Avoiding a worst case scenario

October 11, 2006

Assumptions:

  • Floyd Landis has a pretty good chance of winning his doping case
  • Operation Puerto will continue to unravel and countries will drop or decline to pursue doping cases against riders implicated in the case
  • Pound and McQuaid do not know the word defeat.
  • The tenuous relationship between the ProTour and the Grand Tours will not improve.

Given the above assumptions, I have been having nightmares around the worst case scenario for our sport. If it didn’t threaten to seriously damage the great sport of professional cycling, it would be comical.

Every New Year’s eve, my wife and I share the same toast as the clock chimes twelve times. That toast is simple yet hopeful. “May this year be better than last.” Unfortunately, this year, I believe the chimes of our foyer clock will sound like gongs from the depths of Hades.

As the New Year dawns, I sense that many riders will begin to finalize their preparations for the new season. Some will set their sights on Belgium, some on California, and some France. Usually, I look at these as early tests, not final showdowns. I fear for the latter.

Many of the riders looking to toe the early season line are on the infamous Operation Puerto dossier. After being cleared by their own country’s doping authorities, they will be looking to the future in doing what they do best. Ride.

Off the course, I fear that the most dangerous place in the world will not be in the Middle East. I fear it will be the space between Pat McQuaid /Dick Pound and the television camera. In order to try to regain the advantage, the dynamic duo will look to bar athletes from riding in 2007. Especially if Floyd Landis is one of those athletes.

This will move the publicity to the courtroom and away from the finishline. Riders will fight against the dictatorial tactics of the WADA and UCI. If that happens, I expect the Grand Tours to use this as their opportunity to kill off the ProTour once and for all. The Grand Tours (and all of the classics also organized by these three entities) will allow any racer cleared by the proper authorities to ride in their races.

As the rainbow jersey unravels, expect Dick Pound to take shots at McQuaid along with the sport. This puts McQuaid in no man’s land. He can’t go back to his sport since he burned that bridge. At this point, the mud will really fly. When mud flies, everyone gets dirty.

I fear for the decay that may come of this. I look at NORBA and know how low a sport goes when sponsors leave.

How can we stop this? First, we need leadership that is interested in the sport, not his own ego gratification. Therefore, Pat McQuaid has to go. We also need a change in the WADA for the same reason. The head of the WADA should work with sport to grow in the right direction. These new heads should follow the rules and apply them equally and fairly. The main focus should be a system that is above reproach. Labs that are not suspect, leaks that are non existent should be the hallmarks of a system that has the faith of everyone.

Lastly, involve the riders. If you get their buy-in into the process, progress will come easier. Put a rider representative in power at the UCI. If someone like Jens Voight is behind an initiative, then it will carry a lot of weight.

That’s what I’ll be wishing for this New Year’s Eve.


The director doth protest too much, methinks

October 11, 2006

Apologies to Shakespeare.

Johan came out firing after the Cyclingnews article had Jan Ullrich going to Discovery.

“I am currently not in any negotiations with Jan Ullrich to become a part of the Discovery Channel. Although I believe Jan is a world-class rider, our roster for 2007 is nearly complete and Jan will not be a part of our team.”

Also Pat McQuaid found a camera and microphone to say he would block any attempt for any Operation Puerto rider to ride next year.

This off-season is shaping up to include all sorts of fireworks as suspended riders look to save their careers. While McQuaid and Pound look to salvage what’s left of their reputation.


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