Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Oh, Dani Boy!

River Deep, IV High: as Danilo DiLuca rides discreetly in Lombarda, the war o' the experts has heated up as the narcs set April 16th as the date to decide whether Danilo's, well, rather Smurf-like hormone levels after last year's stage to Zoncolan are (a) merely due to the his being naturally a very, very thirsty boy after such a long, hard stage or (b) the inevitable result of having to mainline half the Amazon river basin post-stage to flush the remnants of banned substances out of his system. Mysteriously, however, the prosecutor now claims he's irrefutably shown Di Luca was pumping himself full of "plasma," quite a different substance than the earlier-claimed saline it would seem, which did not escape the notice of the rabid Il Killer Fans Club over on gazzetta dello sport but was nonetheless utterly unneeded to send them into a marauding anti-doping-authority frenzy. Free Di Luca--or take yer chances! Alessandro Petacchi, meantime, gets to continue his craptastic prep for the Giro by not only being too whacked-out with the flu to race at all but by remaining ignorant of his own fate with regard to his over-impassioned asthma-med romance for 3 to 4 more weeks, thereby jacking over any chance to train he'll have left. Anyone else thinking he (and Di Luca) might as well just stay in bed til it's all over at the end of May? Actually, me neither!

Have (Some) Coke and a Smile: yep, it's Frank Vandenbroucke in trouble again, as Belgian investigators link him and an off-season coke purchase to a customer list carefully kept by a drug-dealing gang with even more breathtaking stupidity than Dr. Fuentes' barely-code-named blood-doping archives. Team Mitsubishi's manager, so far, is not quite ready to sell the boy down the river, noting that he "won't act hastily," but also totally coincidentally reminding race organizers everywhere that "I have no idea what [my riders] are up to in their free time." Y'know, not to defend what's clearly problematic (though I don't recall anyone inordinately kicking Jan Ullrich's !@# out of the peloton over his little nightclub Ecstasy adventure), but I'm inclined to say give the guy a !@#$%*! break--or at least a trip to rehab. He breaks the rules; he serves his time; he overcomes drug use and depression; he keeps on training; he gets a team; and because apparently he hasn't drooled for the cameras enough like some utterly calculating cheesy B-list movie actor, he *still* can't race. What the hell else do we expect these newly-released returnees to do in response to this hypocritical bull!@#$, sit around and snort Pop Rocks all day?

He's Got Game (Theory): so there's an interesting article in Scientific American of all places on the evil scourge o' doping as explained by game theory, which is frankly a relief from all the T/E ratio charts and other medical stuff that gets posted that I'm too dense to comprehend, because as a lawyer, base disgusting greed I get. Anyhoo, there's some input from LeMond & Co., and the author's got some interesting solutions, including amnesty for everyone's scumly but endemic actions pre-2008 (what?! I thought we all agreed cycling's been clean since Bjarne Riis' last Tour!) and DQing the whole team if one sap turns up poz, which if not enough pressure to kill the actual risk-taking is sure, if nothing else, to lead to a little assault-and-battery on the ol' team bus. I say we check back in a year, and see how much it's all improved. Any bets?

Ivan the...Well, Pretty: and, big news over in Italy as the Six Days in Milan track event returns in 2008, with Paolo Bettini as the likely star attraction and the added bonus of being in November, just in time for humble pinup Ivan Basso to return to racing from his much-resented (by the fans anyway) ban. Needless to say, despite some grumbling that track racing is lame, the tifosi are freaking out with excitement to see their beloved studmuffin riding on any surface, and if I were Ivan, I might think it'd be a good idea to hire a surfeit of massive no-neck bodyguards just to protect my fragile rider's body from the inevitable crushing onslaught of adoring fans before I get inadvertently squashed flat flashing my pearly whites at the crowd. Ah, the pressures of teen-idoldom! To tide you over til he's really back, here's a very manly foto:

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