≡ Menu

Let Rebellin Ride

Davide Rebellin 2015 Tour of Turkey

With the Giro coming up in a week’s time who is the in-form Italian of the moment? Davide Rebellin is an obvious pick following his summit finish win in the Tour of Turkey earlier this week. His CCC-Sprandi team are riding the Giro and the Italian would make an obvious pick given his nationality, form, experience and is a match for the opening week’s hilly finishes. Only he’s not going and the rumour is he’s been blocked by Giro organisers RCS.

Now your on you learn that Rebellin won’t ride the Giro first reaction might be “yay” or “grazie“. That’s understandable, predictable. Busted for CERA after samples from the 2008 Olympics were retested, Rebellin disputed the procedure but eventually copped a two year ban, another “champion” of the Court of Arbitration of Sport with his bulging dossiers and bold legal flair. He got caught when many others of his generation probably rode through the anti-doping net making him a black sheep of a generational herd. It’s not about the past either, today his tragedy is that any triumph is awkward, he may win but many raise an eyebrow or point a suspicious finger in reflex. Just see his win in Turkey. Unfair? Perhaps but understandable. Maybe he doesn’t care anyway?

Strade Bianche, presented by Sprandi

Rebellin has joined Polish team CCC-Sprandi and they got a wildcard invitation to ride the Giro. Why? Well they’re a reasonable squad, offer exposure to the growing Polish market and they’ve also curried support by sponsoring RCS races too. But one of their best riders, one of two Italians, won’t be there despite winning in Turkey. Sure Maciej Paterski, Grega Bole and Sylwester Szmyd bring options but so does Rebellin. So his exclusion on sporting and form terms looks odd. Is it age? It’s usually young riders who enter a race and quit mid-way but maybe the fortysomething can’t last the full three weeks. But even if he managed 10 days he’d find all sorts of terrain to suit him with uphill finishes, a bit like the 1996 Giro when he won Stage 7 atop Monte Sirino.

Nobody beyond journalist and writer Daniel Friebe seems to be public about Rebellin being blocked so let’s take this in the conditional. I suspect you’re still satisfied Rebellin’s going to spend May away from the Giro. As already said above Rebellin’s presence, yet alone a win, can be uncomfortable. It makes the past hard to compartmentalise as the past, it’s like claiming the dinosaurs are extinct only to open the newspapers and see Tyrannosaurus do a victory salute. But there’s a serious point here because races are not allowed to cherry-pick riders: if a rider is eligible under the UCI then they’re eligible to race.

Franco Pellizotti: two year ban, check. Wildcard invitation, check

It’s east to see how this could be become a free-for-all. More riders could be blocked because of a dodgy past but where is the line drawn? Riders over 40 who didn’t make a theatrical sofa-TV confession? Do we exclude all riders with a doping history? Well Alberto Contador got busted for clenbuterol and Ivan Basso has been banned too but both riders belong to a wealthy World Tour team so the Giro doesn’t have leverage over them. But Franco Pellizotti looks set to captain wildcard invitees Androni and he’s been thrown off the Giro podium for his bio passport, should someone have a word with them? Let’s not dwell too much, it’s easy to start drowning in bias, inconsistency and hypocrisy. The more fundamental point is that it’s a recipe for chaos. Continue with the idea and if a race wanted to stop an eligible rider one year what if next year they invited a banned one?

Yet the whole point is to have clear rules for participation. The rules are clear: if a rider is eligible to race after serving a doping ban then they can ride any suitable race, the privilege of selection is reserved only for the team management.

Rebellin beats Ullrich, Sorensen and Richard Virenque to win the 1997 GP Zurich

Conclusion
Davide Rebellin is hardly a must-have rider for the Giro and his absence will probably satisfy some. But look beyond the individual and the personal because this could be a systematic issue. We might not want him to ride in the Giro but we should be very wary if teams and races are blacklisting particular riders. Let’s continue to use the conditional tense as few are going on the record about this but if it was true then what comes next? It’s a small wedge in UCI’s door if eligibility rules are ignored and private deals cut to stop unsavoury riders, when a rider is allowed into one race but not another. Maybe you don’t want Rebellin to ride but do you want races picking riders? What next?

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Anonymous Saturday, 2 May 2015, 11:55 am

    Mauro Vegni & RCS – trustworthy, consistent and straight-as-a-die – right?

  • Shearman Saturday, 2 May 2015, 12:39 pm

    Thank you for this well-argued and reasoned article. I must admit my reactions to his exploits this week were huge disappointment after his win which I thought would give him the GC followed by relief after yesterday’s stage but you’re right, rules have to be followed.

    • J Evans Saturday, 2 May 2015, 2:32 pm

      I agree that in some ways it seems unfair that he’s being treated differently – but if you’re a wildcard team, or a rider for one, you have to go with what the race organisers say: only WT teams have carte blanche to do what they want (in many ways a bad thing).
      And it’s hard to feel sorry for Rebellin when he says – this week – things like “Inside of me I knew I hadn’t done anything wrong”.
      As for the reasoning that many others of his generation went unpunished, sadly true, but others not being caught is no reason to excuse dopers: his ‘tragedy’ is all of his own making.

