Astana Again

Yesterday Danish and Norwegian media made allegations that Jakob Fuglsang of the Astana team was in contact with banned doctor Michele Ferrari. It’s all been denied and makes for a strange story with a political tone.

As background Michele Ferrari has got a lifetime ban in the wake of the USADA enquiry into the US Postal team. Working with him risks a ban under the anti-doping rules of “Prohibited Association”, indeed even being seen chatting on a park bench or sipping a coffee together can activate this rule with the burden on the athlete to prove they were meeting innocently although it’s hard to find practical examples of the rule being enforced.

Sunday’s reports – Politiken helpfully has an English version but it’s also on Danish TV and in the Norwegian media too which is notable as suggests this not one outlet going rogue for a few clicks – claim to be from the CADF, the UCI’s anti-doping office and alleges Fuglsang and also Alexey Lutsenko have been on contact with Ferrari. The Astana team has issued a statement which says it knows nothing about this case but interesting says it doesn’t work with “suspicious doctors” when one of its medical staff, Dr Andrei Mikhailov, is a convicted criminal. Similarly Michele Ferrari takes to his website to rebut every item of the story line by line too.

Even if fake it’s very damaging. Dirt sticks and Fuglsang had a great season last year and many are quick to make the connection, to see this as the explanation. For the general public pro cycling is famous for this kind of news so many will read the headlines and nod, many cycling fans likewise given Astana have a chequered history to put it mildly to the point where the team licence has been in jeopardy, the team has suspended itself, they’ve had a special audit and they’ve quit the MPCC too. Everything else being equal if you were a rider you’d want a premium for signing with Astana because of the reputational issues. Harsh perhaps and partly because they’ve been around for so long but valid too given the team boss Alexandr Vinokourov has served a doping ban and admitted to working with Ferrari. But none of this equates to guilt today, there are investigations, hearings and more to go through.

Plus ça change : L’Equipe’s front page in 2015

Reading the Runes
Behind all of this is the news over the weekend that the UCI is to merge its CADF anti-doping unit into the International Testing Agency (ITA). The ITA has been set up by the International Olympic Committee as an agency to which sports federations can outsource their anti-doping efforts to. The logic is federations can avoid cronyism charges by not being in charge of this and there’s cost savings and expertise with a centralised agency rather than every sport having its own anti-doping experts, legal departments and so on. There are also allegations that UCI President David Lappartient is boosting this IOC agency and in return they’ll look more favourably on him for a spot as Member. The CADF has issued statements saying it wishes to remain independent… ie part of the UCI. So is the leak designed to show the CADF is on the case and worth keeping as it’s capable of deploying crafty means to put riders and banned doctors under surveillance? Or is the leak meant to show up the CADF as leaky and unprofessional?

Is the report genuine? Politiken has images from a report and the whole matter could be cleared up if the CADF or UCI can explain whether the document is authentic or not (the UCI says it hasn’t seen the report). If it is real then presumably the CADF have evidence to back up the presentational slides they’ve furnished, think sleuthy surveillance photographs, and suddenly there’s a lot of explaining to do. But we’re far from this point.

The leak itself is of interest, several reputable sources have run with it and it comes at a time when the CADF’s future is on the line. Coincidence? But the main story which will have reached millions already is that Astana’s star riders could be working with a banned doping doctor. Only all we’ve got is circumstantial evidence so far, we’re at the “he said, she said” stage with an apparent report written for the CADF leaked to the Scandinavian media. This will bolstered by the heuristic of the Astana team’s past but this is compounding the suspicion, not proving anything. The CADF can help clear this up very quickly.

  • Update, Wednesday 5 February: the CADF has issued a statement confirming the document was authentic but after reviewing its contents they will not be taking proceedings against anyone involved. Case closed.

104 thoughts on “Astana Again”

  1. I just can’t believe any pros would even been seen getting a coffee with Ferrari, forget about being motor paced around Monaco. If this is true, it’s a new level of stupidity.

    • Perhaps. But then we recall the cases of Ricco or Michael “I was in Italy having an affair so I lied on my whereabouts so my wife wouldn’t know” Rasmussen.

      From Eurosport:
      In November 2011, Rasmussen finally admitted he had lied about the situation to avoid a conflict with his Mexican wife. “It’s that my wife would like to think I was in Mexico,” he said, before insinuating that he was having an affair with another women. “I was in Italy, but I did not stay at home. It gave me some peace to find a way out.”

  2. I’ve been fairly neutral regarding that transition from CADF to ITA, but seeing the ruckus it’s making now, and how vehemently it is fought by some of the big shots like Richard Plugge, would be enough to push me towards thinking this decision was a good idea.

    As to whether CADF is looking good or bad, I’m torn. It’s good to see some investigation is happening, but this info comes from a leak, not an official release, who knows what would have happened with this report if it wasn’t revealed by the press, would it have been forwarded to ITA or the UCI? It could be the leak happened to prevent them shredding it in 6 months, scorched-earth style. I’d like to see what is actually said and what the evidence is, before I make up my mind.

    Re: Astana, can’t really say whether the allegations are true, but if they turn out to be, few of us will be surprised…

  3. This is one of those where on the face of it it makes total sense. Steady Eddie pro who’s been in and around the peloton for 10 years, towards the front end but never setting anything on fire, suddenly has a breakout year aged 34 and is the only serious competitor to young superstar in one day and one week races. Astana as well. They obviously have a past and not so long ago there was news floating around that they’re getting their funding cut by the Kazakh big whigs. Then all of a sudden they’re winning more races than anyone bar Quick Step. Even if we don’t pin down the fire there’s definitely a lot of smoke.
    I definitely 100% don’t believe though that anyone is stupid enough to get motor paced by a banned sports doctor around a town where loads of professional athletes live (or any town for that matter, what sense does that make?!). Or in the hills anywhere near Monte Carlo. Unless they a) wanted to get caught or b) every professional cyclist who lives and trains on the Côte d’Azur is coached by Ferrari.

