It’s tempting to say that these strange, inexplicable things only happen in professional road cycling.
Such is the case with Tinkoff-Saxo’s Roman Kreuziger, who was all set to help Alberto Contador win the Tour de France until just days before the Départ, when he was pulled because of biological passport anomalies that may or may not have occurred in 2011 and 2012.
Well, that’s three years to figure things out, guilty or not, race or don’t race, but today nobody has an answer. Kreuziger doesn’t know what’s going on and neither does his team management. The Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation (CAFD) that opened the case hasn’t even bothered to tell him if he can race or not.
What’s the fan response here — shake head, laugh, buried face in hands, spit on sidewalk, throw arms up in despair, fart derisively? We may have a smart and progressive new UCI president in Brian Cookson, but the handling of the Kreuziger case reminds us of the ghost of Pat McQuaid, the corrupt former UCI head man.
Really, with all the anti-doping tests and agencies and protocols and bureaucratic bullshit and political turf wars and assorted nonsense, you wonder how anything ever gets sorted out. The guy has a contract to ride and his team doesn’t even know what to do — sit him down or saddle up.
“If you see the model contract we’re obliged that he races,” said Tinkoff-Saxo general manager Stefano Feltrin. “We have to oblige with his contract and there’s no clause that says we should suspend him. We have anti-doping rules in the team but all we have here is expert opinion that something is possible. It’s up to the UCI to decide and they didn’t suspend him in 2012, 2013, or 2014 so far.”
The man has a point.
There is so much comedy in these statements. Like this follow-up quote from Feltrin: “There’s going to be a trial I suppose, or may be not, but as a team we have to apply the contract and that’s based on the model created by the UCI and I couldn’t see a clause in there that says that we have to suspend him. We have to allow him to race as long as the UCI don’t suspend him.”
This feels like one of those Kafka-esque situations where nobody knows the score. It makes the UCI and CAFD look like some nefarious and disorganized Soviet-era organization that decides on crimes against the state when there is no real definition of said crimes. “We don’t like the color of his lycra jersey so we are putting him in jail. There will be a trial but we don’t know when. He will be accused of a number of crimes but we haven’t decided which ones. Go away, we have much work to do.”
You’re the team manager for Belkin or Cannondale and you’re desperately hunting for sponsor money and stories like the three year-old Kreuziger mess, don’t help you too much. Hard to make an argument for the stability of the sport, the return on investment, the cleaner image of cycling, when you’ve got a rider in doping limbo year after year.
To put things in more eloquent terms, WTF?