Nothing like a little holiday regifting to shake the wintertime rust off things in the cycling world. Today’s gently reheated offering is the Astana transfusion case, courtesy of French daily Le Monde. It’s a story that will sound extremely familiar because since its last incarnation in early October, that facts of the case remain completely unchanged—only the confirmation of a French investigation has returned it to the headlines.
To be honest, I think the story is something of a dog. As plenty of people have pointed out, dumping your doping gear in the trash would be all kinds of idiotic, since anyone with determination and the ability ignore strong odors has access to it; indeed, French journalists have made great sport of dumpster diving in the past.
Then there’s the fact that WADA only kinda bans [pdf] IV equipment—language on the “management of…medical emergencies” could easily be applied to dehydration, exhaustion, electrolyte imbalance, muscle cramping or any number of other side effects from racing a Grand Tour.
And let’s not forget the ongoing political battle between the UCI and the ASO. More than one observer has noted that we could really speed this nonsense along by comparing DNA in the bags to DNA from the riders, but guess who won’t release that information? To me, nothing says “investigational integrity” like a jurisdictional turf war.
But dog or no dog, the case is back in the headlines—and why shouldn’t it be? The holidays are known as a time of recycled news, and this year, the cycling world seems particularly focused on doping. Ricardo Ricco has apparently graced the cover of the latest Pro Cycling, while another Future Publishing property, Cyclingnews.com, has run a story on Christian Moreni’s return to the sport.
I, however, in an attempt to anticipate Astana/RadioShack’s response, prefer direct your attention to the dangers of tap dancing around technicalities in the doping rules with this Sam Abt article from 1991.