Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Hits Just Keep Coming

I keep a private list in my head of all the jobs that I don't want. If I ever find myself with one of them, I will know that I have done something grievously wrong with my life, and need to take immediate corrective action. The list has included jobs like cab driver, missile launch officer, and President of the United States. Today, though, I must make a new addition.

I never, ever want Christian Prudhomme's job: Director of the Tour de France.

Why? Well, this year's Tour is well and truly in an inverted flat spin with all engines on fire.

Oh, it's been a hoot to watch. There's been plenty of good racing. The sprint to the finish of a stage has always been great fun for me to watch. It's always exciting, especially when you're pulling for one rider or another to cross the line first. And the silver lining for me in this is that Alberto Contador of Team Discovery will start tomorrow's stage in yellow. But wait, I'm getting ahead of myself...

In the space of two days, three riders have been bounced for doping-related offenses.

Alexandre Vinokourov: alleged homologous blood doping.

Cristian Moreni: failed testosterone test, after which he owned up to doing the deed.

And now ... Michael Rasmussen. Not for doping per se, but for lying to UCI officials about where he was when he was supposed to be taking an out-of-competition test. He said he was in Mexico, when he was actually in Italy.

Yes sir, my end of the stick looks pretty damn spotless. I will go to work tomorrow whistling a happy tune, 'cause I don't have this poor bastard's job...

Two observations:

First, hard as it might be, you have got to keep a positive attitude. This had to happen. If you're really going to get serious about eliminating doping from cycling, you have to be ruthless about removing cheaters from competition. Even suspected cheaters, even if you really can't claim to have proven the charge beyond a reasonable doubt. You have to make the sanctions sting enough to deter people from trying. What we'll end up with after the dust clears is a cleaner sport.

Second, props to Moreni for sacking up and owning his deed. While he'd have been a better man not to have done it at all, it still takes a real man to 'fess up and take the hit. I hope he serves his suspension and comes back clean, and I hope some team welcomes him when he does.

Stout hearts, guys. Better days are ahead. And look on the bright side:

You don't have Prudhomme's job.

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