Though events have progressed somewhat from this morning, my Violation of Liberty Sense is still raging over this latest round of revelations in Operation Puerto. My earlier assertion, that the ASO had blocked accused riders from competing, was incorrect; their teams suspended them after a meeting (I’m guessing closed-door) of the directeurs sportif of all the teams at this year’s Tour. That is the only mistake I will concede in my earlier assessment of this affair.
Neither I, nor anyone else in the media, it seems, has seen this mystery document, EGB nÂ°116, that has convinced everyone it’s ok to just up and stop riders from racing over mere suspicion. Some of you might add “oh, but there’s evidence, too”; would that “evidence” be nicknames like “Hijo Rudico” and “Birillo” jotted down in the margins of some Spanish dope doctor’s notebook? The same “evidence” that the highest court in sport flatly rejected 24 hours ago?
You can cry until the cows come home about secret decoders and the image of the sport, but what cycling needs to focus on in dealing with a scandal this huge is integrity. Anti-doping crusaders need to respect the rights of accused riders the same way the anti-dopers wish riders would respect the rules of the sport; just stringing up the (detailed, even-handed article, eh?) scapegoats (yeah, remember Botero? His name hasn’t come back up again yet. Ah, well. Sucks for him) isn’t going to cut it.
Above all, the governing bodies need to stop releasing (and the media needs to stop repeating) these b-llsh-t “charges-before-evidence” reports; it goes “loot, warrant, crook”, in that order. Haven’t they ever played Carmen Sandiego? Stop blasting out wild figures (First, it’s 200 riders, now it’s just 58 (or 56), or 31, perhaps just 22, though only 9 have been stopped thus far) and back it up with a scanned PDF of the document that accuses them. If you can’t produce evidence of that caliber, maybe you shouldn’t be printing the story.
Finally, what can you, the lowly fan, do to help out? Well, you could try getting down off that 66cm frame of yours, and perhaps stop villianizing dopers. Write a letter or an email to the ASO, UCI or even some of the major team sponsors, and let them know that it’s not ok to punish people based on innuedeno and public opinion; otherwise, this might be the only way you’ll see your favorites in the Tour de France.