Faced with the W52-FC Porto case, FPC recalls self-regulation agreement for Volta a Portugal

The note comes at a time when, due to doping practices, eight cyclists from the W52-FC Porto team are preventively suspended.

The Portuguese Cycling Federation (FPC) recalled the signing of a self-regulation agreement between the Volta a Portugal, 10 Portuguese teams and the Portuguese Association of Professional Cyclists, around the “exclusion of offenders” from the race.

In a statement that aims to reaffirm “the commitment to the principles of ethics, spirit and sporting truth”, the FPC recalls that this agreement, motivated by the FPC, was “signed by all freely and in good faith”, based “on the creation of a mechanism of self-regulation and exclusion of violators of the Volta a Portugal”.

“As a deterrent to practices that subvert sporting truth, investing in raising awareness among all the agents involved and in a much desired, but always unachieved, mentality reform”, they add.

The note comes at a time when, for alleged doping practices, eight cyclists from the W52-FC Porto team are preventively suspended, which has dominated the queen race of the national cycling calendar and is, even so, registered to line up at the start, on August.

“It is understandable that, in times like these, opinions multiply in the public space. However, the FPC, aware of its unique responsibility, has not mandated and will not mandate any personality or entity to intervene on behalf of the Federation or cycling” , notes that institution.

Assuming “the responsibility of facing reality with the necessary prudence”, the FPC “believes in the merit and importance of the agreement”, and that “everyone will live up to the commitment they have made regarding the protection and appreciation of professional cycling in Portugal”.

Despite “prudence”, “this Federation does not abdicate from expressing its principles, among which stands out the defense of cycling and a sport clean of any attempt to tamper with the sporting truth”.

In the Agreement, to which Lusa had access, in one of the chapters the possibility of “impediment from participation for reasons related to doping” is detailed, which also lists the possibility that Podium, which organizes the Tour, can cancel the registration, or not invite, any team for breach of the assumptions.

These include the existence of notification of a positive result in sample B (or in sample A if the cyclist waives the counter-analysis) of a cyclist from one of the teams, or the initiation of disciplinary proceedings for reasons related to the fight against doping. .

Among a series of other medical assumptions that may configure “potentially excluding episodes” of the test, in addition to the hiring of professionals who are defendants in anti-doping cases, with an acquittal to nullify any actions.

In the document signed in November 2021, which reinforces not to replace the regulations and legislation in force, Podium is given the possibility, and the decision, not to invite or cancel the registration of any team with “two or more potentially excluding episodes” between July 1st of the previous year and June 30th of the current year, or three or more beginning in the second year preceding the edition to which it relates.

On July 15, eight cyclists and two W52-FC Porto staff were preventively suspended by the Anti-Doping Authority of Portugal (ADoP) as part of the Clean Proof operation.

The following day, the identity of six of these cyclists was known when they were prevented from lining up in the third stage of the Grand Prix Douro Internacional, which was eventually won by José Neves, the only representative of the team that continued in the race.

Ricardo Vilela and José Gonçalves were removed, in addition to four former winners of the Volta a Portugal: João Rodrigues (2019), Rui Vinhas (2016), Ricardo Mestre (2011) and Joni Brandão, who “inherited” the victory in the 2018 edition after of the disqualification, for doping, of the also “dragon” Raúl Alarcón.

On Friday, the organization of the Volta a Portugal confirmed the presence of the W52-FC Porto in the 83rd edition of the competition, which takes place between the 4th and 15th of August, between Lisbon and Gaia, with the director, Joaquim Gomes, arguing that the team is not suspended and that it could participate with other contracted runners in the “new registration window”, which opens on August 1st.

In addition to the cyclists who lined up in the Douro International GP, the W52-FC Porto also counts in its ranks with Amaro Antunes, three-time winner and two-time champion in the Volta title (2021, 2020 and 2017), Jorge Magalhães, Samuel Caldeira and Daniel Mestre, the latter are also suspended.

At the end of April, 10 W52-FC Porto runners were accused and the team’s sports director, Nuno Ribeiro, was even arrested, as well as his deputy, José Rodrigues, during the “Clean Test” operation, in charge of the Department of Investigation and Criminal Action (DIAP) of Porto.

The W52 structure, linked to FC Porto for six seasons, has won the last nine editions of the Volta a Portugal, but the triumphs of its Spanish rider Raúl Alarcón, in 2017 and 2018, were also taken away for “use of methods and/or prohibited substances”.