Endurance: Cycling

Lance ArmstrongFranck Fife/AFP/Getty ImagesJan Ullrich, left, believes all seven of Lance Armstrong's Tour de France wins should be reinstated.
BERLIN -- Lance Armstrong should have his seven Tour de France victories reinstated because of the prevalence of doping at the time, former cyclist Jan Ullrich said.

"I would give Armstrong the Tour victories back. ... That's how it was back then," Ullrich told the current edition of Sport Bild magazine. "It doesn't help anyone to draw a line through the winners' list."

Ullrich, who won the Tour in 1997, finished second to Armstrong three times -- in 2000, 2001 and 2003 -- but the German declined to stake a claim for his former rival's stripped titles.

"I only want victories that I've experienced on the bike. I don't want to win anything at the green table," he said.

Armstrong, the dominant cyclist of his generation, acknowledged in January that he doped for all seven of his Tour wins from 1999-2005. He was subsequently stripped of the titles.

Ullrich admitted to Focus magazine in June that he received blood treatments from Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes.

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Stuart O'GradyClive Mason/Getty ImagesRecently retired cyclist Stuart O'Grady admitted to blood doping during the 1998 Tour de France.
SYDNEY -- A day after retiring from professional cycling, Stuart O'Grady admitted to using a blood-booster during the scandal-plagued 1998 Tour de France.

The 39-year-old Australian rider, a six-time Olympian who wore the leader's yellow jersey for a total of nine days in 17 Tours de France, announced his retirement earlier this week after the 100th edition of the race. He admitted he used erythropoietin (EPO) for two weeks before the 1998 event, saying he acquired it himself and used it without the knowledge of his team.

His admission in an Australian newspaper came after the French senate inquiry into doping in sport released its findings and implicated dozens of cyclists for suspicious test results, uncovering evidence that 1998 Tour de France champion Marco Pantani and runner-up Jan Ullrich used EPO.

"You win Olympics, Paris-Roubaix and now all of that is going to be tainted by this action," O'Grady, who won the Madison gold medal at the 2004 Olympics and was a silver medalist in the team pursuit at the 1992 Olympics, was quoted as saying Thursday in News Corp Australia newspapers. "That's the hardest thing to swallow out of all this -- it was such a long time ago and one very bad judgment is going to taint a lot of things."

O'Grady told the newspapers he just had to "drive over the border and buy it in a pharmacy" and used "extremely cautious amounts" of EPO.

The 1998 Tour de France was notable for the major scandal that emerged with the discovery of widespread doping on the French Festina team. The subsequent police crackdown led to seven of the original 21 teams either withdrawing or being ejected from the Tour.

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Lance ArmstrongChris Graythen/Getty ImagesLawyers for Lance Armstrong argued the U.S. Postal Service got what it bargained for from him.
WASHINGTON -- Lance Armstrong is urging a federal judge to dismiss the Justice Department's False Claims Act lawsuit against him, arguing that the claims are barred by the statute of limitations.

In the filing Tuesday, lawyers for the disgraced cyclist also argue that the U.S. Postal Service, which sponsored Armstrong's team, got exactly what it bargained for -- that is, tens of millions of dollars' worth of publicity.

The Justice Department this year joined former Armstrong teammate Floyd Landis' whistle-blower lawsuit against Armstrong. The government claims that Armstrong violated his contract with the Postal Service and was "unjustly enriched" while cheating to win the Tour de France bicycle race.

In January, Armstrong admitted using performance-enhancing drugs after years of denials.

-- Associated Press
PARIS -- A French inquiry into sports doping uncovered proof that 1998 Tour de France champion Marco Pantani and runner-up Jan Ullrich used the banned blood-booster EPO to fuel their performances.

France's senate, after a five-month investigation focused on sports doping, released a report Wednesday that confirms what many have long suspected: Use of the banned substance EPO was rife in cycling in the late 1990s, before there was a test for the drug.

Pantani was suspended in 1999 from the Giro after failing a random blood test, and his career was damaged by several doping investigations. He died in 2004 at 34 of an accidental drug overdose.

Ullrich, the 1997 Tour winner, has admitted to blood doping and last year was stripped of his third-place finish in the 2005 Tour.

The 1998 Tour de France was notable for the major scandal that emerged with the discovery of widespread doping on the French Festina team. The subsequent police crackdown led to seven of the original 21 teams either withdrawing or being ejected from the Tour.

