Tennis, the true novel of doping

“Yesterday (Wednesday, September 30) I opened my eyes wide when I saw a sturdy and powerful player win who was still thin a short time ago, but obviously that does not seem to surprise anyone”. At the time of delivering the name, Florent Dabadie hesitates, then backs off. “Too dangerous, I’m sure of myself, but obviously I can’t say anything without proof.”

Mad about tennis, the son of screenwriter and academician Jean-Loup Dabadie, who rarely missed the fortnight of Auteuil until his death in May 2020, chose fiction to support his analysis on doping. The subject has haunted him for years, following tennis for Japanese national television, while regularly appearing in various federations. “People can object to me that I don’t have the guts to publish an investigative investigation, others have done it, but it’s not my temperament, it’s true I don’t want to risk my life for that “, he admits.

Everything is true except the main character

In her key novel, published at the end of August, almost everything is true, except for the main character, a young woman of Ukrainian origin of average level who gives in little by little to the sirens of doping. “ Masha does not exist, but she brings together a lot of characteristics of young players and players that I have seen play in recent years ”, he said. The profile is known: omnipresent parents, themselves former athletes from Eastern Europe, who try to help their child take the wrong step of slowing down at the wrong time. “This concerns a lot of players I can safely say that more than 10% of professionals have taken doping products one day”.

→ READ ALSO. Doping, France affected in turn

Are the stars concerned? “Here too, people will retort that I’m afraid to name famous names, but I honestly believe that great players do not need that”, said this young man who has been preaching on the subject for years in … the desert. His work does not have the impact he hoped for in the spans of Roland Garros. “My name, in fact rather that of my father, opened the doors of general media to me, but in the world of sports journalists it is omerta”.

In the middle of the players, it is even worse. Only the retiree Paul-Henri Mathieu, who split a preface, and Richard Gasquet who judges the words “realistic”, publicly support his approach. The others have not given any sign of life since receiving the book. As is Yannick Noah. “A friend of my father on whom I was counting, but who probably did not want to plunge back into the legal hell he experienced in 2011, after accusing the Spanish tennis players of being doped.”

Inoperative doping controls according to the author

If the forks of sports ethics often fall on the shoulders of cyclists, swimmers or rugby players, they generally spare tennis, a sport considered noble and above all suspicion. “ However, just look at the current players, they hit incredibly hard, run for hours and never seem tired, we often talk about the quality of training, nutrition, continues the journalist novelist, these points certainly count, but they are not enough to explain such performances ”.

What about doping controls, to which players are nevertheless regularly subjected? According to Florent Dabadie, they would be ineffective for the most common products, growth hormones or EPO microcapsules administered in minute doses by high-level doctors operating in sophisticated clinics. According to him, these establishments are located in Spain, Brazil or the United States. They carry out these activities, which are not always illegal according to local legislation, under cover of other perfectly legal specialties: fitness cures, cosmetic surgery operations, etc.

The names of some doctors cited in his book are known. Some have also been caught and appear in the book under their real identity, the name of Doctor Mugler, Masha’s main interlocutor, being an invention. The mafia sectors in charge of transport based in Naples, Montevideo or Sebastopol are also identified. But nothing is moving. “I think the police services have more urgent matters to deal with, Florent Dabadie analysis, in my opinion it is also easier to tap on matches fixed by betting companies in second-class tournaments, it doesn’t bother anyone to denounce these practices since they do not concern big tournaments and the economy that goes with them “.

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Cycling and doping, the return of suspicion

It’s off again for a bad trick. The Great Loop barely finished, the shadow of doping reappears, as in the dark years, weighed down by the Festina and Armstrong cases. Barely crowned the new prince of the little queen, the Slovenian Tadej Pogacar, that the machine of doubts gets carried away.

→ READ. Tour de France: opening of an investigation for doping

Suspicion fell on the shoulders of Nairo Quintana, his brother Dayer and Winner Anacona, the Colombian riders of the French training Arkéa-Samsic. A search roundly conducted Wednesday, September 16 in Méribel, by the gendarmes of the Central Office for the fight against attacks on the environment and public health (read below), brought to light a strange piece of paraphernalia: “Many health products including drugs in their personal belongings, but also and above all a method that can be qualified as doping”, said Monday, September 21, the prosecutor of Marseille who leads the investigation, Dominique Laurens.

Team members, but not employees?

That same Monday, we learn that two people who revolve around the Quintana are in custody. The cycling training concerned was quick to react with a press release from its general manager, Emmanuel Hubert. He evokes a search concerning “A very limited number of runners, as well as their close entourage, not employed by the team”. Who are these ” relatives “ ? And on this Tour locked by the health measures imposed by the Covid-19, were they part of the famous “bubble” put in place to protect the runners?

