Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Most ‘slain’ Premier League team Liverpool face banana-skin FA Cup visit of Bolton

Friday, January 23rd, 2015

By Brian Sears

23 January 2015

The formation of the Premier League from the 1992-93 season marked a major change in English football as the gap between the new top division and the rest of football quickly became a gulf. At a glance the first graphic below pretty much sums up what happened in financial terms. If you want more background on that, this linked piece from 2011 will explain in more detail.

Suffice to say, when we talk about the ‘Premier League’ era, it is not because we think that’s when Sky TV invented the game, or because we think it only matters since then, but because the game changed fundamentally at that time – to become more and more dictated by money. The Premier League is the ‘monied era’ for good, or ill – and any Premier League VS The Rest comparisons should be seen in that context, not least in the FA Cup.

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Mind the gap

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Thus within the context above, the Premier League team in the PL with the worst FA Cup record against ‘The Rest’ is arguably Liverpool. And the prime evidence in that argument is that Liverpool have been eliminated from the FA Cup by lower-league opponents more times in the Premier League era than any other PL team.

It’s happened to them eight times since 1993, and perhaps even more worrying as they prepare to face lower-league opponents Bolton at Anfield this weekend, six of those previous eight defeats were at Anfield. Indeed in 1993 the victors were Bolton themselves at Anfield, in a third-round replay. Then in 1994 Liverpool lost to Bristol City at Anfield; then in 2000 to Blackburn, in 2003 to Crystal Palace, in 2005 to Burnley (at Burnley), in 2008 to Barnsley (at Anfield), in 2010 to Reading (at Anfield) and then two years ago to Oldham (away).

Here are the most slain PL teams in the FA Cup:

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FA Cup slayings in PL to 2015

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Five Premier League clubs have been eliminated from the FA Cup this season already, but only one so far at the hands of lower league opposition: QPR, who lost to Sheffield United, most often PL slayers in the PL era.

In the fourth round this year, at least two more Premier League clubs are certain to be dismissed after all-PL ties involving Southampton v Crystal Palace and Tottenham v Leicester.  The other 11 Premier League cup hopefuls are all up against lower league opponents: seven from the Championship, three from League One (Bradford, Bristol City and Rochdale) and Cambridge United from League Two.

FAC giant killing in PL era

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Arsenal’s task of winning in Manchester is harder as City step up to United standards

Friday, January 16th, 2015

By Brian Sears

16 January 2015

Arsenal visit Manchester on Sunday to play Manchester City and then return to Manchester for their last away game of the season in May to play United. Old Trafford has long been hard work for Arsenal, not only in the Premier League era but throughout all the post-war years.

In 67 league visits to Old Trafford since the war, Arsenal have won on just 10 occasions, with only three wins there in 22 Premier League games.

Arsenal have much more enjoyed their post-war visits to Manchester to take on City. The Gunners are in post-war points profit in their visits to City, gaining 87 points and allowing City only 60 points. Overall in the Premier League era too, Arsenal have remained in profit by 32 points to 17 on City’s turf.

But the enormous financial investment made by Sheikh Mansour since 2008 in City, Arsenal have found visits there so much tougher. City had to wait until the 10th Premier League visit from Arsenal before getting their first win on their own ground.  (Arsenal had won eight and drawn one before that). But in the last eight home games with Arsenal, City have won five, drawn one and lost just two.

Up to then Arsenal had only lost 10 times in 46 post-war visits.

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Arsenal in Manc

 

Arse wins in Manc, PL

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… and another thing

Are you up for the Cup?

It’s no doubt a question that the Football Association will be interested in knowing from fans about their flagship tournament.

How can we find out? By comparing gates in the third round, when all the big clubs come in, with average league gates for the home sides to see how those attendances compare.

The answer: fans overall are 18.4 per cent down for the Cup, in the 32 ties as first played (without replays). And as many as four out of every five regular Cardiff fans for league games turned their backs on the Colchester tie while one in every two stayed away at Burnley, Millwall and Charlton.  This decline has been typical of FA Cup third-round attendances in recent seasons at some clubs.

But then there are the astronomic increases at non-league venues and the doubling of average gates at Yeovil and Tranmere. Encouraging too for the FA is the way gates are maintained at clubs like Arsenal, Chelsea and Man City.

The crowds at the seven replays in total fell a bit further than the earlier games, by 23 per cent overall. The FA should use Ipswich as their role model of keeping crowds up for the cup. Nearly one in two more fans attended the replay with Southampton than have attended league games so far this season.

FAC3R crowds 2015

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NUMBER-CRUNCHED: the best and worst of English league football in 2014

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

By Brian Sears 

31 December 2014

Of all the teams playing in the four main divisions of English football in 2014, Manchester City and Chelsea were the standout performers in the calendar year in terms of points per game. Both amassed 88 points from 38 league games in 2014 for 2.32 points per game on average, with City just pipping Chelsea on goal difference (+56 vs +55) for the year.

Each of those clubs have won 27 games in 2014, drawn seven and lost four and it is appropriate they head the calendar year table for England as they start 2015 as the two prime contenders to be champions of England this season.

Calendar year: bah humbug! That is a familiar refrain in some quarters when annual rather than season figures are produced but they serve a purpose beyond wrapping up a year and being a half-way marker in a season. When you look at the worst performing teams in particular, the calendar year data tends to highlight long-term problems that are not always immediate when looking at seasonal data. Certainly long-term issues are thrown into starker contrast.

In all, 94 different teams spent all or part of 2014 in those the four divisions. Of those 94 clubs, only four – City, Chelsea, Luton and Liverpool – averaged two or more points per game. Again, this reminds us what a magnificent first half of 2014 Liverpool had, and what a relative flop they have been in the post-Suarez period.

The star performers outside that trio include resurgent Wolves and Preston, with Arsenal not doing so badly in seventh ahead of Derby, Bristol City and then a pair of Premier League aspirants, Bournemouth and Brentford, both just ahead of Manchester United.

Article continues below (NB: this graphic was updated on 5.1.15 to correct an error over games played by Luton)

Top 20 Eng calendar 2014

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Next: the worst 10 performing clubs of 2014. Confirmation that Blackpool fans have good reason to be miserable. Thanks Oyston clan!

Also note that West Brom and Hull are the only Premier League clubs with less than a point per game. Their woes are long-term now. And Leeds fans see no signs of their struggles abating just yet.

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Calendar 2014 the 10 worst

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Before we move on to the divisional tables, here are some of the ‘most and least’ highlights among the 94 clubs in 2014:

Most wins: Man City, Chelsea, Luton, Wolves – all 27.

Fewest wins: Blackpool 5, Hull 7.

Most defeats: Blackpool 29, Hartlepool 28.

Most goals scored: Bournemouth 91, Man City 89.

Fewest goals scored: Blackpool 31, Aston Villa 32.

Most average team in England: The average points per game of all clubs is 1.38, so Accrington Stanley are closest.

Calendar 2014 GPG

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And while we’re on the subject of random stats:

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Calendar 2014 notable

 

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And here are the tables by division: PREMIER LEAGUE

Calendar 2014 PL

 

And here are the tables by division: FOOTBALL LEAGUE

(NB – Luton played 44 games, not 46, as per top graphic, so had 2.05 pts per game)

Calendar 2014 FL1

Calendar 2014 FL2

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Cycling in the EPO era: 65 per cent ‘juiced’ … and probably more

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

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When Lance Armstrong was banned for life in August 2012 for doping to win his seven Tours de France between 1999 and 2005, most casual observers would have assumed cycling’s well-documented doping problems were, if not solved, then at least cleared up somewhat. But that sordid story did not start with Armstrong nor did it end with him.Cycle-Of-Suspicion-A3

A change in leadership of the world governing body, the International Cycling Union (UCI) in autumn 2013 brought a new president, Brian Cookson, and an apparently fresh desire to investigate those figures – Armstrong and others – who contributed to cycling’s dark and hidden past. The investigatory body is the CIRC, or Cycling Independent Reform Commission, a three-man group that has the potential to produce one of the most seismic sporting stories of 2015 – or one of its most expensive flops.

Some of cycling’s biggest and longest-suspected names could finally walk out of the shadows and confess. The slate may finally be wiped clean. Painful though it may be, a catharsis could usher in a new era of transparency and accountability, directed by a global governing body. In sport, that would be nothing short of astonishing – and something from which FIFA, the IAAF and others might well learn.

But in a worst-case scenario, the ‘omerta’ – cycling’s code of silence that the Commission hopes to destroy – will be reinforced, and the UCI may end up with little new information and egg on its face. In a special investigation for Sportingintelligence,  TEDDY CUTLER explores what we can expect from a report that has the potential to rock cycling’s boat – and finally prove the sport is making concerted efforts to confront the spectres of its past.

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Teddy CutlerBy Teddy Cutler

31 December 2014

Among the many promises of greater transparency that Brian Cookson made at the start of his term as UCI President, the creation of the Cycling Independent Reform Commission (CIRC) stood out.

The idea is not a new one – in fact it has been wafting around in cycling for a good few years. Originally it was called ‘Truth and Reconciliation’ – which gives you a much better idea of what CIRC wants to achieve.

At the end of February 2015, CIRC will hand over a report to the UCI detailing the findings of an investigation into doping practices in professional cycling between 1 January 1998 and 3 December  2013.

During that time, there were only four clean Tour de France winners, or to be more precise, riders who have remained free of any confirmed doping up to now: Carlos Sastre in 2008, Cadel Evans in 2011, Bradley Wiggins in 2012 and Chris Froome in 2013. That means the winners of the other 12 Tours de France in that period were dopers, including the most notorious, seven-times winner Armstrong and the late Marco Pantani.

There can be no doubt that professional road cycling was, for a long time, propelled by drugs. Quite possibly a majority of riders in the Grand Tours had used performance-enhancing substances at some point. In attempting to quantify this, and to provide a snapshot at least, Sportingintelligence has analysed the career details of every rider finishing in the top 10 in the Tour De France in the years being considered under the CIRC remit.

The result is expected but shocking nonetheless. Cycling has been around 65 per cent ‘dirty’. Perhaps less, but probably more.

Also considered in this study are other key riders away from those top 10s in the sport’s most prestigious race, as well doctors and team personnel who have been involved in the sport, and the findings are in the poster below and in the long and detailed appendix at the foot of this piece.

In the 16 TdF races from 1998-2013 inclusive, the 160 top-10 places were filled by 81 different riders, and 31 of them (or 38 per cent) are confirmed dopers who have already been officially sanctioned by some body or other for their doping. These include Armstrong and some other major names and they are marked in red on our ‘Cycle of Suspicion’ graphic.

A further eight riders are known dopers who have never been sanctioned – and they are purple – and a further 14 riders on top are blue, denoting riders who are linked to doping or strongly suspected of doping but have not been proved to be so, definitely, yet.

Together, these three groups make up 65 per cent of the riders who finished in the top ten of the Tour de France in the 16 years under consideration. It would be a surprise in the fullness of time if it transpired that cycling was ‘only’ 65 per cent murky in the EPO era.

Bobby Julich (a former Team Sky employee), Michael Boogerd and Axel Merckx are all ‘purples’ as they have never been sanctioned for their doping offences. Michael Rogers, a ‘blue’ and another former Sky employee, has onerous links to doping but has never been suspended for his association with the notorious ‘doping doctor’ Michele Ferrari. Rogers’ ban for a positive Clenbuterol test in 2013 was only a provisional suspension, so does not count for the purposes of our graphic. Likewise, Damiano Cunego, a fomer Giro D’Italia winner among 27 names in Italian court documents linked to doping, has been associated closely with doping, but nothing has ever stuck.

One of the key but lesser-known ‘blue’ names on our graphic is that of Max Sciandri, who was British Cycling’s Academy Director from 2004 to 2010. During his career as a rider he was a client of the notorious sports doctor Luigi Cecchini – a contemporary of Michele Ferrari’s at the University of Ferrara. In 2006, Sciandri put David Millar, returning from his two-year ban for EPO use, in contact with Cecchini. Sciandri, who now works as an assistant director at the BMC team, was also one of 51 names indicted in the ‘Blitz Raids‘ of the 2001 Giro d’Italia. He has never served a ban.

Of the 81 ‘top 10′ riders, just 28, or 35 per cent, remain unblemished, yet, and it’s little surprise that 20 of those 28 come from the Tours between 2010 and 2013; it is generally older riders who have been unmasked by the passage of time and retrospective testing of their samples.

