Back in December in our year end rant we mentioned the fact that there seemed to be one law for ‘genial Aussies’ and another for ‘dodgy Spaniards.’
What we said was:
“And whilst Contador’s ‘contaminated beef’ defence was largely scorned, the mood surrounding Michael Rogers’ positive for Clenbuterol seems to be; ‘poor old Mick’ – with Matt White telling us that the UCI should sort out the Chinese meat industry.”
My suspicions were confirmed when – with no eyebrows raised – the UCI released a statement the other day;
“Upon careful analysis of Mr Rogers’ explanations and the accompanying technical reports the UCI found that that there was a significant probability that the presence of clenbuterol may have resulted from the consumption of contaminated meat from China – where he had taken part in a race before travelling to Japan.
“As a result, the UCI has proceeded with the automatic disqualification of Mr Rogers’ results at the 2013 Japan Cup Cycle Road Race (the competition during which the positive sample was taken) but, after consulting WADA, decided that he should not be sanctioned any further.”
You will recall that the Spanish Federation reached a similar conclusion regarding the Contador case?
And before you start sending indignant emails about the provenance of Spanish beef, you will also recall that Spain is a major importer of Argentinean beef and it’s from there Contador’s that beef may have come.
Please don’t pull me up on my use of the word, ‘may’ – if it’s OK for the UCI to use it then I can too.
But the UCI refused to accept the Spanish Federation’s decision despite the constitution of the UCI expressly stating that it’s not supposed to get involved in the workings of individual national federations.
There is of course the distinct possibility that the UCI was a party to information about Contador which we are not and used the clenbuterol situation to it’s advantage?
But all that said I wasn’t going to rant about it on the assumption that everyone is sick to their back teeth of ‘doping stories.’
I wasn’t even stirred to rant by Matt White’s comments on ‘Evil Johan’s’ ban;
“It’s an interesting decision.
“Ten years, life, there have been a few different sentences handed out that I feel are strange.
“Is it fair? Well, is what Johan is accused of true, yes it is.
“Is it fair that a couple of people in a generation of cycling get suspended though?”
Good point – but you need the sacrificial bonfires to point to, of course.
I wasn’t even going to mention that last November Lance Armstrong made statements under oath about who knowingly transported his kit for him;
‘When asked who delivered the drugs, Armstrong named further names including masseuse Emma O’Reilly, bike mechanic Julien de Vriese and the man previously known only as “Motoman,” Philippe Maire.’
Again, not an eyebrow raised or comment made about the hitherto squeaky clean Ms. O’Reilly’s name cropping up.
Sour grapes from Lance?
Remember he’s under oath and gambling with potential total ruin…
But even that wasn’t going to get a mention; ‘enough already on the kitting up,’ I thought to myself.
But then I got a phone call – from Bulgaria.
It was Ivailo Gabrovski (ex Konya Torku Seker Spor & Bulgaria) on the other end of the line.
Yes, he was the guy who won the 2012 Tour of Turkey and then was declassed for failing a test for EPO.
It wasn’t the first time that he’d fallen foul of the UCI and it’s testing procedures; twice in the past he’d had to accept ‘rest’ periods when his hematocrit was above the 50% limit.
His contention is that his body produces more red cells than average …
He was phoning to ask if I would put his point of view across to a wider public.
He explained that there had been a big time gap between his ‘A’ and ‘B’ samples being tested and he was left in the dark during that period with no communication from the UCI about what was happening or what his fate was.
It’s a point that we’ve raised before on VeloVeritas and one which brings to mind the Jonathan Tiernan Locke situation – what the hell is happening there?
He continued that in the six months since Rogers positive sample we’ve not heard a word from the UCI and there’s no mention of a ‘B’ sample test – why not?
Gabrovski points out that it’s mandatory that the ‘B’ sample is tested, unless the rider ‘fesses up.’
He continues that he has no axe to grind with Rogers but observes that double standards are in play, as he says;
“The door is open for one but not the other.’
The man has a point; and it’s of little comfort to Italian professional Alessandro Colo that Rogers and Belgian rider Jonathan Breyne have been admonished.
You’ll recall that Breyne attempted suicide, such was his despair.
Back back to Colo; in 2010 had to accept a one year suspension despite proving beyond reasonable doubt that his failing a test was as a consequence of ingesting contaminated meat in a Mexican race.
We thought it would interesting to get Sr. Colo’s opinion on the Rogers Affair.
Thank you for talking to us, Alessandro; how long after the race was it until you heard about the positive?
“One month after the race I knew my sample was positive.
“The race was exactly four years ago (25.04.2010) – Vuelta Mexico.”
What was your reaction?
“First of all astonished.
How long did it take until you heard the result of the ‘B’ sample?
“I knew the positive on 21.05.2010 and the result of B sample one month later, the end of June.”
What was the ISD-Neri’s team’s reaction?
“They suspended my contract then ignored me.
“When something is wrong, you’re alone in the cycling.”
What are your thoughts on how the UCI kept you informed?
“The UCI was correct and impartial. They don’t know where the truth lay and applied the rules locking me.
“Their bad action was informing the media only one hour after me.
“And the notice was public within a few hours without the chance for me to defend myself and understand what was happening.”
How much did it cost you to mount your defence?
“A total of about 5000€ – lawyer, scientific expertise, a lot of travel to various places, the end of my contract (27,000€/year), and the end of my career – unquantifiable.”
The Italian Federation agreed that you were a ‘victim’ but still banned you for a year – that must have been disappointing?
“Yes, this was incredible.They said that I must have known about the food problem in Mexico and I should not eat any meat; or if I wanted to eat a protein I had to bring it in synthetic form from Italy (protein powder).”
You didn’t come back to racing after your ban?
“No I didn’t; my young career was broken.
“They didn’t want me in the team because they did not believe my story of involuntary intoxication; I decided to stop my racing career and finish my studies.
“Today I’m in engineering and I’m happy; but my anger with the federation at the loss of my destiny has not diminished.”
What are your thoughts on the Michael Rogers case?
“I believe what Rogers said because I have been there and I’m happy for him.”
Have you considered legal action against the UCI?
“Yes I considered it, but for the moment it’s just an idea.
“But the legal action would be directly against the Italian Federation because they give me the one year ban, not the UCI.”
What do you do now?
“Now I’m an engineering freelance professional, I’m a designer of various industrial plants.
“And also I have collaboration on biomechanics with the cycling centre in my city of La Spezia.” [Home city of Ale Petacchi, ed.]
Do you still follow cycling closely?
“Yes because is my passion, and in part involves my job (Biomechanical).”
As Gabrovski rightly observes; ‘it’s not the same rules for everyone and that’s very frustrating for someone like me.’
The ultimate irony of all of this for us is that the UCI virtually blackmailed teams into riding the Tour of Beijing, explaining to them – and us – that it’s all a vital part of ‘Mondialisation.’
But watch the grub boys, it’s ropey and could just cost you your career – and the fact that makes it all even more curious is that according to expert witnesses in Belgium, Jonathan Breyne’s sample contained a higher concentration of clenbuterol than did Alberto Contador’s…