Phonak team doctor I¤aki Arratibel quits cycling with a final blast at the UCI’s stance on doping an
PICTURE BY LAVUELTA.COM The day after it was revealed in the Spanish press that he has resigned from his post as doctor with the Phonak team, I¤aki Arratibel has told Marca that he is leaving cycling for good and with a bitter taste in his mouth. “I am a doctor and I refuse to act as a policeman with regard to cyclists. For this reason, and because my family also asked me to, I am quitting,” said Arratibel. The former Banesto and BigMat doctor said that he found himself in an “untolerable professional situation” following the announcement of the positive tests for blood doping recorded by Phonak riders Tyler Hamilton and Santiago Perez. “Neither the team nor I myself have been able to defend me. The team wanted me to stay but my family comes first and the team have understood that,” said Arratibel, who went on to condemn the attitude of the International Cycling Union (UCI). “The UCI considers the team doctors are guilty, and most of us have not given them any reason to think this. The UCI is trying to make us act as policemen, they want us to pull cyclists out of races at the least hint of suspicion, but without having some proof I can’t leave someone without work because they could take legal proceedings against me. I can’t work like that and for that reason I’m saying no to this, because I don’t have an anti-doping laboratory at my disposal and I can’t tell if blood levels are the result of a high-altitude training camp or something else,” said the outgoing Phonak doctor. Having condemned what he sees as the UCI’s attitude on doping, describing them as applying “incorrect methods” and of “treading on people’s fundamental rights”, Arratibel said that “cycling is the ugly duckling, because it now seems to have become the test bed for the battle against doping.” The Basque doctor also hit out at the blood doping tests that have provoked the recent controversy surrounding Phonak. “From what I know, scientifically there are doubts about this method. it can give false positives.” For that reason, he told Marca he believes in Hamilton and Perez’s claims of innocence on the blood doping charges, but added that “if in the end their guilt is proved I will feel I have been deceived.” In his resignation letter to Phonak team manager Urs Freuler, Arratibel wrote: “I am leaving not because I don’t have any confidence in Hamilton and Perez, who have assured us of their innocence, but because I am not in agreement with the behaviour of the UCI’s medical commission. which has never collaborated with us, contenting itself instead with asking us to toughen the controls on riders without giving us the means to do so.” According to this morning’s edition of L’Equipe, doctors at the UCI have sent several riders on the Phonak team letters expressing their concern at suspect blood levels, although the team refused to confirm this information.