Sunday, October 29, 2006

Professional Cycling - A Messy Situation

Back in July the Tour de France was rocked when the world learned about 'Operation Puerto'. Top names were tossed from Le Tour because of some alleged scandal. I know that everyone involved with cycling has a strong opinion about all of this and I'm no different.

From the beginning I didn't think it was quite fair that all of these guys were tossed by their teams before 'the big dance' on suspicion alone. Now, before you get all uppity, I do understand the teams wanting to be firm on doping and drugs. No arguement from me there. However, I live in a country where you are innocent until proven guilty. There was no confirmation about any of this 'evidence', just names on a list and 'poof' - gone from the Tour Day France. Ullrich, Vino (because they couldn't field a whole team) and Basso among others. Gone.

I have to say that, right or wrong, I was pretty correct - that some conclusions were jumped to that can't be proven. Including the clearing of Ivan Basso and now the Spanish authorities have dropped the whole affair. If you want to see a good detailed run down of the whole mess from the beginning check out's coverage.

The Spanish did not feel they had enough evidence to go forward with any further investigations. Hopefully, they are correct. However, the damage to cycling has been done, it is a doozie and, for those of us who love the sport, it's heartbreaking.

People's livelihoods have been compromised, possibly for the rest of their racing days. Teams have fired riders. Riders have left teams. Teams have had to disband all-together. Sponsor dollars have gone down the potty. Sponsors have walked away from the sport, maybe never to return again. All because of a list - and an unsubstanciated list at that. One that now is not being persued any longer. There will forever be doubters as to every single person on that list. Were they guilty and got away with it? Some will say, "we know so and so is guilty". All because they were on that list. Well, the authorities didn't think there was enough evidence so what makes me or anyone else out here just reading things on the internet expert enough to pass that judgement?

Pat McQuaid is frustrated, as he should be. The whole shananigans has bought more than just a black eye to his beloved sport. His solution? Have each of the riders implicated in this mess give DNA samples to prove that they are innocent. Excuse me? Didn't the Spanish authorities say there wasn't enough evidence to go forward with this? Maybe that doesn't mean everyone on that list is clean. Maybe someone will get away with something, but maybe, just maybe there are a lot more innocent people on that list than not. I'd like to think so. However, it isn't up to me to decide - the authorities did that and we have to live with it. That's the way the legal system works.

I, for one, won't hold it against anyone if they don't submit to a DNA sample for McQuaid because, personally, I wouldn't either. Think of it this way -- you are on that list and you truly are innocent (McQuaid conceeds that there are innocent people on that list). You have lost a whole season of not only doing something you love, but also been barred from making a living at. You may have lost sponsors and even your team over this. And, your name will forever cause cycling fans to have a doubt about you and never truly think of you the same way again. Would you be so willing to give in to McQuaid's 'solution'? Or would you be a little bitter at your treatment, where your word meant nothing, and simply tell him, 'you will not be getting my DNA."?

That's just my little opinion on the whole situation - I know you will have your own strong opinions - feel free to share them.

I wish we could turn back the clock and redo the Tour Day France over again, with all the players....wouldn't that be something to watch? Ah well, there is always 2007.

Just a little cycling tidbit for today. Thanks for stopping by.


David Bernstein (The FredCast) said...

When you're in the military and you have too many screw-ups, you go through something called a "stand down." This is when you stop your regular operations for a day or two, reassess your regular procedures, and do some re-training.

Seems to me that this would be a great time for a stand-down at the UCI and WADA. Time to re-think the way they handle doping tests, allegations, suspensions, etc. Time to rebuild the reputation of cycling and professional cyclists. Time to retake our sport!

Thanks for putting this all into perspective so well!

Donna Tocci said...

Welcome, David!
I think a 'stand down' is perfect for this situation! Maybe the off season will be a time for that, where everyone can just take a step back, take a deep breath and start over again.
Thanks so much for stopping by!

Reva said...

Donna, thank goodness you can articulate what I think! What is with McQuaid & Pound? I am cynical and really am beginning to think that they are more interested in making a name for themselves rather than to be fair or to admit that they may have jumped the gun on something.

The biggest crime is still to those that had to skip the TdF.

Here's to hoping that they can get things settled down & figured out soon.

Tim Jackson- Masi Guy said...

It's far from over and the mess is still going to unravel then get all messed up all over again. The governing bodies and all of the personalities are far from done being idiots.

Donna Tocci said...

Reva - you should be scared that we think that much alike! But, I do agree with you...
Tim - say it isn't so. I truly hope that some of this really does get worked out over the off-season and that everything comes back better than ever in the spring - the riders that were 'banned', the organizers (minus their witch hunt), and the testing procedures (flawless). A gal can dream, right?
Thanks to you both for stopping by.

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Mandie Hayes