Archive for the ‘Olympics’ Category

“As in 1998, professional cycling in 2015 is fostering a culture of secrecy”

Monday, March 30th, 2015


“Our vision is to continue to play a leadership role in charting a better future for this great sport of ours and

changing the culture that so damaged it. That means continued leadership on anti-doping.” 

Sir Dave Brailsford, 2014


Teddy CutlerBy Teddy Cutler                           Follow Teddy Cutler on Twitter

30 March 2015

It was back in 2012 that Team Sky, home at that time to the defending Tour de France champion Sir Bradley Wiggins, carried out a purge of staff.

In an autumn of the long knives, Bobby Julich and Steven de Jongh left their posts after an exhaustive and, presumably, exhausting interrogation of their doping pasts. Sean Yates left for ‘family reasons’; Michael Rogers and Juan Antonio Flecha both departed at the end of the season.

Julich and De Jongh had taken EPO, cycling’s miracle ‘blood boosting’ drug, in the late 1990s. When Sky reaffirmed and strengthened their ‘zero tolerance’ policy on doping in the wake of the United States Anti-Doping Agency’s ‘Reasoned Decision’ on Lance Armstrong, which saw the seven-times Tour winner stripped of his titles and banned for life, Julich and De Jongh went.

They eventually found work elsewhere – the American at BMC; the Dutchman at Tinkoff-Saxo, where they both now serve important roles, along with Yates and Rogers, who is the ‘road captain’ on that Russian team.

Servais Knaven, a friend and co-rider of De Jongh on the Dutch TVM team when it was thrown from the 1998 Tour after doping products were discovered in their hotel, remained with Sky. He still works with them as sports director.

Sky’s policy, that any doping in the past will mean you can no longer work for them was, and is, laudable … in a utopian world where the past refuses to intrude upon the present and where humans are removed of their ability and innate desire to wriggle and lie.

But as outlined in detail in a review of the so-called ‘EPO era’ in December (summarised visually, below right), a clean break from cycling’s past is impossible and wholly unrealistic.

Professional cycling in 2015 is populated with people who were deeply involved in the EPO era that began in earnest in the mid to late 1990s, either still riding or, more often, serving as team officials.Cycle-Of-Suspicion-A3

The Cycling Independent Reform Commission (CIRC) report, commissioned by the UCI, and available here, had a remit that included exploring how the EPO era unfolded, and making recommendations on cycling’s future.

This website’s own review explored, pre-CIRC, some of the areas it might touch upon. That review looked at all major teams, past and present. All riders. All doctors. All team managers. All nationalities.

It did not set out to highlight any one team or group over another. That should be absolutely clear from the briefest perusal of the 12,500 words in that review, and in the poster brilliantly realised by Matt Morris for Sportingintelligence that summarised the findings.

That review, in fact – which over many months gained input from riders and officials, past and present, banned and never sanctioned – laid the groundwork for an investigation published in the Mail on Sunday, over two weeks, here and here.

A full six weeks before the first part was published, Team Sky had declined to answer some fairly rudimentary questions about their own policy. Then as fresh information became available – as well as access to documents never scrutinised or published before*, by any media – the focus intensified on a particular person at Team Sky. But the issues at the heart of it are much wider than any one person.

The issues include the serious flaws and inconsistencies in the ‘zero tolerance’ policy, and a pervasive culture of omertà.

(*Click here to send an email requesting our 12-page PDF sample of key Reims court documents; put ‘Reims papers’ in the subject line).




“I took EPO on a few occasions from 1998 to 2000. It was very easy to get hold of and I knew it couldn’t be detected. I was a fairly young rider, the opportunity was there right in front of me and it was a pretty big challenge to stay away from the temptation. There was no pressure at all from my team, the Directors or the Doctors to take it. This was my choice.”

Steven de Jongh, 2012, in an open letter to Team Sky.


The issue is not Servais Knaven. Team Sky have employed and almost certainly continue to employ former dopers, plural. They are not limited to De Jongh and Julich, or Geert Leinders and Michael Barry. They know who they are. Team Sky must have a decent idea too. But it is Knaven’s case that highlights a sorry situation.

He co-operated, along with De Jongh and others, with legal authorities in the summer and winter of 1998, as part of proceedings that led to a drug trafficking trial involving TVM team staff Cees Priem, Jan Moors and Dr Andrei Mikhailov – who even now works at the Katusha team.

The case came to an end in May 2001 with convictions for those three men, but with no sporting sanctions for the riders involved.

There were no sporting sanctions, we have been told – in person, by officials who worked on the case at the time -  because the prosecutors were far more interested in the facilitators than the beneficiaries.

The nature of these documents, then, was something of a mystery. We knew Jeroen Blijlevens and Bart Voskamp, two of Knaven’s teammates, took EPO, because they confessed in 2014. De Jongh likewise, although his confession came earlier.

But Knaven? There were second-hand newspaper reports in French and Dutch that claimed he was one of the riders to have tested positive for EPO in blood tests taken at an Albertville hospital after TVM  were ejected from the 1998 Tour.

Nothing conclusive. And if course, no direct test for EPO was available in 1998.

It only took a telephone call and some email correspondence with a senior official in the Reims courthouse where Knaven, De Jongh and their teammates had come to testify in December 1998 for us to gain access to the case documents, some pictured below.

Reims documentsAt the Palais de Justice in Reims just a few weeks ago we had access to thousands of pages of evidence from the three-year TVM trial. There is detailed scientific evidence there, and contemporary police statements signed in the presence of lawyers. There are test results from blood, urine and hair samples, and reams of legal papers.

Knaven’s name and the names of his TVM team-mates are all over the documents, which tell, often in their own words, what was going on during that disgraced 1998 Tour de France.

A toxicology report concluded Knaven had used EPO, by measuring the level of natural EPO in his body through a ‘negative feedback’ system, the theory being that if you use recombinant (synthetic) EPO then you stop producing the natural stuff.

He admitted, in a police report, to using Persantin, a blood-thinner, but said it was to treat ‘heavy legs’. He had taken Naftidrofuryl, a vasodilator whose medical use is to prevent heart disease and blood circulation problems. Cortisone, a steroid whose use in cycling is illegal without a therapeutic use exemption, was found in his urine. It is unknown whether Knaven had a TUE, because he and Sky have still to answer our questions.

Servais Knaven has always maintained, and continues to maintain to this day, that he never played any part in the TVM doping scandal. The evidence and statements we found – much or which had never been seen before or published by anyone – suggested otherwise.

