up for today’s tongue lashing is the UCWhy. crankpunk likes a little treat before bed with his coco but unfortunately there will be none for some time – possibly months – because the UCI has all the biscuits! the crafty cookie-snafflers!
first of all we had the venerable prez of the body that represents (allegedly) world cycling stating the other day that the UCI hadn’t been resting on its decaying laurels and in fact it really had been busy in recent months. he then produced a backdated ‘to do’ list which quite clearly proved that fact:
1. buy marshmallows
2. clean ears
3. watch steam coming from kettle
4. become a better human being
5. f**king ignore 4.
6. fill in 6-10 later
11. do something somehow someday about that stuff, uh, dammit it, find out how to get this crap to go away
13. ! buy large broom and massive f**king carpet
so what have the UCI been up to now? well, if you remember, a few months they announced that they would setting up an ‘independent’ commission (!) to investigate their links to LA, then decide hmmm that wasn’t really such a great idea, with Pat saying this:
“I am sorry that it has to be abandoned but we could not afford the money that we wanted to spend on it.”
then he announced that ‘in June’ he would be setting up another independent commission to look at the LA ties and at the UCI’s finances. now it seems it is finally happening, next week in Russia, when the UCI and, thankfully, WADA will meet to decide who will sit on the 3-member panel. now, let me not be hasty and start doubting the integrity of a panel that is at least half-approved by the very body it is supposed to be activating – it could be that the panel does a great and thorough job and we finally get to the bottom of this.
but then, going off past history… well, let’s just say that even if you are in possession of a full tank of high-grade oxygen, i would still advise you don’t hold that breath.
when the UCI pulled that previous panel, USADA leader Travis Tygart wearily noted that “they [the UCI] disbanded the independent commission that was set up at the very time it began to actually act independent.” we need this, so badly. and it has to be done right. it can’t be another UCI fudge-job.
Tygart summed up the feelings of many, when he spoke the other day: “We have seen nothing. It has been over seven months since our report and their declaration that they needed to take decisive action. So, of course, we are frustrated.”
they really are treating us like idiots, it is incredible. and this is just a sporting body. i mean, imagine if our government was like this? oh, wait…
now, Pat just had an opinion piece in CyclingSnooze, in which he went on about all the great work the UCI was doing, quoting from a survey conducted for the UCI by Deloitte which praised the UCI’s day-to-day relations with the cycling world, but noted himself that:
‘The executive summary makes six ‘crucial’ recommendations to enable cycling to achieve its ‘bright future’:
• We must restore the credibility of cycling and the public perception of the sport;
• A decision needs to be made quickly whether to hold an independent inquiry into the Armstrong affair and whether to offer riders an ‘amnesty’ or reduced sanctions for coming forward to that enquiry;
• The UCI needs to develop a long-term strategic plan for cycling;
• We should further strengthen the anti-doping culture that already exists in the UCI;
• We need to improve our relationship with WADA; and
• We need to restructure the pro-cycling calendar.
The report summary also makes five additional ‘high-priority’ recommendations. They are:
• To increase the independence of the Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation (CADF);
• To appoint an independent anti-doping body to sanction professional riders caught doping;
• To review the existing points system for pro-teams;
• To focus on developing women’s cycling;
• To improve our communication with professional road riders.
now, is it just me, or shouldn’t the first half of these be the UCI’s job in the first place? and, erm, shouldn’t the second half too?
so, Pat, let me get this right, the UCI is doing great! but not in fact doing any of the things that it should be doing… great work amigo, keep it up!
you know, if i had a report card like that from my job, i’d be out on my ass. seriously…
he ended his opinion piece by saying this:
‘Cycling has an extremely bright future.’
*NOTICE – i don;t know why certain words are linked, i didn’t do it but can’t stop it. that sucks, apologies.
oh Switzerland. in the name of several million bovine and almost as many annoying little clocks, why? what possessed you to stump up for Mr McQuaid when even his own turned their backs on him?
and i thought only King Kong had balls this size – the size required to be able to humiliate yourself the way Pat is doing now. faced with the prospect of the cyclists of Ireland not backing him for re-election as President of the UCI, the man scuttles back to Switzerland and threatens to kidnap the nation’s muesli supply unless they back him – or something like that.
the vast majority of the cycling world want him gone, yet still he ploughs that furrow with his dull old blade.
