The Tour de France organisers have apparently reinstated the Team CSC-Saxo Bank director Bjarne Riis as the official winner of the 1996 Tour de France, after having stricken his name from the books last year.
"We cannot rewrite history. Therefore we recognise Bjarne Riis as the winner of the 1996 Tour de France. But with an asterisk," said Philippe Sudres, media director for the Tour de France to Danish magazine Politiken. The Dane once more will be listed in the official media guide to the cycling classic, after his name and picture had been previously removed.
There was significant confusion after his doping confession in May 2007, and as part of the backlash, Riis was unwelcome at last year's edition of the Tour. "Last year we removed Riis from the guide because it was so close to the start when he stood up and admitted that he had doped in connection with his victory in the Tour de France," added Sudres.
"Now he appears again in his earlier spot, but not exactly the same as the other winners. Immediately under his name we have written that he has admitted to doping during the Tour in 1996, but that the admission came so late, that according to the rules it cannot influence the result. Thus, on these grounds we have reinstated him as winner.
Riis was never stripped off his title officially by the International Cycling Union, as a ten-year period of limitation set by UCI rules had passed when the Dane made his confession.
"So maybe I have won after all," reacted Riis with a wry tone over the telephone to the magazine. "I have heard nothing about the organisers changing their minds, and I have in no way requested anything in this regard. I think I had a reasonable discussion with the French after last year's painful situation, but it had nothing to do with the question at hand. Of course I am happy, but now my attention is focused now supporting my team as best I can."
Team CSC publishes anti-doping program results
For the second time in its history, Team CSC-Saxo Bank has made public the results from their anti-doping program, which is carried out in cooperation with Rasmus Damsgaard and Bispebjerg University Hospital.
Since the launch of the program in December 2006 until April 2008, a total of 941 anti-doping tests have been collected and analysed. All tests conducted under the WADA code have been declared negative. 80 percent of the tests were collected out-of-competition, with 9 and 11 percent collected pre- and in-competition, respectively.
The team's riders underwent a total of 441 urine tests for steroids (223) and EPO (218), as well as 450 blood screenings. Three blood screenings were exceeding the limits of either haemoglobin or reticulocytes but could be fully explained by physiological reasons i.e. pre-season haemo-concentrations and medical conditions. In addition, 38 tests for homologous blood transfusions were conducted and nine samples for Human Growth hormone were stored for later analyses.
"With the combination of very specific blood profiles based on unannounced tests throughout the entire year and the hundreds of follow-up tests, we have the most extensive and thorough anti-doping program in existence," commented Rasmus Damsgaard, who is responsible for the program at Bispebjerg University Hospital. "We have launched an extremely ambitious project and in reality all the riders at Team CSC-Saxo Bank have had a valid Biological Passport for the last year. In this way the team and its riders have played a very important part in paving the way for the future fight against doping."