Other star riders whose positive EPO doping tests were disclosed include American Kevin Livingston, who finished 17th in the 1998 Tour. Also listed were double-stage winner Mario Cipollini of Italy and Laurent Jalabert of France.

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VAISON-LA-ROMAINE, France -- Swatting the air with the back of his hand, Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme says he has nothing to say to a group of female cyclists hoping to one day ride in the sport's greatest race.

Before the start of Tuesday's 16th stage, Prudhomme brushed off a question about an online letter and petition urging Tour organizers to let women compete next year.

Prudhomme said, "We are saying nothing for the moment."

Olympic gold medalist and road race world champion Marianne Vos and British Olympian Emma Pooley are among the cyclists behind the petition.

-- Associated Press
Marianne VosFranck Fife/AFP/Getty ImagesOlympic road race champion Marianne Vos wants a chance to add a yellow jersey to her collection.
THE HAGUE, Netherlands -- Marianne Vos has Olympic gold medals and the road race world champion's rainbow jersey in her trophy cabinet. Now she wants the chance to add a yellow jersey.

The Olympic road race champion is among a group of cyclists, including British Olympian Emma Pooley, who have launched an online petition urging Tour de France organizers to let women participate in next year's race.

In an online letter to Tour director Christian Prudhomme, the riders say that after a century "it is about time women are allowed to race the Tour de France, too."

A "Tour Feminin" women's race in France that was staged in the past, but not since 2009, "lacked parity, media coverage, and sponsorship" the letter to Prudhomme says.

Pooley won the 2009 race, known as the Grande Boucle Feminine, and Vos placed third.

The riders backing the petition said letting women race in the men's Tour, "will also create an equal opportunity to debunk the myths of physical `limitations' placed upon female athletes."

Vos conceded that getting women into the 2014 Tour may not be realistic, "but we hope to get the ball rolling," she told Dutch daily De Telegraaf.

On Friday, more than 2,200 people had put their names to the petition.

-- Associated Press

Van Garderen hits reset button in France

July, 10, 2013
7/10/13
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Tejay van GarderenBryn Lennon/Getty ImagesAmerican Tejay van Garderen has fallen more than 35 minutes off the lead at the Tour de France.
SAINT-MALO, France -- Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) didn't expect to be starting the second half of the Tour de France parked in 50th, more than 35 minutes behind the yellow jersey.

Eleven days ago on Corsica, van Garderen started his third Tour as an outsider for the podium. Two brutal days in the Pyrénées surprisingly saw van Garderen languishing off the back, when normally he would be right in the front row, trading punches with the big boys.

Speaking to VeloNews before the start of Tuesday's 10th stage, van Garderen said he was still at a loss about what happened in the Pyrénées.

"I would have liked to have been better. I don't really have an answer to why," Van Garderen said. "I am not going to make any excuses. The legs were not there for some reason."

Last year, van Garderen was one of the revelations of the Tour, becoming the third American to win the white jersey en route to placing fifth overall.

After winning the Amgen Tour of California in May, many expected van Garderen to pick up where he left off last year. BMC was backing Cadel Evans, but van Garderen would have a free ride.

Things went sideways, however, when van Garderen lost contact on the hors-categorie Pailhères climb, the first major test of the 2013 Tour.

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Pat McQuaidFABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty ImagesUCI president Pat McQuaid doesn't believe the Lance Armstrong case will affect his re-election.
AIGLE, Switzerland -- Pat McQuaid insists the Lance Armstrong doping affair should not be an issue in his bid to remain president of cycling's governing body.

McQuaid faces British federation leader Brian Cookson in the Sept. 27 election. In a race that appears tight, McQuaid seeks a third four-year term in the vote that coincides with the road world championships in Florence, Italy.

The Armstrong case fueled claims the International Cycling Union protected Armstrong from doping allegations during his Tour de France wins from 1999 to 2005. McQuaid, who became UCI president in 2005 after Armstrong first retired, said Monday the American rider and "issues related to him" should not affect the vote.

"I don't think he should be a factor," McQuaid said in an interview with The Associated Press as he began laying out his campaign Monday. "This election should not be about what happened 10 years ago. This election should be about cycling today and cycling tomorrow."

