Just Because You’re Not Paranoid …

by Rant on July 28, 2007 · 6 comments

in Doping in Sports, Tour de France

… doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.

Judging by various news reports, the latest person that anti-doping authorities (and various news organizations) are focusing on is none other than Alberto Contador. Contador was implicated in the Operacion Puerto affair last year, but authorities found insufficient evidence to bring a case against him, with only a few notes in Dr. Fuentes’ records suggesting a link between the two. However, under questioning by Spanish authorities, Contador denied knowing Dr. Fuentes.

France’s LeMonde newspaper yesterday published a story suggesting that Contador may be more deeply involved than Tour de France officials believe.

According to our sources, the name of Alberto Contador appears in several places in these documents. And, contrary to what Patrice Clerc has claimed, Contador is not merely incidentally “cited in the context of telephone conversations about the results of races.” . . .

According to the Civil Guard, these documents correspond to planning the 2005 season for the Liberty-Seguros team. It was in January 2005 that Alberto Contador returned to competition after his brain operation in the spring of 2004. . . . As distinct from Roberto Heras or Joseba Beloki, the investigative report did not reveal annotations mentioning doping products in relation to Alberto Contador’s name.

If the investigators didn’t find any evidence linking Contador to Fuentes’ doping operation then there’s no case, is there? Well, that answer isn’t good enough for Richard “Dick” Pound. According to The Mail on Sunday:

The likely winner of the most controversial Tour de France in history, Spain’s Alberto Contador, will step off the victory podium in Paris this afternoon and walk straight into an investigation into alleged links with a doping doctor which could ultimately cost him his title.That prospect would be a catastrophe both for cycling and for the organisers of the Tour de France, who had hoped the man wearing the yellow jersey on today’s final sprint down the Champs-Élysées would help to redeem an event that has seemingly been heading for oblivion.

Sadly for those hopes, The Mail on Sunday can reveal that Dick Pound, the chairman of the World Anti-Doping Agency, is to pursue further investigations into evidence that appears to link Contador to doping and which could yet see the yellow jersey stained beyond redemption.

There comes a point when you just have to let things go. Operacion Puerto, for all that it exposed, should fade away. Except for Pat McQuaid and Dick Pound, who keep using it as a way to brow-beat the various cycling teams and individual professional cyclists into doing their bidding. Dick Pound, though, is more like a pit bull that’s sunk its teeth into its prey and won’t let go. How many years will it be before the last accusation, the last rumor or innuendo of involvement will finally be made and pro cycling will be free of the albatross that is Operacion Puerto?

Pound will likely follow through on his bluster, as it will be his one last chance to smack down cycling before he relinquishes his post as head of the World Anti-Doping Agency in November.

But even The Mail on Sunday has to note that:

While some documents appeared to link him to Fuentes, his name was not on the list of cyclists being investigated by the Spanish judicial authorities last year and last March, the judge in charge, Antonio Serrano, dropped the case against all suspects …

The article goes on to mention some notations by Dr. Fuentes that refer to “AC,” which suggests Fuentes may have had the cyclist, who was on the Liberty Seguros cycling team in 2005, as a client. And the article suggests that Jörg Jaksche, another rider implicated in the Puerto affair, may be turning state’s evidence and talking with the World Anti-Doping Agency, offering information on Fuentes’ doping programs. This may be a good thing, if it finally helps put Puerto to bed. But, regarding Contador:

Contador has been cleared by the Spanish judiciary, who could find no evidence to link him to doping.

Enrico Carpani, the spokesman for the governing body of cycling, the UCI, has also confirmed to The Mail on Sunday that Contador had been cleared to ride by them after they had examined the documents provided by the Guardia Civil.

The Spaniard has never failed a drugs test and has repeatedly declared himself to be a clean rider. “If I wasn’t, I wouldn’t be here,” he said after taking over the race lead from Rasmussen.

Questioned about his links to Fuentes, he said: “My implication in Operation Puerto has been explained by the UCI. I was simply in the wrong team at the wrong time but I have already made it clear that I had no connection to the doping plot that is being investigated.’ But Contador will be missing at least one fan as he launches the victory sprint down the most famous street in France.

“I certainly wouldn’t go to watch the final stage of the Tour and I won’t be watching it on TV,” says Pound. “It may be called the Tour de France, but until the credibility of the race can be restored, it’s not the Tour de France.”

Sometimes all it takes to see your reputation ruined is to be in the wrong place (or on the wrong team) at the wrong time. Contador probably isn’t the first cyclist to fall victim to such a turn of events, and he’s not likely to be the last.

I’m afraid that for whoever possesses the yellow jersey on the podium in Paris tomorrow, winning may come to be a curse. Let’s hope that some time in the future the doping hysteria will have passed, clear heads will prevail, and rational steps will be taken to ensure that doping is eliminated from cycling. Until then, given what’s happened to Floyd Landis and Pound’s promised investigation of Alberto Contador, riders may come to live in fear of the curse of the yellow jersey.

Twenty Three Seconds

At the end of today’s penultimate stage of the Tour de France, Discovery’s Alberto Contador managed to hold onto the yellow jersey. Although he lost time to Cadel Evans, Contador dug deep and rode fast enough that he still maintains a 23 second lead over Evans going into tomorrow’s final stage. A mere eight seconds behind Evans is Levi Leipheimer, the man the Discovery Team had hoped to launch to victory. Barring any mishaps, one of these three men should become this year’s winner.

Traditionally, the final stage has been more ceremonial and less about racing hard. Questioned after finishing his time trial, Leipheimer (who turned in the day’s fastest time and won the stage) said that he would not try for any of the time bonuses on stage 20, assuring Evans that he’s not going to try and take second place away from the Australian rider.

