Denis Menchov, The Silent Prosecution

Monday, 14 July 2014


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 on this one line on a page of a PDF. Following the media’s subsequent discover 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.

Santambrogio gets taken down

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.

Further questions
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.

Raise your hand if you’ve been stripped of your results from the 2010 Tour

Conclusion
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:

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

The Inner Ring July 14, 2014 at 3:49 pm

A problem with the server that hosts the site means ALL comments and posts were lost. Fortunately a back-up’s been put in place but it dates from 11 July and means all comments added to this piece have been lost.

Fortunately I managed to salvage them but in plain text form. They add to the information and contribute to the date so here they are in text form.

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Karl M July 12, 2014 at 10:29 pm

Notice how Contador and Menchov in that 2010 podium picture both have their lips tightly pursed shut. Another cyclist used to purse his lips tightly shut- Armstrong.

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Alex TC July 12, 2014 at 11:25 pm

Very well observed. Probably more than just a coincidence.

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benzwire July 13, 2014 at 1:58 am

I looks like Andy just ripped one. They are probably holding their breath!

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Netserk July 12, 2014 at 10:51 pm

As someone else pointed out to me, article 14.2.2 of the WADA code:

>>No later than twenty (20) days after it has been determined in a hearing in accordance with Article 8 that an anti-doping rule violation has occurred, or such hearing has been waived, or the assertion of an anti-doping rule violation has not been timely challenged, the Anti-Doping Organization responsible for results management must publicly report the disposition of the anti-doping matter including the sport, the anti-doping rule violated, the name of the Athlete or other Person committing the violation, the Prohibited Substance or Prohibited Method involved and the Consequences imposed. The same Anti-Doping Organization must also publicly report within twenty (20) days appeal decisions concerning anti-doping rule violations. The Anti-Doping Organization shall also, within the time period for publication, send all hearing and appeal decisions to WADA.< <

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The Inner Ring July 12, 2014 at 11:06 pm

Very useful, thanks.

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Arjan Hulsebos July 12, 2014 at 11:11 pm

It may very well be that all is in accordance with this rule. We only know that the investigation started in April 2013, we have no timelines with regards to the proceedings. UCI may very well have made its ruling a week ago….

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daniel July 12, 2014 at 11:20 pm

The Barredo, Santambrogio, Sayar decisions would all have to have been made within 20 days as well…

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Arjan Hulsebos July 12, 2014 at 11:27 pm

I’m not saying that UCI has nothing to explain here…..

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David July 13, 2014 at 12:35 am

The WADA code defines publication as “placing the required information on the Anti-Doping Organization’s web site and leaving the information up for at least one (1) year.”

In the draft for the 2014 code, the publication requirement is reduced to “the longer of one month or the duration of any period of ineligibility.”

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Speckled Jim July 12, 2014 at 10:59 pm

… and why only TdF results? Surely a passport violation can’t and shouldn’t be linked back to specific events… There are too many questions and no answers: surely Cookson needs to act swiftly on this or else his reformist agenda will be seriously compromised…

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The Inner Ring July 12, 2014 at 11:06 pm

Exactly, and the rules suggest this. You go to the first violation and disqualify from this point on normally. Hopefully it’s explained better soon.

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Dennis July 13, 2014 at 2:17 pm

I seem to remember that CAS saw some difficulties in the case of Tadej Valjavec when it comes to disqualifications of results. UCI wanted to disqualify all his results from a certain date, but CAS decided to strip only some of them.

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Arjan Hulsebos July 12, 2014 at 11:02 pm

Please note that it’s not a prosecution, but rather an arbitration. Very different rules apply to arbitrations. And there’s no rule that requires any ruling to be made public by means of a press release. However, in the case of Menchov, you’d kinda expect it.

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The Inner Ring July 12, 2014 at 11:05 pm

Out of interest, how do you know this? The UCI press release suggests the governing body was responsible for the prosecution with no third party: “The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) confirms that it has imposed” etc.

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Arjan Hulsebos July 12, 2014 at 11:13 pm

WADA Code. Plus the Armstrong case against USADA that was thrown out by Judge Sam Sparks.

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The Inner Ring July 12, 2014 at 11:18 pm

Arbitration is normally only on appeal but there was no appeal here. It seems to be a standard anti-doping prosecution. Or am I missing something?

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Arjan Hulsebos July 12, 2014 at 11:26 pm

There is no prosecution, it’s all arbitration.

David July 12, 2014 at 11:14 pm

As you mentioned this in your article; Section 10.8 of the World Anti-Doping Code:

In addition to the automatic Disqualification of the results in the Competition which produced the
positive Sample under Article 9 (Automatic Disqualification of Individual Results), all other
competitive results obtained from the date a positive Sample was collected (whether In-Competition or
Out-of-Competition), or other anti-doping rule violation occurred, through the commencement of
any Provisional Suspension or Ineligibility period, shall, unless fairness requires otherwise, be
Disqualified with all of the resulting Consequences including forfeiture of any medals, points and prizes.