Article continues below (click to enlarge graphic)

Obtain a FREE A3 poster PDF by clicking this sentence to send email, put ‘cycle poster’ in the subject line

Cycle-Of-Suspicion-A3

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The Commission, then, is an attempt by Cookson and the UCI to finally lay to rest many of the most malevolent ghosts of cycling’s recent past. It’s a noble idea – and an expensive one, too, as the sport’s governing body has funded it to the tune of upwards of €3 million (£2.35m / $3.65m). If it provokes and entices some of the sport’s shadier names out of the darkness, it will have been a success – and it will be one of 2015’s biggest sports stories. If few significant figures come forward, however, it will be a costly failure and an embarrassment for a governing body that can ill afford to lower itself further in the public eye.

There are some key factors to bear in mind about CIRC – factors which impinge heavily on its potential success. Most importantly, it works on a voluntary basis – the Commission has no power to force anyone to come forward. Why, then, would anyone choose to talk to these three men – Dr Dick Marty, the president, and Peter Nicholson and Professor Ulrich Haas, his colleagues.

Well, we know for certain that major figures from the last 15 years of cycling have come forward to speak. And, as per the regulations set out in the CIRC remit (PDF of the terms of reference in full here), a rider who admits to the use or possession of prohibited substances or methods or whereabouts failures would receive a ban of six months – far less than they would were they to be sanctioned for the same offence by the UCI. So there is an incentive to come clean – although WADA and the UCI need to agree on sanctions as CIRC can only recommend them.

Armstrong has met with the Commission twice, for a total of seven hours – in the hope that the life ban he received in 2012 might be reduced, as Cookson hinted at in May. Any such reduction would, however, depend on the agreement of USADA, the UCI and WADA. Armstrong getting a reduced ban in itself would be a major story; one of dozens potentially to emerge from this process.

If a rider or team official chooses not to come forward and evidence then appears in the future that links them to doping, the punishments will be severe – up to an eight-year ban.

That’s the carrot – the incentive to tell the Commission what you know. Where the CIRC may fall down is firstly in its aforementioned lack of real power to punish – and secondly because a normal eight-year statute of limitations will apply, so any offence committed before 2006 will be unsanctionable anyway. However, the UCI would have the power to withhold a licence and thus ban the rider or team official from competition.

The outcome of the process is certain to be polarising, and indeed already is.

Riccardo Ricco is a disgraced Italian professional banned for 12 years in 2012. Among several scandals, he admitted to taking EPO, was rushed to hospital after an alleged botched blood transfusion, and was accused by Italian police in May of buying EPO and testosterone in the car park of a McDonald’s burger restaurant near Livorno.

As Cycling News have reported, Ricco has alleged the CIRC process to be flawed because it did not end with his own assistance getting him a reduced ban. ”I got in touch with the CIRC and went to Lausanne to speak to them early this year,” he said. “I paid my own way to go there. I told them everything I knew; I gave them names of doctors, directeur sportifs and riders who are still involved in the sport. I was led to believe I’d get a 50% cut in my ban because I want to make a comeback as a professional rider. But any reduction was stopped by the Italians. The whole thing was a joke. It seems the rules are applied and interpreted depending on who you are.”

Ricco went looking for a reduction in his ban and found the CIRC powerless to help him in the face of his national anti-doping organisation. But if he has told the Commission as much as he says he has, it will make very interesting reading indeed. He is but one person among dozens, perhaps hundreds, to have spoken to the CIRC.

Some riders have already had their bans reduced: Mauro Santambrogio, for instance, who tested positive for EPO during the final week of the 2013 Giro d’Italia became the first Italian to confess to the CIRC in June 2014, bringing a potential four-year ban down to 18 months.

Cookson and the UCI would most like to see one group of people come forward to divulge to the CIRC – those with red, purple or blue dots on our ‘Cycle of Suspicion’ graphic with an asterisk also next to the names, denoting they are still active in cycling and are either proven to be dopers or are suspected of it.

Alexander Vinokourov is significantly one of these, being the current general manager of the controversial Astana team; he tested positive for a blood transfusion in 2007. Cookson has called the Kazakh out, saying: “I have encouraged anyone, including Alexander Vinokourov, to speak to the reform commission,” he said. “It’s important that anyone who has had problems in the past, and wants to continue to work in the sport in the future, comes to the reform commission.”

In this case, the prospect of a ban is unlikely and of little importance – Vinokourov has already served a ban from 2007 to 2009. What is more important would be what he reveals about the current Astana team, who have been hit by a rash of positive doping tests this autumn. Those include the EPO positives of the brothers Maxim and Valentin Iglinskiy, both of whom tested positive for EPO this year. Astana have encouraged both to come forward to the CIRC – indicating that its timescale remains fluid.

Now take a look at the US Postal/Discovery Channel wheel on our graphic. One of the key names is Viatcheslav Ekimov – one of Armstrong’s most loyal lieutenants who is now manager of Katusha, the Russian cycling team. Ekimov is named in Floyd Landis’s qui tam whistleblower lawsuit as one of the US Postal riders who received a blood transfusion midway through the 2004 Tour de France. If that information were corroborated by another rider speaking to the CIRC, it would not result in a ban – it happened outside the statute of limitations. But Ekimov’s position as Katusha general manager would come under serious pressure, and the UCI could strip him of his licence.

No neutral observer looking at Ekimov’s past believes he has had a drug-free career. Indeed as Tyler Hamilton described in his acclaimed tell-all book ‘The Secret Race‘, Ekimov is alleged to have scoffed as police carried out drugs raids during the Festina affair during the 1998 Tour de France. In the passage below, Hamilton describes Ekimov joking he was considering diving into the team toilet to recover flushed doping products.

Hamilton on Ekimov

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The CIRC seems to be the UCI’s way of offering an olive branch to riders who escaped sanction in the past. In addition to Vinokourov, Cookson has reached out to Bjarne Riis – the Dane who won the 1996 Tour de France but later admitted to performance-enhancing drug use throughout his career.

The CIRC has no power to ban Riis – even if it could mete out sanctions, his career as a rider ended way back in 2000. But Riis went on to enjoy a second career, as a team manager – much like Vinokourov. And Tyler Hamilton, who rode under him at CSC, accused him of openly encouraging doping among his charges. If Hamilton has spoken to the Commission, its publication has the potential to make life profoundly uncomfortable for Riis, now team manager at Tinkoff-Saxo, the evolution of CSC.

Moving across to the Team Sky wheel, and the situation is much the same. Bobby Julich, Chris Froome’s coach throughout 2011, cannot be sanctioned for his admitted use of EPO during the 1998 Tour de France – an admission that caused him to leave Sky. Far more interesting to us and to the commission is his time as a rider at CSC from 2004 to 2008 – and his spells as coach at BMC, Sky and now, from the 2015 season onwards, at Tinkoff-Saxo.

He will be joined there, working under Bjarne Riis and with the star rider Alberto Contador who has served his own ban for doping, by Sean Yates, who himself left Sky in the autumn of 2012 as Sky reiterated they wanted no employees with any doping past. Neither Sky nor Yates ever admitted he had any doping past. Yates rode alongside Armstrong at Motorola before becoming his Directeur Sportif at Discovery Channel and then Astana. He has worked with Bjarne Riis before, too, at CSC in 2003-04. Despite working closely with Armstrong for six years, Yates told the BBC in 2012 he had never seen anything suspicious. If the CIRC has done its job, the credibility of such statements will be tested at least.

The success of the CIRC report, which will be delivered to and published by the UCI, lies almost entirely in the quantity and identity of those who come forward and the quality of the information they proffer. We are unlikely to see a scenario whereby teams are decimated by the sudden suspensions of hordes of riders and assorted personnel – not least because many have already served their bans. What we may gain, however, is a greater amount of light shone on the careers of who have escaped censure.

Professional cycling is a small world – most people involved in it know each other, many have worked at the same big teams, so word spreads quickly. For proof of this, consider the breadth of the client list of many of the doctors listed both on our graphic and in the appendix to this piece.

It should be hard to keep secrets in cycling, yet the ‘omerta’ – the code of silence – has meant that for the past 20 years, the culture of doping has remained hidden. The CIRC is by no means perfect – unlike USADA, for instance, it does not have the ability to run around issuing subpoenas like parking tickets. Yet it stands perhaps the best chance the sport of cycling has ever had to smash the omerta if not for good then at least for a generation.

Of course, it’s not just riders and team managers – this is the UCI’s attempt at investigating itself, too, for 15 years during many of which it appeared to bury the reality of doping under a thick rug. It remains to be seen whether either of Hein Verbruggen and Pat McQuaid, Cookson’s two predecessors have volunteered to speak to the CIRC.

The UCI wants us to believe this is an honest attempt at clearing up a messy trail of crumbs stretching back 15 years. For that to be the case, the CIRC must have nailed at least one of the big names, still floating in the professional cycling universe, unpunished, yet.

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APPENDIX

Riders of interest connected particularly with … US Postal/Discovery Channel

Lance Armstrong (USA, 43, seven-time TdF winner 1999-2005): (Motorola 1992-96; Cofidis 1997; US Postal-Discovery 1998-2005; Astana 2009; Radioshack 2010-11). Armstrong overcame cancer to become the most successful Tour de France rider of all time, winning the event seven years in succession. After years of investigation into doping practices at Postal, the publication of a 2012 report the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) stripped him of these, as well as his 3rd place in the 2009 TdF, and banned him from cycling for life. USADA cycling investigation and archive of materials HERE

Tyler Hamilton (USA, 43): (US Postal 1996-2001; CSC 2002-03; Phonak 2004; Tinkoff Credit Systems 2007). In 2011, Hamilton returned his 2004 Athens gold medal for the time trial to USADA. His affidavit describes how he doped at US Postal and continued at CSC, where he was a client of Eufemiano Fuentes and implicated in Operacion Puerto. Hamilton tested positive for the second time in 2004 during the 2004 Vuelta while riding for Phonak. A third positive in 2009 ended his career. PDF of Hamilton’s affidavit to USADA, here.

Levi Leipheimer (USA, 41): (US Postal 2000-01; Rabobank 2002-04; Gerolsteiner 2005-06; Astana 2008-09; Radioshack 2010-11). In Leipheimer’s affidavit to the USADA investigation headed by Travis Tygart, he describes how he used EPO before joining US Postal, and how when at the team he was instructed to use Actovegin. He continued to use EPO at Rabobank – there is a redacted name in the affidavit believed to be Geert Leinders – and at Gerolsteiner. PDF of Leipheimer’s affidavit to USADA, here.

Jose Azevedo (Portugal, 41): (ONCE 2001-03; US Postal/Discovery 2004-06). Azevedo, a key lieutenant for Armstrong at US Postal for two years is one of the only figures from that team never to have had any confirmed doping history – either at Postal or with ONCE, his previous team. Technically the winner of the 2002 Tour de France if all the ‘dirty’ riders finishing above his 6th place are discounted.

Floyd Landis (USA, 39): (US Postal 2002-04; Phonak 2005-06). Landis was leading the 2006 Tour de France, riding for Phonak, when he tested positive for testosterone. In 2010, Landis triggered Armstrong’s downfall by admitting to doping throughout his career, also implicating Johan Bruyneel.

Christian Vande Velde (USA, 38): (US Postal 1998-2003; Liberty Seguros 2004; CSC 2005-07; Garmin 2008-13). Vande Velde’s affidavit as part of the ‘Reasoned Decision’ against Lance Armstrong describes how he first doped during the 1999 Tour de France using testosterone. He began EPO doping with Michele Ferrari in late 2000. He maintains that since 2006 he has not used any banned substances, in a period in which he achieved his best ever TdF result (4th). PDF of Vande Velde’s affidavit to USADA, here.

Kevin Livingston (USA, 41): (Motorola 1995-96; Cofidis 1997-98; US Postal 1999-2000; Telekom 2001-02). Following the 2013 publication of the French Anti-Doping report into the 1998 and 1999 Tours de France, Livingston was found to have tested positive for EPO during each. He never testified in USADA’s ‘Reasoned Decision’ and works today out of Lance Armstrong’s ‘Mellow Johnny’ bike shop in Austin, Texas, as a coach.

