31 July 2007

Tour de France syndrome 2007... part I

ZENers, my apologies for bein' damn silent. My apologies, I want to post this and will have to do the links later... (memory moment!)

My deepest regrets for not providing a nearly 'You were there' type of commentary on this year's Tour de France.

And 'chagrin total' that you are reading something different, perhaps negative, about this Tour, from ZENcentral.

It could have been different, this is true.
It could have been cleaner, also true.

But as far as we know today, of the 189 riders who were designated 'apt' to start their Tour, 2007, only //three// (watch this number change) were controlled 'positive' while on this Tour. Yet four riders left the race, ostensibly due to 'les affaires du dopage'.

One racer, Patrik Sinkowitz from the German T-Mobile team, was controlled positive in early June and announced positive July 18, 2007, was already sidelined from a post-race, severe collision with a spectator, was in the hospital and 'hors combat' before the news fell. T-Mobile stayed in the race.

Alexander Vinokourov, wearing the thorny crown of pre-race favorite, was victim of a fall, severely impairing his chances for “GC” (general category) victory, and, upon winning the Stage 12 time trial in Albi on Saturday, July 21, apparently was tested positive for homologous blood transfusions by the same laboratoire that impugned the 2006 Tour de France Champion, Floyd Landis, on his testosterone test.

//update: Iban Mayo controlled positive for EPO //

Astana, the team for whom “Vino” races, was requested to withdraw from the 2007 test, based on the information provided to it, and to the public by: L'Equipe. Astana did withdraw. Vinokourov is a man without a team.

L'Equipe: aka “The World Cycling PRESS Authorized Source of (Bona Fide) Test Result Leaks” is the national French daily sporting newspaper,. It alone provided the announcement of Vino's positive A Sample test result; this came prematurely, and illegally, on July 24, 2007, through L'Equipe. This came through the long-established fact that L'Equipe is without equal in having sources in at least the French national laboratory: the Laboratoire Nationale du dépistage du dopage, from which it culls and illegally publishes premature and unconfirmed A Sample test results.

That fact, combined with another fact, creates a huge Conflict of Interest. The other fact, is that the paper 'L'Equipe' is owned by Amaury Sport Group, owners/promoters of the Tour de France business.

The paper L'Equipe, being owned by the same group that owns the race, is perenially in violation of the World Anti-doping Agency (WADA) rules concerning 'Results Management' and their International Standards for Laboratories Appendix 'Code of Conduct'. Savour that thought-sequence, as we continue to surmise in the greatest French tradition of insinuation(s)...

Returning to our saga, Vino was the first of //three // controlled racers to be forced out of the competion, based on the positive results from A Sample tests; the second was Cristian Moreni, an Italian who rides for the French team COFIDIS. Third Mayo.

Also prematurely announced through the L'Equipe paper, from leaked, unconfirmed A Sample results, his test for testosterone 'revealed' him as being 'positive'.

COFIDIS happens to be a French team that has long pronounced itself in favor of draconian reprisals against teams that harbour dopers... it was obliged to withdraw based on its own damning attitude announced publically: that Astana should not stay in the Tour after Vino's 'positive'. Falling on its own sword, it nearly instantly announced its departure upon public disemination of this news.

Yet the pièce de resistance was the news-media-tornado that occurred when the Danish Cycling Federation announced, on July 19, 2007, that the current Maillot Jaune, Danish cyclist Michael Rasmussen, had missed at least two unannounced doping controls, which resulted in two warnings (ed: a third warning in an 18-month period would have incurred the equivalent of a confirmed doping test violation: a two-year suspension).

The furor around this incident was inflamed by the constant inuendo and rumour-mongering of L'Equipe and French TV. Added to it were other factors that appeared to augment these charges.

The case was built on a factoid, that the Union de Cyclisme International (UCI) had not received the mandatory quarterly submission of Rasmussen's actual whereabouts; he, as a professional racer, must offer the UCI accurate data concerning his location, so that these unannounced controls are not wild-geese chases, depleting the valuable financial resources of the UCI in their quest for clean sport.

Problem was that his claim of being in Mexico, and being only guilty because the Italian Post system had 'lost his mail', was countered by the submission of Italian reporter Davide Cassani of RAI, that he'd seen Rasmussen in Italy at the same time that the team Rabobank cyclist announced he'd been in Mexico, with his Mexican wife and her family. Further insinuations published by the L'Equipe, proferred evidence that a US-based Mtn Bike racer, accused Rasmussen of requesting his aid in bringing 'doping substances' into Europe in his luggage, under the guise that the box contained some new 'cycling shoes'.

