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Léonard Kivilev, whose father died after Paris-Nice crash in 2003, writes to Christian Prudhomme

The 11-year-old son of Andrei Kivilev, the Kazakh rider who died following a crash in Paris-Nice 2003, has written to Tour de France race director Christian Prudhomme to request that his father be awarded the overall victory in the 2001 race.

When Lance Armstrong was stripped in 2012 of the seven successive editions of the Tour that he won between 1999 and 2005, race organisers ASO decided not to reassign the wins.

Kivilev, riding for Cofidis, finished fourth in the 2001 race behind Armstrong, Jan Ullrich and Joseba Beloki.

Last year, French newspaper Le Monde said that Kivilev should be regarded as the “true” winner of that edition of the race, as the highest placed rider not to have been banned for doping, or implicated in it.

Yesterday, a copy of a letter addressed to Prudhomme and written by Kivilev’s son Léonard, who was aged six months when his father died, was circulated on social media.

The letter was given by the youngster to Prudhomme when they met at Paris-Nice last week, according to Twitter user @Biarnes72, a France-based cycling journalist. He tweeted a picture of it, and said the source was a Kazakh website. Written in French and on yellow paper, the English translation is:

Dear Mr Director

I am Léonard Kivilev. I am very happy to discover my father’s world and to meet you. I never met my father but I’m told he was an exceptional person. He always rode his race without cheating. I have seen the Tour de France 2001. I am very proud of him, and I am sure that he deserved first place. Today, there is no longer a winner. I would be very happy if my father could be declared winner of the Tour de France 2001 in his memory. Thank you for your understanding of my wish. And thank you for passing on this message to everyone who can help me achieve my wish and dream.

Léonard Kivilev

The death of Andrei Kivilev as a result of head injuries sustained in his crash during Paris-Nice in March 2003 led to the UCI making helmets compulsory in road races.

Immediately after his death, Cofidis team doctor Jean-Jacques Menuet, quoted on BBC Sport, said: "The injury Andrei sustained on his skull is located at a point that would have been protected by a helmet.

"Riders are free to wear a helmet or not, even though as doctors we would all like to see it become obligatory."

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.

20 comments

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redmeat [149 posts] 2 years ago
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Helmet debate in 3...2...

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farrell [1950 posts] 2 years ago
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Perhaps it's because I am very tired and my cynicism has been weakened by a desire for something to warm my blackened heart but I support this, even though I can see how it would open a blood bag of worms.

Nothing would be better than seeing this kid on a podium on the Champs Elysees in July being awarded his dad's yellow jersey. It would be a lovely gesture that would win ASO and the UCI a lot of fans and generate some really good publicity. Maybe even let him have a ride up the Champs in front of the crowds.

Heartwarming.

And now I'm going back to snark and bile.

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lookmanohands [119 posts] 2 years ago
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If the aso do this, will they not also re award the other 6 titles as well?

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farrell [1950 posts] 2 years ago
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lookmanohands wrote:

If the aso do this, will they not also re award the other 6 titles as well?

If they can find 6 other 11 year olds who's fathers completed the Tour de France in those years but were tragically killed whilst racing then why not?

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Decster [246 posts] 2 years ago
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4th in the TdF in 2001, clean? I doubt it.

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Notsofast [115 posts] 2 years ago
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cofidis...

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JackBuxton [35 posts] 2 years ago
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It would be an amazing gesture!
I still believe that if a rider can prove they were clean, the tour titles should be reassigned! It will be difficult but its a huge part of the sports history and the riders should get the recognition they deserve.  4

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Tovarishch [59 posts] 2 years ago
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He and Haimar Zubeldia are the only 2 top 5 riders of the Armstrong era who were never implicated in any doping scandal. Perhaps they should both be promoted.

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pmr [197 posts] 2 years ago
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Perhaps those small band of "non-cheating" riders should have spoken out at the time? Been as they must have known every other GC rider was cheating. That is unless of course they were also in fact cheating.
The only rider I can think that refused to be part of the dope gang was Greame Obree, but that didn't exactly get him anywhere.