Roberto Heras (Spain, 40): (Kelme 1997-2000; US Postal 2001-03; Liberty-Seguros/Astana 2004-06). Heras enjoyed his greatest success at the Vuelta a Espana, winning it four times. The 4th time, in 2005, he tested positive for EPO and was stripped of the title but later acquitted and reinstated as winner.

Yaroslav Popovych (Ukraine, 34): (Discovery Channel 2005-07; 2008 Lotto; 2009 Astana; 2010-2014 Radioshack/Trek). In 2010, police searched Popvych’s home in Tuscany, allegedly finding banned substances. This was denied by the rider’s lawyer. Popovych was issued with a subpoena in 2010 as part of the Lance Armstrong investigation. He denied ever seeing doping take place.

Tom Danielson (USA, 36): (Fassa Bortolo 2004; Discovery Channel 2005-07; Garmin 2008-14). Danielson’s affidavit as part of the USADA ‘Reasoned Decision’ against Lance Armstrong describes how he was introduced to Michele Ferrari while at Fassa Bortolo in 2004. Ferrari contacted Johan Bruyneel and got Danielson a place at Discovery Channel. While there, he witnessed Michael Barry doping. PDF of Danielson’s affidavit to USADA.

Jurgen van den Broeck (Belgium, 31): (US Postal/Discovery Channel 2004-06; Lotto 2007-14). Van den Broeck, who was third in the 2010 Tour de France and fourth in 2012 has never been formally linked or charged with doping but was forced to answer questions in 2013 about visits he made to Chris Mertens, a Belgian doctor specialising in Ozone blood treatment. Van den Broeck claimed he had visited the doctor because of a sinus problem.

Jonathan Vaughters (USA, 41): (US Postal 1998/99; Credit Agricole 2000-02 as team manager Garmin 2007-14). Vaughters admitted in 2012 to doping during his time at US Postal. His affidavit was a part of the ‘Reasoned Decision’ against Lance Armstrong. Following his career, he went on to establish the Garmin team with a ‘clean’ ethos. PDF of Vaughters’ affidavit to USADA.

Viatcheslav Ekimov (Russia, 48): (Rabobank 1996; US Postal 1997-98; US Postal/Discovery 2000-2006 as DS/team manager Astana 2008-09; Radioshack 2010-11; Katusha 2012-14). Ekimov was upgraded to 2004 Olympic time trial gold after Tyler Hamilton gave back his own gold for doping. One of the most loyal of all Lance Armstrong’s lieutenants, Ekimov has never given evidence against Armstrong nor been definitively nailed down himself as a doper. In 2011, he called Tyler Hamilton a ‘liar’ for his allegations of doping on the US Postal team. His name comes up again in Floyd Landis’ whistleblower case, where Ekimov is identified as one of the US Postal riders to have received a blood transfusion midway through the 2004 Tour de France.

Matt White (Australia, 40): (US Postal 2001-03; Cofidis 2004-05; Discovery Channel 2006-07 as Directeur Sportif Garmin 2008-10; Orica GreenEdge 2012-14). White first tested positive in 1998 for Salbutamol when riding for the Italian team Amore e Vita. In October 2012, White admitted to having doped while at US Postal. His name does not feature in the ‘reasoned decision’ but is thought to be the sworn testimonies provided to USADA. Then, in 2011 White was sacked from his role at Garmin after sending a young professional, Trent Lowe, who also rode for Discovery Channel, to Luis Garcia del Moral.

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Riders of interest connected particularly with … Liberty Seguros/Astana

Alberto Contador (Spain, 31): (ONCE 2003; Liberty-Seguros/Astana 2004-10; Saxo Bank/Saxo-Tinkoff 2011-14). Two-times winner of the TdF. Three-times winner of the Vuelta. Won the Grio in 2008. Contador was one of the active riders named in 2006 in connection with Operacion Puerto. He later received a judicial clearance. On the final rest day of the 2010 Tour de France, a race he won, Contador tested positive for Clenbuterol, which he said came from eating contaminated beef. Traces of plasticizers were also found. He was stripped of the 2010 yellow jersey and banned for two years.

Vincenzo Nibali (Italy, 30): (Liquigas 2006-12; Astana 2013-14). Winner of the Vuelta 2010, Giro 2013 and TdF in 2014. Nibali has had to answer repeated questions about his purported involvement with Michele Ferrari. He faced claims he worked with Ferrari first after coming seventh in the 2009 Tour de France. Nibali sued sports director Ivan Fanini for making the claims.

Roman Kreuziger (Czech Republic, 28): (Liquigas 2006-10; Astana 2011-12; Saxo-Tinkoff/Tinkoff-Saxo 2013-14). In May 2014, an investigation was begun into Kreuziger for bio-passport irregularities dating back to 2011 and 2012, when he was riding with Astana. He was first contacted on the eve of the 2013 Tour de France by the UCI about the irregularities. His case is ongoing.

Alexander Vinokourov (Kazakhstan, 41): (Telekom/T-Mobile 2000-05; Liberty Seguros/Astana 2006-12 As manager: (Astana 2012-present). Winner of the Vuelta 2006. Olympic road race gold 2012. Vinokourov, a Kazakh national hero has one doping infraction against his name: in 2007, when he failed a test for a blood transfusion midway through that year’s Tour de France, causing his Astana team to withdraw from the race. He had been criticised by then-UCI president Pat McQuaid for his association with Michele Ferrari.

Chris Horner (USA, 43): (Francaise des Jeux 1997-99; Saunier-Duval 2005; Lotto 2006-07; Astana 2008-09; Radioshack 2010-13; Lampre 2014). Vuelta winner 2013. In 2013, Horner became the oldest man ever to win a Grand Tour when he took the Vuelta a Espana. He has never been charged with a doping infraction but has frequently had to deny that he is the redacted name for ‘Rider 15’ in Levi Leipheimer’s affidavit to USADA.

Janez Brajkovic (Slovenia, 30): (Discovery Channel 2005-07; Astana 2008-09; Radioshack 2010-11; Astana 2012-14). Brajkovic, ninth in the 2012 Tour de France has never been involved in any doping investigation.

Maxim Iglinskiy (Kazakhstan, 33): (Astana 2007-14). Iglinskiy, winner of the 2012 Liege-Bastogne-Liege one-day race tested positive for EPO on August 1 2014, having been part of Vincenzo Nibali’s Tour-winning team. News of his positive test came three weeks after his brother, Valentin.

Valentin Iglinsky (Kazakhstan, 30): (Astana 2010-12, 2014; AG2R 2013). Valentin Iglinskiy tested positive for EPO around Stage 1 of the 2014 ENECO Tour. He was sacked by Astana and the team auto-suspended under the guidelines of the MPCC (Movement for Credible Cycling). The two Iglinskiy brothers were also encouraged by team officials to come forward to the CIRC.

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Riders of interest connected particularly with … Telekom/T-Mobile

Jan Ullrich (Germany, 40): (Telekom 1994-2002; Bianchi-Coast 2003; T-Mobile 2004-2007). Winner of the 1997 Tour de France. Ullrich, one of Germany’s most successful ever cyclists, has long had a laundry list of doping accusations attached to his name and in 2013 finally admitted to blood doping. Ullrich was a client of Eufemiano Fuentes, the Madrid-based gynaecologist turned doping doctor and was suspended by T-Mobile for his involvement. Retroactive testing showed he used EPO during the 1998 Tour de France.

Andreas Kloden (Germany, 39): (Telekom/T-Mobile 1999-2006; Astana 2007-09; Radioshack 2010-13). In an investigation into the relationship between T-Mobile and the Freiburg university clinic, Kloden was one of the names alleged to have obtained EPO via team doctors Andreas Schmid and Lothar Heinrich.

Santiago Botero (Colombia, 42): (Kelme 1996-2002; Telekom/T-Mobile 2003-04; Phonak 2005-06; Rock Racing 2008). World champion time trial gold 2002. Botero was suspended by Kelme for six months in 1999 for elevated testosterone levels. Botero was cleared three weeks later by none other than Eufemiano Fuentes, who said his levels were natural. That’s important, because while at Phonak Botero was named as a Fuentes client in Operacion Puerto. He was suspended by Phonak but later cleared of involvement by the Colombian cycling federation.

Bernhard Kohl (Austria, 32): (Rabobank 2003-04; T-Mobile 2005-06; Gerolsteiner 2007-08). Kohl tested positive for CERA (third-generation EPO) during the 2008 Tour de France. In 2009, Kohl detailed his doping practices and claimed the entire top 10 of the 2008 Tour de France was on EPO. He retired after receiving a lifetime ban.

Oscar Sevilla (Spain, 38): (Kelme 1998-2003; Phonak 2004; T-Mobile 2005-06; Rock Racing 2008-09). Runner-up 2001 Vuelta. Sevilla was suspended by T-Mobile just prior to the 2006 Tour de France after being named as a client of Eufemiano Fuentes. Sevilla stored blood bags with Fuentes.

Kim Kirchen (Luxembourg, 36): (Fassa Bortolo 2001-05; T-Mobile 2006-07; Columbia 2008-09; Katusha 2010). Kirchen was never connected with any doping scandal. His career ended in 2010 after he was forced to undergo emergency heart surgery.

Jorg Jaksche (Germany, 38): (Telekom 1999-2000; ONCE 2001-03; CSC 2004; Liberty Seguros/Astana 2005-06). Jaksche was a client of Eufemiano Fuentes, with his blood bag given the nickname ‘Bella’. After the Operacion Puerto raids of May 2006, he was prevented from starting the 2006 Tour de France. He has frequently been open about his and others’ doping practices with the media and cycling authorities.

Bjarne Riis (Denmark, 50): (Telekom 1996-2000; as manager CSC/Saxo Bank/Saxo Tinkoff/Tinkoff Saxo 2004-14). Winner of the 1996 Tour de France. Riis won the Tour de France in 1996 riding with Telekom, but in 2007 admitted to drug use throughout his career, including the year he won the Tour. He later became manager of CSC. Tyler Hamilton, who rode for CSC under Riis accused him of openly encouraging doping amongst his riders.

Patrik Sinkewitz (Germany, 34): (Mapei 2001; Quikctsep 2003-05; T-Mobile 2006-07). Sinkewitz’s positive test for testosterone in 2007 precipitated the fall of T-Mobile. The Freiburg Report describes how Sinkewitz first started blood doping with Lothar Henrich in 2006, and how on July 2 2006 he was driven from France to the Freiburg Clinic where Schmid and Heinrich worked to receive a blood transfusion.

Erik Zabel (Germany, 44): (Telekom/T-Mobile 1993-2005; Milram 2006-08). Zabel, commonly considered Germany’s greatest-ever sprinter and one of the world’s best of all time, first confessed to EPO use in 2007, admitting that he had used the drug during the first week of the 1996 Tour de France. In 2013, he made a second confession, this time admitting that he had doped multiple times between 1996 and 2003.

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Riders of interest connected particularly with … Team Sky

Bradley Wiggins (Great Britain, 34): (Cofidis 2006-07; Columbia 2008; Garmin 2009; Sky 2010-2014). Winner of the 2012 Tour de France and London Olympics time trial gold medal winner, 2012. Wiggins, the first British rider to ever win the Tour de France has never been connected with a doping scandal. In 2007 he thought about retirement after his Cofidis squad were forced to withdraw from the Tour de France due to Cristian Moreni’s positive test.

Chris Froome (Britain, 29): (Barloworld 2008-09; Sky 2010-14). Winner of the 2013 Tour de France and London Olympics time trial bronze medal winner, 2012. Froome, who finished runner-up in the 2012 Tour de France before winning the race in 2013 has never been connected to a doping investigation both during his time at Barloworld and Sky. Has used multiple doctors to treat a variety of ailments to jump-start his career since 2011.

Leopold Konig (Czech Republic, 27): (NetApp Endura 2011-14; Sky 2015-16). Konig, who will join Sky for the 2015 season having finished seventh in the 2014 Tour de France has never been implicated in doping.

Michael Rogers (Australia, 34): (2000-02 Mapei; 2003-05 Quickstep; 2006-07 T-Mobile; 2000-10 Columbia; 2011-12 Sky; 2013-2015 Tinkoff –Saxo). Three-times UCI world TT champion (2003, 04 and 05). In October 2013, Rogers tested positive for Clenbuterol after winning the Japan Cup. The UCI accepted his claim it had come from eating contaminated meat. Rogers admitted to working with Michele Ferrari and, according to disgraced teammate Patrik Sinkewitz, may have stored blood at the Freiburg University clinic.