    • I don’t want to turn this into the trial of Astana via blog comments, people can join the dots but that’s the point, there’s no proof for now so nothing formal happens, just suspicion in the media.

      • Another interesting aspect concerning this report is, that according to Politiken (the danish newspaper) it is actually not CADF who has conducted the so called investigation. It has been subcontracted to a «well-reputed external company». It doesn’t really ad to the idea of an independent investigation.

      • You’ve sort of lit the red touch paper though.

        Most doping prosecutions come not from a positive sample, but from other evidence. Usually people selling each other out (sometimes on the back of a positive test) elicits the information required for a conviction.

        The allegations, to paraphrase Ferrari, “don’t scandalise me” because he just can’t help himself, and neither can the athletes.

        What else was he going to do? He’s got bills to pay.

    • I totally agree with everything you said. There’s no way the Ferrari would motor pace anyone. His methodology came out very clearly during the Lance years and he never motorpaced Lance and Floyd.

      As a fan of cycling, nobody’s potential doping surprises me any more. With that being said, my first reaction to this story and the Austrian drug ring was to wonder why the Biological Passport never picked up these riders. Then, logically I always revert to the ice-berg theory in that if these riders are truly doping, and they never got picked up by the Biological Passport, then this is 100% the tip of the iceberg and who else is doping? The first suspects are teams and riders who are faster than Astana.

      I’m not going to name names in this message, but I have already started a list and I really wonder about their performances now.

        • The other side of this argument is that the report doesn’t seem that believable plus Fuglsang’s breakthrough isn’t that shocking to me. Jakob’s always shown huge potential but how to put this correctly, he needed to mature (not physically, mentally) so you wonder if it really was aging that helped him out.

          Just look at his past performances – every once in awhile he’d have a huge ride and finish just off the podium or something, then he’d disappear for years. It all pointed to a rider who mentally had no way of staying focused enough.

          • It wasn’t doping. It was just “more carbs”. Now looking back on that story, it looks terrible. Just made up a joke reason that he suddenly found great form?

          • Someone’s searching, no, reaching, for something to help their brain tell them it isn’t true.

            If we know anything it’s that the testing is a sticking plaster on an amputation when it comes to drugs in sport. Testing and longitudinal testing have a limiting effect, but they don’t actually stop doping.

            Armstrong put it that his doctors were better than their doctors, but the problem is more that testers have a very high bar to hurdle to show doping for exogenous substances which closely mimic the same natural product.

            I wish someone would test the Liverpool team.

    • Agreed. I ask what motive would there be for all this to be fake? Extortion? Seems like bad guys could have found a better target than this one since it seems he didn’t pay up.
      These are exactly the kind of scandals that have potential sponsors looking elsewhere.
      OTOH, the motorpacing thing is kind of odd, wasn’t there a US rider photographed being motorpaced by BigTex awhile back? If they’re going to sanction Fuglsang merely for hanging around with banned people shouldn’t this guy should have faced some action as well?

        • Thanks! I thought Tex’ “radioactivity” was pretty much written-in-stone somewhere so this just makes the guy photographed being motorpaced with BigTex an idiot. The director of his team should have warned his riders to stay away from these unsavory characters if for no other reason than maintaining the team/sponsor’s image in the sport. Just like with Ferrari I’m sure there are plenty of skilled motorpacers who have scooters you can go out with – no sporting reason to be seen with this kind of person – NONE.
          But hey, “Mr. 60%”s back-in-town so what can you expect? And they keep wondering why sponsors are so hard to come by these days?

          • Is Ugromov working in Pro Cycling now? I didnt know that. (or did they dig up and revive Panatani).

            …watch Niels Christian Jungs documentory ‘Tavshedens pris” broadcasted by DR in 1999 based on Jungs undercover work as a Pro cycling soigneur. The medical papers he revieled shows Riis max HC value as 56%. Documentary is on’s archive.
            Mr 60% was the Festina nickname because he was going even faster than them so they assumed his HC was higher than theirs (aka 60).

          • I agree, the team should have suspended his contract. Good way to make a little bit of PR and also save some money on the team salary bill.

            Riis is allowed back because he wasn’t caught before his offences expired, and they were also committed before there were any rules regarding licensing of team support personnel.

            Retrospective application of new rules that didn’t exist at the time of the offence would be a very bad path for cycling to follow at a time when good governance is a major problem.

            That leaves as a last resort the option for race organisers to exclude Riis personally or NTT as a team on the grounds that his presence would harm the reputation of the race, subject to appeal at CAS.

  4. “Steady Eddie pro who’s been in and around the peloton for 10 years, towards the front end but never setting anything on fire, suddenly has a breakout year aged 34 and is the only serious competitor to young superstar in one day and one week races.”

    Similar situation in the women’s side of the sport with Sofie De Vuyst, who joined Parkhotel Valkenburg at the age of 32 and immediately had her best year ever, right up until she tripped the dope-o-meter. Raises questions about the great season had by her teammate Lorena Wiebes.

    • That’s not really fair, isn’t it? He’s had a load of minor wins (if you call Dauphine Libere stage wins minor…, 2nd in the Olympic games…). You could also say he missed out a lot by a small margin, lacked some consistency and was often in the shadow of grand tour contenders. Sometimes the cards just have to fall your way. Anyway, such allegations are based on vague circumstantial evidence at best.

      • It’s all an exercise in story-telling, we see patterns and look for things to fit. It’s right to ask questions and be alert but the suspicion can end up consuming bandwidth without going anywhere.

  5. Put simply, if WT teams were really interested in clean sport and reputation, why would they so readily associate with managers and directeur sportifs, having in so many cases such a murky past. Are we supposed to swallow the platitudes that dozens of convicted former riders have all seen the error of thier ways and are now beacons of light in the battle against cheating. Are there no alternatives to, for example, seven-times guilty Kim Andersen, and, if Fuglsang is as honest as he claims to be, why ride for Astana and Vino when other teams would have paid him well?

  6. At first I thought “Dirt sticks” was a nickname for Lutsenko or Vinokurov, Astana even.
    Dirt sticks and Fuglsand had a good season.

