File this under: “More things change, more they stay the same.”
Do the folks at the Luxembourg Anti-Doping Agency have any clue what message they’re sending cycling fans — and potential team sponsors — by not yet ruling on Frank Schleck’s doping positive from the Tour de France four months ago?
Do the people running the UCI had any idea how embarrassing, suspicious and stupid it looks to fans and potential sponsors that despite the Armstrong doping PR nuclear meltdown, they’re unable to pressure the Luxembourg agency to make a ruling on Frank Schleck?
As anyone knowledgeable about doping regulations will tell you, the Schleck case is cut and dried. Unless an athlete can prove how the banned substance accidentally got into his system, you’re guilty. Just ask Alberto Contador how that works — or even a small fish like Tom Zirbel — how the rules are written. Despite a legal submission over 1200 pages in length, Contador and his lawyers had no evidence of accidental ingestion.
So what are Luxembourg and the UCI waiting for? In this Post-Reasoned Decision world where people are looking for any positive indications that the doping situation is improving, the Frank Schleck no-call is a disturbing signal.
Let’s review the headlines for a moment. Armstrong loses his seven Tour de France titles for running the best pro doping program in sports and almost the entire US Postal team admits to doping. The Spanish have reopened the never-ending Operacion Puerto doping investigation and the Italians are close to cracking open the Padua doping investigation.
Major sponsors like Rabobank are pulling back and out, an Irish anti-doping journalist is counter-suing the UCI over corruption and slander, apparel sponsor SKINS has launched a 2 million dollar suit against the UCI, plans for the compete overhaul of the UCI and the sport are being formulated. In a bid to deal with the dark, sordid past, many critics are calling for a Truth & Reconciliation commission.
Yet Luxembourg, with four months to issue a ruling on an open and shut case, can’t pull the trigger on Frank Schleck. Incredible, staggering, beyond explanation. Wait a few more weeks and they’ll announces they’re waiting until after the holidays. It’s like Contador Lite with Luxembourg doing their Spanish Federation imitation. What — sanction a national hero?
What are high-profile sponsors RadioShack and Trek and Nissan supposed to think of this sport? They’re sinking big money into pro cycling and they still don’t know if one of their top athletes will ride this year or not.
Inexcusable. Little Luxembourg is showcasing another big doping mess in cycling at the worst possible time.