Interesting name change, huh? A few observations and questions on Alberto Contador and his hot water problem:
1 When have you seen a rider so supported after a possible doping violation? Sure, the infinitesimally small amount of clenbuterol — with no performance boost — might have something to do with the vote of confidence. But people like Johan Bruyneel and former manager Bjarne Riis gave Alberto the thumbs up.
Garmin’s David Millar told everyone to calm down and Jonathan Vaughters said don’t jump to conclusions, let science sort this out. That’s a lot of love and respect for the Spaniard and perhaps a tribute to his generally nice guy attitude. But we think there’s more behind that support.
Upshot: nobody really wants Alberto nailed because it’s just too damaging for the entire sport. Professional cycling is desperately trying to recover from Landis, Armstrong, Valverde and Di Luca. If Alberto goes down, it’s a massive blow at the worst time. How many heroes can one sport kill? As usual, UCI president Pat “Hot Air” McQuaid has little of substance to say and no direction to provide.
2 Joe Lindsey in his Boulder Report report was dead on (as always) when he quickly pointed out the double standard for Radio Shack’s Li Fuyu and Alberto Contador. Both tested positive for clenbuterol in similarly low amounts but in Fuyu’s case, there was no discussion or cries of support or a willingness to listen to explanations. The UCI banned the Chinese rider for two years.
If Contador dodges this bullet and keeps his yellow, expect Fuyu to be saying “screw you” in court and yelling about the Alberto precedent. In Mandarin, very loud, with the entire Chinese Cycling Federation standing behind him threatening to destroy both the UCI and Google.
On the flip side, Twisted Spoke says, what’s wrong with a double standard? The rules are different when you’re rich or famous or powerful. Pablo Picasso and Gary Fisher qualify as jerks but they’re forgiven because Pablo was pretty good with a paint brush and Gary designed a lot of cool bikes and gave us the magical 29er mountain bike.
So what if Pablo like to hang out with prostitutes and Fisher ran thru four or five marriages? Same goes for Alberto — he means far more for the sport than Fuyu and consequently, the UCI will bend over to give him the benefit of doubt.
3 Silence is golden. It’s been a horrible, wonderful few days for Vuelta runner-up Ezequiel Mosquera. The horrible: he tested positive for Hydroxyethyl starch (HES). But if you had to pick one day when basically no one in the cycling world would pay the slightest attention, make sure it’s the same day ALberto COntador gets popped. In even hometown Spain, the journalists are writing about El Pistelero, not Mosquera. That’s the wonderful part for Mosquera.
4 Those mean Germans. These guys are the brownshirts of investigative cycling journalism. They come in hard and fast and even Balco bad-ass and Armstrong chaser Jeff Novitzky has to be impressed with their work. (He may even hire a few of these guys.) When most stories focused on clenbuterol, the Germans were another 2k up the road with shovels digging like mad.
Hans Joachim Seppelt, a journalist with the German TV station ARD claims there were traces of a plasticizer in Contador’s Tour pee, evidence of a blood transfusion from one of those nice plastic bags. The French jumped on that claim in L’Equipe but the Germans got there first for a doping scoop. French testers knock on your door first, the Germans kick it down and bring the snarling dogs.
5 Just a curious aside: how come in all this super sophisticated and expensive testing, nobody comes back with a positive for tapeworms? Wouldn’t that be funny? Ricco the Cobra positive for worms! Two foot intestinal parasite crawls around in Di Luca’s stomach. You know some top ProTour rider has worms. Let’s get the story out.
6 The food contamination angle. The minute we read the “steak in question” was from Spain, we had to laugh. Ahh, Spain, home of Operacion Puerto and so many other operacions. The country with the weakest doping laws and thus, a high number of doped riders. Of course the steak has a banned substance. Don’t people know that Puerto doctor Eufemiano Fuentes used to keep the steaks next to the blood bags in the fridge?
7 Drug confusion. When first reported, the drug was mistakenly called CLEMbuterol. Not the same drug or even the same performance effects. CLEMbuterol is the drug of choice for hillbillies in Appalachia since it helps them play the fiddle at blinding speeds. Clenbuterol makes lab mice build lean muscle mass and sometimes helps you ride up Tourmalet faster.
8 Have we all been wrong about the Contador “firing pistol” gesture? Was he just being clever and ironic, pretending it was a gun barrel instead of a syringe? Worth reviewing the video based on new information.
9 The whole tainted supplement issue has become such a dangerous quagmire for riders. This was summed up perfectly (and wisely) by Taylor Phinney who said on twitter “This is why I don’t even take multi-vitamins, people! No inhalers, no pills, no nothing.”
Makes you have plenty of sympathy for guys like Tom Zirbel, now serving a two year ban for DHEA. It’s also another reason why Garmin riders only eat their sponsor stuff: Chipotle burritos and Pom pomegranate juice. Vaughters is always ahead of the game.
10 Step back and marvel at how far dope testing has come. We have a situation where they could potentially strip a three time Tour de France winner, not for a banned substance but a plasticizer trace from a plastic bag. Thus potentially proving a banned blood transfusion. That’s pretty damn good police work.
11 Lucky Eleven. Admit that with the pro race season soon ending, you were already feeling the boredom come on. Then the Alberto Clenbuterol story blows up and we’ve got a whole winter of intriguing controversy to go along with the Landis Armstrong investigation. This sport always has something to give.