Thursday, April 26, 2007

Money (That's What I Want)

500k Down, 9.5 Mil to Go: well, the 500 grand raised by the Floyd Fairness Fund so far turns out to be a woefully inadequate drop in the bucket, as Floyd Landis claims a combined loss in salary, endorsements, legal fees and assorted suckage of nearly $10 million, leaving him a crappy 9 and a half mil in the hole, and, he claims, near bankruptcy. Now, not to minimize what this hellish witchhunt has cost what is hopefully a wrongfully accused honest sportsman (and certainly, a horridly procedurally abused sportsman, honest or not, which ought to carry its own price for the accusers), both financially and otherwise. But considering that Tyler Hamilton still owes me $15 for the hat I defaced defending his honor (assuming he was guilty, that is), and that I was seriously in danger of having to sell off some fairly dear-to-my-heart organs and/or relatives to fund my last-year's trip to the Giro, I'm afraid he'll have to do without the $2 I've managed to keep clinging to my wallet nonetheless. Anyhow, who was it who said that good wishes are more valuable than gold? I'm really pulling for you Floyd!

Media Monkeys: and, while we're on the subject of Landis, can the cycling know-nothings writing all the stories in the non-biking press please try to learn themselves, before they try to brainlessly explain to the masses, exactly why there's so much suspicion among certain cycling freaks that Landis is being completely railroaded? Let's forget Floyd's personal rep as Boy Scout of the Peloton. And let's even ignore the massive emotional crisis the French lab seems to have whenever the issues of "fair play," "transparency," "due process," and "we never did get to nail Lance Armstrong for anything" come up. And I know I've excessively yapped about this issue in the past, so I apologize for beating a dead horse here. But best as I could tell, the peloton flat !@#$% up in giving Landis an excess of dignity-reclaiming leeway on the road to Morzine after his previous day's humiliating mountainside crack, and didn't realize their mistake til he was already back in GC contention. And he had his team car two inches from his face giving him constant food, drink, encouragement, and advice for about a thousand kilometers--a key luxury the presumptively podium-bound boys back in the group did not enjoy. So before we treat him like some indisputably steroid-stuffed bodybuilder who's visibly gone from 98-pound weakling to linebacker overnight, can we at least point out that drugged to the hilt or not he had other help in winning that day?

Singin' In the Rain: Bjarne Riis, dangerously close to being obliged to watch his ex-beloved ex-moneymaking ex-protege Ivan Basso win the Giro (and likely podium at the Tour) on the amoral watch of Team Discovery, had his near-disastrous decision to ditch him utterly vindicated by Discovery's completely spineless bailout on the boy the second the Italian prosecutors stuck their necks out again. Bjarne, of course, was decidedly smug in victory, admiring Discovery for its suddenly-principled stand but opining he didn't want to be bothered any more by the whole Op Puerto hoo-ha in any case, as pure'n'humble CSC just wants to "ride our bikes." Awwww. And you really didn't want to twist the knife into Johan Bruyneel with your extensive "no comment" comments either, I'm sure! Meantime, Alejandro Valverde, irksomely confronted with the renewed blood-bags fuss at his pre-Fleche-Wallone press conference as the Basso banishment scandal exploded, smoothly deflected any adverse reflection on himself by pointing out that after all, *he's* being allowed to ride it. Sure, he may not have taken the race yesterday, but he certainly wins for press-handling!

Desperate Times/Desperate Measures: and, in a sign that Basso's lawyer Massimo Martelli has about reached the limit of what any counselor can do for a hopeless cause and is set to execute Plan B if he has to, Ivan's hired gun did denounce the latest round of actions against his boy as a "massacre," but, more ominously, went on to say that there are 50 riders implicated in Op Puerto, and that--and this is really quite fair, I think--if Basso's gonna be called on the carpet, every damn one of the other riders is gonna join him there. Hear that, you SOB directeur sportifs? If you're gonna try to let Basso take the fall, your filthy boys are all coming down with him! And, in a sign of even more desperation, the ever-tranquillo Basso even talked to reporters himself, slagging the powers-that-be for dropping a "time-bomb" on him two weeks before the Giro after letting him train all winter, and what's more, he already said anyone who wanted his DNA can have it. Um, leaving aside the totally revisionist history on that latter point, does it occur to anyone else that he could come up clean against the existing Fuentes blood bags, but still have actually doped with Fuentes another way? As always, great job with what you've got, Massimo--we'll see what you can come up with on May 2nd at the meeting with CONI!

Joseba Beloki Contract Watch: Now? And with ex-Liberty Seguros teammate Michele Scarponi getting called up to face the music with Basso? Yeah, right! So explain to me again why precocious baby champs/Saiz-picked Luis Leon Sanchez and Alberto Contador aren't being dragged down by this too? Oh, right, they're *currently* coming up with stellar results....

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