Canadian Cyclist


March 19/04 3:48 am - CCES News

Posted by Editoress on 03/19/04

The Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sports (CCES) gathers and re-releases news articles from around the world. We occasionally publish ones that are of interest to the cycling community.

Cyclist Pantani Died of Cocaine Overdose

Former Tour de France winner Marco Pantani's death was caused by cocaine poisoning that appears to have been accidental, according to a coroner's report.

The ANSA news agency reported that Giuseppe Fortuni determined Pantani died of "acute cocaine poisoning." The initial autopsy showed he died from severe swelling in his brain and heart, but Fortuni ordered more tests to find out why there was swelling.

The AGI and APcom news agencies had similar reports. Calls from The Associated Press to the prosecutors' office and Pantani's manager were not immediately returned.

Pantani was found dead in his hotel room Feb. 14. About 10 bottles of tranquilizers were found in the room, some of them empty, others just open, police said.

Pantani's 1998 Tour de France victory was the last by a rider other than Lance Armstrong.

Kelme rider takes Spain to brink of drug scandal
By Alasdair Fotheringham in Granada

19 March 2004

Spanish professional cycling is on the brink of what is predicted to be the biggest doping scandal in its history after a professional rider claimed that he has revealed alleged illegal medical practices within his team in a television programme.

In an interview in the Spanish newspaper Marca, Jesus Manzano, a former rider with the Kelme squad, said he is "not going to do this like [Philippe] Gaumont" - the former French rider who recently described in detail a number of doping techniques used by cyclists. He said: "Instead I'm actually going to come out with solid proof."

Manzano's soon-to-be-broadcast television interview covers "what happened to me in person in the Tour of Portugal and the Tour de France, not to mention being kicked off a train in Valencia because I was half-dead [presumably from drug use]".

While French cycling has been rocked by a series of police investigations and drugs stories since 1998, Spain is the only European country where the teams have remained largely on the margin of such major scandals.

Kelme are one of the most financially troubled squads in cycling, and last year their rider Javier Pascual Llorente tested positive for EPO in the Tour de France. When the news broke,the entire squad in the Tour of Portugal abandoned the race, and the then team doctor, Walter Viru, left for South America.

Manzano quit the Tour because of an apparent attack of heat exhaustion in the Alps and was then kicked off Kelme after he was found entertaining a female friend in his hotel during the 2003 Tour of Spain.

Alasdair Fotheringham writes for Cycling Weekly

French anti-doping chief calls for more funding and better working methods

PARIS - The head of France's anti-doping council said Thursday his organization needs greater funding, another laboratory and a better way to keep track of suspected athletes.

Speaking to reporters, Marc Sanson, president of the French Anti-Doping Council (CPLD), also called for more efficient disciplinary procedures and clarification of what constitutes a banned substance. Regular doctors should be better educated on the matter, he said.

"We have insufficient money and insufficient results. In such a difficult period, we would like to do much more research," Sanson said.

The CPLD is an independent body with a budget for 2004 of [euro]845,000 (US$1.37 million).

Sanson fears France is falling behind in research and is overburdened because it has only one accredited laboratory to carry out the 9,000 doping tests scheduled for 2004.

"Ten percent of doping tests worldwide are carried out in France," he said. "But only six percent of the world's research comes from France. We have only one laboratory (Chatenay-Malabray) when other countries, like Germany, have two. It's not extravagant to ask for another one."

Sanson proposes that for every professional or amateur athlete obtaining a "license" or permit, [euro]1 from each subscription go to the fight against doping.

"We have 14 million licensees in France," Sanson said. "So you can see what difference just one euro from each member would make."

Meanwhile, the CPLD's scientific adviser said a system is needed whereby an athlete's physiological and biological charts could undergo long-term monitoring.

"This way, any dramatic change in a sportsman's pattern would be a valid basis for suspicion," said Doctor Michel Rieu.

"What we need to understand is which biological profiles are related to groups of banned substances. Let's not focus on the cause but look at the effect of a product and learn how to spot it."

To reduce the number of cases in which athletes claim that a positive test results from a doctor's incorrect prescription, Rieu and Sanson also evoked the need for "greater coordination" with regular doctors who "may not necessarily be educated in what is and what is not a doping product."

This would eliminate prescriptions to treat the flu, or asthma, for example, with medication that also produces a beneficial sporting side-effect.

For example, Codeine "is liberally sold and no longer on the banned list but, when taken it transforms into morphine," Sanson said, adding that "some anti-asthmatic products are high in steroid content and hard to detect from a urine sample."

Sanson urged greater clarity in outlining what constitutes a banned product and more speed in processing cases involving an athlete suspected of doping.

The Ministry of Sport has yet to grant the CPLD the power to control testing.

"This ides was abandoned, I hope provisionally," said Sanson.

A CPLD review shows that 6.3 percent of the 8,000 samples taken last year turned up positive. Of the tests, 48.9 percent were carried out randomly.

Cycling, stigmatized since the Festina doping scandal of 1998, topped the chart with 38.6 percent of positive cases involving cyclists.

Athletics followed with 15.7 percent, soccer had 5.85 percent and rugby 4.29 percent. Of the products tested, 30 percent involved steroids and 20 percent cannabis.

Of last year's [euro]729,000 (US$895,000) budget, only 7.5 percent was spent on research.


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