Late in the day, AFP says Prudhomme is casting a dubious eye at the whole of Saunier-Duval, which had a positive in Mayo last year too:
[I]n general, I certainly don't feel that their manager is a model of virtue.
The Astana/Bruyneel treatment may not be far off.
CyclingNews FLASHES that Italian rider Riccardo Ricco has been taken into police custody after testing positive for CERA-- a new generation EPO-- blowing apart the theory that only older riders were users.This comes from L'Equipe's website, indicating that the newspaper has become the semi-official source of doping announcements for the ASO/AFLD:
Italian rider Riccardo Riccò of Saunier Duval has tested positive for blood booster Erythropoietin (EPO), French sports daily L'Equipe reported on its website on Thursday. According to the paper's Damien Ressiot, one of the climber's urine samples collected by the French Anti-Doping Agency AFLD showed traces of a third generation EPO called CERA (Continuous Erythropoietin Receptor Activator).
The team has pulled out of the Tour. Saunier Duval's directeur sportif, Joxean Fernandez Matxin, was surprised as anybody. "We only found out ten minutes ago. The entire team is ceasing its operation, not only in the Tour de France."
So much for the Basil Fawlty "Dirty Spaniards" story line as well.
CyclingNews also has this:
Daniel Friebe, Procycling features editor spoke to Audran this morning within minutes of L'Equipe's website announcing that Riccardo Riccò has tested positive for an EPO derivative after stage four of the Tour de France, the individual time trial around Cholet.
Daniel Friebe: In the last twenty minutes we've heard that Riccardo Riccò has tested positive for an EPO-like product. The early reports suggest that Riccò used CERA or Micera. a so-called third generation EPO. What's your reaction?
Michel Audran: Wow. I'm stunned. I'm amazed they're saying it's Micera, simply because there's no validated test for that yet. The World Anti-Doping Agency is working on a test, but it certainly doesn't exist yet.
DF: What exactly is CERA, or Micera to give it its commercial name?
MA:It's a delayed-action EPO, which has a different molecular mass from EPO. It's only been commercially available since the start of the year. We can tell when someone's used it but we can't declare them positive. In that respect it's like Dynepo, another EPO-like product. We know that Micera was being used on the Giro, so I'm not surprised that it's also turned up at the Tour. But I would be very surprised if they AFLD had declared Riccò positive for Micera, for the reasons I've just mentioned. Maybe they searched Riccò's room and found the product itself...
VeloNews also has the Ricco story as well as The AFP ,CNN, and ESPN/AP.
Riccardo Ricco has taken his fascination with the late Marco Pantani, his fellow Italian rider, just a little bit too far.
Pez quotes former-Yellow Kim Kirchen as saying, “I’m not surprised that Riccò has been caught.”
In more CyclingNews an unnamed team manager at the TdF expressed "concerns" over the AFLD's handling of doping controls:
The AFLD [French national anti-doping agency] has been appointed by race organiser ASO to carry out the tests in the aftermath of its split from the UCI. According to the team manager, only about fifty riders were tested thus far, with several being tested more than once. The Spanish are being examined most frequently, while testing of French riders was said to 'rarely occur.'
He gave an example of a lack of testing of a French team, saying that of the Crédit Agricole riders, only stage winner Thor Hushovd was tested since the start of the race.
In addition, concern was raised about the actual testing process. The chaperones were described as 'incapable,' with the manager saying that on the eleventh stage, one was unable to correctly fill out the required forms. Also, when large numbers of riders were required for testing, the area was said to be not sufficiently large and that some of the riders were required to wait outside beside journalists and photographers.
The CyclingNews continues to cover the "fallout" from the apparent dissolution of the UCI, and in now what feels like "old news" the UCI strikes back:
A day after seventeen teams at the Tour de France announced that they no longer wanted to be part of the ProTour series, the UCI has said that it will consider seeking compensation from those who it feels have breached a contract.
And Rasmus Damsgaard, founder of CSC/Saxo's anti-doping program expressed early concern over the way the AFLD is overseeing and implementing doping controls at the TdF. Guess it wasn't as "easy" as the UCI made it look at times.
Sydney Morning Herald says that Evans tried to do a Phonak Fumble, and let someone else in a break take yellow, as Landis did with Peirero. It didn't work for Evans, and we think the SMH is wrong to suggest it didn't work for Landis -- it worked fine until the bonk.
Shologoo is starting a series about the Tour, starting with 2006. It gets off to a dubious start by calling one of Landis' skills "sprinting". If there's one thing he hasn't previously been accused of, it's being a sprinter.
Quickrelease.tv notes the hasty manner in which the press is "cobbling" together the late breaking Ricco doping bust story. One "scribe" had Floyd Landis busted in 2006 for "adrenaline". Heck if that's true we're ALL dopers!
QRTV also had this now out-dated rave about the high-definition coverage of the Tour:
Pro cyclists are clothes horses, flogging their sponsors to all who watch. And now these sponsor logos are so legible you wouldn’t believe. No longer do you have to squint to jot down the Cofidis telephone number. In HD it just pops out of the screen.