    Well, I’m stoned, so

    • “Sticks” and “stoned” will break your bones but riding for Vino will never hurt you….

      Well, not really. I still giggle like I am stoned thinking about Vino winning the Olympics to the chagrin of the UCI. Unrepentant doper stole a march.

  7. Completely different take, but I’m sure that Astana, and Vino don’t have many friends in the anti-doping community, and for that matter, in the race buying community. Could this be a vendetta? Payback to bring them down? The story seems so ridiculous, that other questions need to asked.
    That being said, Ferrari, by far is one of the smartest MD’s out there. His academic pedigree is for real.

  8. First a few facts for readers outside Scandinavia – a short background about the 3 media that has published the story.

    ‘DR’ national non-comercial 100% public service broadcast provider (Denmarks equivalent to BBC).
    Broadly considered the most trusted news media in Denmark.
    Their sports editorial is low priority and they do usually not follow procycling (or any professional sports). Especially since the previous right wing government cut DR’s budgets with +20% and changed the public service contract in a way that limits the editorial and publishing freedom – effective from January 1st 2020.
    10-25y ago DR did have a large and highly regard documentary editorial department that did undercover work, but that was cut 10-15 years ago. Back then undercover work started in 1995-1999 by Niels Christian Jung and Olav Skaaning Andersen ended up with the documentaries ‘Tavshedens Pris 1-2-3′(1999) and ‘Danskerlægen 1-2′(2000). Just like it was on DR that Jesper Wore revealed M.Rasmussens missed out of competition tests in 2007 that eventually forced Rabobank to pulll M.Rasmussen from the race. (The undercover work ‘Tavshedens pris’ was the source of Riis’ HC value of 56%, and the +60% of Pantani and Ugromov which is the reason why Festina riders called him Mr.60%)

    ‘Politikken’ is the largest non-tabloid newspaper in Denmark. Its independant and owned by a self-supporting fund and has been published since 1884. Considered a serious center-left newspaper. (You could argue that since the danish labour, green and communist parties shut down their official news papers 20-30y ago Politikken has represented the editorial voice of the social-democracy and the green party, but its in from an ideolog stance social-liberal in political sense and pr. principle in opposition to whom ever is in power).
    Their editorial quality is as high as it gets in Denmark for a major newspaper. Personally i have i have subscribed to Politikken all my life and my parents subscribed to it through out my childhood (and still do).

    ‘VG’. Im not that deep into the Norwegian newspaper scene, but i seem to recall the following.
    It’s the largest tabloid newspaper in Norway, it used to be center-left and founded by the resistance during the Nazi occupation, but now its 100% commercially owned and less than 40% of the shares are Norwegian owned.
    ‘VG’ switched to tabloid format and editorial line approx 10-15y ago. I’d say today its’ a reasonably reliable newspaper – but its still a comercial run tabloid.
    I rarely read ‘VG’ as it’s not written in ‘Riksmål’ (Norwegian in danish spelling) which means that it slows down my reading speed – and because it its a tabloid. (At work Norwegians usually writes in ‘Riksmål’ or English).

    As for the story – From a publishing point of view we are missing quite a few key details here.

    1) We don’t know who picked up the story first has the lead on the story – is it VG, Politikken or DR ? This is unusual at least for Denmark and especially Politikken would usually share details if they run the story in collaboration with another news outlet like DR or VG.

    2) We don’t know the source or the editorial quality or the amount of research behind the story. For a story in Politikken this is ‘unusual’, DR usually don’t pick up a story unless it’s big and it’s considered to have the publics interest. They may have a ton of details that has not been published yet – or they don’t. So far i’d say neither of the
    3 medias has more than what they have published so far.

    3) All we know from an editorial point of view is that ‘DR’ first contacted Jakob Fuglsang for a comment monday jan 27th and published their story sunday February 2nd when both Astana and Fuglsang refused to comment.

    It appears that all 3 is running the same story without any independant editorial angle or research and that all 3 has received the same finished story from a 3rd party.

    As for the leaked report which we haven’t seen in its entirety.

    1) We don’t know if its a finished report, if its an archived report or a draft. Apparently report is from ‘CADF’. The private company that the UCI has announced will loose their contract with the UCI. This could be the reason why the report has been leaked by ‘CDAF’.

    2) We don’t know what initiated the report creation from ‘CADF’. Bloodpass, Procedure, hearsy rumors or a Whistleblower ?

    If its a whistleblower report which is most likely (CADF has such a program):

    1) We don’t know how many whistle blowers is reaching out to CADF each year?

    2) We don’t know the procedures on how ‘CADF’ treats whistle blowers . Is this report just a std procedure, how many report and whistleblower pr year, and how reliable are they in general.

    Basically we don’t know if i can send a whistle blower complaint via CADF’s website formula that claims: MVDP and G.Thomas is working with Funete and that i have seen them inject a drugs on a parking lot outside Benidorm 3 weeks ago. Will such a whistle blower generate a similar report? (I work in IT, and i would now how to fake my IP to any area in spain).

    We need to know the procedures and even ‘CADF’ is refusing to comment.

    The story is not covering this at all – basicly all we have is a rumour, and a leaked subcontractor report that is not able to verify any details concerning the rumour. Apparently the report has not been shared with UCI or Wada either.

    Apparently the Astana / Ferari / Fuglsang rumour has been running arround the pro peloton all 2019 (verified last night by B.Holm and today by M.Cort), and that such rumours are not unusual. According to Brian Holm you would not believe the amount of rumours that circulate in the pro peloton – and no one or at least very few people has taken this rumour seriously until now that it’s a story.

    If Astana in fact does have a program with Ferrari and Fuglsang and Lutchenko has met with Ferrari its really bad news, especially for testing programs and passport programs.
    Unlike most other laymen I will NOT buy into an explanation that Fuglsang just started doping in the final years of his career. Its simply not credible that a plus 30y old rider all of a sudden starts cheating after a long career.
    Either he has been on various programs with or without doctors (unlikely) since day 1 and continued on/off througout his carrer – or its a hoax.