But this is not about Knaven, who is good at his job and does not, in my opinion, deserve to lose it for indiscretions committed 17 years ago in a very different era. Knaven is simply a symptom of a system that is still broken.




It was apt that as we were returning from Reims with our evidence, the UCI was preparing to release the CIRC report. Three senior officials in law and anti-doping had been beavering away at great expense for over a year, in an attempt to dig up ghosts and in the process wipe professional cycling’s slate clean.

It was a brave effort, even if results were mixed.

Chris Froome, of Sky, was the only named, active rider who spoke to CIRC, which had no mandate to force people into coming forward.

Most revealingly, not one past or present rider who has never admitted to an anti-doping rule violation came forward to volunteer information. No-one like Knaven stepped from the shadows. And with no incentive to, why would they?

The report produced some interesting information, like the revelation by two unnamed sources that from 20 to 90 per cent of the peloton are still doping. But Brian Cookson, the President of the UCI who established the commission, said he would “like to think the figure is closer to 20 per cent than 90.”

That is problematic. Cookson called for the report, and now appears to want to dismiss its findings.

It all adds up to a pervading feeling that very little has changed. Just as in 1998, when TVM and Festina were rumbled, professional cycling is an environment that encourages secrecy.

The CIRC report had the praiseworthy aim of illuminating the recesses of the sport but ended up by showing how dark those recesses remain. If it accomplished one thing, it was to show how powerful a force the omerta remains.




When we returned and presented our evidence to Sky, they questioned Knaven and he gave the same answer he gave back in the autumn of 2012. I never doped. Sky took our evidence to three experts, none of them named, and announced they had concluded there was no proof of doping.

We asked the world’s leading authority on the detection of banned performance-enhancing drug EPO in blood, Robin Parisotto, what he thought. Parisotto invented the first EPO tests, used at the 2000 Olympics. As the pertinent MoS article explained, these tests have morphed into the athlete biological passport and since been adopted by a number of international sporting bodies.

Parisotto also currently sits on the biological passport panel of cycling’s world governing body, the UCI. He said a particularly low level of natural EPO – as found in Knaven’s blood, as agreed was found in his blood by Knaven himself at the time – is explicable only by renal damage or doping.

This is the tipping-point at which what should be a laudable attempt at transparency slips uncomfortably into obfuscation.

Knaven said in 1998 that he had never taken Naftidrofuryl. Now he admits that he did. Knaven admitted in 1998 that he was happy to take whatever Mikhailov gave him, and that everything was allowed ‘as long as what Mikhailov gives me doesn’t make me test positive’.

Knaven said in a police statement on 3 December 1998 (right) that he did not contest the abnormally low level of natural EPO in his body but that there could be ‘numerous other reasons’ to explain it other than having recently stopped a course of synthetic EPO.Knaven statement

Not one of these other reasons has yet been forthcoming. We would, obviously, be more than happy to hear one. We asked questions of Knaven and other current Team Sky staff a full six weeks before ever going to Reims.

Sky’s policy was to answer nothing, put up nobody.

After publication of the first story of the investigation in the MoS, in an interview with The Telegraph’s Cycling Podcast (linked here), Brailsford said: “Unfortunately there is nothing concrete…that says to us this is undeniable. Whilst he [Knaven] maintains that position and without anything absolute to the contrary we have to take him at his word.”

Sky have repeatedly declined to answer general questions we have posed relating to the team and the zero tolerance policy, as well as fresh ones to have resulted from the evidence we uncovered in Reims.

It’s easy to see where this obfuscation originates from. Zero tolerance is impractical – unworkable, even – in an era still so closely wedded to cycling’s EPO generation.

The situation Sky find themselves in now is deeply uncomfortable. They have questioned Knaven twice over his time at TVM. They now know that he has withheld certain key information from them.

Yet they cannot sack him, because he will not confess, and, from their point of view, there is no proof. (Nor, it should be stressed, again, do I think Knaven should be sacked).

It is to be hoped Sky don’t take what would be, ultimately, the most cynical option of all: to quietly release Knaven at the end of the season, when the hubbub has died down and they can avoid any more difficult questions. If they do, this sentence will stand as a record, and prediction, of their artifice.

All of this leads to the inevitable question: what, really, is the point of zero tolerance?

Is it really a policy to ensure that not a single figure on the team has ever had an association with doping?

Or is it, as it appears, a policy that seeks to give the impression nobody on the team has ever doped?

There is an obvious gulf between those two positions.

The latter option is where zero tolerance and the failure of CIRC intercept. Both end up in a dangerous hinterland, and in fact reinforce a dangerous culture of secrecy.

There are still figures working at Sky who the team must be confident were involved in or saw doping offences being committed in the past. Now, thanks to the treatment of Knaven, these figures know that silence is golden, just as it was for those who declined to speak to CIRC.

The response to the MoS reports, and the CIRC report, were telling.

Geraint Thomas, Sky’s form rider of the year so far, described the suggestion that 90 per cent of the peloton are still doping as “insulting”.  Most in cycling simply met its release with silence. Former Sky sprinter Mark Cavendish has said there is “nothing new” in the CIRC report and that he was “unaware” riders could approach the Commission.

The MoS story was mentioned, much to his credit, by Matt Dickinson of The Times. Tom Cary in The Telegraph also referenced it. Every other major British newspaper ignored it. (Well, I say ignored it; several cycling correspondents got in touch privately to say, and I paraphrase: ‘Interesting work, but it’s tough to follow-up without pissing off Sky’).

Are we living through another era where everyone knows the truth, but few have the guts to acknowledge it? Sky exert a considerable influence in the British sporting media – all the more laudable, then, that The Times even acknowledged the Knaven story.

The irony is that nobody set out to ‘get Sky’.

Astana, for instance, deserve far more scrutiny on a regular basis than Sky do. So too Katusha; why, for instance, is Mikhailov still a doctor at a professional cycling team in 2015, despite having a criminal conviction for assisting doping, a criminal conviction never appealed?

But if asked that question, Katusha owner Igor Makarov would simply shrug his shoulders and move you on – he’s under no obligation not to employ those with a doping past.

Sky’s policy, on the other hand, leaves them open to accusations of rank hypocrisy, and, perhaps worse, a lack of transparency, because of those who are gone, and those who have been left behind at the team.

Zero tolerance, as I see it, is not an anti-doping policy. It’s one that drives dopers and their lies further underground; that backs them into a corner where it’s the truth or your job on the line.

I absolutely get it that reasonable observers might think it churlish to have gone digging so far back into someone’s past, whether that was Knaven, any of this team-mates, or any of the other figures in our cycle of suspicion.