  • HWSB Saturday, 2 May 2015, 1:02 pm

    Exactly. His mere existence provokes similar reactions in fans to Valverde. But the rules are there.

    I do hope – naively perhaps – that in today’s climate, riders who have been busted, and who must surely be aware of their notoriety, despite their reticence to speak in public – must be playing a careful game and *probably* aren’t doping. If they were caught again, that really would be it for their career. In the past they could’ve done their time and then resumed. But not anymore. As I said, a no doubt naive view.

    • Joel Saturday, 2 May 2015, 11:26 pm

      What on earth gives you the impression that they ‘probably’ aren’t doping? It’s very clear that the passport is very easy to get around, and frankly if you get busted by a spot-test then the rider is either a risk-taker or an idiot.

      I’d put my house on the vast majority of big riders doping. Yes, in 2015.

      • J Evans Sunday, 3 May 2015, 9:29 am

        Do you have any facts or evidence to back this up or is this simply ‘What I think’?

        Because an awful lot of people who are closer to the sport (I’m assuming), but – crucially – don’t have a reason to deny this mass-doping you claim exists disagree with your claims.

        For example, Anne Gripper:
        http://www.cyclingnews.com/news/gripper-cycling-is-leading-the-world-in-the-fight-against-doping

        • Joel Sunday, 3 May 2015, 10:31 am

          Everything I have read suggests that doping is still going on including the CIRC report. Whilst there are still benefits to be had, there will be people who aim to get those benefits whether it’s to win or simply to get a new contract in what is a buyer’s market at the moment. As has been stated it is possible to micro-dose overnight, there are loads of new products being used, Ferrari et al are still involved, plenty of busts in the last year (and given just how difficult it is to get busted…), plenty of dubious Rogers, Impey moments too, flatter bio-passports than back then, a major problem with TUEs, an absurdly high proportion of riders claiming asthma etc etc. It is a bit naive to think that it isn’t happening on a significant level IMO.

          I also think there is a bigger % of clean riders (although what’s the definition of clean).

          • djconnel Sunday, 3 May 2015, 8:57 pm

            There’s a fundamental distrust of old riders who exhibit exceptional strength because one of the causes of age-related performance loss is a decrease in endocrine production, something which is addressable by “anti-aging” protocols. With testing limits based on 21-year-old bodies some guy twice that age may be able to “level the playing field” a bit by topping off the depleted tanks a bit.

            Also, the bio passport has been proven to be beatable. Here’s a TV report which was on French television today about an experiment in which volunteers were specifically doped to performance-enhancing levels and were still within bio passport’s pass band. Tests only really work if you don’t know the specifics. If a cop is going to radar drivers for speed limit violations the location of the cop needs to be unknown. The more you know about a test the more you can work around it. The CERA hits all came when the riders and their advisors were generally caught by surprise (not Ferrari, perhaps).

            It was first Froome that approached the climbing numbers of the EPO glory days and it was argued this was a natural progression of training practices (focused sessions in Tenerife, using power data to train through races) and equipment improvements (in particular custom-fit aerodynamic clothing and better wheels), but perhaps as well Froome being super-genetic-mutant in his capacity. But more and more riders are approaching his level. Hmm… perhaps.

          • gabriele Monday, 4 May 2015, 2:16 pm

            @djconnel
            “focused sessions in Tenerife, using power data to train through races”… that was being done during the “EPO era”, too. In fact, it’s one of the most valuable legacies of the *good doctor* to the sport.

      • anotherdave Tuesday, 5 May 2015, 11:32 am

        plus 1

  • Oliver Saturday, 2 May 2015, 1:30 pm

    It seems to me the greater issue is the fact that the UCI rules are by and large a joke. They are inconsistent in of and themselves, and enforced haphazardly by the UCI itself… how could anyone take them seriously?

    This is a sport where the real unspoken rule is: if you can get away with it, just do it! That includes (but is not limited to) Froome sucking on an inhaler for his “asthma” (ha, ha), a bunch of riders risking their lives during Paris-Roubaix all the way up to the standard (but “forbidden”) sticky bidon…

    • channel_zero Saturday, 2 May 2015, 11:17 pm

      Yes. With no transparency to explain how/why rider X is untouched while riders Y and Z experience procedural difficulties.

      All this talk of Rebellin, and not one mention of Chris Horner? Top-20 in the Tour de France after a horrible accident early in 2014. The year before, Vuelta winner. And now? Riding for a no-budget continental squad seemingly unable to dominate domestic racing like another suspicious character, Francisco Mancebo.

      On a separate note, it’s only briefly mentioned, but the UCI definitely has a youth bias sprinkled liberally throughout their rules.

      At some level, guys like Rebellin and Horner don’t seem to tire of the lifestyle while others have clearly retired not so much because they can’t produce the power, but “lifestyle fatigue.”

