A cycling fan might be forgiven for wanting to stay in bed. News of the ongoing saga of Contador’s case isn’t too cheerful.
First, up rather than an orderly hearing by the Spanish authorities it’s only taken hours for Juan Carlos Castaño, President of the RFEC, to publically say he’s got Contador’s back, he’s known him since he was a kid and more. To be fair to Castaño, he’s also said he’ll ensure a fair hearing but you don’t need to be some master of linguistics to spot the gaps in his words. Institutions are swayed by leadership like this. Indeed you’d hope the Valverde fallout would have prompted reform, but no.
Next, Andy Schleck comes out with some platitudes that are so disposable they should be printed on Kleenex. Speaking to De Telegraaf, he says “For me Contador will always be the winner of the 2010 Tour de France“. Yes, he’s not the controversial sort but he’s side-stepping the issues here. You can excuse a rider who attacks when a rider drops a chain but can you be equally relaxed about doping?
Then I read Franco Pellizotti’s having a whine about the treatment of cyclists versus footballers. Now there’s a point to be made here but talk about weak ground, Pellizotti’s not exactly the spokesman of choice here. Instead he might do better to publish his blood values online so the public can investigate the strange changes alledged by the UCI.
Plus their’s Bjarne Riis’s biography. He’s explaining the meaning of the word “preparation” and how nobody thought spending up to €130,000 on EPO and other products was strange, yet alone wrong. HTC boss Brian Holm said a similar thing last week and yes, things are different now. Riis and Holm are saying the same thing: the economic imperative today is to be clean… only Riis still struggles to inspire here.
Finally an item from yesterday, and that there’s some debate over whether the new Pegasus team will be able to ride the Tour Down Under. This should be resolved quickly but why is there even any hesitation, to have the premier Aussie race without the new Aussie team is a sure-fire way to undermine the team before the season starts. Some say Aussie politics and turf ways mean the team and the race organiser aren’t best friends but all the same, they have an interest to work together.
All the points above have a common theme: everyone is talking about their personal interests and empires. Castaño’s worried about a friend and the image of Spanish cycling. Pellizotti doesn’t like being named as a doper by the UCI. Riis is justifying his actions as part of a collective act. And the Aussies seem uninterested in supporting a local team.
Maybe it’s just the lack of racing but at the same time, whilst I’m really looking forward to the 2011 season, whether it’s to see the new teams or the exciting Giro and Tour routes, I can’t help feel that the sporting wonder will struggle to escape the controversy. If I find this depressing, imagine how guys like David Moncoutié, Sandy Casar or Marco Pinotti must feel?