PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM
It is now illegal to supply athletes with performance enhancing drugs in Spain, according to a new law that was passed on Thursday by the Spanish parliament. The law has a provision for up to two years imprisonment for those found guilty of the offence. The parliament has also given the green light for the creation of a national anti-doping agency, and a law that makes doping itself illegal is expected to be enacted within six month.
The legislation comes into force as the investigation into Operacion Puerto continues. The only crime that those involved in Puerto are being accused of is one against public health. Thus, even though there are allegedly up to 200 athletes implicated in the affair involving Eufemiano Fuentes, Jose Ignacio Labarta and others, none of them can be charged under Spanish law.
As far as sporting sanctions are concerned, it is up to the various federations to implement them. However, the judge in charge of Puerto has decreed that none of the information that has come out in the case so far can be used for this purpose until the criminal investigation finishes.
Up until now, this has been confused by the ProTour code of ethics - which all the ProTour teams are bound to - whereby any rider under a criminal investigation must be suspended from racing. Hence, there was a large number of riders and teams that were prevented from racing in the Tour de France and other major races this year. The contradictions arising from the laws in Spain and the rules of professional cycling have resulted in a gigantic mess that has negatively affected cycling for the last five months.
There are plenty of movements on the contract front in Spain and Belgium, with pro continental team Relax-Gam announcing its signings of Santiago Perez (confirmed earlier this week), Juli n S nchez Pimienta, and the renewals of N cor Burgos and Jesus Hern ndez.
Perez' last team was Phonak, but after finishing second in the 2004 Vuelta behind Roberto Heras, he was banned for two years after a positive test for homologous blood doping. The Perez positive occurred at roughly the same time as his then-teammate Tyler Hamilton's, and while Hamilton has spent most of the last two years appealing his ban, Perez has sat it out in relative silence. He is now resuming his career at the age of 29.
Juli n S nchez Pimienta comes to Relax from the now defunct Comunidad Valenciana team. 26 years-old, Pimienta's best results this year were a couple of top fives in the Challenge Illes Balears.
Nacor Burgos has been with the Relax team in all of its incarnations since he turned pro in 1999. The 29 year-old hasn't yet had a win, with his strongest performances coming this year in the Tour of Qinghai Lake in Tibet. There, he scored an overall victory in the points competition, was second in stage 8, was third in stage 3 and finished third overall.
Jesus Hern ndez, 25, was fifth in the GP Villafranca de Ordizia this year in his first year with Relax-Gam. He also spent two years with Liberty Seguros after turning pro in 2004.
The four riders will join their other Relax teammates Mario de S rraga, Jos Miguel Elias, Jorge Garcia, Oscar Garcia, Raul Garcia, Jos Rafael Martinez, Daniel Moreno, Joaquin Sobrino, Francisco Terciado, and Angel Vallejo.
The all-Basque ProTour outfit Eusktaltel-Euskadi has signed one of the shortest names in the peloton: Jon Bru. The 29 year-old is coming across from Kaiku, where he has spent the last couple of seasons. Bru notched his first couple of victories this season, winning two stages in the Volta ao Santarem in Portugal in March. He was also second in the GP de Fourmies and Clasica a los Puertos in the second half of the season.
Bru is now looking forward to riding ProTour races such as Lige-Bastogne-Lige and Flche Wallonne, describing them as a "dream come true for a rider of my characteristics."
The pro continental team Grupo Nicol s Mateo has signed two Spanish riders, Jos Cayetano Juli (ex-Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears) and Jesus Buend¡a, who this season rode his first year as a pro with 3 Molinos Resort Murcia Tur¡stica. 27 year-old Juli is the biggest signing, with victories in stages of the Vuelta a Espa¤a and Volta a Portugal in 2004.
Belgian team Unibet.com has acquired 19 year-old Colombian Rigoberto Uran for the next three years. Uran turned pro with Tenax Salmilano and has yet to make his mark in the pro ranks. Unibet has also signed Dutch rider Niels Scheuneman from Rabobank, as well as Dane Troels Vinther and Pole Michal Golas. The latter two will be neo-professionals in 2007.
Also in Belgium, Jan Kuyckx will ride for Landbouwkrediet-Colnago next season. The 27 year-old said to Het Nieuwsblad that Davitamon-Lotto obviously didn't appreciate his hard work for his team leaders, as he wasn't offered a new contract.
Casper and Popovych to Revolution
Jimmy Casper (Cofidis) and Yaroslav Popovych (Discovery Channel) will appear at the next Revolution meeting in Manchester on November 18, teaming up with their trade teammates Bradley Wiggins and Roger Hammond to complete the pairings for the event.
With Saunier Duval teammates David Millar and Gilberto Simoni also in the line up, the British track specialists are relishing the competition. "Riding with all these professionals will be amazing; I can't wait!" said Olympic Development rider Adam Blythe. "I think some of the riders will be hard to beat, such as Wiggins and Millar, as they both have some good experience on the track. The others don't have as much experience but I can still imagine that they will kick everyone's ass!"
Millar has only recently honed his abilities on the track taking the National Pursuit title and he agrees that the road riders will give the track specialists some good competition, "Jimmy has some good experience on the track" he said. "I know him well from my time at Cofidis. He comes from the Picardie region of France which is the heartland of French track racing, in fact to tell you the truth Jimmy looks more like a track rider than a road rider. I think he'll be a bit nervous, but knowing Jimmy that will actually benefit him.
"Popovych I don't know so well, but I respect his talent a great deal. He has been hailed as the next big thing since he arrived in Italy as a teenager and deservedly so. It's true that he is an unknown quantity on the track but lets not forget he comes from the Russian school of cycling; this normally means as an adolescent riding around in circles in very cold velodromes, so I'm think he'll be OK! It's going to be a fun night, but also a little scary at first for us more used to brakes and freewheels!"
Tickets for Revolution on November 18th can be purchased at www.cyclingrevolution.com or by calling 07005 942 579.