So clear are the pictures you can even spot the phials of EPO in the jersey pockets of the Spanish riders. Incredible.
MasiGuy has confused tense when he refers to the lab that "messed up" Floyd Landis' sample(s) as the AFLD. The lab was the LNDD, and is doing only some of the testing for the Tour this year, though old doping harbinger L'Equipe sure is omnipresent. Trick is, the lab changed names during the course of the case, and all the documents say LNDD, even though it is now the AFLD Lab at Chateney-Malabry. Even we don't try to get it straight most of the time. How about, "the lab that did the work was LNDD, and the one that defended its work was AFLD." Same lab. Got that?
Velochimp says, "WTF!?" about Ricco, and finds a good picture:
PASCAL PAVANI/AFP/Getty Images
Last year Ricco was mentored by Gilberto Simoni on the Saunier Duval team. Simoni has often been critical of dopers such as Pantani and Ivan Basso in the past. Simoni who himself had a positive drug result for cocaine (blame Grandma’s gift from a South American trip) seemed to be the cross bearer for Itralian non–dopers. Simoni’s insinuation that Ivan Basso was an Extra-Terrestrial in the 2006 Giro was seen as sour grapes at first...
CBS Sports Community/Doyel says "Kill the tour", and the whole sport of cycling. It might be more credible if he wasn't wearing a knit cap with an NBA logo. Calling it "Doyel's Dribbles" isn't exactly an endorsement either.
Why Not Tri? collects some reactions to Ricco, and doesn't think it will hurt the sport. He's not reading the CBS Sports Community, above.
Spinning Tales does an about face on the Italians at Saunier-Duval, and admits it.
BikeSnobNYC does some deep investigation and connects the dots:
Firstly, no criminal acts alone, and in this case it seems Ricco may have had help from his bike supplier. As one commenter already pointed out, Ricco rides a Scott Addict Ltd.
following his very observant "This just in: Tour de France Riders find drugs helpful."
Unholy Roleur thinks Kimmage's story about an interview with Allen Lim is nearly libelous, and shows Kimmage to be an ass rather than a righteous crusader. We think he's a bitter crusader.
Racejunkie rants about everything, in "Tour de F!@#$, Will This *Ever* End?". RJ finds that Ricco is now proclaiming innocence, and has sent his sister out into the media for some defense work.
Gravsports is giving up on cycling, and any other sport with big money associated because of the temptation.
[T]he reality is that nobody but Floyd will ever know exactly what happened. I expect that maybe in ten or 20 years the "real" evidence will come out as it often does. This year I followed the Tour a bit, but it's the same old game of doping violations. I've now just lost interest in the Tour; what does it mean to win an event that's so obviously drug-fueled? What it really boils down to for me is that the Tour is simply nothing more than a bad joke no matter what happened with Floyd and others. Either Floyd is lying like mad or the Tour is incompetent at drug testing. Either way my response is the same: I'm not interested anymore.
Duckboy still likes the sport, but is jading with Ricco's AAF:
I'll just say he seems like a little a-hole anyway and this comes as no surprise. Still, the fact that guys are being nailed, then they do a room search on one and find a pharmacy (amoxicillin to share please?) is very telling. I have been a firm believer in Floyd Landis, but with every positive my faith dims a little.
Sorry, I know neither of my loyal readers gives a warm-water enema about cycling, but it's the only sport I really follow. And I'm a guy and guys need sports, even if the players wear gaudy lycra suits.
Bruce Hildebrand writes at Saris about tactics on transitional stages
In 2006, Floyd Landis had the maillot jaune and decided to save his team for the Alps allowing Jens Voigt and more importantly, Oscar Peirero a thirty minute lead at the stage finish. That decision setup the yellow jersey tug-of-war that highlighted the race’s final stages. Without that thirty minute gift the 2006 Tour would have been a totally different animal.
Bikebuzz makes an interesting suggestion, sparked by the conspiracist connections started by the Beltran AAF:
Actually it might be interesting for someone to do the seven degrees of dopers.. it spans farther than this list and way farther than cycling.
Should someone do that, we suspect is turns out to be a pretty dense mesh, with few teams or riders unconnected. This strikes us as a flaw in the conspiracy theories, because the causality and culpability becomes impossible to ascertain without unfounded assumptions that some connections are more relevant than others -- Unless you assume that everyone has been and still is doping, which I don't think most people believe. All the estimates we've ever heard have been between about 20-80% dopers depending on the time period and the source. With either limiting value, there's still quite a bit of uncertainty. Who is clean and who is dirty by association? 20% full, or 20% empty? Do counts of "connections" imply anything but presence in the network? Is the sport so physically limited that it is impossible to win cleanly, meaning any win should be considered tainted? 20% or 80% of the time?
Earlier today, TBV looked out the window at a mountain that needed climbing and took fingers off the keyboard, to have a lovely ride: 2:48 door to door, and a 1:23 climb from hole-in-the-fence, with construction delays.
TBV can't rock climb, or run, and hates golf (parents tried, but it didn't take) -- yet can still mash pedals, weakly. It keeps us interested in people who do it well, and it remains entertaining.