By Andrew Hood
American Tyler Hamilton has returned to Europe, still awaiting a decision in the case concerning his disciplinary hearing before the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.
It’s been more than a month since Hamilton presented his case before a three-person panel in Denver. Hamilton is facing up to a two-year ban, charged with homologous blood doping – the injection of red blood cells from another person – after failing a doping test at last year’s Vuelta a España.
In a diary entry posted April 6 on his personal web page, Hamilton said he’s patiently waiting for an announcement, just like everyone else.
“We hope to have a verdict fairly soon in my case,” he wrote. “It’s an odd feeling waiting for a group of people to decide your fate. But out of respect for the process we accept that these things can take time.”
It’s impossible to read anything into the slow deliberation process, but those close to Olympic time trial champion seem hopeful that that’s a sign that a ruling could come down in his favor. Initially, a decision was expected within two weeks of the conclusion of the hearing, but more time was requested.
USADA remains mum on the proceedings and refuses to release any details of the hearing or when a decision might be announced.
Hamilton, meanwhile, has remained busy training most of the winter in Boulder, Colorado, trying to remain focused on maintaining his condition during what’s been a tumultuous process.
“Luckily, the weather has been really great for training out west. We have experienced an unusually mild winter in Colorado. So that has meant I’ve been able to get out on the bike a lot,” he continued. “But I have to say that I’m pretty antsy to get racing again. It is tough to be at home when some of my favorite springtime races are going on.”
Hamilton also thanked supporters, who have rallied around the popular American rider following news that he failed doping tests at the Vuelta. Another test taken during the Olympics initially came back positive, but the follow-up “B” sample was rendered impossible to be tested after it was frozen.
“Thanks to all of you who have written in to express your support. I appreciate more than you know that so many of you have been checking this site for updates,” he wrote. “Your patience and diligence are indicative of the cycling community at large, which I’ve come to find out over the years is an incredible group for sure.”Related Articles
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Ullrich lines up at Aragon
Jan Ullrich’s road to the Tour de France goes through Spain as the 1997 Tour champ will be lining up Wednesday for the five-day Vuelta a Aragon.
Ullrich said he’s feeling strong after a slow start to the 2005 season hampered by the flu. Fresh off finishing 10th in the Circuit de la Sarthe in France, the 31-year-old German is optimistic about both his short-term and long-term future.
“I am getting a lot of pleasure out of cycling right now. I feel wonderful and the form and condition is good,” Ullrich said on the team’s web page. “I am still setting myself targets and as long as I can still win races, then I want to continue in the sport.”
Ullrich says he’s more motivated than ever to beat six-time Tour champion Lance Armstrong, who will be racing in what looks to be his final Tour this summer.
“Whoever beats (Lance) is the hero. And I want to beat him,” Ullrich said. “To do that I just have to ride faster than he can. But I have a strong team behind me and with a promising opening race in the legs, I can look forward to the next race with confidence.”
Ullrich had his first chance to test Giant’s new time trial bike in Angers last week. Ullrich will another chance to test his time trial legs in Aragon’s fourth stage, a demanding 11.2km mountain time trial to Virgen de la Sierra de Herrera with a 535-meter climb. “It was fun out there on the new time trial machine. I took the corners well. It is more aerodynamic but also more stable than ever before,” said Ullrich, who says he’s learned from his error of racing too early last year. “That mistake is not going to be made again.”
With Tour podium finishers Andreas Klöden and Alexandre Vinokourov at his side, T-Mobile is quietly confident Ullrich can finally beat Armstrong this year.
“Jan’s progress is right on track by now,” said T-Mobile sports director Valerio Piva. “He gave a good account of himself in France and now we want to see how he copes with more demanding parcours.”
Also racing will be Giuseppe Guerini and Jan Schaffrath, both back from flu bugs, and Daniele Nardello, who’s been plagued with back problems since early February.
Vuelta a Aragon, April 13-17
Stage 1: Alcala de la Selva to Valderrobles, 167.7km
Stage 2: Alcaniz to Sabinañigo, 206.5km
Stage 3: Sabinañigo to Zaragoza, 173km
Stage 4: Herrara de los Navarros to Virgen de la Sierra de Herrera 11.2km
Stage 5: Borja to Illueca, 139km
VDB gets ultimatum
In what might be the final death throes of his tumultuous professional career, Frank Vandenbroucke is facing the music from his MrBookmaker.com team. According to reports in the Belgian press over the weekend, Vandenbroucke could be fired if he doesn’t agree to begin racing anytime soon.
According to a report in La Dernière Heure, Vandenbroucke pulled out at the last minute from Sunday’s Paris-Roubaix after being hospitalized for a negative reaction to medicine he received for food poisoning.
“The best thing would be for him to get return to his bike as soon as possible,” said team manager Hilaire van der Schueren. “I told him I still believe in him as a racer.”
Vandenbroucke was once the shining light of Belgian cycling, winning Paris-Nice, Gent-Wevelgem, Liège-Bastogne-Liège and a stage in the Vuelta a España before doping scandals and health problems sent his career spinning out of control since 1999.
The team’s sport director Lucien van Impe said things look bleak for the 31-year-old troubled star.
“Despite all the talent he has, I’m afraid that his season and even his career might be over,” he said.