    • You were doing well there. Sensible, reasonable, considered and nuanced. No ridiculous assertions, no ‘factual’ statements that you can’t possibly know. Very good.

      Then you gave the game away in the last two paras. Jakob’s Danish. And he doesn’t ride for INEOS. Therefore, he’s NOT guilty! He’s NOT. It’s simply NOT credible. NOT!

      And you put the cherry on the cake with the final false binary. What a shame. You really were doing very well.

      • Morten may have expressed his opinions about Team Ineos on some other occasion, but let’s try to stick to what he actually wrote. He doesn’t base any of his arguments on Fuglsang being Danish. It is not his starting point and it never enters his reasoning.
        If you were trying to be funny, I think you failed completely. If you were trying to say that Morten has another pair of spectacles when he reads doping related stories about certain other teams or riders who aren’t Danish, I think you were too keen to make a snide and incisive comment.

        When the subject is doping, it unfotunately tends to have a negative effect in the comments section.

      • @Anonymous

        “Therefore, he’s NOT guilty! He’s NOT. It’s simply NOT credible. NOT!”

        pretty shure i never wrote that he is not guilty – or that he is guilty. That is the whole point.

    • well done, thanks for the context – the “damning” document is a 4th-hand report – an outside investigator cites a whistleblower or call-in unverified witness report, the allegation is filed with CADF, who show the inscription to reporters who then tell us –

      CADF uses open source intelligence collection beyond chemical analysis of urine and blood to target and find doping – this is their business hook – this is what makes them relevant – this is how they earn their money –

      one open source of intelligence is a performance result – if a rider wins, and continues to win, then it makes sense for CADF to look into the rider’s lifestyle and daily interactions to see if there are reasons to target more testing –

      but the mere fact that the CADF is paying attention to a particular rider based on this principle is itself not evidence of doping – and this fact is lost when circumstances add up –

      by the same circumstantial logic, it’s not unreasonable to think that people who are facing a threat to their institutional livelihood would seek to defend the long-term viability of their program by leaking information selectively in order to bolster their case –

      raw intelligence without analysis or context is fun if you are in a james bond movie or work for buzzfeed, but if we take another step back to gain a little more perspective, what we have to take into account is that media outlets are businesses, too – and their credulity can be subverted and hacked by smart PR manipulations –

      and then the asshats in copy-paste land get a hold of it and blow all the careful wording and legal nuance away in order to shape click-bait headlines and score more eyeballs –

      which, in the end, looks a whole lot like the point of the endeavor in the first place – to overwhelm the court of public opinion and force institutions to correct course for fear of the imaginary pitchforks and torches –

      • A small correction – the journalistic accounts are not “4th hand.” Some entity related to CADF took the whistleblower information, and prepared a report for CADF. Apparently they spoke to multiple witnesses. The report that collects the witness first-hand information is now second-hand information (at least until some aspects of the whistleblower’s information are independently verified, which we have no indication they have done). CADF and the relevant news media have all seen and passed along aspects of the report, so what we’re hearing and reading is based upon the same second-hand information from that report.

        Granted, the complete report has not been released, but there seems no point in rushing to a judgement that this is an anti-Astana PR smear job, any more than we can rush to judgement that Fuglesang is guilty.

      • It’d be interesting to know more about the context that resulted in the production of the report – whether it’s standard practice for the CADF to commission intelligence briefs across all the top riders, or whether this sort of thing is only produced in rare circumstances.

        While I find it hard to generate much sympathy for anything Astana related, It’s far from ideal to see a raw intelligence report for an internal audience weaponised in this way (smearing JF and Astana because there’s not enough solid evidence to nail them via official channels).

        About the only thing that’s clear in the whole affair, is that institutions administering cycling remain chronically weak. As with the Froome AAF, it appears that some insiders are willing to bypass due process to get information out there. Whether they’re playing politics, or fighting for fairness is in some ways beside the point – the system isn’t robust enough.

        • I can’t find any reason to have faith in a system that:
          Let’s riders off without making the supposed science public (e.g. Froome, Henao)
          Let’s riders off with ridiculous excuses (Impey)
          Sees a massive resurgence of Colombian cycling, where tests are known to be inferior – and many are still caught
          Allows a wide range of dodgy people to continue to work
          Has a bio passport that clearly doesn’t work (e.g. Denifl et all were not flagged on the BP).
          The anti-doping authorities are weak – whether or not this is deliberate I don’t know, but those who work within it and then critique it are thrown out (e.g. Ashenden).
          (There are many other examples: I’m not picking on particular riders or situations.)

          • I agree with this sentiment.
            Cheating happens, doping happens, it all happens in the dark, no system is foolproof, etc.
            But what makes it much worse is this feeling that we know so little of what actually was uncovered, and what little we know doesn’t give any faith that even the people who get caught will get their comeuppance.

          • With Colombians (lumping Carapaz in with them) the talk is always how they were brought up in some village at 3000m and rode a unicycle to school 30 miles away. It makes you wonder how good Himalayan Sherpa’s would be if they ever sat on a bike. Absolutely unbeatable the evidence would seem to suggest.

          • The evidence for some genetic benefit is not strong. Yes, these communities do have some adaptations which improve their ability to live at altitude (primarily being small, light and sturdy) but not significantly that the benefits translate when they get further down the mountain. Which is why the Nepalese and Peruvian’s don’t dominate the longer running races with the 47 times convicted Kenyans.
            Much is made of this evolutionary development, but human cross breeding means that we don’t vary as much as other animal species.
            I imagine that the whistle blower is a current pro and doesn’t really want to get involved in an anti-doping case and hence is not willing to come forward. You can’t read too much into that. It’s not vague, but it does make it hard to substantiate to others.