McQuaid listed key pledges in a 20-page document, "A Bright Future for a Changed Sport." He aims to "preserve the new culture and era of clean cycling," promote women's cycling and continue developing the sport outside its traditional European base.

As an IOC member since 2010, McQuaid also suggests cycling needs to maintain a voice within Olympic decision-making, including new medal events at the Summer Games.

Cookson contends he has the support of cycling officials dissatisfied with how UCI dealt with allegations about Armstrong's doping, which was finally detailed in a report by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency last October.

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Froome happy to avoid yellow as gap opens

July, 2, 2013
7/02/13
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Chris FroomeBryn Lennon/Getty ImagesChris Froome is satisfied with Team Sky's performance through four stages at the Tour de France.
NICE, France -- Tour de France favorite Chris Froome (Sky) and the man tipped to be his closest challenger, Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff), both declared themselves satisfied with their performances in Tuesday’s fourth-stage team time trial around Nice.

The flat, 25-kilometer race around the city was won by the Orica-GreenEdge team, allowing stage 3 winner Simon Gerrans to seize the yellow jersey.

Sky was third-quickest on the day, leaving Froome just three seconds off the pace in the general classification as the Tour begins to move along the Mediterranean coast towards the Pyrénées.

Meanwhile, Contador and his Saxo team lie a further six seconds back.

"The main objective of today was to come through without having lost any time on the big contenders, but we've actually come through it having gained a bit of time. So that's a fantastic thing," said Froome.

It looked at one point as though Sky might sneak ahead of the Omega Pharma-Quick Step team of Mark Cavendish before both were outdone by Orica, but the Kenya-born Froome insisted he was happy at not being in the yellow jersey for the moment.

"If we had taken yellow it would have been by just a few seconds and it would have meant that we would have to be on the front for the next few days, possibly spending quite a lot of energy to defend only a few seconds," he said. "So I think in a way it's a good thing we didn’t end up in the yellow jersey."

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Pat McQuaidFabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty ImagesThe incumbment Pat McQuaid will bid for his third term as president of the International Cycling Union.
AIGLE, Switzerland -- Pat McQuaid will face one challenger as he bids for a third term as president of world cycling's governing body.

The International Cycling Union confirmed on Monday that Brian Cookson, president of British Cycling, will be the only candidate to stand against McQuaid in the Sept. 27 election in Florence, Italy.

Candidates had until Saturday to put their names forward.

McQuaid has been UCI president since 2005 but has been under pressure since the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency report last year that led to Lance Armstrong being banned for life from cycling and stripped of his seven Tour de France titles.

-- Associated Press
PORTO VECCHIO, Corsica -- The dirty past of the Tour de France came back on Friday to haunt the 100th edition of cycling's showcase race, with Lance Armstrong telling a newspaper he couldn't have won without doping and that he feels he is still the winner of the 1999-2005 races.

"It is fine to erase my name from the record book, but the Tour was held between 1999-2005, wasn't it? It was held and there was a winner. Who was he? No one has manifested to claim my jerseys," Armstong told French publication Le Monde.

Armstrong's comments to Le Monde were surprising on many levels, not least because of his long-antagonistic relationship with the respected French daily that first reported in 1999 that corticosteroids were found in the American's urine as he was riding to the first of his seven Tour wins. In response, Armstrong complained he was being persecuted by "vulture journalism, desperate journalism."

Now seemingly prepared to let bygones be bygones, Armstrong told Le Monde he still considers himself the record-holder for Tour victories, because the Tour declared no winner over those seven years after it stripped him of the titles for doping.

"We wish that there is no winner for this period," Tour director Christian Prudhomme said last year when making the announcement. "For us, very clearly, the titles should remain blank. Effectively, we wish for these years to remain without winners."

Armstrong also said his life has been ruined by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency investigation that exposed as lies his years of denials that he and his teammates doped. And Armstrong took another swipe at cycling's top administrators, darkly suggesting they could be brought down by other skeletons in the sport's closet.

The interview was the latest blast from cycling's doping-tainted recent history to rain on the 100th Tour.

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Froome eager to fill Wiggins' void in France

June, 28, 2013
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Wiggins-Froome Bernard Prevost/Presse Sports/US PresswireChris Froome, right, is settling into the Team Sky captain's chair vacated by Bradley Wiggins.
PORTO VECCHIO -- Chris Froome stood in front of a phalanx of photographers and TV cameras Thursday a little bit in awe of all the fuss.

