Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Blood Is Thicker Than Water (Especially When It's Pumped Full o' Dope)

Lance to the Music: as cycling confronts its greatest battles between good (Landis, Iban, due process) and evil (doping, lab chimps, hypocrite enabler oversight agencies) in a decade, and previews the exciting race-season plans of some of the most seasoned (Bettini, Leipheimer, Sastre) and fresh (Contador, Soler, baby Schleck) talents seen in years, the mainstream US sports press has taken a huge leap forward in awareness and recognition of this beautiful sport by reporting today the crucial cycling news that--right, Lance Armstrong is going to run the 2008 Boston Marathon. Can someone *please* tell me what it'd take to expand these guys' dimwit horizons beyond the latest grunting inarticulate no-neck stomping someone's head into the turf in the end zone?

Rollercoaster (Of Drugs): and, in the wake of allegations that Rabobank riders Michael Boogerd, Michael Rasmussen, and Denis Menchov blood-doped at a new lab in Austria, the wagons are tightly a' circling, with the team predictably denying both knowledge and responsibility, Boogerd distinctly pissed to be hounded in his nascent retirement, Rasmussen's lawyer noting they're too busy suing those bastards at Rabobank and getting the Chicken back in the peloton to even be bothered with such nitpicking at the moment, and Menchov carefully keeping his distance from the fray beyond a standard "did not either" to the press corps. Luckily, the TV station responsible for breaking the story has now issued an apologetic press release disclaiming these revelations, though the German authorities, lately burned by such innocents as Jan Ullrich and Patrik Sinkewitz, have affirmed their interest in pursuing the case nonetheless. Not to reopen old wounds here, nor even to suggest that Menchov's attacking ability in the mountains has increased of late by similarly odd and exponential proportions as Roberto Heras's time-trialling once did, but if there's even an ounce of truth to these surely scurrilous accusations, Menchov, hand over the 2005 Vuelta back to Heras you undeserving skank!

It's DeLicious, It's DeLovely, It's DiLuca: meantime, I see that Tuttobici raises a lively debate over Danilo DiLuca's freakishly low testosterone values after last year's Giro stage to Zoncolan, with one expert claiming that DiLuca had the "pipi" of a cherub and the only way to've gotten that was an illicit post-stage IV drip to evade the testers, DiLuca's team doc insisting he never gave the boy one, DiLuca also claiming he didn't but who cares they're perfectly licit under the rules anyway, and another expert smacking the 1st one by pointing out that on a tough stage like Zoncolan a properly hydrated cyclist can easily snarf a liter of fluid every 20 minutes, which can basically dilute a boy's testosterone levels enough give him a sex change on the spot entirely. Still, our friends over at CONI--just days ago deciding to go after the Spaniards in annoyance of the sport's persecution of the Italians--remain unhappy with merely nailing DiLuca on his relationship with an Oil-for-Drugs doc, so they've now obtained his Zoncolan file in the hopes of getting him with something more substantive. Y'know, I wish the talented and amiable DiLuca all luck on this, but hey, if it gives we love Paolo Savoldelli a crack at LPR team leadership at the Giro this year, I can live with that. Forza Il Falco!

Earth Angel (Will You Be Miii-iine?): and, clean-sport crusader St. David Millar has finally been trumped in the soulful repentant wah-wah department in truly stellar fashion by none other than the dreamy Ivan Basso, who humbly confesses in an interview on Gazzetta that he is actually grateful for his two-year (attempted) doping ban, because he has become, in this time of introspection, a better man. Indeed, it is the best thing that has ever happened to him, for he has reflected upon his actions, been laid bare for all to see (the tifosi *wish*!), and is not only determined to reform, but to follow his true passion: helping innocent bambini in need through his beloved charity Intervista. And indeed, it's lovely, noble work by Basso, and a pleasure to see a rider commit himself to such purity of both sport and spirit. Apropos of nothing, anyone else notice that the contract wars over the boy have been heating up among the more ambitious and loaded Continental squads lately?

As Tom Goes By: finally, in actual race news, resurgent sprint god Tom Boonen's laid out his goals for the season, notably remaining hunkered down in Monte Carlo to avoid the shrieking swooning fanatics who barely let him leave his house in Belgium, then, after stretching his legs in Qatar California and Paris-Nice, taking on San Remo, Flanders, and Paris-Roubaix for the win. Okay, I still want Thor Hushovd to kick his !@# (shut the hell up, I know it's unlikely)--but it's nice to hear Boonen's back on form! Interestingly, Boonen concedes that, though Quick Step teammate Paolo Bettini lives nearby, he barely sees the World Champ, training about instead with Steegmans and Pozzato. Trouble in Paradise? Sleazemongering minds want to know!


PJ said...

Thanks for always giving me a good laugh. I love your humor.

id* said...

"Not to reopen old wounds here, nor even to suggest that Menchov's attacking ability in the mountains has increased of late by similarly odd and exponential proportions as Roberto Heras's time-trialling once did, but if there's even an ounce of truth to these surely scurrilous accusations, Menchov, hand over the 2005 Vuelta back to Heras you undeserving skank!"

I like your on-going rants against doping, but i'm surprised by how willing you are to defend some confirmed dopers yet continually attack cyclists who are facing unsubstantiated claims. I agree that the Mayo situation is a farce, but you seem to have a huge double-standard with respect to Mayo, Heras and Beloki - among others?

Seriously why are you so pro-Heras when he was clearly a cheater???

racejunkie said...

Id, your comments regarding my huge double-standard as to Roberto Heras are absolutely and unequivocally fair and correct; I'm a complete and total hypocrite on that score, and, while it's certainly disgusting, hell, at least I'll cop to it. However, I defend not his cheating--for which he certainly deserves to be punished--but, essentially, his form. Go re-run an earlier Vuelta, id, and tell me what you see when he's climbing. He's Paolo Savoldelli on a descent. He's Dave Zabriskie in a time trial. Fluid, graceful, instinctive, perfect. I don't care what the hell he was snorting out of his musette at every feed zone or what Manolo Saiz' goons were injecting into his @#$ on the team bus--doping can't fix that, and for that, I'll always admire him.

As to the lot of 'em--write it off as my perpetual attraction to losing causes. Heras was raked over the coals for tanking at the Tour after he left Postal for--gasp!--his own career; Beloki had to struggle for years to overcome his leg-snap in the Tour; and Mayo cracked like an egg under the "next Lance Armstrong" hype and was just beginning to get his legs back under him when this all broke. Are you really gonna blame me for rooting for the underdogs?

While we're at it, after Op Puerto, the ongoing Quick Step allegations, the flurry of doping pozes this season, the confessional wah-wahs of half the aging peloton the day after the statute of limitations for nailing 'em has expired, and more recent rumors as to laboratory hijinks, does anyone really think that, as I believe UCI basically conceded as to Bjarne Riis' Tour victoru, it's all that likely that Heras was any more stoked than anyone else? And if so, why is it fair to hand down the leaders' jersey to someone else who cheated but still rode worse? What I respect is nailing folks for doping; but the selective persecution and schoolyard bullying leakmaster tactics of UCI and other bodies towards only riders they dislike, is bull!@#$. Free Iban!