Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Floyd Who?

Man Overboard!: Gee, could Discovery have raced away from Ivan Basso any faster if Bruyneel himself were hopped up on the strongest speed-enhancers the dope-dealing doctors had to offer? First, the Tour opines "Op Puerto riders not welcome"--Discovery instantly cries "Levi's been our man for the Tour all along." (Riiiiggggghhhht.) Next, Italy pipes up, "we might be interested in Fuentes' blood bags after all"--Discovery instantly drops Basso from Fleche-Wallone and Liege-Bastogne-Liege. Now, a few more details emerge--a schedule of blood transfusions under "Birillo" (alleged/denied to be Basso's dog) or "No. 2"(perhaps the cruelest allegation, considering Jan Ullrich's code name was allegedly "No. 1"--after all, when was the last time Ullrich took a Grand Tour?), 100k of Basso's euros floating around, a reference in Italian to a Swiss bank account, and oh yeah, the totally innocent reference to "'Birillo' coming in 16 seconds back with Simoni," which Basso totally coincidentally did in a stage of last year's Giro, along with Davide Rebellin and Serguei Gonchar, who apparently have different dogs--and Discovery suspends Basso from competition completely. (Hell, even the Basso-fawning apologists over at the Giro were forced to gack up an admission that his participation there this year will be "difficult.") Anyone else thinking it'll be about 5 more minutes before Johan "Stand By Your Man" Bruyneel unceremoniously sends his photogenic cash cow off to the slaughterhouse entirely? Not bad for 24 hours' work, Johan!

Don't get me wrong, folks. I love Ivan Basso. Watching him ride from a half-meter away is truly a study in grace, efficiency, and skill--doped or not, you can't fake that. And I particularly love Basso's genius lawyer Massimo Martelli (who if he can weasel Ivan out of even this one, by the way, ought to be promoted to King of All the Universe). But I !@#$%! *hate* hypocrisy, and while I certainly can't condemn Basso for being worse'n anybody else in the peloton, it still rather smacked of injustice to see him ostentatiously kissing his bambino for the cameras at the Tour of California while Ullrich staked out his place on the unemployment line. But most disgusting by far in this whole affair: yep, Team Discovery. Bruyneel, you were fairly warned. If you're gonna take advantage of the other teams' squeamishness in signing the boy, you've got to take the bad with the good, and accept the fullness of the pretty-boy burden you were all too willing to profit from. To ditch him so speedily now is the height of cowardice and hypocrisy. Either grow a spine and stick up for your tainted goods, or publicly admit you didn't give a rat's @#$ he might've doped, you babies!

On Basso's end, let's look at options in both guilt and innocence, shall we? As I see it, they are (1) claim sudden lingering injury from early season crashes, retire, return as directeur sportif in a couple of seasons to indignantly defend your new team's riders from doping charges; (2) deny, and ride it out--that's worked great for Roberto Heras and Floyd Landis, right?; or (3) pull a St. David Millar, sob your shame and regret to the press til we all want to punch you, sell incredibly lucrative exclusive tell-all confessional to Gazzetta dello Sport and take all your sanctimonious lying critics in the cycling world down with you. If it weren't for the fact that all these born-again cleansters make me sick with their self-congratulatory media-mugging mea culpas, I'd say his best bet is #3--anybody?

Oh Massimo. You have my sympathy. With a client this allegedly roguish, there's only so much even the finest counsel can do. Best of luck--you'll need it!

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