What’s brilliant about the Tour de France organisers is how they go out of their way to make sure that tainted riders don’t sully their event. You have to wonder if they actually planned this clever tactic, which involves a geographic net to catch the bad guys. Creative, unexpected, out-of-the box thinking. Chapeau, as they say in French racing circles. But first, our friend Alejandro.
Finally, two years past Operacion Puerto, the Italian Olympic Committee nails the Spanish rider. His response ran the typical gamut of reactions, the usual indignation, the time-honored denial, the feigned surprise, the angry legal threats, the immediate hope that some testing technicality or legal loophole will allow him to keep riding. Don’t think so, pal. All the testing groups have had their eye on Alejandro and his blood abnormalities for a while. And at long last, the lawyers got their acts together. But back to the tour organizers.
Here is the true genius of the TDF drug trap. They ran stage 16 into Italy where the Italian Olympic Committee has jurisdiction. Any rider who has broken their rules (read Valvarde) is not allowed to ride in Italy. Thus that one little stretch off Italian road means Alejandro is booted out of the Tour. What a neat trick. A little piece of road in Spain, a little stretch of tarmac in Italy, a detour into Germany or Belgium and you can remove any rider sanctioned by their country–no matter what the UCI does. So what the TDF people are saying is, hey, doesn’t matter who else sanctions and punishes Alejandro, he’s out. Sure, if we have to let you start the race, fine, but you’ll be wasting your time because stage 16 is your exit.