    • ‘ Its simply not credible that a plus 30y old rider all of a sudden starts cheating after a long career….’

      nothing to do with this case in particular, but I would think it is entirely credible that a 30+ yr old rider, trying to stretch a career out with a couple of decent contracts before he confronts the rest of his life with little education and probably a young family, would have every incentive to cheat.
      Frankly I wouldn’t blame them if the suspicion is that half the peloton are already pushing the envelope in this regard…

      • Yes, isn’t this what they all say? “Up until my positive dope-test I was as pure and clean as the driven snow.” Whether they’re 22 or 42 when they get caught – they never, ever used PED’s until the moment they got caught…and then only reluctantly..or perhaps they bought some dope/had their blood removed and stored but just thought about using it, but never did.
        I don’t doubt that some of these claims of innocence are true, but so many of them over so many years have turned out to be pure, unadulterated BS that they can’t expect us to believe them anymore.

      • As a scandinavian with a +1 million € income for +10years earned in lowtax countries he should have what he needs for the rest of his life.

        He can always move back home to a high income wellfare state with 100% free education & healthcare, subsidised and available profesional daycare from zero to approx 10y, subsidised child support, a flexible employee market with a high security level, no corruption, low crime rate and the highest personal security in the world.
        Even with a minimum pay in a part time job youre well off here if you have the cash for a house or an appartment which he of course has.

        Basicly. If youre form scandinavia you have very little incitament to cheat for an even higher income. If youre from Belarouse, UK, US, south america, africa its a completly diffrent story.

        sorry i just dont buy into the argument that a successfull well payed pro opts to start cheating for financial reasons in the final years of a Pro career.

          • Riis did not have a 10y 1M € career when he started doping. He had a 10y career where he earned 1/3 of a danish minimum wage in Belgium and France. Fuglsang has had a very decent income since he turned Pro.

            3.5y on a 1M € sallery contract approx equals the lifeincome of a well payed IT specialist, Ingeneer or university teacher here.

          • The obvious mistake you’ve made, Morten, is assuming the cheating would be for financial gain. The typical pattern is for a pro athlete, regardless of how much money they’ve made, to do whatever it takes to extend their career, and to do so as successfully as possible. These people aren’t obsessed with money – they’re obsessed with being star athletes. And someone like Fuglsang, who as flirted with being a top pro but never paid it off, would have extra incentive to finally prove to everyone that he really is a top 10 rider.

            As noted on another cycling site, looking at the PCS points summary graph for Fuglsang shows just much of a jump he made last year. After a career of never being ranked higher than 30, he was forth last year. That’s the incentive.

            By the way, I thank you for the detailed analysis/summary of the news reporting. I don’t find your conclusions convincing, but I appreciate the perspective on the nature of the reporting organizations.

          • Im not naive.

            Im just saying a well payed pro does not start doping at the age of 32-34 after a 10y pro career. If he is doping today, he has proberbly been doping for the past 10 years as well.

            Please note: im not saying it means Funglsang is clean! Im saying if he is not clean now. he proberbly never was.

        • Agreed. In a sport where some punters will spend piles of money on dope to “win” a big piece of cured meat, cheating can’t be blamed on desires for increased income. That’s not to claim someone who previously played by the rules they agreed to back when they took out their first racing license won’t decide to cheat later – the motivation for this is multi-faceted IMHO.

        • Come on. Denmark is the land of Dogged Dopers if there is one. The land of the first multi-recidivist, banned for life, M. Andersen. All Danish stars have had scandals.

      • After this sort of fake news, any responsible media outlet would suspend the journalists and editors responsible for the writing and publishing of the story while an independent auditor goes over all their previous work.

    • VG was a tabloid in the sixties, and write something like 99% riksmål. That particular article was indeed in riksmål. Not to take away from your statement very much, but those things are wrong.

      VG has had a run of very unfortunate journalism the last years, but mostly regarding politics and home-soil stuff. On sports and doping it’s pretty solid.

  9. Cycling (just like other sports) is clearly riddled with doping. I just accept that (with a sigh) and get on with it.
    You look at Astana and their long history; the various shonky practices of Ineos; DQS employing shady doctors… the list goes on.
    I’m sure some people are riding clean, but that’s the thing, you’ve no idea who is up to what and to what extent.

  10. The fact that Astana are quite happy to put out such an easily disprovable lie in an official statement: “The team does not collaborate with any suspicious doctor”, when as Inrng points out they have a convicted criminal doctor on their staff, makes me think there’s really no point even considering believing a word they say.
    Although the leaked report has no concrete detail, when the reflex response to it is to simply lie, it makes me think it’s very likely it’s hit on some unpleasant truths.

  11. Do Astana have a team base in Bologna? I was there with work at the start of November last year and saw 2 of their team buses at the side of the main road between there and Modena?

    • there’s a fleet vehicle leasing company in Bologna that works exclusively with pro cycling teams based in Italy – they get all their mechanical work done, get inspected, and they get new acrylic wraps based on updated sponsors – Iveco are the vehicle manufacturers, and it’s a small company run by a woman well-known in the cycling world

  12. Michael Ask (head of Anti Doping Danmark) to Ritzau (in Danish):

    »Når medier går ud med en rapport, som er på et indledende niveau, er det et problem, uanset om der er noget om snakken. For er der noget om snakken, forhindrer det antidopingmyndighedernes muligheder for at efterforske videre, fordi sagen er ude i det åbne. Og er der ikke noget om snakken, kaster man set fra et retssikkerhedssynspunkt smuds på Jakob Fuglsang, hvilket ikke er rimeligt.«

    A rough translation to English:

    »When the media brings a report that is at an initial level, it is a problem, whether or not there is anything to it. If there is anything to it, the news of it hinders the anti-doping authorities’ ability to investigate further, because the case is out in the open. And if there is nothing to it, from a legal certainty point of view, you unfairly throw dirt on Jakob Fuglsang.«

  13. So here we go again. The lack of hard facts allows us to stay in denial. Never mind the the totality of the circumstances or the frequency of the occurrences: we will have to wait for the result of an investigation which may or may not happen. And if it does happen, and if it does yield a result, it will be long from now. Long enough for us to tell our collective selves that we have “entered a new era” (with an assist from the cheerleaders in the cycling press and tv). Though of course that is part of the circular show that is pro-cycling. Going from one scandal to another, hoping no one ever connects the dots and realizes that professional cycling and its demands are synonymous with doping. Amazingly no one does. The show goes on.
    Circulez, il n’y a rien a voir!

