Like the Phoenix, Operation Puerto rises from the ashes

phoenix_rising.jpg

I guess Hollywood is not the only one in love with a sequel. The boys from Spain are at it again. Let’s call it Operation Puerto 2: Blood is thicker than water. First, Jan Ullrich was found to have bags of blood in possession of Dr. Fuentes. This past week we have seen the FedEx Bio division really busy. First Birillo /Rider 2’s blood is off to Italy to be tested against Ivan Basso’s DNA sample. Now it is being reported that shipments are heading for Germany and the USA.

La Gazzetta dello Sport is reporting that 49 new riders are being implicated in Operation Puerto 2. My limited knowledge of Hollywood math says that sequels generally do 80% of the box office take of its predecessor. Seeing how Operation Puerto 1 took in 58 riders, 49 is pretty good. The star power of the sequel is a little less than the original. The original had Jan and Ivan. The sequel has Tyler Hamilton and Jorge Jaksche.

If you remember OP1, Tyler had a cameo role as Rider 4142. He returns to reprise his role with a twist. He is also blood bag #11. Poor Jaksche is in a rehash of the lovable German played by Jan in the original. No cool numbers or animal nick names.

Anyway, back to the story. OP2 has given all the evil villains a chance to return for more hand rubbing, cat petting, evil laughing (cue ominous music). The Grand Tours, ASO (with their mini-mes Unipublic and RCS Sport), and WADA are falling over themselves to get to a microphone to be the first to suspend Hamilton and his 48 counterparts. Didn’t they watch the first movie? The villains were undone by using the weapon “Trial by media” too early. When the smoke cleared, they had no counter attack. Oh well.

Here is where I draw the line. If Basso’s DNA matches, bounce him. I like him quite a bit but you know what they say in the movies. “It’s nothing personal, just business.”

For Tyler’s case, unless they find something against him post Olympics 2004, drop it. The man did his time. We just now know how he did it. It may irk some that he never came clean (pun intended) but hey that’s life. Deal with it. Many a person has gone to the joint professing their innocence. After they are released, you can’t retry them just because you have more evidence on the same case.

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12 Responses to Like the Phoenix, Operation Puerto rises from the ashes

  1. QP says:

    I’m so sad about the whole OP development… Ivan Basso is by far my favorite rider in the peloton. I’ve waited almost 2 years to see him ride in the tour.. Who’d have thought….

  2. pelotonjim says:

    I’m with you. I really felt he was a good guy. I’m still holding out hope that the DNA comes back negative.

  3. LuckyLab says:

    Truly unfortunate for Basso is having the bags test negative and having no recourse for the effective 2 year ban imposed upon him. If that’s the situation that comes to pass, riders really will need a strong union to adovcate for their rights to prevent the suspension without hearing that seems to be the latest rage.

  4. Daniel M says:

    Sometimes it’s better not to do sequels. How many Rocky movies, or Rambo, Die Hard or Lethal Weapon movies do we need, anyway? OP2 will have all the same bile and bite as the first, though with fewer new faces implicated. But if my math is right and there’s no duplication between the original and the remake, that’s over 100 pros who are being accused. Will anyone be left to race in any of the major events?

    I wonder who the guys are from, say, soccer or cricket or tennis or whatever other sports are covered by OP? We’ve never heard about any of them, and there’s supposedly 150 or more. Speaks to the need for a powerful union to represent the riders, doesn’t it. I suspect that for the other sports represented, the reason we don’t hear about the athletes is due to the powerful unions representing the athletes in those sports, as well as a system with greater respect for their rights. But I’m just ranting on …

    – Rant

  5. pelotonjim says:

    Rant, There needs to be a better way. Right now, some sports ignore things while cycling seems to overreact treating riders as disposable play things.

    I’ll be the first to listen to any good ideas.

  6. roy says:

    I am so sad for Basso. Hope he comes out clean and rejoins Discovery.

  7. Ed says:

    Generally I think labor unions do more harm than good but, in this case, daniel is right. By indicting over 100 riders in two years, Cycling is cutting off it’s nose to spite it’s face. Who’ll watch the TDF if nobody knows the riders? I’ll watch but it won’t be any fun.