"Good thing I am not camera shy," Froome later joked.

Froome was sitting in the hot seat, the exact same place where Sir Bradley Wiggins sat one year ago, just weeks before becoming the first British rider to win the Tour de France.

The Kenyan-born Froome inherits the weight of expectation that comes with being the pre-ordained favorite from Wiggins, who is not even back to defend his yellow jersey.

With it comes the pressure, expectations, and stress as the Tour favorite, but Froome seems to be taking it all in stride.

"There's not much you can do to be ready for this type of hype," Froome said. "It's very different to the other races on our calendar. This is a bit of a surprise to see all this."

Unlike Wiggins, who gritted his teeth under the media pressure that came with Tour success, Froome seems unfazed by the crush of cameras and nosy questions

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Bradley WigginsAP Photo/Laurent ReboursAt 33, Bradley Wiggins says his days riding in cycling's most famous race could be finished for good.
Defending Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins (Sky), sidelined from this year's race because of an injury, may not try to win the race again, he indicated in comments published on Friday.

"For me it was always about winning the Tour," Wiggins was quoted as saying on the website for The Guardian.

"I've done that. If I'm honest, I don't think I'm prepared to make those sacrifices again that I made last year, with my family and so on. I've achieved what I've achieved. I'm incredibly happy with that."

Wiggins, who was Britain's first-ever winner of the famous race, followed up with a gold medal in the Olympic time trial and played a starring role by ringing a bell to signal the start of the Games' opening ceremony.

He also won the BBC's prestigious Sports Personality of the Year award and was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his services to cycling, but he has endured mixed fortunes on the bike since then.

First he was involved in a training ride crash with a car near his home in northwest England, and then he had to pull out of last month’s Giro d'Italia -- which he was hoping to win -- because of an illness.

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BERLIN -- Jan Ullrich, the 1997 Tour de France winner, has admitted for the first time that he received blood-doping treatment from Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes during his career.

Ullrich had previously acknowledged having unspecified "contact" with Fuentes, but went further in an interview with the weekly German magazine Focus published Saturday.

"Yes, I received treatment from Fuentes," the German rider was quoted as saying.

Asked if he only engaged in blood doping with Fuentes, Ullrich replied that "the doctor's diagnosis says that." He said he couldn't remember how many times he had received treatment from Fuentes.

In February 2012, the Court of Arbitration for Sport banned Ullrich for two years for blood doping.

The CAS ruled that the German was "fully engaged" in Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes' doping program, exposed in the Operation Puerto probe. The court stripped him of his third-place finish at the 2005 Tour. Ullrich retired in 2007.

Ullrich didn't contest the CAS ruling, saying at the time that he wanted to "put an end to the issue."

IOC vice president Thomas Bach said the confession is "too little, too late."

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van GarderenAP Photo/Marcio Jose SanchezThe Los Angeles-based consumer technology firm Belkin has taken a hard stance against doping.
PARIS -- Cycling got a pre-Tour de France boost with a new American team sponsor that vowed "zero tolerance" for doping.

Los Angeles-based consumer technology firm Belkin stepped into the void left by Rabobank, the Dutch lender that ended 17 years of cycling sponsorship last October, saying it was no longer convinced the doping-tainted sport can become "clean and honest."

This year, while it looked for a new title sponsor, the Netherlands-based team competed as Blanco, the Spanish word for "white" -- a name chosen to demonstrate that the team was making a fresh start.

The newly renamed Belkin Pro Cycling Team will make its racing debut at the Tour that starts Saturday on the French island of Corsica.

Belkin signed as title sponsor through 2015. The firm's founder and CEO, Chet Pipkin, wouldn't give a dollar figure but said the firm's sponsorship is "a huge investment for us, the biggest one we have ever made in the marketing arena."

Rabobank's withdrawal of $20 million per year of sponsorship for the team was one of the repercussions of cycling's ongoing effort against doping and the fall of Lance Armstrong. After the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency unmasked Armstrong as a serial doper, the bank said "the trust in the cycling world has gone."

Speaking in a telephone interview with The Associated Press, Pipkin addressed how he would respond if told doping is necessary for success in cycling.

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