Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

Tour de Contador: so I see Tour director Christian Prudhomme has finally put some substance to the rumors floating that perpetual suspects Alberto Contador and Alejandro "Piti" Valverde won't be allowed to play at the Tour de France this year, clarifying though that it's their entire teams he's considering barring, not just the individual renegades in question. The rationale? Yep, it's the Italians' decision to reopen the Op Puerto investigation, prompted of course by the fact that out of the 100 or so Spaniards named in the file and linked to Fearless Defender of Riders' Health Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes, it was only two Italians plus some no-name German guy who ever took a hit for it. Can anyone explain to me again why (1) these boys, whose purported hijinks were thoroughly publicized right off the bat in 2006, are being barred *now* after one of 'em's already got a maillot jaune in his closet; (2) say, UCI isn't pressing to bar *everyone* implicated in the OP file it refuses to read from the race, if indeed mere implication is the disqualification standard; and (3)Levi, Kloden, & poor Oscar Pereiro have to get !@#$ed over at the Tour *again* for some wank teammate's possible (not even proven) doping violation? Yeah, keep up the good fight, you indiscriminate slash-and-burn disingenuous enabler weasels!

Good Morning, Starshine!: meantime, the Italian riders' association's got its chamois in an extreme twist over last night's visit by the vampires to the Lampre boys, completely supporting the necessity and fairness of doping controls in general but enraged in particular that, after calling the teams at 11:30pm to tell 'em they were coming, the narcs didn't even bother to show up at the sleepy cyclists' hotel rooms to take blood and urine samples til 3:30am, and how the hell any rider is supposed to prepare for an actual race under such circumstances is completely beyond them. Leaving aside the fact that that sort of notice densely gives quite a window for a rider with something to hide to try to mitigate the problem, right on ACCPI!

Here Comes the Bride: and, as High Road celebrates its surprising victory in the Tour Down Under (McEwen sez incidentally, since someone asked, that he's not aiming for peak form til later this season, and woo-hoo returning recuperated crash victim O'Grady for snagging 10th overall!), they're apparently ditching their spankin' new evil-villain black team kits for more appropriate white-knight outfits. My, how subtle--shall we just pin a scarlet "D" on all the other teams' uniforms while we're at it? Over at Slipstream, meanwhile, the squad's already proven its worth for a Tour wild card even without we love Dave Zabriskie to propel 'em in the team time trial, taking a respectable 2nd to Quick Step and sending a clear warning that Millar, classics monster big Maggy Backstedt, and ex-Hushovd-leadout Julian Dean are, despite their absence from the more prestigious (more flush, anyway) ProTour scene, not to be trifled with this season. Thinking of riders coming back from injury, Olympic gold medalist track goddess Anna Meares, splintered quite badly in Los Angeles last week just as cycling held a huge conference on jacking up women's presence in the sport, is now up or at least about, so best wishes to her for a speedy and hopefully pre-Beijing recovery. Allez allez!

Fry Him, I Say!: finally, those of you deeply irked by pesky due process concerns are sure to go completely postal over Tuttobici's fawning little interview with repugnant lone-ranger amoral scumbag Jan Ullrich, in which our fallen hero is lauded as a wonderful father to his charming tykes (the gall!), compliments Ivan Basso for sucking it up and confessing his sins (yep, I was *dyin'*), diplomatically declines to comment on the specific outrage of Op Puerto's nailing Scarponi and Basso alone over the clearly filthier and more numerous Spaniards but does suggest that selective prosecution is not justice (that bastard!), and opines that, having been "demonized" by the German press and authorities with no way of proving his innocence (I know, I know), he's just as glad to get out of the peloton for good anyway (off with his head!), which happily works out fine because, as a busy full-time dad, he's hardly got the time or energy to stay on form in any case (no joking around, you cheating pig!). Putting aside the prevailing view on Jan's likely purity, can we at least give the boy some points for amiability (never!)? Anyhoo, if anyone wants the link or a translation (no guarantees as to quality, accuracy, or coherence), let me know!


Anonymous said...

would like link and translation please

rj said...

Sure. Click here for the article.

And here's the (my apologies, I'm sure it's quite a moronothon, certainly truncated, and grotesquely flawed, but I'm just a beginner and this is how I practice) translation:

Jan Ullrich's Truth

We meet one of the undisputed kings of cycling in a famous winter resort, and have a chat with the man who at one time was an icon of the bike.

Jan In the Steam Room: The scene: the Turkish bath at Hotel Kaiserhof. I write for some minutes in the Turkish bath, where the steam inevitably makes everything look indistinct. But unmistakably in front of me is Jan Ullrich, the incredible German champion who won everything before retiring Feb. 26, 2007 after being linked to Op Puerto. We're in bathing suits, Jan in front, wrapped in a towel. With him, an enchanting figure, his wife Sara Steinhauser. We hold the interview even though her total nudity distracts us from our primary goal.

Death of Cycling: (Tuttobici): Jan, it'd be better if you were on the bike, don't you think? (Jan): Yes, I went with my family briefly on vacation. T: Have you ever rethought your decision to retire? J: No, because German cycling is dead and buried. They wanted it to die, claiming that doping was everywhere. But I thought there were other issues, maybe the desire to kill a sport as popular as cycling to leave more room for others. No, I won't resume cycling, at least not as a professional.

Cycling for Charity: T: What now? J: I have two children and know how beautiful it is to do something for young people. So I decided to return to the bike, but only for charity work for kids. I feel better that way, because it's good to do something for those who have their lives in front of them.

Fury: T: Why did you decide to retire? J: Because it wasn't possible for me to continue. To the German journalists and investigators, I was of course a doper. I could never prove otherwise. There was a frightening anger against me. I felt alone against an army, that it was impossible to go forward, better to think of my family and do what was best for them. T: Will you always live in Switzerland? J: Yes. It's good here and I don't miss pro cycling; also, my form isn't as good as it was.

Basso Honest: T: Do you know what's been going on in Italy? J: No, tell me. T: That only Basso and Scarponi paid for everyone's actions, while there were many other possible clients of Fuentes who got away with it. J: I can't say very much about the others, but with regard to Basso I should say that he's acted honestly, confirming that he's a good guy. Op Puerto has left many gray areas; I don't think that justice has been done.

I Am Not a Criminal: T: You've left some things a little unclear, haven't you? J: I don't believe I'm more culpable than anyone else. But in Germany, they've made me out to be a devil. For me it would no longer be possible to continue to ride with the peloton.

Later, we met the Ullrich family at a restaurant: Jan, Sara, Sarah Maria, little Max, and a young baby sitter. The ex-champion appears to be a perfect father, a man resurrected. Not a devil.

Anonymous said...

thanks heaps

Anonymous said...

When Landis finally confesses, will you call him an "repugnant lone-ranger amoral scumbag" as well?