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Freeman Cebu Sports

Mexican standoff

ALLEZ - ALLEZ By Jose Vicente Araneta -
We all know that the pro cycling scene has been in deep water since July. Instead of clearing up, the water has been getting murkier by the day.

This all began with the arrest of 3 men by the Spanish authorities, who where believed to be ring leaders of a gang that supplied and administered performance enhancing drug to its 200-plus pro athlete-clients, which included 50 cyclists. Last week, the Spanish Cycling Federation shelved the investigation when a Madrid court said that the federation could not use the court documents against the personalities named in the investigation. Thus, it leaves the UCI and the involved people in a quandary regarding their status. No one has been charged and it seems that they are neither in nor out. Here are some of the top personalities involved and their current status.

1. Manolo Saiz was the team director of LIBERTY SEGUROS when he was (one of the three) arrested in July. He had allegedly in his possession blood products, 60,000 Euros and the banned drug Synacthen. Last week, the UCI upheld his ownership of a pro tour license, a license similar to an ownership of an NBA franchise.

2. Jan Ullrich, a German who lives in Switzerland for tax reasons and who has a Swiss racing license, gave up the license a few weeks ago. So far, no federation has come forward to offer him one but he believes that he'll be riding the Tour next year.

3. Ivan Basso. He was cleared to race by the Italian Olympic Committee and by the Italian Cycling Federation to race again. DISCOVERY CHANNEL was very interested in signing him if not for the pressure by the UCI. Basso is likely to sign with a non-pro tour team, BARLOWORLD.

3. Santiago Botero. He announced his retirement last July but when he was cleared to race again, he reportedly signed with UNE-ORBITEL, a small Colombian outfit. Botero was just one of the two riders (Ullrich) to beat Lance Armstrong in a TdF time trial.

4. Tyler Hamilton. The American was convicted of homologous blood doping and was about to end his 2 year ban when his name surfaced in the Puerto investigation. He is linked to a new squad (below) although it is still unofficial.

5. Pat McQuaid. The embattled UCI president has been frustrated lately. His case is not going anywhere at the moment. He is planning to go sports highest body, the Court of Arbitration for Sport to uphold the ban on the riders in spite skating on thin ice. He is using his influence to deny employment to these riders for ethical reasons, even if they haven't been convicted. If you're wondering why these riders continue to be sanctioned, sports law puts the bonus on the accused to prove their innocence, unlike in civil law.

An interesting development lately is the emergence of a new team called TINKOV CARD SYSTEMS. The team is owned by millionaire Oleg Tinkov, a famous Russian businessman who's into the restaurants and breweries. This big moneyed squad has a standing offer on Basso and 3.7M Euro offer for Ullrich. Earlier, they have been in negotiations with Hamilton but no official word has been made. They have signed sprinter Danilo Hondo, even if Hondo has a pending case for a positive test.

No matter how things turn out, I really, really hope that it will work out fine for the sport. All this showboating by the UCI won't do cycling any good.

PARALLELS

San Diego Charger Shawn Merriman, a defensive rookie of the year in the NFL last year, was suspended for 4 games after he was tested positive for steroids. But he can still play until the result of his appeal comes out. He said he got it from a supplement not approved by the NFL. Compare the reaction to the US media regarding Merriman's case to the Floyd Landis case......Former NJ Net, Philadelphia 76er, Milwaukee Buck, Dallas Maverick and now free agent Keith Van Horn will not be in any jersey this NBA season. His reason, believe it or not, is to spend time with his family. He gave up more than 5M$ salary for his leave. Contrast to that Latrell Sprewell, who wouldn't accept a 3-year, 21M$ contract last year because, "I've got a family to feed". Well, that spelled the end for the Choker.

COURT OF ARBITRATION

DALLAS MAVERICK

DANILO HONDO

FLOYD LANDIS

ITALIAN CYCLING FEDERATION

ITALIAN OLYMPIC COMMITTEE

IVAN BASSO

JAN ULLRICH

KEITH VAN HORN

LANCE ARMSTRONG

LATRELL SPREWELL

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