Frank Schleck says he “formally rejects” the idea that he used the banned diuretic Xipamide. His only expiation is that he was poisoned. So the question becomes, who would do such a terrible thing to Frank?
Twisted Spoke has drawn up a list of obvious suspects that may have set up Schleck for an adverse analytic finding from the folks in the white lab coats at Chatenay-Malabry.
First up, RadioShack Team manager Johan Bruyneel. Why? The Belgian team manager has butted heads with both Schlecks all year. He was deeply annoyed when Frank pulled out of the Giro and there have been public feuds about training and tactics. Bruyneel proved unable to motivate the Schlecks and they’ve undermined his legend as genius director sportif. That’s a large pile of juicy motives.
Second, team financier Flavio Becca. Like the old adage says, keep your friends close and your enemies closer. The relationship between the Schlecks and Becca has fallen on hard times and non-payment of salary checks. The boys have made no secret of their desire to jump the sinking RadioShack Nissan Trek ship. The mean-spirited and bankrupt Becca takes a parting shot at Frank.
The Velits brothers? What’s the motive? — it couldn’t be more obvious. Frank and Andy are by far the most famous brother act in pro cycling. Every police investigator and prosecuting lawyer will tell you this is a classic case of jealously. Peter and Martin wish they have the fame and fortune that Frank and his brother enjoy. If you can’t beat them on the road, you beat them in the doping lab with a sabotaged sample.
Now, get ready for a real bombshell — Alberto Contador. You think he’s just quietly training to destroy everyone in the upcoming Vuelta a Espana? Hell no. How much do you think the Spaniard likes being singled out as the top doper in the sport? He’s furious about what he considers the monumental injustice of his steak con clenbuterol ban. He wants his chief rivals the Schlecks to know what that feels like and share the ignominy. Originally, Alberto was probably targeting Andy but when the younger Schleck cracked his pelvis, the Pistolero moved to plan B, brother Frank. Yes, revenge is a dish best served on a cold petri dish.
Jakob Fuglsang. Would the sweet-faced Dane pull something so horrible on a teammate? Yes and no and maybe. Consider this scenario, your honor: weeks before the the Tour de France, team management shocks and insults you by leaving you off the tour roster. Instead — and taste the bitter irony — they dump you at the Tour of Luxembourg — which you promptly win. So where do you focus your anger? Fuglsang targets the man he believes stole his tour ride — Chris Horner. Only things go wrong in your attempt to poison Horner because you slip up and instead it’s Frank who gets the banned diuretic.
Next on our police line-up: Eric Boyer. Ring a bell with that one? He’s the recently fired director sportif for the under-performing Cofidis squad. Depending on which sources you talk to, he was terminated for under-performance or mental instability. The man is a loose cannon, his career in shambles and suffering from professional embarrassment. In the throes of paranoid delusion, he decides the Schlecks are partly responsible for all the terrible things that have befallen him. Boyer is a long shot but certainly worth questioning.
If you’re looking for a conspiracy and evil doings, then look no further than the GC list after stage 15, the day before the rest day and Frank’s positive test result. You’ll see that Frank was in 12th place. Who stands to gain the most by his removal from the race? The two riders directly below him on GC, Nicolas Roche (AG2R) and Jerome Coppel (Saur-Sojasun). Take out Frank and they’re only one and two places off a top ten finish in the biggest, most prestigious bike race in the world. Especially for little French squad Saur Sojasun, a top ten is critical. In fact, these are both French squads desperate for a result — by any means necessary.
Our final suspect is none other than the now-suspended Alex Rasmussen of Garmin-Barracuda. Cycling fans with a working memory will recall this was the man who caused Frank Schleck to crash and later abandon the Giro d’Italia. At the time, Frank Schleck lashed out at Rasmussen for his “stupid move.” Just how furious was Frank Schleck — mad enough to also complain to the UCI and CAS about Rasmussen even being allowed to race after three whereabouts violations? If Rasmussen believes that, then there’s no reason he wasn’t also thinking payback.
Twisted Spoke will forward this suspect list directly to Frank Schleck as he builds his “I was poisoned” case. We have ten clear suspects now and surely there are more to come. Stay tuned for further developments.