“The two people involved must necessarily belong to the bubble”, judge Roger Legeay, former manager of the former Crédit Agricole team and president since 2007 of the Movement for a Credible Cycling (MPCC), to which 12 teams out of the 22 present on the Tour belong. “The press assures us that it is about the physiotherapist of Nairo Quintana and his personal doctor. The latter had indeed replaced, at the last moment, the usual doctor of the training, very ill. “

The physiotherapist would also be an intimate of the winner of the Tour of Italy 2014 and the Tour of Spain 2016, present by his side since his arrival in his previous Movistar team in 2012, a real «Ami» even if we believe his words. Would the two not be employees of Arkéa-Samsic? However, the physiotherapist figures well in the official organization chart of the team.

Put managers at the center of the game

In any case, here are the old demons of cycling that we wanted to believe asleep. Roger Legeay is hardly surprised and repeats it in all tones: “Once again, we can only see that if the fight against doping is moving in the right direction, the tests are not enough. All the major cases for twenty years, in cycling as in all other sports, have one thing in common: it is never doping controls that reveal them, but denunciations or police investigations. “

→ DOSSIER. Tour de France 2020: all the information to follow this 107e editing

To put an end to this shallot race, Roger Legeay’s MPCC proposes to explore a new avenue: that team managers commit to zero tolerance. “They’re the ones who hire the runners and the coaching staff. The careers of those caught with their fingers in the jam jar must end immediately. And that must be valid for the runners as for the supervision. No one can claim today that he does not know. So you have to be intractable. “

Even with Emmanuel Hubert, the manager of Arkéa member of the MPCC? “Either it is organized doping, and the sanction will fall. Either the team is not concerned, as its manager says, and then it must at least prohibit its riders from any competition before the end of the procedure, which would comply with our rules ”, judge Roger Legeay. Who wants to believe in his formula, even if it is only worth if we use it.

→ BENCHMARKS. Doping and the Tour de France: a look back at the big business

And some are far from it, including those around Tadej Pogacar. UAE Emirates team boss Mauro Gianetti and manager Joxean Fernandez Matxin have in the past been involved in several doping cases. But they are still in business, at the pinnacle with their rare pearl today. Proud of a team which, like Primoz Roglic’s Jumbo-Visma, do not join the MPCC.

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Oclaesp at the heart of the investigation

It is once again the Central Office for the fight against attacks on the environment and public health (Oclaesp) which finds itself at the forefront of the investigation which is plunging the world of cycling back into disaster. Created in 2004, this judicial police service is made up of around sixty gendarmes and police officers supported by technical advisers, including one from the sports ministry.

Its investigation division includes a “public health” group which has actively participated in the fight against doping since 2009. It also immediately distinguished itself on the Tour de France 2009 by seizing infusion kits (syringes and plastic bags) at the within the Astana formation in which Lance Armstrong was then trying his hand at a return to the top after his retirement (he finished 3e, before his downgrading for doping in 2012).

Oclaesp has since intervened regularly during the Tour, in particular in 2012 on the case of the rider of the Cofidis training, Rémy Di Grégorio, who will finally be sentenced in 2018 to a one-year suspended sentence for possession of prohibited material.

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opening of a doping investigation

Barely finished, the Tour de France finds itself again confronted with the suspicion of doping. An investigation targeting members of the French team Arkéa-Samsic was opened and two caregivers were placed in police custody on Monday, September 21, before being released the next day.

→ INVESTIGATION. Cycling and doping, the return of suspicion

During this preliminary investigation led by the Marseille prosecutor’s office as part of the public health pole and aimed at “A small part of the runners” of the team, were discovered “Many health products including drugs in their personal belongings, but also and above all a method that can be qualified as doping”, said the prosecutor of Marseille, Dominique Laurens.

“Unacceptable” methods, according to the manager

Several riders of the team also “Been heard in free hearing of a suspect”, said the prosecutor Tuesday evening. These runners, whose identity has not been confirmed by the Marseille prosecutor’s office, are suspected of having detained “Without medical justification” a “Prohibited substance or method” may have served as doping, within the framework of the Tour.

The leader of the French team, Colombian Nairo Quintana defended himself on Wednesday from any doping. ” I have been a clean runner all my sporting life ”, does he have. In addition to this, you need to know more about it.“The authorities came to my room and found there food supplements rich in vitamins that were perfectly legal, even if they were not known to the French authorities”, explained the Colombian in a statement. “I have nothing to hide and never had anything to hide”, pleads the runner, who finished the 2020 edition in 17th place, more than an hour from the winner, the Slovenian Tadej Pogacar.