      • Rod Sunday, 3 May 2015, 5:07 am

        I discussed Horner in a different site. Despite his results, at this point in his career he’s a liability since he seems unable to string consistent racing periods. He can produce the results when at his best, for sure.

        But his “best” racing days are now fewer and far between. He was supposed to destroy the field at Redlands (7th) and now failed to start Sea Otter and Joe Martin, and sick at Gila. Remember when there was some argument whether Airgas deserved to be at the Tour of California because of his presence? yeah, no longer compelling.

        I’ve no animus against Horner, but at his age he is hardly money in the bank. And yes, I would love to age to be that strong (I’m 36) as I get older, but if I was a DS he wouldn’t be a prime choice for me.

        At some point is not only the results, but the expected future results AND the associated things. I know some stories of talented athletes that were demoted/not extended for boneheaded things. Heck, take a look at the last chapter of the Schlecks under Riis… they never got back to their previous level (doping or not).

        • Othersteve Sunday, 3 May 2015, 10:14 pm

          Can’t argue the logic you use Rod.

          I would only point out, CH is a native Californian, he has won the Amgen ToC before as well as winning the Velta not in the distant past. I’m all for letting AEG, ASO, RCS have discretion in picking non-WT teams as they see fit for economic, regional, national reasons. Yet, It does seem a bit piety when they exclude and individual or team who “deserves” to participate and under no UCI violation or suspension.

          I think that the ToC will be a lesser race because CH is not in it. Just as the Giro may not be as
          as good with out DR.

  • Nick Saturday, 2 May 2015, 1:38 pm

    The rules are there, and if a rider is eligible, he should be able to ride. That covers all the WT teams, who are entitled to be there. However, no pro-conti team is entitled to be at the Giro; it’s up to the organisers who they invite. In those circumstances the rules are different, and so they could seek to exclude a rider who would be bad for the image of the race.

    As to where this leads, well, we’ve already seen one example in the past, when Armstrong ensured that Simeoni was excluded. So the risks are quite real.

  • Jens Saturday, 2 May 2015, 1:55 pm

    As Nick points out, organizers have a degree of discretion in their wild card selections. So if they wanted to protect their race image they had tools at their disposal, don’t invite teams that clearly have no qualms about profiting from doped riders. Don’t invite teams like Androni, CCC, Bardiani and Southeast.

    A policy like that would create incentive for ProConti teams to keep their rosters clean-ish. As for the hygiene on the WT teams, that is primarily up to the UCI and their licensing procedure to maintain.

  • Augie March Saturday, 2 May 2015, 2:13 pm

    Isn’t this post assuming that RCS is blocking Rebellin, what if the situation was reversed and offer to leave him out was made from CCC as they thought this would increase their chances of scoring a Giro invite? The invitational policy (to my knowledge) isn’t fully transparent, so we don’t know what the negotiations were between the various teams and RCS, so it’s not inconceivable that CCC suggested fielding an uncontroversial team as a sweetener.

    • channel_zero Saturday, 2 May 2015, 11:25 pm

      Let’s not forget, there are now just three trusted “monument” race promoters, ASO, the Spring Classics Cooperative, and RCS. That’s all.

      If their rule book is any indicator, I’d argue maybe the UCI agrees with RCS in this instance for unknown reasons.

      • Augie March Sunday, 3 May 2015, 7:06 am

        This situation is why the argument has been made that a single body should run all races rather than this adversarial stance, mutual incomprehension or just plain distance between the race organisers and the UCI that is supposed to govern the sport.

        • J Evans Sunday, 3 May 2015, 9:34 am

          The downside of that is that in the recent past it has been the race organisers who have stood against the UCI’s borderline crooked stance on doping – e.g. ASO getting the French anti-doping authority to work at the Tour. And it’s the race organisers who are the biggest barrier to ludicrous ideas such as reducing the length of grand tours.

          • Augie March Sunday, 3 May 2015, 4:41 pm

            True, but the Verbruggen/McQuaid Dark Ages have (mostly) retreated.

            Still, if it’s the race organisers who have the real power, then why can’t they tell certain riders to stay at home if their team wants an invite? It’s hardly the only UCI rule that’s not followed to the letter.

            As for the shorter races, I’ve got mixed feelings on this one. I think certain events such as PN/TA could be cut down and held in successive weeks, so the media and fans could follow one and then the other, but then again reducing the length of the Giro and Vuelta would create a two tiered system when looking at things historically and debates over what constitutes a “grand tour”.

            Cycling’s major problem is that unlike almost every other sport the biggest even comes not at the end of the season but 7/10ths of the way through it, but that’s probably a debate for another day.

          • J Evans Sunday, 3 May 2015, 6:17 pm

            I quite like the PN/TA overlap.
            Yup, reduce the length of the grand tours and they lose all meaning.
            And any trifecta would be a hollow achievement.
            And all to ‘simplify’ cycling for casual fans and make money for greedy team owners.

          • Anonymous Monday, 4 May 2015, 2:48 am

            Augie,

            The Verbruggen era is separate and distinct from the McQuaid era.