Bobby Julich (USA, 42): (As rider: Motorola 1995-96; Cofidis 1997-99; Credit Agricole 2000-01; Telekom 2002-03; CSC 2004-08 As coach: Saxo Bank 2009-10; Sky 2010-12; BMC 2013-14; Tinkoff-Saxo 2015). Third in the 1998 Tour de France and promoted to the silver medal in the 2004 Olympics time trial after compatriot Tyler Hamilton gave back his gold. Julich left Sky in October 2012 as part of their newly-implemented ‘zero tolerance policy’ after admitting to EPO use from 1996 to 1998, whilst at Motorola and Cofidis.

Servais Knaven (Netherlands, 43): (TVM 1993-99; Quickstep 2003-06; T-Mobile 2007-08; as Directeur Sportif 2011-14 Team Sky ). Knaven was a rider on the TVM team during the 1998 Tour de France that was the subject of a report handled by a judge in Reims. Every member of the TVM team from the 1998 Tour tested positive for banned substances. Knaven has escaped censure and now works as a team official at Sky.

Sean Yates (Great Britain, 54): (Motorola 1992-96; as Directeur Sportif CSC 2003-04; Discovery Channel 2005-07; Astana 2008-09; Sky 2010-12, Tinkoff-Saxo 2015-). Yates tested positive for testosterone in 1989, but extra samples tested showed no drugs and he was not sanctioned. The most interesting part of his career concerns his time as a DS. Yates worked with Bjarne Riis at CSC and was a mentor to Lance Armstrong as a rider at Motorola before becoming his DS at Discovery Channel and then Astana. He left Sky in the autumn of 2012 after the implementation of the ‘zero tolerance’ policy, but never publicly admitting to doping. He will team up again with Bjarne Riis and Alberto Contador in 2015, joining Bobby Julich at Tinkoff-Saxo.

Steven de Jongh (The Netherlands): (TVM 1995-99; Rabobank 2000-2005; Quick Step 2006-09; as directeur sportif Sky 2010-12; Saxo-Tinkoff 2013). De Jongh was a member of the TVM team that appeared before a judge in Reims in August 1998 charged with doping offences. He, like his colleague from that team Servais Knaven, later joined Team Sky as a sports director. In October 2012, he was forced to leave the team after admitting to a doping violation in his past.

Dario Cioni (Italy, 39): (Mapei 2000-02; Fassa Bortolo 2003-04; Liquigas 2005-06; Lotto 2007-08; Sky 2010-11; as directeur sportif Sky 2012-14). Dario Cioni recorded a haematocrit level of above 50% prior to the 2004 World Championships. He appealed and was granted an exemption on the grounds that he had a naturally high haematocrit. He continues to work for Team Sky to this day.

Michael Barry (Canada, 38): (US Postal/Discover 2002-06; T-Mobile 2007; Sky 2010-12). In his affidavit as part of the USADA ‘Reasoned Decision’ against Lance Armstrong, Michael Barry describes how George Hincapie first suggested the idea of doping to him on a training ride in 2003. He began doping with EPO in 2003 and on one occasion used Human Growth Hormone. He left Sky in 2012 after the implementation of the ‘zero tolerance policy’, having already admitted his doping in the affidavit.

Jonathan Tiernan-Locke (Britain, 30): (Sky 2013; Endura 2012). In 2014, Tiernan-Locke was banned for two years and fired by Sky for bio-passport irregularities dating back to September 2012. A claim that binge-drinking caused his irregular drug test result was rejected.

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Riders of interest connected particularly with … CSC/Saxo Bank/Saxo Tinkoff/Tinkoff Saxo

Carlos Sastre (Spain, 39): (ONCE 1998-2001; CSC 2002-08). Winner of the 2008 Tour de France. Sastre has never been associated with doping, despite riding at ONCE and under Bjarne Riis at CSC for the majority of his career. Asked about Tyler Hamilton, he said: “If you had the chance to jump over a bridge, would you do it? I did not go over the bridge.”

Andy Schleck (Luxembourg, 29): (CSC/Saxo Bank 2004-10; Leopard Trek/Radioshack/Trek Factory Racing 2011-14). Belated  winner of the 2012 Tour de France. Schleck came second in the 2010 Tour but was bumped to first following Alberto Contador’s disqualification. He has never been connected to a doping investigation and retired in 2014 at just 29.

Frank Schleck (Luxembourg, 34): (CSC 2002-10; Leopard Trek/Radioshack/Trek Factory Racing 2012-14). Schleck, 3rd in the 2011 Tour de France has a history of doping connections. In 2008 he admitted making a payment to Eufemiano Fuentes back in 2006. Following stage 13 of the 2012 Tour de France, Schleck tested positive for Xipamide and was given a one-year ban.

Ivan Basso (Italy, 36): (Fassa Bortolo, 2001-03; CSC 2004-06; Discovery Channel 2007; Liquigas/Cannondale 2009-14; Tinkoff-Saxo 2015). Winner of the Giro, 2006, 2010. Ivan Basso admitted involvement in Operacion Puerto in 2007. He claimed he had only intended to dope but had not actually gone through with it. The scandal saw him released from his Discovery channel contract and gave him a two-year ban.

Andrea Peron (Italy, 43): (Motorola 1995-96; Francaise des Jeux 1997-98; ONCE 1999; Fassa Bortolo 2000-01; CSC 2002-06). Peron’s name has only ever been connected to doping once: in the Blitz Raids of 2001, when Italian police stormed the 2001 Giro d’Italia and found banned substances at team hotels  including atb the Fassa Bortolo hotel for which Peron was riding at the time.

Max Sciandri (Britain, 47): (Motorola 1996; Francaise des Jeux 1997-99; Lampre 2000-03; CSC 2004 post career academy director British Cycling 2004-10; BMC Assistant Director 2010-14). Max Sciandri was one of the 51 names on the final list of those indicted during the ‘Blitz Raids’ of 2001. He was a client of the notorious Luigi Cecchini, who like Michele Ferrari learned under Francesco Conconi at the University of Ferrara. This relationship is written about in David Millar’s book, ‘Racing Through the Dark’, because Sciandri recommended Cecchini to Millar. Later, Sciandri became the man responsible for the development of young British riders, among them Geraint Thomas and Mark Cavendish.

Sergio Paulinho (Portugal, 34): (Liberty Seguros/Astana 2005-06; Discovery Channel 2007; Astana 2008-09; Radioshack 2010-11; Saxo-Tinkoff/Tinkoff -Saxo 2012-16). Silver medal winner in 2004 Olympic road race. Paulinho, who rode for Johan Bruyneel at Discovery Channel, Astana and Radioshack and now Bjarne Riis at Tinkoff-Saxo was one of the five Astana riders implicated in Operacion Puerto to be given a formal clearance by Spanish courts. One of these five was Alberto Contador.

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Riders of interest connected particularly with … Festina

Richard Virenque (France, 44): (Festina 1993-98; Polti 1999-2000). In 2000, Virenque finally admitted to taking banned substances whilst at Festina. In May 1999, he was arrested on suspicion of aiding drug trafficking for his links to Bernard Sainz, known as ‘Dr Mabuse’.

Alex Zulle (Switzerland, 46): (ONCE 1991-97; Festina 1998; Banesto 1999-2000; Bianchi-Coast 2001-02; Phonak 2003-04). Zulle, twice winner of the Vuelta a Espana and twice runner-up in the Tour de France in 1995 and 1999 has numerous doping infractions to his name. In 1993, he tested positive for Salbutamol at the Tour of the Basque Country. But he is most infamous for being one the eight Festina riders to have used EPO during the 1998 Tour de France.

Christophe Moreau (France, 43): (Festina 1995-2001; Credit-Agricole 2002-2005; AG2R 2006-07; Agritubel 2008-09; Banesto/Caisse d’Epargne/Movistar 2010). Moreau first tested positive, for steroids, after winning the 1998 Criterium International. In September 1998, he admitted to EPO use while at Festina, under the guidance of team doctor Eric Rijkaert.

Laurent Dufaux (Switzerland, 45): (ONCE 1993-94; Festina 1996-98; Saeco 1999-2001). In September 1998, Dufaux, runner-up in the 1997 Vuelta a Espana admitted to EPO use whilst at Festina.

Angel Casero (Spain, 42): (Banesto 1993-97; Vitalicio-Seguros 1998-99; Festina 2000-01; Kelme 2004-05). Casero won the 2001 Vuelta a Espana and finished 5th in the 1999 Tour de France. He tested positive for Nandrolone before the 1996 Olympics and was left off the Spanish team and was one of the Kelme riders named in Operacion Puerto in 2006 as a client of Eufemiano Fuentes.

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Riders of interest connected particularly with … BMC

Cadel Evans (Australia, 37): (Mapei 2002; Telekom/T-Mobile 2003-04; Lotto 2005-09; BMC 2010-14). Winner of the 2011 Tour de France. World championships road race gold, 2009. There are no strong links to doping for Evans, Australia’s most successful professional cyclist. In 2012, he admitted that he had met Michele Ferrari in 2000 prior to the beginning of his road career to test his capabilities. His manager is Tony Rominger, the retired Swiss rider who was a client and close friends with Ferrari.

Mauro Santambrogio (Italy, 30): (Lampre 2006-09; BMC 2010-13). Santambrogio was first investigated for doping as part of the 2009 Mantova Investigation, which focused on wire-tapped telephone conversations between Lampre riders and the pharmacist Guido Nigrelli. He tested positive for EPO four years later during the 2013 Giro d’Italia.

Alessandro Ballan (Italy, 35): (Lampre 2004-09; BMC 2010-14). Winner 2008 road world championships. Like his teammate at Lampre and BMC Santambrogio, Ballan was investigated as part of the Mantova Investigation. This reached its conclusion in 2014, when the Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI) ruled that a blood transfusion Ballan had received in 2009 was illegal. He was suspended for two years and fired by BMC.

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Riders of interest connected particularly with … Gerolsteiner

Georg Totschnig (Austria, 43): (Telekom 1997-2000; Gerolsteiner 2001-06). Totschnig was allegedly involved with the HumanPlasma blood bank in Vienna. In February 2011 he was charged by Austrian prosecutors for lying under oath about his use of doping products.

Stefan Schumacher (Germany, 33): (Telekom 2002-03; Gerolsteiner 2006-08. Schumacher tested positive for CERA (third-generation EPO) during the 2008 Tour de France. Later that summer, he tested positive for CERA again at the Beijing Olympics. In 2013, he finally admitted to doping with growth hormone, EPO and corticoids.

Danilo Hondo (Germany, 40): (Telekom 1999-2003; Gerolsteiner 2004-05; Lampre 2010-12; Radioshack/Trek 2013-14). Hondo tested positive for Carphedon, a banned stimulant, following Stage 2 of the 2005 Vuelta a Murcia.

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Riders of interest connected particularly with … Mercatone Uno

Marco Pantani: (Italy, died at 34 in Feb 2004) (Mercatone Uno 1997-2003; Carrera 1992-1996). Tour de France winner 1998. Giro winner 1998. After ‘doing the double’ of Giro d’Italia and Tour de France in 1998, Pantani was expelled while leading the 1999 Giro for a haematocrit (red blood cell concentration)) above 50%. Source: Matt Rendell – ‘The Death of Marco Pantani’.

Igor Astarloa (Spain, 38): (Mercatone Uno 2000-01; Lampre 2004). World road race champion, 2003. In 2008, Astarloa was pulled out of the Giro d’Italia on Stage 2 having shown irregular blood values. His contract was terminated by Milram, his team at that time. A year later, Astarloa was fined and suspended by the UCI for a bio-passport infraction which effectively ended his career.

Stefano Garzelli (Italy, 41): (Mercatone Uno 1997-2000; Mapei 2001-02; Liquigas 2005-06). Giro winner in 2000. Garzelli tested positive for the masking agent Probenecid following his victory on Stage 2 of the 2002 Giro d’Italia. In 2011, he was part of the investigation into Michele Ferrari’s financial records and telephone calls.