What Knaven and others do now in their roles at Sky or elsewhere should not be defined by what they did or did not do in the past – and it is worth reiterating that in 2015 he maintains his innocence.

Knaven should be free to pursue his post-riding career free from suspicion. He would be doing so now, were it not for zero tolerance.

If Sky had a policy like the one Jonathan Vaughters employs at Cannondale-Garmin of being open about the sins of the past, the trip to Reims would have become an exercise in stating the obvious.

MoS Zero tolerance‘Hey Dave, look at all the evidence we have collected that shows Servais Knaven used blood-thinners and vasodilators suitable for 70-year-olds with heart conditions’, we would have said.

And Brailsford would have turned around and told us methodically that none of that mattered a jot, because in 1998 there was an entrenched culture of doping in cycling, and that we should all – journalists included – jolly well move on by acknowledging rather than demonising that culture.

“F*** protecting our image,” said Vaughters in 2013, after Ryder Hesjedal admitted to using EPO during his mountain-biking career. “Let’s actually do the right thing.”

It seems to me that at Sky, image protection comes first. Which makes it all the more ironic that zero tolerance has the ticking timebomb ability to dent that image.

Across the world of professional cycling, the battle between the past and the present continues. Only yesterday, Bjarne Riis left his post as manager of Tinkoff-Saxo by “mutual consent” after disagreements over the way the team is run.

Tinkoff-Saxo have no zero tolerance policy, as is clear from the presence of Julich and De Jongh as staff. Riis has already admitted to doping for his Tour de France victory in 1996. Still, the ghosts of the past will not lie down.

No-one is saying this is an easy issue to deal with. It’s incredibly complex both morally and legally. We tried to explore – in the context of a sport as a whole – what Sky’s flagship policy actually means.

The results of our investigation should make anyone interested and with a vested interest in professional cycling deeply uneasy.

Zero tolerance leaves us further than ever from the truth, and leads us back to the quote from the start of this piece.

Are Sky “changing the culture that so damaged” cycling? In some ways – nutrition, training, ‘marginal gains’ – yes.

But as our investigation revealed, they are not really interested in doing their background checks into the individuals who participated in that damaging culture.

And when evidence pops up, like the documents we presented, that incriminates those individuals, they have an extreme black-and-white policy in place that encourages inconsistency and, perhaps, lies.

And are they “leaders on anti-doping?”

Not until they draw a line under the past and embrace the concept of honesty.

Until then, their efforts are all so much spin. And men like Servais Knaven will continue to suffer the uncomfortable whispers of the past.


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‘EPO in cycling, HGH in the NFL – the complicated truths of cheating’

Thursday, March 12th, 2015

Roger PielkeBy Roger Pielke Jr

12 March 2015

Sport, it is often said, is a mirror to society. That is no more true than in the revelations found in the report of the Cycling Independent Reform Commission (downloadable as a PDF on this website), which earlier this week released its report on doping in professional cycling. We may not like what we see when we look into that mirror. Here are three uncomfortable truths that The CIRC forces us to confront.

A first uncomfortable truth: cheating is complicated. On the face of it, the downfall of Lance Armstrong is pretty easy to explain. The taking of performance enhancing substances in cycling was prohibited; Armstrong took those substances during his seven-year reign as Tour de France champion. He lied about it. Case closed. He is guilty. Right?

Reality has a way of making even the most obvious moral judgments more complicated. The CIRC report (“word clouded” below) explains that the international body which oversees cycling and its annual Tour de France, the UCI, knew for a generation that systematic doping was going on among cyclists. The organization’s “anti-doping strategy was directed at the abuse of doping substances rather than the use of them.”

With cycling’s main oversight and governing body turning a blind eye to doping, and with doping offering 10-15% performance gains, it is not at all surprising that the CIRC concludes a significant majority of all cyclists took prohibited substances during the Armstrong era. Teddy Cutler, writing here at Sportingintelligence late last year, estimated this number to be at least 65 per cent and probably much higher.

Like it or not, doping and covering it up was a part of cycling. As Armstrong’s lawyers note, “the sport he encountered in Europe in the 1990s was a cesspool where doctors, coaches and riders participated daily in doping and covering up doping. Young riders on elite teams competing in Europe faced a simple choice: dope and lie about it or accept that you could not compete clean.”

None of this makes Armstrong less guilty, but it does make his guilt more complex. We allow the norms of behavior in sport to deviate from the norms of broader society at some risk to the integrity of sport. Cycling has found that out the hard way when the gap between its public stated values and its internal norms became too great to sustain.

It is easy to lay blame on one or a few individuals, but anyone judging Armstrong and his fellow competitors harshly needs to be on the watch for deep hypocrisy.

Another uncomfortable truth is that doping is endemic in sport, and not just cycling. This goes for the elite Olympic sports as well as for professional sports.

A study just out in the journal Sports Medicine estimates that as many as 39 per cent of elite, international athletes dope, that is two out of every five.  Professional cyclists interviewed by the CIRC offered estimates of 20 per cent to 90 per cent of riders today are still doping. But nobody really knows, other than it is a lot.

In the US last month Hall of Fame quarterback Fran Tarkenton told USA Today that doping in the National Football League (NFL) was common. The league recently implemented test for human growth hormone, but it has caught no one. Scientists say that the test is not state of the art and is thus unlikely to catch anyone.  One reason for using that weak test is objections to stronger testing by the NFL Players Union.

When asked about the prevalence of HGH use in the NFL, former Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots tight end Christian Fauria said, “Some say 90%, [but] I don’t know. I know a lot of guys were taking stuff and looking for stuff, but I couldn’t put a percentage on it.”

Even if a player is caught using HGH the NFL penalty is a suspension for only four games for a first violation, and 10 games for a second. Under the new WADA code the same infraction results in a four-year ban – that’s four YEARS – in the first instance of being caught, and possible lifetime ban for a second. The NFL is obviously not too worried about doping.

The inevitable conclusion is that neither athletes nor sports fans seem to mind doping. At least not too much. A little is OK. How else can we explain the lack of interest in knowing how many athletes actually dope or the effectiveness of anti-doping regulations?

The inevitable result of this charade is a series of scandals involving individuals – Ben Johnson, Marion Jones, Barry Bonds, Dwain Chambers – followed by professed changes, which are ultimately not up to the task of actually dealing with the stated concern about doping, thus setting the stage for the next superstar to fall from grace.

A final uncomfortable truth is that sport is a largely a public endeavour.

UK Sport is funded by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, along with the National Lottery.

WADA is funded and partially overseen by national governments.

