Otxoa family ‘humiliated’ by delays in case against fatal crash driver, Belda rages against UCI ‘dic
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Ricardo Otxoa, the father of cycling brothers who were knocked down by a car while training in five years ago this month, has told Spanish radio he feels “forgotten and humiliated” because of the length of time it has taken for the legal case against the driver of the car to reach its conclusion. The incident left Otxoa’s elder son, also called Ricardo, dead and ended the professional career of younger son Javier. The case is finally due to be resolved in Malaga on March 20, and Otxoa says he wants to hear the accused in the case, Sebastian Fernandez, the sporting director of Malaga University, explain his side of events.
“I feel forgotten and humiliated as a citizen and as a father,” Otxoa told Radio Euskadi in the Basque Country. “I have written to the president of the legal system to ask for an explanation of all of this.” Otxoa blames the presiding judge for the lengthy delay in hearing the case. “He doesn’t seem to be too interested in justice and I believe that might some of the parties involved and, of course, I don’t mean myself.”
The Malaga prosecutor is hoping to achieve a conviction on the grounds of involuntary homicide due to negligence, while the family, supported by the brothers’ former Kelme team and the Association of Professional Cyclists have been asking for a more serious charge to be applied in the case.
– Former Kelme and now Comunitat Valenciana team boss Vicente Belda has accused the ProTour and the International Cycling Union of bringing professional cycling to crisis point. Speaking to Eurosport, Belda attacked the UCI for being a dictatorship, saying: “Cycling should be a democracy and liberal, and not a dictatorship of the UCI. It’s not their private fiefdom.”
Belda, whose team are not in the ProTour and missed out on selection for the Tour and Giro last season and will probably face the same fate this year, pointed the finger at Liberty Seguros team boss and former UCI president Hein Verbruggen, who have two of the main proponents of the ProTour, but Belda said the system could work if changes were made.
“The ProTour could work in another guise: there should be 16 teams with promotion and relegation. At the moment there are teams whose participation in the biggest races is assured, but the rest of us are dying of hunger,” said Belda. He added that it was impossible for smaller teams to encourage sponsors in and bring on new riders when they were unable to say for sure what races they would be riding during the season. He also complained about non-ProTour teams not being able to ride bigger races in their own country and of some ProTour teams finishing the Vuelta with just a couple of riders.
Belda described the situation as a whole in cycling as “worse than it was four or five years ago”.
– Eugenio Bermudez, secretary of the Spanish cycling federation, has denied reports that Euskaltel’s I¤igo Landaluze failed a dope test after winning last year’s Dauphin Libr. La Gazzetta dello Sport reported that the federation were to take action against the 28-year-old Basque rider, who was alleged to have recorded elevated levels of testosterone, although his team insist that Landaluze naturally produces high levels of testosterone. However, Bermudez insisted: “The federation is still pending a report and has not taken any decision yet.”
According to Euskaltel team manager Miguel Madariaga, Landaluze’s “system produces testosterone naturally, above the average”. Bermudez admitted that the federation had asked for a medical report having seen test results delivered by Landaluze, but has yet to make any decision about the rider.
– 23 people, including former Ag2r directeur sportif Laurent Biondi, former pro Laurent Roux and former world MTB champion Christophe Dupouey have been summoned to appear in a Bordeaux court on charges of being involved in a drug trafficking ring. According to prosecutors, more than 3,000 doses of ‘pot belge’, a cocktail including amphetamines, heroin and cocaine, were allegedly brought into France illegally via Holland and Belgium between January 2002 and January 2005.
Former soigneur Freddy Sergant, 63, is accused of being the principal supplier and is being charged for “importing, possession and supply of toxic and doping products”, while Biondi faces a charge of “transport, possession, offer or supply and purchase of toxic products as well as their use”.