Tuesday, July 24, 2007

GOODBYE, VINO AND ASTANA

Alexandre Vinokourov has tested positive for a banned blood transfusion, is suspended, and his Astana team is asked to leave the Tour de France.



Dear Vino,

You provided us quite a show. We all picked you as a favorite to win this Tour de France. We pulled for you after you crashed. We celebrated your time trial. We were disappointed when you fell behind in Stage 14. And we were amazed at your tenacity to comeback and win Stage 15; a great consolation prize, we said.

Now we know one of the reasons for your resilience. Was that tenacity and power really yours, or was it the blood transfusions you were receiving? We'll never know. Neither will you, since you apparently chose to cheat and deceive...and got caught.

Enjoy your retirement.

P.S. Please, as you leave the Tour de France in shock and shambles, do your best to challenge all other cyclists who are cheating to come clean right now. This is an opportune time. Let the professional cycling house be completely swept clean--right here and now. Challenge those who looked up to you or who were complicit with you to 'fess up. That's one redemptive thing you could for the sport, don't you think?

9 comments:

Rachel said...

I feel so terrible for Kloden and Kashechkin... is it standard for the whole team to pull out in situations like this?

Jeffrey G. said...

I am stunned. I was enjoying this post-Lance tour. I don't know if I have faith anymore in this sport. I was holding on and still believing.

Anonymous said...

Holding judgment until B is tested is appropriate.

bikehiker said...

You're right, anonymous, on withholding judgment until the B sample is tested. Good check. Still, Vinokourov and Astana is out of the Tour.

I wonder what percentage of B samples verify or counter the A sample findings? I've read it is quite rare for the B sample to counter the A sample, but I can't verify that at the moment.

We'll see...

bikehiker said...

I think the only team that has been asked to leave the Tour de France in the past was Festina. It was demonstrated that Festina had a system of doping, however. I imagine ejecting Astana is more "guily by association" and an effort to purge any inkling or suspicion of cheating. Extreme measures occasioned by extreme deception?

Melissa said...

Anonymous, I'm not sure if this sport has enough public good will left for the whole 'innocent until proven guilty' type argument. I'd like to know the percentage of differences between A&B samples, too, bikehiker.

I have to admit that while I was watching the time trial the other day and Vino was outriding everyone, the suggestion of doping slid across my mind. I also thought about it yesterday because of his horrible stage the day before. A little reminescent of Landis last year (although Landis won by a ridiculous margin, if I remember correctly). Sad, sad, sad.

bikehiker said...

I get the feeling you are right, Melissa. I dare say this sport has never been this deep in goodwill deficit. It's as if we are watching a beautiful thing slowly self-destruct before our eyes...and there's nothing we can do about it.

stan said...

I'm less affected by this stuff. If any other sport tested like the biking then we'd have similar scandals every day. Maybe the testing works. People are being caught and removed from the lines ups or removed during the race. Out of hundreds of riders only two have been implicated in drug use. That means potentially 99% riders are drug free. I'm sure we can assume football players or soccer players or olympic athletes are drugging themselves at much higher rates than biking. Ask yourself why you aren't disillusioned with those sports? Because we don't see anyone getting caught? Take a step back and enjoy the tour and don't get caught up this silliness.

bikehiker said...

Thanks for the perspective, Stan. I thought Al Trautwig put all that in good pespective at the beginning of Versus TV coveage at the beginning of Stage 16.

The doping issue is being confronted in most professional sports. It matters to me in all these because it is deception and cheating.

It matters to me a bit more in professional cycling because, as an avid cyclist, I've come to enjoy the sport.

I enjoy the Tour AND it upsets me that deception is so resistant. I would like to see doping continue to be addressed aggressively for the sake of restoring the sport to integrity.