It was an interesting mix of new gadgets and drama this week.
30 times greater than everything that has come out until now, through books or investigations.” Wow!
Speculating on what that “30 times greater” might be there must be damning evidence against the UCI and how they, at the minimum, stuck their heads in the sand when organized doping was at its zenith.
But as I read all this I was hopeful that today’s professional cycling was much cleaner. Looking at the surface it has seemed that way: average speeds are down, VAM scores (mean ascent velocity) are within the realm of the believable and gone are the solo attacks from three mountain passes remaining in the stage to take the victory. I thought we were looking at real, authentic racing.
Ex-doper David Millar said that he believed that the racing today was cleaner than it had ever been. However Michael Ashendon, who is considered an anti-doping expert, wrote an opinion piece for Cyclingnews.com and stated, “Omertà is alive and well in September 2012.”
“Despite the self-serving data bending and associated propaganda to the contrary, I am led to believe that there are pockets of organized, highly sophisticated dopers even within ‘new age’ cycling teams. Personally, I don’t accept that the ‘dark era’ has ended, it has just morphed into a new guise.”
That statement just froze me in my tracks. I read how teams are hiring riders and staff only after being vetted for past doping or at least hiring those who confessed and stood up against it (David Millar as an example).
But the person who has led the anti-doping charge from a scientific standpoint is still getting calls from riders regarding doping. Team Sky was internally “investigating” their team doctor Geet Leinders who worked at Rabobank when Michael Rasmussen was booted from the Tour de France when it was shown he was “missing in action” for doping controls. That was followed up by the fact that former team director Theo De Roy told Volksrant, a daily Dutch newspaper, that doping was tolerated on the team.
Cyclingnews reporter Barry Ryan caught up with Team Sky principal Dave Brailsford and asked him about the ongoing investigation. I can only imagine Brailsford’s eyes were like a deer in headlights when asked to comment on the status. He replied to Ryan that the results would be in “soon.”
My favorite sentence of the very brief exchange between the Cyclingnews.com reporter and the Team Sky team owner is, “A follow-up question was interrupted. ‘I don’t want to comment on it anymore,’ Brailsford said, already edging towards his team bus, before adding: ‘We’re here to talk about the Worlds, aren’t we?’”
And that’s where we are - Omertà still in effect. Brailsford creeping backwards toward the sanctuary of the shiny blue and black Team Sky bus. But I’m still going to believe - maybe naively - that it is still better than the Armstrong era when it was organized and tolerated as the cost of doing business in professional cycling. There are teams doing the right thing regionally, nationally and internationally.
Once USADA puts public the