In the US, Major League Baseball and other professional sports operate under an anti-trust exemption provided in US law.

The NFL has seen Its Sunday television broadcasts protected from competition under an act of Congress.

Even the US Anti-Doping Agency which caught Lance Armstrong is funded almost entirely by the US taxpayer under the provisions of an international treaty.

We all share responsibility for the governance of sport, whether we know it or not. When there is a big doping scandal it is as much a public failure as the failure of an individual, maybe more so.

The investigative report into cycling has laid bare some difficult truths about sport in modern society. Yes, Lance Armstrong and many others cheated and sport leaders failed miserably in carrying out their responsibilities. But the reality here also is that we are all complicit. And we are setting the stage for it to happen again.


Roger Pielke Jr. is a professor of environmental studies at the University of Colorado, where he also directs its Center for Science and technology Policy Research. He studies, teaches and writes about science, innovation, politics and sports. He has written for The New York TimesThe GuardianFiveThirtyEight, and The Wall Street Journal among many other places. He is thrilled to join Sportingintelligence as a regular contributor. Follow Roger on Twitter: @RogerPielkeJR and on his blog


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

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014


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.


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



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


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.



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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”.


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. 


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.



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.



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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Tyler Hamilton: ‘Pat McQuaid has no place in cycling’

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

By Sportingintelligence

23 October 2012

Tyler Hamilton, the former team-mate of Lance Armstrong who prominently blew the whistle on drug taking in his sport and who has written a book about his sporting life, ‘The Secret Race’, has responded to accusations by UCI head Pat McQuaid that he is a ‘scumbag’.

Hamilton has released the following statement:



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Openly gay Olympians won six times as many golds as their peers. Why?

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

By Nick Harris

SJA Internet Sports Writer of the Year

22 August 2012

There were 23 openly gay athletes across all sports at the London 2012 Olympic Games according to observers who monitor such trends closely, notably

Ten of them won medals (43 per cent) and seven of them won gold medals (30.4 per cent), including the British equestrian rider Carl Hester, in the team dressage. Hester was the only openly gay athlete among the 451 men and women in Team GB.

By definition, 23 people is a small sample size, but the fact that it’s so small is part of the story. The success rates of those athletes puts the success rates of London Olympians overall in the shade.

Of the 10,820 athletes across all sports, Sportingintelligence has calculated that 595 separate individuals won a gold medal.

There were 302 gold medal events but in many of those events multiple people helped to win the gold, for example in all the team sports, in the non-solo rowing crews and in all the relay squads in athletics and swimming.

With 595 people going home with gold, that means one in 18 of London’s Olympians went home with gold (or 5.5 per cent).

Among the openly gay athletes – 20 of who were women and three were men – one in three went home with gold (or 30.43 per cent).

Openly gay Olympians in London therefore won six times as many gold medals per head as the total athletic population at the Games.

They also won more than twice as many medals per head of all colours than average. Around 1,800 individuals won medals of one colour or another (or 16.6 per cent of all athletes), whereas 43.4 per cent of the openly gay athletes won medals.

Are gay athletes better at sport? Almost certainly not, but we’ll come back to that shortly.

“It’s an absurdly low number,” said Jim Buzinski, the co-founder of Outsports, of the 23 openly gay Olympians. He was quoted in an Associated Press report carried by ESPN and the Huffington Post among others.

Estimates of the percentage of gay people vary widely but even at the low end of those estimates (1.5 per cent of people), one might expect around 160 gay athletes among the 10,820 participating at London 2012, or seven times as many as the 23 known to be gay.

Buzinski points out that considering the small ratio of openly gay sports people when set against, say, the ratio of openly gay people in the arts, politics or business, then “sports is still the final closet in society.”

What is staggering, statistically speaking, is the success of those 23 openly gay Olympians in London.

It is notable that the three men appeared in two sports – dressage and diving – that are anecdotally “gay friendly”. A spokeswoman for British Dressage, for example, said having gay riders “is the norm. Don’t get me wrong, there are straight riders too, but whether someone is gay or not in our sport is simply not an issue.”

In alphabetical order, the 23 openly gay London 2012 Olympians:

  • Marilyn Agliotti, Carlien Dirkse van den Heuvel, Kim Lammers and Maartje Paumen, all members of the Dutch women’s hockey team who won gold.
  • Judith Arndt, a German cyclist who won silver in London in the time trial.
  • Seimone Augustus, an American who won basketball gold.
  • Natalie Cook, an Australian beach volleyball player.
  • Lisa Dahlkvist, Jessica Landström and Hedvig Lindahl, all Swedish football players who reached the quarter-finals.
  • Imke Duplitzer, a German fencer who was part of a team coming fifth in the women’s team epee.
  • Edward Gal, a Dutchman who won bronze in the team dressage.
  • Jessica Harrison and Carole Péon, French triathletes who finished ninth and 29th respectively in London.
  • Carl Hester, a Briton who won dressage team gold.
  • Karen Hultzer, a South African archer.
  • Alexandra Lacrabére, a French handball player who reached the quarter-finals.
  • Matthew Mitcham, an Australian 10m platform diver who was the only openly gay male Olympian in Beijing, where he won gold. In London he reached the semi-final.
  • Mayssa Pessoa, a Brazilian handball player.
  • Megan Rapinoe, an American who won football gold.
  • Lisa Raymond, American tennis player who won bronze in the mixed doubles.
  • Rikke Skov, a Danish handball player.
  • Ina-Yoko Teutenberg, a German cyclist who missed bronze in the road race by 0.25seconds.

A person’s sexuality is, of course, of no relevance in terms of how they do their job, or live their life. Or rather it shouldn’t be.

Yet while being openly gay in many areas of public life (be it politics, the police, the arts, the clergy, banking, whatever) in many countries is no issue, gay people – at least openly gay – remain hugely under-represented in many professional sports, and that’s even in ‘liberal’ countries across Europe and North America.

Whether you think this matters or not possibly depends on whether you think there is a wider social significance of societies being open and free. In large parts of the world, same-sex sexual activity is an offence punishable by years in prison, and in seven countries the death penalty remains in force for active homosexuality. See country by country laws for details.

In sport, particularly in football, openly gay professional players are rare. In British football they are non-existent in the men’s game since Justin Fashanu.

The Football Association’s only openly gay councillor, Peter Clayton, has said gay players have been told to stay in the closet or risk damaging their clubs’ commercial interests. Publicist Max Clifford has admitted that he has advised gay Premier League clients to keep their sexuality secret.

Evidently this is one area where sport, particularly football, needs to evolve.