Switzerland, land of chocolate, built on Nazi gold and a haven for tax-dodging celebrities: seriously, why?
this isn’t very neutral at all.
there may be a saving light though, and ironically, it is one of the UCI’s very own rules. UCI regulation 1.1.009 states that individuals may only hold the licence of one national federation. McQuaid holds a current Cycling Ireland licence as an honorary member, so technically he cannot stand as Switzerland’s nominee.
but then, when have the rules mattered before? if the last thing he does in his current term is to amend that little rule, he may well be ushered in for another.
how this can happen is beyond me. i mean, i know how it can happen, he stands and gets voted in, but, i mean, how is this happening? the evidence is stacked up, it’s all over the web, and yet he still has the brass tacks to stand again.
cheers, Switzerland. thanks a bunch.
thanks for taking the time to reply _______, appreciate that.
i do feel that i did walk a bit in their shoes, at least half a mile, as did several other guys and women i know. personally for me, i spent 2 years in those shoes as a junior and aspiring pro when i was younger, and am doing that now too, racing in Asia against professionals. i race regularly with dopers. we know who they are, not all, but several. we hear the rumors, and the facts too. hushed up positives, whole teams disappearing for months, coming back super slow, guys winning by too many minutes over short distances, 5 guys on one team in the first 6 and so on.
but i, like hundreds if not thousands of others, make a choice every day not to dope. we are far from perfect but we will not cheat.
is that too black and white?
what can you do without dope? enough. you can certainly race and enioy the crap out of it, i know that. my 2nd career has been nothing more than a blip in the grand scheme of things, but i’ve had my own ‘successes’ – (none more than the fun i’ve had, btw). now, if i had doped? taking the extra 10-15% they reckon you get from EPO? in the tour i did where i got 2nd by 7 seconds, maybe i’d have won. when i got 5th by 2 minutes in another, maybe i’d have won. the 70km hill climb i lost by 10 seconds? maybe another win. on and on you could go, and i never do (until now, to make this pointless point) as it is pointless.
do i go home and punch the dog because of it? no. first of all my dog is dogdamn awesome and he lives for love, strolls, food and vigorous rubs from attractive woman (though not in that order). secondly, and this may sound odd from a competitive racer, winning is awesome but it is not what drives me. i love to crush souls and leave dreams mangled in the gutter, but i do this because it keeps me alive. and because i need the pain. i, like all my lycra brothers and sisters, am weird like that.
a win, if it comes, is a great bonus on top of what already feels like a success, just being able to line up on the start line.
i am not saying though that the guys who beat me in these instances doped (though in others, guys i stood and congratulated later were busted for EPO, an Aussie, an American, a South African and two Iranians, so far that i know), far from it, but if i had been doping, there is a high probability i’d have got back the time needed to win. and with it the prize money that went with it. and maybe a better contract this year…
but really, is that a ‘win,’ to win on juice? of course not. it’s defunct. moribund. kaput.
and those guys who did dope by the truckload in the 90s and early 2000s, you would be amazed to know how many are sick. strokes, heart attacks, all kinds of complaints.
the clean guys from that era that i know? nothing. very healthy middle aged men, and happy with that. most of them still ride many many miles a year and some still race, whereas some ex-dopers they knew then can barely leave the house now.
they hear and recount stories about their old peloton mates that would make your hair stand on end. failed kidneys, damaged livers, busted hearts. and the stories about what they saw then too, it was a proper cowboy operation at the beginning. these guys were the guinea pigs and now they are suffering the results. we may well see many current pros in the same boat in 20 years.
they are not winning anymore. that much is certain. there is a whole story to all this that no one hears. we just get Fignon and his cancer which he mused might be from dope. the Italian with cancer that went public and definitely blamed his C on the dope.
maybe an idea to talk to ex pros if you get chance. i know good, solid clean guys who carved careers out of hostile granite with nothing more than dessert spoons. they chipped and they persevered for almost no reward. think they feel cheated? you bet.
