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Tour Shakedown: When Rumors Shape Races - Updated
By Janna Trevisanut
Date: 6/25/2004
Tour Shakedown: When Rumors Shape Races - Updated

Tour Director is Clear

"This decision will confirm our position in the unrelenting struggle against doping."

Jean Marie Leblanc, director of the Tour de France, has officially announced that he will not allow any rider involved in a police doping investigation to begin his race next Saturday. Stating that he had hoped not to have this announcement interfere with the national championships taking place in many countries this weekend, Leblanc said he could wait no longer.

Leblanc said that he informed the Cofidis president, Francois Migraine, of his decision, as two Cofidis riders who are slated to race for the Cofidis team, David Millar and Cedric Vasseur, have been interrogated by French authorities. Vasseur was also denied participation in the French national championships because of this. Leblanc said that Migraine concurred with his decision.

Below are the UCI invitation requirements that teams, riders and race directors must follow. The teams must submit their final rosters on Wednesday - how Leblanc will be able to bar specific riders is perhaps a tenuous issue, since a race organizer must accept or reject team and rider participations 40 days before the race start - unless he finds agreement within the affected teams to not send the "tainted" riders, he can only submit his objections to the Race Commissaire, who is a UCI or national federation official, and who cannot be involved in any way with the race organization.

Di Luca is Angry

One of the other riders who would be affected by this decision is Saeco's Danilo Di Luca, who says he wants to race the Tour de France. His team manager Claudio Corti said, "To forbid him to ride in France would be an excessive decision. For us, there is no Danilo affair."

Di Luca stated Saturday, "What's important is that the team supports me, but this process is incredible: I risk not being able to ride the Tour because Leblanc doesn't want anyone under investigation. My house has been searched, nothing has been found. I have never had a positive control, nor been outside of regulations, and the telephonic monitorings concerning me didn't reveal anything." The rider went on to ask, rhetorically, about the riders investigated in Italian police raids three years ago in the Giro, who are apparently not the object of this particular decision, though to his knowledge the investigation has not been concluded.

Bitterly, he added, "If they wanted to make me miserable, they succeeded: the Championship of Italy is the perfect time."

UCI Regulations for Invitations to Races

Below are the pertinent UCI regulations race organizers must follow in inviting teams and riders to races.

  • The [race] organiser shall, at least 60 days in advance, invite the team, Trade Team or rider by sending general information.

  • At least forty days before the race, an invited party shall inform the organiser in writing (letter, fax) whether he/it wishes to participate in the race or whether he/it wishes to decline the invitation. At least thirty days before the race, the organiser shall send an official UCI enrolment form to all invited parties whose participation he accepts. At the same time, he shall inform invited parties whose participation he does not accept to that effect.

  • At least twenty days before the race, the invited party shall return to the organiser the original and three copies of the duly completed enrolment form. The organiser shall keep the original (top copy) of the form and shall, within 48 hours of its reception, send the three other copies to each of addresses mentioned thereon.

  • 72 hours before the event's start time, the trade teams must fax the organiser a copy of the entry form giving the names of the entrants plus two subsitutes.

  • Any party failing to meet the prescribed deadlines shall forfeit its rights.

  • The organiser may not refuse to allow a team or a rider entered to start. He must submit his objections to the Commissaires Panel which shall decide.

  • Should the organiser without valid reason refuse to allow a trade team entered to start in an event in class 3 or above, the organiser must pay the trade team a penalty charge of three times the total value of starting expenses payable.

This section is located in the UCI Race Rules here.

Report of 25 June 2004

The Tour of France director, Jean Marie Leblanc, has apparently announced today that he won't accept riders implicated in judicial procedures regarding dopage or who are part of a police doping investigation. This position has apparently been approved by the UCI.

Two French publications, LeMonde, and the sports publication L'Equipe, have published various stories since the beginning of the year regarding French and Italian dopage investigations that have implicated various riders or who are included as part of doping investigations. L'Equipe also published the Leblanc announcement today.

Such a stance by Leblanc is certainly understandable, but the difficulty lies in the fact that at least some of the allegations published by these media organs may be part of confidential judicial investigations that improperly appeared in print. Cofidis and Saeco have both complained that they have not been officially notified of their implicated riders, learning of it instead in the press, and earlier this year Cofidis was barred by the investigating French judge from being made an official party to the investigations of its riders and former riders.

Since no binding legal decisions have yet been made as part of either of these investigations, such as convictions or national cycling federation suspensions, Leblanc is in the quite interesting position of perhaps excluding riders based on rumor.

For the various Tour teams, such a decision has impact:

According to the French publication L'Equipe, Time Trial World champion David Millar was detained for 48 hours by the French police earlier this week in relation to an ongoing investigation regarding former Cofidis rider Philippe Gaumont. L'Equipe also reported that Cedric Vasseur has also been interviewed as part of the Gaumont allegations. Interestingly, Vasseur's father and Jean Marie Leblanc, Tour de France director, are old friends, going back to their racing days.

Eddy Mazzoleni has been precautionarily suspended by the Saeco team after media leaks of a supposed investigation against him which appeared in the French publication LeMonde last week. Other Saeco riders supposedly implicated in a large Italian investigation are Danilo Di Luca and Alessandro Spezialetti.

Police raids by the Italian NAS (Nuclei Anti-Sofisticazione, anti-drug branch of the Carabinieri) were conducted during the second Giro rest day in May. At the time of the searches, the officials in charge of the searches announced that nothing significant and nothing compromising had been found.

Fassa Bortolo:
Fabio Sacchi is implicated in the Italian investigation.

Domina Vacanze:
also reported that Mario Scirea and Alessio Galletti are part of the Italian doping investigation.

More information as it becomes available, and please see our Tour Team roster list, which is being regularly updated, here.

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