To replace its titular doctor absent for health reasons, the team had exceptionally appealed for the Tour de France to a Colombian, we note in the entourage of the team without knowing if this practitioner is one of the detained.

→ READ. Tour de France 2020: Tadej Pogacar, a kid made history

Asked about these investigations carried out by the Central Office for the fight against attacks on the environment and public health (OCLAESP), the general manager of the Breton team Emmanuel Hubert declared “Obviously support (his) runners. But if it turned out that at the end of the current investigation, elements came to confirm the veracity of doping practices, the team would immediately dissociate itself from such acts and would take the necessary measures without delay. to put an end to the links which could unite them with unacceptable and always opposed methods ”.

Several runners targeted

According to details provided by a source familiar with the matter, the search carried out on Wednesday September 16 near Méribel (Savoie) by OCLAESP targeted several riders of the team, including the Colombian Dayer Quintana, the younger brother of Nairo, and members of the medical team.

Emmanuel Hubert for his part simply indicated that the search did not “Concerned only a very limited number of riders, as well as their close entourage, not employed by the team”. “The team, its general manager and its staff are not kept informed of any element, directly or indirectly, relating to the progress of the investigation which does not target either the team or its staff directly”, he added.

This case is the first notable for several years on the Tour de France, after a period punctuated by police raids during the event following the Festina affair in 1998.
Among the most recent, the intervention during a day of rest of the Tour 2012 targeting Rémy Di Grégorio, but also systematic searches of the OCLAESP with each positive doping control announcement, in particular that of Luxembourgish Frank Schleck in 2012.

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You have to take the anti-doping fight seriously – sport

On Tuesday morning, in the courtroom of the Munich Palace of Justice, the Erfurt sports doctor Mark Schmidt, 42, finally saw his beloved machines again. The good old blood cell separator Alyx, the most robust US technology, developed for use in the field. Right next to it: the Sahara blood product warmer, which rocks the bags so nicely evenly while the body juice is properly thawed. Then the ACP 215, a kind of blood washing machine, to rinse glycerol and sugar solution out of the erythrocytes before they are allowed back into the athlete’s body. And, oh, the MCS +. The heart of the collection.

So-called “sets” with sterile bags and tubes were also found in the evidence, in their original packaging – ritsch, ratchet, open! How often did Schmidt do this before he was arrested? The MCS + then only gave a penetrating peep, and when Schmidt read from the display that “Error 372” was preventing them from operating, laughter started in the negotiating room. And the defendant Schmidt even made a joke: “Well, she hasn’t been with the service for a long time.”

As a matter of fact. Since February 2019 the machines have been standing around uselessly at the Munich public prosecutor’s office. As useless as Doctor Schmidt has been in custody since then, an unheard-of 19 months already. How many top athletes in need could have been given professional, absolutely safe autologous blood treatment during this time? Sterile, risk-free, with advice of the highest quality? How many athletes were instead driven into the gray market, had to make do with rusty needles and possibly got tomato juice instead of their own blood?

Okay, ridicule aside. But it was remarkable how the main defendant Mark Schmidt appeared this week in the “bloodletting” trial at the Munich district court. His confession – years of blood doping against athletes, especially cyclists and cross-country skiers from Austria and Eastern Europe – he had the lawyers read out, but initially he didn’t answer any questions. But then he led those involved in the process through the collection of the equipment confiscated in his Erfurt garage like an eloquent chief doctor through his super duper high-tech operating room.

You have to be really serious about anti-doping

Perhaps the presiding judge, who now constantly gets to hear that top-class sport does not exist without doping, ultimately comes to the conclusion that Schmidt only wanted to help? That he offered his services “out of love for sport”, as he had his lawyers read out? No, not really. The chamber has already assessed the penalty that the Erfurt doping doctor threatens to be four to six years in prison.

The fact that doping is now a criminal offense in Germany is progress. It is interesting, however, that precisely those who wanted to prevent this for a long time are now calling for a draconian punishment, for example IOC President Thomas Bach, who intrigued against an anti-doping law during his time as German sports president, and also his successor as DOSB boss, Alfons Hörmann. Many hope that one should make an example of Schmidt. It would be more important to stop the culture of tolerance and looking away in the associations. Then you would have to be really serious about anti-doping. Schmidt is in custody, machines like his are humming elsewhere in competitive sports.

It should be a while before Schmidt finds out his sentence. On Thursday, the district court announced that the process had been interrupted for the time being because one of the parties tested positive. Not on doping. To Corona.