Mario Cipollini (Italy, 47): (Mercatone Uno 1994-95; Saeco 1997-2001; Liquigas 2005). World road race champion 2002. Cipollini was on the list of EPO positives from the 1998 Tour de France published in 2013.  He is also thought to have been a client of Eufemiano Fuentes, with the codename “Maria”.

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Riders of interest connected particularly with … Euskaltel

Haimar Zubeldia (Spain, 37): (Euskaltel 2001-08; Astana 2009; Radioshack/Trek factory Racing 2010-15). Zubeldia has never been implicated in any doping scandal, and is therefore technically the winner of the 2003 Tour de France, where he finished fifth.

Samuel Sanchez (Spain, 36): (Euskaltel 2001-13; BMC 2014). Olympic road race gold winner, 2008. Sanchez has never been named in any doping documents or been connected to a doping scandal through the 14 years of his career. He did criticise the ban given to Lance Armstrong.

Iban Mayo (Spain, 37): (Euskaltel 2001-2006; Saunier-Duval 2007). In the mid-2000s, Mayo was briefly considered Lance Armstrong’s biggest rival. On July 24 2007, the Tour de France’s rest day, he tested positive for EPO while riding for Saunier Duval. In October 2007, he was exonerated after his ‘B’ sample came back negative.

Mikel Astarloza (Spain, 35): (AG2R 2002-06; Euskaltel 2007-13). In June 2009, Astarloza tested positive for EPO. He was banned for two years.

Jon Odriozola (Spain, 43): (Banesto 1998-2003; Kelme 2004; as Directeur Sportif Euskaltel 2008-13, Murias Taldea 2015-). In 1997, Odriozola was part of the Batik team that collectively failed to show up for haematocrit testing. 

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Riders of interest connected particularly with … Phonak

Oscar Pereiro (Spain, 37): (Phonak 2002-05; Caisse d’Epargne 2007-09; Astana 2010). Belated winner of the Tour de France after Floyd Landis’s 2006 disqualification. In the 2006 Tour he won by default after Floyd Landis’ disqualification, Pereiro is said to have tested positive twice for salbutamol, for which he did not have a Therapeutic Use Exemption. He was eventually  cleared of any wrongdoing.

Cyril Dessel (France, 39): (Phonak 2003-04; AG2R 2005-11). Dessel, the highest-placed French finisher in the 2006 Tour de France has never been linked with any doping scandal.

Tadej Valjavec (Slovenia, 37): (Fassa Bortolo 2000-03; Phonak 2004-05; Lampre 2006-07; AG2R 2008-10). In May 2010 while riding for AG2R, Valjavec was named as having suspect biological passport data by the UCI. He appealed to the Slovenian cycling federation and was cleared, but the UCI overturned the appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Santiago Perez (Spain, 37): (Kelme 2002; Phonak 2003-04). Perez tested positive for a blood transfusion in 2002 and was banned for two years.

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Riders of interest connected particularly with … Mapei

Axel Merckx (Belgium, 42): (Motorola 1995-96; Polti 1997-98; Mapei 1999-2000; Domo-Farm Frites 2001-02; Lotto 2003-05; T-Mobile 2007). Olympic bronze, 2004. Son of the great Eddy, Axel Merckx did not enjoy such a distinguished career but did inherit his father’s predilection for doping. His was one of the names released by the French Senate from the 1998 Tour de France that showed a positive for EPO.

Daniele Nardello (Italy, 42): (Mapei 1995-99; Telekom/T-Mobile 2003-07). Nothing exists to connect Nardello directly to any doping scandal. However, he was one of the riders who infamously abused Filippo Simeoni in the 2004 Tour de France after the Italian had spoken out against doping.

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Riders of interest connected particularly with … Cofidis

Christophe Rinero (France, 40): (Cofidis 1997-2001; Saunier-Duval 2006-07; Agritubel 2008). Rinero’s fourth place in the 1998 Tour de France was the best of his career. However, according to teammate Philippe Gaumont (d. 2013), Rinero prepared for that Tour using EPO and human growth hormone (HGH). Source: Philippe Gaumont, ‘Prisonnier du Dopage’.

Roland Meier (Switzerland, 46): (TVM 1993-95; Cofidis 1998-2000; Coast 2001). Meier has two black marks against his name. He was on the list of EPO positives re-tested by the French Senate from the 1998 Tour de France, and also tested positive after the 2001 Fleche Wallonne while riding for Coast.

Andrei Kivilev (Kakakhstan, d. 29): (Festina 1998-99; AG2R 2000; Cofidis 2000-03). Kivilev died on 12 March 2003 after a crash on stage 2 of Paris-Nice. He is the highest-ranked finisher (4th) in the 2001 Tour de France never to have had any association with doping.

David Millar (Britain, 37): (Cofidis 1997-2004; Saunier-Duval 2007; Garmin 2008-14). In June 2004, Millar was arrested in Biarritz by French police. At the start of July of that year, he confirmed to a Paris judge that he had used EPO at points during the 20013 and 2003 seasons. For that reason, the 2003 World Time Trial Championships gold medal was stripped from him.

Kevin Livingston (USA, 41): (Motorola 1995-96; Cofidis 1997-98; US Postal 1999-2000; Telekom 2001-02). Before Livingston became one of Lance Armstrong’s inner circle at US Postal, he was a Cofidis rider. In 1998, riding for the French team he tested positive for EPO. Livingston has never made a public comment about doping. He did not provide an affidavit to USADA, though he was one of the Postal ‘big three’ Tyler Hamilton alleges were couriered EPo by Philippe Maire, ‘Motoman’, the other two being Hamilton himself and Lance Armstrong.

Tony Rominger (Switzerland, 53): (Mapei 1995-96; Cofidis 1997 as manager Cadel Evans 2000). Three-times Vuelta winner 1992-94. Giro winner 1995. One of the most decorated riders of his era, Rominger was a client of Michele Ferrari. In 2000, Rominger introduced Cadel Evans to Ferrari.

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Riders of interest connected particularly with … Kelme

Fernando Escartin (Spain, 46): (Mapei 1995; Kelme 1997-2000; Bianchi-Coast 2001-02). Twice second in the Vuelta a Espana in 1997 and 1998 and once third in the Tour in 1999, Fernando Escartin’s name has remained relatively clear of doping links. His name was mentioned as part of the Margherita Raids in 1998, where police raided a pharmacy in Bologna and found numerous prescriptions for banned substances for riders, one of whom was Escartin.

Ruben Plaza (Spain, 34): (Kelme 2004-06; Caisse d’Epargne/Movistar 2010-14). Plaza was riding for Kelme in 2006 when the entire team was implicated in Operacion Puerto. They were later officially cleared of involvement.

Jesus Manzano (Spain, 36): (Kelme 2000-03). Manzano collapsed from dehydration during stage 7 of the 2003 Tour de France. He later blamed this on the use of oxyglobin injected via blood transfusion. After being left without a contract, he decided to reveal everything he knew about the widespread doping practices within the Kelme team.

Jose Enrique Gutierrez (Spain, 40): (Kelme 1998-2003; Phonak 2004-06). Gutierrez finished second in the 2006 Giro d’Italia won by Ivan Basso. He and teammate Santiago Botero were both suspended in 2006 from Phonak after their names were mentioned in the Operacion Puerto dossier.

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Riders of interest connected particularly with … Katusha

Joaquim Rodriguez (Spain, 35): (ONCE 2001-03; Saunier-Duval 2004-05; Caisse d’Epargne 2006-09; Katusha 2010-2014). Rodriguez, a teammate of Alejandro Valverde for three seasons at Caisse d’Epargne, has never been connected with a doping investigation.

Daniel Moreno (Spain, 33): (Caisse d’Epargne 2008-09; Quickstep 2010; Katusha 2011-15). Moreno was one of the names listed in ‘Operacion Chinatown’ in 2009, when the calls of doctor Jesus Losa were tapped. The case was later dropped due to lack of evidence.

Simon Spilak (Slovenia, 28): (Lampre 2008-11; Katusha 2012-current). Spilak recorded a haematocrit above 50% prior to the 2005 Under-23 World Road Race Championships and was prevented from starting.

Erik Zabel (Germany, 44): (Telekom/T-Mobile 1993-2005 as directeur sportif Katusha 2013-14). Zabel, one of the most successful sprinters of all time first tested positive in 1994. Re-testing of his blood samples from the 1998 Tour de France showed the presence of EPO, and in 2007 he confessed to using EPO during week one of the 1996 Tour de France. He was also implicated in the Frreiburg criminal investigation. In 2013, Zabel made a second admission that he had used EPO from 1996 to 2003.

Vladimir Karpets (Russia, 34): (Banesto/Caisse d’Epargne 2003-08; Katusha 2009-2011; Movistar 2012-13). Karpets was named in the Padova Searches of 2011, an investigation eventually linked to Michele Ferrari. In September 2011, he was caught up in another investigation into the disgraced doctor Michele Ferrari’s telephone records.

Danilo Di Luca (Italy, 38): (Saeco 2002-2004; Liquigas 2005-07; Katusha 2011). Giro winner, 2007. Di Luca tested positive twice during the 2009 Giro d’Italia for CERA (third-generation EPO). He was given a two-year suspension but tested positive for a third time in an out-of-competition tes in 2013 and was banned for life.

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Riders of interest connected particularly with … Rabobank/Belkin

Michael Rasmussen (The Netherlands, 40): (CSC 2001-02; Rabobank 2003-07). Michael Rasmussen was leading the 2007 Tour de France when questions began to be asked of his training regime. He had had four whereabouts violations in the run-up to that Tour. Eventually, in 2013 Rasmussen confessed to doping from 1998 to 2010. He implicated the entire Rarobank team from the 2007 Tour de France as well as many others including Ryder Hesjedal.

Denis Menchov (Russia, 36): (Rabobank 1999-2004; Rabobank 2005-10; Katusha 2012-13). Vuelta winner 2007. Giro winner 2009. In 2011, Menchov was named as one of the figures in the investigation into Michele Ferrari’s financial dealings, called the Padua Investigation.

Michael Boogerd (The Netherlands, 44): (Rabobank 1998-2007). Boogerd, along with teammate Erik Dekker one of the foremost Dutch cyclists of his generation hid a dirty secret for the duration of his career. On 6 March 2013 he admitted in a television interview to having doped throughout his time at Rabobank, but refused to name anyone else in connection. However, Boogerd is believed to have visited the Human Plasma clinic in Austria run by Stefan Matschiner, a team manager at Gerolsteiner.

Robert Gesink (The Netherlands, 28): (Rabobank/Belkin 2007-14). Gesink, 4th in the 2010 Tour de France has never been connected to any doping investigation or scandal.

Laurens ten Dam (The Netherlands, 34): (Rabobank/Belkin 2008-14). Ten Dam has never been implicated or named  in any of the testimonies of former Rabobank riders who doped.

Bauke Mollema (The Netherlands, 27): (Rabobank 2008-14). Mollema, fourth in the 2011 Vuelta and sixth in the 2013 Tour de France has never been implicated in a doping scandal.

Thomas Dekker (The Netherlands, 30): (Rabobank 2005-08; Lotto 2009; Garmin 2012-14). In 2013, Thomas Dekker admitted to using blood transfusions and EPO throughout his career and described doping at Rabobank as a ‘way of life’. In 2009, a counter-analysis of a 2007 blood sample showed a positive test for EPO and Dekker was banned for two years.

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Riders of interest connected particularly with … Banesto/Caisse d’Epargne/Movistar

Alejandro Valverde (Spain, 34): (Kelme 2002-04; Caisse d’Epargne/Movistar 2005-14). Vuelta winner, 2009. The Spanish judgement on Operacion Puerto, released March 8 2007 shows that Valverde was blood bag ‘18’ at Eufemiano Fuentes’ Madrid clinic. EPO was found to be present in Bag 18. In 2010, the Court of Arbitration for Sport banned him for two years for his involvement in Puerto.

Francisco Mancebo (Spain, 38): (Banesto/Caisse d’Epargne 1998-2005; AG2R 2006). Mancebo was fired from AG2R in 2006 as soon as his name was linked with Operacion Puerto. Instead of refuting the allegations, Mancebo chose to end his career, eventually returning quietly with a series of smaller teams.

