Cycling: Tyler Hamilton signs contract with new team

Click to follow
The Independent Online

American cyclist Tyler Hamilton, who recently completed a two-year doping ban, has signed a one-year contract with a new Italian-Russian team.

Hamilton is joining the Tinkoff Credit Systems team for the 2007 season, the team said yesterday.

"We believe he is a very good athlete and the results he achieved in the past have shown it," team manager Omar Piscina told The Associated Press.

Hamilton was suspended for two years after testing positive for a blood transfusion at the Spanish Vuelta in September 2004. His ban expired on Sept. 22.

Hamilton also had an initial positive test for blood doping at the 2004 Athens Olympics, where he won the time-trial gold medal. The case was thrown out because his backup sample had deteriorated and couldn't be tested, and he kept the gold medal.

Hamilton, who previously raced with the former Swiss-based Phonak team, has repeatedly denied doping and contended the tests were flawed.

"Mistakes have been made and the price I had to pay was very high," Hamilton said in a statement released by Tinkoff Credit Systems. "I've spent long months of turmoil that I've managed to overcome thanks to the help of my family and dearest friends. Now I am ready for a new challenge."

The Tinkoff team, bankrolled by Russian millionaire Oleg Tinkov, is not part of the elite ProTour series and requires wild card invitations to take part in major races.

"He is ready, he could start riding even tomorrow," Hamilton's Italian lawyer, Stefano Feltrin, said Friday.

Piscina declined to say when Hamilton might race, adding there will be a first team meeting in December.

The team has also expressed interest in signing German rider Jan Ullrich, who was barred from this year's Tour de France and fired by the T-Mobile team after being linked to a Spanish doping investigation.

Hamilton, of Boulder, Colorado, has also been linked to the probe in Spain, named among the dozens of riders who allegedly received doping substances or treatments from a Spanish sports doctor in Madrid.

Hamilton has said he was never been treated by the doctor.

Cycling's world governing body, the UCI, asked USA Cycling to open disciplinary proceedings against Hamilton in the Spanish case.