Sunday, December 03, 2006

Things That Make You Go "Hmmm"

Air Jan: So Jan Ullrich, in the midst of training and his search for a new team contract before the Swiss come knockin', is on what is being variously described as a vacation and a "business trip" to the USA. Apparently it's the latter, as Jan has acknowledged "several meetings" in the works. No offense to the very fine US teams and the excellent riders thereon, but please, please tell me that Jan's not looking at a new gig here! Bad enough he blew it with Tinkoff and can't even find another Continental squad to sign his !##; now he's going to be stuck watching every classic and Grand Tour he's won on TV disconsolately chugging a Michelob from his new home base here?! And Ivan Basso gets to sign with Discovery, jack over Levi Leipheimer and take on both the Giro and the Tour? Aiiiggggghhh!

Vaughters Shows His Spine: Actually, if this possibility weren't so gut-wrenching, it'd be hilarious, as alone among the team leaders--and certainly far farther'n any European in charge has been willing to go--TIAA-CREF head Jon Vaughters has actually publicly held the teams, the sponsors, and yes fairly, even the fans responsible for the superhuman demands and "do it or else" mentality that inevitably result in doping. He also notes, though, that unlike other teams (*cough* T-Mobile! *cough*), he would punish, but not actually distance himself from, his red-handed rider, taking personal responsibility for the problem. He also, unlike others, won't toss a guy under the bus over a bad patch (hear that too, T-Mobile?). Sure, the US scene has long been the bastard child of international cycling, even relative to the overseas Continental squads, and the tacit assumption has been that if you really have the ability, you head for Europe, despite the surfeit of legitimate reasons one might have for staying home, such as family and, dare I suggest, perhaps less pressure to turn one's body into a garbage can for every injectable vial of untested crap that comes down the ever-evolving control-evading pipeline? But even assuming the US sponsors and team leadership are pious virgins in all this--a big assumption, at that--isn't it at least a bit less cowardly than the "Who me? You're fired!" expression-o-shock from the Phonaks of the world? Right on Vaughters!

Yap, Yap, Yap (again): Finally, a new book by TdF/Vuelta/Giro king/presumably low on cash Dutch ex-rider Jasper Skibby has the boy confessing to using EPO and testosterone his entire career, though he won't cough up his dealer but claims he injected himself. Yawn. Is there anyone who actually feels guilty or concerned enough about doping to raise the alarm *before* they retire, get caught with a vial in hand, or realize they can't make a living in cycling team management?

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