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Drug Wars - Padua Bust!
By Guest Contributor
Date: 7/16/2009
Drug Wars - Padua Bust!

Drug Wars - Padua Bust!
Italian police arrest Serbia's former national cycling coach in an alleged doping ring involving both professional and amateur riders in northeastern Italy...

By Myles McCorry

Police in Padua said in a statement Thursday that another 30 people were suspected of being involved in the doping ring. They are suspected of Smuggling banned substances include CERA - the ring reputedly  includes 12 professional cyclists, executives of pharmaceutical companies and three directors of cycling teams.

As the eyes of the world are on cycling, it happens again. As the non-bikers tune in for their annual cheer for the yellow jersey- yet again, cycling messes up. All the hard work by the riders and teams to clean up the sport- destroyed.

This morning, Italian police arrested failed pro, turned coach Aleksandar Nikacevic for being the mastermind behind a huge doping ring. Nikacevic, A former head of Serbian cycling was arrested with thirty other people, including around a dozen pro cyclists by the Padua police in north Italy. I should be writing about the looming Alps and (I did really start to hope) the first ‘cleanish’ Tour de France for years. Now, I am left wondering should I really let myself trust the victories.

Aleksandar turned pro with Team GS Padovani in 1999 and did well enough to get a stagiaire contract with Mapei-Quick Step in 2000 and on to full pro contract with Pro tour team Alessio until 2002. A bright future- What happened? What turned a dazzling young star, into the core of a drugs network?

He became Team manager in 2005 of the Continental Team Aerospace Engineering Pro Equipe and in 2006 led Continental Team Endeka. Officially the 31 year old was retired from the pro ranks, now assisting the amateur Partizan Belgrade team. Unofficially, it appears he had used, mentored doping and was now making a living from the sale of and advice on the administering of drugs to young cyclists; cyclists with big dreams- exactly like he had had in 1999. {The tour coverage of today’s stage has come on the TV and the team jerseys have once again lost their colour.}

Daily, when discussing BikePure I get questioned on the sports doping history and I tell the sceptical public, it really IS improving. Today, it becomes harder again to convince them. The sport is stepped on by the very people it grants a living.

10,000 vials of drugs were seized during searches carried out in ten regions of Italy
Nikacevic is suspected of the harbouring and smuggling of all of these 10,000 drugs, including EPO. This wasn’t one dodgy doctor or bent coach but a massive network. Among the 30 others arrested were representatives of pharmaceutical companies, five doctors and three team managers of cycling teams.

A doping chain from production in the factory, on to the team bus and direct to the finish line.
The dismantling of this network was made possible by tapping and surveillance video of a surgery and my initial thought was “Why should the police have to ‘police’ our sport? Should we not be doing it?”

Well I am delighted they did. 10,000 vials is a major operation. The Italian cycling community had to have known about this and did nothing. Nikacevic and his accomplices should be arrested, as it is a crime. A crime to our sport and a crime again
st the young pro cyclists whose careers and health are being abused by drugs. Crimes that for too long, cycling’s elite racing structure have turned a blind eye to.

When Ricco and Kohl dismantled last year’s tour they were banned and demonized. They stood alone, guilty in the headlines. No coach, no doctor, no pharmaceutical rep and NO Aleksandar Nikacevic standing beside him- every bit as a guilty as he.

Yes, it might be another year before the general public wipe the dust off their bikes, but far from being sad- I am delighted that the fight against drugs destroying our sport has won another battle and hardened our resolve to win the war. To the Padua police- Thank you,(WADA take note) and a BikePure award for services to the future of cycling is on the way. To the TDF peloton -Don’t let us down. Bring on the Alps and bring back the trust.

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