think they complain? generally no, because they knew the odds and resigned themselves to it. made the decision not to dope every day, whether consciously or sub-consciously, saw vials, saw needles, rubber hoses everywhere. tinkling mini-refrigerators being carried up hotel stairways. blood thinning agents stuffed next to bike kits. heck, it would have been easier to dope than not.
but they didn’t.
these are brave men and women who knew the big paycheck would never come but did it anyway, and for what?
for the love of it all. sounds stupid? naive? no way, never. they did it because they loved it, like a surfer loves the wave, a mountaineer the summit. that and for the sake of their health. it’s a simple question, but why would a human take something that has to be extracted (as HGH did then) from dead humans? why would a human take something designed for cattle and horses? I mean, really, what the f*ck?
the cheaters thought they were chumps for not cheating, but who is losing now?
persecution? get the lot of them out into the sun and let’s take a look at them. if this is winning then it is majorly f*cked up. i want 50 Tygarts, not just one.
personal agenda? don’t give a crap. LA had his for long enough, and man was it an agenda. he was a stone cold killer, and if you don’t see that he needed the same against him for all of us who gave a crap about the sport to get even close to breaking even, you’re fooling yourself.
that is worth repeating – we needed someone with the same single-minded determination, the same disregard for social niceties and reputation as Armstrong to bring him down. so when i hear people attacking the character of Tygart, i could not care less. he nailed the biggest cheat of all and it was beautiful, in the ugliest way. depressing, sad and demoralising in an uplifting, joyous and reinvigorating manner.
now, who’s going to do the same to LA’s partners-in-crime? we may be waiting forever, for that one. Anthony Moran stood up and felt he had to resign after the rest of the board let him down, let us down…
back to LA, it’s not about crucifying, what happened to him was not the result of a bunch of goodie-two-shoes whingeing and whining and gleefully getting their way in the end, not at all. it’s about penalising those who break the rules and – and this is so critical to the future of racing – about stopping young riders from following them. (damn, i’m so cranked i went into bold!).
where right now is the guiding light in the peloton? in the UCI? in the management? it’s all still full of ex-dopers, current dopers and a governing body that is more concerned with sticking around for a pension and milking the golden teet than anything else.
‘but hey,’ people say, ‘let it go.’ why? so they can win? so the sport becomes their plaything? who is going to push for the real changes we need implemented to rescue the sport? sadly, it seems to be laying right now, that responsibility, on a poorly organised and rather muddled bunch of normal cyclists, journalists and bloggers (and yes, i am calling myself muddled too, because i do not have all the answers as to what happens next, i just know that something must. and yet nothing is).
yes, the shortened bans for those who gave evidence against LA was wrong. they had to compromise to bring him down. is that wrong? yes. but look at what he and his cohorts did to the sport every single minute that they were active professionals, and especially Armstrong.
then that compromise doesn’t seem such a terrible price to pay.
so yes, it was right also to go after the biggest of them all – although the biggest, in reality, is up for re-election soon. and yet the sport stands by and twiddles its thumbs, because so many say ‘let it go.’ ‘stop whining.’ ‘shut up.’
and the riders? ‘well, the pressures of being a pro are terrible.’
give me a break.
Nicole Cooke had bigger balls than 90% of the male peloton. Inga Thompson too. on the male side, Graeme Obree, Bassons, and erm… wait, all those names… escape me… then all the Cat 1 and other ‘mediocre’ pro guys who were seriously good but refused to cheat to get up a level. all the kids who walked away. balls like KingflippingKong, cos they left the sport they loved or had to opt for a career without the payment their talent warranted. they still rode because they loved it, but the dopers attempted to humiliate them because they didn’t cheat.
they were derided and forced out.
i don’t like Armstrong the cyclist, Armstrong the public figure, because he cheated, because he destroyed other riders’ careers and those of anyone who challenged him, and because he is the sporting Nixon.
lying, cheating and screwing over anyone in his way is so ingrained in him that he saw nothing wrong in it. his truth was The Truth. any means whatsoever was justified by the end. watch Nixon’s resignation (‘I never cheated’) and then LA’s speech on the Champs, and it’s just a mask the Texan needs and Dick is resurrected.