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Cooks [491 posts] 2 years ago
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How about just doing something incredible for an eleven year old kid? Something that he, and everyone who made it happen will never forget. There's plenty of opportunities for good things in the world, we just need to take them.

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Simon_MacMichael [2450 posts] 2 years ago
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pmr wrote:

Perhaps those small band of "non-cheating" riders should have spoken out at the time? Been as they must have known every other GC rider was cheating. That is unless of course they were also in fact cheating.
The only rider I can think that refused to be part of the dope gang was Greame Obree, but that didn't exactly get him anywhere.

Christophe Bassons spoke out against Lance Armstrong in 1999, the year he took the first of those 7 wins, and was bullied out of the sport as a result.

So, you're a clean rider, you've seen that happen to Bassons, and you have a choice between whether to say nothing, or risk losing your livelihood, and your wife and children perhaps suffering as a result, if you have a family.

It's so easy more than a decade on to say so-and-so should have done this, and it's admirable that Obree, Bassons and others spoke out.

But the way Bassons was publicly humiliated sent out a very strong message to anyone else thinking of not complying with the omertà about what the consequences would be for them.

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Squiggle [403 posts] 2 years ago
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Dear Mum Kivilev,

Time for that Santa Claus chat I think.

Regards

Sq

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The _Kaner [770 posts] 2 years ago
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I'd buy that for a dollar!

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ChairRDRF [308 posts] 2 years ago
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Oh, alright redmeat, since you want something about helmets... here's an account of what happened when Kivilev crashed and how his death was used by helmeteers: Go to http://rdrf.org.uk/2012/08/23/kivilev-and-how-bradley-wiggins-gets-it-so... as part of some posts on how St Bradley may not be right about helmets and cyclists' safety:
http://rdrf.org.uk/category/bradley-wiggins/

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jova54 [653 posts] 2 years ago
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Where's Jimmy Saville when you need him? Oh yeah

Ooops!  19

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Lolo [17 posts] 2 years ago
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pmr wrote:

Perhaps those small band of "non-cheating" riders should have spoken out at the time? Been as they must have known every other GC rider was cheating. That is unless of course they were also in fact cheating.

When you're done with Strava maybe you could educate yourself about professional cycling? Googling "Christophe Bassons" (as mentioned on another comment) should be a good start.

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American tifosi [38 posts] 2 years ago
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If only declared an honorary winner for a child that never had the chance to know his father, it seems to harm no one. Given the recent history of professional cycling a "feel good" story would be a welcome change of pace.  41

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Colin Peyresourde [1724 posts] 2 years ago
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American tifosi wrote:

If only declared an honorary winner for a child that never had the chance to know his father, it seems to harm no one. Given the recent history of professional cycling a "feel good" story would be a welcome change of pace.  41

I disagree. The precedent it sets and the issue over prize money causes a catalogue of issues. I like the idea, but when you get down to it opens a Spanish doctors fridge of problems.

Perhaps Millar could verify him, but given it is Cofidis I don't think he would stand his man up.....you could actually end up with reappointing the winner over and over until you find out that Basson retired and no one was racing clean.

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farrell [1950 posts] 2 years ago
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Colin Peyresourde wrote:
American tifosi wrote:

If only declared an honorary winner for a child that never had the chance to know his father, it seems to harm no one. Given the recent history of professional cycling a "feel good" story would be a welcome change of pace.  41

I disagree. The precedent it sets and the issue over prize money causes a catalogue of issues.

Who mentioned anything about prize money?

Have you got any other unrelated complaints you wish to make?

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shay cycles [324 posts] 2 years ago
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Yes it would be a nice thing to do and a pretty powerful gesture against the dopers.

Is it practical to reassign that win? - probably not!

Is it practical to run a 2,000 mile bike race across various countries (mainly France), with 198 of the world's top riders in all weathers and over a massive variety of terrain (even including Yorkshire)? - probably not!

Does that mean they shouldn't do it? - probably not!