Friday, June 13, 2008

Friday Roundup

The CyclingNews covers the UCI's suspension of the FFC with president Pat McQuaid calling the French federation "disloyal" among other things. The FFC's response says it all when it notes the lack of any immediate effect this action has and states, "This penalty will change absolutely nothing in the serious crisis that currently present in international cycling." The sanction actually has bearing only on the next UCI congress from which the FFC will be excluded. And on and on it goes.

In the latest CyclingNews Tom Boonen is finding support from former riders as well as his team, and Patrick Lefevere says that the team sponsors want him in the Tour de France. Rumors of a meeting between Lefevere and Christian Prudhomme persist even though the ASO has made it clear Boonen is not welcome. Stay tuned

CylingNews' letters this week have lots of comment about Tom Boonen's present "troubles" with the following note from Doug Hurst of Springfield, VA getting our particular attention, as well as a hearty "amen":

I'd like to see CN
...go back and retrieve some of the very nasty and unforgiving quotes Patrick Lefevere had for Floyd Landis and the Operation Puerto riders. Then compare them to the whiny defense of Tom Boonan, who is under so much pressure and it's not easy being Tom Boonan.

When it starts to rock the financial future of his [Lefevere's] team and all its members, Lefevere seems pretty quick to give the young man a pass.

The VeloNews blurbs an episode of A&E's "Intervention" which will air next week. The show will feature former Postal rider Chad Gerlach who epitomizes the darkest side of an addiction which started with the severe back pain he suffered as a road cyclist. Here's the rather inaccurate but predictably sensational preview provided by A&E:
A&E’s episode listing describes Gerlach’s troubled path: “After a troubled childhood that sent him to juvenile hall for felony arson, Chad's father introduced him to cycling at age 15. Chad went pro and cycled on the same team as Lance Armstrong. But after getting kicked off the team for ‘personality conflicts,’ Chad was crushed and turned to drugs. Now homeless, Chad spends his days panhandling, smoking crack and drinking. His family's many efforts to get him off the streets have failed. Their last hope is an intervention.”


Racejunkie writes the "it covers everyone busted from Landis on dream rider apology"

39X23 breaks the "news" that Landis has signed a long term management contract, and offers photographic evidence. He may be making something up.


Donna said...

Amazing, the hoops they're jumping through for Boonen. Don't have anything against the guy, but resent that he's probably going to get away with this when so many cyclists were punished severly.
And think about it: if Lance Armstrong had tested positive for cocaine "out of season", what do you want to bet would have been his chances of ever racing the Tour de France again? They would have banned him for life, then sent a delegation to dance on his grave.

jrdbutcher said...

Doug Hurst has a good point, Mile High Rider comes off as a dumbed down knucklehead himself, and Alastair Knowles from Newcastle-UponTyne makes for interesting reading.

WRT the UCI, there are certain products that are not banned out of competition. Cocaine is one of them. We can all have an opinion about whether an OOC AAF for cocaine should, or should not, get a rider banned from a race, but the rules say the riders can race. (Incarceration during a race for illegal drug use would make the point moot, but that’s an altogether different subject) If the UCI follows its own rules (sometimes they do, other times they don’t), then Tom B could expect little problem lining up for any UCI sanctioned race. Unfortunately for Tom B and Quickstep, the 2008 TdF will not be a UCI sanctioned event.

At the behest of the French Ministry of Sport and on behalf of ASO, the FFC has been “required” (wink, nod) to sanction the 2008 TdF as it was “required” to sanction the 2008 edition of Paris-Nice. Now, try to find published rules under which the 2008 TdF will be run. Best of luck with that. ASO will determine who will ride. FFC will back them up.

Tom B and most other riders did not come to Floyd’s defense when he was (still is) being railroaded. The peloton has been fairly silent about organizing to protect their collective interests and due process that should be provided for accused riders. Tom B is now finding out that his current troubles are a predictable result.

Until the riders can collectively locate the stones needed to stand up for themselves, little improvement in their working conditions can be expected. Granted, such a battle will be difficult and innocent victims will be among the casualties. That’s not much different than what is happening now and in the recent past.

My personal opinion is that Tom B is getting the shaft, but I find it hard to sympathize with any rider or team that is planning/hoping to ride the 2008 TdF under the conditions set forth by ASO. Trust in ASO, get what you bargained for.

("Eightzero") said...

jrd, I agree with your assessment. *But* there is a huge difference between what Tornado Tom Has Been Up To, and what Floyd was accused of. While there may be some important substanive issues involving the acceptability of using recreational cocaine in Begium and the US, there is, in my mind, a Big Difference between being accused of using coke and using PEDs. Agreed, PED use is also illegal, irrespective of the relevant sporting code. And yes, there are some important substantive issues of due process at work here. AFAIK, Tom B is not contesting he's innocent, nor is he insisting the test was illegal, improper or not in accordance with the rules. While *I* wonder about this, given the testing organizations' track record, it is perhaps understandable that Tom B is being supported by the pro peolton and given a pass because The Omerta is not at work here. Floyd, OTOH, got shafted, railroaded and screwed in ways that to me are still unfathomable.

That said, I agree with you the riders need collective bargaining power. They are subject now to the whims of the powerful and secure. Those few, powerful forces are exploiting athletes for their personal gain, and care little for the consequences of their misdeeds. They must be held responsible, and there is no way to do that as long as the teams keep lining up because "we just want to race."

Thomas A. Fine said...

This seems linked to their targeted anti-doping campaign. Or in other words (to draw on my previous comments) -- Boonen is fast and not french.


jrdbutcher said...


I wasn’t trying to draw a parallel or analogy between Floyd’s case and the situation Boonen finds himself in. I attempted to point out that riders will be arbitrarily sanctioned if they do not manage to organize. The frequency and severity of the arbitrary actions against the riders will likely increase, if the situation continues to go unchecked. We’ve witnessed the multitude of rules and procedures that were broken by the gatekeepers in order to get us to the point we currently find ourselves wrt the rightful winner of the 2006 TdF. I’ll agree taking away a victory earned through sweat, determination, and superior tactics is much worse than excluding the odds on favorite sprinter before the fact, but we’re talking degrees here, both are egregious actions.

If the 2008 TdF were to be sanctioned by the UCI, Boonen would be able to start, per the rules. (Makes the giant leap that the UCI would follow their own rules) I’m not going to address any supplemental and idiotic Code of Conduct. It’s not part of the rules. If there are any criminal sanctions to be faced, that is up to the appropriate judicial system. ASO has arranged for the possibility of riders they do not want to admit into their race not to be a problem by having the race sanctioned by the FFC. If the riders, at least the non-French riders, got together and declined participation, the 2008 TdF would properly revert to being a quaint gathering of French Pros battling it out on mostly French roads, thus making the FFC sanction a proper one. That’s unlikely to happen for reasons having to due with an inability to organize, divided interests, sponsor pressure………………….

I’m not a cheerleader for the UCI. They’ve largely forgotten what should be their mission. ASO hasn’t. It’s just that the mission of ASO is not for the good of cycling. It’s for the good of the TdF, so long as the good of the TdF leads to greater profits for ASO.

Then, there may also be the side issue of national pride. The TdF was won for eight years in a row by a rider from the United States. If you can’t beat them on the road, kick them out, label them as a drug cheat, and/or don’t invite them. As for Boonen, and to quote Thomas A. Fine, “Boonen is fast and not French”.

Gary O'Brien said...

As far as I'm concerned, this is where the ASO and UCI are heading if they don't cure their collective cranial-rectal syndrome and actually do some proper governance. I mean the kind where you set reasonable rules, make them unambiguous and actually enforce them properly.