Thursday, November 09, 2006

Basso and Discovery

Discovery signs Basso.

At first, I felt pretty upset. After all, Basso is a cheat, right? He didn't submit to DNA tests, in fact his lawyer said that the procedure was invasive. Invasive? If I knew for a fact that my blood was not in Dr Fuentes' lab, I would have been hollering to give my DNA to prove it!

But when it comes down to it, the Operation Puerto info can't be used against the riders, according to the Spanish Court. Now I don't know how everything works in Spain but I can tell you some things from personal experience. Although bribery is not as open as it is in, say, Belgium, some weird things happen. There is a lot of shoddy workmanship (in some 4 star hotels, you can put your hand through the gaps between the door and the door frame), sketchy rule following (for example, after a light turns red, the next 4 or 5 cars go through), and I know that a really large multinational company had a senior manager taking cruises on the Mediterranean on a conflict-of-interest person's yacht.

Anyway, I don't trust the Spanish courts.

But Basso hasn't done anything wrong. He never admitted to using dope. He hasn't been found guilty of any prohibited substances. No one has alleged faxes with his doping schedule faxed to his wife's maiden name. And he hasn't even tried to race while under suspicion, nevermind win some hill climb.

Now Discovery isn't the cleanest team around, at least not in its USPS colors. For example, one of their mainstays Joachim Benoit was unceremoniously kicked off their team in 2000 for steroid use (he tested positive for nandrolone after winning the Luxembourg National Championships in 2000). Apparently it didn't keep them from having on the team as he served them well from 2001 till 2006.

So, in the end, I have to accept Basso's signing by Discovery.

It just smells so wrong.


Anonymous said...

That's the big problem now - everyone smells wrong. No confidence in the good guys or supposed bad guys. I'm no big conspiracy theorist (despite being an American, Phil), but I mean look what just happened in Spain? What's up with that? So many names got dragged through the mud and now nothing? Not one conviction? And they all come away with this odor that they got off on a technicality.

Aki, what do you think of this proposal by Podium Cafe? Seems along the lines of what we've talked about in the past.

Anonymous said...

Oh no, not you, the other guys they're the tinfoil ones.

Spain ain't done yet. This is a grand tour, not a classic there is a long way to go.

Anyway, Basso gets his shot, we'll see what happens.

Anonymous said...

I don't trust them either ;)

Aki said...

I like the Podium Cafe proposal. I think a more unified dope testing regime is better than what we have now. And it should be more prevalent, (i.e. more testing), more trustworthy (i.e. group has no interest in preserving status quo), and have much higher standards (i.e. not announcing anonymous results because "the results would leak anyway").

In addition, (clean) racers should insist on DNA testing. DNA info is hard to refute - it's used to clear improperly convicted people decades after their incarceration (and their refusal to plead guilty to reduce their sentence). Just the fact that racers are speaking up against DNA testing reeks of impropriety.

However, there is an inertia present in the pro peloton. They're extremely resistant to change - even now, they don't take helmets seriously (as evident by the detached or loosely hanging helmet straps). I don't know what Kessler would be thinking of now if his helmet hadn't caught those three rocks embedded in his helmet vents that one stage. The inertia will take time to overcome, but ultimately I think it will be possible.

It used to be a 10 day suspension for testing positive. Sean Kelly, after testing positive eons ago, told journalists that the positive was very upsetting and that he would win a race to prove his innocence. And he did, about two weeks later. Now he'd have to wait for four years to "prove his innocence".

Hopefully as things get cleared up (Operation Puerto fallout, signing of various suspect racers), the peloton will "feel" a bit more honest.