Bernucci? Don’t just blame the riders

Number 1 idiot?

Lampre’s Lorenzo Bernucci is the latest rider to be named in an ongoing Italian investigation into doping. Reports suggest the Italian police found some banned substances in a raid on the Lampre rider’s home. Comically, Bernucci seems to be claiming that blood-diluting products are for his brother and his wife.

But whilst the internet slowly turns on the allegedly idiotic Bernucci, I often think it’s wrong to put such blame on the riders. Bernucci’s been busted before and served a ban, so who took the decision to hire him? Surely team management must share the blame here? Yes everyone deserves a second chance but this doesn’t mean you forget their past, any rider coming back from a ban should be keen to make amends and a team needs to provide supervision, support, encouragement and education to make sure they don’t return to old ways.

I’m shocked, shocked to find that doping is going in my team…

In the same manner, Lampre seems to have recruited staff from questionable sources. Team coach Sergio Gelati spent 2008 at… Saunier-Duval before the team collapsed under the weight of scandal, only to resurface at Lampre. Also Lampre should have had their ProTour licence suspended in 2008 as a rule stated that if a team had three riders test positive then it would have to take a break. Three riders tested positive but the UCI didn’t enforce its own rules, letting the team off the hook.

So if you hear Lampre management making noises that they are surprised, remember Captain Renault from the film Casablanca. Police chief Renault shuts down Rick’s Café, proclaiming “I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on here“… only for the croupier to approach him, “your winnings, Sir“. Beware of empty words from Lampre, the team is running out of credibility.

3 thoughts on “Bernucci? Don’t just blame the riders”

  1. I think there's a bit of a vicious circle, especially with the smaller teams:

    When a rider gets busted for doping, they come back on the market a few years later, and are a lot cheaper, so they're quite attractive to smaller teams, who are always chasing after bargains. Those teams are the least able to run expensive, professional, internal anti-doping programs.

    That said, it's not like Lampre is some little rinky-dink team either, so, yeah, they ought to know better.

  2. That's quite true with the small teams. We see the likes of Scarponi and I believe his contract is very much performance related. Even David Millar made his comeback with Saunier-Duval.

    But I'd add that these smaller squads don't aim as high. Fans and sections of the media look at them with suspicion. Any team seeking "Pro Tour" status gets held to higher standards.

    ASO kept Fuji-Servetto out of the Tour de France in 2009 for "ethical" reasons, if Lampre doesn't sort things out then it could find itself facing the same situation.

  3. I thought Lampre *had* run out of credibility? ASO will have no trouble dropping them from the Tour seeing as they never really turn up anyway. Just "another" case of old skool mentality? Unfortunately there doesn't seem to be many with any other mentality in Italy, or Spain for that matter.

    Not sure where I stand on Cunego though. He has said enough over recent years, without being explicit, to enable people to read between the lines as to how he has conducted his career. But…what now?

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