SYSTEM WORKS: NCASs Tony Clarke.
SYSTEM WORKS: NCASs Tony Clarke.

Drug shame good for cycling

By STEVE SPINKS & AAP NORTH Coast Academy of Sport executive director Tony Clarke believes the sensational drug disqualifications coming out of this year's Tour de France helps show cycling is seriously trying to combat doping.

Clarke, who is an avid amateur cyclist and NCAS cycling coach, is also glad the cheats are getting named and shamed.

"We have 22 kids in our program from the Tweed to Port Macquarie," he said.

"We point the kids to look towards the elite of the sport as role models and to track them during races.

"I think what the Tour (drug testing) shows is that cycling is genuine about the fight on drugs.

"It's also a good example to youngsters about the temptations along the way and that you will get caught and publicly disgraced."

While admitting that the publicity generated by Tour leader Michael Rassmussen's banishment from the race by his Rabobank team is not great for the sport, Clarke believes the campaign is a necessary evil to clean up the sport.

"I feel as a cycling supporter, the findings make for a cleaner sport," he said.

"While it does tarnish the race, and clean riders are pushed past their limit by the cheats, at least they (cycling authorities) are not sweeping incidents under the carpet."

Rassmussen's banishment came as a surprise yesterday as the 33-year-old Dane had seemingly weathered the storm over missing four out of competition dope tests in the past 18 months.

The two-time King of The Mountains had won the 16th stage to all but seal overall victory and go some way to erasing the stigma of the Danes over their disgraced 1996 Tour de France winner Bjarne Riis - who has since been stripped of the title.

But his Dutch team - whose hotel was subsequently invaded by police - has learnt that Rassmussen lied to them over where and what he doing last month when he was in fact in Italy and not in Mexico as he had told them.

The Rabobank debacle came hot on the heals of the discovery that Italy's Cristiano Moreni had become the third official doping case to be announced at the Tour, which will end on Sunday in Paris.

It was revealed last week that Germany's Patrik Sinkewitz had tested positive for testosterone, although the T-Mobile rider's control was carried out in June.

Sinkewitz was at home recovering from injuries sustained in a crash in the Alps when he heard of the news, and the result of analysis on a B sample has yet to be released.

Kazakhstan's pre-race favourite, Alexandre Vinokourov, tested positive for blood doping earlier in the week, while American Floyd Landis, the 2006 champion, is still battling to clear his name for testing positive during a stage last year.



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