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Cycling: an American champion suspended after a Trumpist provocation

Has professional cycling suddenly become feminist, ecological and anti-racist? In less than two months, the organizers of the Tour de France abolished the ceremony of hostesses on the podiums (showing a man and a woman to present the prize to the winner), announced a penalty system taking effect from 2021 for any runner throwing its wrapping papers or cans used in nature. And now, on the night of Wednesday to Thursday, a young cycling prodigy is fired by his team for having made comments favorable to Donald Trump and potentially imbued with racism. It is the American Quinn Simmons, 19, who “Will no longer run with Trek-Segafredo until further notice”. His employer indicates: “Regrettably, team rider Quinn Simmons has taken up positions on the internet that we find divisive, unfair and harmful to the team, to professional cycling, to its fans and to the positive future that we hope to contribute. to be created for this sport. “

Simmons had everything to titillate the intelligentsia of California or the East Coast, where cyclists are not the sons of workers or employees as in Europe, but rather children of good families. A thin red beard, almost hipster, a past of adventurer who hikes, skis and climbs rock faces, uncorks cans of Red Bull at 4000 meters above sea level with his little brother. Incidentally, he had a precocious talent: crowned junior world champion in 2019 at the end of a season with 27,000 kilometers of cycling and already ranked sixth on the Bretagne Classic in Plouay (Morbihan) in August, an event on the WorldTour calendar, the first world division.

Restricted de facto freedom of expression

This remarkable start to his career exploded in flight on Wednesday as a few tweets confirmed that Trumpism is not an entirely ordinary ideology. Thus, in response to a message from José Been, a Dutch journalist who calls on his pro-Trump contacts to no longer follow her, Quinn Simmons replied. «Bye» with the emoji of a waving hand. However, the runner chose a black hand …

Several fans were outraged, as were some American cyclists, Robin Carpenter of the Rally team, or anti-doping activist (ex-doped himself) Joe Papp. In 2016, no member of the peloton had declared his support for Donald Trump. Hostility to the US president is even sharper in 2020, as he encourages white supremacists. Particularly in a context where professional cycling is increasingly suspected of racism, based on an obvious observation: it is practiced by riders almost exclusively white. At the start of the last stage of the Tour de France, several participants wrote «no to racism» on their surgical mask, without causing a substantive debate.

Simmons picked the wrong horse, the wrong sport, and the wrong time. What does his team blame him for? Not only to be pro-Trump but to say it. In a first tweet, the American team declared that they would “Help him understand the appropriate tone that an athlete in his position should adopt”. But the press releases published a few hours later seemed to get to the heart of the matter: promoting the ideas of the outgoing US president. While freedom of expression is absolute and constitutionally protected in the United States, it is de facto restricted in professional cycling, where a rider is linked to a team that is itself funded by private companies. The clauses always provide for the promotion of the image or values ​​of the sponsoring company. And, in the case of Quinn Simmons, financiers have been forced in recent months to distance themselves from Donald Trump during the Black Lives Matter movement.

Trek pushed to commit after George Floyd’s death

Trek mounts, which were fitted to certain police cycling teams, were indeed used to repel demonstrators protesting after the murder of George Floyd by a white police officer on May 25 in Minneapolis. On June 10, the cycle brand adhered to the observation that “Blacks, African Americans and other people of color across the country do not have the same rights as white people”. The company announced the creation of 1,000 jobs for racialized people and financial support for various inclusion or anti-racism projects.

Until then, the manufacturer, main sponsor of the team, had always refused to engage in politics, lining up behind his muse Lance Armstrong between 1999 and 2012. After having garnered millions of profits thanks to his star, the firm based in Wisconsin decided to abandon it in October 2012, saying “Disappointed by the revelations of the Usada report”, the American anti-doping agency, which had revealed the doping system built around the fallen champion.

The cycling training is also sponsored by Segafredo, a coffee seller, whose CEO Massimo Zanetti, 72, was elected senator in Italy from 1994 to 1996. It was under the banner of Forza Italia, the party of Silvio Berlusconi. His position, reaffirmed since the municipal elections of Treviso (which he lost in 2013) situates him between Christian Democracy (center right) and the Northern League (extreme right).

Pierre Carrey

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End of the Tour de France, opening of an investigation for doping

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The Marseille prosecutor’s office confirmed on Monday the opening of a doping investigation targeting some of the riders of the French team Arkéa-Samsic. A search has been carried out and two people are in police custody. This is the first notable affair for several years on the Tour de France.

Ended less than 48 hours ago, the Tour de France is once again confronted with the suspicion of doping, with the opening of an investigation targeting members of the French team Arkéa-Samsic.

During this investigation, which the Marseille prosecutor’s office confirmed to be open on Monday, September 21, and targeting “a small part of the runners” of the team, “many health products including drugs were discovered in their personal belongings. , but also and above all a method that can be qualified as doping, “said Marseille prosecutor Dominique Laurens.