A rumour and a case of lost mail, some leaked A Sample results (actually two: one (Vinokourov: blood transfusions) was the same 'modus operandi' that effectively ended Tyler Hamilton's career; second (Moreni: Testosterone) was the same as Floyd Landis), and ONE verified result (Sinkewitz' June tests based on A Sample, and B Confirmation results), were the nexus for all four to exit the Tour via la petite porte. Two of the known best (Vinokourov and Rasmussen), and Moreni, one of the domestiques (the worker bees of the peleton, who support team leaders, sprinters and climbers with various talents they may bring to a cycling team), while Sinkewitz was reaping the 'joy' from his hospital bed.

Now don't come down on ZENcentral, yet: all ZENmud people are against “doping” by pro athletes for temporary physical and professional advantage (in quotes because the term has expanded from substances (amphetimines, cocaine, etc) to include hormones, steroids, and “blood-packing” (transfusions from one's own stored blood or, from compatible human sources).

What the greater picture of MACRO-ZENism reveals, is that somehow, a very secret link exists, between the French Government, which oversees le Ministèrie de la Santé de la Jeunesse et des Sports (Ministry of Health, Youth and Sport: thus also the Agence Française de la Lutte contre le dopage (AFLD), which directs the LNDD), and Le Tour de France, via the leaking tandem of source provider and reporter (Marc Ressiot of L'Equipe). This exposed link via leaks has direct bearing on the Tour and its outcome.

Stand by, however, because the end of the Tour came about with the succession of Alberto Contador, a young Spanish star who was recently drafted into the Discovery Channel team, and who quickly became the next victim of French insinuendo. Given that this team, directed by Belgian Johan Bruyneel, has won eight of the last nine Tours de France, flames the questions that arose from Contador's association with Manual Saiz, who was forced out of cycling from the esteemed 'Operacion Puerto' case that has cast an evil light on a large number of cyclists and other sporting individuals.

A 2007 Tour, which began with the promulgation and signing of the newly-drafted UCI Charter, and the requisite pre-Tour testing for all 189 riders (all tested negative), ended with the second-best mountain rider (as long as we saw Rasmussen besting most of Contador's efforts, as and when needed) being awarded the prize. A 24-year old vanquished a decimated field of predicted leaders, some who 'fell by the wayside' by injury, others staggering under the race's demands, by imperfect training, improper mental focus or tactical errors.

And veritable bombs were lobbed between the ASO company and the UCI Federation, that will assuredly become the focus of these next two months of ZENtalk. ASO described UCI directors as 'incompetent, or bent to destroy the Tour', while UCI vented about its rôle and its desire NOT to be a (paraphrased) “Dick Pound toy for political use and gain”.

If we are to be assured of a future of cycling, my ZENfriends, and we are talking about the cleanest sport in all sports (3 of 189 of the Best cyclists in the world, my friends: find me 189 tennis players, NFL, NBA, MLB, soccer, track and field, or swimming stars, and we'll compare notes!), what has to happen is a fantastic ZEN experience.

An Epiphany, between those who cry “SCANDAL”, those who promote events, and those who promote the racers themselves: they share a Golden Egg that only they can break.

A Concord, the ZEN Cycling Concorde, if you will, that stipulates in any order you wish, that:

Racers will be clean, through force or voluntary methodologies to be determined, improved or repaced;

The WADA Codes and other Rules documents will be re-drafted to represent the better and best use of financial resources, to increase the burden of proof by laboratories of their honest efforts in following the mandatory and efficient ISO and WADA Standards at all times, with severe institutional and personal penalties accruing to the dangerous aspect of false, or negligent results and results-management, as is required.

The UCI will continue to apply the pressure necessary to change the culture of cycling, offering in its rôle, support to the redrafting of WADA Codes and Rules, and increased vigilance within the 'family' of cycling, the rather in-bred group of former cyclists that create the mechanics, the coaches, the medical and therapeutic staffs, the directors sportif, media announcers and cycling products sponsors or sales.

The UCI will re-consider its ProTOUR concept, and refine and revise with current membership how to insure licensing fees and Team promotions are to be objectively reformed and reviewed, in liaison with...

The major and minor event sponsors, from the ASO to the other Grand Tour directors, who all must continue to prepare in harmony with the UCI the proper means of promoting the sport and the races that define who The Best of The Rest may be, from tomorrow and the tomorrows to come.

Little time remains, and ZEN is going to publish here, and wherever else he can, the ideas that spring from an 'outside the box' mentality, or maybe...

An OUTSIDE THE PIE point-of-view.

Because even as the World of Cycling exists in its glory and history, cyclists earn nearly minimum wage, unless they are an Undestroyed Hero in a cycling world gone mad.


ç*””*”*”*ç*””* ZENmud *””*ç*”*”*””*ç

1 comment:

Jon said...

L'equipe has an intolerable penchant for confirming doping violations before the athlete is informed of the results by the testing lab. This is an intolerable breach of conduct, a clear violation of WADA and UCI policy, and must stop to protect the due process rights of the athlete.