    • Bravo. That is the summary anybody with a pre-Sky, pre-USPS, pre-Motorola, pre-[insert pro team of your choice] knowledge of pro cycling should recognise.

      Pro cycling, in fact any pro “sport” is a business first. Entertainment is what we’re subscribing to. If fans of cycling are clinging to some quasi-Corinthian ideals that should be upheld by the teams, their employees and the administrators I’m not sure they’ve been getting the memos from the last 60+ years.

      There are no clean sports, just enjoy the spectacle ours provides.

    • O00ps! +1 for Oliver. -1 for Whaleoilbeefhooked – “Just enjoy the spectacle”, eh? It’s all WWE for you? Nobody should bother with efforts to enforce the rules or clean up any sports? Dunno what happened in the last 60 years, but I didn’t get those memos – perhaps you can share them with me and the rest of us?
      Is anti-doping all an elaborate charade just to make the rubes think someone cares about a level playing field and fair play? Everyone cheats, right? That’s what every cheater says pretty much every time they’re caught, but they’re wrong- some people care about sport and rules, fairplay, etc. rather than simple entertainment, otherwise WWE would dwarf all of what I guess you’d call “so-called sports”, no?

      • Your response sums up the problem.

        You rail against Heinnie and his “folly” or “follies”. By implication all administrators at UCI level are complicit since nothing’s changed in 60+ years?

        You bemoan the investment from manufacturers changing the structure of bicycles and a resultant shift in the racing landscape – more chrono tech.

        You moan about the “radioactivity” of cheats.

        They were all memos Larry.

        The irony is you run a business based on the almost mythical exploits of riders past and present.

        If you care that much to incite a change in the doping culture you (me, all true fans) need to vote with our €, £, $ and stop investing in cycling. A serious reduction in the net worth of the cycling economy is the only way we as consumers will effect any change in the culture of the sport. Direct action is the only way. I don’t have the time or inclination for that and it’s clear neither do others.

        Thus I enjoy the spectacle. The righteous in the pro peleton were and are under no illusions about the state and perception of our sport. It’s not right but the m.o. of pro cycling has been pretty much set from day one. Generally there are nasty bastards in all walks of human life and they take advantage of any weakness. We haven’t stood up to them and we have the sport/spectacle we deserve.

        Moaning about it online is the equivalent of riding home uphill, into a headwind, on 2 flat tyres and stuck in 52×14.

        • Your reply is such a blizzard of lies and half-truths any response would be more than the poor readers here should bear so I’ll leave it at that. I will note unlike most here, I use my real name and stand behind my comments, rather than hiding behind a moniker.
          Email me with a real identity if you’d like a personal response.

          • I see everything I stated as true, to run with the philosophical analysis you’ve raised elsewhere. It was surely just a wintry shower though.

            I count 16 responses from you on this post, 1 more will hardly overdose the readers.

            Please feel free to furnish me with your truths publicly because I’ve called out your take on the sport publicly.

            I respect you and many others want a fair and level playing field. That’s been the prevailing view sustaining most sports models. Hoping for it hasn’t brought that about however.

            I’ve proposed one method of effecting change but apathy wins every time, I’m guilty. Not enough people will walk the walk to bring about the change.

            I’ll continue to enjoy the spectacle and my anonymity. If the spectacle evolves into true sport to believe in I’ll still enjoy it just as much and laud those who drove the change.

            It’s a shame shoddy journalism has clouded Fuglsang’s reputation. Shoddily administered enterprises invite this level of scrutiny it seems.

  14. What’s the context of the Astana doctor being a “convicted felon” anyway? I mean, it’s probably a bit different in how it reflects on the team if he was convicted for malpractice versus like, public drunkenness or something.

  15. I’ve only been following pro cycling a few years, and these current accusations have lead me to read about widespread doping accusations against Astana/Ferrari brought by Italian police in 2014, which named dozens of riders and also involved a few other teams. Those accusations, per the Cycling News article I’ve read, seem very damning and detailed. How did those riders/teams dodge that?

    Reading that five year old article makes me think this latest flap will blow over quickly, but no real damage done to Astana or the riders. It appears you have to be caught with a needle in your arm to actually pay a price for illicit activity.

    • If they can’t prove any of it this “flap” will flap away in the wind quickly as you point out. The bigger picture is what do these “flaps” say to sponsors, both current and potential? Don’t forget WADA was created not by big demand from competitors or nations – it was created by demands from the Olympic Games’ commercial sponsors who saw the value of their sponsorship buys going down the drain when it seemed few believed a lot of the competitors were living up to their Olympic oath.
      Pro cycling has seen plenty of sponsors vote with their feet as these doping scandals continually drip, drip, drip into the media to the point where few are left beyond autocratic/petro-states, gambling interests, rich enthusiasts and the bike biz. The sport’s starting to remind me of motorsport when tobacco ads were banned from TV – RJ Reynolds and their ilk were never big fans of motorsports, F1, MOTOGP, NASCAR, etc. were merely venues to put up advertising when it was banned elsewhere, even today if you think of MISSION/WINNOW. Is pro cycling becoming a last refuge for extraction industries, petro-states, etc. to spend promotional funds?

      • WADA was establishes twenty years ago. What went on behind closed curtains I don’t know, obviously, and I’ve probably forgotten most of what was written about it (or what I read), but are you sure you aren’t telling us not to forget your version of why and how WADA was established?
        I don’t think there is any doubt that frustration with how national and international sport federations handled their anti-doping efforts and a general suspicion that those federations were so keen to protect their image and their star athletes that positive test results were covered up.
        If you can point me towards a well-informed source or a web page giving a better background view, I’d appreciate it,

        • Eskerrik Asko – My wife is a scholar with many book titles such as The Philosophical Athlete, Introduction to the Philosophy of Sport, etc. so I get the benefit of some “osmosis” when I help with proofreading though I’m just a tour operator and bicycle mechanic myself.
          I couldn’t come up with a direct reference online that I could point you to, but the story was the-then president of the John Hancock life insurance company (one of the big international commercial sponsors of the Games at that time) was instrumental in the creation of what became WADA as he felt the value of his company’s sponsorship was being eroded by doping scandals and leaned hard on the IOC to do something to clean things up.

