Thursday, July 26, 2007

Writing the Tour off: news from France

At the start of the day, with Rabobank's decision about the team still unknown, a section of the French press is calling for the stopping of the Tour. Three excerpts. First up, overnight, was a signed opinion piece on Eurosport:

Stop the massacre!
by Laurent Vergne

Having lost all credibility and interest, the 2007 Tour de France should stop. It's just common sense. This 94th edition, undermined by scandal, has absolutely no need of a winner. However, it will go all the way to Paris, if only for purely economic reasons. . . .

Why do certain riders, a majority even, continue to violate the ethical rules? Because force of habit, and stupidity are so deeply rooted that it will take years more to remove them. With all that, one almost forgets about the race, dominated by Michael Rasmussen . . . whose success has been greeted with boos. Rabobank decided to withdraw Rasmussen from the race Wednesday evening. The Tour does not have a Yellow Jersey any longer, and nor any more credit.

Rasmussen is gone, then, and no one regrets it. Good riddance. But does it matter that Alberto Contador or anyone else wins on the Champs-Elysees Sunday? Any way you look at it, the Yellow Jersey will be one belonging to a Tour that was rotten to the core. The winner will wear it like a ball and chain, more to be pitied than anything else. Why continue in these conditions? Because of the financial stakes. Because the Tour organizers, focussed on their sterile war of attrition against the ICU don't want to drop their guard—or their pants. You can understand them. The ASO feels it has been taken hostage in this story. . . .

Like its predecessor, the 2007 Tour is already dead before having ended. Let's move on to something else. There's no need for a winner. No one wants one any more.


A signed editorial in the newsaper, Libération, then appeared this morning with the same theme:

In agony
By Renaud Dely

Dopers will do anything. It's one of the ways to recognize them. The alleged cheater Rasmusssen therefore flew over the Pyrenees yesterday as he had over the Alps. Punch is in yellow, and P.T. Barnum is right behind him. The Tour has to stop. This procession of cyclists has transformed itself into a caravan of ridicule. If the organizers were serious about saving cycling, they would stop the race. And decree a pause of several years: the time it will take to rehabilitate the former racers who have become addicts. . . .

It would be hypocritical to come down only on the riders. If, one by one, they fall into drug use, it's because television, their sponsors, and multiple commercial interests encourage them to turn themselves into sideshow acts. For anyone professing to be a journalist, it has become completely absurd to continue to publish standings that are lack any meaning and to recount an adventure that has an interest only for a few scientists looking for new drugs. Only the police news--searches, interrogations, and investigations--is worth reporting any more.


And, from Libération's news story of yesterday's stage, entitled "The Death of the Tour":

The Death of the Tour
By Michel Henry

Zombie. Four days from its conclusion, the Tour has only one more obsession: sucking it up and reaching Paris. There's no longer any sense to the race. Whoever wins will be suspect. No human activity can function under the presumption of guilt. The Tour is a zombie. It moves along dragging catheters behind it. In its wake, drops of blood. Even if we're not sure that's its own blood. The Tour is a masterpiece in peril, about which even the government is worried: it declared yesterday its "clear support." Only Super-Sarko can save it. After the Bulgarian nurses, these riders at the end of their ropes.

20 comments:

bi_anne2001 said...

The riders need to think about the final day coming to Paris, if they do the normal parade they will be booed. Instead of this make it a final day stampede, where riders really go for the victory, some rider pulls away and finishes gloriously ahead in Paris. If someone went for it and made a great race of the last day, finishing 2 minutes ahead of anyone else it'd give the public someone to cheer as they arrive in Paris, rather than boo the whole group, a lot of whom wouldnt deserve it.

Burt Friggin' Hoovis said...

While I don't support the presumption of guilt exhibited by ASO and the UCI, I applaud Rabobank for having the balls to remove Rasumssen when it became evident that he was lying. I also cannot understand the comments to stop the race, or (even less) the suggestions that the race has lost credibility. If anything, the recent doping busts ADD credibility to the race. The cheaters (and maybe some non-cheaters) are being caught and kicked out, and that's a good thing.

James said...

Reading the current headlines, I am reminded of the anti-communist hearings in the 1950s. A real problem is identified and investigated, but...

- Allegations are treated as facts.
- Authorities are not held accountable for their own transgressions.
- Thoughtful analysis is in short supply.
- The populace is whipped into hysteria by the media.

So I'm really thankful that here we have a place where facts, rational thought, and dialogue are valued.

THANK YOU ALL, especially the staff of TBV (and their families).