Luis Leon Sanchez (Spain, 31): (Liberty Seguros/Astana 2004-06; Caisse d’Epargne 2007-10; Rabobank/Belkin 2011-13). Sanchez, who finished 9th in the 2010 Tour de France was suspended by Rabobank, then known as Blanco in February 2013 for his links to Operacion Puerto after a Dutch newspaper suggested that he was blood bag 26 at Eufemiano Fuentes’ clinic, nicknamed ‘Huerto’. He has also worked with Michele Ferrari but denies there was any doping involved.

Manuel Beltran (Spain, 43): (Mapei 1995-96; Banesto 1997-99; Mapei 2000-01; US Postal/Discovery 2003-06; Liquigas 2007-08). The French Senate released a list of positives from the 1998 Tour de France following re-tests of blood samples from 2004. Beltran was one of the riders named – he tested positive for EPO after stage 11 of the 1998 Tour.

Rui Costa (Portugal, 28): (Caisse d’Epargne/Movistar 2009-2013; Lampre 2013-14). Road world champion, 2013. After winning the 2010 Portuguese national time trial championship, Costa tested positive for Methylhexanamine. After he proved it had come about through a contaminated supplement, he was suspended for a reduced six months.

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Riders of interest connected particularly with … Bonjour/Europcar

Jean-Cyril Robin (France, 45): (Festina 1995-96; US Postal 1997-98; Francaise des Jeux 1999; Bonjour 2000-01; Francaise des Jeux 2002-04). Robin is briefly mentioned in Tyler Hamilton’s affidavit to USADA as one of the European riders who joined US Postal in 1997. He is one of the only Postal riders never to have been implicated in doping and once spoke of a ‘two speed’ peloton’. The highest finisher in the 1998 Tour never to be accused of doping.

Francois Simon (France, 46): (Credit Agricole 1998-99; Bonjour 2000-02). Nothing exists to link Simon to any doping scandal. He rode at Bonjour while Fabio Bartalucci was doctor in 2001 – Bartalucci later worked for Team Sky.

Thomas Voeckler (France, 35): (Bonjour/Europcar 2001-14). Voeckler, 4th in the 2011 Tour de France, has never been linked with any doping scandals.

Pierre Rolland (France, 28): (Europcar 2009-14). Rolland has never been found guilty of a doping offence. However, in June 2013 a test showed he had unusually low levels of cortisol, which may be indicative of cortisone abuse. Europcar adheres to the MPCC, a group of professional cycling teams that has pledged to stop using cortisone.

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Riders of interest connected particularly with … ONCE

Joseba Beloki (Spain, 41): (Euskaltel 1998-99; Festina 2000; ONCE 2001-03; Saunier-Duval 2004; Liberty-Seguros/Astana 2005-06). Beloki, who was for a period of around two years Armstrong’s main rival in the Tour de France, finishing runner-up in 2002 was a client of Eufemiano Fuentes’ Madrid clinic, though denied doping.

Abraham Olano (Spain, 44): (Mapei 1995-96; Banesto 1997-98; ONCE 1999-2002). World road race champion 1995. Olano won the 1998 Vuelta and finished second in the 2001 Giro d’Italia. In 1994, riding for Mapei he tested positive for caffeine. Then, following the publication in 2013 of the French Senate’s Anti-Doping report using samples retested in 2004 from the 1998 Tour de France, Olano was shown to have used EPO.

Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano (Spain, 41): (ONCE 2001-03; Liberty-Seguros/Astana 2004-06). Gonzalez de Galdeano tested positive for Salbutamol after stage 6 of the 2002 Tour de France, but claimed it was asthma medication. Later, he was identified as the name ‘IG’ on blood bags stored by Eufemiano Fuentes.

Marcos Antonio Serrano (Spain, 42): (Kelme 1997-98; ONCE 1999-2003; Liberty Seguros/Astana 2004-06). Serrano was on the list of EPO positives from the 1998 Tour de France released in 2013. In February 2013 he appeared as a witness as the Operacion Puerto trial, saying that he had had blood extracted by Fuentes between 1994 and 1998 but only for ‘analytical’ purposes.

Laurent Jalabert (France, 46): (ONCE 1997-2000; CSC 2001-02). Vuelta winner 1995. Jalabert, one of the most popular French riders of his era lost his reputation when in June 2013 the French Senate revealed that his blood samples from the 1998 Tour de France were positive for EPO. However, he explained that he had only been following the ONCE doctors’ advice.

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Riders of interest connected particularly with … Lampre

Raimondas Rumsas (Lithuania, 42): (Fassa Bortolo 2000-01; Lampre 2002-03). Rumsas first tested positive for EPO after stage six of the 2003 Giro d’Italia, in which he finished sixth. In June 2005, his wife was arrested near the Mont Blanc tunnel trafficking drugs. Rumsas himself was eventually arrested in Italy.

Damiano Cunego (Italy, 33): (Saeco 2002-04; Lampre 2005-14). Winner of 2004 Giro. Riding for Saeco, Cunego won the 2004 Giro d’Italia aged just 23. However, his career has not passed without being linked to doping. The Mantova Investigation in 2009 uncovered conversations between Lampre riders and the chemist Guido Nigrelli whose content involved doping – and Cunego was indicted by an Italian judge for doping.

Marzio Bruseghin (Italy, 40): (Banesto 1999-2002; Lampre 2006-09; Caisse d’Epargne/Movistar 2010-12). Bruseghin was one of the 52 figures named in the Blitz Raids of the 2001 Giro d’Italia while riding for Banesto. In 2009, he was named as a rider implicated in the Mantova Investigation centring around the Lampre team and the chemist Guido Nigrelli.

Gilberto Simoni (Italy, 43): (Lampre 2000-01; 05-06; 08-10). Twice winner of the Giro, 2001, 2003. Simoni was excluded from starting the third stage of the 1998 Tour of Portugal after recording a high haematocrit. In 2002, he tested positive for cocaine prior to the 2002 Grio del Trentino but was later cleared.

Michele Scarponi (Italy, 35): (Liberty Seguros/Astana 2005-06; Lampre 2011-13; Astana 2014). Winner of 2011 Giro. In 2007, Scarponi admitted his involvement with Eufemiano Fuentes.

Morris Possoni (Italy, 30): (Lampre 2006-07, 2012; Sky 2010-11). In April 2011, while riding for Sky, Possoni was investigated as part of the Padova Searches which were eventually traced back to a larger doping investigation involving Michele Ferrari. He left Sky at the end of that year without ever having been charged.

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Riders of interest connected particularly with … Francaise des Jeux

Christophe Le mevel (France, 34): (Credit Agricole 2003-08; Francaise des Jeux 2009-10; Garmin 2011-12; Cofidis 2013-14). Le Mevel, the highest French finisher in the 2009 Tour de France has never been implicated in a doping scandal.

Sandy Casar (France, 35): (Francaise des Jeux 1999-2013). Casar has never been named or implicated in doping.

Thibaut Pinot (France, 24): (Francaise des Jeux 2010-14). Pinot, who finished third in the 2014 Tour de France has never been implicated in a doping investigation.

Remy di Gregorio (France, 29): (Francaise des Jeux 2005-10; Astana 2011; Cofidis 2012). In July 2012 Di Gregorio was arrested along with two others during the 2012 Tour de France as part of an investigation into the alleged trafficking of doping products relating to his time at Astana. The case was later dropped after a successful appeal.

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Riders of interest connected particularly with … AG2R

Jean-Christophe Peraud (France, 37): (Omega-Pharma Lotto 2010; AG2R 2011-14). Peraud, who finished second in the 2014 Tour de France has never been connected to a doping investigation.

Romain Bardet (France, 24): (AG2R 2012-14). Bardet, who came sixth in the 2014 Tour de France has never been implicated in doping.

Steve Houanard (France, 28): (AG2R 2011-12). In September 2012, young French rider Houanard returned a positive out of competition test for EPO and was banned for two years.

Sylvain Georges (France, 30): (AG2R 2012-13). Georges, a middling French rider tested positive for Heptaminol before Stage 7 of the 2013 Giro d’Italia. Under the guidelines of the MPCC (Movement for Credible Cycling), AG2R removed him from the race and suspended itself for eight days.

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THE DOPING DOCTORS

Michele Ferrari  (Italy) NOTABLE RIDERS SERVED: Lance Armstrong; Denis Menchov; Alexander Vinokourov; Roman Kreuziger; Michele Scarponi; Vladimir Karpets; Michael Rogers; Mario Cipollini. Ferrari was banned for life in July 2012 for the part he played in the US Postal doping conspiracy. But in December 2014, an investigation was opened after he was allegedly pictured at an Astana training camp in December 2013.

Eufemiano Fuentes (Spain) Notable riders served: Jan Ullrich, Tyler Hamilton, Oscar Sevilla, Ivan Basso, Michele Scarponi, Jorg Jaksche, Alejandro Valverde, Marco Pantani, Mario Cipollini. Fuentes, a gynaecologist by trade treated some of the world’s most famous cyclists at his Madrid clinic. He is also believed to have treated major sportsmen from tennis and football among other sports. In April 2013, Fuentes was found guilty and sentenced to a one-year suspended prison sentence.

Pedro Celaya (Spain): (Motorola 1994-95; US Postal 1997-98; ONCE 1999-2003; US Postal/Discovery 2004-07; Astana 2009; Radioshack 2010-12). Celaya was banned from cycling for eight years by the American Arbitration Association in April 2014, for his role in the US Postal Service doping conspiracy. Scott Mercier, who left US Postal at the end of 1997 recalls Celaya handing out steroid pills to riders.

Luis Garcia del Moral (Spain): (US Postal 1998-2004; Astana 2009-10; Garmin 2011). Del Moral was one of the figures named by Floyd Landis in his 2013 ‘Qui Tam’ whistleblower lawsuit. He was banned for life along with Jose Pepi Marti and Michele Ferrari for his part in the US Postal Service doping conspiracy. He later resurfaced in 2011 when Matt White, then a team official at Garmin was dismissed for sending riders from the team to Del Moral.

Jose ‘Pepi’ Marti (Spain): (US Postal/Discovery 1999-2007; Astana 2009-10; Saxo Bank 2011-12). Marti was banned for life in 2012 for enabling doping at US Postal/Discovery from 1999-2007. Like Johan Bruyneel, he opted to take his case to arbitration.

Alfredo Cordova (Spain): (Kelme 2003; Liberty Seguros 2004-06). Cordova was named by Jesus Manzano, the Kelme rider who suffered a faulty blood transfusion at the 2003 Tour de France as one of the doctors who had facilitated his doping, in an interview on Spanish television.

Jose Luis Merino Batres (Spain): (Fassa Bortolo 2003; Kelme 2004; Liberty Seguros 2005-06). In 2006, Batres was arrested in Madrid by officers investigating Operacion Puerto. Over 100 blood bags were taken from Fuentes’ premises.

Andreas Schmid (Germany): (T-Mobile 2004-06; Astana 2007). Schmid was named as one of the figures implicated in the Freiburg Report, which described a program of widespread doping at T-Mobile from 2004-06. He resigned from the team in 2007 after admitting involvement. He was also fired from his position at the Freiburg University Clinic.

Lothar Heinrich (Germany): (Telekom/T-Mobile 1995-2007). In 2007, Heinrich followed Schmid by admitting his involvement in supplying banned substances to riders at Telekom and T-Mobile, with soigneur Jef d’Hont alleging that Heinrich supplied doping products to Telekom during the 1996 Tour de France,

Fabio Bartalucci (Italy): (Bonjour 2001; Phonak 2002; Francaise des Jeux 2005-06; Sky 2011-12). Bartalucci was doctor with the Bonjour team in 2001 at the time of the ‘Blitz Raids’, when Italian police raided team rooms in San Remo during the Giro d’Italia looking for banned substances. He was one of 51 people indicted. He then moved onto the infamous Phonak team and oddly did not work in cycling between 2006 and 2011 when he was picked up by Sky. The circumstances of his departure have never been revealed.

Geert Leinders (Belgium): (Rabobank 1996-2009; Sky 2010-12). Leinders served as team doctor at Rabobank for 13 years. In the publicly-released version of Levi Leipheimer’s affidavit as part of the USADA ‘Reasoned Decision’ against Lance Armstrong, Leinders’ name is blacked out when he is named as the doctor who supplied Leipheimer with doping products. He was hired by Sky in 2010 but released upon the implementation of the ‘Zero Tolerance Policy’.

