T-Mobile team presents medical and training programm

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27.09.2006/The T-Mobile Team’s tough stance in the fight against doping combines the best of medical science and training methods. From now on, the riders’ medical supervision will rest exclusively in the hands of Professor Andreas Schmid’s medical team at the University of Freiburg.

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Sergey Gonchar during stage 7 of this years Tour de France (picture: Cyclingheroes)

“A comprehensive medical, training and anti-doping program can only evolve in a framework that joins up prevention, control and a superior training environment for motivated athletes,” says Schmid.  “The necessary transparency must then be assured and maintained through a strict quality management and a focus on the best methods available in science and sport“. The medical team will be supported by an independent expert advisory board, made up of specialists from a range of difference areas.
The top priority is to support and enable athletes perform better without breaking rules or risking their health. Crucial to this initiative is the support of sporting directors and experienced pros, as well as  communication with youth coaches. „They can inform us of a rider’s technical ability and tactical sharpness. Then we can use performance diagnostics tests, as well as the analysis of training and racing data, to benchmark a rider’s physiological capability“, says team doctor Lothar Heinrich from Freiburg’s University clinic.
According to Heinrich, the involvement of a sports scientist guarantees that there is consistent evaluation and monitoring of the training methods applied by all riders. Close consultation with selected personal coaches will also ensure that riders follow individually-tailored, high-quality training programs, and further endurance potential can be identified and maximised. More intensive physiotherapy care will also be integrated into the riders’ training programs. For that, a central contact point will be established, where athletes can go for diagnostics and therapy. Further training will also be organized for the team’s physios.
Schmid reports that sports psychology will in future also play a role in the support staff and riders’ mental preparation, via techniques used in group and one-on-one therapy sessions. „Psychological factors have a considerable influence on performance capability and results. But before now it was never really a consistent part of the team supervision.“ The team will also work closer with experienced nutritionists to improve sports nutrition.

The effectiveness of an anti-doping control system depends on the reliability of the test methods. That’s why anti-doping tests are conducted by independent authorities like NADA and WADA and analysed in specialised laboratories. "The T-Mobile Team will also conduct a guaranteed minimum number of unannounced out-of-competition tests on all team riders“, says Heinrich. All samples will be tested for substances frequently used to boost performance in endurance sports (i.e. EPO, growth hormones). To make this possible, the NADA will in future receive financial support from T-Mobile.
Under the supervision of an independent, international panel of experts, riders will be screened to determine individual data. The screening process will use scientific tests to detect use of doping substances, or methods not yet officially tested  for in independent controls, but which can be directly or indirectly revealed. The data determined will be shown to the independent panel of experts at regular intervals. Where anomalies are apparent, internal action can be taken – either through further controls, or contractual sanctions.
One of these new test methods is the so-called blood volume measurement. “This method, improved by scientific research in recent years, can indirectly reveal evidence of EPO use or blood transfusions”, explains Lothar Heinrich. This test is particularly effective and precise when screening red haemogram values (reticulocyte, haemoglobin, haematocrit and the On/Off scores established) to determine irregularities brought about by manipulation.
The T-Mobile Team riders’ blood volume will in future be tested a minimum of six times per season and monitored by independent experts from Prof. Dr. Dr. Walter Schmidt’s work group in Bayreuth. Apart from the obligatory International Cycling Union (UCI) controls, a minimum of two more random tests will be conducted directly after competition.
Furthermore, all athletes will be subject to health profiling. The profiles will be built up from their physical make-up as determined by laboratory testing, samples taken from in and out of competition tests, data from physiology tests, training data as well as a DNA-identity test. Test data taken over time can then be compared against these profiles to detect any anomalies.
"We will of course also align this control system with the German Cycling federation’s anti-doping programme“, say Schmid. In turn, this control system will be developed into a national and international standard over the course of this year. Talks will follow between the German Cycling Federation, the International Cycling Union, the ProTour organisers and other race organisers.
"All riders are familiar with our concept and our rules", says head of sport management Rolf Aldag, who demands a clear commitment to these conditions. He is backed by T-Mobile International Chief Finance Officer Thomas G. Winkler. "We have a clear line and a zero tolerance policy. We firmly count on others to take the same stance. We consider it the only way forward."
An array of independent experts will come on board to support the T-Mobile Team next season. Sebastian Weber, a sports scientist, specialising in cycling at the German Sport University Cologne, will act as team consultant in the area of „sport science and training“. Long-time team partner SRM will again provide the online training and analysis software (TrainingsPeaks). Sports psychologists Dr. Hans-Dieter Hermann and Dr. Jan Mayer, who co-manage the highly-successful "Mentales Coaching" practice, will work with the team in their field. Dietetics specialist Beate Pfeiffer will supervise team nutrition, with support from T-Mobile Team partner, PowerBar, and team chef Walter Grözinger. The team’s physiotherapy care will be centred on the Mooswald Clinic in Freiburg, where special physical examinations and therapy will be provided for the cyclists, as well as further training for team personnel. The contact at the center is Armin Brucker.

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