Russian riders making headlines for the wrong reasons

With another doping case, this time for experimental drug GW1516, Russia's professionals are facing bad news

GHENT, Belgium (VN) — Russian cyclists are making headlines for all the wrong reasons, highlighted Thursday morning when RusVelo announced that Valery Kaykov had failed an anti-doping test.

The second division Russian team fired the 24-year-old, and the sport’s world governing body, the UCI, clarified the news in a press release.

“Immediately, Kaykov’s contract has been terminated and [the] UCI has been notified,” the team said in a release. It added that the squad “sticks firmly” to its zero-tolerance policy on doping.

The UCI said Kaykov tested positive for GW1516. The World Anti-Doping Agency and the UCI warned athletes about two weeks ago of the drug’s potentially lethal health issues. In lab rats, the substance quickly led to tumors and death. Pharmaceutical companies have since stopped making it.

Russian dope troubles

U.S. fans might remember Alexander Serebryakov from the Philadelphia International Championship, which he won last year while racing for Team Type 1. That was as good as it got for him.

Now riding for Euskaltel-Euskadi, Serebryakov tested positive for EPO on March 18. The news was reported the day before last Sunday’s Paris-Roubaix, which would have been his debut at the cobbled monument nicknamed the “Hell of the North.”

These recent drug cheats only add to other problems for Russia and paint a bad picture of Russian cycling.

Top Russian team Katusha has had its share of troubles. Its promising sprinter, Denis Galimzyanov, tested positive for EPO last year. Alexandr Kolobnev failed a test for a banned diuretic in the 2011 Tour de France, although he was later cleared for medical reasons.

Non-Russians Christian Pfannberger and Antonio Colom also failed EPO tests while on Katusha’s payroll.

Russian Denis Menchov, who joined Katusha last year with three grand tour titles, carries some baggage as well. His former Rabobank teammate Michael Rasmussen testified in a Danish court earlier this year that they shared blood doping practices.

Last month, Menchov said the allegations were not true and refused to comment further.

Former pro Viatcheslav Ekimov became Katusha’s general manager over the winter, and it has been a rocky ride. The Russian, who is allegedly linked to the Lance Armstrong scandal, saw his team briefly excluded from the UCI’s list of ProTeams. The UCI reinstated it to the top level after a legal fight in the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The problems have made more headlines for Russian cycling than results have of late. Its last big win came courtesy of Menchov, when he won stage 20 of the Vuelta a España last year. With Katusha’s Joaquim Rodríguez aiming to defend his Flèche Wallonne title in six days, the Russians will hope to keep the headlines coming, but with more positive storylines attached.