did he warrant ‘destroying’, as many have put it?
let’s phrase the question differently – did he warrant having his public persona being exposed for what it was, a charade? did he warrant being stripped of his 7 Tour and other titles? did he warrant a ten year ban from WADA/IOC sanctioned sports? did he warrant having the fortune amassed through committing fraud taken back?
if that’s want you meant by destroying, then yes. without a pause, yes.
it would be great if LA went away and sorted himself out, repaired whatever damage has been done to his loved ones, especially his kids, and if he reached out genuinely to those he attacked so vociferously or donated half his millions to an independent drug test research facility, or something that would just do some good for the sport. but no, he’s knocking on the door again, glibly saying on Oprah that he didn’t call Betsy fat and that he doesn’t deserve a life sentence. hmm.
go, be good, get healthy, move on, best of luck to him. i wish him as a human no ill will, but his time here is over. along with The Others.
has to be.
embattled, embittered, and inhabiting a house so burnt by scandal that there’s not much more left than the shaky foundations upon which it was built and a few glowing embers, the body that claims governance over pro racing within our sport has somehow managed to widen the ever-enlarging sinkhole into which it is a-tumbling.
what do you do when your back is to the wall? heck, kick and scratch and bite whoever is nearest, that’s what. and so the UCI has come out fighting, stating that it will enforce its hitherto mostly ignored Rule 1.2.019, which prevents UCI licensed riders from participating in non-sanctioned events.
the UCI has come under intense criticism for this change in attitude, but defended itself in a letter to the national federations by stating that:
‘The objective of this regulation is to protect the hard work and resources you pour into the development of your events at national level. It allows for a federative structure, something which is inherent in organised sport and which is essential to being a part of the Olympic movement.’
the problem with this logic though is that by enforcing this rule cycling will not evolve and grow, and riders will find themselves barred from taking part in countless events all over the world. what the UCI is in fact doing by implementing this rule is stifling the sport to protect its own coffers, offering yet another audacious example of poorly conceived strategy and a lack of – well, a sense of basic decency, even a basic humanity.
how else can you perceive a ruling that could potentially – and this is not hyperbole – kill off hundreds of MTB events across North America, not to mention putting further at risk thousands of cyclocross, time trial and local road races all over the world?
stop people riding & racing? to protect your own interests? this ruling is being resuscitated in large part because the UCI fears a breakaway of the top pro teams, who have been talking about forming a new sort of ‘premier league’ of racing which would be formed of new and existing races.
the result though is that the rank and file, the people like myself and possibly you and countless others, end up getting bent over and violated by a middle aged Irishman without so much as a thank you. no more Wednesday evening time trial for you, and best not bother entering that sportif you were going to ride with your family. it goes on. it’s senseless, unless you’re perception of the world is informed merely by cash and self-preservation – then it makes a lot of sense.
even then though, this is seriously myopic, as it will, if enforced strictly, lead to a narrowing of events and an eventual revolt.
by imposing this ruling the UCI strips you of your ability to choose what events to take part in, and for what? to be a part of a faction of the sport governed by a body that has allowed rampant drug-taking to proliferate, turned a blind eye to the most questionable practises, and accepted money from an athlete who had a vested interest in keeping the officials on his side?
and now they want to enforce this rule?
as a friend of mine said the other day, they are like stewards rearranging the deck chairs on a sinking Titanic. let it go boys, let it go. it’s all gone to pot.
it seems almost impossible to take the sheer joy of racing a bicycle out of the equation, but somehow, incredibly, the UCI manages to do just that with every turn.
good work, chaps…
funny, in a way, that the name ‘UCI’ means so much still to so many. like ‘FIFA’ or ‘NBA’, those three little letters meant, for many of us who grew up with a passion for the sport, a stamp of authority, a measure of goodness and a sign of quality. attaching ‘UCI’ to ‘World Championships’ meant that the thing really mattered. it was real. it was glorious.
