Tramadol use prevalent; Rivera wins in England: Daily News Digest

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Welcome to your Daily News Digest. Here’s what’s happening today:

Tramadol. The drug is a sour subject in professional cycling. While legal, Tramadol’s use is somewhat frowned upon due to its strength as a painkiller. Many think it should be banned, but it’s been unknown how frequent its use has been — until now. A new report from WADA shows Tramadol’s use isn’t just a few pros, but its use is actually widespread.


Quote of the day

“So I was always right…it does exist!” — Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal)

The German sprinter had a laugh on Twitter, as he realized being allergic to mountains is a real thing. Though his source was the Urban Dictionary.


Story of the day: Tramadol use still widespread in-competition

In a new report from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), over 4.3% of all tests conducted in-competition were positive for Tramadol in 2017. While Tramadol is not a banned substance, WADA tracked how often it appeared in in-competition tests in 2017 through its Monitoring Programme. The organization uses its Monitoring Programme to track drug abuse and determine if a substance should then be banned.

Tramadol is a synthetic opioid painkiller and many have called on the drug to be banned in professional cycling. The MPCC, a voluntary organization that has stricter anti-doping rules, does not allow its members to use the substance. However, only seven of the 18 WorldTour teams are part of the MPCC.

Of the 35 sports that were presented in WADA’s report, Tramadol appeared in cycling tests far more frequently than any other sport. A remarkable 548 of 12,554 tests were positive for the painkiller. Comparably, Rugby was the sport with the next highest positive rate for Tramadol at roughly 1.4%.

Tramadol tablets. Photo by Shane Stokes

WADA also monitored Glucocorticoids, which are used to help with inflammation. Positive tests for this were at a similar rate, 3.8%, but there were far fewer samples.

The UCI has yet to release a statement on the study and it remains to be seen how cycling’s governing body will react. The UCI has pushed WADA to ban the drug, but its fallen on deaf ears. It remains to be seen how this new data will affect Tramadol’s status.

Casting a critical eye on corruption in sport: Q&A with anti-doping expert Robin Parisotto

Robin Parisotto developed the first-ever tests for EPO, which were introduced in time for the Sydney Olympics in 2000 and was awarded the Australian Sports Medal for his effort. He was also one of the founding members of the UCI’s biological passport programme, which was a revolutionary system of assessment of blood values to detect doping use.

Before the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Parisotto and fellow anti-doping expert Michael Ashenden were hired by Sunday Times and German broadcaster ARD to analyse leaked data from the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). The Australian duo concluded that hundreds of athletes had recorded suspicious results between 2001 and 2012, and that these had not been followed up upon. It was a major scandal.

Parisotto saw a corrupt system that was unwilling to properly tackle doping. In a detailed interview with CyclingTips, he highlights what he sees as major flaws in the fight against corruption in sport.

Click through to read more.

UCI releases 2019 WorldTour schedule, Abu Dhabi and Dubai Tours merge

The UCI released the 2019 WorldTour schedule on Thursday and the only notable change is the Abu Dhabi Tour and Dubai Tour combining to form the six-day UAE Tour.

The full calendar spans 37 events from the Santos Tour Down Under in January to the Presidential Tour of Turkey in October. Events take place in 18 countries over four continents.


Race Radio

Soren Kragh Andersen (Sunweb) spent all day in the breakaway at the Tour de Suisse and his work paid off with a stage win. Photo: Corvos

Suisse: Andersen wins out of breakaway, Porte extends lead

Soren Kragh Andersen (Sunweb) was the strongest of his breakaway companions on the final few-kilometre climb to finish in Gommiswald. He managed to drop all the others and cross the line alone. Nathan Hass (Katusha-Alpecin) finished second and Gorka Izagirre (Bahrain-Merida) was third.

BMC Racing drove the peloton to the base of the climb and Richie Porte (BMC Racing) attacked soon after the climb began. No one was able to follow the Tasmanian, as he went on to finish sixth on the stage. He crossed the line 12 seconds ahead of a group containing many of the GC contenders. He leads the Sunweb duo of Wilco Kelderman and Sam Oomen by 32 seconds in the general classification.

Tour de Suisse stage 6 highlights

Rivera takes Women’s Tour stage and leads GC

Coryn Rivera (Sunweb) turned on the afterburners at the OVO Women’s Tour on Thursday and held off European champion Marianne Vos (WM3) to take the victory in Daventry. This is the American’s first WorldTour victory of the year and third overall. It comes not a moment too soon, as the U.S. national road championships are just a couple weeks away.

Rivera also took the lead in the general classification.


Tech news

Effetto Mariposa’s new Shelter ZeroDue offers paper-thin protection for frames and more

Clear vinyl tapes have long been used to protect precious finishes on frames, forks, and components, but the thickness of conventional tapes doesn’t always maintain the aesthetics as well as some might like. Effetto Mariposa’s new Shelter ZeroDue tape is just 0.2mm-thick, supposedly won’t yellow over time, and is more flexible for easier application on complex contours. It also comes in convenient cut-to-fit sheets with a removable paper outer layer, so you can even insert it into inkjet or laser printers (or draw on it directly) to make your die-cut patterns.

Retail price is US$40 for two A-4 sheets, and more information can be found at effettomariposa.com.


Moving pictures

Cycling Up The Highest Road In The World

Alee Denham is partway through a two-year ride from the bottom of Argentina to the top of Alaska. He is documenting his journey as he goes and has published five videos since his trip began in December 2017. The last of those is below and in it, Alee rides up to 5,815 metres above sea level on a dormant Bolivian volcano called Uturunku.

Click through to read the full story that accompanies the video.


In memoriam

Ottavio Bottecchia, the founder of the Bottecchia bicycle company, was a two-time winner of the Tour de France, having taken the overall title in 1924 and 1925. He won a total of nine stages between the 1923, 24, and 25 Tours de France.

Bottecchia’s death in June of 1927 is one of cycling’s great mysteries. He was found on the side of the road outside the village of Peonis in Italy severely beaten and unconscious. He died nearly two weeks later without ever regaining consciousness. His death was officially declared an accident, but his bike was found near him fully intact and no skid marks were evident at the scene to suggest a car had forced him off the road.

Bottecchia’s memory lives on to this day, as Bottecchia bikes are ridden by the professional continental team Androni–Sidermec–Bottecchia.

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