Two police custody were in progress Monday, in the entourage of a runner, added the magistrate, without specifying the identity of the people heard by the investigators. According to Le Parisien, it is a doctor and a physiotherapist.

Colombian doctor

To replace its titular doctor absent for health reasons, the team had exceptionally appealed for the Tour de France to a Colombian, compatriot of its leader Nairo Quintana, we note in the entourage of the team without specifying whether this practitioner is one of the detainees.

Asked by AFP about these investigations, the general manager of the Breton team, Emmanuel Hubert, declared “of course to support (his) riders. But if it turns out that at the end of the investigation in progress, elements came to confirm the veracity of doping practices, the team would immediately dissociate itself from such acts and would immediately take the necessary measures to put an end to the links which could unite them with unacceptable methods and still fought ” .

According to details provided to AFP by a source familiar with the matter and confirming information from the Journal du Dimanche and L’Équipe, the search carried out targeted several runners, including the Colombian Dayer Quintana, Nairo’s brother, and members medical staff.

Up to five years in prison

Emmanuel Hubert for his part simply indicated that the search “concerned only a very limited number of runners, as well as their close entourage, not employed by the team”.

The investigation was opened on the counts of “administration and prescription to an athlete without medical justification of a substance or method prohibited within the framework of a sports event, aid in the use and incitement to the use of a substance or method prohibited for athletes, transport and possession of substance or method prohibited for the purpose of use by an athlete without medical justification “, also specified Dominique Laurens, recalling that the penalty incurred was 5 years imprisonment and 75,000 euros fine .

This case is the first notable for several years on the Tour de France, after a period marked by police raids during the event following the Festina affair in 1998.

With AFP

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Dark clouds in front of the rainbow (neue-deutschland.de)

Nairo (left) and Dayer Qunitano only led the field of riders who had fallen far behind on the climb to Col de la Loze. Nevertheless, they received visits from doping investigators.

Photo: imago images / Sirotti

There should have been at least a few quiet days between the end of the Tour de France last Sunday in Paris and the start of the world championships in road cycling, which has been relocated to Imola this Thursday. The news of a raid by the French police in the hotel of the professional team Arkea Samsic then ensured that the doping clouds over this sport condensed again and now cast a dark shadow on the hunt for the famous world champion jerseys with the rainbow.

On September 16, shortly after the tour stage up to the Col de la Loze, officers from the OCLAESP police unit, which specializes in doping offenses, paid their respects to the Colombian members of the French team. The rooms of the brothers Nairo and Dayer Quintana and that of their compatriot Winner Anacona were searched. On that day, the trio rolled over the finish line more than 25 minutes behind stage winner Miguel Ángel López. None of the three had anything to do with the tour podium.

Apparently nothing suspicious was found in their rooms – but certainly in the rooms of two of the team’s companions. As the investigating public prosecutor from Marseille announced recently, infusion sets and a saline solution were discovered in them – neither per se is evidence of fraud. The public prosecutor’s office nevertheless spoke of the »suspicion of the use of a doping method« and named up to five years imprisonment and a fine of 75,000 euros as the impending penalty.

Two team companions were even taken into custody. This is Mikel O., a former professional cyclist who had already accompanied Nairo Quintana as a masseur in his time with the Movistar team and is now officially employed by his new racing team, Arkea Samsic. According to the French media, the second prisoner is said to be the doctor Fredy G. He practices in Tunja, the hometown of the Quintanas. But he is not a member of the racing team. It is not yet clear whether he was still part of the team’s hygiene bubble.

Racing stable boss Emanuel Hubert immediately distanced the arrested and described them as “not employed by the team”. In the case of the physiotherapist O. the statement is surprising, for the physician G. it probably applies. What he then had to do in the actually isolated hotel remains a mystery. Just as if this represented a violation of the supposedly so strict hygiene rules for the world association UCI or the tour operator ASO. Both organizers have not yet commented on this.

After all, Nairo Quintana came out of cover, the better known of the two brothers after his victories at the Giro and the Vuelta. He confirmed the raid, but emphasized: »Only permitted vitamin preparations were confiscated in my room. No doping substances were found. ”He also stated that he had never used the services of supervisors outside the team. “I did not use illegal substances that improve my performance during my junior days, with the U23 or in my professional career.”

One may believe Quintana or not. The end of the investigation remains to be seen. Evidence for the raid apparently came from the UCI anti-doping department, the CADF, which was in the process of being dissolved. At the request of “nd”, however, they neither wanted to confirm nor deny this. A possible consequence of the raid is the withdrawal of Quintana from the eight-person World Cup squad of the Colombians. The former runner-up was not in good shape due to various injuries from a fall.

