Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Manolo Freakin' Way!

It's Good to Be a !@$%!@^*&! Gangster: Could I possibly be the only one amused as hell to see that UCI, lacking any other valid target in its monstrous debacle of a decision to allow Manolo "Cash'n'Carry" Saiz to keep his ProTour license, has nowattacked itself on its own website "regretting" its decision and blaming Spain for all its problems? What colossal bull$*&^! They'll whore any rider they can to the yellow journalists at every publicity-desperate sports rag and wreck his reputation on the slightest of sore-loser rumormongering, but they'll allow a guy caught red-handed to maintain his career-tanking deathgrip on a ProTour license he has no hope of ever personally putting into action as well as the contracts and futures of not-even-rumored-dopers like Vinokorouv? Don't their own ethics rules preclude this offensive result? Who *hires* these &^%$ing rodeo clowns?

Legion of Doom: Meantime, I see that UCI, in a bizarrely oblivious show of hypocrisy, wasted no time going postal over the Spanish, Italian and Aussie cycling federations' clearing most of the Operacion Puerto riders, vowing to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport to smear their sorry spandex asses in time to club them all out of hte '07 Tour whether there's actually proof they've done anything wrong or not. Hey, why let petty details like that get in the way of preemptively ending the careers of some of the greatest riders of our time (and a huge cache of the domestiques who helped make them that way)?

Which brings us to the next issue making UCI insane, namely their inability to keep dope-suspected riders off the Continental teams, even if the ProTour squads successfully manage to obtain DNA samples from any poor SOB not already inked into a contract. Even Jan Ullrich's reportedly been offered a cool 3.8 million euro contract for God's sake, and there's apparently everything but digital footage of him snorting lines off Eufemiano Fuentes' mirror implicating him. Keep looking for that lost relevance, UCI!

Doping with the Stars: Speaking of Ullrich, this now leaves the fine new Tinkoff continental squad with 3 alleged monster past-or-current dope fiends on its likely roster: Tyler "Ate My Twin" Hamilton, Jan, and Danilo Hondo. Hell, why not just buy up the rest of the old Comunidad Valenciana squad while you're at it, they've gotta be cheaper than Beloki and the rest of the cleared boys over at Astana? Oh wait, somebody already *did* buy up most of the guys from CV....

Phonak Says Goodbye, and Bite Me: Well, Phonak didn't waste its opportunity to put all the blame for its (2nd) doping implosion on its website farewell, noting its regret that riders have become much more "individualistic." Phew! Glad we settled once and for all that the teams bear no responsibility for doping ever. With Phonak, Pat McQuaid, and Dick Pound all agreeing on this issue, can there really be any doubt remaining?

Easy Riders: Paolo Bettini, however, at least's not completely convinced, recently raising the not unreasonable point that it's crap for the ProTour teams to refuse to renew contracts of riders who won't take DNA tests given the utter failure of anyone to hold the managers, team directors, coaches and doctors responsible for anything. Right on Paolo! ProTour association prez Patrick Lefevre, incidentally Paolo's Quick Step team leader, promptly, if perhaps undiplomatically, replied that before Paolo opens his yap or refuses to submit a DNA swab he oughta think first and read the ProTour Code of Ethics (for that matter, so ought the ProTour). Now sure, Paolo's maybe not quite as pretty as golden cover boy Tom Boonen, but he is world champ, winner of an almost endless list of Grand Tour stages and classics romps this season, inarguably one of the most brilliant riders (particularly tacticians) of his generation, still got a couple of good years left in him, and as an Italian national hero is one of your major cash cows. You sure you want piss off a man that marketable to other squads that badly, Patrick?

Out of the Mouths of Babes: So Oscar Pereiro's weighed in, understandably enough, on the importance of fighting hard against the dopers. Now, not to imply anything against we love Pereiro *at all*, but I completely coincidentally wonder, have Pereiro and all the other guys who flourished so spectacularly under the preemptive boot-outs in the Tour de France this year noticed that they're under a lot more scrutiny lately? I'm just sayin'. Meantime, Sammy Sanchez also noted his concern over the "many false positives and errors" in recent testing, and opines that "many riders have no part in doping." Not to parse things too anal-retentively, but are we to infer that most do? Finally, Erik Zabel, already one hell of a powerhouse when Festina broke and who oughta know, is deeply concerned that cycling can't survive another year like '06. I know cycling's sort of a rarified world and all, and we Americans more'n most any other country are dense as diamonds about cycling, but let's be honest--I wouldn't worry about the death of the sport quite yet--it was the Vuelta in '05 and nobody gave a rat's ass, '06 was the *Tour de France* for the God's sake--is anyone really gonna notice comparatively speaking if in '07 it's the Giro going down in flames?

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