Fri, Dec 22, 2006 - Page 24 News List

British Cycling president warns suspect cyclists off

NOT WELCOME With so many cyclists embroiled in doping investigations, the hosts of the first stage of next year's Tour de France have taken a stand


The head of British cycling's governing body wants riders involved in current doping investigations to stay away from the start of next year's Tour de France in London.

"This will be a historic event, in the heart of one of the world's great cities, a fantastic opportunity for our sport," British Cycling president Brian Cookson said.

"We really do not want to see this tarnished by a repeat of the doping scandals of 2006, so, frankly, we urge all those with involvement in various investigations to stay away," he said.

The 94th edition of the Tour will begin in London on July 7.

US rider Floyd Landis won this year's Tour but tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone to epitestosterone. He is contesting the finding.

Pre-Tour favorites Jan Ullrich and Ivan Basso were left out of last year's event after their names turned up on a list of 58 cyclists who allegedly had contact with Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes, the doctor at the center of the Spanish doping probe called "Operation Puerto."

Basso has since been cleared by the Italian cycling federation and was signed up by Lance Armstrong's Discovery Channel team. Ullrich was fired by his team and remains without a team for next season.

Several other cyclists implicated by the Spanish doping scandal have been cleared by their respective federations, while not one rider has been sanctioned as a result.

Cookson made his comments on Wednesday while offering support for International Cycling Federation president Pat Mc-Quaid, who has come under fire from European cycling federations recently.

"As far as Britain is concerned, we strongly support president McQuaid in his stance on the anti-doping measures, and we understand the legal difficulties encountered in dealing effectively with such matters," Cookson said.

"The UCI is our best hope for achieving this and we urge all national federations to support president McQuaid at this time."

Iraqi coach killed

Iraq's Olympic cycling coach was killed after gunmen kidnapped him from his home in the latest attack on one of the nation's sports figures, officials said.

Family members identified the body of 48-year-old Mahoud Ahmed Fulayih at the central morgue in the capital on Monday, two days after he was abducted, said Hussein al-Amidi, the acting secretary general of Iraq's National Olympic Committee.

He said Fulayih was kidnapped three days after he returned with the cycling team from the Asian Games in Doha, Qatar. The team did not win any medals there.

"We lost another one. He is not a politician and has no link with any party," al-Amidi said. "It looks like no one is excluded from the violence."

Athletes and sports officials have increasingly become targets of threats, kidnappings and assassination attempts in Iraq, either as part of retaliatory violence between Shiites and Sunnis or for ransom.

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