Denis Menchov has been given a two year ban and stripped of all results from the Tour de France in 2009, 2010 and 2012 following a successful anti-doping prosecution based on findings from his biological passport.
It’s the biggest catch so far by the UCI, a grand tour winner who is now thrown off the podium of the 2010 Tour de France. Only the news was discovered accidentally by a cycling fan browsing the UCI website earlier this afternoon. Later today the UCI issued a short press release to confirm this but explaining little else.
That’s the line that’s been quietly sitting in a PDF on the UCI’s website. Produced by Simon Geinoz of the UCI’s Legal Services Department it’s titled “PUBLICATION EN 08.07.2014” but states it has been updated on 10 July and seems to have gone online at some point on Friday 11 July. To find it for yourself:
www.UCI.ch > Anti-doping > Anti-doping rule violations > Click here to see the table > PDF Document > Page 2
This file lists recent suspensions handed out to cyclists. I hesitate to use the word buried but for such a prominent rider the news of Denis Menchov’s ban and sanction couldn’t get any more low key.
But think about it. This is a grand tour winner who has been convicted of a bio passport offence and stripped of all his results from three editions of the Tour de France including the podium finish from the 2010 edition. He had finished third to Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck but Contador was stripped of his result promoting Menchov to second place. It’s a massive fall.
Perhaps we didn’t expect a press conference but at first the only news was one line on a page of a PDF. Following the media’s subsequent discovery of the document the UCI has issued a short press release in the evening.
The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) confirms that it has imposed a 2-year ban on Russian rider Denis Menchov as a result of anti-doping rule violations based on his Athlete Biological Passport. The rider is declared ineligible until 9 April 2015 and is disqualified from the Tour de France 2009, 2010 and 2012, competitions during which abnormalities were clearly identified. The proceedings were initiated in 2013. The rider has exercised his procedural rights and accepted a proposal of sanction in accordance with the UCI Anti-Doping Rules. WADA and RUSADA have been duly informed and the sanction published on the UCI list of doping sanctions.
Menchov used to be nicknamed “The Silent Assassin” for his stealthy riding. In fact the whole Menchov case has been silenced since the start.
We were fed the story of a knee injury made more curious by the sudden termination of the contract. The Secret Pro was asking the right question:
I find it strange that a guy in the twilight of his career would retire in the middle of his 2-million-euro-a-year contract just because of a knee injury. Why wouldn’t he just do the recovery then ride out his contract? Is anyone else asking that question?
The Makarov Factor?
I don’t believe this is the case – in bold to stress it – but note we have Russia’s best ever cyclist who ended his career at Katusha and the the story that the UCI was launching proceedings against Menchov in 2013 never emerged. Meanwhile we have Igor Makarov – oligarch, Russian cycling boss, Katusha team owner, benefactor of the European Cycling Union – sitting on the UCI’s board, a powerful figure just at the time of the UCI Presidential elections. You could imagine he wanted this embarrassing news kept quiet? Or perhaps that someone within the UCI was trying to help out their senior colleague? Knowing the blundering communication of the UCI under Pat McQuaid at the time it’s far more likely to have been a cock-up than a conspiracy.
Certainly why news of a case being opened against Menchov never went out is curious as all the initiation of all the other passport cases has been accompanied by a press release. The most recent example was for Jonathan Tiernan-Locke.
However today’s PDF revelation looks like a cock-up as it turns out that Menchov’s ban isn’t the only news contained in the document.
The pages tell us Mauro Santambrogio is banned following his EPO positive in the Giro while the young Turk Mustafa Sayar is banned for EPO too. There’s Carlos Barredo busted for his passport too, we’d had news of a case being launched in late 2012 but nothing since. No nocturnal press releases for them today either.
There are many unanswered questions. If Menchov has suspicious values from the 2009, 2010 and 2012 Tour de France then why wasn’t he stripped of all results since? Normally the act of being caught in 2009 would invoke ineligibility from this moment onwards. A more full statement from the UCI could be very helpful here especially as the passport is a complicated matter where many fans need to be walked through the procedures and decisions. Hopefully we get the reasoned decision soon.
Denis Menchov has been thrown off the podium of the 2010 Tour de France. It should be a triumph for the bio passport as he’s the biggest rider to be caught. Instead the UCI’s success started out as a mere entry in PDF sitting on the UCI website. The Silent Assassin was silently prosecuted.
It all seems strange. The UCI never told anyone a prosecution was being launched and his team cited a “knee injury” for the sudden retirement. However when it comes to the PDF quietly being uploaded to the UCI website the Russian is not alone. It looks more like today’s news is cock-up rather than conspiracy. The discreet document lists several others including Carlos Barredo who is rousted for his passport. The Spaniard is stripped of all his results including his win in the 2009 Clasica San Sebastian… which now goes to Roman Kreuziger.
Update: Flemish broadcasters Sporza have spoken to the UCI and it seems the governing body has a new communications strategy whereby it won’t issue a press release once a rider is sanctioned for a doping violation. The same message has gone to Shane Stokes of cyclingtips.com.au:
UCI told me today that only big doping cases will be announced in future; Menchov not considered big as he had retired. All other
— Shane Stokes (@SSbike) July 12, 2014
It’s a strange one because catching a rider should be big news, perhaps even something to boast about rather than something to tuck away inside a PDF that doesn’t even list recent additions and deletions. “Press refresh to find out if the results of the Tour de France have been changed“.
As Brian Cookson said one year ago when he launched his manifesto for the Presidency “it is critical that the UCI embraces a more open and transparent approach in the way it conducts business“