I think the fact I am currently reading "From Lance to Landis" is adding to my cynicism at the moment.

Having said that the 2011 version of professional road cycling is doing its best to annoy me.

Barely had the internet got to grips with the ban for Alberto Contador than he gets let off and we all sit wondering what the hell has been going on since September?

Surely if the UCI suspect he is guilty and there is evidence to substantiate it, the Spanish Prime Minister should have no say in whether the ban is overturned? 

Where is Pat McQuaid's authority? 

He looked pretty mean in the Procycling photoshoot this month.

Show some backbone man, ban the cheats...

Just as we all sat around (unless you were reading the allegations about ANC/Halfords staff in the book) thinking us Brits wouldn't get involved in any such unsporting behaviour, Dave Brailsford comes out in the mainstream press explaining how its hard to have a team in procycling without employing some ex-dopers.

Nice. Way to help the new Sponsorship exec they have employed get some new backers...

The main name mentioned was Neil Stephens. Now apart from his haircut what crimes has he committed in the cycling arena?

He rode for Festina under Soigneur Willy Voet (who whilst we are on the subject of cycling books you should not miss out on reading his biography) and under the watchful eye of Manolo Saiz and Once/Deutsche Bank.

Another team with a less than unblemished record.

In fact that team launched the career of one Alberto Contador.

Bad news allegedly comes in threes and the near death of Riccardo Ricco was the third.

I listened intently to the Real Peloton podcast and agreed with their stance on Ricco. He is clearly a very sick man, and not just from kidney failure brought on allegedly from a dodgy self transfusion of blood.

To continually try to cheat, and be so poor at it, isn't right.

Vacansoleil became a lot of peoples second favourite team for their ride in the 2010 Tour of Britain as the likes of Boat Bozuc and Jonnie Hoogerland attacked constantly.

But their signing of Ricco was ill informed. They have now sacked him but will it cost them a Tour de France spot? 

I hope not.

Where does this leave us with regards to drugs and cheats in cycling? 

I don't think much has changed. There are still a lot of clean riders and still plenty wanting to take a chance.

But if Contador can get off after his local federation turned over a UCI decision, where is the deterrent? 

I can't wait for this weekend's European season proper start in Belgium to get us away from this and back onto racing.


James has been blogging for road.cc for 5 years and racing bicycles (averagely) for 20 years. 


theswordsman [4 posts] 8 years ago

When I read Lance to Landis I was ready to abandon the sport for good, so it could influence your mood. I'm unemployed, and to help fill my time, I pretty much followed every story that hit Google News about Contador since December. I saw the Humo story a few minutes after it hit the web. I've looked at stuff from all sides. It's been kind of a roller coaster ride, because I said before that being a Contador fan was me giving pro cycling one last chance.

Both the UCI & WADA really messed up procedurally with Contador. He said that if the RFEC had stuck to the one year sanction, he would have appealed, but not to CAS. The lack of a minimum threshold for Clenbuterol is a mistake, as is punishing people fund innocent because someone wrote Strict Liability 50 years ago. A German study showed that 22 out of 28 tourists who went to China had Clenbuterol in their system. China has a problem, and also has 20% of the World's population. If their labs all test at Cologne standards, you can shut down all their sports programs. So you set a fair minimum for food contamination, and results like Contador's are treated as insignificant.

There's a PDF copy of the Final Resolution that can be run through Google Translate. We don't get to see all the studies, like the scientists Contador paid to examine two years of his Bio Passport, but you can see the strength of the legal case.

Or get an interesting summary here

Aapje [245 posts] 8 years ago

@theswordsman, there is no strict liability per se. There have always been reduced sentences when a sportsperson could make a good case that (s)he accidentially ingested a doping product. Dimitrij Ovtcharov is a good example.

In the end, unless we introduce a standard food programme for athletes, there is only one person who can be held responsible for what a sportsperson ingests and that is the sportsperson himself. For instance, anyone who still eats Chinese meat is just begging for a positive test, so the clear solution is not to do so. This is not rocket science. However, this has nothing to do with the Contador case, since his meat didn't come from China, but from the EU where there is no evidence of widespread clenbuterol use in farm animals. So Contador cannot make a strong case that his positive came from tainted meat instead of doping use.

PS. How did the UCI & WADA mess up procedurally?