September 29, 2007 (Montreal, QC) – Tino Rossi, the organizer of the Mardis Cyclistes Saputo races and former owner of Montreal’s Bicyclette Rossi store, has known pro cyclist GeneviÃ¨ve Jeanson, 26, and her former coach, Andre Aubut, for many years. Following Jeanson’s recent revelations of extensive doping with EPO, Pedal contacted Rossi for his comments on her career and the recent developments regarding her admission of doping.
“I first met GeneviÃ¨ve when she was about 11 (around 1990) when she came into my store with her parents. We soon went for a 40km ride together and I was surprised at how strong she was,” recounts Rossi. “GeneviÃ¨ve went on to race for my team, Rossi Lachine, and won her first medal at about age 13. I thought that she would one day be a world champion and told her father that.”
“Andre Aubut was both my kids’ physical education teacher and a part-time salesman for my store. My kids used to complain about how demanding and tough he was as a teacher. This was all happening at a very busy time in my life and I introduced Aubut to GeneviÃ¨ve in my store, suggesting that he coach her. The first thing Aubut said to GeneviÃ¨ve was that ‘if you want to work with me, there is no time to lose.'” Soon after this, Rossi began to lose contact with the promising cyclist.
“I went to Italy in 1999 to see her win both the road race and time trial at the World Junior Cycling Championships. I thought it was strange when I went over to give her some congratulatory words and she only acknowledged me with a movement of her head. And rather than staying to celebrate the win with her team mates, she quickly left the ceremony in the company of Aubut. This made me suspect that something was wrong, but I didn’t know that she was doping.”
Rumours began to come back to Rossi about how tough Aubut was with girls who trained with him in Arizona. Rossi asked Jeanson’s father about the situation, but the response was that he had confidence in Aubut.
Rossi does not put too much blame on either Jeanson or on Aubut for Jeanson’s doping. He points instead to the FÃ©dÃ©ration QuÃ©bÃ©coise des Sports Cyclistes (FQSC), the Canadian Cycling Association (CCA) and Sport Canada and wonders why these organizations didn’t notice something was amiss. “It was known that Aubut was not following prescribed coaching programs. Maybe someone wasn’t doing their job…” suggests Rossi.
Rossi sends out this warning to the parents of young athletes. “It doesn’t matter if it’s cycling or hockey or speed skating or whatever. Coaches should not be left alone for long periods with young athletes, whether they are girls or boys. This can lead to many different problems.”