Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Ick Factor

So more revelations about Tyler Hamilton's alleged doping practices are out, and they ain't pretty. In 2003, he's alleged to have used EPO and steroids--comparatively speaking, no biggie--but also to have covered up their use with a healthy dose of a pregnancy hormone. Now this, to me, seems highly suspect, if only because frankly most guys can't hear the word 'tampon' whispered across a crowded room without keeling over on the floor in actual clinical shock. So the idea that a gentleman would actually voluntary ingest anything to with women's reproductive systems strikes me as implausible to say the least, and I'd be surprised if even the lure of the maillot jaune or glory at Romandie came halfway close to being enough of a prize to overcome it.

In other doping news, I see Bjarne Riis is starting to sell Basso down the river, like that takes any guts, and is, of course, complaining that his image (Riis', not Basso's) has been ruined. First, CSC got off far more lightly than most teams implicated in the scandal; no-one seems to be claiming that any problems are systemic, which would absolve Riis anyway; and CSC has absolutely wailed in the Tour and pretty much every race since without any apparent snarkiness or doping-mutterings from anyone, so what the hell exactly is served by this? Just take your (extremely fine, incidentally--Sastre, Cancellara, Stewie O'Grady, Inigo Cuesta--sweet!) team to the Vuelta, let the boys put the focus on Sastre where it belongs, and see if you can double-podium your perfect climber in the grand tours this year already! And in a half-@#$ed vote of confidence, UCI's Pat McQuaid has confirmed that Astana's still in the Vuelta--for now--and that there's not much point to knocking Phonak out either, particularly since they're already dead in the water and the remaining riders have to make a decent showing to pimp themselves for a livable price to the other teams anyway. Boy, that's a pleasant motivator!

The Perils of Leadership: So Oscar Pereiro, whom we love, is generously pegging Alejandro Valverde as the likely winner of this year's Vuelta, but did sort of mention that the circumstances on the road will shake out the team leadership question and anyway that they're sharing it. Now, I don't know if this is all okay by the team--or Valverde--but I'd just like to point to the cautionary example of T-Mobile in a recent prior Tour or two as what can happen to a supposed leader when other strong teammates get restless. Not to cast a cloud on the very hardworking and as I said beloved Pereiro. I'm just sayin'.

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