Wednesday Shorts

Frank Schleck

With news this week that Andy Schleck will ride the Tour Down Under there’s no word on his older brother. The update on the Frank Schleck case is that there is no update. He tested positive in the Tour de France 120 days ago now and he’s yet to be cleared or convicted of an anti-doping violation. The case should be a black and white case because the rules say any rider who tests positive for the banned substance in question gets punished unless they can prove to comfortable satisfaction where it came from and that ingestion was wholly accidental. But when the news broke Schleck said he didn’t know where it came from, throwing this defence out of the window. Therefore a two year ban awaits.

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Greg LeMond’s Letter to The UCI

Greg LeMond

Greg LeMond has written an open letter to the UCI calling on President McQuaid to quit. The tone is blunt, explosive and accusative. “Resign Pat if you love cycling. Resign even if you hate the sport” he says in the letter. You’ll find the full text below.

I support the idea but this might only make the UCI President dig in even deeper, something I’ll also explain below too. Reform and change from the UCI is very difficult to achieve for several reasons.

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Oiling the Wheels in Turkmenistan

In March this blog looked at the award of the 2013 track world championships to Belarus, a decision taken with input from a senior UCI official with a significant financial interest in a giant construction project in the capital, Minsk. Whether coincidental or not, the awarding of the worlds served to highlight the significant conflict of interest between the UCI’s sporting interests and the business activities of Igor Makarov, the Russian oligarch behind the Katusha team who now sits at the UCI’s top table, the Management Committee.

Now it’s time to take another look because sadly the overlap between sport and business is not restricted to one case. In another example here is a tale from Turkmenistan.

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From Belarus with love

A UCI official has a giant construction project with plans for Europe’s tallest building that’s in trouble with the city authorities. Months later the UCI awards the world championships to the same city. Is there a link?

No. But decisions like this reveal antiquated governance practices at the UCI and highlight the extensive business empire of one of cycling’s most senior officials. Here’s a look at one example where sport, politics and business intersect.

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In the piece on Thursday entitled “One UCI official, two jets and three yachts” I mistakenly featured a Boeing 737 aircraft registered in the name of Itera Holdings, it seems planespotters have confused Itera with Intera and almost every image of the Boeing has it registered with Igor Makarov’s business. However this is incorrect and the Boeing 737 instead belongs to a Czech billionaire financier called Petr Kellner. Sorry.

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One UCI official, two jets and three yachts

A good salary in a hard currency combined with tax perks make working at the UCI a financially rewarding role. But not everyone does it for the money. One member of  the UCI Management Committee who doesn’t need extra income is Igor Makarov.

Chairman of ITERA, the Russian gas trading company, some say Makarov is a billionaire but it’s hard to be precise with his net worth. He’s the former champion cyclist who started selling jeans on the streets of Turkmenistan and became a Russian oligarch and now helps run Russian cycling as well as the UCI. Needless to say he is wealthy and busy too. So whilst some UCI officials might get to travel in business or first class, Makarov goes private. The jet above is his.

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Sunday shorts

Don’t worry, Sunday evening’s collection of short pieces is family and workplace safe. But you’ll find two stories where speaking out can land you in trouble, even prison. And if you enjoyed the Tinker, Tailor, Cyclist, Spy piece, there’s an appetiser for an upcoming story.

GP d’Ouverture – La Marseillaise
Samuel Dumoulin of Cofidis won the race in a sprint finish. Wearing full-fingered gloves and a long-sleeved top he beat Marco Marcato who sported a headband to keep his ears warm.

The Etoile de Bessèges stage race starts on Wednesday and even colder gear will be needed. Weather forecasts are predicting a deep freeze for France and snow is expected for most of the country, including the south.

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The wealthiest men in cycling

I wrote about the wealthiest men in cycling back in March 2010, but fortunes can come and go, and now there are new names to add to the list and some names to delete.

If you thought the likes of Alberto Contador, Mark Cavendish or Philippe Gilbert were the best paid in cycling, time to think again. It is the people behind the scenes who fund some of the pro teams that are the wealthiest. Read on and you will find the missing link between Damiano Cunego and Jennifer Lopez.

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What is Holczer doing?


Imagine the scenario. You run one of the biggest budget teams in the sport but sadly the results haven’t followed. Some riders have done well but in general things haven’t gone to plan. Maybe it’s time to change managers, who do you call?

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Who is Andrei Tchmil?


Last week La Gazzetta Dello Sport said Andrei Tchmil is going to run for the top job at cycling’s governing body the UCI. But where is he from, what has he done and where is he going?

Born in Khabarovsk, a town so far to the east of Russia it is within sight of China and just 1400km from Tokyo. With the iron curtain falling away, he joined the Russo-Italian Alfa Lum team and became a successful rider in the mid-1990s. His style was forceful, he often seemed to sit awkwardly on the bike but he took wins in Paris-Roubaix, Milan-Sanremo and the Tour of Flanders amongst others.

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