Jesperio

Whareagle said...

From the opening dialogue - it sounded like all four commentators on Vs. were sort of throwing Floyd under the bus of Doping. No mention of him, but lots of mentions of guilt before innocence, etc.

wschart said...

I had some questions about the whole Ras thing, like why did this Italian journalist or this Danish rider wait until now to reveal they had seen Ras in Italy? I still wonder, we have know about the failure to inform of his whereabouts for some time now. However, reading the details it appears that Ras did fess up.

However, I understand that, according to the rules, he is not guilty of a positive, either from testing or from having missed OoC tests and that the penalty for his transgressions was simply a warning. Now Rabobank may well be right to have fires him, but let's not get to worked up about this. If some Rabo domestique, well down in GC, had this happen, would we even know about it?
Cheaters will always exist, whether it is dopers in the TdF, team cheifs doing funny things with cars in NASCAR, coaches violating recruiting regs in the NCAA or whatever. It seems to me that cycling is doing quite a lot to get dopers. IF (and I deliberately stressed IF) doping in cycling is much more widespread that what is indicated by the small number of riders who actually test positive, than the testing procedures need to be revised so as to catch more. However, if the number of riders actually caught is truly indicative of the nature of the beast, then we need to stop beating our collective breasts about how rotten cycling is.

The Tour has survived scandal in the early days, when riders apparently hitched rides to get ahead. It has survived 2 wars. It survived the Festina scandal. I think it will survive this too.

Linda said...

I listened to the opening remarks of the Tour this morning before I turned it off. How can the sport continue if the new standard is guilt by association and/or accusation? How can the anti-doping officials ever be sure they have rid the sport of drugs if they believe in magical, undetectable drugs? How can an athlete ever hope to succeed through training if a future stellar performance is judged suspicious if they had not performed as well in the past? Doesn't it make sense that Michael Rasmussen would have trained very hard to improve his time trial if he had any hope of winning the Tour? And how could these magical drugs have prevented him from falling off his bicycle as he was prone to do last year? All of this makes me understand why most commentators think Floyd will be found guilty regardless of the scientific evidence to the contrary, and it also explains why Greg Lemond was asked to testify at his hearing. A fitting end to the tour this year as the riders swoop into Paris would be a guillotine in the Place de la Concorde. Robespierre has returned again bringing another reign of terror.

Jacob said...

Some parallels and suggestions:

If a student takes a sheet of paper with answers into a test and uses them, he is cheating, giving him/herself an unfair advantage over the others. When caught they deserve suspension.

If an employee tells his/her boss he/she is at the doctor's office, but is really lounging on the beach, they would be reprimanded or fired.

Those things don't work or benefit anyone in the real world. It should be no different for a rider in an entertainment industry. This is his job, and it's our trust.

I love sport because I can do the same thing the professionals can, albiet slower. I can ride the hills, yet marvel at and appreciate the talent gap between Contador and myself. But how can anyone appreciate single achievements if they are artificial? I have no appreciation for Ben Johnson's 100m in 1988, Barry Bonds' home runs, or Vinokourov's "gritty" time trial or mountain stage win. What I have is appreciation for are performances like Agassi's final run in the US Open, Brett Favre's 5TD's after his father died, Paula-Newby Fraser nearly dying, yet finishing the Ironman in 1995. Show me heart and talent, and that is great entertainment.

Riders that dope cheat those who are clean. Riders that lie cheat their employer. If one does both- and we may never know in Rasmussen's case, only suppose- then they have no business racing. From just a riding standpoint, I believe if Rasmussen and Vino had never ridden this tour, it would have been just as thrilling.

The clean riders deserve credit for their actions (presuming they are also clean.) Contador, Evans, Leipheimer, Soler and others have shown us unbelievable grit and ability. It is for them the tour should continue, with a rightful winner crowned and honored for their achievement. When it's all said and done, many riders have been amazing, and Laurent Vergne's idea that the winner will be "pittied" depresses me, even as there is probably some truth to it.

That said, maybe the jerseys that we should all be most proud of are the White Jersey and the Polka Dot Jersey competition. Soler and Contador are providing great displays of heart and talent from the young generation or riders. Put them up on the podium last, and leave them as the final impression from this year's tour.

Ken (EnvironmentalChemistry.com) said...

Over at Rant a comment was made about Rasmussen's passport containing entry and exit stamps. I have been thinking the same thing. If as he claims in the press he was in Mexico, Rasmussen should be able to provide proof via his passport and travel documents (e.g. used airline tickets) that he was in Mexico. Likewise, I would assume that his passport would show stamps that he was in Italy. If he really was where he said he was, it should have been so easy to prove it.