One of a very small number of experts who have studied and researched sexuality in sport in any detail is Professor Eric Anderson, an American who is a professor of sports studies at the University of Winchester in England. In his work as a sociologist he has studied why gay men and women pursue professional sport (or not) and cites a large-scale study of tens of thousands of college students in the USA that found “gay men are more likely [than straight men] to drop out of competitive sport, and follow other pursuits instead.”

Those that don’t drop out, Anderson says, often find themselves in an environment that does not encourage them to come out. “Cultural homophobia is dropping at a rapid rate, so this isn’t an issue with the fans,” he says, citing a study of British football supporters where 93 per cent (of 3,500 surveyed) said they would have no problem with a player coming out.

Neither, he says, is a player being gay an issue with team-mates, although gay players might fear coming out because a coach or manager, who will often holds a player’s career in their hands, may react adversely.

Rather, Anderson contests, it is the “gate keepers” of sport, or “alpha males” who hold key roles in governing bodies and commercial entities around sport, that create an atmosphere not conducive to coming out. “Homophobic men like Sepp Blatter,” he says, a reference to Blatter’s infamous statement that gay fans daunted at going to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar (where homosexuality is illegal) might refrain from sex while there.

As to why the openly gay Olympians won proportionately so many medals, Anderson is in no doubt that “openly” is the operative word, and that many times as many gay athletes took part, quite possibly winning no more or less than the overall London 2012 population.

His reseach has also shown, he says, that “gay male athletes are more likely to come out of the closet when they are good” and that “they have the sporting capital to negate the problems they encounter.”

Or in other words, a gay sportsman is much more likely be open about it when they know they’re got a great chance of winning – leaving little room for questions – from homophobes - over whether they should be involved in the first place.

So 10 medals, seven of them gold, among 23 gay Olympians in 2012 isn’t so anomalous – or rather it wouldn’t seem so if only one could see the whole picture.


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London 2012: Better for Great Britain than 1908 despite fewer gold medals

Monday, August 13th, 2012

By Nick Harris

SJA Internet Sports Writer of the Year

13 August 2012

The past few days we’ve heard that Great Britain has enjoyed its best Olympic medal haul since 1908 but in relative terms London 2012 was much better for the hosts.

In 1908, there were only 2,008 competitors from 22 nations competing, and Britain provided a third of those by herself.

So one might reasonably have expected Britain to win a lot of the 110 gold medals on offer, on home turf and in home water, in events as varied as tug of war and motorboat racing.

Britain did indeed win lots of golds, 56 of them, or just more than half on offer. So that’s 51 per cent of golds with 34 per cent of the athletes, so Britain did 151 per cent as well as she should have done.

Here’s another way of thinking about it. If the 110 medals had been split fairly between all the 2,008 competitors, then each nation should have won 5.48 golds for each 100 athletes. Which means Britain, with 676 athletes, should have won 37 gold medals. Instead GB won 51 medals – again, that’s 151 per cent of what would be expected.

At London 2012, when the size of the competition is factored in, Great Britain thrashed that performance by doing 192 per cent as well as should be expected.

Sportingintelligence has analysed the host nations’ performances at all 27 Summer Games to date.

We consider:

1: the number of golds on offer.

2: the amount of athletes at the Games from all nations.

3: how many golds each nation should have won per 100 athletes if divided equally. Golds available per athlete have got harder and harder to win. There were 18 golds per 100 people in Athens in 1896 and now that figure is fewer than three golds per 100 competitiors.

4: how many competitors the host nation had, and how many golds they won.

5: the percentage performance rating.

The graphic below – click to enlarge – includes every host at every Games since the first modern Olympic in Greece in 1896 and allows us to see at a glance how times have changed.

The key columns are the amount of golds the host should expect (given the size of their teams) against the amount they got, and the ratio.

(Article continues below)


Great Britain’s performance at London 2012 rates as the sixth best host nation performance at any Summer Games by these measures (see blue column on the right-hand side above for rankings 1-27 of the 27 Games).

The five better performers were the USA (1984), Soviet Union (1980), Germany (1936), China (2008) and the USA (1996) and the first four of those can arguably be seen as political and / or propaganda Games, where huge tallies for the host were influenced by one or more of boycotts, state backing for political reasons or other interference.

At the other end of the scale, Canada in 1976 remain the only hosts never to win a gold medal at their own Games, while London in 1948 saw Britain perform 23 per cent as well as she should have done if the medals had been dished out fairly.

There is a twist in this tale of Britain at the Games, however.

London 2012 was much better than the first-glance glory of 1908 but has not been Britain’s most successful Games to date, relatively. That was in 2008, when GB performed 221 per cent as well as expected.

This was because Team GB had ‘only’ 311 competitors in Beijing, against the army of 541 in London, an increase of 230 in four years.

The graphic below shows how Britain has performed in the 27 Games to date, ranking those performances.

Only eight times has Britain done as well as should be expected, and 19 times has failed to hit 100 per cent of a ‘fair share’ gold.

It is no accident that the last four Games, since Sydney in 2000, all fall within Britain’s six best Games by relative performance.

Money talks, and Lottery cash investment in British sport came on line ahead of Sydney 2000.

Home advantage – a well documented effect of hosting a Games – also helped to boost Britain this past fortnight.


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London 2012: Beware billions bollocks. Ceremony to be huge TV hit, but not that huge

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

By Nick Harris

SJA Internet Sports Writer of the Year

26 July 2012

Over the next day or so it is almost certain that you will see or hear somebody claim that the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics will be watched by a global audience of billions.

That’s bollocks. It won’t be.

Even the official website of London 2012 claims that the ceremonies of the Games and the Paralympics “will be spectacular celebrations of British culture watched by an estimated global audience of four billion people.”

I don’t doubt they’ll be spectacular and celebratory – but that number is more bollocks.

Britain deserves a gold medal for bollocks of this kind and Jeremy ‘Porkies’ Hunt, the Culture Secretary of the government, is perhaps an ideal man to collect it.

As Sportingintelligence detailed last year, Hunt was infamously the person who told a meeting of the Cabinet that 2 billion people would watch the wedding of William and Kate. He over-egged the real number by about 10 times. More about that here, and here.

Hunt’s silly – and never substantiated – claim has continued to be repeated as fact, because that’s the way these things work.

None of this is to disparage London’s opening showpiece, because it will be – with no shadow of doubt whatseover – the most watched event in the world this year, by a huge margin.

In Britain, if things go astonishingly well and it truly captures the public imagination, it may get close to the number of people who watched the 1986 Christmas Day episode of soap opera EastEnders when Den left Angie (30.15m), or the number of people who watched character Hilda Ogden leave soap opera Coronation Street on Christmas Day 1987 (26.65m).

