After an exciting week of racing, the cycling media now turns, as it must, to doping, in the interest of holding the public’s attention. Remember back in August, when l’Equipe came out with the “Armstrong was doping in 1999” story? Then there was a big fuss between the UCI and WADA, and a lot of finger-pointing about who leaked what info to whom, then, as these things tend to do, it got boring and no one cared anymore. Then yesterday, the UCI announced that after a typically slow inquiry, it had determined that Dr. Mario Zorzolli, a UCI health official handed over 15 confidential samples, knowing full well they’d be used in an anti-Armstrong article. This is interesting, because some months after the story broke, Zorzoli participated in a tete a tete with WADA head Dick Pound over the state of anti-doping in cycling; in the article, the Italian makes no mention of leaking confidential information to members of the media with the intent of discrediting an athlete as being among the UCI’s many control strategies.
Because I have a thing for thematic continuity, I’ll use dopage to bring up some of the results I passed over from yesterday. At the Clasica de Almeria in Spain, Francisco Perez was right back at the top of the results. The Spaniard signed with Illes Balears last summer upon completion of his 18-month EPO suspension, related to two positive tests at the ’03 Tour of Romandie. As conincedence would have it, the winner of that event, who had his own doping troubles during the 2004 season, has an interesting interview over at Daily Peloton. Meanwhile, Paris-Roubaix’s Forest of Arenburg section, last seen during Johan Museeuw’s (another doper caught out in ’04) final run of the event, has been restored, just in time for Paolo Bettini (who won his second race of the season at GP Lugano this weekend) and Tom Boonen (who is a much more obvious candidate for victory) to start fighting over who’ll be the protected rider going over it. Yeah, it sounds nuts, but since the 127lb Italian already has his sights set on Flanders, why not also infer he’s going for the Double?