Where’s the beef?

Monday, 18 October 2010

“Where’s the beef?” was a marketing phrase from a chain of US burger bars, mocking the small hamburgers offered by rivals. In time its meaning has widened to mean where’s the substance. And it’s a very appropriate phrase for the Alberto Contador story, given the bovine connection and the total lack of information related to the case.

Timeline
It was on 29 September that the news of Alberto Contador’s double positive test for Clenbuterol came out. The predictable media storm saw many questions raised and led to inevitable allegations. But it’s all gone quiet.

Over two weeks ago I was asking some questions and I’m afraid we can’t get answers to many of them although Bjarne Riis and his sponsors have been forthcoming. You’d think Astana would be briefing furiously given their Pro Tour licence is up for debate, no?

The idea of tracking down the rogue steak seems dead, or certainly if there has been progress here then it’s been conducted with with utmost stealth. Yet Contador’s resorted to touring Spanish TV chat shows to protest his innocence and his entourage have also threatened to sue anyone making inappropriate allegations. Only to my knowledge not one media outlet or individual has been warned off by the lawyers.

In summary all we’ve got is a feather-light PR campaign. There’s no substance, no details on the bad meat, no clarification of the issues, no progress updates, not even a letter from lawyers. Just one press conference, a couple of soft TV appearances and a few words via Twitter.

UCI, I see nothing
Things are also very quiet at the UCI. Boss man Pat McQuaid has been away on holiday – superb timing to flee the stress! – and there’s little guidance as to when any news will come out. The initial press release on the story contained a howler, which got fixed on the sly, much to the annoyance of journalists who trusted the document. Given the positive test results came out a long time ago, “due process” is taking a long time although to be fair, things need to be done right otherwise the CAS is going to be busy. Rumours persist that WADA is having to watch the story very closely in order to ensure its code is respected.

Tour de Farce
All this has now builds into the spectacular moment of farce on tomorrow when we will discover the route of the 2011 Tour de France without knowing who won the race last summer.

Damien October 18, 2010 at 10:31 am

I missed the 'howler' in the UCI press release first time around. That's an amazing gaff – and an equally amazing attempt to cover up the mistake!

It's difficult to tell whether the UCI is just a bumbling and incompetent, or simply has dubious intentions. Or, perhaps most likely, whether it's a mixture of both.

As you've pointed out in previous posts, the amount of a banned substance found in a sample is of little consequence – a failed test is a failed test. The UCI seems to have deliberately attempted to muddy the waters by making such a point of the supposedly miniscule amounts detected. Why were the UCI being so quick to jump to Contador's defence?

TheInnerRing October 18, 2010 at 10:51 am

Damien, yes the press release should have been followed up with a clarification or correction notice, not a stealthy edit.

As for the UCI's, taking sides is a risky business. The rules require a fair hearing but not co-operation on the defence strategy.

TdF Lanterne Rouge Blog October 19, 2010 at 3:58 pm

If the UCI is quietly waiting until after the Tour route announcement, they'll announce the penalty within a week. If *cough* they're attempting to minimize bad press, they'll announce quietly on a Friday afternoon sometime near Christmas.

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