PEM said...

Following Ken above, Vinokourev should provide blood samples as soon as possible to prove directly if there are foreign blood cells in his system.

wschart said...

"If a student takes a sheet of paper with answers into a test and uses them, he is cheating, giving him/herself an unfair advantage over the others. When caught they deserve suspension.

If an employee tells his/her boss he/she is at the doctor's office, but is really lounging on the beach, they would be reprimanded or fired."

True enough. However, if one student takes a crib into a test, you don't fail the whole class or close the school. If one employee takes the day off improperly, you don't fire all employees or go out of business. Nor do you wail ad nauseum about how the entire educational system or business is corrupt.

ilsanjo said...

Just a passing thought, does anyone know if any cyclist competing in the tour this year has ever lied concerning his whereabouts and what the result was?

As we all know, lying to grand jury/FBI and obstruction of justice is ok, according to our fearless leader, with a pardon on the way, wink wink, nudge nudge.

("Eightzero") said...

I am not an international traveller, but I'm told that not all customs officers stamp passports these days.

I would have expected Ras to produce a copy of his passport with a Mexico entry stamp by now.

Ken (EnvironmentalChemistry.com) said...

Eightzero,

I just checked my passport and it is stamped with entrance and exit dates by Russian officials on my trip to there and my entrance into Jamaica was stamped by Jamaican officials (even though a passport wasn't even needed at the time for my trip to Jamaica) with my return to the United States from Jamaica being stamped by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. I'm sure Mexico would have stamped Rasmussen's passport.

jrdbutcher said...

I am greatly disappointed with the Versus quartet of Phil, Paul, Bob, and the other guy with regard to their statements about Rasmussen today. If you are for due process, you need to be for due process, regardless of the individual. Phil, Paul, and Bob have previously made statements that they were for due process for the riders. Floyd should have been afforded due process, Vinokourov should have been afforded due process, and Rasmussen should have been afforded due process.

The UCI and ASO won the lottery when Rabobank withdrew Rasmussen and then fired him. Rabobank may eventually be forced to pay out a lottery size payment as a result of the same act.

Top UCI and ASO officials are on record as having wanted the nine-day yellow jersey wearer out of the TdF. As Rasmussen came about as close as one can to being suspended for missing OoC tests, without actually crossing the line, the UCI and ASO had their hands tied. Instead, Rabobank turned the trick for them.

Rasmussen missed OoC drug tests. He didn’t meet the threshold for suspension, but was issued a warning by the UCI and fined for his transgression. While riding the 2007 TdF and wearing the yellow jersey, the Danish Cycling Federation announced Rasmussen was removed from the Danish National Team and would be ineligible to ride in the 2007 World Championships. Doubt was also cast about his eligibility to ride in the 2008 Olympics.

Rasmussen admitted to “administrative errors” concerning the paperwork he was required to file related to his travel schedule so that testers could find him to take sample for the OoC tests. Rasmussen is reported to have claimed to be in Mexico during at least one of the missed tests in June of 2007.

Davide Cassani, journalist and former pro cyclist, claims to have seen Rasmussen training in the Dolomites during the time period Rasmussen said he was in Mexico. This discontinuity is what de Rooy of Rabobank claims is the basis (last straw) for withdrawing Rasmussen from the TdF and firing him.

--------------------------------------------

There are a few problems with this:

1) With regard to WADA, UCI, and perhaps TdF rules, Rasmussen did nothing that could cause him to be suspended.
2) Rasmussen had been warned and fined for missing his OoC tests per the rules currently in place. Why the wish for an extra bite at the same apple by the UCI and ASO???
3) Rabobank was pressured by the UCI and ASO, at least publicly (and maybe privately) by top UCI and ASO officials via their public statements, to remove Rasmussen from the TdF.
4) Rabobank finally complied. They withdrew Rasmussen from the Tdf and fired him.
5) Rabobank claimed Rasmussen admitted to lying to the team officials regarding his whereabouts during the June time period in question.
6) Davide Cassani is identified as the journalist who claims to have seen Rasmussen in Italy during the time period Rasmussen said he was in Mexico.
7) Rasmussen denies admitting to lying about his whereabouts with regard to the issue of Mexico/Italy in June.
8) Rasmussen reaffirmed his claim that he was not in Italy as claimed by David Cassani.
9) There are a number of ways that either Rasmussen or Cassani could provide evidence to support their claims.
10) To date, I have not been able to find any report of either Rasmussen or Cassani coming forward with supportive evidence. It’s still at the “he said - he said” stage.

