ninth in Paris-Roubaix after making it across to the lead group late in the race.

The big question is whether Wiggins will line up at the Tour de France in support of Chris Froome. Wiggins appears happy to race at Froome’s side but questions still remain about whether that will eventuate.

“It’s Chris’ team, really, and it’s built about him,” he said. “We still haven’t raced together all year, and he’s been successful the last few weeks with the team he’s had around him. Obviously, I’d love to be on the start line in Britain, [but] it’s not just about being at the start line. It’s about Chris being confident in the team he has.”

While Wiggins would like to start the Tour de France in his home country come July, he also appears content to take whatever comes.

“I’ve been fortunate to have a fantastic career up to this point,” he said. “If I had to stop now, I’d still be incredibly happy with what I’ve achieved.”

Click here to read more at VeloNews.

First steps for Vicioso after breaking his leg in the Giro

Two days after his successful operation in the Villa Stuart Hospital in Roma, Angel Vicioso (Katusha) was able to make his first steps with a walker in the hallway of the hospital. If Vicoso’s health situation continues to evolve well, he is expected to be able to leave the hospital by the end of the week.

Image: Katusha Cycling Team

Image: Katusha Cycling Team

At home Vicioso will need to recover in the coming weeks from the surgical procedure, after which he can start his long rehabilitation.

After his crash in Cassino, on the sixth stage of the Giro d’Italia, a complex threefold right femur fracture was diagnosed. One day later, on Friday May 16th, Angel Vicioso underwent a 3.5 hour operation. The doctors were able to repair the thighbone through intramedullary fixation (nail insertion). Addional screws were used to fixate the femural neck as well as some loose bone material. Post-operational X-rays showed a successful intervention as well as a good alignment of the femur.

On Monday Joaquim Rodriguez, who broke his right thumb in the same crash, underwent a successful operation as well. In Barcelona a pin was introduced in the phalanx to fix the fracture.

In Cassino X-rays revealed no fractures for Giampaolo Caruso in addition to his scaphoid fracture after his crash in Belfast, but as the rider still complains from pain at the left hip, he will undergo an MRI scan today.

Text adapted from a Katusha press release.

Who could break the hour record?

Here’s a great piece from The Inner Ring about the UCI’s recent changes to the hour record rules and how this could well open the way to a whole host of attempts at the record.

Here’s an excerpt:

The UCI’s rule changes are a clear invitation to riders to come and have a go. Being able to use a modern bike to beat a record set with the old position means many find the record with reach. As the results from the worlds last year illustrate -but don’t prove – many can ride at 50km/h on a flat course in the open wind. Perhaps the only question is who goes first?

Click here to read the full piece.

On board with Jens Voigt at the Tour of California

You might recall the video we shared last week showing a sprint at the Tour of California from the bike of John Degenkolb. Here’s another video from within the race, this time from onboard with Jens Voigt.

Both of the videos were made possible thanks to a trial into the use of onboard cameras and we can expect to see more of this in the months and years to come.

Portrait of my grandfather: still cycling at 80

Filmmaker Florent Piovesan put together this video for his grandfather’s 80 birthday, to document his love of the bicycle and why he still rides. Worth a look.

Ghost peloton art collaboration trailer

The following video is a collaboration between Scottish arts charity NVA and the Leeds-based Phoenix Dance Theatre. It was commissioned for the 2014 Yorkshire Festival in the build-up to the Tour de France Grand Depart in July. Check it out.

Click here to read more about the project.

The Rocacorba Recap

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

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Today’s feature image comes from Jered Gruber in the Dolomites, Italy.