sure, the UCI was a bureaucracy, it connoted the shuffling of documents and filing cabinets and sausage-like, pink-skinned fat white men on the wrong side of the middle of their years in bi-focals with receding hairlines and ill-fitting cheap suits and sensible shoes and probably a few too many slaps on the backsides of young female secretaries, but it still felt good. it used the rainbow colors right there in its badge, linking itself very firmly to the kind of honest (or so we thought) endeavor and good ol’ hard work that defined our world champions.
sound a little naive? probably was, but through great swathes of the 80s and even the 90s the sport seemed like most others, there were crooks and cheats here and there but on the whole it was a healthy pursuit, governed by an association that might have been getting fat along the way but that essentially was taking care of this sport beloved by so many.
the truth was that Hein and his cohorts were building an shark-toothed behemoth on the squalid practises of the past, one that overlooked the culture of rampant doping at a time when the new dope on the block was killing otherwise supremely healthy and starry-eyed youngsters in their sleep. the UCI wanted the megabucks and they needed a star system and by golly they got it by both hook and by crook, fueled by EPO in a way that Hollywood has always been fueled by coke, staffed by Supermen and Terminators that were doing stuff up pretty high hills that now seem more akin to acts committed by criminals than sporting achievements.
yet still… it’s the UCI!
yes, there may be some bad apples but the thing surely, inherently, is good?
no. not now anyways. and yet still, when Vaudevillian Vaughters trotted out in his Little Boy Blue oh-so-finery and his feathered locks and began very strongly suggesting a breakaway league, my blood just got up. it bubbled. i could hear it a-cracklin’ behind my ears.
why? well, because:
first off, i don’t think he should be in the sport.
second, if that preppy-boy-my-momma-dressed-me style of his is really style, i’m starting a dirty protest.
third, he and the rest of his dirty generation milked that system for so long and did fine by it, without a doubt, so complaining now seems all a bit suspect. he gets control? no thanks.
fourth, we all love these races, we love the history, keep the Monuments, keep the Grand Tours, keep it all and stuff the rest.
fifth…. it’s the UCI! surely we can rescue it? surely the bad apples (all of them) will go? they can’t hang on anymore!
the more indignation i felt with every mention of ‘breakaway’, the more flustered and blustery i got, the more i dragged the feathers from my mouth, the more i realised it was pointless. there is NOTHING to be gained from the UCI any longer. it’s a derelict building teetering on a cliff edge. there’s mold in the walls and termites the size of Jack Russels rampaging through the timbers. there are individuals still inside refusing to budge, but like those mad sad folk who refuse to leave their houses as the volcano behind them roars into fiery life, they are nothing but depressing examples of the unfathomable potential for pointlessness that humans from time to time offer up to the sighing universe.
so today when i read that David Brailsford was saying that cycling has reached its ‘tipping point‘, i realised that for the first time since i’ve read anything about a breakaway from the UCI, i agreed – this is indeed absolutely necessary.
keep the Classics. keep the Grand Tours (though the Vuelta is increasingly looking like the injured wildebeest at the edge of the pack). keep the mini-classics, the Strade Bianche, Omloop, the Worlds. maybe, sure, create one or two more classics in Asia such as the Japan Cup, on great roads, tough arse routes with lots of spectators.
but yeah. rip it up.
well it certainly has been a while, apologies i think should be offered, but you know what? i’ve been riding, for hours and hours a day (well 4), and i’m loving it. after almost 3 months laid up with a severe case of lackofmotivation, followed by various injuries, i’m finally back on the bike and just can’t get enough. tiredness has been winning though, i’ll have to up the greens.
these periods of BikeLove are not to be pondered. just go ride the sh*t out of your steed, till your arse hangs in ribbons and your hands look like you actually do a Real Man’s job (miner, dock hand, florist). such times are to be cherished, not questioned, for sure enough it won’t be long before the pain wins out – if, that is, you’re riding you’re bike properly…
anyway, where was i? oh yes Paul Kimmage. this guy doesn’t just poop out the party at the party, he actually drops one in his pants in the car on the way over. that’s why his face looks like that.
when i read on CyclingSnooze the headline ‘Kimmage unconvinced by Sky & Wiggins‘ my immediate reaction was oh Paul, give it a rest. It was an instinctive reaction, from the gut, not the head.
here’s what he said:
“If you apply the same standards to Tour winner Bradley Wiggins as to Lance Armstrong, concerning inquiries and logic, then there are similarities which are alarming.”
