Gran Fondo New York CEO Ulrich Fluhme speaks about EPO positives
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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Gran Fondo New York CEO Ulrich Fluhme speaks about EPO positives

by Shane Stokes at 6:10 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
Organiser explains motivation for testing, plans bigger event in 2013

Gran Fondo New YorkThe CEO of Gran Fondo New York, Ulrich Fluhme, has spoken about the two riders who tested positive for EPO in the event, saying that doping controls cost a lot but were worth in terms of furthering clean competition.

It was announced yesterday that New York City rider David Anthony had accepted guilt after EPO was detected in a sample collected at the May 20th event; another rider, the Italian Gabriele Guarini, later decided not to contest a positive A sample for the same substance.

Fluhme’s initial response was contained in the press release issued yesterday about the news. "Of course we were shocked to hear the news on the positive tests, in particular given the use of EPO,” he said in that communication. “EPO is a blood boosting drug that has to be injected and is not a simple over the counter product.

“Doping control helps clean riders have fair competition. We believe that we came closer to achieving that by introducing out-of-competition (OOC) and in-competition (IC) testing. All our OOC tests came back negative as did the vast majority of IC tests. Plus, the announcement of testing before the event kept away notorious cheaters.”

Fluhme elaborated on that today, explaining that Gran Fondo New York felt that the large prize fund for the event justified what would be a considerable outlay to run testing.

“The winner of GFNY received an $8,000 Pinarello,” he told VeloNation. “Third place at Fleche Wallonne receives 4,000 euro.

“We did a number out of competition tests and 10 in-competition. All tests were executed by USADA. The cost all-in were about $17,000, for testing plus on-site equipment.”

In April Fluhme announced that the Gran Fondo would become the first such event in the US to feature anti-doping controls. He said then that anyone who tested positive would be banned for life from the event, while any riders who had been sanctioned by a federation in the past would be blocked from participating.

The latter rule would mean that riders such as Jan Ullrich could not take part; he previously rode Gran Fondo Miami on November 20th, but would not be eligible for the New York event.

While many UCI events have some form of anti-doping testing, Gran Fondo races worldwide have tended to be far more relaxed about this aspect in the past. In fact, several riders who have been suspended in the past for doping matters have ridden such events, including Dario Frigo, Riccardo Ricco, Frank Vandenbroucke and Raimondas Rumšas.

Fluhme said that a total prize fund of over $100,000 made it vital for Gran Fondo New York to take things seriously in this area.

He explained how the $17,000 cost for testing was spent. “For the out of competition controls, we selected racers that raced last year and intended to race again as well as racers who were already signed up,” he told VeloNation. “USADA drew the ones who then got tested out of a hat.

“As for in-competition testing, we instructed to test top five men overall, top three women overall, plus the winner of the male 40-44 and the male 45-49 categories.”

Guarini was fourth overall and also best of the 50-54 category, while Anthony was quickest in the 45-49 group.

The latter issued a statement yesterday accepting the use of the substance and saying that his team, coaches and friends were unaware.

“Two things happened recently that put into prospective just how off the deep end I was,” he added in the communication, which was published on the website. “The first was that I tested positive for EPO at the Gran Fondo. A week and a half after that I broke my leg in three places in a racing accident. For the first time in years, I was completely off the bike. These two things gave me the perspective to examine just how insane I was acting.”

Meanwhile Fluhme is planning a bigger event for 2013, saying that the target is to increase participation from 5,000 to 7,000 people. There are also two other enhancements. “We're working on a Times Square start,” he said. “And we're also working on a pro race on the same day and course.”


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