In all the he-said, she-said, doc-said of the Pierre Rolland cortisol story, we’ve missed the larger point. Jean-Rene Bernaudeau and his Europcar squad were flat out stupid for letting Rolland start the last stage of the Dauphine.
There are about a half dozen reasons Rolland should never have gotten on his bike, painful tendon or no tendon. First, your team is desperately in the hunt for a new sponsor since Europcar drives away in 2014. Exacerbating the bad publicity only makes the task harder and there was nothing to be gained by letting Rolland ride.
Second, you’re a French team which automatically means you’re under twice the doping scrutiny of a regular team and under five times the scrutiny of a Spanish team. L’Equipe can’t wait to bust out another doping slash health scandal and call it “L’Affaire Rolland.” The goal was damage control, not fan the flames by contradicting the story of Dr Mégret, who administered the test.
Third, you’re a card carrying, dues paying member of the Movement for a Credible Cycling (MPCC) which set up the rules on cortisol. So you’re just going to disregard the regulations because you really, really want Rolland to ride one last stage? Sacre bleu — zat is tres stupid, non?
Fourth, letting Rolland ride was an automatic PR failure. You know the cortisol story — and the disagreement with Dr. Mégret — would soon blow up in your face and you’ll end up looking like a liar and a fool for the back-tracking and weak justifications. In a battle of credibility, Europcar and Rolland lose to the MPCC and Mégret every time unless you have irrefutable evidence to back your side of the story. Which, clearly, you didn’t.
Fifth, you’ve already had this cortisol problem with Anthony Charteau in May of 2012. The second infraction gets us into the dread “pattern of abuse” and a team is then labeled as a problem. Bernaudeau needed to be 100% upfront, transparent and given Charteau’s story, he should have pulled Rolland immediately.
Sixth, you’re three weeks from the biggest race in the world, your own grand tour, the Tour de France. Don’t do anything to make matters worse. It’s the 100th birthday and now you look like the guest who shows up drunk with no gift. The goal was to minimize the bad news and get past it sooner rather than latter. Merde alors!
Bonus observation: Don’t let Rolland do his own rationalizing on his Facebook page without getting your story — and his — straight beforehand. By letting Rolland do the talking, it makes the team look like they don’t know what’s going on, that they’re not proactive but are content instead to have Rolland frame the situation. Rolland doesn’t even have an agent — it’s simply not wise for Rolland to be in charge of events that affect the existence of the entire squad and the hunt for a new sponsor.
Twisted Spoke says incroyable! Cet equipe est tres stupid! Oh-la-la-la-la.