Tuesday, 23 October 2012

On another Planet....

The fallout from the UCI's announcement on Monday 22nd October at a widely reported and televised press conference continues unabated as stories, opinions and statements from within and outside the world of cycling continue to appear in the news.

As predicted, the UCI decided to make a concerted effort to tie the entirety of Cycling's Worst Era around Lance Armstrong's neck and throw him to the sharks without so much as a pepper spray ("There's no place for Lance Armstrong in Cycling"). UCI President Pat McQuaid's cliché ridden rhetoric of denial and excuses was as predictable as it was unacceptable.

McQuaid not too successfully tried to avoid the obvious question of why the UCI would take a donation of over $100,000 from a rider whose blood samples had recently showed suspicious signs of EPO use according to the Director of the lab in question. The Irishman seemed unrepentant about the UCI's failings, not to mention disinterested in suggestions that it might be a positive move to negate the conflict of interest the UCI has of being the body which both police's and promotes the sport, by separating those two factors.

McQuaid also criticised journalist Paul Kimmage and whistleblowers Tyler Hamilton and Floyd Landis, claiming they were "cashing in" by writing books on the subject while labelling the latter pair as "scumbags". Clearly, the UCI's culpability in this whole sordid affair is not to be acknowledged, and McQuaid is unwilling to recognise that only by writing Rough Ride did Kimmage actually get the truth out. No signs of "Sorry Paul, you were right all along" from the President of World Cyclings Governing Body.

Probably the worst offenders of this inability to see how vastly at odds their stance is with public opinion and facts, are the two latest idiots to add their ill-thought penn'orth to the mix, Samuel Sanchez and Miguel Indurain. We have to wonder what planet these two are living on when they are still offering support for Armstrong, claiming that "he hasn't tested positive" and there "isn't any direct evidence". Are professional cyclists really that ignorant of the rules in addition to the facts of this particular case?

To my mind, the psychology is clear here. The only reason that Big Mig and Sammy haven't condemned Armstrong for his undeniable guilt in running "the most sophisticated doping program in sporting history", is because they're guilty of doping too. Miguel Indurain won his Tour titles at the beginning of the EPO era when Lance was just starting as a professional and Sanchez rode against Armstrong before he retired in 2005. Perhaps Sanchez is still doping, but in any case, both have made their guilt clear to anyone who doesn't wilfully avoid reading between the lines.

An excellent blog by Scottish climbing legend Robert Millar sums up the last 48 hours admirably, complete with a tacit admittance to his own use of amphetamines and Cortisone (toys by comparison to Lance's arsenal of drugs and methods).

Here's a quote:

"Want to know who was juiced? That's easy – just ask to see their blood levels . Before EPO, the haematocrit norm would have been around 40-42%, gradually reducing as a grand tour went on. Then suddenly everyone's jumped to 50% or more and stayed there for weeks at a time. There hadn't been a step forward in human evolution, the only thing that had changed was the arrival of what Laurent Fignon called the new Super (French for high octane fuel) and those willing to supply and administer it."

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