Archive | November, 2007

WADA Fiddles While Rome Burns

19 Nov

“World Turns Attention to Doping.” As if the what little attention the world paid to cycling ever involved anything but. Ingenuous headline aside, it proved a prophetic forward for what could only be summed up as a revealing week. Barry Bonds was indicted for lying about being on drugs. And, because all the good stories about being on drugs were burned off during the Landis Affair, the good people of Canada have decided this is a racial issue. With the USD trading for a mere 98 Canadian cents who would I be to tell them otherwise?

Jan Ullrich is unliky to find a similarly effective smokescreen. Swirling rumors last week (scroll down) held that Rudy Pevenage, former Svengali to the purple-lipped Rostockian, all but proved the one-time Tour winner took EPO and used blood doping. Now a respectable print publication has come to the same conclusion, having heard secretly-recorded tapes of conversations between Pevenage and snitchin’ ex-soignuer Jef d’Hont. WADA, however, continuing its long-standing policy pursuing cases with the most tenuous evidence possible (search “dogs”), remains focused on Alejandro Valverde.

Speaking of WADA, it seems there was a bit of a snafu in the naming of their new president. Not that I’ve ever held the organization a paragon of fairness, but you might think the organization charged with restoring an aura of integrity to the world of sport would be able to elect a leader without controversy, right? Sure, and denial is just a river in Africa. But I guess I ought to be psyched that reigning president Dick Pound didn’t go all Musharraf by purging the board of directors, declaring a state of emergency, and reinstalling himself on the ballot.

Finally, against this backdrop of squabbling bureaucrats, we have Johann Bruyneel, the man who orchestrated the seven consecutive victories of Lance Armstrong against all manner of doped-to-the-gills opposition, and who helped develop such disgraced names as Tyler Hamilton, Roberto Heras, and Floyd Landis, massing his forces in the East with the remnants of the most infamously doped cycling team since Festina. Included in this cabal is Alberto Contador – the 07 Tour winner, and only man able to hang with mid-race ejectee Michael Rasmussen on the climbs. With much of Jerry Bruckheimer’s creative team on strike, it’s hard to imagine a stage more perfectly set . . . for disaster!

"Did We Know This?" – The Hot New Cycling Game.

10 Nov

Instead of reporting on cycling news this week, I’m going to turn it into a fun, interactive quiz game called “Did We Know Know This?” I’ll present you with a news story from the past few days, and then you try and guess whether or not we knew it already. All set? Great! Here we go:

Question #1: Bo Hamburger admited to using EPO during his cycling career. Did We Know This?
Answer: Yes. In fact, Hamburger was the first professional cyclist to return a positive EPO test, back in 2001. Months later, he became the first athlete to be cleared of an EPO positive, because his B sample wasn’t quite positive enough. However, Hamburger maintains he only doped between 1995 and 1997, most likely to keep his feud with the Danish Cycling Federation alive and kicking.

Question #2: Hamburger’s countryman, Michael Rasmussen, admitted to being in Italy – not Mexico – during the pre-Tour drug tests he missed. Did We Know This?
Answer: Yes. Pretty much everyone but the enfrescoed Madonnas have come forward to say The Chicken was in Italy for most of June. However, Rasmussen claims that his team knew this, and is still grumpy about being railroaded out of the TdF last July. Look for a future “Did We Know This” appearance from the Dane concerning a shoebox full of artifical hemoglobin.

Question #3. Rasmussen’s fellow ’07 TdF ejectee Patrick Sinkewitz testified before the German Cycling Federation that he used drugs through much of his professional career. Did We Know This?
Answer: Yes. Sinkewitz confessed readily to his positive testosterone test during the ’07 TdF. IHT and the AP lose serious points for continuing to refer to him as “accused”. The EPO and blood doping were a new revelation, but, in a bright spot, were stopped after T-Mobile’s new testing program was imposed.

Question #4: The UCI says Mick Rogers is not doping. Did We Know This?
Answer: Yes. While one can never decisively prove a negative in this regard, no allegations had (as far as I know) been leveled against the Aussie. If anything, the guy has a reputation as getting doped against.

Question #5: Team Slipstream introduced its 2008 Jersey recently. Did We Know This?
Answer: No. We got totally burned. But none of us as badly as this guy, who thought his design would be touring Europe next summer.

Question #6: Adidas announced it would no longer sponsor the T-Mobile cycling team due to recurrent doping scandals in the sport. Did we know this?

Answer: No. Adidas’ commitment to clean sport runs no deeper than the bottom line. Recurring doping sagas involving Marion Jones, Justin Gatlin and others weren’t enough to keep them off a $200 million sponsorship of the 2012 Olympic games. Nor were the BALCO scandal and Jason Giambi’s testimony enough to put the German shoe giant off a long running contract with the New York Yankees. The decision to cease sponsorship is especially dickheaded, as Sinkewitz testimony reveals that T-Mobile’s anti-doping policy makes it one of the few squads in any sport to actively dissuade doping.

So there you have it, folks. Only two of six news stories were actually new this week. Come back next time so you can pretend you didn’t know Ullrich’s personal coach was aware of his doping, or that Rabobank was completely blameless in the Rasmussen Saga.

I'm Back and Everything's a Mess

5 Nov

Cycling’s like a room full of fine china, an eight year old, and a hammer. You turn your back for a second and suddenly everything’s gone straight to hell. A much deserved month-long hiatus, and the top cycling story is “Lance Armstrong’s tagging an Olsen twin?” Granted, we should have seen this coming, but really? The guy was winning Tours back when this chick had an official jailbait counter (CiteBite is down; you’ll have to search yourself). If there isn’t something inherently wrong with that, I don’t see how there can be anything wrong with re-injecting your own blood to ride faster, either.

Speaking of, convicted doper Andrey Kashechkin will officially be challenging his conviction on the grounds that drug testing violates human rights. Leave it to the youth to come up new ideas, eh? We’ve had vanishing twins, dirty French labs, the drugs-were-for-my-mother-in-law, but this one really takes the struggle outside the box. For a country that’s struggling to make itself seem less ridiculous, Kazakhstand could stand to keep a much tighter leash on its national heros.

Of course, should hell freeze over and Kashechkin win his case, it’s not too far a leap to assert that no overseeing body anywhere has the right to use invasive means to insure a level playing field. That means we can finally kiss the meddlesome SEC goodbye. I think I still have some Enron stock lying around…who wants in on the ground floor? But a Kashechkin victory would also probably overturn Board of Ed. v Earls, which might just make the detriment to the rest of the world worth it.

Let’s see, what else is out there…transfers, don’t care…Amstel Curacao, don’t care…ah, the 2008 Tour de France. No prologue and no time bonuses. Awesome. The ASO better pray for a breakaway on the first day, or budget reparations to PMU for turning the first week Points Competition into a “First GC Loser” jersey. Of course, with organizers claiming no team has a guaranteed entry, one can expect the field to be composed entirely of low-level French squads with direct financial ties to ASO members; with the crippling loss of viewership that follows, I’m imaging the restitution to the long standing Green Jersey sponsor will be minimal at best.