  • Anonymous Saturday, 2 May 2015, 2:20 pm

    The point is: This is supposed to be a sporting competition. Rebellin is a rider who really would have a chance to win a stage at the Giro. Any team, after hiring him, then leaving him out on sporting reasons isn’t doing the job very well.

    • channel_zero Saturday, 2 May 2015, 11:28 pm

      Right! Since the CIRC report, it is very difficult to call what the UCI promotes as a sport. It’s more the appearance of a sport, kind of like WWE wrestling.

      • J Evans Sunday, 3 May 2015, 9:37 am

        The CIRC report told us very little. One rider says that 90% of the peloton are doping, the media run with that and people naively believe this one person.
        Of course, one person who said that exact figure in public was Di Luca. Chances that people are basing their opinions on the statements of a pathological liar?

        • TourDeUtah Sunday, 3 May 2015, 3:21 pm

          He may be a pathological liar, but he knows who doped and who supplied.

          It may not be 90%, but whatever the number, it’s probably scary.

          Scarier are the identities of those who supply and promote these Peds.

          • J Evans Sunday, 3 May 2015, 6:10 pm

            Or – just maybe – he doesn’t know who dopes and who doesn’t throughout the peloton.
            And maybe he came up with the 90% number in an attempt to justify his own doping.

          • Anonymous Monday, 4 May 2015, 2:49 am

            J- Wishful thinking..

          • djconnel Monday, 4 May 2015, 3:38 am

            Note among the performance enhancing products mentioned by CIRC was “fish oil”. So yes, there’s doping, but the issue is always the quality as well as the quantity.

          • maximflyer Monday, 4 May 2015, 7:30 am

            I wrote somewhere in this blog before, that there is a phanomeneon called ‘false consensus effect’. Athletes who dope presume that others are doing. So he/she has to do as well. It means that when asked about doping prevelance an athelete who is doping will give you higher pecentages than the one who is ‘clean’.

  • Peter Saturday, 2 May 2015, 2:22 pm

    Another issue might be whether the organizers of packages of races (RCS/ASO as well as smaller businesses that do multiple races) want to show that THEY are not puppets of the UCI.

    There was a day recently when Astana was banned from a Grand Tour, yes? Today, even ASO would not be able to do that. What can an organizer do to show the small pro cycling community that they are not going to be pushovers? They can only work with wild card teams. Be it a ‘smaller’ race like the Tour of California or a more prestigious race like the Giro, the owners of the race may be doing what many managers do – look for ways to say that we matter. Banning one rider in order to establish a reputation with people like Mr. Tinkov? It seems almost prudent.

    Is it likely that anyone from RCS called anyone from CCC-Polsat and said “that guy can’t ride?” I doubt it. But could someone have said something that led the CCC-Polsat sponsors to question the choice of one rider? Yes. Might it have been accidental? Yes. Would it be good politics? Yes. And in the end, what is possibly more political than the team owners/UCI/race organizers relationship?

    Would rule consistency be better for us all? No question. Did someone intentionally lean on a team to eliminate a rider? We don’t know. Is this article good for RCS’ reputation with the team owners? I think without question that it is.

  • Jon Saturday, 2 May 2015, 2:26 pm

    INRNG, thank you as always for a thought-provoking piece.

    Apologies – I know this is irrelevant to this posting, but for anyone in the USA who wants a size L INRNG jersey, I ordered one and it is too big. I’d be happy to trade it for a medium or sell it for what I paid. DM through twitter @gordon_jonathan

  • Martijn Saturday, 2 May 2015, 3:48 pm

    I would be surprised if RCS demanded this. Although they try to make it a more international event, the main market for the Giro is still Italy itself and Mediterranean audiences are more forgiving of riders with a doping past than Anglosaxon ones; see e.g. how Pantani is still referred.

    More logical would be that Rebellin, who is 44, knows that he needs more recovery time than he used to and he has to pick his races. And he’s always been more of a rider for one days races and short stage races.

  • gabriele Saturday, 2 May 2015, 4:25 pm

    Very good piece, on a question with many facets.
    It’s not just about having a doper out, as inrng points out there would be other examples.
    It looks like kind of a personal war between the Federations (FCI and CONI) and Rebellin. RCS, here, is more of an executing arm (or just “doing a favour”).
    Rebellin’s woes started when he was excluded both from the Olympics and the Worlds in 2004, supposedly because of – largely contradictory – technical reasons; Ballerini took the responsibility of a choice that was imposed from above: the true motive, which at the time was really a “segreto di Pulcinella” (a *secret* everyone knows) in Italy, was the soon to be opened criminal trial following the 2001 Giro blitz, whose hearings were then held in November 2004.
    Rebellin got angry since he was looking forward to his “home” Worlds in Verona (he’s not from the town but from the same region) and tried to race changing his nationality thanks to some far relatives in Argentina. The South American country showed a certain helpfulness, but “burocratic delays” and behind the curtains negotiations ultimately meant that Rebellin couldn’t race.
    Rebellin was acquitted the following year.
    Then he started to be the highly valued “racing DS” in the Italian National Team, since the likes of Ballerini and Bettini apparently appreciated his work, albeit the Federation really never forgave him, even if they renounced to try and disqualify him.
    Note that it was a criminal acquittal, but ordinary justice is different from sporting one… insufficient evidence from the first can be well enough for the second. “Everyone knew” that Rebellin was doping (and that Gerolsteiner was way dodgier than present Astana), but general hypocrisy meant that the problem was such just if it could explode on the press, not in itself. All the same, more than once rules were changed *ad personam* to prevent Rebellin race in the National Champs and so on.

