Monday, March 26, 2007

Muckraker, Muckraker, Rake Me a Muck

Riis' Pieces: Hot off the Belgian newspapers' recent field day with tales of Patrick Lefevere's decades o' doping, Belgian TV now reports, via a soigneur who I presume no longer wants to work in the biz, that Bjarne "CSC Stands for Clean Sport" Riis used EPO at Team Telekom to win the Tour de France, provided, apparently, by another rider via the ever-helpful team medical corps. Nice! More, his current rheumatism is allegedly linked to its use, quite an irony for the poor Op Puerto investigators who weren't able to nail anyone for doping-related health effects this century, outside perhaps a few pulled shoulder muscles from hefting dope-fueled trophies and outsized champagne bottles on the podium. Riis, meantime, hit back furiously with a monstrously empty nondenial, opining merely he doesn't like to focus on the past, though I'm not convinced he really wants anyone looking too closely at the present, either. Back to Telekom, while natch then-team director/tainted Ullrich associate/now Astana cleanster Walter Godefroot was not directly involved in the riders' hijinks, he did seem to concede he was "aware" of it at the time. So much for your golden boy, Astana--weren't you warned off this guy already when you hired him? Hearteningly, Erik Zabel, after a onetime concession, apparently dismissed the performance enhancement as unnecessary "for him." We love Erik, even, and maybe especially, if a little mightn't hurt a sprinter's chances in his twilight years! Most interestingly, Patrick "Not Me" Lefevere seemed quite ticked about the whole subject, snarling "What do you want? For everyone to get down on their knees and confess?" Well, yes, if you're gonna be a raging hypocrite and sue the offending newspaper for outing you for doing what you seem to be shrugging that you actually did do, jerk! Then again, if one more red-handed crybaby chooses not to pull a Millar and make us all utterly nauseous with his sanctimony, I suppose I'd be just as grateful for that. Please, just let this all end!

Teeming Masses: so, I've read an insightful suggestion or two that Tyler Hamilton's ignominious, and uncharacteristic, DNF in Tirreno-Adriatico was perhaps due to an unhelpful lack of doping activity. Y'know, it's certainly possible. However, in part because I proclaimed my faith in Tyler in indelible fabric paint on a Hamilton Foundation hat I laid out $15 for, I like to think it's because the boy hasn't been allowed to race against anyone more formidable than your typical caffeine-stoked weekend warrior (intimidating as they are, especially to the lame likes of me) for two years, and that, in cyclist years, he's perhaps getting a bit long in the tooth without the steady training that might possibly otherwise let him pull an Eki. Come back, Tyler--at least for a day or two in the Giro!

Feed Your Head: Look, I truly Support Drug Free Sport. To think that almost no-one but the recently canonized David Millar is clean is a knife in the chest. But the great Eddy Merckx has called it unrealistic, Indurain and many others have copped to popping various performance-enhancers like Mentos, and who gets busted and who doesn't seems an utter triumph of superior discretion over reckless stupidity. However, it also seems just wrong to simply throw in the towel. Suggestions, from the inevitably-wiser-than-I?

Lovely Weather for a Bike Ride Together: it's almost the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon, and welcome back to a fine field of boys, some fresh off the disabled list: Basso and Sastre, Oscar Pereiro, Levi, and Paris-Nice baby champ ascendant Alberto Contador. There's an opening time trial and I hope Levi's in shape a la Tour de California to take it. Venga Levi! Meantime, over in Italy, it's the Settimana Internazional Coppi e Bartali, with a humbled Petacchi, Cadel, Giro gods Savoldelli and Simoni and the afore-dissed Tyler Hamilton slugging it out for glory. Alright, I'm still annoyed by Discovery coldly tossing Savoldelli to the curb. He won't take it, but vai Paolo!

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