The Boulder Report thinks that Astana shouldn't have been at all surprised by the "Valentine" it received yesterday from the ASO, that particular handwriting has been on the wall for weeks. Joe Lindsey says that Astana was caught in the middle of the continuing turf war between the UCI and ASO:
How else to explain why Astana, which bears little resemblance to the brazen band of syringe-brandishing fuckwits who doped their way through the 2007 season, is not invited, but Rabobank, which essentially wallpapered over as serious a crime and remains largely the same in structure, gets a nod. To be sure, Rabobank is not yet in the clear, and Wednesday’s announcement was pointedly not about who is in the Tour, but who is not. But at this point, Astana is the only team on the outside looking in.
The CyclingNews posts a "special edition" on the Astana/ASO story with detailed reactions from some of the players and analysis of what this may mean to other cyclists who will ride the 2008 TdF.
In the first update of the day CyclingNews reports Christian Prudhomme's justifications for the ASO's exclusion of Astana from this year's Tour de France:
We cannot wipe away what happened these last two years," Prudhomme explained. "We don't have the right to have a short memory. In 2006, a team came out of the ashes of Liberty Seguros. Within this team, half of the riders were linked to Operation Puerto and cannot take the start of the Tour. The next year, they explain to us that it's a new team, a new management, that everything about it is new. We trust them and invite them to the Tour. But we made a mistake to take them - and we don't want to make that mistake once again."
About the inclusion in ASO events of the troubled Rabobank squad Prudhomme rationalizes:
Speaking to Dutch AD, Prudhomme added that ASO had also pondered the exclusion of Rabobank, which made headlines last July with overall leader Michael Rasmussen being withdrawn from the race for having lied about his whereabouts and missed doping controls. "We hesitated, but came to the conclusion that it was Rasmussen and his boss [Theo De Rooy - ed.] that harmed the Tour, and not the sponsor," he said. "They made the decision to pull him out of the race a bit late, but they did. The sponsor made that gesture even if there wasn't a positive control. Today, Rasmussen is suing them for having been sacked without a reason."
The NY Times reports on the presence of top steroid investigator Jeff Novitzky at Roger Clemens' Congressional hearing held yesterday. It is likely that if Clemens is pursued further by the government Novitzky will be the catalyst:
Novitzky has (also) become the most expert agent in the Department of Justice on steroid investigations. He helped secure a conviction of Marion Jones for lying to federal agents, and his work led to perjury charges against Barry Bonds.
SD Tribune/Ziegler goes after Clemens, with swipes at Landis and Jones on the way.
PEZ, of all places, takes a hard line that the riders had better stand up for themselves in an organized fashion. Union, Yes!
Velonews says Puerto is going to be re-opened, but this isn't official (yet).
The CyclingNews confirms that OP WILL be reopened. When will it all end?
The biggest doping investigation in international cycling – Operación Puerto – was called to be re-opened on Saint Valentine's Day, February 14, in Madrid. A Spanish court ordered that the blood doping investigation, which first hit the headlines in May 2006 and was shelved by Judge Antonio Serrano in March 2007, be re-visited according to Spanish paper El País.
CFA says the ASO , if it wanted "revenge" by snubbing Astana from any of its event this year, better dig two graves because the retribution it gets might wind up being its own demise.
Racejunkie thinks that the ASO epitomizes hypocrisy by excluding Astana from all of its events while inviting Rabobank which is largely unchanged from last year.
Rant's writes his take on all of he "drama" yesterday embodied by the Congressional Clemens hearing over who said what and did what, and the ASO exclusion of Astana from all of its races this year.
Running and Rambling paraphrases and comments on an article about how sex might alter athletic performance, and feels Floyd Landis may have missed a great opportunity to use IT as an excuse for his AAF in the 2006 Tour de France.
The Fat Cyclist may just be feeling his age. Hang in there Fatty, it's a BIG boat!
Sara Best thinks the ASO's shunning of Astana is certainly no Valentine. And she gives some useful email addresses to express your appreciation:
If you disagree with the ASO's decision and you want to let them know, here are a few email addresses to get you started. Tell them how you feel. It's a private organization and they have the power to change any decision they want.
Christian Prudhomme - firstname.lastname@example.org
Gilbert Ysern - email@example.com
Patrice Clerc - firstname.lastname@example.org
Floyd has apparently been doing his own training camp near Idyllwild in So Cal, in the mountain range between home in Murrietta and Palm Springs. The climb from the west is a smooth unrelenting grade suitable for a practice time-trial suffer-fest, the other side more technical. Folks at Chris McCormack's camp have been running into him (also here):