Thursday, January 27, 2011

In re Contador

Yesterday the Spanish Federation announced its verdict in re Contador. Rather than provide closure the decision has already whipped up a storm of controversy in the community. So before I get into the heated discussions let me point you to a soothing Belgian treat that has no equal. Belgian Chocolate from Cachet. Take two squares of one of these and allow 20 minutes before reading on.

Cachet: excellent chocolate and exotic flavors

Yesterday I discovered an image that may shed light on the current status of professional cycling. This statue, appropriately displayed in front of the Kafka museum in Prague, summarizes the Kafka-esque nature of professional cycling. In it we see two figures, which we can think of as representing Schleck and Contador, performing the deciding act of cycle racing as we know it today.

The final sprint
I also want to show another image that represents the stance of many officials when it comes to dopers. These righteous individuals feel that we need to do everything in our power to save the poor cyclist's soul. Their mortal cycling bodies are corrupt and soaked in pharmaceuticals so forget about those and focus on what is truly important and pure. Not surprisingly this form of rescue originated in the Spanish enclave of Toledo.

Saving the soul
The Spanish Federation however, broke with history and tradition in more ways than one, and announced a novel, and some say too lenient sentence. That sentence is likely going to be appealed -possibly by both sides- so stay tuned. But for now it characterizes the ambivalent feeling that many have towards the discovery of minuscule amounts of a drug that is often found as contaminant in food. The Spanish Federation also announced it was suspending another, lesser known Spanish rider to a two year stint. This coincidentally simultaneous act underscores that they are serious and that -despite what some think- they take the Contador issue seriously.

In contrast to Spain's ambivalence, WADA's stance is that any amount of drug is doping. This stance, which in many ways predates the advent of modern pharmacology, where dose was found to be an important attribute for drugs, leaves no room for reasoning. It is clear and pure. Contador is guilty so he should burn.

Belgian cycling star Johan Museeuw, himself the recipient of a two year ban, feels that Contador should either get two years or nothing.  

Famed Belgian sports journalist Hans Vandeweghe disagrees. He thinks doping should not be treated differently from any other offense, thereby displaying some basic understanding of modern legislative thinking and at the same time proving that McQuaid was right when he said lawyers are sinking the sport. Further evidence of distorted thinking includes the statement Vandeweghe made, where he said he thinks Keisse should be free also.

But it is the following twisted statement that will be remembered for sure. Vandeweghe said: for example, if this were handled in a court of law, Lance Armstrong -you probably know that any mention of cycling needs to bring in Lance- would be found guilty on plenty of circumstantial and witness evidence, whereas Contador, based on weak and unconvincing evidence would walk. 

Those are fighting words, especially in the land of OJ Simpson and Barry Bonds and so it is no wonder that some American cyclists think that Belgium is just a wretched, country sized landfill. And if it weren't for cycling, it should just be burned to save everyone's soul. Bye chocolate and beer!

Belgium, as seen from Idaho

Either way, it now appears Shleck will join none other than Spanish star Oscar Pereiro in bringing home the victory in the lab. No word yet on whether the LAY-opar rider will dump his bike and pick up soccer. Presumably not before he takes the Tour de France victory that was just handed to him (and I am not talking 2010).

Contador on the other hand will join the ranks of defrocked winners such as evil Floyd and his current team boss Bjarne Riis.

Added later:
Contador will appeal the verdict. This was fully expected and I want to add that many in the sports community, including journalist Vandeweghe mentioned above believe that if Contador does not appeal, it means he has something to hide. 

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