What do we do now?

July 25, 2007

My wife always says that I can find good in anything. I’m trying hard here. When I first heard the news regarding Alexandre Vinokourov a flood of emotions came over me. Most of them were variations of anger and disappointment.

My visceral reaction was wondering how could those with whom we trust our sport do this to us? How could Vinokourov deceive an entire country? He cajoled his native Kazakhstan to band together in the wake of the Liberty Seguros collapse. His Astana region paid big money to support him. He took their money and cheated them more than he cheated us.

Then after a few minutes, my rational side began to be heard. Another ‘A’ sample leak. LNDD does not have the best track record. I believe in my heart of hearts that due process must be followed before punishment is meted out.

I do have to say that the media reaction is a lot less restrained. The Versus coverage this morning was blunt and damning. Bob Roll had the harshest words calling Vino’s actions stupid as this type of doping is not only dangerous but easily detected.

The restraint and detachment that was shown with recent cases such as Basso, Ullrich, and even Patrick Sinkewitz was not here. Why is that? Are they also in the throes of the same visceral reaction I had? Had they doubts before the test? I just don’t know.

So, where are the positives? Here you go.

If true, then we can really turn a corner. Teams and authorities have put into place new procedures to insure a clean sport. No one will actually believe those procedures until they see them work. Riders will test the law until someone gets caught. With such a big name getting caught, maybe riders will finally be scared straight. I sense this attitude is pervasive with the next generation of riders. You can win clean. If you don’t subscribe to that belief then stay clean out of fear.

In a few years, we’ll look back on these days as the time when we broke through to the other side and became a better sport than we ever thought possible.

If false, we will have irrefutably exposed another problem that is potentially more deadly then athletes who cheat. The ADA system is broken and in desperate need of repair. Leadership will be changed and a new system put into place that has the confidence of all stakeholders (teams, riders, sponsors, fans, officials). After the first round of Operation Puerto, teams began to get the wake-up call. New measures were put in place to insure that a measure of integrity can return. The same will happen with the those entrusted to regulate the sport.

I can dream. I choose to stay with this sport because I love it so. I hope the custodians of this sport get their act together.