In any case, favorites in the World Cup road race are not the Colombian climbers who were badly plucked on the Tour of France. The course in Imola on Sunday suits more explosive drivers like the Swiss Marc Hirschi, the French Julian Alaphilippe and the Belgian Wout van Aert – all of them stage winners of the tour that has just ended. The German World Cup captain Maximilian Schachmann named these three as his favorites. We can also look forward to the Slovenian duo Primož Roglič and Tadej Pogačar. With a World Cup victory shortly after the tour success, Pogačar would then continue to walk in the footsteps of the Belgian »cannibal« Eddy Merckx.

In the women’s race on Saturday, it remains to be seen how the currently outstanding Annemiek van Vleuten survived her fall at the Giro d’Italia. The list of favorites here is long, from the strong Dutch line-up with van Vleuten, Anna van der Breggen and Marianne Vos to the Polish Katarzyna Niewiadoma and host Elisa Longo Borghini to the German captain Lisa Brennauer. The woman from Allgäu is also one of the medal contenders in the time trial, which will start the World Championships this Thursday. The main rivals here are defending champion Chloe Dygart (USA) as well as Vos and van der Breggen.

The men’s time trial draws its charm from the fight between tour participants van Aert and Tom Dumoulin from the Netherlands and the specialists who preferred to prepare for the World Cup at home. These are above all the Belgian Victor Campenaerts and defending champion Rohan Dennis from Australia. Incidentally, Slovenia does not offer Pogačar or Roglič here, but gives the good old hand Jan Tratnik a chance – at the 36th World Cup race. The former serial winner Tony Martin does without the German team. For Jasha Sütterlin, who was junior runner-up in this discipline ten years ago, a top 10 placement would be a great success.

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Tour de France, still very high and very fast

This year it all started with a game of bowling. Riders who tumble in the rain in Nice and suddenly, dull wishes from the start of the Tour. Then, the mountain invited by the organizers throughout the first week wore out organizations which, with lower benchmarks than in other years because of the pandemic, hardly want to put themselves in the red too soon. Especially since the famous third week, all dread it, with bumps stretched over seven days promising many wounds.

The peloton therefore adopted an erratic rhythm. Slowly, or at least not too fast every day. He wandered around, on September 2, between Gap and Privas, absolutely no day (attack, breakaway, interest), completed at 42.01 km / h. Average more than cushy for a flat stage. The proof, the next day, where without much riding on the last 20 kilometers of Mont Aigoual, the troops pack the same thing, at 42.04 km / h.

A density favorable to performance

Good. But then again the next day, between Millau and Lavaur, the men of Slovak Peter Sagan dynamited the race and forced everyone to get on the express. The arrival at the station points to a rather impressive 47.54 km / h. So certainly, the record for the fastest stage in the history of the Tour – the 50.355 km / h of Italian Mario Cipollini, over the 194.5 km between Laval and Blois in 1999 – is not tickled. But once again this year, if they decide, the champions can ride at full speed, and the course of this Wednesday September 9 towards Poitiers lends itself perfectly to a great tumble.

“We are not yet in total aggressiveness, because the unknowns in the preparation and the extreme difficulty of the Tour this year push to the management and the absence of big risk-taking, notes Jean-Baptiste Quiclet, performance director of Romain Bardet’s AG2R La Mondiale team. But things are still going fast in the climbs, with a good fifteen runners able to distinguish themselves. »

→ THE FACTS. Tour de France 2020: Nans Peters wins the 8th stage

Despite its high profile, this Tour 2020 can still be classified in the very good hourly averages of the event. In this regard, it is the 2017 edition that holds the rope, Christopher Froome swallowing that year the 3,540 km of the Great Loop at 40,996 km / h.

The averages achieved by Lance Armstrong, seven times winners between 1999 and 2005, are no longer counted, doping requires, and the 2005 record (3,607 km at the average of 41.654 km / h) is no longer on the shelves. But even without these dark years, nine of the ten best brands were made after 2000. The 2019 Tour is at the foot of the podium (4e), Egan Bernal having won his first victory at 40.576 km / h, just behind Vincenzo Nibali in 2014 and the Spaniard Oscar Pereiro in 2006 (after the downgrading, again for doping, of the American Floyd Landis).