    A curious detail: in the first years of Rebellin’s career as a pro he was commonly considered one of the few clean riders in the peloton. It was the opinion, among the others, of one of the most symbolic and trustworthy figures of antidoping fight, Sandro Donati. People change 😉
    Another interesting detail: rumours out there say that Peking’s wasn’t his test tube. The blood belonged to another Italian athlete, whose medal – and cleanliness – was considered to be much more essential for CONI than Rebellin’s. The hearsay, which I wouldn’t ever endorse nor I believe can be especially trusted, found a fertile terrain to spread when the athlete asked a DNA test on the samples, which has always been denied by the COI.
    The insistence of Rebellin protesting his innocence, in this case, would have been especially unwelcome in the CONI’s “control rooms”.
    Three days ago Rebellin has been acquitted in another criminal trial, involving both tax evasion and Peking’s doping case (doping is a criminal offence in Italy). This doesn’t mean anything in sporting terms, but it’s interesting that the CONI, which was part of the trial as a “civil part” suing Rebellin, asking some 500K euros for the “prejudice inflicted”, renounced to present the TAS sentence which confirmed Rebellin’s sanction for his Peking’s positive. They lost.
    All in all, an interesting story, with a certain lack of “good characters” (whereas we have “positive characters”, indeed 🙂 ).
    Also thanks to some leaked videos, Rebellin is perceived in Italy as the prototype of the doped cyclist, something that isn’t probably far from the truth. But this undeniable fact often obscures other little dirty games played around pro cycling and sport, or other – in my opinion, equally problematic – aspects of the nature of pro sport (Rebellin’s *monotheistic* and someway morbid obsession with his sport, commendable and disturbing in equal parts).
    Once more, great post by inrng on a very difficult subject.

    • channel_zero Saturday, 2 May 2015, 11:30 pm

      Another interesting detail: rumours out there say that Peking’s wasn’t his test tube. The blood belonged to another Italian athlete, whose medal – and cleanliness – was considered to be much more essential for CONI than Rebellin’s.

      I am not saying this is true. The IAAF’s Russia scandal makes this scenario likely. Since the IAAF was shown to swap samples, why not cycling?

  • Anonymous Saturday, 2 May 2015, 4:32 pm

    Beautiful. Thank you..

  • Anonymous Saturday, 2 May 2015, 5:41 pm

    inrng – You might want to free up some disk space on the servers for Gabriele’s defence of Zakarin following your TDR review.

    • gabriele Saturday, 2 May 2015, 5:51 pm

      🙂
      Well said, but I’m not going to defend him. Those Russian are all dopers, unlike Italians and Spaniards! And he won’t need it, either, at least if Cookson and Makarov don’t unfriend soon 😛

      Jokes apart, I’m far from willing to “defend” Rebellin in any different sense from what inrng is doing above, and I wouldn’t like if it was the impression my post gives. My fault, the fog of the long posts, I guess.

      • Anonymous Saturday, 2 May 2015, 6:40 pm

        Ha! Not a dig. Sorry if it came across as such. I’m a big fan of MSR, so your posts are right up my alley 🙂

      • Tovarishch Saturday, 2 May 2015, 8:34 pm

        I think they have already unfriended. Perhaps, given the general ire towards Valverde we’ll see Zakarin get the same treatment. He does seem to revel in jours avec.

      • BC Sunday, 3 May 2015, 7:38 pm

        Gabriele: Best not try and defend Zakarin eh. Caught for doping at 19 years of age, and given a two year suspension by the Russian Federation, then employed by a Russian WT team. Just another example of the sheer depth of the problem facing the sport ! And, he is riding the Giro this year to put this into the context of the present conundrum.

        But, it’s all OK because the rules say it’s OK. In my book it is not OK, but as a simple punter I just have to accept the insane rules and that the duplicity of teams employing such people is just fine – the rules say so !

        Lets not pretend the problem is just restricted to older members of the peloton. LAs public assassination has not changed the basic problem one iota. Until such time as these problematic’s are resolved, honestly, openly and clearly, the sport will continue to suffer the reputation it so richly deserves.

        • J Evans Sunday, 3 May 2015, 9:09 pm

          Life ban.
          That’s a deterrent and means you get rid of them.

          • PH Sunday, 3 May 2015, 10:21 pm

            In total agreement.

            Let’s have a simple rule. If you’re caught doping that’s it. Full life ban with all previous race results crossed out of the record books.

            That is a deterrent.

