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Friday’s News & Notes: Raisin won’t race; Wiggins, Cavendish eye Beijing; CONI seeks life-time ban for doctor

Raisin at the 2005 Tour de Langkawi

Raisin at the 2005 Tour de Langkawi

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

Saul Raisin has announced the end of his quest to return to professional cycling, following a decision by doctors not to approve his return to the peloton.

Raisin, who suffered a life-threatening brain hemorrhage in accident during the opening stage of the 2006 Circuit de la Sarthe, said he learned of the decision on Wednesday. Raisin had a near miraculous recovery from the injury, even riding in the 2007 national time trial championships, but concerns prompted doctors not to give him the final green light to race in 2008.Crédit Agricole team manager Roger Legeay told Raisin by telephone that doctors had concluded that risk of further injury was too great were the 25-year-old American to resume his professional road career. Raisin said Legeay’s “voice cracked as he later told me the news and I tried hard to fight back the tears,” Raisin wrote on his website.

“I did very well on my neuro-psych tests but the doctors said it would be too dangerous if I were to crash and hit my head again. It is hard to take in the fact that all the last 13 years of hard training are now over. I always say that if you do your best in anything be happy and content knowing you did your best. I will always stand by this motto. I did my best and gave my all to get back to the sport of professional cycling and am content with the fact I did my best and I will never ask, what if? Now it is time to move and start new a new life.”

“I am no longer Saul Raisin, cyclist professional for the team Crédit Agricole. I am now Saul Raisin, brain injury survivor – soon to be happily married to the most beautiful girl in the world, Aleeza. I have to admit I am scared. I do not know what I want to do or what I will do for a living. Like I have said many times before, my family and I dreamed for me to live a normal life.

“I now have a normal life and have pledged to give back and help others that have brain and spinal cord injuries or any other major illness.” Raisin said he plans to continue working to turn his Raisin Hope fund into a foundation with a mission of helping others recover from major brain injuries.

“I no longer want www.saulraisin.com to be a haven just for cycling,” he wrote. “I want my website to be a refuge for anyone that has an injury or illness to come and feel at home to know that things always do get better. My life has just begun with the most beautiful girl in the world.”

Wiggins and Cavendish to focus on Olympics and not Tour
British riders Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish announced Friday they will not take part in next summer’s Tour de France in order to concentrate on their Olympic quest for gold in Beijing.

Both riders performed admirably on their Tour debuts this year but while Wiggins was expected to withdraw, the announcement that Cavendish is also snubbing the world’s greatest bike race came as a mild surprise.”I know that the Tour is more important than the Olympics, but in Britain that is not the case,” explained Cavendish in defense of his decision. “I’ll concentrate on the track after the first part of the season.”

Wiggins, who was on course to complete this year’s Tour and led a magnificent solo break during stage six before being caught towards the finish, has already won four Olympic medals including the pursuit gold in 2004.

His 2007 Tour was ended prematurely when Cofidis teammate Cristian Moreni tested positive for doping and the team pulled out. Wiggins said his chances of winning a stage next year diminished with the recently announced 2008route.Cavendish meanwhile won the 2005 world championship Madison gold medal with Robert Hayles. Wiggins and Cavendish will instead take part in the Giro d’Italia where stage wins might come easier and the race will also help their Olympic preparations for Beijing.

CONI seeks life-time ban for doctor
The Italian Olympic Committee’s (CONI) anti-doping prosecutor on Thursday requested that controversial doctor Carlo Santuccione be banned from associating with sportsmen for life.

Italian police started investigating Santuccione in 2003 after intercepting his telephone calls in a scandal known in Italy as ‘Oil for drug.’ Santuccione is suspected of supplying several high-profile Italian sportsmen with doping products. CONI’s anti-doping prosecutor said that he would be requesting that Santuccione “be banned for life” from sports federations or associated bodies or from attending events and venues destined for sportsmen in Italy.

Among those implicated in the ‘Oil for drug’ scandal were 2007 Giro d’Italia winner Danilo Di Luca and pole vaulter Giuseppe Gibilisco, the2003 world champion. Di Luca was suspended for three months by CONI last month, and Gibilisco banned for two years.