Thursday, February 08, 2007

Landis of the Lost

Tick, Tock: Right on the heels of the predictably contemptuous change-of-heart French response to the Landis team's forlorn and well-reasoned pleas (backed by the rider-crushing justice-bashing goons at WADA, no less) to hold off on his pro forma banning, I mean totally unbiased hearing, until after Landis is done dealing with the USADA appeal going on on another continent entirely, Landis agreed not to race on French soil in 2007 in exchange for the AFLD French antidoping honchos' promise not to inevitably light his death pyre under him til after USADA's done with his carcass some time in May. Of course, the whole thing's rather a moot point anyway, since even Manolo Saiz wouldn't sign this bundle o'tainted goods at this point I suspect, but like the French wouldn't be kid-gloving one of their own who was on a similar hot seat in the name of chivalry and fair play? Please! Still and all, the French made clear they're determined to get this mess out of the way in time for the pre-Tour press blitz, sure to prominently feature the inevitably-anointed-06-winner/Therapeutic Use Exemption giftee Oscar Pereiro and lots of smug "we couldn't get Lance, but we sure got you" smiles and couture-draped handshakes all round. Meantime, Landis' group scrounged for what little leverage they have left, telling USADA to forget running exogenous testosterone tests on samples that already tested within acceptable testosterone/epitestosterone limits. More, poor Landis is so ticked and demoralized at this point that, even though a two-year ban would still leave him well within reach of future podiums in cyclist years given his tender age of 30, he's vowed to hang up his bike for good if he's stripped of his Tour title and winnings. Now, let's leave aside the question of Landis' actual guilt here. But given the likely state of most of the rest of the peloton he was up against in the 06 Tour, the monstrously incompetent bungling by the lab monkeys at every stage of the process, and the disgusting conduct of UCI and WADA during this whole affair, is anyone else thinking the whole thing should just be shelved at this point? Ugh!

Jan Ullrich Contract Watch: Sigh. Mancebo. Sevilla. Perez. Let's not even think about the grossly disproportionate fate of Basso, the mother of all babelicious camera-friendly talent-packed cash cows. But Ullrich? Nope. Oh, Jan. If even Relax-Gam won't take you, when they've apparently managed to hire those other boys with a clear conscience and a sincere belief in their wild-card chances nonetheless, I'm afraid you're well and truly sunk for this season. Even your rah-rah manager Wolfgang seemed to concede as much, noting that the Giro is out of the question this late in the training season, and you can maybe still shoot for the Worlds. Hmmm, who else might take you? Well, Tinkoff's full. Too bad Phonak's still not around...

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