Tuesday, May 08, 2007

You'll Have to Pry My Giro Out of My Cold, Dead Hands

Bite Me, Simoni!: his vaunted 10-page confession to CONI to the contrary, as you've all heard our hero Ivan Basso actually didn't admit to doping, copping merely, in his press conference in Milano today, to "attempted" doping--that is, sure I met with Fuentes, and sure I gave him a bucket o' blood, and sure I gave him more euros in a week than the poor bastard lowly domestiques who serve me earn in a year, and I entirely did intend to plan to dope for the Tour de France, til you career-busting clods at the whining anti-doping agencies wrecked my chances and kept me out of the Tour before I even had the chance to snort all the EPO I paid fair and square for. What's more, I never doped at the Giro either, which as with every other race in my career I won absolutely clean, even though Birillo is in fact my dog and there are all those funny phone calls between Labarta and Fuentes citing stats totally coincidentally identical to the ones I reached in any given Giro stage, so hands off you has-been wannabe Gilberto Simoni, it's still MINE MINE MINE! Oh, and I still feel really, really, really bad. Um, not to malign Basso and his obvious integrity, but is anyone else's bull!@#$ meter going off the charts besides mine?

What's really interesting is the Italian tifosi's response to this whole thing, at least on the comments page on Gazzetta dello Sport. I'm actually quite touched, and even rather swayed by, the commentators who say that Basso is but a man, not a hero, they love him still (and some of them, frankly, seem to love the babelicious attempted-dopester in an "I wonder if I ought to get a restraining order" sort of way), and they will truly welcome his return to the peloton after he has, to his credit, willingly paid his penalty. Then, of course, there's the pro-Gilberto Simoni crowd, who generally seem to support the sort of forgiveness last shown by the righteous warriors of the Inquisition to hapless heretics--hell, you gotta admire their passion, if not their lack of inclination to turn the other cheek! Then again, I can't say I don't admire that too.

And the fallout? Natch, none at all for Team CSC and Discovery, who smoothly reiterated their total genuine ignorance as to their fantastic cash-cow's unforeseeable evil deeds, despite, say, his astonishingly Roberto Heras-like instantaneous improvement in the time-trial under their stellar guidance, since we all know that the teams who profit from these boys never, ever, ever pressure them to actually post results against their equally-doped-up competition. And as to the riders, well, Tyler Hamilton for one won't be at the Giro in the wake of the post-Basso Grand Tour crackdown-on-a-few-selected-riders-who-were-already-named-
-and-talentwise-jack-over-the-TV-ratings, so for my money, he just as well oughta hang up his cleats and call it a career right now. And I'm presuming Michele Scarponi is out, thereby totally jacking poor Stefano Garzelli out of key help, though bizarrely he still keeps turning up on Giro start lists even after the Basso confessional. But the main fallout, I imagine, is going to land squarely on Floyd Landis, who though uninvolved in Op Puerto will likely, particularly given an "independent" (but still hired by people who have expressed a decided anti-Floyd opinion about the case) lab's recent validation of the Landis test results, be the focus of a reinvigorated pack of loathesome self-congratulatory witchhunters eager to add to their own rider-frying palmares. Don't let these goons get to you, Floyd--whatever Basso, "Valv," "No. 1," and the rest of the Puerto cheats are rightfully found to have done, the lab still screwed you over!

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