So how can the UCI selectively disqualify Menchov and still be in compliance with WADA?

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Arjan Hulsebos July 12, 2014 at 11:31 pm

Dunno. Maybe he cooperated silently. I’m not defending UCI. It’s just with this little information, we’re all guessing

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Shrugg McGraw July 13, 2014 at 8:16 am

Is it something to do with there being no positive sample? The rule doesn’t contemplate a review of blood values where there is no positive test.

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KB July 12, 2014 at 11:22 pm

I don’t recall the timing of all events, but was this also playing in the background when Katusha was originally denied its WorldTour license (before eventually getting one via CAS)?

That the UCI is poor with communications and PR is nothing new, but you would think they’d be interested in promoting the apparent effectiveness of Bio Passport in identifying and successfully prosecuting doping offenses. That they don’t do this is either blind incompetence or a fear that they lack credibility and authority in the anti-doping fight. That would be the case if it’s applied selectively or on basis of favouritism (via corruption).

The UCI’s handling begs a lot of questions; thankfully Inrng is more illuminative.

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Jeremy July 12, 2014 at 11:23 pm

Looks like Luis Leon Sanchez in the top picture with Menchov. Well selected Inrng!

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Garuda32 July 13, 2014 at 12:43 am

Thats the first time we’ve seen LL in a while huh?

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daniel July 13, 2014 at 2:04 am

Supposedly going to Astana of all places next season.

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SM July 12, 2014 at 11:53 pm

Is this just a clearing out of the skeletons left in the closet from McQuaid or something more indicative of how UCI under Cookson will be run?

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in the know July 12, 2014 at 11:59 pm

Here’s more for the conspiracy theorists:

Katusha’s press chief is now at BMC. What kinds of things are being covered up and lied about there?

Remember, the former Phonak press boss is now the press chief at BMC. And we all know how that press conference went with Floyd Landis after he was busted.

The dirty secrets don’t just live with the riders. The staff seem equally as guilty when it comes to the cover ups and lies.

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Ciba July 13, 2014 at 12:10 am

Does anyone remember ‘The Secret Pro’ talking about this in 2013. Some peloton talk about a GT winner about to get done for his passport.

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KB July 13, 2014 at 12:15 am

Inrng referenced this in the blog post above. So, yes.

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david July 13, 2014 at 10:17 am

I think Ciba is talking about a different post to Inrng, as I had thought the same thing. Inrng is talking about the blog which specifically named Menchov when he “retired”. Ciba is talking about the blog where the secret pro announced that an unnamed gt winner was about to get done for a bio passport issue, and much speculation ensued about who it was, although Menchov was pretty high on everyone’s list.

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Ciba July 13, 2014 at 9:24 am

Apologies INRNG, skipped that line as excited to get to the meat of the article. Great work as always.

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Simma July 13, 2014 at 1:32 am

I’m kind of for the UCI just routinely posting offences and notifications to a web page to be more like a well oiled machine approach as opposed to “hey look we did something now we’re gonna shout about it” press releases that let’s face it, they’ve not handled very well quite frequently.

I guess I want the UCI to look like a better governing body more than I want to see the scum of the sport publicly humiliated (though this is still a very important deterrent)

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Velofacts July 13, 2014 at 2:01 am

It doesn’t change much, but the google cache version is from July 8 (date at bottom of document). Barredo is missing there, but Menchov was on that list
http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:HzS2k2UOdysJ:www.uci.ch/includes/asp/getTarget.asp%3Ftype%3DFILE%26id%3DNzk5OTY+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=nl
(might have been updated when you read this)

Why are names like Pellizotti and Ricco missing from the list?

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Velofacts July 13, 2014 at 3:05 am

May 1 2014
http://www.velofacts.com/2014%20-%20Version%2010%20may.PDF
(new since then Vrecer, Santambrogio, Ubeto, Zorich, Bertagnolli, Barredo and Menchov and possibly some I missed)
Also a few disappeared.

January 2014
http://www.velofacts.com/2014%20-%20Version%2010%20may.PDF

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Paul July 13, 2014 at 2:14 am

Leif Hoste is another name on the PDF that seems to havce very recently added. How many more will added in the next few hours or days?

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Velofacts July 13, 2014 at 2:19 am

Hoste and Bertagnolli were on the list in the version of May 1, but not in January. With Menchov and Barredo the four names with an empty ADRV date

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The Inner Ring July 13, 2014 at 2:21 am

Hoste we know about, the opening of his case was announced by the UCI and since then his prosecution has been a saga with even an appeal over the fine levied. It’s all been settled in the open.

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Velofacts July 13, 2014 at 2:32 am

Santambrogio was added between May and July. Sayar between January and May

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The Inner Ring July 13, 2014 at 12:19 pm

Thanks, I think La Gazzetta had reported Santambrogio’s case had been settled but there’d been nothing official until this PDF appeared.