-----------------------------------------------

Of course, if Rasmussen can build a strong case that Rabobank wrongfully terminated him, he could expect a large award for damages. The UCI and ASO did well to pass the buck and potentially gained themselves an important layer of protection. My guess is that the folks at Rabobank are not very skilled at chess.

If you are not for due process for the athletes, watch your back. At some time, in some place, it could be you that is denied due process. It would be rather hypocritical to complain then, now wouldn’t it ????????

Ken (EnvironmentalChemistry.com) said...

jrdbutcher,

I am all for due process and Rasmussen has been given more leniency when it comes to due process than other riders have been in the past. Per current UCI rules if a rider misses an OoC drug test they are supposed to be ineligible to compete in a major tour for 45 days. As Rasmussen missed a test in June he was supposed to be ineligible to start in the TDF, however, for some unknown reason the UCI did not tell ASO about the missed test. Thus we was allowed to start when the rules clearly state that he should not have.

Now lets add to this the fact that it wasn't one missed test. Rasmussen has missed a total of four OoC tests in the past 18 months (two from WADA/UCI and two from his national team). If Rasmussen wanted to prove he did not lie about being in Mexico, all he should need to do is show the press his passport, which should have customs entry and exit stamps for Mexico.

Again, by UCI's rules Rasmussen should have never been allowed to start the TDF, yet he was and it wasn't until his team found that he had lied to them about his whereabouts for these missed tests that he was fired. How much more leniency and due process do you want?

From the way I see it, the fight about due process on TBV is about nobody being above the rules and holding everyone accountable. UCI letting Rasmussen start the race by not telling ASO about the missed tests placed Rasmussen above the rules, this is not fair to other riders who make sure to follow the rules in regards to keeping UCI informed of their whereabouts.

jrdbutcher said...

Ken (envronmentalchemistry.com),

I’ll preface my response to your post by stating that I am not a Rasmussen fan. I’m fairly indifferent about his performances. I’d be more inclined to root for Levi. However, I strenuously object to the process that got Rasmussen booted from the tour.

With regard to the UCI failing to notify the TdF about Rasmussen’s missed OoC tests within 45 days of the TdF, thus making him ineligible to start the TdF, that is something the UCI needs to answer to. That part is not up to Rasmussen.

The OoC tests missed (a) with regard to the UCI and (b) with regard to his national federation are separate issues. Neither rose to the level of causing a suspension under the existing rules. The UCI issued a warning and fined Rasmussen. His national federation took him off their team, making him ineligible for the 2007 World Championships and possibly the 2008 Olympic games. Those were the penalties imposed for his missed tests, respectively.

Again, the fact that Rasmussen was allowed to start the 2007 TdF in spite of his missed tests in June is a failure of the UCI and/or his national federation. The part about lying to his Rabobank Team regarding his whereabouts in June is still in dispute. http://www.velonews.com/tour2007/news/articles/12949.0.html
Proof of telling the truth or lying is in short supply from the parties involved. As I wrote in my previous post, there are a number of ways that either Rasmussen or Cassani (I’ll add Rabobank management-de Rooy) could provide evidence to support their claims. To date, I have not been able to find any report of either Rasmussen or Cassani coming forward with supportive evidence. It’s still at the “he said - he said” stage.

I don’t want leniency. Leniency is your word.

I want the rules to be followed. That’s the system everyone involved has bought into. When the rules are broken, I would like the responsible party or parties punished or reprimanded.

As an example, you seem to think it is correct for Rasmussen to be punished for riding, wearing the yellow jersey for nine days, in the 2007 TdF because he should not have started the race due to missed OoC tests within 45 days of the TdF. I have not checked the rule, but it rings true and I’ll take your word for it. Regardless, you are attacking the party the least responsible of those who should be held accountable. Rasmussen’s job is to enter races, ride, and hopefully win. He was attempting to do just that. The UCI, ASO, Rabobank management and Rasmussen’s national federation are to a significant extent, gatekeepers. A major portion of their function is to enforce rules or to see that rules are followed. They collectively dropped the ball in the matter of preventing Rasmussen from taking the start of the 2007 TdF. As they are responsible for dropping the ball, they should be the primary parties penalized. Who is the primary party being penalized? Is it a surprise that it is, once again, the rider? It’s business as usual, just a different twist. Nice show!

