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"Addicted to speed, I mean"
May 27, 2007 5:47 AM   Subscribe

Bjarne Riis, current coach of premier cycling squad Team CSC, used drugs to win the Tour in 1996. His protege, Ivan Basso, was suspended from Team CSC before last year's Tour for suspicion of doping. Team Discovery hired Basso to fill Lance Armstrong's seat as captain, but Basso quit shortly before he had a chance to win his second consecutive Giro d'Italia, and is out for the season, if not permanently. The conclusion of Floyd Landis's appeals to reinstate his 2006 Tour victory will wait until some time after this year's Tour de France. Jan Ullrich capped a good but unsatisfying career by retiring early and under a cloud. Several of Ullrich's former Deutch Telekom/T-Mobile teammates, including Erik Zabel, admitted to doping, and the team masseur claims to have personally administered EPO to Ullrich. Ullrich, Basso, numerous other leading riders, and the majority of some team rosters continue to be under suspicion as the Operación Puerto EPO lab investigation grinds onward. It might be the best time ever to market a competition road bike called the Addict. (previously, previously, oh-so-very previously, )
posted by ardgedee (14 comments total)

 
It looks like Bjarne Riis's wisdom is largely in his timing: By admitting he doped over ten years ago, he's absolved by the statute of limitations expiring and, probably, the sports governors wishing for some damage control. And this has opened the floodgates to other racers admitting their decade-old sins: Zabel, for example, is only admitting to having doped in the same 1996 Tour de France.
posted by ardgedee at 5:47 AM on May 27, 2007


Amgen, one of the manufacturers of EPO sponsors the Tour of California. You couldn't make this stuff up.
posted by caddis at 5:50 AM on May 27, 2007


I don't much follow the sport, but who would at this point? It seems, like most professional sports, to have become completely a science of chemistry.
posted by spitbull at 5:56 AM on May 27, 2007


Forgot to link the story about the needle-wielding Team Telekom masseur.
posted by ardgedee at 5:59 AM on May 27, 2007


I don't much follow the sport, but who would at this point? It seems, like most professional sports, to have become completely a science of chemistry.

I'm just sick of hearing about it. Every time a new non-Frenchman wins the Tour, you can just automatically assume the doping allegations will surface in a month. Who can get moved to care about that shit?
posted by Mayor Curley at 6:06 AM on May 27, 2007


A sport where you need a gaggle of lawyers and months of lengthy arbitration and hearings just to determine if the winner actually won seems like it should no longer be deserving of being called a sport, unless you call lawyering a sport.
posted by Rhomboid at 6:52 AM on May 27, 2007


As a fan of The Tour since being a kid, it is highly disappointing to hear such things. Much like MLB, there will always be a black cloud that will hang over cycling thanks to these riders.
posted by toddbass10 at 7:07 AM on May 27, 2007


If they wash out of cycling for doping up, they can always have a career in baseball. The SF Giants are about to need some drug-enhanced replacements.
posted by Nelson at 7:29 AM on May 27, 2007


I don't understand why sports in which doping is a major issue don't just introduce a new class or level of competition for enhanced athletes. Technology has moved on, why do sports administration bodies continue to fight and not embrace it? Let those who wish to take whatever they like, and let those athletes wanting to remain unenhanced do so - just don't make them compete against each other.
posted by goo at 7:45 AM on May 27, 2007


I don't understand why sports in which doping is a major issue don't just introduce a new class or level of competition for enhanced athletes.

Like the All-Drug Olympics?
posted by dw at 7:57 AM on May 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Mayor Curley Every time a new non-Frenchman wins the Tour, you can just automatically assume the doping allegations will surface in a month.

The last Frenchman to win the Tour was Bernard Hinault in 1985.

So, I'd think that, by now, this would have less to do with Gallic pride than with general prevalence of doping.

The first big doping scandal I can remember to have involved a Tour winner was in 1988 with Pedro Delgado. He also took the "French people are sore losers" line, which was a lot more believable back then. Thing is, Delgado was doped, and he only escaped sanctions because of a technicality (although banned by the IOC and most sports federations, the masking agent found in his blood conveniently had not yet been banned by the cycling federation).

Since Delgado, the following cyclists have won the Tour: Greg LeMond (twice after Delgado and once before), Miguel Indurain (five times), Bjarne Riis, Jan Ullrich, Marco Pantani, Lance Armstrong (seven times) and Floyd Landis.

While LeMond is generally considered to have been "clean", Riis has now confessed to doping, Ullrich was once banned for amphetamine and is now implicated in "OperaciĆ³n Puerto", Landis had his testosterone, there's heavy suspicion on Armstrong and Indurain, and Pantani died of a cocaine overdose after being banned for high hematocrite levels.

Yeah, it must be the French...
posted by Skeptic at 8:26 AM on May 27, 2007


I've enjoyed watching the Tour for the last few years. You need to get over a learning curve to appreciate it, but it is a great sport to watch.

From the Basso quit link:
"I have been one of the most monitored riders over the last three years," he said. "I have passed every test and am considered one of the models in terms of being a rider who respects the rules," Basso said. "I have never been found guilty of actual doping and everything I have achieved in my career, I have done honestly. For this reason, I am not afraid."

Heh.. I hear some Lance Armstrong in that argument..

And:
Basso said he would not implicate others. "I can only speak about my own position," he said.

Now it is completely clear, just damage control (it was already obvious). Not to say Basso is lying, but either way his abuses are trivial compared to the larger issue.


toddbass10: there will always be a black cloud that will hang over cycling thanks to these riders.

You can't absolve the sports governing bodies that easily.. It needs to be blown open, like the Dubin Inquiry (no wikipedia page?!?!!?).
posted by Chuckles at 9:49 AM on May 27, 2007


yeah, there is a lot in the news about doping and cycling but that's because the sport has really cracked down in the past few years. This is totally in contrast to baseball where there have been no repercussions for people like Barry Bonds. Just a wink and a nod and he keeps hitting homeruns amidst the boos. Maybe all tour winners, including Armstrong have doped, I don't know; maybe the pressure is really coming from the sponsors, essential for professional cycling; maybe it is all a ruse to discredit Armstrong by going after his protoges. I still love cycling.
posted by bluesky43 at 6:29 PM on May 27, 2007


Given the recent strings of confession by former cyclist, i think the sport has lost its reputation and glamour. Tour de France will never be the same again!
posted by Yiba at 12:18 PM on May 28, 2007


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