Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Drugs, Drugs Everywhere, and Not a Drop to Drink

Yep, It's Official: Phonak's out, and it's the fault of their skanky cheating riders and the filthy cheating sport but not the sainted team itself. Nice to know you had nothing to do with your perpetual endless stream of riders who tested positive, you clowns! I'm particularly sorry for Axel Merckx for some reason, though I assume even being in his twilight years and, well, not his dad, his excellent work ethic and really very fine riding'll land him on his feet (or in his pedals, so to speak.) Allez Axel! Meanwhile, this presumably frees up Phonak's Pro Tour license for Astana, which has been having a hell of a time trying to wrest one from Saiz and his company (what exactly is Saiz expecting to happen here? That he'll be cleared of all the charges he basically copped to by scalping Heras and reanointed with another team of Spanish stars, who are all lining up I presume to re-associate themselves with someone who managed to get his whole damn team knocked out of the Tour on the eve of the formal team introductions? Come back some other way if you want, but you completely jacked Vinokorouv and about a zillion other employees so give it up Saiz!) And in what I hope will be a dignified farewell for Phonak, who whatever did or didn't happen with Landis en route to Morzine really did do surprisingly well for him considering the caliber of the other teams in the Tour, they actually have quite a nice team for the Vuelta, with Perdiguero, Ryder Hesjedal and Jalabert lined up, so perhaps they might take a stage and if management shuts up with the poor-me crap leave on rather a nice, if still sad, note.

Euskaltel Wises Up, Mostly: So DS Juliam Gorospe, who has apparently had a bit of a rocky relationship with both excellent ex-pro/now management Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano and we love Iban Mayo, is out, and while I bear him no ill will whatsoever, having no reason to, and wish him a very happy and smashingly successful career somewhere else, I'm very pleased if this will seduce Iban to stay with lords-of-the-mountain Euskaltel. Though not to sound all American and mercenary, but you might also throw in a bit more cash to seal the deal, no?

Ullrich Keeps (One of) the Hounds at Bay, for the Moment: It must be no small satisfaction for the besieged Ullrich to have slapped one of his primary tormentors in the German press, the esteemed Dr. Franke, with an injunction that'll whack him with a 250k euro fine the next time he yaps about Jan paying 35k euro per year for doping products. A fine exchange rate and damn fine lawyering, I must say! Meanwhile, in other legal intrigue, crybaby Saiz is also suing the director of the Spanish governing antidoping body for falsification of documents. Whose--Fuentes'? His own? And don't even get me started on his own statements regarding we still love Roberto Heras again, unless those were slanderous lies as well. Ugh. Even if Saiz were as pure as he suddenly retroactively claims, I do think this ain't helping. Just callate' until this whole thing settles down already!

Media Follies: Speaking of not talking, did anyone else think it was beyond funny that perpetual camera ho Lance Armstrong was cautioning Landis to back off with the press and just lay low for a while, as the media will never give a rider a fair shake? Lance is actually right I think, but not for that reason--the doping-accusation press siege sure as hell never made Lance a retiring wallflower---poor Floyd's simply not as charismatic and talk-show friendly as cancer-survivor-hero/rock-star-magnet Lance. And props to evergreen good-guy Bobby Julich, who in justly mourning the whole scandal on ESPN did nonetheless basically back Landis and note that he didn't think Floyd could be that arrogant, and that maybe people around him influenced him or even slipped him something. Who knows, after all, but that was nice. And in self-aggrandizing kick-em-when-they're-down pit bull mode, WADA's Dick "Dick" Pound courageously attacked Landis and also suggested that the US Anti-Doping Agency, in an egregious example of doper's lap-dog syndrome, might actually favor dirty-boy Landis. Can any of these guys actually step back from their chest-thumping press preening long enough to actually *do* their jobs?

And on a pleasant note, it's so very nice to see Thor Hushovd for the Vuelta. If only Petacchi were truly back on form (and I dearly hope he is by then!), and McEwen and Boonen would show, we would really have a perfect contest for the sprints (both of them). Onwards!

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