Patrik Sinkewitz, banned last month for 8 years, due to start UCI Europe Tour race in Croatia today

German rider's team is also organiser of Istrian Spring Trophy race

by Simon_MacMichael   March 13, 2014  

Meridiana Kamen logo

When is an eight-year ban not an eight-year ban? That's a question some riders taking part in UCI Europe Tour stage race the Istrian Spring Trophy may be asking today when Patrik Sinkewitz rides in its Prologue – moreover, he’ll have the number 1 on his back.

It’s less than three weeks since the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) handed the German an eight-year ban in connection with a positive test for human growth hormone (HGH) following the GP Lugano in early 2011.

Sinkewitz’s presence in the four-day race was confirmed yesterday on the Facebook page of his Meridiani Kamen team, which has strong Italian roots but is actually registered in Croatia, where the race is held, as a UCI Continental team.

The website ProCyclingStats sought to confirm the presence of Sinkewitz, third 12 months ago, in this year’s race, and yesterday evening tweeted:

Someone of organization: “@patriksinkewitz his team (Meridiana Kamen) did not suspend him neither @UCI_cycling. So he is clear to race”

But, road.cc’s research has unearthed a coincidence; according to a document on the website of the Croatian cycling federation, the HBS, the Istrian Spring Trophy's organisers, and Sinkewitz’s team, are one and the same.

According to Article 1: Organization of the race’s special regulations:

The Istrian Spring Trophy is organized by cycling team Meridiana Kamen Team, Trg Slobode 2, 52000 Pazin Croatia under the regolations [sic] of the International Cycling Union. It is to be held from 13.03.2014. to 16.03.2014.

The CAS decision, announced on 24 February, is unequivocal, saying: “… the athlete [Sinkewitz] has been declared ineligible to compete for eight years commencing three months prior to the date of the pronouncing of this Award, as a result of a second anti-doping rule violation.”

Meridiana Kamen does have a history of engaging riders with a doping history.

In June 2011, it signed Riccardo Riccò, just four months after he had been sacked by Vacansoleil-DCM following his being admitted to hospital as a result of what was reported to be a botched self-administered blood transfusion.

The Italian national cycling federation, the FCI immediately suspended Riccò from racing for the sake of his own health, with its president, Renato Di Rocco describing him as “a young man who is ill on the inside.”

The following year, however, Meridiana-Kamen’s roster included another controversial Italian cyclist – Davide Rebellin, banned for two years in 2009 and stripped of Olympic silver after testing positive following the men’s road race at Beijing in 2008.

We have asked the UCI for its reaction to Sinkewitz's participation in the Istrian Spring Trophy.