Saturday, August 19, 2006

How Do I Not Love UCI? Let Me Count...

So the UCI president reassures us that there have been no systemic problems at Phonak, and it's all a case of approximately eight hundred individual riders acting totally independently from the voraciously anti-doping team management for approximately the last eight hundred years of team sponsorship. If that's the case, and we can't pull a Liberty Seguros on them and wholehandedly obliterate the careers of everyone involved neatly at once whether they deserve it or not, might they at least be nailed for blind stupidity? I'm also ticked because the second UCI & co.'re done speed-mumbling their lawyer-mandated script of "he's innocent til proven guilty", they immediately start to rip Landis for all the damage he personally, and he alone, has done to the sport the last few weeks. Ya think the 24/7 leaks--without even the courtesy of a preexisting phone call to the parties involved--constant ego-driven yodeling by the antidoping agencies the labs and the cycling federations, and ridiculous protestations of shock might've contributed, just the tiniest bit, to the perception that the sport, the doctors, the sponsors, the management, the riders, and everyone else right down to the soigneurs are a bunch of money-grubbing game-playing long-term-health-disregarding integrity-impaired justice-hating dope-snarfing crack hos?

And speaking of doping, the Swiss cycling federation's saying that Jan's case is moving along and he's not going to like what he sees (it's gonna get worse than what's already been reported? aren't we actually statistically running out of drugs to accuse him of taking here?), and the Germans are busy raiding doctors' offices ahead of a likely expansion of an investigation that may give the Spanish teams a moment to breathe easier but conversely send the Germans into collective hyperventilation. Meanwhile, can the UCI please either spit out what they've got on the remaining Astana 3--Davis, Nozal and of course Beloki--or clear them to race already before they hit retirement age (not so far off for Beloki at least)? If they're not okay, why is Allan Davis complaining that he's still being completely kept in the dark? I understand that Spain's criminal evidentiary standards may be quite different from UCI's civil ones, but if you're convinced they're too dirty to race, why not prove it to at least the riders and their reps before you smear them by omission to the rest of us?

And not speaking of doping, I almost forgot a belated if fond farewell to the most excellent Erik Dekker on his retirement, who didn't get his heart back in the game for the rest of his last season after his ugly crash in the Tour, but to the benefit of all cycling I'm sure is heading straight into team management. Thanks for so many lively races Erik! Meanwhile, Belgian dreamboat Tom Boonen, who alas is not riding the Vuelta but did in my opinion get unjustly hammered by the press in the Tour for someone who wore the maillot jaune for 4 days after all, is decimating the field in the ENECO race, and it is beyond lovely to see him continue to be back on form. So this leaves I believe McEwen, Zabel, O'Grady, Friere, Hushovd and a recuperating but still perhaps a bit shaky Petacchi for the sprints, so despite being unfortunately Boonen-deprived it still oughta be a well-fought run up to the line on the flat finishes. Come on Zabel, one more for old times' sakes!

All right, doping's horrible and everyone who does it is rightly going to hell where they'll burn forever trying to schlep up the Pla de Beret in driving sleet on a crappy ten-dollar Huffy with tinfoil gearing, rubber-band cables and flat tires. But honestly, am I the only one out here who misses watching Ivan Basso and Jan Ullrich ride?

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