Monday, July 23, 2007

Bad For Cycling?

The head of cycling's world governing body, Pat McQuaid, says it would be bad for the sport if current Tour de France leader Michael Rasmussen goes on to win the race. McQuaid added, however, that the Danish rider has "broken no rules, so from that point of view ... you have to give him the benefit of the doubt."

Let me ask you something. What's worse for cycling: A rider winning the tour without breaking any rules or the head of the UCI telling us that it would be bad if a particular rider wins the tour? Was this a veiled message to Rasmussen?

Rasmussen currently holds the yellow jersey. The holder of said coveted piece of apparel has to pee in a cup and trust the powers that be that it will be handled appropriately (can you say chain of custody?) and tested accurately and fairly (LNDD anyone?) for various performance enhancing drugs. Does the lab (LNDD) know it's Rasmussen's sample? If there is an AAF, will it be leaked to L'Equipe before a confirming 'b' sample? And why hasn't Dick Pound weighed in on this?

And now I read that Pat McQuaid wants an apology from Tour de France race director Christian Prudhomme for a late-night telephone call in which Prudhomme supposedly asked him if he was trying to "kill the Tour de France." This because of an inconveniently timed announcement that Rasmussen had been kicked off the Danish national team apparently for missing two out-of-competition doping tests. Or maybe he was kicked off the team because of the report that a former cyclist accused Rasmussen of trying to trick him into carrying illicit doping materials into Italy five years ago.

He hasn't won yet and there hasn't been any evidence of wrongdoing (unless you count a better than expected performance in the stage 13 TT) so what's the point of all this?

One other thing stuck out for me in the McQuaid-wants-an-apology article. The fact that McQuaid called from Dublin, Ireland where he was on vacation with his family. The president of UCI is not at the Tour de France, the world's most famous and, arguably, most important race. I don't know if this means anything, but it sure seems to me like he doesn't care much about cycling.

Maybe none of them do.

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