            Let’s make it clear. No second chances, ever. No excuses. It’s the athletes responsibility to know what they are putting in their body.

            I’m sure some will say that’s too harsh, but from my own view point I abhor cheating and we shouldn’t have to tolerate it in what is supposed to be a fair contest.

            Morally I can’t support riders such as Contador and Valverde. For me they shouldn’t have had a second chance and they shouldn’t be allowed to carry on racing. Every victory for them is a slap in the face for the riders who don’t cheat, for the fans of cycling who want to believe in their favorites.

          • gabriele Sunday, 3 May 2015, 11:31 pm

            That’s nonsense both from an empirical point of view (plenty of material on the effectiveness of draconian punishments as a deterrent) and under any condition of understanding of cycling / pro sport. I know inrng doesn’t like the kind of “arguing without much argument” I’m practising here, but I also suspect many will be grateful if I avoid a giant OT on the subject. Suffice it to say that the theme has long been debated and personal opinion hopefully should become at least “informed” before becoming sort of a (modest?) *proposal* (I’d say that the word “morally”is utterly out of place, too).
            I’d suggest reading a very brief book from Beccaria whose 250th anniversary has been celebrated last year, but which is still quite topical (generally speaking, reflections about Law are some millenia old, it’s surprising how people think they’ve grasped the whole problem of controlling social deviance in a flash of intuition about life bans…).

          • AK Monday, 4 May 2015, 12:03 am

            Yeah right. And introducing the death sentence will make crime disappear.
            The best deterrent is a high probability of being caught. If every rider got at least 1 ooc test a week, plus top 10 and 10 random others tested on every race day, doping would be history in no time. Or at least until the next miracle method without available test appears.
            But everybody in cycling is focused on short-term gain so investing in more testing to allow the fanbase to grow beyond those that hardly care about doping is not on the agenda.

          • Tovarishch Monday, 4 May 2015, 7:59 am

            Perhaps every convicted doper, once they return to the sport should be tested on a more frequent basis, for which they themselves have to pay. Would certainly concentrate the mind.

          • J Evans Monday, 4 May 2015, 9:19 am

            Of course, a life ban wouldn’t be an absolute detterent: it would be a greater detterent.
            And it would mean a cheat couldn’t come back to the sport.
            It’s not draconian because you’re not denying someone their freedom (hence the comparisons with how you deal with crime are not relevant), you’re just saying ‘you’re not welcome to participate in this sport’ – which is fair considering that they cheated.
            AK, increased testing would also help, as you say, but – apparently – micro-dosing can get past this as well.
            There is no one simple answer: the thing to do is add all these things together. Just these two – increased testing and increased length of ban – would deter many.
            Then, you add things like increased education, working with the teams, watching the teams, etc.

          • J Evans Monday, 4 May 2015, 9:20 am

            *deterrent – excuse my early morning brain.

          • The Inner Ring Monday, 4 May 2015, 1:52 pm

            We’ll see the new WADA Code at work now with athletes caught for “heavy” doping, eg EPO, passport problems, getting a 4 year ban. This is almost a life ban, no cyclist can spend 4 years waiting around for a contract renewal.

        • gabriele Sunday, 3 May 2015, 9:12 pm

          The only way I would “defend” Zakarin is along the lines of my general defense of any cyclist: that is, a sort of discourse which is never to be intended as a request to suspend the rules (e.g. not punishing at all whoever had been really found doping); nor as a call for some kind of mythological or naïf “innocence” on the cyclists’ part.
          Mine is just an invitation to look closer (and/or with a wider scope)… to avoid missing the moon ’cause we’re looking at the finger. Especially if the finger is pointing away from the moon, precisely to prevent us from seeing it 😉
          BC, I agree with what you say in your third paragraph – but that’s one of the different reasons why I don’t like the rowdy campaigns about this or that past doper whose character is just *opportune* in storytelling and/or political terms.

          Back to the main subject, it’s not just about Zakarin and his sanction (even if I’m always worried, from various POV, when a doping case concerns so young an athlete); Katusha’s general performances have been… “interesting” recently. And TTs tend to be a good *thermometer*. That said, maybe they’ve peaked for Romandy and País Vasco – unlike other teams? – knowing that they won’t have enough occasions in the GC of the big races since Purito is getting old. It would be a totally coherent and logical explication. Let’s hope so, even if I wouldn’t be surprised by other possibilities. Footnote: the evolution of this situation could become an intriguing clue about the state of UCI/Makarov relations.
          I’ve broken some of my personal rules about “hinting at” with this post, but I like the *Marxist* quote some Anonymous made below. I think the exact version was even better: “I am a man of principles. I will give you some and if you don’t like those, I have plenty more” (truth is, I can’t track a reliable source but I found this version in a philosophy book).

          • Tovarishch Monday, 4 May 2015, 8:11 am

            Groucho in Duck soup, I think.