          • Interesting about the creation of WADA. That sounds completely believable and not surprised a reference is hard to find.

            My next question is: This latest report about Astana may be true, but on the surface the story has so many holes that it isn’t believable in any way – but the damage is already done so why does cycling keep having these leaks that hurt the sport when the top sports barely have any doping cases?

      • Larry T – Good point about cycling’s advertising but I think your final sentence is slightly off… we’re not the last refuge, but instead we’re an also ran. Most of our sponsors are either patronage, niche or secondary/tertiary/local whereas the major sports (that are perceived as clean) get all the major corporate sponsors.

        • CA – Fair enough but you claim “the major sports (that are perceived as clean) get all the major corporate sponsors.” That was not always the case. Remember FORD, Renault, FIAT, Brooklyn, Castorama, Salvarani, SCIC, NIKE, etc? All consumer-oriented retailers of general interest merchandise, not to mention Coca-Cola, Nestle and others. Those sponsors have left and I doubt they’re coming back any time soon in the current environment of drip, drip, drip when it comes to doping scandals. With few exceptions the sport’s left with the (to borrow a phrase from a former USA presidential candidate) “deplorables” – resource extraction companies, gambling interests, autocratic and/or petro states along with the bike biz and some rich enthusiasts.

          • And yet, incredibly, today’s riders earn sums undreamt of by their predecessors who were sponsored by such blue chip firms.
            Incidentally, sport has always been bent, and always will be bent. From the original Olympics to the invention of modern organised competition by the unholy if transparent alliance of rich Britons wagering on the performance of their rather fitter employees, it has always been more concerned with offering gambling opportunities and spectacle than honest endeavour. Cycling will probably survive longer than now disgraced athletics, because it’s been dishonest for so long no one is greatly offended by cheating. (Even Armstrong was done for his attitude rather than his merely commonplace actions). The use of PEDs in cycle sport predates the invention of the chain, pneumatic tyres, the wheel etc etc.

          • Yep, one can rationalize pretty much anything with the well-worn “It’s always been this way.” Take any unjust situation and those who benefit from the injustice will tell you this time after time after time. Thanks for pointing out the obvious!

          • Steve – The average WT salary is much less than that in Football (Tier 1 international and American), NBA, NHL, MLB, Tennis (men’s AND women’s), Formula 1. Let’s not even mention the women’s average salary.

            Ask Androni Giacatoli (or whatever they’re called) riders how much they really made last year – many of the salaries are directly paid by a specific sponsor.

            I think your argument proves my point – cycling’s perception as a dirty sport has destroyed the revenue stability for cycling.

          • And ironically the perception which is formed by the anti-doping efforts which do exist are part of the problem. Tennis is almost certainly more bent than cycling, yet because it’s in such an omerta for doping, sponsors are fine with it and the top stars make some of the biggest money of any athletes worldwide.

          • SYH – You’ve hit on why doping is so terrible: It’s too easy to say “everyone does it” while not knowing if anyone does it. It’s too easy to claim some other sport is full of dopers while yours is not. It’s too easy to claim efforts to curtail it are bad because they result in doping scandals compared to other sports.
            As the PhD philosopher who kindly shares her life with me always says: “People believe what makes them feel good.” Fans of cycling are certainly no exception and the various arguments here illustrate well why this problem remains despite a lot of efforts to solve it. On one side there’s “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire! Throw the cheats out!” and on the other “It’s all a media-driven hoax! Sue the bastards!” Neither of those attitudes is going to help in the fight for sport free of cheats.

          • It’s so sweet that you don’t think cycling isn’t bent, but you haven’t made the slightest attempt to disprove my point. Obviously I’ve always laughed at your logical contortions, but I worry about the institution that gave Mrs Larry a gong for, what, pretending sport isn’t about winning.

  16. Hi.

    First post here. good debate. Michael Rasmussen is always commenting on these kind of cases in Ekstra Bladet(Danish tabloid paper) He is silent at this point, that makes me wonder.
    He knows Fuglsang, and Fuglsang trained with Michael, when he was in trouble after he was taked out of the Tour de France im not sure if he actuelly lived at his house in Toscany. Does Rasmussen know something and are he advising Fuglsang in this case.

    • Rasmussen has commented on the case.
      He says he heard the rumors in the summer of 2019 first. Apparantly from some other Danish riders(don’t know at what level), perhaps these riders are the original whistleblowers here.
      He says that it seems too stupid to be true, and when asked if he believes Fuglsang is clean – “he has been in cycling long enough to know not to vouch for anybody” or something like that.
      I don’t know how, but Rasmussen is a teacher at a danish cycling school and also blogs for a big newspaper. But aside from that, he is know to be a contrary character, and I don’t think anyone in their right mind from the Danish cycling milieu would take any advice from him.

      The whole thing seems to be based on “somebody seeing Fuglsang motorpacing with Ferrari”. A bit vague don’t you think?

      In Fuglsang we have a rider who has been mountainbike world champion, and has been a quality road rider from the beginning. Was it in 2009 he finished on the podium at Tour de Suisse? But he never seemed to ride agressively, he was always following wheels and never targeted anything else than grand tours. To me it seems the big change in him was his willingness to take responsibility and make some moves in races instead of following the moves. It makes perfect sense that he, a former MTB rider would be able to challenge in Strade Bianche. And let’s not forget when he basically blew the Tour up in 2014 on the wet cobble stage to shepherd Nibali to the line in a top3 or something. He has physically always been there, just seems like he was afraid to play out

      • Bravo – excellent points – Fuglsang had a kid, too – all of a sudden it’s something in life worth fighting for, at least if the baby books that tell you this are correct –

  17. CDAF has released a statent now:

    Report concludes nolink to Fearri.
    Report is archived.

