Latest: LefévŠre starts proceedings; Brittany starts '08 Tour; Murcia cancelled; Deignan out; USA fo

Patrick LefévŠre has started defamation proceedings against Belgian politician Jean-Marie Dedecker.

Patrick LefévŠre has started defamation proceedings against Belgian politician Jean-Marie Dedecker.
PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM Lefvre starts proceedings against Dedecker The first salvo in what could be a big legal battle has been fired by Quick.Step manager Patrick Lefvre against Belgian politician Jean-Marie Dedecker. Lefvre's company Esperanza, together with the International Professional Cycling Teams group (IPCT) and the Celio management bureau (which looks after Tom Boonen and Nick Nuyens, among others), is suing Dedecker over what they claim are defamatory statements made by the politician on the Actua-Sport programme on September 12, 2006. Dedecker has been summonsed to appear in court in Brugge on February 5th. On the Actua-Sport programme, Dedecker said that he knew of three top Belgian cyclists who had undergone a doping regimen in Italy in February 2006. He didn't name names, but said that it cost €24,000. A week later, the number of riders had grown to four. At the time, Lefvre and Tom Boonen said that they felt as though they had been defamed by Dedecker. "When someone announces that one of this country's top riders is involved in doping everyone thinks of Tom Boonen," said the Quick.Step boss at the time. "How many other Belgian riders are really at that level?" The case was referred to the Belgian cycling federation as well as Johan Sabbe, a magistrate specialising in drug matters. The latter is still conducting his investigation into the 'Dedecker dossier'. Lefvre and his team doctor Yvan Vanmol are also preparing to sue Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws, over a series of articles published this week alleging that the pair have been involved in organised doping. It has been reported by Het Nieuwsblad that Lefvre will ask a staggering €50 million in damages. On the theme of defamation claims, Frank Vandenbroucke is threatening to sue HLN after it published a front page story on Thursday reporting that he had spent a night in a police cell in Dinant. VDB is claiming that his image has been damaged by the story. Vandenbroucke was definitely questioned, and according to AFP he was charged with possession and purchase of doping products. The charges stemmed from a raid on a bodybuilding centre in March, 2006. Finally, on the theme of police questioning, the recent confession by Johan Museeuw to using drugs has attracted the interest of the police again. During the Landuyt affair, Museeuw had always denied doping. But in the wake of recent events, the Kortrijk judicial police asked Museeuw to clarify a few things on Thursday. The judge in charge of the Landuyt case intends to finish it by April. Brittany confirmed for Tour 2008 launch Tour de France organisers ASO have confirmed that the French region of Brittany will host the grand dpart of the 2008 race. It will be the first time the cycling-loving area has kicked off the Tour since 1995. The first stage will break with a 40+ year tradition of an opening time trial and will be a mass start road stage, running between Brest and Plumelec. Stage 2 will be between Auray and Saint-Brieuc, while stage 3 will start from Saint-Malo and exit Brittany via the roads of Ile-et-Vilaine. Vuelta a Murcia cancelled This year's Vuelta a Murcia will not take place, the organisers have confirmed. The race was due to be run between March 7th and 11th, but financial reasons have forced its cancellation. The government of Murcia was to contribute €240,000 to the organisers, but half of that was earmarked for TV rights. Spanish TV hadn't decided whether to broadcast the race this year, hence the government's funding was only €120,000 - not enough, according to the organisers. "It wouldn't have been honest of us to wait any longer to tell the teams, because they need to know in order to plan their racing calendars," said organising club president Carmen Guzm n to Todociclismo. Other than the financial shortfall, the Vuelta a Murcia was shaping up to be a good race, with riders such as Alejandro Valverde, Carlos Sastre, Ivan Basso and Alexandre Vinokourov all probable participants. "Fortunately, the Vuelta a Murcia is very robust on sporting grounds," added Guzm n. "Because of that, I'm sure we will start in 2008 with a parcours and a field of great quality." Deignan out of Langkawi Irishman Philip Deignan will not participate in Le Tour de Langkawi, reducing his team to just five riders. He is suffering from a knee problem and the doctors didn't give the go ahead for his return to competition. This isn't the first time Deignan has faced physical problems after turning professional two years ago. He also missed out the early part of the 2006 season after crashing in the GP La Marseillaise opener in France. Ag2r will start with just five riders in Le Tour de Langkawi (February 2nd-11th): Tour de France stage winner Sylvain Calzati, Tour of Spain stage winner Jos Luis Arrieta, David Navas, Blaise Sonnery and Julien Loubet. US development squad for California USA Cycling will be entering an national development team into the Tour of California, which runs from February 18th to 25th. The eight rider line up will be competing against some of the top European-based UCI ProTour squads as well as other domestic and international pro cycling teams. The full squad is: Brent Bookwalter (22, Cedar Springs, Mich.), Sheldon Deeny (22, Fort Collins, Colo.), John Devine (21, Dixon, Ill.), Caleb Fairly (19, Amarillo, Texas), Zak Grabowski (21, Lafayette, Colo.), Scott Stewart (19, Oxford, Mich.), Chris Stockburger (19, Fort Collins, Colo., Tejay Van Garderen (18, Fort Collins, Colo.). Got a comment? Discuss this in the Procycling forum. What else is new? Check out the Procycling blog.
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