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Cycling News
Scroll down to read these articles from the web site of L'Equipe.  Translated by Walt
Ballenberger  
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Doping- Merckx defends Armstrong- 10/12/05
Paris-Tours : Zabel imposes- 10/09/05
Paris-Bourges- Bak passes the test- 10/06/05
Doping- More Revelations- 10/06/05

Doping- Merckx defends Armstrong- 10/12/05

Despite multiple doping affairs and the recent poll which appeared in L’Equipe, which
associated doping in cycling for a large majority of French people, Eddy Mercx continues to
defend his sport tooth and nail and notably Lance Armstrong.  In an interview on Wednesday
accorded to the sporting daily, the Belgian champion addressed the phenomenon of doping
in cycling.  It already existed during his career.  “It’s unfortunate but not new”, he affirmed.  
“For more than thirty years cycling is a wild animal, a sort of outlet for the press as a whole.  
One can certainly explain it”.  

For the former five time winner of the Tour de France doping is above all a question of
money.  “It’s an economic question”, stated Eddy Merckx.  “Most of the affairs are oriented,
with the media as audience, toward the laboratories, and the pharmaceutical industry gets
profits from the publicity.  Doping pays.  And this is an aspect that one must realize.  Those
who invest in the machines to control doping want to sell them.  They want to make them pay.”

Concerning Lance Armstrong, Merckx remains faithful to the position he has held for several
years and defends once again the Texan.  “I can understand that a journalist would publish
the information, but I have doubts about the lab”, he affirmed.  “And I ask myself, why
Armstrong, only him and nobody else?  Why cycling and why are there no urine samples for
the French soccer players who won the World Cup in 1998?”

Asked if he thinks it is possible to win the Tour de France without doping, Merckx has no
doubt.  “I can’t prove it scientifically, but of course I want to believe it is still possible to win a
grand tour without doping.  If one thinks the opposite, then it would be better to stop the
sport.”

The former champion concludes: “I always idolized cycling”, he admitted.  “I will continue to do
so, and frankly, I don’t believe it is threatened.  I want to believe that.  During a period when
sports are all over our television screens, where the public has all sorts of reasons to be
saturated, there are still just as many people on the side of the roads, so I remain optimistic”.  
(With L’Equipe)

Paris-Tours : Zabel imposes- 10/09/05

The classic Paris-Tours, 253.3 kilometers in length, was won again by Erik Zabel (T-Mobile)
on Sunday, a handsome triple win in this event by beating out the Italian Daniele Bennati by a
half wheel.  The German rider, who next year will defend the colors of the Italo-German team
Milram, finished his excellent career on the German T-Mobile team.

With 300 meters to go until the finish line, the peleton swallowed up the young Belgians, Stijn
Devolder and Philippe Gilbert, who led in the final stretch after the long escape by the
Dutchman Joost Posthuma, the Spaniard Ivan Gutierrez and the Frenchman Stéphane Bergès

Devolder and Gilbert, who took off on the côte de Crochu, with 27 kilometers from Tours, built
up a lead of one minute and still led by 30 seconds with 5 kilometers to the line.  The Flemish
and Wallon riders were rejoined in the last few hundred meters of the straight line leading to
the finish on the avenue of Grammont where Bennati, looking like a winner before being
caught, went shoulder to shoulder with Zabel.  Third place went to the Australian Allan Davis
who beat out his compatriot Robbie McEwen in the spectacular final group.  Zabel, 35 years
of age, started his professional career in 1993 and stayed with the same team throughout his
career (Telekom then T-Mobile) until now.  As a member of that team he notably was the six
time winner of the points classification in the Tour de France (green jersey).

Zabel joined the Belgian Guido Reybroeck as a three time winner of the race to Tours.  
Reybroeck won three times between 1964 and 1968.

Paris-Bourges- Bak passes the test- 10/06/05

The champion of Denmark, Lars Bak (CSC) won the semi-classic Paris-Bourges on Thursday,
the 14th and last event in the France Cup.  Bak, 25 years of age, beat out by several
seconds the Frenchman Benoît Vaugrenard and the Swiss Grégory Rast who were out in
front of the peleton, after 196.5 kilometers of racing.  The winner of the France Cup is thus
the Belgian Philippe Gilbert (Française des Jeux).

“I felt mediocre during the race but in the end I was better”, explained Bak, credited with a 4th
success this season after winning his national title in June, and one stage as well as the final
overall victory in the Tour de l’Avenir in September.

In his fourth season in the peleton, the Dane, who started in cycling at the age of 16 after
having played football, seems to have the profile of a racer of the classics.  “He’s a winner, he
will go after the victory, emphasized his sporting director, Alain Gallopin.  But he still needs to
gain more experience before shining in the Tour of Flanders or Paris-Roubaix”.

Doping- More Revelations- 10/06/05

Teams participating in the Tour de France give themselves transfusions before the start of
stages, accuses a former team doctor of the American team US Postal, Thursday, in the
journal L’Equipe.

Prentice Steffen, who left US Postal at the end of 1996 before Lance Armstrong joined the
team, described the procedure which had been reported to him but without citing the name of
his informer.

“Before starting the last Tour de France, riders of certain teams took EPO during their
various training camps in order to raise their red blood cell count up to around 60.  Then, a
doctor took a sample of their blood, conserving it in special containers, in order to lower their
blood parameters to normal levels so they could pass the pre-Tour medical tests without
difficulty”, explained the doctor, who now works with an American development team (TIAA-
CREF).

“The teams are well aware that during the event the vampires (medical controllers) can arrive
on any day, but always between 7 and 8 o’clock in the morning, or within a half hour of that
time.  Beyond that timeframe there are no doping controls, and the riders can re-inject their
own blood.  They thus race the stage with an enormous advantage- they can have a red
blood count level of between 55 and 58 during the race- then, that evening at the hotel, one
can take out the surplus blood so that they sleep without risk and above all that they would
pass any doping test required the next morning”, added Dr. Steffen.

A sample just before the start
According to the doctor, this practice is only used on decisive stages: “It is very simple to do
this and there is no risk if the police are not around to intervene.  The blood is carried in a
motorcycle in a refrigerated compartment”.

For this American doctor, the way to put an end to this practice once and for all is to take a
blood sample just before the start of stages, “practically at the line”.

The professor Michel Audran, French specialist in blood doping practices, confirmed to the
journal the this process is feasible.  In his judgement “this type of manipulation is completely
plausible, scientifically and materially, under the conditions of stage races”.

In order to fight this practice, the French pharmaceutical expert also suggested “a blood and
urine sample be taken just before the start.”  For the blood, it would suffice to take “a drop of
blood from the finger, as pediatricians do, at the starting line, in order to measure the red
blood count”  “I have done this myself while doing research with rugby players and handball
players in Montpellier before training sessions, and believe me, that did not bother them at
all”, concluded professor Audran.
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