Danilo Di Luca, Mr Discount Suspension, Mr “I Named No Names,” winner of CONI’s “best looking informant” contest, still owes the UCI 280,000 euros in fines. That’s $389,270 and change for those scoring back in the USA.
Chances of Di Luca writing that check to UCI president Pat “hot air” McQuaid? Well, pretty close to sub zero, given the recent success rate for the governing body of bumblers.
Just this week crackpot Dane Michael Rasmussen crawled out from under his 710,000 fine, which the UCI indicated it will no longer attempt to collect. The Chicken played chicken with the UCI and won hands down.
That organizational failure was in turn based on the COurt of Arbitrary Arbitration in Sport’s decision to reject the UCI’s attempt to collect 1.2 million euros from Astana’s ALexander Vinokourov. The Kazakh was booted from the 2007 Tour de France for a blood transfusion. Attaboy, Vino. Never admit, never apologize, score a Tour de France invite despite everything and pay no fine.
In the Vino verdict case, the CAS panel decided “there is no legal basis for UCI to claim the payment of a contribution under the Rider’s commitment.”
Essentially the court ruled that the Commitment to Clean Cycling oath the riders were forced to sign was mostly a PR ploy to “regain public credibility and esteem for the sport of cycling, in general and the Tour de France.” This speaks to the consistently half ass and reactive approach the UCI seems to favor.
In short, it looks like is no rider will be handing over any fine money to the UCI any time soon. Gone are the days when stars like Lance Armstrong happily wrote checks to the UCI just to say thanks and have a nice day. On a funding level alone, we worry about furniture upgrades and banquet food for the embattled UCI.
The no payback news comes at an awkward time for the UCI as their favorite anti-doping tool, the biological passport, is being dismissed in court and questioned by experts. Protocols getting dissed, no Benjamin’s in da bank.
In the cherry-picked UCI case against Franco Pellizotti — a case they had at least six months to build — the Italian rider walked away with no suspension after the Italian Olympic Committee decided there was not enough suspicious parameters in his passport to warrant a ban. The UCI, always last in leadership and rarely with a plan B, is mulling its options. Mull away while Rome burns.
Serial offenders like Di Luca get significantly shorted suspensions, CONI lets Pellizotti walk, the UCI, with ample prep time, bungles the management of the Contador clenbuterol story and nobody pays a dime. Not that the blustery Irishman should resign.
As gonzo journalist Hunter Thompson used to write, “the vultures are coming home to roost.” In particular it took the Spanish Cycling Federation and Spanish Olympic Committee just 24 hours after the no- fine collection news to hammer the weak and overwhelmed UCI.
The two Spanish governing organizations, already in a constant war of words with McQuaid over doping, both took the opportunity to affirm their support for Alberto Contador. COmmenting on the lack of communication from the UCI — there’s a surprise, huh — Alejandro Blanco of Spain’s Olympic Committee said, “some people have criticized me for defending Contador, but I’ll keep doing it because I defend the person. When you win, everyone hugs you and when you have a problem they take a step back and choose to be cautious.”
All this points back to the hundred sticks of dynamite ready to blow at any second. The UCI has never looked weaker, more disorganized, more befuddled but are now faced with making an extremely difficult suspension call on the biggest name in cycling.
Twisted Spoke firmly believes that no matter which way the UCI rules, they are in deep shit cakes. They can’t handle the inevitable consequences of either scenario. SHould they suspend Alberto Contador, the Spaniard, like fellow countryman Alejandro Valverde will laugh all the way to the CAS and given the UCI’s recent success ratio, the chances of embarrassment are high. House of cards collapsing.
The other point here is that the Spanish Cycling Federation and Olympic COmmittee have made it clear they find Alberto’s tainted meat explanation plausible and will support Contador against the UCI. He can always ride in Spain. The one thing you can count on is a long litigation that makes the sports governing body look colossally ineffective. It won’t be the first time.
It’s a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation. Should the UCI, already losers in the Franco Pellizotti passport case, decide to absolve COntador of guilt, there will be a firestorm of criticism. They’ll be responsible for the biggest double standard in cycling and every banned rider will be back in court reopening their cases with a juicy precedent in hand. A nightmare scenario.
We’ve said this before, we’ll say it again. Paddy McQuaid must go.
The inability to collect the doping fines, the legal sloppiness of the clean cycling oath and the poorly managed support and damage control of the biological passport are this week’s examples of the consistent incompetence of the UCI. Is there a fine for that because Twisted Spoke would sure like to collect.
With the Contador decision looming, one thing is for sure. Things are only going to get worse. That’s with Danilo di Luca being the only exception. Look at that styled hair, look at those shiny white teeth, look at that 280,000 euros still in the bank.