The process matters. If the process follows the rules and seeks the truth, rather than expediency, and Rasmussen is found innocent, then great. If the process follows the rules and seeks the truth, rather than expediency, and Rasmussen is found guilty, then great too. In the end, I care much less about his innocence or guilt that I do about him getting the treatment that was at least promised to him, under the rules. Guilt by association, guilt by allegation, and guilt by innuendo don’t cut it.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

I appreciated the thoughts from Jesperio. Poignant and timely.

James said...
Reading the current headlines, I am reminded of the anti-communist hearings in the 1950s. A real problem is identified and investigated, but...

- Allegations are treated as facts.
- Authorities are not held accountable for their own transgressions.
- Thoughtful analysis is in short supply.
- The populace is whipped into hysteria by the media.

So I'm really thankful that here we have a place where facts, rational thought, and dialogue are valued.

THANK YOU ALL, especially the staff of TBV (and their families).

Jesperio

jrdbutcher said...

WRT Passport Stamps:

On my most recent trip to Copenhagen (coincidentially, honest) my Passport was not stamped in Denmark. It was stamped by customs upon my return to the states.

FWIW

Ken (EnvironmentalChemistry.com) said...

Jrdbutcher,

In regards to the he said/she said over whether Rasmussen admitted to lying to Rabobank.

1) Rant reported that in a translation of an interview that when asked about whether his passport had Mexican stamps, Rasmussen refused to answer citing his lawyers advice. To me that is pretty damning. I'm certain that if his passport had stamps proving he was in Mexico when he said he was, it would be the first thing him and his lawyer would be showing off to the press. To hide this evidence would be stupid.

2) What you and I really know about what transpired doesn't really matter to the truth about due process in this case. If when confronted on the issue, Rasmussen admitted to his team that he had lied about his location, then due process was served. If Rasmussen then tries to play the "I didn't say that" routine after words, there isn't much that can be done for him.

3) Having missed four OoC tests over 18 months, regardless of testing agency, because he failed to provide accurate or timely information about his whereabouts pretty much blows any credibility he has and shows a habitual disregard for the rules. Particularly when the powers to be with the Danish national team said they repeated talked to Rasmussen in person several times about the importance of providing accurate accountability about his whereabouts.

4) I have even seen reports that he claimed to talk to so and so on a specific day about where he was only to be confronted later that the person in question wasn't working, to which he said, oh it was someone else. Uh ya, right.

5) We have also seen a constant changing of his story as to where he was and why he couldn't be found for testing. None of this lends to his credibility, just like the LNDD lab techs constantly saying "I forgot" didn't lend to their credibility in Landis' case.

As to being fair and the 45 day rule. UCI had an obligation based on their own rules and agreement with ASO to have reported Rasmussen's missed OoC prior to the TDF. By every rights he should have been kicked out of the tour when it was revealed that he shouldn't have been eligible to start the race to begin with. To me allowing him to stay in the race was extending a little extra courtesy to him because he was in the yellow jersey and because there was no good solution. It was not, however, fair to the other riders in the race. It was not fair to the TDF and ASO for UCI to have withheld the information about the miss tests from TDF officials and thus put the TDF in this awkward position to begin with. Nor was it fair to the fans as it essentially allowed an ineligible rider to remain in the race and continue to wear the yellow jersey. The subsequent revelation about Rasmussen possibly lying about what country he was in was simply too much to continue to ignore.

In short, intentionally or not, Rasmussen has repeatedly broken reporting rules (and was warned about it) and thus should have never been allowed to be in the race to begin with. There is no debate on this issue. UCI was also breaking their own rules and agreements by not reporting these violations to ASO. The only real way to set things right for all of the rule abiding riders was to expel Rasmussen from the race, its just a shame it took so long.

jrdbutcher said...

Ken (envronmentalchemistry.com) regarding your 11:28 PM post,

1) We seem to be at an impasse here. I’ve written that there are many ways for Rasmussen, Cassani, or de Rooy to provide evidence to support their statements about Rasmussen’s whereabouts in June. Passport stamps are just one way. Credit card receipts/statements, phone records, un messed around with time stamped photos, and reliable witnesses are but a few of those ways. The journalist (Cassani) has a duty to confirm his story as fact. Rasmussen has a professional duty to do so too, and it would appear to be in his best interests to do so. Given then possibility of a suit against Rabobank for wrongful termination and/or Cassani for something to do with publishing untrue statements that led to loss of income, the lawyers might have a different timeframe in mind for producing passport stamps or other evidence that might back-up Rasmussen’s story.

