Camenzind's reputation in tatters

Victim of a 'more intelligent' approach by the Swiss anti-doping authorities, Oscar Camenzind forego

Victim of a 'more intelligent' approach by the Swiss anti-doping authorities, Oscar Camenzind forego
PICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE After Monday's announcement by the Swiss Olympic Committee that 1998 world road champion Oscar Camenzind had tested positive for EPO in a control done on July 22, the Swiss right has foregone his right to have a counter-analysis and admitted that he was taking the product. Forced to leave the Swiss Olympic camp in Athens, Camenzind also stated that his Phonak team "had nothing to do with this problem." Camenzind's place in the Swiss road team in Athens is set to be taken by current national champion Gregory Rast, one of Camenzind's erstwhile team-mates. Phonak are due to confirm their decision to sack their veteran rider at a press conference in Lucerne today. An announcement of a ban from competition for as much as two years should follow from the Swiss cycling federation in the coming days and could well signal the end of the career of the rider who will be 33 next month. According to reports in the Swiss press this morning, the out-of-competition test that Camenzind underwent on July 22 was the second of that type he had been required to take in the last six months. Under rules recently implemented by the Swiss cycling federation, a positive A test automatically guarantees a rider is suspended. This does not need to be confirmed by a positive B case as was the case until recently. A former postman who joined the pro ranks with Panaria in 1996 and enjoyed his greatest moment two years later when he won the world title in Valkenburg during the second of two seasons with Mapei, Camenzind has fallen foul of a change in tactics with regard to dope testing by the Swiss Olympic Committee. Not only have they increased the number of out-of-competition tests for all Swiss athletes during Olympic year, but they have targeted the testing to coincide with periods when athletes are preparing for their main objectives of the year, in this case the Olympics. "The controls now are done more intelligently," the head of the Swiss anti-doping laboratory, Martial Saugy told Geneva's Le Temps. International cooperation to tackle doping has also been improved. "An international network has been put in place," Swiss Olympic Committee anti-doping director Oliver Hintz explained to Le Temps. "If I want to test an athlete who is training outside Switzerland I now have accredited partners abroad who can do this for me." Signed by Phonak in 2002 with the precise aim of getting the big money Swiss team into the Tour de France, Camenzind struggled with glandular fever that year and it took the arrival of Tyler Hamilton for the 2004 season to finally achieve Tour status. However, Camenzind has remained as one of Phonak's most dependable and experienced riders and was likely to have been offered a new contract at the end of this year. Phonak directeur sportif Jacques Michaud described Camenzind's decision to use EPO as "a massive piece of stupidity". Michaud told the Tribune de Genve: "Camenzind was a respected rider, recognised for his huge professionalism. He was an example to the younger riders." Michaud admitted the affair was "disastrous" for Phonak's image of a team that demanded a totally ethical approach by its riders. "In spite of the rigorous approach of our medical team you can't account for everything, especially stupidity," said Michaud. "When a rider goes home, we can't watch him. Why did he dope himself? Without doubt to avoid riding badly. This year he has not been at a great level, but what point is there for taking EPO when you are finishing in the third group like he did at San Sebastian on Saturday. He's committed a massive piece of stupidity. He's shattered everything - his career, his reputation."
This article was published by BikeRadar, the world's leading source of bike reviews, gear reviews, riding advice and route information
  • Discipline: Road, Mountain, Urban, Womens
  • Location: UK, USA, Australia
Back to top