Menchov or Rodriguez? A Katusha dilemma.
Never liked the Silent Assassin Denis Menchov.
The Russian was old school and we all know what that means in pro cycling. He came though the ranks in the dark days of doping. His riding style was dull, the antithesis of panache, the epitome of calculating and uninspired. He won races by putting people to sleep.
Whether it was due to the language difficulty or simply a uncommunicative personality, Menchov wasn’t too entertaining off the bike. His nickname the Silent Assassin seemed to sum up his bike racing career and general approach to life.
The stories about Menchov’s connection to the infamous Dr. Ferrari have circulating for years but never really resulted in stopping the Russian. His silence on the subject of doping was another variant on Hamilton’s Secret Race — say as little as possible, keep your mouth shut tight.
Menchov’s name surfaced again today in an L’Equipe story on why the Russian Katusha squad, the number two ranked team in the world, was denied a WorldTour license by the UCI.
The French publication quotes a source at the UCI saying Menchov’s links to Ferrari are the reason why Katusha remains without a license to race in 2013.
While Katusha does have the top ranked points winner of 2012 in Spaniard Joaquin Rodriguez, the squad has a raft of ethical issues and the UCI had plenty to choose from. There’s Denis Galimzyanov’s recent positive for EPO and Katusha director sportif Viatcheslav Ekimov’s role at US Postal, as part of the most professional, well organized doping program in sports.
Then there’s also the on-going UCI investigation on whether or not Alexandr Kolobnev (Katusha) sold Alexander Vinokourov the 2010 Liege-Bastogne-Liege race for €150,000. Katusha needs several law firms just to keep up with the paperwork.
Nevertheless, according to L’Equipe, the real culprit is Menchov. If that’s true, then you have to wonder if and when Katusha will throw Menchov under the team bus in order to save whatever chance they still have at a WorldTour License. If you look at it in that simplistic way, the choice is pretty clear: either Menchov goes or their superstar Rodriguez jumps the sinking ship.
Then the Global Russian Cycling Shindig is in serious trouble.