By VeloNews Interactive wire services
The French cycling team Cofidis has given Cedric Vasseur the green light to return to competition following his temporary suspension amid allegations of drug-taking.
Vasseur, a former wearer of the Tour de France yellow jersey, will saddle up for the Bicicleta Basque stage race on June 2 after a two-month exile from the peloton.
The 33-year-old Frenchman was suspended on April 8 when it was disclosed that traces of cocaine had been found in a hair sample. A counter-analysis later proved negative. Vasseur, a former member of Lance Armstrong’s U.S. Postal team, was one of the last of eight Cofidis employees or former employees to be investigated by magistrates in the doping affair, which rocked the team in January and almost forced the sponsor to pull out of the sport altogether after a brief halt to all competition.
A team statement said: “Although he was charged, the rider has always been presumed to be innocent.” It added that there existed no proof that Vasseur, who has a clean track record as regards doping, had actually been involved in doping.
“We can’t just ignore the fundamental principle that he is innocent until proven guilty,” the statement added, noting that while the team aims to remain firm in the fight against doping, to deprive Vasseur the right to compete at the end of his career would be a “terrible injustice”.
Seven other people have been charged in the affair: riders Philippe Gaumont, Robert Sassone, Mederic Clain, Marek Rutkiewicz and Daniel Majewski, all of whom have been sacked or had already left the team. The team’s former physio, Boguslaw Madejak, and an ex-manager of their third division team, Oleg Kozlitine, have also been sacked.
Cofidis suspended all competition for its road team from April 9 to May 5, thus presenting Britain’s David Millar from making his World Cup track debut in Manchester, which he had hoped to use as part of his training for the Athens Olympics. –Copyright 2004/AFP
Di Luca returns to racing at German tour
Five weeks after an unexpected stop on the eve of Liège-Bastogne-Liége due to a urine infection, Danilo Di Luca (Saeco) will be back to racing at the Tour of Germany beginning Monday.
“His objective will be to quickly recover his form so that he can soon get the results he has so far missed out on this season,” a Saeco press release announced.
Di Luca will front an eight-man team directed by Guido Bontempi that includes Mirko Celestino, Salvatore Commesso, Joerg Ludewig, Evgeny Petrov, Nicola Gavazzi, Stefano Casagranda and Marius Sabaliauskas. Casagranda, Gavazzi, Ludewig, Petrov, Sabaliauskas will also ride the Taeg Hainlete one-day race in Germany on Saturday.
Meanwhile, a five-man team will cross the Atlantic to race in America at the Wachovia Invitational, Wachovia Classic and Wachovia International. The team will consist of Giosuè Bonomi, Gabriele Balducci, Antonio Bucciero, Juan Fuentes and David Loosli, directed by Bruno Vicino.