    I’m not advocating leniency on performance-enhancing drug use, nor should any unions hold “cycling” hostage with demands for leniency. I’m just saying that the power of a riders’ union could force the league to be very careful about banning riders for two years because of simple suspicion.

  8. Daniel M says:

    PJ,

    I agree, there needs to be a much better way. I think the whole anti-doping system needs to be rebuilt, from the ground up. The Operacion Puerto mess, being dragged on and on and on and on, being left for dead, and then coming back to life, is just horrible. Now there’s over 100 riders implicated. It almost seems as though the anti-doping and other authorities are out to kill the sport.

    Two things need to happen:

    One, the riders need a strong voice. Whether that’s a union or not, they can decide for themselves. But a union seems like the obvious way to go. But there needs to be someone or some organization who can stand up to any possible abuses of the anti-doping system.

    Two, the anti-doping system needs to be reformed so that, even while being tough on those who are proven cheaters, those who are accused aren’t trampled on before a guilty verdict is returned. Riders’ rights must be respected, and the process must be fair to all.

    What’s going on in OP and elsewhere is fundamentally unfair to the riders.

    Leniency isn’t the answer. If the authorities can prove someone doped — beyond a reasonable doubt — then that person should be punished. The current standard, the comfortable satisfaction of the panel, is capricious, at best. Who’s to say that what satisfies one panel might not satisfy another. That’s not a good standard that can be consistently applied, at least in my book.

    Once a fair system, with proper checks and balances, can be built, then we need to bring all sports into the system. And the standards of justice must be the same — from one country to another and from one sport to the next. (Same for the standards of what constitutes a doping infraction — they need to be the same across all labs.) Some of the big sports do seem to ignore the doping in their midst. That’s not a way to solve the doping problem in sports.

    OK, that’s actually three things, isn’t it? Anyway, that’s where I’d start.

    – Rant

  9. Jeremy J says:

    When Frankie Andreu “came clean” and admitted EPO late in his career – it was interesting the resounding silence that spread across the cycling community. At this point, I can only think of a few riders that truly have stated, “I did it” (Millar, Bergman Virenique).

    In their quest to root out all “evil doers” in the cycling community – the UCI, ASO, WADA, (name your governing body) have created a true “catch me if you can” environment. Instead of the cat-n-mouse game surrounding the Puerto affair, it would be interesting if they took a different approach to encourage people really coming forward with information to understand the true extent of real doping in cycling.

    It’s even more silly that the team managers are all completely in the dark about any doping practices of their riders and become completely surprised when one of their rider’s names appears. Bjarne Riis (who just happened to win the TdF during what is considered the height of the EPO era – pre-testing/pre-Festina) response to accusations of his past and the behavior of his own riders is deplorable.

    I love cycling and I love my bike. But, right now, the problems do not lie with the behavior of the riders. The cycling/doping federations have created an environment that can only result in the degradation of the sport – not purifying it.

  10. Debby says:

    I’ll admit I laughed, though your post is too true to be funny.

    It is interesting to me that no one has come to Floyd’s or anyone’s defense. Usually the press will quote team members in other sports, or people in the industry, who will defend the character of the person. But in cycling there is always a resounding silence. Teammates and associates slowly back away from those accused of doping, as if they have a contagious disease. I can only imagine that it’s fear of trial by association? I won’t believe it’s because “they all do it” and there is no one innocent left to defend.

  11. Jim says:

    Lets’s face facts, doping is not going away. WADA is embarrassed that they cannot stop it. Unfortunately, innocent riders will be snared in WADA’s net. Pound could care less about innocent casualties. However, the public has to accept that some teams have organized doping programs. Why do team officials and the UCI act so surprised when riders get caught? The demands on the riders has increased significantly. There’s alot on the line: salary; team standing; UCI points; the ever increasing number of race; etc. However, be wary if a rider’s answer to the question (Do you dope?) is, “I have never tested positive”.

  12. Sam says:

    I love the phoenix picture. Where can I get a hi-res copy and the rights to use it?

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