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.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.