Friday, December 22, 2006


Feliz Navidad!: in the midst of Discovery's self-congratulatory swooning, Ullrich's spankin' new exoneration-then-hell-no-we-take-that-back from the Swiss cycling fed, and his and Francisco Mancebo's ongoing fruitless search for a trusting squad that'll love 'em just as much as Ivan Basso, a Spanish news'n'lite porn publication has come out with highly unpleasant, if intriguing, coded budget estimates purporting to show Eufemiano "Records King" Fuentes had, at a minimum, planned deals of up to 70k euros in '06 for blood doping for Basso and Ullrich, up to 50k euros for riders including Heras (shut up! free Roberto anyway! and can anyone explain why these are '06 budget estimates when Heras was stripped of the Vuelta in '05 and immediately thereafter appeared to cave and retreat into obscurity?), Mancebo, Santi Botero and Oscar Sevilla, and lesser amounts for other riders. Even better, Fuentes allegedly arranged for healthy bonuses for every win he helped produce, a nice incentive for Dr. Morality to "protect the health of the riders" all 'round. Now of course, even if accurate, these are just all ID'd by code names, and again, with Basso's camp assuring us that "Birillo" is not in fact his dog's name, I'm sure they could all be just about anybody, perhaps just some unscrupulous footballers, and I've got no pony in that race honey.

Feliz Navidad, Dos: Meantime, the Spanish courts have now called up most of the rest of the 51-odd riders implicated in the Op Puerto scandal to testify, including at last Jan "are there any more goddamn countries that are gonna dope-slap me this week?" Ullrich, this time with a rather expanded list of questions from the original 3, none of which mysteriously still appear to include "hey pal, is any of this blood yours?" but, in a tactic noticeably absent from any of the holier-than-thou team managers' antidoping yammering I've read over the last months, actual questions concerning any negative impact on the riders' health as a result of snarfing all this crap. Glad to see someone besides Dr. Fuentes cares! And finally, one must admire Jan-manager Wolfgang Strohband's diligent optimism, noting that Jan is currently in negotiations with 3 teams, at least one of them ProTour. If this isn't bald-faced desperate publicity crap, Jan, I don't care who it is (though I imagine it's probably not, say, Astana), or what they're offering, take it!

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