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Netserk July 13, 2014 at 12:29 pm

So Nibali will be the official winner of stage 14? Seems like a dangerous thing to win a stage just ahead of Nibali in the leader’s jersey. Fuglsang should be happy Boom was ahead :D

Mtdave July 13, 2014 at 3:56 am

This doesn’t seem to be in line with destroying a cheats reputation as stated in telegraph podcast.

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The Inner Ring July 13, 2014 at 12:17 pm

Exactly. It’s a big catch and presumably comes after a long and expensive case. If people ever question the passport here’s a shining example to explain how it works and how it can even catch grand tour winners.

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Dodge2000 July 13, 2014 at 9:02 am

How does this work with redistribution of results? We seem to be in a tricky situation again with Roman about to inherit a win only to be stripped as well? The fact this is happening in 2009 is a little more worrying. Perhaps we are going to see a whole swathe of passport violations cleaning out the cupboards once and for all

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The Inner Ring July 13, 2014 at 12:15 pm

Each case is dealt differently. So if Menchov or Barredo is stripped of results the second place rider inherits them automatically, there’s no holding pattern while Kreuziger is checked out.

I feel sorry for Nico Sijmens, he was riding with Cofidis when he finished second to Barredo on the Vuelta stage to the Lagos de Covadonga, a legendary finish location in the race. He now inherits the win but has lost all the publicity and merit for his ride.

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brianthemagical July 13, 2014 at 1:32 pm

Therein lies one of the issues with doping. I don’t know anything about that stage or the results, but did Sijmens benefit from Menchov during that stage, bit they take turns on the front, did he get dragged up/motivated to push at any time. Would he have attacked/slipped off the front if Menchov wasn’t also game?

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Alex July 13, 2014 at 12:04 pm

If Jurgen Van Den Broeck is promoted to third in the 2010 Tour, that would be a stealthy result even by his anonymous standards.

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The Inner Ring July 13, 2014 at 12:13 pm

If… he has been promoted, the document on the UCI website is official. But this is why one line in a PDF is so odd, the result of the Tour de France has been changed without telling anyone.

First Belgian on the podium since Lucien Van Impe in 1981.

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Alf July 13, 2014 at 12:07 pm

Wondering where the results for Jonathan Tiernan Locke falls within in the findings. Will they suddenly appear on a UCI list?

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The Inner Ring July 13, 2014 at 12:12 pm

Maybe but UK Anti-Doping is prosecuting the case so they will probably issue a news release. With Menchov it seems, and we can only infer because of the UCI’s brevity, that the UCI itself pursued the Menchov case.

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PT July 13, 2014 at 1:59 pm

Frankly, this is bloody odd.

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Long live the UCI July 13, 2014 at 2:38 pm

What would be the response if this was UCI policy under McQuaid?

Best wishes,
Rocco Taminelli

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Phil July 13, 2014 at 4:34 pm

If Menchov has his 2009 Tour results stripped, why is there no mention of his 2009 Giro victory?

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The Inner Ring July 13, 2014 at 4:52 pm

Presumably the anti-doping violation was discovered in values from the 2009 Tour.

It’s like a rider testing positive in the Tour, they lose their results in the race but you don’t go backwards and strip them of results in the Giro or the spring classics.

What’s odd is that if you did discover an anti-doping violation in the 2009 Tour then the UCI rules (rule 313) says all results after this are disqualified. But the UCI has only selected the Tour de France three times rather than other results.

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okatzzz July 13, 2014 at 7:12 pm

Presumably Menchov’s passport results were indicative of use of a prohibited substance/method only in respect of samples collected during those Tours, and so he was able to satisfy the UCI over the fairness test in R313.

However, without any commentary from the UCI how does anyone know the fairness test will be applied consistently in future?

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The Inner Ring July 13, 2014 at 7:16 pm

Exactly. Given they’ve established he was cheating again and again you do wonder how the decision was reached. It’d be helpful to see the reasoned decision at some point or just to get some more commentary.

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David July 13, 2014 at 7:43 pm

If the fairness test was used to separate the disqualifications, shouldn’t the violations be considered separate? Then the penalties for multiple violations (rule 309) and possible aggravating circumstances (rule 305) could be triggered.

Either way, it seems the UCI is trying to make this as painless as possible for Menchov.

So who is the poor soul with the task to get the prize money redistributed?

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okatzzz July 13, 2014 at 8:43 pm

They can’t be considered as multiple violations unless the rider is notified of the first violation before he committed the subsequent violation. (R309). The last alleged violation was apparently 2012 and the UCI seems to have initiated the case in 2013.

Doping in three Tour appearances in a row does look quite aggravating. One might hope the UCI got something in exchange for dropping an assertion under R305, especially since if Menchov has indeed retired it wouldn’t bother him to have got two years’ extra ban.

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