Doping problems for Katusha ?
Following the positive doping test of its Austrian rider Christian Pfannberger in early May prior to the start of the Giro d’Italia, the Russian team Katusha said it would implement stronger anti-doping regulations in its contractual relationship with its employees, the racers. The policies take the form of an additional chapter to the cyclists’ work contracts including a clause which states that riders will have to pay a fine of five times their annual salary in the event of a sanction given for doping offenses.
Team president Andreï Tchmil took a step further than the UCI, which got all of the riders likely to participate in the 2007 Tour de France to sign a pledge in which they would give one year of their salary to the fight against doping in case of a positive test. In actuality, none of counterfeiters (Alexandre Vinokourov, Cristian Moreni, etc.) have paid their due.
Three of the Katusha riders have refused this new clause for their contracts: Robbie McEwen, Kenny De Haes and Gert Steegmans. The latter has been allowed to take part in the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré despite not adhering to the new team policy. He’s rumoured to have made a counter offer to Katusha in which a rider tested positive would have to pay the team for interest and damage. The legal aspects are being studied by both parts.
“He’ll be given a deadline,” said team directeur sportif Serge Parsani. “We’ll see who wants to stay with the team and who doesn’t. This initiative is about transparency. It’s not acceptable that only one rider can put about 60 employees of a cycling team in jeopardy. Our team is not looking for money but wants to put in place something that will really dissuade the riders to go against the rules.”