Genuinely, if the opening ceremony tops those UK TV moments, it will be a massive coup for host broadcaster, the BBC.

Overall, the ceremony is likely to have a live global TV audience of many hundreds of millions, perhaps even half a billion or more.

The ‘average’ figure of people around the globe who will sit and watch it all as it happens will be hundreds of million – and perhaps 700m will watch at least a part of it. But it won’t reach a billion.

The world has 7 billion people, and they live in 1.9bn households, which on average have 3.68 people in them each.

Of those 1.9bn households, only 1.4bn households have a TV, let alone the internet. And it is the poorer households that tend not to have TV, and they also happen to be the bigger households. So around 2.5bn people don’t even have access to TV.

Let’s also consider the time that the London ceremony will take place: between 8pm and midnight UK time.

Asia will be asleep because it will be the middle of their night. Asia has 4.1bn of the world’s population. The very vast majority of them won’t be watching.

The verifiably most-watched event in human history – and the only “genuine 1bn” event to date – was the opening ceremony of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

The “average” audience (those watching the four-hour event whole) was 593m people, many of them within host nation China, the world’s most populous country. China’s 1.3bn population was why the event was so popular. Only 5m people, for example, watched the same event in Britain.

In all, 984m people around the world tuned in for part of that opening 2008 Games ceremony via TV in their own homes, and the 16m balance needed to get to 1bn was almost certainly achieved by people watching around the world in public places.

The 1bn who watched the Beijing ceremony was uniquely big because it was such an enormous deal in the host country, which has a uniquely big population.

The 2012 opener will be huge in Britain (as many as half the population could watch), big in Europe (in the right time zone and with key interested nations like Germany, Italy, France and Spain), relatively small in Asia (because most people will be asleep), so-so across Africa (because relatively few people will have access) and a mixed bag in the Americas.

In the USA, great swathes of the population will be at work (especially on the west coast) or commuting when the ceremony is on, although it is better timed for the east coast. The ceremony won’t be anywhere near as important in America as its most popular event, SuperBowl, which now routinely attracts a USA TV audience of more than 100m people, or something less than a third of all Americans.

An exceptionally massive Olympic ceremony audience in America would be something like half the SuperBowl figure; and probably it will be fewer than 50m people.

In South America, big numbers are expected in Brazil because Brazil will host the 2016 Games and as such has a special interest in London this time. But big numbers will still only be tens of millions at most, not hundreds of millions.

Exaggeration is the norm for viewing figures for major events as vested interests – broadcasters, governing bodies, organisers – make inflated pre-event claims to make themselves look good, and in some cases, try to make money off the back of those claims.

On of my favourite exagerrations was when it was claimed that a Premier League ‘clash of the titans’ match between Manchester United and Arsenal in November 2007 would draw an audience of 1bn globally. The true figure was that 8m people watched the whole match live around the world (1.477m of them in the UK), and 27m people watched at least part of the game. Or in other words, one 37th of the reported audience actually tuned in.

How do we know how many people really watch these things? Because there are authoritative and respected measurement bodies who collate this data. They include BARB in the UK and Nielsen in the USA, and TAM in India and equivalent bodies elsewhere.

Kevin Alavy is now the boss at Future Sports + Entertainment, an arm of leading international analysts Initiative, and has spent years compiling accurate, verifiable data about major events from all the world’s major TV markets.

As I’ve written before, in an industry awash with hype, Alavy’s work has been refreshingly bullshit-free.

I spoke to him this morning and he is certain that Beijing 2008 won’t be topped by London, or come anywhere close to 1bn, let alone 2bn or 3bn or 4bn.

He thinks a figure of 600m to 700m is a credible prediction for the total number of people who might tune in for part, if not all, of the London ceremony, and a lot of those people will be in Europe and a select bunch of large other nations like Brazil and the USA.

‘If your aim was to maximise the live global TV audience, then you’d have the London ceremony in the middle of day, European time,’ Alavy tells me. ‘Then you’d catch a wider share of Asia, which is huge, and Europe, and still get some interested from America.

‘But this isn’t scheduled to get the maximum audience. Even within Britain the audience will be smaller than it could be because it’s going to be on between 9pm and midnight, as opposed to between 7pm and 10pm, for example, which would get a higher figure.’

Alavy doesn’t doubt the ceremony will be the most-watched event of the year in global terms in any genre of viewing.

The Olympic Games are massive and the global interest reflects that. Only the football World Cup and the Olympics truthfully fall into the bracket of events of global interest.

Less certain is what will be the next most watched event of 2012. It might be the closing ceremony. It won’t necessarily be the men’s 100m final, which many people would expect.

‘In China, the biggest audience for actual sport was a women’s volleyball preliminary between China and Cuba,’ Alavy says.

That match drew a global audience of  184m who watched the whole thing, and 450m people who watched part of it. The vast, vast majority of those people were in China, and many of those who weren’t were in Cuba.

And that’s not bollocks.


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Olympic medals: the nations who make the most of their population and cash

Monday, July 23rd, 2012


By Nick Harris

SJA Internet Sports Writer of the Year

23 July 2012

There is typically a strong relationship between the size of a nation’s population, its financial resources and the amount of medals it wins at an Olympic Games.

A variety of studies has shown this to be the case, and predictions for London 2012 abound, from Dan Johnson in Colorado (link to article), (and link to his data) to Goldman Sachs (link to article), (and to their data), and umpteen others in between.

Goldman think Britain will win 30 golds to finish third in the medals table, which looks optimistic, although as written in our own January predictions for sport in 2012, we reckon that Team GB will win 24 golds (and 55-60 medals altogether) to pip Russia for third place in the final medals table, behind the USA and China.

Trying to guess medal tallies, based on science or a hunch, is part and parcel of the Olympic build-up. What actually happens tells us much about the sporting world we live in, and how different nations treat sport.

In the article linked here from March, we looked at which nations won the most gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics per 1m people. Jamaica came out on top, followed by Estonia, with Mongolia, New Zealand, Georgia and Australia all doing very well too.

To explore this in much greater detail for Sportingintelligence, Ben Jones of the DataRemixed blog has now used population and GDP data to produce the brilliant interactive graphic below to allow you to explore which nations punched above or below their weight at the 2008 Games when numbers of people and cash are taken into account.

NB: the graphic, driven by Tableau software, will take a few moments to load 

The graphic allows you to see which nations most effectively use their population and GDP to win medals.