“You look at how dominant their teams were: Postal for Armstrong, Sky for Wiggins. They had a core of four, five riders, who rode strongly for those three weeks without one single weak day. You think: is that logical?
“You look at what happened after the Tour. Sky threw out the team doctor and three others. Michael Rogers left, he was one of the strongest riders. I don’t know anyone who could say that this was a fully convincing Tour win.”
and then i thought, ok, let’s think about this. so i did. and here’s what i thunk. first off, thank **** that we are at a point in time where someone can actually say stuff like that, about something that troubles them and is concerning doping, without being burnt at the stake. in any case, if you keep up with the forums, you’ll know that many of the guys on there have have exactly the same misgivings.
also, what have Sky done to be above reproach, above questioning? have they made their internal testing available online? no. have they requested the UCI publish their riders biological passport info? no. have they had a dodgy doctor and one rider admit to doping? yes. ok, Wiggins has spoken out about doping and i want to believe him, but he has the misfortune of being a very very good rider in a historically dirty sport and at a time when the abuses of banned substances has been shown to be – or have been – institutionalized and systematic.
and then there’s the news of EPO Z and another new undetectable drug that actually changes muscles, and, uh, well read it and despair.
so don’t give it a rest Paul. keep it coming.
next: Curse of the Dopers.
ok, so Katusha are free and welcome to race at Pro Continental level. awesome. no dopers at WorldTour level, but come race and probably dominate at the second tier, that’s fine.
this whole way of thinking is affecting me personally, because at Continental level you have the situation where unscrupulous managers are hiring well-known dopers to race for them. in some cases they’re South Americans who have a shed load of UCI points but who more established Euro teams won’t touch with a barge pole – yes, they are THAT dirty.
but they get rides on UCI Conti teams in other countries, then that team gets invited to certain races cos of the points they have (as they look strong), which means that teams like mine, and others, lose out. one particular team i know just signed two uber dodgy dudes for this very purpose, but, fortunately, a highly-placed friend of mine who knows the UCI hierarchy, has lodged an official complaint. we’ll see what happens.
the whole system needs to be addressed – dopers should get 4 year bans that exclude them from riding for any team from Continental up. otherwise it’s nothing but a farce…
crankpunk’s seen it all now. just when you thought that favoritism and an absurd disregard for the blatantly obvious might have become a thing of the past, when you felt that the powers-that-be could no longer act with impunity and that they would have to comprehend that their motives must be in the best interests of the sport and that we need nothing less than complete transparency at this critical time, they go and do something like this.
ah, another day, another load of crap about doping, dopers, dope and dope enablers. wasn’t there once a thing called ‘bike racing’? remember that thing? the memory’s a bit fuzzy to be honest, but if i remember rightly it involved a bunch of guys riding around places on their bikes with the fastest one being the winner. may be that i should call myself a ‘doping fan’ from here on in, as that’s just about all i’m hearing on RadioCycling. it’s incessant, like a cyst that won’t stop oozing, sometimes it comes out in streams and sometimes in trickles but it never really stops.
and here i am to discuss more of the same – i tried to stay away from it but it pulled me back in, as though it knew where crankpunk really belongs, much like a pig in ****…
you can read all about the proposed World Series Cycling project here, and i’m going to assume that if you’re reading this you’ve already read that report or the others doing the rounds in the cycling media. instead i’m going to look at the comments made by Jonathan Price of the Gifted Group (who have joined with Zdenek Bakala, owner of the Omega Pharma team) in that interview by Cycling News.
Price: There is also a big demand for this sort of product with the broadcast community and with sponsors. I think there’s a balance to be struck between the sort of process that you need to go through in a proper sport and also responding to the requirements of the market. Because ultimately, if you don’t respond to the requirements of the market then you die.
out walking my rabbit the other day i had a sudden thought:
sue the buggers!