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Gav's Eye View

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Gav_mediumWelcome to the first edition of Gav’s weekly column. The column written by Gav, that’s me, will appear on Wednesdays. I’ll use this space to write about whatever happens to cross my path, strike my fancy, or inspire the snark. Especially the snark. Warning: Crayons may be involved. Those of you who are relatively new to the Cafe hijinx can view my past transgressions by following the Gossip link on the left-hand side of your screen. I’ll occasionally pick up stories that have already popped up in the comments or around the site. If you’re bored, scroll on by. Okay, enough of this introductory tomfoolery.

And yes, my column, she needs a title. Baby steps.

Hit the flip, for this week’s installment which takes a closer look at the strange doings in the Di Luca case.

The Di Luca case has prompted a fair amount of head-scratching today. It all started with a report published at Tuttobiciweb suggesting that the B-samples in Di Luca’s case may not confirm the adverse analytic finding (Say it together now, Adverse Analytic Finding. It sings, this bureaucratese) of the A-samples. The source for the story was an article published in the Italian sports periodical Tuttosport and apparently based upon a source close to the rider. The article claimed that the samples were re-tested in Barcelona, and had not confirmed the results carried out by the French lab at Chatenay Malabry. The report hinted at the possibilities of errors in the complicated testing carried about by the French lab, who according to the report is the only lab capable of carrying out the CERA testing. I do love the smell of conspiracy in the morning.

To confuse matters further, Gazzetta dello Sport also reports today, that there was nearly a third Adverse Analytical Finding from Di Luca’s Giro d’Italia samples. A laboratory in Rome found anamolies in Di Luca’s urine sample from the morning before the final time trial, and alerted the UCI. The sample then went to Lausanne for another round of screening. Gazzetta does not say what they found in Lausanne, but the results were apparently interesting enough to send the samples on to Paris for more detailed study. Another more detailed round of screening in Paris proved inconclusive, though, and as of now, Di Luca has only the two previously reported positives to worry about. Only two? No doubt Di Luca is sorely disappointed by this outcome.

Now, what about the B-samples? The official confirmation of the B-sample results will not be ready until Friday or Saturday. Gazzetta dello Sport reports that the Paris lab - not Spain - has completed the testing of the B-samples. This pattern follows the normal procedure in which the B-sample is tested by the same lab as the A-sample. Officials at Chatenay-Malabry have sent the results of the tests to the labs in Montreal and Vienna for validation. This step is required by the WADA code, and is the reason for the lag time in the return of the results. UCI President Pat McQuaid, meanwhile, confirmed to Cyclingnews that the results of the B-samples are not yet available and that the Barcelona lab is not involved in the testing.

For his part, Di Luca continues to train and to deny that he has used CERA. "I have never taken CERA," he said in a statement. "I will show that the method in Paris is not reliable. If the contro-analysis is also positive, I will go forward in my battle to contest the testing method," Di Luca promised. The rider has retained Federico Cecconi as his lawyer. Cecconi is an old hand at these anti-doping cases, and has played a role in many of the high-profile Italian doping cases, beginning with the Sanremo raids at the 2001 Giro d’Italia. Currently, the lawyer is also defending Rebellin in his CERA case. In May, Rebellin’s B-sample confirmed the Adverse Analytical Finding in the A-sample.

Given the determination of Di Luca to challenge the testing, the report from Tuttosport, based as it is on a source close to the rider, appears to be a salvo in Di Luca’s battle to raise questions about the testing procedure. According to available evidence, laboratories in both Paris and Lausanne have carried out urine screening for CERA, but the new, more sensitive test using blood samples is so far the purview of Chatenay-Malabry. We will have to wait until later this week for the official results of the B-sample, but it’s clear that this Di Luca case is not going to go away any time soon. The case looks likely to follow the pattern of the Landis case in its effort to mount a spare-no-expense challenge to the testing procedure.

Doping, meh. Next week, something more fun!