Saturday, September 5, 2015

Ivan Stevic

If you are not in the mood for hate and vitriol, then please close this window and go on to do something else. While nearing the end of my work day on Thursday, I scrolled through the day's results and saw a nice little gem from the Tour of Bulgaria. While the race did have Ukranian-Israeli  non-Jew Dmytro Grabovskyy in its midst, the final stage was won by none other than everyone's favorite B World Champion and Serb Ivan Stevic. For a rider that should have a lifetime ban, he seems to ride his bike a lot. Espoirs Central is not a fan of dopers and doping enablers and I have expressed some fairly draconian opinions. If you follow me on twitter (@Vlaanderen90), you will see me go off from time to time about riders such as Stevic or more recently, Oscar Sevilla.

Ivan always did like a bit of nipple play
Photo: Heidi Swift
Ivan Stevic should go fuck off to Belgrade or Almaty or wherever the fuck someone will take him and the authorities should get him banned permanently. He should be made an example of. Yet, he is a rider that trafficked drugs and has seemingly gotten away with it. He was temporarily inconvenienced by having to leave the USA but he has been racing for the past 7 seasons in and out of Central and Eastern Europe. He has won a heaping handful of races and seems to do fairly well for himself even with the persistent talk of drugs when his name is brought up. Serbia qualified for one rider in the Men's Elite RR in Richmond this year. Will Stevic make his glorious return to American soil to set a wonderful example for the sport's youth?

Ivan in his hairless Italian man-boy phase
Let's back track a little bit. Stevic came from Serbia but saw his formative years in Italy with V.C. Aran, where he rode for them 4 years. During this time, he took multiple wins every season and got multiple podiums on Baby Giro stages. It was at this time, in 2004, that he was popped in the Oil for Drugs raids with drugs in his possession that the authorities alleged were being distributed and sold by Stevic from Dr. Carlo Santuccione. The fuzz was onto him and in 2005, Stevic decided to split for new waters and that was...America! Yes, the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave took in the up and coming Serb, who acted like he did nothing wrong in his past, and rode with Aerospace Engineering with a bunch of Serbs, Italian Clemente Cavaliere and some other tokens. Cavaliere ended up being suspended a few years later for a doping violation. Stevic and co. tore it up at races such as Sea Otter, the Vuelta de Bisbee and the Tour of Gila as well as proper pro races such as the CSC Invitational.

This success parlayed into a deal with the new Toyota-United team, which decided to trust Stevic at his word and not dig into his past at all. While Google was still in its infancy, I'm sure a call to the UCI would have been able to turn up a few stones and run in the other direction. The next 2.5 seasons were dominated by the red, white and blue train that included Stevic, Ivan Dominguez, Heath Blackgrove, Henk Vogels, Sean Sullivan, Chris Wherry and to a a shorter extent the likes of JJ Haedo, the Clarke brothers and Dom Rollin. At its peak, it was the team on the domestic criterium and one-day scene with wins coming out their ears.

Stevic hit his peak in 2007 when we won a stage of the Tour de Georgia (bring it back!), won the Nature Valley GP overall and won the B World Championship RR, which was a once every 4 year event for smaller nations to get a special rainbow jersey. Stevic continued in 2008 with a strong year while riding mostly for Hilton Clarke, who has a history himself. Following a 3rd place overall in Nature Valley, Stevic went back to Eastern Europe and got even got to ride the Beijing Olympics, where he finished 66th.

Unbeknowst to the general public and even his team, Stevic missed two hearings with Italy's Olympic Committee (CONI) regarding the Oil for Drugs Scandal. In November of 2008, CONI announced a lifetime ban for Stevic in regards to the drugs that were found in his hotel room in 2004 while with VC Aran. Stevic played dumb and said that this was all news to him. In an interview with VeloNews, Toyota-United's owner Sean Tucker said this, “This all took place in May of 2004 and the best any of us can tell, there is literally nothing anywhere on the Web or otherwise until recently regarding Ivan in this matter.” A simple Google search and Stevic's word were good enough for Tucker & co. to hire him.** There is only so much that a team can do ensure riders are clean.

(**Mr. Tucker reached out to me out of the blue on January 20th, 2016 at my place of work. Mr. Tucker found Espoirs Central while putting Ivan Stevic's Beijing Olympic bike up for sale on eBay, which has since sold. Mr. Tucker told me that he disagreed with some of the things written and he thought I would be interested in the truth. He stated that he is vehemently against doping and would have never hired any known doper. He stated that before Stevic was hired, the team contacted the UCI and were given the all clear. He also stated that he wasn't directly involved with the hiring of riders (which was left up to the directors, which according to the UCI website was just Frankie Andreu in 2006) but he did sign off on the moves.**)

Following 2008, Stevic has been persona non grata in the USA. While he appealed the CONI decision, the Serb began racing again. In Central Europe, he was getting a number of top 10s and in 2010, he signed with Partizan Srbija. He originally got a stage win in the Tour of Qinghai Lake but he flipped off the crowd and got kicked out. (Apparently it was a misunderstanding but the judges weren't having it.)

Silently, his lifetime ban was overturned to a two-year ban but it was backdated from 2008 to 2010 and none of his results were taken away. Way to go everyone. Since then, Stevic has bounced around teams from Turkey, Romania, Greece and back to Serbia. He is a magnet for the top 10 yet outside of Serbia, wins are increasingly rare. He got another Olympic bid for the London RR and finished 54th, in a large peloton 40 seconds down.

Stevic likes to hang out with a mixed crowd, with evidence from the Tour of Poyang Lake in China last year...

But back to the important question of Serbia's World Championship RR spot for Richmond. Stevic could be racing back in America 7 years after his disappearance. I will be there and if by chance he is there, I hope that he hears me because he is a drug dealing scum that does not deserve a spot in the World Championships. He is an unrepentant drug dealer that is a poison on this sport. He should be doing anything but racing his bike or being anywhere near bikes.

If you think differently, please speak up. Please, I would love someone to defend him and say how he has changed. He lost his chance.

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