Nicklas Axelsson once again suspected of doping, life ban possible
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Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Nicklas Axelsson once again suspected of doping, life ban possible

by Conal Andrews at 6:11 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
 

Swedish rider Nicklas Axelsson is facing a probable life ban after a second positive test for EPO. The 37 year old Team Utensilnord-Corratec rider returned a positive A sample last September, and is currently awaiting the analysis of the B sample.

Axelsson, who was sixth in the 1999 Giro d’Italia and third in the 2000 Giro di Lombardia, was first declared positive for EPO following tests taken at the 2001 world championships.

He admitted his guilt and was handed a four year ban, then successfully had that reduced and returned to racing two years and eight months later.

Axelsson signed with the Serramenti Diquigiovanni team in 2006 but was then diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2007.He was treated in France and returned to the sport, placing third on two stages, holding the race lead and finishing fifth overall in the 2008 Tirreno-Adriatico. He also won a stage and was fourth overall in the Settimana Coppi e Bartali.

Last winter Axelsson signed a contract to race with the Polish/Italian team Utensilnord-Corratec. He took several solid results in 2009, including twelfth overall in the 2.1-ranked Settimana Lombardia, third on a stage and seventh overall in the 2.HC Tour of Qinghai Lake, plus ninth in the 1.1 GP Industria & Commercio di Prato. He was the team’s highest ranked rider.

Now there’s a huge question mark over those results.

“It is a tragedy, "says Anders Karlsson, Secretary General of the Swedish Cycling Federation, according to the Swedish newspaper Sport Bladet.

“There is a positive A-sample from September. I’m surprised to learn of this [new positive] because he has been suspended before. And he really suffered from it.”

The newspaper said that it confirmed the news with a UCI spokesman. “According to the information I have, this is EPO. The reason we have not released the information is because we are awaiting a decision on the B-sample.”

Fellow Swede Gustav Larsson said that he expects a severe penalty. “I think it will be a life ban,” he said. “I really thought he would have learned from the last time. It feels like a desperate attempt by him. He has not been riding as fast for a few years.”

Emma Johansson, who like Larsson was a silver medallist in the Beijing Olympics, is similarly annoyed. “I do not understand what he was thinking of. He destroys things for all of us, "she said. “Of course, this is not good for cycling. But it is good that the cheaters get caught.”

Karlsson also expects a life ban if the second test confirms the result of the first. He said that they are waiting for Axelsson’s response as to whether he wants a B test to be performed.

“It is up to the cyclist. But it’s incredibly rare for a B sample to show something different to the A sample.”

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