By Andrew Hood
German cyclist Patrik Sinkewitz was given a one-year suspension by the disciplinary committee of the German Cycling Federation on Friday. The 27-year-old was fired by his T-Mobile team during this month’s Tour de France in July after he was found to have had an abnormally high level of testosterone in his blood during a pre-race test on June 8. Sinkewitz then confessed earlier this month in German magazine Der Spiegel to having used EPO since 2003.
Sinkewitz he also gave five hours of evidence to the BDR’s disciplinary committee in a bid to get his expected two-year ban reduced. That effort appears to have paid off, but he was also ordered to pay 40,000 euros (58,500 dollars), which will go towards funding drugs tests, by the BDR’s disciplinary committee. None of Sinkewitz’s testimony involved the restructured T-Mobile team, now headed by American telecommunications entrepreneur Bob Stapleton.
Sinkewitz has been credited for the time he’s been on suspension since he was fired by T-Mobile and will therefore be allowed to resume racing on July 17, 2008. At this point, however, he has no contract and no teams have publicly expressed an interest in his services.
Sinkewitz learned last that the the Bonn public prosecutor’s officewould not pursue criminal charges in the case.
The Bonn resident also agreed to pay an undisclosed five-figure sum to charity, but will face no further legal action. “Sinkewitz has already been sufficiently punished by the loss of his joband other sources of income,” chief state prosecutor Friedrich Apostel told German agency SID. “In addition, he has cooperated with the investigation and has given valuable statements about doping practices in professional cycling.”
by Agence France Presse
Astana closer to anti-doping program
The new-look Astana team is closer to working with anti-doping crusader Rasmus Damsgaard for the upcoming season in an effort to reshape the team’s image following a string of doping scandals that rocked the Kazakh team in 2007.
Damsgaard told VeloNews that the UCI has approved the Danish doctor to work with Astana in a similar program as adopted by Team CSC this year.
“The UCI certified me to do Astana in an identical way as CSC,” Damsgaard said. “It would be very good for a team that might have been involved in suspicious activities to adopt the program.”
An Astana team doctor approached Damsgaard this fall about bringing his groundbreaking anti-doping program to the squad for the 2008 season.
No final deal has yet been hammered out between Damsgaard and new Astana team boss Johan Bruyneel, but the Dane said he’s optimistic an agreement could be reached.
“I’d like to start December 1,” he said. “We have all the tools, labs and techniques in place. It would be the exact same program we did this year with CSC.”
Bruyneel said he was interested in incorporating Damsgaard’s independent controls into the team as part of his takeover of Astana.
Doping scandals involving star riders Alexander Vinokourov and Andrej Kashechkin rocked Astana in the team’s first full season as title sponsor. Other doping imbroglios involving Eddy Mazzoleni and Matthias Kessler further stained the team’s reputation and eventually led to the departure of team manager Marc Biver.
Astana lured Bruyneel out of retirement and gave him full control to reshape the team in an effort to restore credibility in hopes for berths in next year’s most important races.
Damsgaard, meanwhile, worked with CSC as an independent inspector to carry out more than 600 doping controls on the team’s 28 riders during the 2007 season in an innovative program that’s garnered support from the UCI.
Damsgaard insisted if he does reach an accord with Astana, it would be on his terms.
“I would have my conditions. They are rigid and I only would act within that program,” Damsgaard said. “Next year, I will work with CSC again. If we’d start with Astana, the other teams would come calling, too.”
McQuaid, Lissavetzky meet face-to-face
For months, UCI president Pat McQuaid has been turning up the heat on Spain to come clean about Operación Puerto and even suggested that Spanish sports minister Jaime Lissavetzky was less than committed to the fight against doping.
On Thursday in a closed-door get-together, the pair finally had its first face-to-face meeting to air their differences. They were all smiles when they walked out to be met with a barrage of camera flashes, but inside, each stuck to their guns.
“We both agree that the meeting was constructive, but I told him clearly that I cannot agree with him when he says that Spanish authorities are covering up other athletes involved in Puerto,” Lizzavetzky told reporters. “I asked him to be prudent, respectful and moderate in his declarations and I gave him my word of honor that the only document that I know, the one that is the official version of the Guardia Civil, only the names of cyclists appear. Everything else is speculation and if anyone else has proof, they should come forward.”
McQuaid, meanwhile, wants Spain to act more aggressively on the Puerto scandal and is frustrated by perceived inaction by the Spanish authorities.
A Spanish judge has officially closed the case after finding no illegal activities under existing laws following the May 2006 raid that allegedly uncovered a widespread blood doping ring.
An appeal has been filed to re-open the case, but a tough, new anti-doping law approved this year cannot be retroactively applied to the Puerto case.
In the meantime, McQuaid insists Spanish cycling authorities could do more instead of just waiting on the sidelines waiting for the slow hand of Spanish justice to turn.
“From what we’ve seen of the file, there’s more information about (Alejandro) Valverde than there was about (Ivan) Basso,” McQuaid told VeloNews. “The Italian federation took the initiative and pressured Basso on DNA sampling and he eventually confessed. The Spanish officials are doing the opposite. They seem to be protecting the athletes.”
McCartney jazzed about CSC move
Jason McCartney expects the move to Team CSC for the 2008 season will provide him with more chances to race for his own results.
After three seasons with Discovery Channel, McCartney developed into a top-notch domestique, but opportunities to ride for wins were few and far between.
He took the ball and ran with it when he had the chance and won a breakthrough stage victory at this year’s Vuelta a España, a result that helped him secure a deal with CSC.
“Of course, I’m always ready to make an effort for the team, but it seems like you often get the chance to do your own thing as well with Team CSC, if you’ve got the strength for it, that is,” McCartney said on an interview on the team’s web page. “I’m looking forward to being a part of Team CSC. I’m impressed with the way things are done on the team. The team work and the aggressive racing style really appeal to me, so I think I’ll fit in well.”