    Basicly it was a report based on gossip – what remains is that the 3 media oulets that published the story investigates CDAF procedures on what can trigger a report, how many they start every year, how many ends up as an archived report because rumors can not be verified etc. As they should havedone in the fuirst place before publishing.

    • I would suggest that a retraction and apology (published in at least as prominent a position as the original story) is also in order.

      Next time, take the basic journalistic step of getting confirmation from an independent source before publishing.

      • That would all be appropriate. I hope Fuglsang sues. It would also be nice to think that the source of the rumour who lacked the spine to put their name to it feels some heat as well. I guess the peloton knows who kicked off this spiteful mess.

        • There is nothing to sue about in Denmark or Norway. They can make a complaint to ”pressenævnet’ (and the equivalent in Norway). Even that would be quite thin.

  18. My last comment – CADF’s latest release that it did draft the report and that they are not going to file proceedings against any of the parties mentioned should be their final nail in the coffin. It proves:

    ~ either they are incompetent (cannot maintain custody over their draft reports AND they draft reports purely based on rumour) OR reckless (releasing a report based on rumour in order to damage the reputations of an athlete – I don’t care about that much about Astana, they damage their own reputation often enough)
    ~ also, that in their panic to keep afloat, they are potentially willing to leak confidential and unverified reports to show their value, when in reality this makes them look stupid and opens them up to litigation.

    Fuglsang should sue for damages in the 6-figures and hopefully enough to put CADF’s budget into significant trouble. David L.’s call to transfer this function to the ITA appears to be a good choice.

    • Who would you blame for the leak? Reminds me of that infamous dossier compiled on a certain US president. I’d bet most of the stuff in it is true but so far they can’t prove it. I doubt someone just sits down and makes this kind of stuff up – where’s the payoff?
      I noted the CADF statement said “it has not submitted the report to the UCI for the initiation of disciplinary proceedings against the individuals or team in question.” which doesn’t say they’re NOT going to do it, just that as of now they have not done so. If someone’s going down the conspiracy rabbit-hole, could the leaker have leaked it so the implicated could cover their tracks so further investigations come up with nothing and at the same time make the CADF look like incompetent boobs who can’t be believed and/or trusted?

      • Where the UCI and doping allegations are concerned recently, there are more leaks than a sieve.
        Someone’s making money selling scurrilous gossip and tittle-tattle.
        I hope the media in question do get sued for this.

        • I’d guess you’re prefer it the other way? With ol’ Heinie and Co. sitting tight on information about dopers and bleating out things like “Rider X would never, never, ever dope.” every time someone asked? That worked out well as I recall – the sport’s still suffering from that era, but they extend a big welcome back to guys like “Mr. 60%”. The only thing that’s going to clean up this mess is a mass-exodus of sponsors fed up with the charade. But as long as the teams can get funding from the kind of backers who fund Astana, that’s not gonna happen anytime soon 🙁

      • Larry T,

        That “infamous dossier compiled on a certain US president”

        couldn’t pertain to Trump: SINCE,

        “stuff in it is true but so far they can’t prove it…”

        !They did prove it! -So which certain US president are You speaking of? Only 2 others?

        Fact is, the accusations HAVE BEEN PROVEN. A number of Republican even make note the accusations are accurate (& there’s no debate, even Repub’s agree), however, (the issue is) they believe the proven accusations are not enough to merit removing THE IMPEACHED PRESIDENT from office.

        *****But this is supposed to be relevant cycling cheating news, -complicated enough!
        -Spare us. The current US political situation is traumatizing enough, My head is spinning already.

      • Exactly. At the moment, reading between the lines, they don’t have the evidence to proceed. That could mean it doesn’t exist or equally they’re yet to find it.

        • Or that some evidence exists, but in the opinion of CADF that evidence is inadequate to justify pursuit of the investigation. We just don’t know.

  19. It does make me chuckle when people talk about things like this being ‘just gossip’ and lacking in proof. What proof do you want? A failed test? The only people who ever fail tests are those without enough funding or contacts to do it properly, like lower level South Americans and Italians, or someone like Di Luca who seems to have been a chronically forgetful cluster f*ck. None (or very few) of the big names who’ve been banned over the years have been done for failing tests. They’ve all fell foul of a mountain of circumstantial evidence, team mates fessing up or the Police uncovering things whilst investigating other things like a doctor’s tax evasion. So the testing essentially doesn’t work, it easily circumvented and Ferrari and other clever fellows know more about it than the UCI and doping agencies do. So what other proof do you want? To actually see them doing it? Unless Police start randomly raiding athletes houses at unusual times that isn’t going to happen. And I suspect the Police will have more important things to do. You need to use common sense and ask whether it sounds believable. An athlete using substances to improve their physical capacity, in a sport where that capacity is 99% the determining factor, is definitely believable. The last 30 (120) years has shown us that. Then you look at results that were markedly improved, and in races where he was never a factor before, and maybe it becomes a little easier to believe again. That’s without even mentioning the history of the team he rides for. You can ask for a photograph of him bending over his bathroom sink with a syringe in his hand that says EPO down the side of it in massive letters, or of Dr Ferrari handing him a bottle of little pills in a shady car park, or for a sheet of paper showing his blood results, but you aren’t going to get them. Say that he’s suddenly more decisive because he’s a father now, or that he eats more bread now or whatever if you want but you’re probably only kidding yourself.

    • +1 “People believe what makes them feel good.” The age-old “Your guy’s a dope cheat but my guy’s as pure as the driven snow!” idea. I’d like to ask those who claim not to care about who is doped and who is not and say to just enjoy the entertainment if they would say the same thing if a competitor cut the course, put a motor on his/her bike or held onto a car? If not, why not? Are some types of cheating better than others? If so, why?

  20. Well the proof I want of fugslangs and lutsenkos association with ferrari is a timed/dated photo of them together or a sworn statement(s) from credible witness(es) verifying the meeting. Until we get that it’s just unsubstantiated gossip

Comments are closed.