  • Redeye Saturday, 2 May 2015, 11:17 pm

    Yet another excellently written piece. I suppose in many ways it shows the root of the problem – many of the fans don’t believe that the rules are catching or dealing with dopers effectively. So while Rebellin is technically free to race, a large portion of fans don’t believe he was either punished sufficiently or is now riding clean which is why there is such controversy surrounding him. However, the team owners and/or sponsors appear either oblivious to or don’t care about the opinions of the fans.

    While there is so much distance between the moral and ethical stance of the UCI, the sponsors/teams and the fans there’s always going to be this kind of debate.

    • CoDrvr Sunday, 3 May 2015, 12:31 am

      There’s no ‘s’ in ‘ the team owners and/or sponsors ‘. One man owns everything.

  • Joel Saturday, 2 May 2015, 11:30 pm

    I have to say that whilst clearly there is still a major doping problem in cycling, as in every sport, excluding one person, no matter how untrustworthy/unrepentant that person is, is wrong. Whilst I like the fact that RCS don’t want an unrepentant doper there, as pointed out there are plenty of others. What about the doctors and other doping staff too, are they welcome?

  • Dennis Sunday, 3 May 2015, 1:52 am

    I also wonder if this same sort of thing is going on with Horner. The team of a Vuelta winner not receiving an invitation to the Tour of California? That really surprised me.

    • J Evans Sunday, 3 May 2015, 9:48 am

      That and the fact that almost no-one would touch him the year immediately following that Vuelta victory.

      • Joel Sunday, 3 May 2015, 10:34 am

        Horner is still getting away with it. Rebellin too and I don’t doubt that ValvPiti and others are also getting away with it. Nothing that has come out of Horner or Rebellin’s mouths over the past few years has suggested anything other than doping.

        • Augie March Sunday, 3 May 2015, 4:45 pm

          I think the problem with Horner is not that he was doping during his Vuelta win, but that he almost certainly has a doping past, despite his denials. To put it bluntly, who wasn’t doping from 97-05 odd, especially considering some of the teams he rode for? It’s more that no major team today would want to deal with the fallout from the years ago.

          • gabriele Sunday, 3 May 2015, 8:26 pm

            Well, the figures he himself published from his BP regarding that Vuelta looked more worrying than Kreuziger’s 😉

  • Larrick Sunday, 3 May 2015, 4:19 am

    In the murky world of cycling politics, anything is possible. RCS excluding one doper whilst allowing a reduced bunch of others wouldn’t come as a huge surprise. Nor would it be a shock to find out that Rebellin doesn’t feel up to a 3 week GT. (At his age he should be sitting back and watching the Giro with a G&T.)

    Whatever the continued benefits of his previous self medication, it wasn’t enough for two days of climbing in Turkey. At 44, that shouldn’t come as a bolt from the azzurro either but if it is true, your “what next?” question is interesting as the logical next step would be to go from making an individual a persona non grata, to doing that to a team. Obviously WT teams must be invited under the current setup but it’s this type of want for control that has lead to fissures in different sports worldwide in the past. Maybe the first step to a breakaway competition being setup by the big 3 promoters and the big budget, and supposed drug free, teams?

  • MattF Sunday, 3 May 2015, 11:02 am

    INRNG’s obsession with ‘the rules’ is all well and good. The inconsistency of the approach of RCS, some WT teams and many PC teams to convicted dopers is inexplicable. That doesn’t alter the fact that Rebellin and his ilk are a disgrace to the sport and have no place in it. Why not argue the point for a change in the rules to exclude these lowlife rather than bemoaning some petty inconsistencies in the application of the current rules. How can you defend these people in any way, shape or form?

    • David Sunday, 3 May 2015, 11:48 am

      I think you may have a different understanding of the post than I did.

      “Why not argue the point for a change in the rules to exclude…” – my feeling was that is exactly what is being argued, but it is aimed at RCS. If the organisers feel strongly enough about doping to exclude a rider with a doping conviction, then why not make that public, explicit and consistent?

      If the report is true, and Rebellin is being excluded, and if it is because of doping, why not Contador? If RCS don’t want ex-dopers in the race, then they should argue for a change in the rules to exclude all,not pick off individuals one by one. If you want change, isn’t systemic change better?

  • Anthony Arthur Sunday, 3 May 2015, 11:13 am

    This article is sound and its principles correct. However, we also heard about the tof organisers not paying out to winners yet and I think this falls in a similar bracket: race organisers taking matters into their hands. I think this can only help get rid of dopers (though I appreciate that no one has rescinded race invites to Contador and Valverde yet..)

  • Whaleoilbeefhooked Sunday, 3 May 2015, 11:57 am

    Another reasoned INRNG post to unearth the “all top pros are dopers” refugees. If people believe that to be the case, but wish it wasn’t, why are you still watching? By all means participate in your chosen sport but ignore the pro side. There are always going to be cheats in any sport, and the mythology of cycling is strongly founded upon it.

    I ride a bike regularly; I know what effort these guys put in doped or not so the spectacle is fine; I am entertained.

    I also suspect Gabriele could be Matt Rendell’s nom de plume on this site given his forensic recall of events and personalities around doping cases. Carry on.