Eric Rijkaert (Belgium):  (Festina 1993-98). Rijkaert was doctor at Festina at the time of the 1998 Tour, when a team masseur was stopped near Calais with a carful of drugs. Rijkaert and team manager Bruno Roussel were arrested, with Rijkaert finally confessing to treating the Festina team with drugs.

Jakob Ernst (Germany): (Gerolsteiner 2006-08). In 2013, Ernst became the subject of a complaint by German molecular biologist Werner Franke, who alleged that he and fellow Gerolsteiner doctor Mark Schmidt supplied Stefan Schumacher with the illegal blood-booster Synacthen prior to the 2006 Tour of Germany.

Roberto Rempi (Italy): (Mercatone Uno 1997-99). Rempi was the doctor to Marco Pantani when he was forced to leave the 1999 Giro. He was later described as having acted with ‘gross negligence’.

Jesus Losa (Spain): (Euskaltel 2003-06; Caisse d’Epargne 2009; Saxo Bank 2009). In 2004, Losa was temporarily suspended by Euskaltel after David Millar’s revelation that he had supplied him with EPO.

Inaki Arratibel (Spain): (Banesto 1996-98; ONCE 1999-2002; Phonak 2003-04; Euskaltel 2005-07). In 2005, Arratibel resigned from Phonak with a parting shot at the UCI’s testing for blood transfusions. Arratibel was team doctor at Phonak at the time of Tyler Hamilton’s two positive tests for blood transfusions in 2004.

Yvan Vanmol (Belgium): (Mapei 1995-2000; Quick Step 2003-11). In 2007, Vanmol admitted to knowledge of trafficking banned substances at Mapei.

Walter Viru (Peru): (Kelme 2000-03). Viru was the subject of revelations published in the Spanish newspaper As by the former Kelme rider Jesus Manzano, who alleged that he was injected with 50ml of an unknown substance on the morning of stage 7 of the 2003 Tour de France and subsequently collapsed.

Andrei Mikhailov (Russia) (TVM 1991-98; Katusha 2008-14). Mikhailov was the doctor at TVM during the 1998 Tour de France when the team was raided and summoned before the French courts. He was found guilty of supervising the team’s doping and was fined and given a 12-month suspended sentence.

Nicolas Terrados (Spain): (ONCE 1991-98). Terrados was arrested by French police during the 1998 Tour de France after banned substances were found on the ONCE team bus. He admitted to the presence of the drugs but said they were substances that every team doctor would be expected to carry.

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TEAM MANAGERS UNDER THE SPOTLIGHT

Johan Bruyneel (Belgium): (Rabobank 1996; ONCE 1997-98; as manager US Postal/Discovery Channel 1999-2007; Astana 2008-09; Radioshack 2010-12). In 2014, Bruyneel received a ten-year ban from cycling for his involvement in the US Postal Service doping conspiracy. He resigned from his position at Radioshack when the USADA ‘Reasoned Decision’ was published in 2012.

Manolo Saiz (Spain): (ONCE 1989-2003; Liberty Seguros 2004-06). Seven years after one hundred blood bags were found in the clinic of Eufemiano Fuentes, Manolo Saiz was acquitted of having played a part in Fuentes’ doping conspiracy. He had been tried in a criminal court in 2013 on grounds on endangering public health but was acquitted.

Giuseppe Martinelli (Italy): (Mercatone Uno 1997-2001; Lampre 2005-09; Astana 2011-14). Martinelli was the team manager at Mercatone Uno in 1998 when Marco Pantani won the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France in the same year. In October 2014, he was the manager of Astana when the team decided to self-suspend after the brothers Valentin and Maxim Iglinsky both tested positive for EPO.

Rudy Pevenage (Belgium): (Telekom 1994-2002; T-Mobile 2006; Rock Racing 2009). Pevenage was the Directeur Sportif at Telekom in 1997 when Jan Ullrich won the Tour de France. In 2009, it was revealed that Pevenage had organised for Ullrich to visit Eufemiano Fuentes on multiple occasions through 2005 and 2006.

Bruno Roussel (France): (Festina 1993-98). Roussel admitted a systematic programme of doping at Festina a day after being arrested in Cholet, France with Rijkaert.

Jim Ochowicz (USA): (Manager, USA men’s Olympic road team 2000, 2004, 2018; BMC 2007-14; President USA Cycling board of Directors 2002-08; consultant at Phonak). In his Qui Tam lawsuit begun in 2013, Floyd Landis’s lawyers made the allegation that Ochowicz’s interests as President of the USA Cycling board of directors from 2002-08 were a conflict of interest with his standing as a broker at US Postal owner Thom Weisel’s investment bank from 2001-11. The federal lawsuit claims that in late 2006 or early 2007 Landis conversed with Ochowicz about how to explain away an adverse testosterone level.

Hans-Michael Holczer (Germany): (Gerolsteiner 1999-2008; Katusha 2010-12). Holczer had always insisted he knew nothing about the doping going on at the Gerolsteiner team he managed for nine years. But in October 2013, a German court ruled that he must have known what was going on. Holczer sued his former rider Stefan Schumacher, who said the manager was fully aware of his and others’ doping. Holczer lost his position as Katusha general manager in autumn 2012 to Viatcheslav Ekimov.

Alain Gallopin (France): (Directeur Sportif: Francaise des Jeux 1997-2000; Bianchi-Coast 2003; CSC 2004-07; Astana 2008-09; Radioshack 2010-12). In the 2009 Tour de France, French environment officers investigated medical waste from Astana and Caisse d’Epargne. Gallopin gave evidence alongside Johan Bruyneel, but no charges were ever brought.

Orlando Maini (Italy): (Mercatone Uno 1998-2001; Katusha 2009; Lampre 2011-14). Maini was Directeur Sportif at Mercatone Uno in 1998 at the time of the Bologna Raids, when Italian police raided in the Giardini Margherita pharmacy in Bologna and found prescriptions for banned substances written by sports doctors. He was later acquitted due to a lack of sufficient evidence.

Urs Freuler (Switzerland): (Phonak 2002-05). Left Phonak by mutual agreement in 2005 following the positive tests of the team’s star riders Tyler Hamilton and Santiago Perez.

Theo de Rooj (The Netherlands): (Manager at Rabobank 2003-2007). In 2012, De Rooj admitted awareness of sophisticated “medical care” at Rabobank between 2003 and 2007.

Eusebio Unzue (Spain): (Banesto/Caisse d’Epargne/Movistar 1990-current). Unzue has been at Banesto and its variations as long as it has been a team. The only evidence to suggest he has been involved with doping comes from Thomas Davy, a Frenchman who rode for Banesto from 1995-96 and accused Unzue of running a team-wide doping programme.

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QPR’s road woes keep them on course for ignominy … and relegation

Friday, December 19th, 2014

By Brian Sears

19 December 2014

Queens Park Rangers play at home this weekend – and that must be a relief. On home form alone, Harry Redknapp’s team would be eighth in the Premier League, just behind Arsenal, after winning four and drawing two of their eight home league matches at Loftus Road this season. On home form alone they would be above Liverpool, Everton and Tottenham among others.

But Queens Park Rangers play away at Arsenal on Boxing Day – and that, on the form of the past few years, must be a huge concern. They have played eight times away this season and lost all eight. The last time they were in the Premier League, in 2012-13, they won just twice away. In fact their woeful away record, over the past 40 away games in the Premier League, has led to just 13 points from 120.

If it carries on, it threatens to be reach levels of record-breaking badness, which in turn would carry a high probability of relegation, as detailed later. But first, the season so far and the games to come:

Article continues below

QPR away woe in PL

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The table below details the worst 10 ‘away seasons’ in Premier League history, including the records of the six sides who went through entire PL campaigns without a single win. Coventry in 1999-2000 and Leeds in 1992-93 both fell into that category but both managed seven away draws and had good enough home records that they stayed up. The other four teams who were winless on the road all went down: Wolves in 2003-04, Norwich in 1994-95, Hull in 2009-10 and Derby in 2007-08.

As the table shows, a total of seven or fewer away points carries a strong chance of relegation, or a 70 per cent chance based on this sample. And six or fewer away points carries a virtually certain chance of going down.

It didn’t get much better for the teams (not displayed) who won eight or nine away points. Nine teams have won as few as eight away points – and all were relegated. Five sides have won as few as nine away points – and three went down.

The lesson for Harry Redknapp from all of this, bleeding obvious though it may be, is that he needs to change QPR’s extremely long-term Premier League travel sickness, and quickly, and significantly, or else QPR are going down. Merry Christmas, ‘Arry!

Article continues below

 Worst away seasons in PL

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And another thing …

Newcastle host Sunderland on Sunday in the north-east derby and this particular relationship throws up a Premier League statistical quirk.

Typically over a long period of time, you’d reasonably expect any one team to gain more points at home against any one opponent than you’d expect them to win away against the same opponent.

But Newcastle have won fewer points on their own turf against Sunderland, or 16 points from 12 meetings, at a rate of 1.33 per game, than they have away against Sunderland, or 20 points from 12 games, at a rate of 1.66. Being really good away in derbies would be one explanation – but it does not explain why Newcastle have been relatively so poor at home against the same team. Derby pressure and related tension, perhaps.

Here is Newcastle’s home and away record in the PL against all PL opponents, showing clearly the anomaly of their relationship with Sunderland.

NUFC v SAFC

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Man Utd look to repel raiders Liverpool to restore Old Trafford as fortress

Friday, December 12th, 2014

By Brian Sears

12 December 2014

Manchester United have the best home record across the Premier League era of any of the 46 clubs to have played in the Premier League, whichever measure is used.

They have played 432 PL games, won 320, drawn 70 and lost 42.

That’s more wins than anyone (320); a higher win percentage than anyone (74.1 per cent); a lower loss percentage than anyone (9.7 per cent, the only single-digit loss percentage rate of the era); more goals than anyone, and more goals per game than anyone; fewest goals conceded per game than anyone. And on and on.

Things have not been so brilliant in recent times, admittedly, with seven home defeats last season alone. But even with that anomalous season, United have, on average, lost fewer than two home games each season across the Premier League era as a whole. That’s fewer than two games a season for more than 22 years. And that is a large part of why they have won the Premier League so many times and been the dominant English team of the PL era.

Before we consider those teams who have been able to overcome them most often on their own turf, here is how United’s home record in the Premier League era compares to other teams.

Article continues below

PL home records 1992-now

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United’s 42 Premier League defeats have come at the hands of 20 different opponents, with Chelsea winning at Old Trafford most often in the PL era (six times), then Liverpool (five times), Manchester City (four times), Middlesbrough and Arsenal (three times each), then six clubs on twice each and nine clubs on once each. Article continues below

PL wins at OT, 1992-Dec 12.2014

Of this season’s Premier League teams, seven started the season without any Premier League win at Old Trafford. Swansea put that right on the opening day. Four other teams have played there and failed to change that stat by losing: QPR, Crystal Palace, Hull and Stoke lost. Southampton (in January) and Burnley (in February) are the other current PL teams without any PL win at United but yet to have a chance to change that this campaign.

Sunday’s match at home to Liverpool gives United a chance to put one over on one of their most successful opponents. It took Liverpool nine seasons to get a first win at OT in the PL era, and they have added four more since 2002. In Liverpool’s five wins, Danny Murphy scored the only goal in 1-0 away wins in December 2000, January 2002 and April 2004; Liverpool got their best win there with a 4-1 victory in March 2009 and then Steven Gerrard (with two) and Luis Suarez (one) gave Liverpool another win in March this year.

United’s only home league defeat this season was that opening game to Swansea. Any sustained revival of fortunes will inevitably be reliant on turning Old Trafford back into a fortress. Repelling Liverpool’s raiders will be a sign that is already happening.

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From Chelsea to Arsenal via Tottenham: best season, worst and bang average

Friday, November 28th, 2014

By Brian Sears

27 November 2014

Chelsea’s storming start in the Premier League is their best ever start in the 23 seasons of England’s revamped top division. With 32 points from their first 12 games, they are a point ahead of their previous best-ever tally at this stage – and more than nine points clear of their average tally after 12 matches.

In stark contrast, everyone knows Arsenal have been struggling for consistency, but in fact it’s worse than that. This is their worst ever start to a Premier League season. Their current 17 points from 12 games means they are currently one point down on their previous worst tally after 12 games; that was back in 1994-95 when the Gunners ended the season 12th in the table. The following season they recovered to fifth and in the 18 completed seasons since they have never finished outside the top four.

