Did I not mention a little something about there being plenty of room for forthcoming drama at the head of my last post? Good gravy, it’s been a busy week—and it’s only Thursday.
Leadoff: Alberto Contador gets a one-year suspension from the Spanish Federation, or RFEC for those of us who don’t like typing. The RFEC hasn’t announced it yet and won’t make it official until 9 February, Contador’s not talking about it until the 28th, though it’ll all be shuffleboard on the Lusitania if the ban ends upbackdated until last July.
If you’d think this might cause some conflict amongst late-season race organizers you’re clearly not Vuelta organizer Javier Gullien:
“We’d love it if Contador could race the Vuelta.”
Outside organizers, near universal-dissatisfying with the announcement has spun off all sorts of substories; lack of monetary clawback, impotent dissastifaction from the UCI (not that they’ve done anything about it in the areas they do control), calls for a Clenburterol threshold, and even messages of support.
Personally I don’t have much to say on it other than that, when I said I’d hoped the B-sample would come back clean (or conversely, massively and incontrovertibly positive), this was what I was trying to avoid. People seem to think positive tests are bad for the sport; the same logic would also say that indicting CEOs is bad for the economy.
No, the real damage is done when the sport can’t properly enforce its own rules. In the past, the standard for a one-year suspension via the Frogman Defense has been impressively high [pdf]; even if the REFC has no appreciation for stare decisis in the Contador case, they could at least pretend that it’s not a negotiation.
The impact of such an absurdly arbitrary judicial process is compounded because chaotic and whimsical decision-making elicits a reaction piece from pretty much everyone. I get the sense that all parties involved think they’ve put this to bed without losing too much face; it’s obvious to everyone else that they created a story that will never die.
Speaking of unending storylines, a certain seven-time Tour de France winner hasn’t been his usual media-savvy self lately. Armstrong recently took his ball and went home after a relatively tame question about a tweet, and two of the most prominent members of his inner circle couldn’t manage a compelling answer for why Armstrong teammate Yaroslav Popovych hadn’t been suspended while he’s an active target of a doping investigation. Hardly the work of a group that’s “not worried” or planning to bow out in style.
If the Contador suspension sticks, and if Armstrong ends up getting indicted before (or even during) July, how thoroughly must the ASO be regretting last week’s snub of Carlos Sastre? He is, after all, the last Tour champ standing, and ironically enough, the only active Tour winner whose team was not invited to the race.
Of course, you could have it worse than the ASO—you could be Trent Lowe. To all the other young cyclists out there, a word of advice: don’t get into a public dispute with Jon Vaughters, and if you do, don’t bring a knife to that particular gunfight. We all laugh at Fabiani, but Foghorn has a fairly impressive set of palmares—what you’d expect as part of the the gold standard for legal teams in all of sports.
While I like Vaughters, it’s best to remember that there are shark teeth behind those sideburns. The very existence of Garmin-Cervelo—a (hopefully) clean and very American team in a European and still-dope-riddled sport—is a tribute to the man’s business savvy. But along with this comes a tremendously limited tolerance for inefficiency; while there are plenty of former Vaughter inefficiencies out there, most know better than to mix it up with the Turtleneck.
So if this January indicates nothing else, 2011 is going to be a banner year for Toto.
thoughts on “2011: A Record Year for Drama?”
I enjoy your writing and your perspective. However, your heavy reliance on links is killing me. I often feel like the Lantern Rouge of a race who took a wrong turn and ended up in Detroit. If you spent the time you normally use creating links on polishing, your writing would stand alone just fine.
The links are like citations and also handy to keep me up to date on whats going on.
@James the links are useful in illustrating others points of view and i for one enjoy finding an item i would have otherwise missed.
Fatcyclist, i will leave you to find by google has written a really funny blog on these subjects so enjoy.
my comment to fatcyclist’s earlier blog regarding Mc Quaid resulted in 14k+ views so imagine the numbers visiting the blog .
Mc Quaid had he character will demand 4years for this offence NOT the 12month holiday the spanish powers have proposed.
Personally i can’t imagine Pistolera missing the Vuelta but “Rules” are not meant to be broken but adhered to.
Mc Quaid GET YOUR ACT TOGETHER OR GET OUT !! You advocate 4 year suspensions so BITE the Bullet and show the public you have SPINE !
I love the links. “Most know better” is extraordinary on more than one level.
New posting about Lung Cancer and an individual’s effort to fight and highlight this deadly disease !
Link below if you do not wish to come to my blog .
Follow the remainder of the ride NOW !
Gregor Browne’s article in Cycling Weekly, linked above under “couldn’t manage a compelling answer”, and titled, “RadioShack refuses to suspend Popovych despite drug claims,” is the sort of slop that is all we seem to ever seem to get from “journalists” these days, whether sports journalists or otherwise.
The US Feds haul Popovych in front of grand jury, for reasons we do not know, and Sports Illustrated alleges that Italian investigators found banned substances in Popovych’s house, and Browne implies that Radio Shack ought to have suspended him, since, well, BMC suspended its riders caught up in an investigation. So what? We don’t know why the Feds wanted to talk to Popovych, whether they had reason to think he himself is guilty of using banned products or whether they were just looking for info about Armstrong, and there’s no UCI rule that says if the poolice merely search a rider’s house, he should be suspended. If it’s not a Radio Shack team rule, why should they suspend him? If Browne thinks that BMC correctly suspended Ballan and Santambrogio, then he should actually argue for the correctness of the suspensions, and then argue that likewise Radio Shack ought to have suspended Popovych on similar grounds. Instead, Browne clumsily masks his hints and gestures behind a writing style that on the surface appears to be merely straightforward, objective reporting. God I hate that kind of nonsense from journalists. BMC wildly overreacted suspending Ballan and Santambrogio, and Radio Shack ought not suspend Popovych, since, right now, there’s no (public) evidence that he is guilty of anything. So, the reply by Radio Shack insiders to the situation, “He denies the police found anything”, etc., is perfectly appropriate. Good Lord, people are going nuts.
And before any crazed, blood-thirsty Armstrong haters lash out at me for defending Armstrong, let me just say this in advance. Knuckleheads, I am not defending Armstrong.