    • Anonymous Sunday, 3 May 2015, 4:41 pm

      How very dare you, I am a man of principles, but if you don’t like them, well I have others! (borrowed quote).

  • irungo txuletak Sunday, 3 May 2015, 12:42 pm

    Nice picture from the Metzegete. What happened to this race? It was one of the most important summer classics in the times of the UCI world cup. Will it come back?

    I agree on the principle of a race cherry picking the riders is not acceptable. Why then Pellizoti, or Kontador? I understand many people don’t want cheaters to ride again, but there are rules -2 years ban-, and when the ban is over, the riders can resume his job again.

  • TourDeUtah Sunday, 3 May 2015, 4:32 pm

    As INRNG pointed out, many other former dopers are riding including Pellizotti, who had to sacrifice his Giro podium.

    Perhaps their is some personal bad blood between Reb and RCS ?

    This move seems more political than ethical, moral, or PR.

  • Rp Sunday, 3 May 2015, 5:47 pm

    Feel free to go back to the ugly past of lies, deceipt and cheating, those two individuals you are fighting for were in the midst of it and had no remorse – they just got caught!
    I would prefer to move forward with a clean break.

  • Alpen Sunday, 3 May 2015, 8:50 pm

    Bold and right f-in on.

  • Paul Monday, 4 May 2015, 12:22 am

    I have a lot of sympathy for race organisers, and action like this might make it easier to get sponsors for races that take a strong position on the issue. Why? Well imagine the collective groan from the sponsors of an event when there is a winner who they would cringe in using on post event publicity.

    This can only be a great counter to the cycling press which is forgetting that the real story is with the clean riders not the comeback stories of the convicted dopers (even the rehabilitated ones)

  • Tricky Dicky Monday, 4 May 2015, 1:37 am

    There’s a lower level pro race in Asia (which readers may not know has significant doping problems) that takes place in Taiwan where the organiser refuses to invite any rider that has any doping violation in their past. I think the organiser writes about it a bit (crankpunk?). I like this stance. I hope it catches on.

    My worry about automatic life bans is the extent of what is on the banned list – I don’t know how easy it is to do, but I would be in favour of life bans for “serious” stuff, with little or no chance of accidental ingestion (eg. EPO?), but not something that might show up in an antisceptic cream or a cold and flu tablet. Perhaps I am naïve.

    • J Evans Monday, 4 May 2015, 9:23 am

      Agreed: I wouldn’t advocate a life ban for every drug.

    • Sam2 Tuesday, 5 May 2015, 11:53 am

      Life bans wont fly for first offences until and unless WADA changes the punishment under the Code . And that would mean:

      1. all the Feds govening bodies across all the sports signed up the WADA Code signing off on this – and they wont (IAAF wanted it in the latest version of the Code, but it wouldnt fly)

      2. WADA and their lawyers being comfortable that a challenge to CAS by an athlete slapped with a lifetime ban wouldn’t result in it being over-turned. And the answer to that is that there is absolutely no conviction that CAS would uphold it (belief in second chances etc etc)

      3. UCI withdrawing from WADA Code
      a. They wont
      b. UCI would be in exactly the same position at (2)

      I know Lance got his lifetime ban but the legality of that was suspect (and Tygart knew it), as was proven when Bruyneel challenged his ban in the UK courts and got it reduced.

      • Nick Thursday, 7 May 2015, 7:55 pm

        It’s not an important point, but Bruyneel challenged his ban before American arbitrators (which is how you appeal USADA decisions in the first instance). It just so happens that the arbitrators held their hearings in London, as this was a more convenient venue for the European defendants.

  • Larry T. Monday, 4 May 2015, 12:08 pm

    “…bias, inconsistency and hypocrisy.” Should we expect less from pro cycling these days? Rebellin’s just another groan-worthy winner like Valverde to me.

  • OpignonLibre Monday, 4 May 2015, 3:06 pm

    It would be much simpler if we stopped giving a second chance to busted riders. Stop giving them limited time bans, just ban them for life. It’s not like pro-cycling is a “safe” job with low risk of unemployment anyway.

  • Ron Monday, 4 May 2015, 5:22 pm

    I thought Rebellin wasn’t invited this year because he looks awful in his orange kit…

  • Daniel Tuesday, 5 May 2015, 6:49 pm

    Didn’t this happen some years ago with Anna Sanchis? they prohibited her from racing the Giro Rosa.

    • Daniel Tuesday, 5 May 2015, 6:53 pm
      • gabriele Tuesday, 5 May 2015, 10:04 pm

        Just as a footnote, they’re not the same organisers of the Giro d’Italia, but that’s irrelevant.
        Thank you for reporting this: I didn’t know the story, that year I couldn’t follow the race (in fact, I was moving to Spain during those same days).
        I can only say: “bochornoso” 🙁
        Rebellin, whether we agree or not with his exclusion, is being banned for something *wrong* we reasonably assume he did: Anna Sanchis had apparently done something *right*, reclaiming her due salary. We don’t have other versions of the story, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was just as she says.
        All because of the sponsors… Incrediby sad.

Next post:

Previous post: