Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Papa's Got a Brand New Bag

WADAn Interesting Move: So WADA's got a new VP, Olympic fencing gold medalist/French sports minister Jean-Francois Lamour, now in line to succeed "Dick" Pound when the latter's term expires in November 2007. While there's no word on the new guy's plans relative to cycling yet, as a precautionary matter I might try not to excessively tick off an expert swordsman. Meantime, Dick needs a new gig. Suggestions, as "sponsor-coddling leakmaster rider-crushing trigger-happy premature crap-evidence career executioner" seems a rather narrow resume?

Ugh: I ought to impose a self-moratorium on David Millar commentary, if only to keep my head from exploding, but Captain Morality has weighed in once again on the Landis situation, saying it's "pivotal" in making the sport wake up to a "fundamental cultural problem." I agree actually, it does have one, and in my view, the best way to combat this grotesque plague of self-serving poor-me overevangelizing by red-handed forcibly remorseful ex-crooks is to take your lumps, shut the hell up, and prove your point solely on your bike instead.

Hmmm..More interestingly, both American legend Greg Lemond and 1988 Tour winner Pedro Delgado have spoken out about the doping situation, with LeMond saying he finally quit after realizing after years of self-doubt that EPO was giving everybody else a 30% performance increase he couldn't match playing fair, and that if a moral guy like Floyd Landis is really positive, there's basically no hope for anyobody else in the peloton. Delgado, meanwhile, takes an entirely different tack, first on the tactical state of riding itself where he says riders have all psyched themselves out about the necessity of triumphing on climbs and the futility of even trying to win otherwise if you can't, instead of the old-school use of the entire race for advantage, including attacking on descents, which is what Oscar Periero did per his advice to near-win the Tour and which the cowed and "linear" Ullrich is mentally incapable of doing. Second, Delgado takes on the doping situation, the problem there being that the riders are a pack of wusses not standing up to 6 am race-day wakeup blood testing, egregious dope-seeking home invasions and a ridiculously huge list of banned substances any idiot might take for a normal ailment; the teams, specifically guys like Riis and T-Mobile, haven't got the guts to solve problems and instead throw their riders under the bus at the first sign of adversity; and the state of the art itself, mainly that doctors ought to be able to do (and the definition of "doping" ought to exclude) anything that doesn't put a rider's life in danger, which is a lot better than the "barbarous" unsupervisedamphetamine speculation that went on back in the day. Right on Delgado! Now, I'm not sure I agree one ought to be able to take anything that won't immediately kill you at the start gate, but I must say that in terms of sheer pragmatism WADA's probably missed a fine candidate here. Perhaps UCI might be persuaded to clean house?

Speaking of Self-Medicating: a recent study indicated that resveratrol, found in red wine and tested on a pack of presumably alternately tanked and overworked mice, improves mitochondrial function so much as to cause a 100% increase in athletic performance and make any clown look like a trained athlete without the bothersome necessity of actual training. Of course, it'll be years before yap, yap, yap. Is anyone thinking that the teams' drink (or at least snake-oil untested nutritional supplement) budgets are going to suddenly and mysteriously increase this year?

My Vacation Photos: while I hate to encourage Landis' press war by mentioning it, his doctor and pal recently put together a nice slide show at the Tuscon whateverthehell monsterdome, with the analysis apparently showing that not only did the lab chimps screw up the B sample, but the A sample was mislabeled as well. The Franch, of course, immediately nut-kicked Landis for pursuing his defense publicly, which of course Landis would never have had to do in the first place if UCI and WADA hadn't taken loudspeakers to the streets about it before Landis even had a chance to finish his Wheaties that first morning. (I too kick Landis for slugging it out publicly, but not for the French fed's reasons, namely their humiliation.) Coincidentally, the Italians have recently decided that they're gonna crack down on sample weaselling by having escorts glom on the riders tapped for post-race testing as soon as they hit the line, the allowable testosterone limit is going to be lowered again (and does it bother anyone else that every time this happens, some new guy gets jacked out of a race win that someone in an earlier era was allowed to keep with the exact same test results?) , and they hope everyone's gonna enjoy the blood controls taken 30 minutes before the race begins (though that does perhaps eliminate the aforementioned irksome early-bird wakeups). Boy, someone's not convinced of the riders' integrity!

Crap!: Far from imporving since he was forced out of the Vuelta and Worlds due to persistent dizziness, apparently now due to a spinal problem, we love Oscar Freire has only remained static and even gotten worse since then, with the Rabobank god sidelined indefiniately now but gamely plotting a swift return. Get well soon Oscar--the peloton deserves you!

Kibbles 'n' Bits: In other rider news, Tinkoff denies any Mancebo deal, which is just as well since his manager proclaims his loyalty to his existing AG2R contract much to the distress of sore-loser team leader Lavenu, much less cops to talking to Manolo "I just needed the 60k euros to pay the coffee tab" Saiz; Jan Ullrich's got a new lawyer, who proclaims him open to a DNA test ("hear that ProTour? Please? Pretty please?!"), which either means he's actually innocent of the latest charges or his lawyer's certain no-one's gonna go crying about who owns what blood bags anytime soon; Pereiro's training lightly, knew the Vuelta was blown anyway because he was plain whacked by all the post-Tour controversy demands, admires Vino despite him beating Valverde loves Illes Balears and just wants the damn Tour fuss over with; Bettini is finding more beauty on the six-day track than on the road these days; and finally, Kloden's T-Mobile promo '68 VW bus namesake is for sale for charity on e-Bay, which is nice cause I imagine they plan to take Ullrich's little namesake VW bug set it on fire and huck it over a cliff or something (though they pretty much did that to Kloden at season's end, come to think of it). On to the training camps!

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