Contador calls for what now?

crankpunk reads a lot, at least three books a week which means i go through a lot of coloring pencils, but even i gave up join-the-dots drawing a long time ago. seems however that Alberto Contador wants to play, so why not? i have nothing else to do, so let’s give the Spaniard his ounce of beef.

the backdrop: Grand Tour supremo Alberto was hungry and a bit peckish and seemingly homesick during the 2010 Tour de France and so sent for a single piece of beef from his favorite butcher back in Spain. however the succulent filet, which was specially driven across the border to Conty’s hotel in the south of France – i know, if this was a film script pitch, you’d have thrown me out of the room by now – turned out to be tainted by Clenbuterol! who’d have crankthunk it?

‘two T-bones please, frites and a dope test, if you don’t mind…’

Conty tested positive for the drug that opens up the airways and has resulted in positives for a heck of a lot of athletes and had his TdF victory stripped from him. riding for Astana at that time, he then switched to the SaxoBank team, run by everyone’s favorite Danish junkie, Bjarne Riis. all kinds of shenanigans went on as Conty and his lawyers ducked and dived and bobbed and weaved like Sugar Ray on the ropes in the 11th as he did all he could to avoid a suspension. the boy just would not hit the canvas and no way Jose Gonzalez was anyone in his corner throwing the towel in.

amidst all the hooing and haaing, the diminutive Spaniard not only rode well into 2011, he also won quite a bit. like the 2011 Giro d’Italia, amongst others, which, as with his other wins, was eventually stripped from him when he was finally handed a puny little 7 month ban. did he really get the Clenbuterol in his system from the beef? i don’t care. personally, going off what i know about top level pros i err on the side of caution. by which i mean i think he took it knowingly. but here’s where he could have redeemed himself. what he could have done is to protest his innocence once and eloquently, and then to voluntarily withdraw from competition until the case was decided.

saying ‘i love the sport’ in one breath then dragging it through sewage tunnels in another does not equate (did somebody holler the name Valverde?). innocent until proven guilty’ some may bleat, ‘he has a right to earn a living’ others may grundle, but those kind of arguments are just too facile. they deny the entire environment that is pro cycling. if you love the sport and have been wrong done by, clear off and fight to clear your name, and we, the fans, who have been kicked and pummeled for far too many a moon, will respect that. if you believe the sport’s hierarchy to be participating in mockery and refuse to abide by the rules – which state that you are responsible for everything in your system – then leave.

Riis’ lips have been stapled shut from the inside

that would have had an element of dignity to it. as it is, both Contador and Riis, by refusing to pull the rider from races, exhibited a great disrespect to the fans of the sport.

which brings us to Conty’s recent statement, that he believes that all riders that test positive should be banned for life. three days ago, the Argos-Shimano manager, Iwan Spekenbrink, said the same thing. are you joining the dots yet?

the recent UCI ruling states that the points accrued by a rider returning from a suspension do not count towards the team’s tally for two years, meaning that Alberto’s haul, from winning the 2012 Vuelta and others, cannot be included in the Saxo-Tinkoff total. this means that Saxo are now way down the pecking order and fighting with Argos-Shimano for the last wildcard place on the World Tour. Riis and Conty, who recently expressed support for Lance Armstrong, are not exactly the most popular people in world cycling right now. Argos-Shimano, with young riders like Marcel Kittel who has made public his dislike of drug cheats, are very much more in stride with the swing of things (yet even Kittel himself, though no charges resulted, has been linked to doping).

50’s throwback Marcel Kittel

Riis couldn’t have made the statement about zero tolerance, as he’s currently in a small burrow 3 meters under the earth somewhere near the Arctic circle, doing the most amazing impersonation of a hibernating bear ever seen, such is his desire to keep his head down. no one else on Saxo carries even a quarter the weight of Conty, though this brazen attempt to state credentials that no one ever suspected he had is all rather painful to witness – and he even managed to say that his statements about supporting LA had been ‘misinterpreted’ at the same time.

i really can’t see Saxo beating out Argos-Shimano. you have one one side a fresh, young middleweight with a sharp left hook and snazzy little tassled boots and on the other a flabby, aging cruiserweight whose gut is seeping over his waistband and whose dressing gown is tatty and full of questionable stains. Alberto may be the secret weapon and is undoubtedly one of the finest Grand Tour riders of many a year, but he’s made some bad choices in his career – Astana and Vino, Saxo and Riis and now Tinkoff, and of course that steak and his divisive defence before WADA and CAS, and now, i feel, it’s all coming back to hurt him.

will the UCI have the gumption to make the right choice? they may never have a better opportunity to relegate Riis to the 2nd division. let’s see, shall we…

so, dots joined yet? what have you got? a steaming pile of smelly crap? yup. nice huh! thanks Alberto!

Author: Lee Rodgers

Cycling coach, race organiser, former professional cyclist and the original CrankPunk.

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