European sports officials took fresh shots at cycling as the specter of doping once again hangs over to the sport going into the season’s grand tours.
In France, the national sports minister, Chantal Jouanno, chimed in on the ongoing legal battle surrounding Alberto Contador’s doping case.
“I hope that CAS (Court of Arbitration for Sport) makes a decision before the start of the Tour de France,” Jouanno was quoted in France’s Le Monde. “Otherwise, the Tour will once again by ruined by scandals. The cyclists don’t deserve that.”
Jouanno also took a shot at seven-time Tour champion Lance Armstrong, and urged him to follow the example of Laurent Fignon, who died of cancer at the age of 50 last August.
“Armstrong should do what Laurent Fignon did and have the courage to recognize that he took doping products, which were probably the cause of his (Fignon’s) disease,” Jouanno said.
In Italy, Renato di Rocco, president of the Italian cycling federation, said that he would like to prevent Contador from starting next month’s Giro d’Italia while his doping case remains unresolved.
“If I could prevent certain riders from starting the Giro, I would start with Contador, but it’s not in my hands,” Rocco was quoted in the Italian media following a meeting with officials from the Italian Olympic Committee.
Rocco also suggested that action could be taken before the start of the Giro to exclude riders linked to the ongoing doping investigation in Mantova, which allegedly involves up to 32 people in an alleged doping ring. BMC’s former world champion Alessandro Ballan and several Lampre riders, including former Giro d’Italia winner Damiano Cunego, have been connected to the operation, officials said.
Also in Italy, Gianni Petrucci, president of the Italian Olympic Committee, said cycling must do more to fight the scourge of doping.
“Cycling is losing its credibility. It’s time for tough action, because 90 to 95 percent of our doping cases come from cycling,” Petrucci said in La Stampa. “Every time we are excited about a victory we are later disappointed with a doping case. It cannot go on like this.”