Any of the three (Rasmussen, Cassani, or de Rooy could be telling the truth or lying. There is currently not enough evidence to tell one way or the other. Cheer up. It should sort out.

2) Any evidence that Rasmussen admitted one thing to his team and then did an about face denial of same in the press. It seems to me that each party is claiming what they think is in their best interest. It could be true or false for any of them. Again, this should sort out.

I don’t know what point you were trying to make about due process in #2. I’ll try to clarify one of my thoughts on due process as it relates to Rasmussen.

UCI and ASO officials didn’t have the stones to kick Rasmussen out of the tour and to stand behind whatever rule(s) they wanted to cite for doing so. They pressured Rabobank into doing it for them. The public pressure is easy to document. Pressure may have been applied privately as well.

3) Again, the (Rasmussen) missed tests that were to be carried out by the UCI and Rasmussen’s national federation are distinctly separate issues, with distinctly separate remedies available to each entity. The UCI warned and fined Rasmussen for his missed tests. The Danish Federation removed Rasmussen from their World’s Team. He has already been punished as much as the rules allow, irrespective of actual eligibility to ride in the 2007 TdF.

4) Your point is what? Unverified gossip? Perhaps the girls at the local hair salon can help us out here?

5) Agreed, regarding the LNDD lab techs. I’m not sure what part of his story you say he has constantly changed? It’s a fairly involved story that has been widely reported in the cycling press and beyond. Lots of room for different takes on Rasmussen’s “story”.

As to the 45 day rule, I trust you, but a cite might be nice for the other readers. The details might matter?

As I trust you on the rule, it’s clear it was the responsibility of the UCI and/or (here is where a cite would be handy) his national federation (?) and/or his team (?) to notify TdF officials of Rasmussen’s missed OoC tests.

I suppose the infighting between cycling’s alphabet soup entities (a whole other complicated subject) might be involved as an explanation as to why the UCI, ASO, the national federation, and Rabobank were not communicating about the issue in a timely manner.

I’ll be happy to stipulate that this might not have been an issue had Rasmussen not screwed up his paperwork and missed his OoC tests.

Will you stipulate that the failure of the UCI, Rasmussen’s national federation, or Rabobank to inform ASO about Rasmussen’s missed OoC tests was not Rasmussen’s responsibility????????

If you cannot stipulate the essence of the above, then I can’t follow the logic of who, or what entity, is responsible and should be held accountable. (But I cannot believe it is rightfully only the riders who should be held accountable)

Please explain to me how the UCI, Rasmussen’s national federation, and Rabobank get a pass, as compared to Rasmussen’s penalties (plural).

If the root of all this is that the ASO and UCI and his national federation and Rabobank wanted him further sanctioned because they suspect he doped in June, prior the TdF, then bring the full weight of WADA’s infallible testing apparatus upon Rasmussen and be done with it. The rules contain few limits on the amount of testing that can be done on an athletes samples.

Why all the soap opera esque half measures that bring the sport scorn and ridicule???????

Linda said...

Jrd Butcher

I was upset by the Versus quartet as well. I assume they were in the awkward position of having to somehow salvage the event they are announcing, which meant taking back many of the enthusiastic proclamations they had made up to then while at the same time convincing their viewers there is a reason to continue watching the Tour. But I agree with you that their remarks appeared to undercut the notion of due process and elevate the new rule of guilt by association and accusation, which is no rule at all in any objective sense but more like what Oscar Pereiro was reported to have said, it seems like whoever the Tour points the finger at is out. I don't know what is happening in Europe since I haven't been there in five years, but from what I have read lately it doesn't sound good with German TV dropping their coverage of the Tour and Swiss newspapers reducing their coverage to doping scandals. I read that the Tour was finding it difficult to find officials to officiate if Rasmussen had won (which of course he would have) for fear they might be tainted by another doping scandal that would rear its head after the fact like the Floyd Landis case. My impression is that Europe is in the mood to purify the sport, which in my mind could prove as cruel and dangerous as most "purifying" campaigns have in the past. Such movements become even more dangerous when the new rule is guilt by association and accusation. I can imagine a satiric skit on "Saturday Night Live," in which the riders come into Paris slowing down instead of speeding up, tossing the yellow jersey from one to another like the proverbial hot potato.

Oh what that French lab wrought when it setup Floyd.

And Ken, all lawyers tell their clients to say nothing more when they are preparing a case. All that Rasmussen's silence attests to is that is exactly what they are doing.