Belkin walks the dope walk: buys out Sanchez.
When some teams issue their PR-driven “We’re firmly against that naughty doping” statements, it’s often hard to take them too seriously. It’s just post-USADA bullshit handed out in hopes of not scaring away even more sponsors.
They do zero or the absolute minimum in terms of funding internal testing program or even spending for educational efforts to make sure riders understand what will not be tolerated. Garmin-Sharp, Team Sky and Argos-Shimano take a hardcore stance against doping but our sense is they’re in the minority.
Today we salute the Belkin squad for putting their money where their ethics are. In buying out the last two years of Luis Léon Sanchez’s contract, Belkin made a clean break with the teams’ dirty Rabobank past and sent a clear message that they mean business.
Sanchez has been linked to several doping scandals and investigations with criminals like Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes and the Devil himself, Dr. Ferrari. The team did its own digging back in May and couldn’t find any definite connection to Fuentes but there was so much smoke, Belkin knew they had a fire somewhere.
Unable to terminate Sanchez, they did the next best thing: kicking him out with a large financial goodbye package. Sanchez is a super talented rider but we’re struggling to think of what WorldTour squad would take on his baggage — Movistar, Lampre, Katusha?
We were always impressed with Sanchez’ ability to win Tour stages. He bagged four in Le Grand Shindig with canny attacks and opportunistic moves. The guy knows how to win bike races but once we learned about his illegal methods, we’re not such a big fan.
Financial details of the Get-Lost payout were not announced but the value of Sanchez’ contract was 2.4 million Euros. He’s probably set whether he rides the next two years or not. He’s 29 with plenty left in the tank but who can say what kind of rider he’ll be once he’s back on the bread and water.
In the meantime, team management has made a high profile statement on their anti-doping stance. Amount other things, sponsor Belkin makes routers and surge protectors. They just routed Sanches out the door and protected the team from a positive doping test.