Elsewhere in London, the perception is that Tottenham are struggling a little under Mauricio Pochettinho. But the reality is that by their own standards, Spurs are having a bang average campaign. On average at this stage over the past 22 years of Premier League football they have had 16.7 points. This season they are on 17. A bang average tally for a bang average team.

To be fair to Tottenham supporters, the current tally is some way short of their best haul of 28 points from their first 12 PL games. But it is also rather better than their worst haul of eight points at this stage.

As our graphic at the bottom of this article shows, three clubs this season are having their best ever Premier League starts: Southampton and Swansea join Chelsea in that category.

Manchester City, West Ham, Everton and Stoke are also having better than average starts when measured by their own standards in the Premier League era.

But three of the one-time “Big Four” clubs are way down on even their average points hauls at this stage: Manchester United are almost six points down, with Liverpool and Arsenal almost seven points down on their own average benchmarks. All of them are much further away still from their best starts, it goes without saying.

Our table is cruel on the current Burnley squad, being compared to a Burnley who have just the one previous PL season to be compared with. Five seasons ago that team collected 16 points from 12 games and then only 14 from the next 26 as they were relegated with Hull and Portsmouth.  Sean Dyche’s men will hope to play it differently this time round.

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CFC to AFC, best to worst PL seasons

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Upgraded Saints alive with potential … but now to handle the crunch

Friday, November 21st, 2014

By Brian Sears

21 November 2014

Fans of Southampton must have been pinching themselves over the last year or so, having built on the survival of their ‘return’ season to the Premier League in 2012-13 with two storming starts last season and this.

They were ever-present in the revamped top division between 1992 and 2005, and counting the 2012-13 season too they averaged a little under 10 points from their first 11 games in each of those 14 PL campaigns.

Then last season their haul from the opening 11 games shot up to 22 points, and despite the turmoil of the summer at St Mary’s, that has risen again this season to 25 points from 11 games. Before this weekend’s action commences that puts them in second place behind Chelsea (who are in amazing shape) and, for the moment, four points clear of last season’s champions, Manchester City.

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Saints after 11 in PL

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Southampton already have eight win from 11 league games this season – two more than last season and seven more than two seasons ago at the same stage. This is extraordinary stuff by the Saints ‘normal’ PL standards over the past two decades. Indeed in 1995-96, they kept their Premier League status while winning just nine games all season.

So what has changed?

Last season Mauricio Pochettino, in his first and only full season with Southampton, continued the work started by Nigel Adkins and helped to bring the best out of a group of players mostly already in the Saints system for a long time before he arrived. Adam Lallana, Luke Shaw, Rickie Lambert and Calum Chambers were among them. Dejan Lovren was one player bought in on Pochettino’s watch, for what turned out to be a bargain £10m, and he was a good counterpoint to a £15m waste of money that Pochettino also purchased, Dani Osvaldo.

The Saints then lost an executive chairman, Nicola Cortese, and Pochettino went to Spurs in the summer, replaced by Ronald Koeman. And the Dutchman, with the substantial assistance of the long-standing and highly methodical in-house recruitment unit, oversaw an extraordinary upgrade.

Why extraordinary? Because on the face of it Southampton sold all their best players yet replaced them with better players while spending tens of millions of pounds less than they received. This was no fire sale. A fire sale is “the sale of goods at extremely discounted prices, typically when the seller faces bankruptcy or other impending distress.” This was almost the opposite of a fire sale. This was the sale of goods at top-whack prices.

The graphic below tells its own story. Fraser Forster came in for £10m from Celtic as Artur Boruc went on loan to Bournemouth. Forster has been part of a defensive unit keeping seven clean sheets in the league.

Also playing key roles in that back line have been full-backs Nathaniel Clyne and Ryan Bertrand. Clyne was already at the club and Bertrand came in on loan from Chelsea with an option for Saints to make the deal permanent. Out went Luke Shaw and Calum Chambers, respectively to Manchester United and Arsenal, for £43m combined. Saints sold Lovren for £20m and re-invested £6m in Florin Gardos while also taking the La Liga-winning Toby Alderweireld on loan from Atletico with an option to buy.

The solidity of the Alderweireld-Jose Fonte pairing at centre-half ahead of Forster, in turn protected by shielding defensive midfielders, allows the progressive Clyne and Bertrand to get forward with confidence of cover.

The upgrading continued in midfield, where it might recently have seemed sacrilegious to suggest Lallana was anything less than Saint’s heartbeat and soul. But one of the more astonishing aspects of the summer upgrade is that Dusan Tadic – bought from Twente for £10.9m – has been better than Lallana was. And Southampton bought both Tadic and Senegal wing man Sadio Mane combined with the money they got for Lallana, and still had £4.1m left over.

And then there were the striking changes, Rickie Lambert sent with the good wishes and blessing of all Saints fans to boyhood club Liverpool. And there was even four million quid in it for Saints. In came Graziano Pelle from Feyenoord, as did Shane Long from Hull as the low-profile Billy Sharp went to Leeds.

The upshot? A pretty decent team from last season, dismantled, upgraded – and with a £37.7m profit.

Nobody would suggest this is the sort of thing any football club should be doing on a regular basis. Or perhaps at all. But that’s a taste of why Southampton are still doing pretty much as well this season as they were at this stage last year.

As we’ll come to in a moment …..

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Upgrading at SM

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Southampton fans trying to keep their feet on the ground will not need reminding that from a situation similar to the current one, last season they went on to gain only two points from their next six games. In the terminology of the stats geek – and this is being penned while wearing the free anorak handed out at the StatsGeek2014 convention – the Saints might well be argued to have benefitted this season (and last season by the same stage) from ‘schedule bias’. Or in laymen’s terms – easy fixtures so far.

Thus Saints fans will be eyeing up their matches leading up to Christmas. And there are one or two or three eerie similarities. A year ago their next six games were Arsenal, Chelsea, Villa, City, Newcastle and Spurs. This year Arsenal also feature in the next six, after Villa and City in the next two games, then Manchester United, Burnley and Everton are far from gimme games. Chelsea lie just beyond those.

Saints alive! Alive with potential. But how Koeman’s upgraded team handle the crunch will be key to whether they push into the new year with something genuinely remarkable still on the cards.

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Saints crunch

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… And another thing

This weekend’s fixtures have thrown up a remarkable set of contrasting ties – six at 3pm on Saturday with a Premier League head-to-head history of home dominance, then four from Saturday tea-time onwards where none of the home sides have won more than 40 per cent of home PL meetings with this weekend’s opponents.

The six fixtures at 3pm on Saturday have collectively been played 39 times in the PL era, with 29 home wins for a 74% win rate plus seven draws (18%) and just three home defeats. The tea-time onwards fixtures have been played 45 times in the PL era with just 15 home wins (33%), 16 draws (36%) and 14 away wins (31 per cent).

If history is our guide then it’s home wins for Chelsea, Everton, Leicester, City, Newcastle and Stoke this weekend while Arsenal, Palace, Hull and Aston Villa shouldn’t expect easy rides on their own turf.

The game-by-game breakdown is in the graphic below.

Home and away, contrasts 21.11.14

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Chelsea’s 10 unbeaten games keeps them on Invincibles course ….

Friday, November 7th, 2014

By Brian Sears

7 November 2014

The 2014-15 Chelsea vintage are the 17th side to get into double figures of undefeated games at the start of a Premier League season but how long will they go unbeaten? Fourteen of their 16 predecessors did not get beyond 15 unbeaten games, although famously, 11 years ago, Arsenal set the ultimate standard in this regard.

In the end their unbeaten run had lasted 49 games (including all 38 league games of 2003-04, read about that here) and, of course, they lost it at Old Trafford in October 2004.

Only three of these unbeaten runs have been ended on home territory and Manchester United have most often been the team to bring a run to its end. Surprisingly, perhaps, United appear only once in the table below, albeit on the second best such run in the PL era, four seasons ago on their way to be Champions with only four defeats all season.

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PL 10 unbeaten

If Chelsea are to get anywhere close to Arsenal then they will need, as a minimum, to get through all these matches unscathed:

November: 8 Liverpool (A); 22 West Brom (H); 29 Sunderland (A).

December: 3 Tottenham (H); 6 Newcastle (A); 13 Hull (H); 22 Stoke (A); 26 West Ham (H); 28 Southampton (A).

(From this distance out, the title decider at Southampton looks the biggest banana skin of those. He jested).

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And another thing …

Sunderland’s win at Crystal Palace on Monday consigned the three promoted clubs to the three Premier League relegation spots: Leicester with 9 points, QPR with 7 and Burnley with 4.  That’s a total of 20 points and each club has played 10 games.

In no previous Premier League season has such a small total of points been gathered at this stage by the promoted clubs. And in six of the 23 seasons promoted clubs have gained at least twice as many points. In the one season when all three promoted clubs were relegated, after 10 games 25 points had been managed: Palace had 11, Bolton 8 and Barnsley 6.

This season Burnley have found points most difficult to win; they are the only side in the top seven tiers of English league football yet to record a win. But history can provide them comfort and inspiration. Only one other promoted side has gained four points at this stage of the season and that was Southampton two seasons ago, and Saints then went on to collect 37 points from their next 28 games to finish 14th.

Only two promoted clubs have gained fewer points from the first 10 games. Last season Crystal Palace had three points at this stage but then they gained 42 points from 28 games to rise to 11th. The example that Burnley must seek to avoid is that of Swindon 21 years ago. They had three points from 10 games, added 27 from the next 32 games (42 games in a Premier League season back then) and still ended 13 points short of safety.

Low point for 3 promoted

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City host United in Manchester derby on crest of rivalry rollercoaster

Friday, October 31st, 2014

By Brian Sears

31 October 2014

The Manchester derby on Sunday reminds us how the pendulum has swung to the blue side of the city in recent years, and the graphic below charts the dramatic change over time.

Manchester City have only been in the same division as United for 17 of the past 22 years of course – because in the other five years they were playing below the Premier League.

But all the league meetings in those 17 years are mapped below, and we have created the chart on the right-hand side of the graphic to show the roller-coaster of respective dominance. The team winning the fixture at each venue is depicted for each season, and the points won in the league derbies each season are noted, and then a three-year ‘rolling’ total of derby points has been graphed.

Some observations from this data:

1: The gap between the two sides when they’ve been in the Premier League for any three straight seasons was biggest at the end of the 1995-96 season when United had won seven straight derbies and all six in that rolling period to lead it 18-0.

2: The gap was next in double figures when United led City 16-1 at the end of the 2010-11 season after five wins and a draw in the previous six derbies. And then the next time it was in double figures was at the end of last season; the pendulum had swung, and City led 15-3 after five wins and one defeat in the six derbies to then. City are on the crest of the rollercoaster ride now.

3: City have won six matches of 17 at home against United in the PL. They have drawn two at home. That leaves nine United wins at City in the PL era. In the last six derbies played at City, United have won three, City two and there has been one draw.

4: City have won the last three derbies they’ve played at Old Trafford.

5: City won just one derby in the first 11 years of the PL, a period in which United did derby doubles over them in three of the six seasons they met.

6: City have won nine derbies in the second 11 years of the PL, five at home and four away. City have only ever won consecutive home Premier League derbies once in the PL era, in the 2002-03 season followed by in 2003-04.

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Manc derby in PL to 31.10.14.

And another thing …

Aston Villa made a bright start to the season with 10 points from the first four games but have now suffered five straight defeats and not scored a goal in their last 531 minutes of league football.

Now they face Tottenham who they have not beaten since 15 September 2008; that was at White Hart Lane when goals from Nigel Reo-Coker and Ashley Young were answered by Darren Bent’s consolation in the last few minutes of the game.

Villa have endured a non-winning run against Tottenham since then that is longer than the non-winning runs against all the other current PL teams, as today’s second graphic shows.

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Villa winless v Spurs

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And yet another thing …

In their four seasons as Premier League residents, Swansea have played 27 different clubs and got at least one draw from each and every club. They have won five of seven meeting against West Brom, and five of six against Fulham, and won four of seven plus drawn two against Newcastle.

But against both Tottenham and Everton they have just the one draw and no win in six PL games so far.

They play Everton this weekend.

Swansea PL record to 31.10.14

 

 

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