But anything can happen, and if a breakaway forms with Evans in it, pressure will be on the Disco team to reel in the escapees. All it would take is for Evans to gain 24 seconds by the time he crosses the finish line on the Champs-Élysées to make Tour history by becoming its first Australian winner.

It could make for an exciting race. Or not, depending on how things play out. Whoever stands at the top step of the podium tomorrow will have earned his place in Tour history, if for no other reason than because he survived, unscathed, by the many doping allegations surrounding Le Tour Ironique. Survived, at least, for now.

Post to Twitter

Morgan July 28, 2007 at 10:44 pm

Lest we forget, let us remember those who have fallen or about to fall L (please insert the hero’s and/or villains of your preference to date: (“¦”¦”¦”¦”¦”¦”¦”¦”¦”¦”¦”¦”¦”¦”¦”¦”¦”¦”¦”¦”¦”¦”¦”¦”¦”¦”¦”¦”¦”¦”¦”¦”¦”¦)

*
Bless me father, for I have sinned — Rant this one is great. And lest you think I’m kissing ass — I want to add my two cents worth. Does this surprise anybody?
*
Our problem has been that, we couldn’t CLEARLY identify the people making the moves. Todays Rant article has cleared the air just a little bit more. Consider and ask yourself the magic question — who gains from all this? Here is my suggested WANTED list for your perusal:
1 — The owner/s of LeMond?
2 — “Tricky” Dick Pound?
3 — The man named “McQ”?
4 – “Unknown” ?
If we can — perhaps it would be interesting to stop watching the hot burning fire and look at the people who are tossing on the logs.
*
Lets assume I am not just a “conspiracy nut case” — anything is possible, let’s just assume, I’m not. This whole brouhaha was never about “black-sheep” racers doping, “cleaning up” cycling, “stopping dopers” from being able to cheat. Rather it is the age old story of MONEY, POWER, and who has the rights to say “I’ve got the BIGGEST cajones”. When looked at from this point of view — one gets a very different picture then what we are being told in the media to “look at.”
*
Rant’s article puts it down very nicely — something to consider, what you all think about it?

Morgan July 29, 2007 at 4:22 am

Rant- I ran across this piece with an interview from Kl̦den РIn it we get for the first time what dark fears the racers may just be going through Рnot that Kl̦den should be considered the brightest bulb in the world Рone thing he does exceptionally well is looking out for himself. I enclose for you the article:
*
Fear of prison may force Kloden’s retirement
Sat 28 Jul, 08:17 PM

BERLIN (AFP) – Former German cycling champion Andreas Kloden admitted on Saturday he is considering retiring after the recent wave of doping scandals have left him in fear he may end up in jail one day.

The 32-year-old, one of the prerace favorites to win this year’s Tour de France, told German daily newspaper Bild he has trouble sleeping and fears criminal elements are creeping into his sport.

“I find it difficult to sleep,” said the 2004 German champion, who was excluded from the Tour on Tuesday after his whole Astana team withdrew in the wake of leader Alexandre Vinokourov’s failed drugs test.
And team-mate Matthias Kessler was suspended by Astana in June for testing positive for testosterone.

“Maybe I will quit completely, I fear that the sport will become criminalised and people will end up in prison,” added Kloden.

“What will happen if somebody pours something banned into my salad? I would then be tested positive and I’d go to prison. I really do not want that, I have a family. All this doesn’t make any sense any more.”
The German rider, who was 5th in the Tour’s general classification before withdrawing, was at a loss to understand how other cyclists can be involved in doping.

“Vinokourov would have taken drugs by blood transfusion, but he knew he would have been drugs tested. It’s like driving at 150 km/h, while you are restricted to 80 and there are speed cameras all around you.

“The same with Matthias Kessler. He had a testosterone level higher than we’ve ever seen before. And that between two races where he was challenging for victory, and would have known tests were likely. Nobody can be so stupid.”
Even more ominously, he raised the possibility of riders’ careers being sacrificed in the current dispute between Tour organisers ASO and the International Cycling Union.

“I know it sounds fanciful,” he said.

“In cycling the UCI and ASO are fighting for the Tour. People are plotting things, everyone is wishing the worst for everyone else.

“A lot of money is at stake. What if some people are manipulating things, ruining things, in order to take control of what’s left?

Steve Balow July 29, 2007 at 5:52 am

Rant:
What’s the word? You know, the one that describes a person who has lost all common sense in rabid pursuit of a personal belief. The word I’m looking for describes a person who admits making up “facts” and delights in destroying the reputation of people regardless of their innocence. Oh, yea, I remember now, I’m thinking of “dickpound”.

William Schart July 29, 2007 at 1:16 pm

So Contador is under suspicion because the initials AC appear in Fuentes records. Could be any number of explainations, even could refer to someone or something else – maybe shorthand for his favorite metal band.

Rant July 29, 2007 at 4:50 pm

Morgan,

Thanks for the article on Klöden. I saw a slightly different version of it yesterday, without the real “money” quotes in the copy you provided. And you’re right, we need to look beyond the flames and see who’s fanning the fire and stoking the flames.

Steve,

Gee, and I thought the word was “zealot.” I guess I’ll have to add that one to my thesaurus. 😉

Will,

Yep, I kind of figured Fuentes to be an AC/DC fan. 😉 You’re right, could be any number of explanations. Since the Spanish authorities cleared Contador, the matter should be dropped. But noooooo … ol’ Mistah Pound wouldn’t dream of such a thing.

– Rant

LuckyLab July 30, 2007 at 3:18 pm

It’s probably important to note the Spanish authorities aren’t just the cycling body, it’s the judiciary… you know, the PoPo, judges, lawyers and such. But apparently somebody really, really wants le Tour DEAD.

Previous post:

Next post: