The cynic within in me always thinks that the timing on positive dope announcements is set to coincide with the Tour de France, but the logical part of my brain thinks that would be suicide for the sport.
Cycling though has a long tradition of shooting itself in the foot and despite my protestations on the blog the other week about “seeing the sport for what it is” and “accepting that doping exists at the top level”, I can’t let the Danilo Di Luca case go by without comment.
The belief the public have in cycling doesn’t seem to be too bad from what I have seen at the road side in numerous races this season. It appears to be on this very media, the internet, where you can see such comments as “all the Brits must be doping” and other choice nuggets. Now taking your nationalistic hat off for a moment and thinking that Cav and Wiggo were Spanish… you can see why people would suggest such a thing. There is a healthy scepticism of riders who come from nowhere to the top of the sport. Of course I am a strong believer in the British riders and remain defensive of them until or unless proved otherwise.
Anyway I digress, back to CERA… Di Luca has plenty of previous having been involved in the previous most complicated cycling drug we had seen, up to Puerto, the amazingly named “Drugs for Oil” scandal in which he was implicated. The fact he served a ban, came back and then failed another test kind of negates the sort of sympathy you may feel for someone like Tyler Hamilton who has been suffering from mental illness and failed a test because of his treatments for that.
It has been reported that he will retire as a result of this second test. There is no proof to suggest otherwise but you can be sure people will be watching the LPR team like hawks in the coming weeks as they have another star rider who has fallen foul of the testers. I had always liked DDL as a rider. He was one of those rugged characters who excelled in the classics as well as limiting his losses on mountain passes with grim determination. How people will view those performances now remains to be seen but the sport has less cheats in its peloton and that can only be good news.