The more things change…
01 February 2013. A new month. Another day. Another confession. The world of competitive cycling continues to gobble itself up with stupidity at a time when it could be moving forward and enjoying the interest generated by racing in a season of renewal. RIDE‘s publisher Rob Arnold vents about the antics of the administrators and the scoundrels as he tries to wade through the quagmire of another few months of cycling being in the headlines…
It’s been interesting to note the kerfuffle being made by the UCI and the WADA this week and the fact that, amidst it all, a reduced suspension for doping has been issued to a rider who has finished on the podium of the Tour de France as recently as 2011.
As the saying goes: ‘The more things change, the more they stay the same.’
While Fränk Schleck gets a one-year suspension for his positive test to Xipamide during the Tour de France of 2012, it would seem that the WADA is too busy going head-to-head in an email exchange with the UCI to be bothered actually doing what the association was formed to do: eradicate doping from sport.
Accidental ingestion or not, the Xipamide was in Fränk’s system as much as Clenbuterol was found in the urine sample provided by Alberto Contador on the second rest day of the 2010 Tour de France.
And so we see a situation where one Schleck brother, Andy, has become a [retrospective] winner of the Tour de France because the WADA decided to take the findings of the Spanish cycling federation to the CAS. Meanwhile, the elder Schleck brother retains his podium place from a year prior to his positive test, and yet has a sentence that’s half the requisite issued to him by his national federation… and the WADA remains silent on the matter while continuing to taunt the UCI for how little it is doing to actually fight doping in cycling.
Amidst it all, we finally get confirmation of what was long suspected of another rider who has stood on the podium of the Tour de France. The two-time “winner” of the polka-dot jersey as King of the Mountains, Michael Rasmussen, has admitted his sins. He was poised to win the Tour de France in 2007 when he was sacked by his Rabobank team and kicked off the race with only a few days remaining… thus effectively handing the title to Alberto Contador.
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Yes, little of this is news but it did prompt me to revisit another dose of political semantics that surrounded cycling and doping from almost five years ago (see the bottom of this entry).
Back in 2007, following the fanfare of what would become a contract with no true legal parameters, RIDE queried the president of the UCI, Pat McQuaid, about his organisation’s much hyped “Commitment to a new cycling”. This was a document that all participants in the Tour de France of 2007 had to sign in order to be able to contest the race. It was farcical!
Anyone who has come to cycling in recent years will recognise how plagued the sport is with administration woes, and how many cheats, liars and scoundrels are involved. It adds to the drama and turns the sport into a soap opera with characters who are less believable than the cast of ‘The bold and the beautiful’.
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We’ve seen Lance on Oprah’s network. We’ve seen yellow jerseys awarded retrospectively. We’ve seen fictional racing. We’ve seen police raids, riders arrested, and blood bags seized. We’ve seen tears of shame and heard pleas of innocence. We’ve endured an ad nauseam blame game played between administrators. We’ve had confessions, denials, admissions and trials. We’ve enjoyed victories – and regularly question their legitimacy – and suffered loss. And we continue to do so.
We are followers of cycling and surely we’d rather see some racing, some honesty, some integrity, and some reality.
Each day brings a new headline and the sentiment is generally negative (often because of positives) but things are slowly becoming positive (because of the negatives).
The production on the next issue of RIDE Cycling Review is in full swing; #59 is due out later this month and the hope was to make it a magazine buoyed with optimism. This is still the intention but, alas, there’ll still be a need to include some references to the pessimism that continues to pervade a sport which deserves better than what it’s currently getting from those who are running the show.
Cycling coverage shouldn’t be about politics or doping. It need not be a soap opera. It should be about the bold and it should reflect all that’s beautiful about the act of riding a bike.
There is no denying that these are interesting times, but wouldn’t it be nice if – just for one issue – RIDE Cycling Review could be about the art of racing and a reflection of the essence of what lures us all to cycling? The good, instead of the bad… what a pleasure that would be.
The UCI tried – but failed dismally – to enforce a “commitment to a new cycling” in 2007.
Let’s hope that the administrators and their ilk can do better than it has in the past and make 2013 a season to remember for all the right reasons.
We are followers of cycling and surely we all want a commitment to a new cycling. Let’s hope that from now on the more things change… the more they change!
– Rob Arnold
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Flashback to RIDE #38 (published September 2007)
Riders’ commitment fizzles
Despite the best intentions of the UCI, an initiative launched in June  provided little more than a lesson in semantics. To much fanfare the sport’s governing body requested all ProTour riders sign a “commitment to a new cycling” form.
In July, matters arose that directly related to the content of the ‘contract’. RIDE wrote to the UCI president to get answers on this issues. Pat McQuaid’s responses are in red (see screengrab).
No money from the cheats
There are at least five riders who failed to adhere to the dictums issued by the UCI. None is yet to tender any payment for his misdemeanour. It also seems that no “demand or invoice” has been sent.
The UCI admits it is unable to act on any of the initiatives. Even the president concedes it’s necessary to examine the efforts of teams to find a way to enforce its faux, publicity-driven rules which have achieved nothing. What a great shame!
RIDE Media publishes RIDE Cycling Review, a quarterly magazine all about cycling.
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