An increasingly scientific preparation

Should we wonder, then, about these ceaselessly renewed feats. “We can tell ourselves that things were climbing very quickly last weekend on the Peyresourde or Marie Blanque passes in the Pyrenees, and that some were impressive in the Dauphiné, comments Jean-Baptiste Quiclet. But you can never really know with doping. I trust the two runners that I know well, Guillaume Martin and Romain Bardet who are healthy and up to date this year, to reassure me. And I want to believe that it’s the current competition that is pulling everyone up. Often there are doubts because only one rider is really above the rest and strings together. There, this is not really the case. “

→ MAINTENANCE. Romain Bardet: “You have to go to the end of your abilities, then accept your destiny”

Modern cycling really entered another dimension around the turn of the century. Technological development plays a large part in the craze for chronometers. And the preparation of the runners leaves nothing to chance. “There is an overall standardization of the different training techniques, underlines Jean-Baptiste Quiclet. All the teams have scientists who publish and read a large number of studies. All runners do training courses at altitude. No one makes a big mistake any more before landing on the Tour. “

The improvisation of yesteryear is no longer appropriate in the era of all-out control and headset racing. “Everything is studied, spotted on a stage, says Didier Rous, sports director of the B&B Hotels-Vital Concept training course. For the sprints, we do video as in team sports. We can no longer say that we are trapped. If this happens, it is because of an error of attention, of tactics, or because the physique does not follow. It’s the race that still decides, but the mechanics are more and more oiled. “

And the general level is still rising. How many contenders on the Tour this year, even after the first week skimming? Still many.

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Tour director Christian Prudhomme positive for Covid

All the runners and the team management were subjected to Covid-19 detection tests in Pau, Sunday September 6, and in La Rochelle during the rest day, Monday September 7.

Most of them gave a “phew” of relief when the results arrived, Tuesday 8 before the start of the stage between the two islands, of Oléron and Ré: no rider is positive, and if four members of the frames are reached, no team presents two synonymous cases of exclusion from the Tour, according to the protocol.

The director of the Tour, Christian Prudhomme, however, was positive. He was removed from the event for a week and should return to it on the second day of rest, September 14 in Isère.

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Has the Tour de France 2020 been faster than the previous editions?

Hello,

Sunday, the 107e This edition of the Tour de France, which ended as usual on the Avenue des Champs-Elysées, saw the Slovenian Tadej Pogacar, who belongs to the UAE-Emirates team, win in the general classification. The 22-year-old rider covered the 3,484 km race in 87 hours 20 minutes and 5 seconds, ahead of his compatriot Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma), at 59 seconds, and the Australian Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo) , at 3 minutes and 30 seconds.

The performance of the young winner, as well as his sulphurous entourage, gave rise to suspicions of doping. Which were fed by the opening of an investigation. The day after the arrival on Monday, the Marseille prosecutor’s office announced that two members of the Arkéa-Samsic team were in police custody on suspicion of doping. In this context, you ask us the following question: “Is the 2020 Tour the fastest in recent years?”

Tadej Pogacar completed the 3,484 km of the Tour route in 5,240 minutes. That is an average speed of 39.89 km / h. A pace that is nothing new, and even appears to be the slowest since the 2016 edition and the victory of Chris Froome (39.62 km / h on average).

So far, the record for the fastest edition was set by Lance Armstrong in 2005 with 41.65 km / h. He was stripped in 2012 of his seven titles for doping as well as his records, by decision of the International Cycling Union (UCI).

Less spectacular differences

Over the last ten editions, as an indication, several riders have been faster, on average than Tadej Pogacar: Egan Bernal (40.57 km / h in 2019), Geraint Thomas (40.21 km / h in 2018), Vincenzo Nibali (40.68 km / h in 2014) or even Christopher Froome (40.54 km / h in 2013 and 40.99 km / h in 2017).

However, this comparison, according to specialists, does not say much. The real breakthrough in terms of speed dates from the turn of the 1990s, when we observed a “Explosion of the average speed due to the emergence of EPO [hormone qui augmente le nombre de globules rouges dans le sang, ndlr]», Explains Pierre Carrey, journalist who followed the Tour de France for Release. In 1990, Greg LeMond had won the event at an average of 35.7 km / h, when American Lance Armstrong won the tour fifteen years later with an average of 41.65 km / h.

For twenty-five years, the differences have been less spectacular from one edition to another, and can be explained by many external parameters, such as the direction of the wind, the tactical scheme of the race, and especially the profile of the course. As Antoine Vayer, former trainer of the Festina team and creator of Chronoswatts, a blog specializing in cycling, explains: “Last year, like this year, the Tour was very mountainous. Logically, it rolls less quickly than on a flatter course. “

Portions comparables

A more relevant way to gauge performance is to look at speed on comparable portions, such as climbs. Tadej Pogacar, for example, climbed the Peyresourde pass in 24 minutes and 35 seconds: he then broke the record set at 25 minutes and 22 seconds by Alexandre Vinokourov in 2003. In 2007, the Kazakh was excluded from the Tour de France for doping .

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On the impressive rise of the Belles-Filles board during the individual time trial, where he took the yellow jersey, he equaled Fabio Aru’s record in 2017, in 16 minutes and 10 seconds. But the Italian was accompanied by his teammates, when Pogacar was alone, and had to change bikes during the ascent. The Marie-Blanque pass was swallowed in 17 minutes and 36 seconds, 23 less than Lance Armstrong and Ivan Basso in 2005, both suspended for doping.

Certain technical improvements and technological advances, such as equipment (bikes, jersey), lawful methods of preparation and recovery, or nutrition can allow runners to be faster. “But not as much as Pogacar and Roglic during this year’s ascent records”, according to Antoine Vayer, witness to doping in the 90s.

“It is no longer a humanly possible performance”

Another performance indicator that has been scrutinized (and sometimes disputed) for years: the power released by the runners. Specifically, Antoine Vayer and his teams estimated, thanks to an analysis of televised images and data on seven passes of the Tour, the watts developed by the cyclists, by integrating numerous data such as the force of the wind, the type of bike, the coating. The result is a measurement of the standard watts: “That is what a typical 70 kilo runner deploys as power to go up a hill.” The 2020 edition of the Tour was, on this point, edifying. Five climbing records were broken (four by Pogacar, one by Roglic).

According to estimates collected by Antoine Vayer, the winner of the Tour de France 2020 has developed an average of 422 standard watts over the seven passes analyzed. This is more than the averages of the previous ten winners during their climbs. And that’s in line with the Lance Armstrong era average (which goes up to Alberto Contador), which stood at precisely 422 (with a low of 406 for Armstrong in 1999 and a high of 440 for Contador. in 2009). “Above the threshold of 410 standard watts, in my opinion, this is no longer a human performance possible”, explains Antoine Vayer.

In the Peyresourde pass, Pogacar went up to 467 standard watts (his record on the Tour). Biggest performance since 2009. By comparison, the biggest peak recorded in the mountains for Armstrong is 462.

Note that speed or power analyzes may constitute elements of presumption of doping, even if they do not provide proof of guilt. An athlete can only be officially considered doped in the event of a positive test, confession or judicial investigation.

Xavier Condamine


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Alexandre chauvel


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Mark Moreau

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Anti-doping expert Fritz Sörgel has doubts about Tour winner Tadej Pogacar

Tour de France winner Thaddeus Pogacar hat Professionals and fans surprised with his triumphant ride. Anti-doping expert Fritz Soergel hegt but Doubts about performancesexplosion of the Slovenian.

In his surprising success at the Tour of France, where he caught his compatriot Primoz Roglic on the penultimate stage, Pogacar set several records. Among other things, the 22-year-old since Monday was the youngest winner since 1904 and the first debutant since Laurent Fignon in 1983 to win the tour. A development that also calls skeptical observers like Sörgel onto the scene.

“It is generally true, of course, that Pogacar has not yet been proven doping. But it is very unusual for someone at that age to step on such watts. That naturally makes one suspicious,” said the head of the Institute for Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Research in Nuremberg conversation with SPOX.

“Actually, one assumes that you need a bit of maturity in cycling before you are capable of such achievements. Such values ​​have been achieved by Lance Armstrong, Jan Ulrich, Marco Pantani and most recently the Sky Team, where not everything is flawless, as is well known has arrived, “he explained.

Pogacar had been faster than any other driver in Tour history in his day’s victory on the 8th stage to the 1569 meter high Col de Peyresourde in the Pyrenees and had achieved an output of 430 watts during the 24-minute climb, what converted to its weight, an average of 6.5 watts per kilogram.

Tour de France: Only Armstrong and Pantani had better values ​​than Pogacar

While Pogacar uploaded this value to the Strava tracking platform, there are only estimates of his outstanding performance in the decisive victory in the final mountain time trial in the yellow jersey. However, experts assume that Pogacar converted at least 6.5 watts per kilogram there, probably even a little more. How to get a graphic of the Spiegel previously only the convicted dopers Lance Armstrong (7.0 watt / kg / tour 2004) and Marco Pantani (6.8 watt / kg / tour 1997) ever achieved higher values.

Armstrong’s praise for Pogacar, who was deprived of all seven Tour victories for manipulation, was accordingly poisoned. “That was one of the best performances we have ever seen in cycling,” wrote the American Twitter.

Sports doctor Sörgel admits that there can be exceptional talents in cycling even at a young age, but several indicators feed his doubts: “You can see in the doping process against Mark Schmidt, which is currently going on in Munich, that Slovenia plays a certain role and you do recognizes many parallels to earlier doping developments in cycling in Germany, England or the USA. In these countries, there was clearly an effort to make a name for yourself in cycling, if necessary with unfair means. “

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