The opening page shows you which nations won most medals (of all colours) by head of population in Beijing, and you can see Bahamas were No1, followed by Jamaica, Iceland and Slovenia.

But by changing the tab on the left (population) to GDP, you’ll see that Zimbabwe become the most efficient nation, winning more medals per £ of GDP than anyone, ahead of Jamaica, Mongolia and Kenya.

If you just want to consider gold medals, or silver, or bronze, then change the right-hand tab to recalculate.

If you just want to look within a specific continent, change the middle tab.

Click on a country’s name on the map, or on their flag in the graphs, for more details about the relevant achievements.

There is a wealth of information available by searching for different findings, but some ‘best and worst’ findings include:

  • Iceland were the best nation in Europe in winning most medals per person (3.31 per 1m people) and Portugal were worst of those that won medals (0.19 per 1m people).
  • Belarus won most medals per £ of GDP in Europe, and Belgium won fewest.
  • In Asia, Armenia won most medals per people, while India won fewest (of those that won medals); India also had the worst return by GDP in Asia, while Mongolia had the best return.
  • In Africa, Zimbabwe punched highest above its weight (of those winning medals) in financial terms, and South Africa fared worst. In population terms, Mauritius was the best African nation and Egypt the worst.


(If the graphic fails to appearview it externally here. NB: It’s a complex graphic so it takes a few moments to get started)





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YouTube sports chief rules out any bid for Premier League rights

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

By Nick Harris

SJA Internet Sports Writer of the Year

20 March 2012

The global head of sports content at YouTube has ruled out any bid for live rights to show Premier League football matches now or in the foreseeable future despite describing English top-flight football as “a wonderfully powerful attractor of viewers”.

In an exclusive interview with Sportingintelligence, Claude Ruibal (left) – in charge of YouTube’s global sports content policy since January 2011 – says the Google-owned platform wants to increase the amount of long-form live sports events it screens – but that paying for rights isn’t in the business model.

So while YouTube wants to expand coverage of events where it pays little or nothing up front for the rights – like IPL cricket and Copa America football, and ‘niche’ sports like fencing – YouTube’s efforts around the most popular sports will aim to ‘augment’ the existing live coverage by the traditional broadcast media.

The debate about the role of web-based firms and sports rights intensified this month with reports that Yahoo is considering a bid for the Canadian rights to the 2014 Winter Olympics and 2016 Summer Games – a move that could signal a sea-change in broadcasting if it happened.

But Ruibal has told Sportingintelligence: “We’re not a content creator, we’re not a broadcaster, we’re not going to be a high-stakes rights bidder. But we can be a platform for more long-form sports rights, and want to be.

“We’re just not going to have a business model to spend £2bn on long-form live rights for Premier League football. It would be a wonderfully powerful attractor of viewers to our platform but we need to live within the reality of the world.

“How do we [instead] augment what’s there already? By potentially having a nice offering around catch-up. And another big piece of what we’re doing is everything surrounding sport, the lead-up to the event, and after the event.”

To that end, YouTube already hosts numerous official football club YouTube channels, including those for Barcelona, Manchester City and Liverpool, as well as channels for brands such as Nike Football.

“Look at what we’re doing in Spain,” Ruibal says. “FC Barcelona have one our best channels on YouTube. What they have on there is player features, press interviews, behind the scenes, training. And if I’m a fan of a club I know that’s all there. We have close to 30 official club channels now.”

YouTube has grown rapidly to be the world’s third most popular destination on the internet globally – behind only and Facebook.

YouTube attracts 4 billion views per day, of which 600m are now via mobile devices. The site has an astonishing 800m unique viewers per month, with an average visit of between seven and 15 minutes.

Sixty hours of new content is uploaded to YouTube every minute – and Ruibal would like more of it to be live sport which can also be archived on the site.

Copa America games were shown live last year on YouTube in dozens of nations where there was no existing broadcast deal, and geo-blocked in those where there was. This allowed potential viewers with no access to mainstream coverage to see games while not conflicting with pre-existing contracts.

In 2010 and 2011, YouTube broadcast live IPL games in many territories where there was no live TV coverage, and ‘delayed live’ feeds elsewhere.

IPL sources say the IPL received some (modest) rights fees but Ruibal suggests it wasn’t YouTube who paid those, but a third party.

“When we did the IPL, we partnered on that, in that case with the India Times,” he said. “They’re the ones who were the bidders. We said ‘We think we’re good at the back end and at having a good user interface. We’ve got the scale. We can provide the platform’.

“That’s how that deal happened.

“Today that’s our value proposition. You want a great platform, great scale, great reach – come to us. But you need to manage it. We don’t do that.

“You need to edit it, create the content. We’ll tell you if you’re not doing a good job because we know who is, and who isn’t, and we can help you get better at this.”

Ruibal sees YouTube as an agent for promotion of ‘niche’ sports in particular, with fencing a case in point. The world governing body of that sport now has its own channel and events are shown in full, live, to global audiences. A range of other sports have followed suit.

YouTube don’t pay for rights, but do share ad revenues that can become substantial when millions of people watch.

One area where Ruibal doesn’t rule out involvement in the Premier League is clip screening; but again it seems unlikely YouTube will pay.

At the moment, Yahoo in the UK and a tiny number of separate overseas platform deals allow specific web platforms to show Premier League goals and other clips after matches have been screened live.

Any Premier League content currently that gets onto YouTube is rapidly taken down by ‘digital fingerprinting’ software.

“It’s entirely appropriate that the Premier League should be able to have content removed from YouTube because they own the rights,” Ruibal says.

Could YouTube bid for Premier League clips? “If we could partner on something on that, on catch-up content soon after the event then that’s something we could be good at.”

Providing a platform for a third-party funder rather than spending any YouTube cash for fees is most likely, however.



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EXCLUSIVE: Funding body Sport England kept in dark over drugs cover-up

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

By Nick Harris

SJA Internet Sports Writer of the Year

1 February 2012

SPORT England, the funding body that hands out taxpayers money to sports governing bodies, was kept in the dark over alleged breaches of the UK National Anti-Doping policy, Sportingintelligence can reveal  - meaning a governing body is continuing to receive a £28m four-year funding package of public cash that should arguably be under review.

As reported previously (with further details today), a positive drugs test by the former GB rugby league star Martin Gleeson at Hull FC last year led to a drugs cover-up that Gleeson alleged involved the Rugby Football League, if only by failure of officials to pass on key details at certain times.

A six-month investigation costing a large six-figure sum by UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) considered a serious anti-doping charge against a senior RFL official, for their role in the cover-up, Sportingintelligence can reveal. That charge was not pursued on external legal advice, but the same UKAD investigation found evidence of breaches of the UK anti-doping policy that were not prosecuted at all on the grounds of finite UKAD time and resources.

Sport England relies on UKAD to police anti-doping, and unless it hears to the contrary, dishes out public cash on the assumption that governing bodies are abiding by the drugs policy.

The RFL’s current four-year funding package from Sport England is worth just under £28m, or £6.89m a year.

UKAD’s investigation into the cover-up involved formal interviews with 13 witnesses, including RFL officials who said they knew details on 3 June 2011 of the supply chain that led to Gleeson taking a supplement containing a banned supplement.

Crucially, those officials did not pass that information to UKAD immediately, as clause 4.6.2 of the National UK Anti-Doping Policy obliges.

But no action has been taken by UKAD against the RFL, and Sport England have confirmed that they were not told details of the investigation as it unfolded, nor that there was any evidence that the RFL or any of its officials had breached the Policy – which must be followed to qualify for public money.

Sport England are understood to have discovered details of the full cover-up evidence only last week when contacted by the media. A spokesman says: ’We take our own responsibilities under the policy very seriously. The policy clearly sets out the separate roles and responsibilities of Sports Councils and those of UK Anti-Doping when it comes to anti-doping.

‘We have had a lengthy conversation with UKAD about the investigation they carried out into the Gleeson case. They have advised us that, following this thorough investigation, the Rugby Football League had no case to answer. As a result, UKAD did not initially contact Sport England about this case.’

Gleeson was initially the only person prosecuted for his failed test but Hull’s then-CEO James Rule and conditioning coach Ben Cooper were subsequently prosecuted for involvement in the cover-up.

The bombshell investigation case file, running to more than 2,700 pages of statements, transcripts, emails, phone records and other material about the case, was handed by UKAD to Gleeson last month in return for his ‘substantial assistance’ in uncovering the truth. A UKAD official who worked on Gleeson’s case is understood to have told one of Gleeson’s advisors that ‘the gloves are now off’ in the fight for Gleeson to partially clear his name and not stand alone as tainted player in this case.

That file given to Gleeson contains evidence that the RFL’s head of anti-doping, Emma Rosewarne – and her immediate boss, the RFL’s C.O.O Ralph Rimmer – both knew on the day Gleeson’s positive result became known (Friday 3 June) that Gleeson had not bought a supplement containing a ‘controlled’ stimulant, MHA, himself.

Gleeson went to a tribunal on 9 June 2011 with a story saying he had got the drug himself, in person, from a shop. This was a pack of lies and when it became clear, the cover-up was exposed and investigated.

Rosewarne and Rimmer, in their own words and statements (scans below), also told the UKAD investigation that they both knew on 3 June 2011 that Gleeson’s best friend and team-mate Sean Long had been in the supply chain of the supplement (OxyElite Pro) to Gleeson, and both knew that Hull’s CEO, Rule, feared his ‘whole squad’ could have been taking the drug.

Crucially, none of that information was passed immediately to UKAD, as the Policy dictates under clause 4.6.2. (A scan of the relevant clause of the policy is in this backgrounder).

If that information had been passed on, the cover-up as it transpired could never have happened. As it was, Gleeson was prosecuted alone until he lost his initial case and decided to tell the truth.

Although a breach of 4.6.2 was never prosecuted by UKAD, the RFL’s chief executive Nigel Wood insists: ‘There has been NO breach of 4.6.2.’

The RFL has defended its position throughout, insisting in a statement on 15 January (linked here) that it had assisted in the UKAD inquiry and confirming that the RFL had been cleared on external legal advice.

Sportingintelligence can reveal the UKAD investigation contains multiple references to the involvement of UKAD’s chief executive, Andy Parkinson, being consulted on the weekend of 3 to 5 June 2011 about a potential appeal by Hull FC (and supported by the RFL) to get Gleeson’s immediate ban suspended so he could play a match that weekend.

Despite UKAD being the investigating and prosecuting body for drugs case, the dossier suggests both Parkinson himself and UKAD’s head of legal, Graham Arthur, gave advice to Rosewarne on Gleeson’s suspension appeal. Yet neither Parkinson nor Arthur were formally interviewed for UKAD’s investigation into the cover-up. That initial appeal was somehow successful although legal opinion voiced at Gleeson’s tribunal made reference to a ‘no fault’ plea always being a non-starter.

A UKAD spokesman said this week: ‘As previously stated, the investigation was thorough and robust. Everything required to be done, in our expert opinion, has been done.’

Hugh Robertson, the Minister for sport and the Olympics, is understood to retain confidence in UKAD in Olympic year, but says that governing bodies must share all information they have about doping or suspected doping as ‘a vital part of the weaponry’ in the fight against drugs.

‘We have a first-class testing system in this country but sharing intelligence on doping is also a vital part of the weaponry,’ Robertson says.

‘Sports governing bodies have a crucial role to play in the fight against drugs in sport. They have a duty to pass on intelligence so that we can continue to make progress. I am confident in United Kingdom Anti-Doping’s approach in taking on the drug cheats.’

An anti-doping source stressed that the Gleeson cover-up investigation came down to ‘judgement calls’ and UKAD had to assess whether to pursue the most serious possible charges (which it did) as well as ‘lesser’ charges (4.6.2) that might have affected RFL funding but not led to individuals being punished.

‘We have to bear in mind – and it’s probably not what the public wants to hear – that we don’t have a bottomless pit of money to deal with,’ a source said. ‘We’ve got cases coming through the system all the time … All I can say is we made calls at different parts of the process to proceed down certain routes.’

Michele Verroken, the former Director of Ethics and Anti-Doping at UK Sport for 20 years and a long-time advocate of independence in anti-doping systems, has told Sportingintelligence: ‘It is essential that anti-doping systems are based on trust and confidence. To achieve this there must be absolute openness and public accountability for decision making.

‘The new era of anti-doping organisations operating nationally carries even greater responsibility to demonstrate fairness, due process and absolute absence of conflicts of interest.

‘Perception of conflicts of interest cannot be allowed to exist, particularly in determining a case to answer or the commission of an anti-doping rule violation.

‘It is unhelpful to our ambition to make sport drug-free that confidence in anti-doping systems can be undermined by such perceptions.

‘If athletes or sports organisations do not perceive anti-doping systems to be fair, then how can we ask for their support?’


More from Nick Harris


Sportingintelligence home page


Part of Emma Rosewarne’s written testimony to the UKAD inquiry


Part of Ralph Rimmer’s oral testimony to the UKAD inquiry 

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