You can’t say that, No. 1

Because it used to be, like, a mark of distinction.

“Young riders have gone mad. They do not understand that doping is no longer acceptable in cycling.” Alexandre Vinokourov, suspended pro doper and head of Team Astana, on why five of his riders have tested positive. Kazhakstanskaya Pravda, Nov. 28, 2014.

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Except for, you know, that we’re on the same team.

“They are four idiots that have nothing to do with me.” Vincenzo Nibali, explaining the distance between himself and riders who were with him at Tour of Oman, Milano-Sanremo, Amstel Gold Race, La Flèche Wallonne, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, and the Tour de Romandie. VeloNews, Nov. 21, 2014.

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Which is why we’re renewing the team’s license for 2015.

“The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) views the positive tests for EPO by two riders of the same team — Maxim and Valentin Iglinskiy — as an extremely serious situation and one which raises questions about the management of the team and the ethics which are upheld within it.” UCI statement about the 5 recent positive doping tests on Team Astana. VeloNews, Oct. 8, 2014.

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No dessert, sure, or maybe a spanking.

“It’s not right to say that they should have missed Lombardy or Almaty.” Roger Legeay, head of pro cycling anti-doping movement, defending Team Astana’s cynical timing ploy that allowed them to race the final monument of the year despite multiple team doping offenses. Ten Ring News, Oct. 12, 2014.

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But the runner-up will be invited back to a special award ceremony and given a winner’s trophy with a really cool t-shirt.

“Davidenok and Astana literally stole close to $100,000 from the rest of the field, and there is no way we are going to get that money back; bull-shit.” Canadian pro Michael Woods, on Astana doper Ilya Davidenok’s win at the Tour of Qinghai Lake, scooping up $100k in prize money while riding the field off his wheel and making the rest of the field “his bitch.” CyclingTips.au, Nov. 28, 2014.

END

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38 thoughts on “You can’t say that, No. 1”

  1. Peter Schindler

    It is really pathetic. And it is beyond comprehension that the UCI doesn’t suspend Astana. Well, if Vino is allowed to race in the Olympics and win the gold medal, I guess anything is possible. Isn’t having him run a team pretty much the same as having a wolf guarding the hen house? As for the UCI, meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

    1. Do you expect a sport’s marketing organization to be effective at policing doping in that same sport?

      When are we going to learn? The UCI cannot be responsible for any aspect of policing doping in cycling. It’s ridiculous.

  2. Disappointing, but not surprising: NFL, NBA, MLB have all proven that wait & watch is better than actually doing something about drug problems (fans really don’t want smaller, slower play). I still watch bike racing and its not like the sides of the road are empty these days – I think fans largely don’t care and mngmnt’s “monitoring the situation” helps them gauge reaction to problems to then decide on what needs to be done (or not at all) vs doing what many of us believe is correct.

  3. The really scary thing is the new research indicating that the effects of doping may last for decades. Ain’t that a bitch?

    1. I saw that. What a lame article. Best quote was the one by John Rawls. Let the cheaters argue around that one.

      1. The sodium bicarbonate / gastric distress thing made me think of your article a while back about the guy who fouled his shorts at nationals (and kept on riding).

  4. WM,
    You have taken news stories out of context, and gotten it wrong, to score some points. For whatever reason, seems you are trying to tar Nibali by association.

    Do you — or anyone else? — have any evidence that Nibali is tainted? If so, pls cite it. I’m not aware of any rumors to that effect, as reported by any professional journalists inside or outside the sport.

    Eg, you misquote:
    “They are four idiots that have nothing to do with me.” Vincenzo Nibali, explaining the distance between himself and riders who were with him at Tour of Oman, Milano-Sanremo, Amstel Gold Race, La Flèche Wallonne, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, and the Tour de Romandie. VeloNews, Nov. 21, 2014.

    The article specifically stated it was only 1 rider who raced with Nibali, Maxim Iglinskiy, not 4 as you imply.

    The article also specifically states:
    “the latter two [Davidenok & Okishev] race for Astana’s third-division feeder team”
    So what _does_ that have to do with Nibali? The WorldTour and Continental teams are completey separate.

    Some might argue that Nibali should quit Astana. That would be cutting off the nose to spite the face.
    A well reasoned expanation why that would Not be in Nibali’s best interests:
    http://inrng.com/2014/11/should-nibali-leave-astana

    The pro tour teams’ budgets have already been set and riders mostly hired … Nibali would likely have to sit out the entire 2015 season. That’s career suicide. Like it or not, he’s stuck there, at least for the 2015 season.

    1. Here’s the problem: Astana has an inglorious record of doping positives and is run by one of the worst and most unrepentant dopers of the “doping era,” whenever that was. Now, under their clean and new management, they have five new positives in a few months at their Pro Tour and Continental levels.

      Does this mean that Nibali is doping? No. Does it mean that he belongs to a team with ineffective doping controls? Yes. Does that reflect poorly on him? Yes. Are his protestations funny? Definitely yes. Are Vino’s funnier? A thousand times yes.

      It’s like when you were a kid and you were running around with the druggies even though you weren’t a druggie yourself. It’s called guilt by association — hardly a legal standard, but one that people with common sense use all the time.

      I don’t think I’ve taken anything out of context. This is a team rife with dopers, and they just won the Tour. And the UCI doesn’t think it’s a problem.

      What Nibali should have said is, “This reflects terribly on me because I know these guys and have raced with them. Also, the Continental guys move up to the Pro Tour within the team, so it’s really bad and makes me look like I belong to a team of cheats. However, I race clean. It looks bad, but I’ve never tested positive [fill in number of passed tests here].”

      This would read much better than pretending that he is from Mars and the dopers are from the Crab Nebula. But it wouldn’t be funny.

      1. It was less-than-impeccable judgement for Nibali to have signed w/ Astana. He could have plausibly foreseen something might blow up eventually, given the team’s history.

        As a state-sponsored team having very deep resources, the Astana contract was probably too attractive for Nibali to pass up.

        Given the typically short career of a pro cyclist, the harshness with which cycling discards those who are not top-tier ranked, and the relatively low pay for the hardest sport in the world — I can sympathize with Nibali’s predicament.

    2. The teams aren’t completely separate. They share the same owner/sponsor. That’s not an insignificant similarity since the owner bears the ultimate responsibility for the conduct of the team. The owner hires the DS, etc.

      I ask myself what I’d do if 1-5 guys on my team got busted. I’d quit instantly. I have the luxury of making money in other ways. But still.

      I’m sure someone could scrape up money for Nibali if he decided to bail (assuming it’s contractually possible).

      1. The Inner Ring article reported that a typical contract for a high level pro has several “escape clauses”, one being a team’s failure to secure a UCI world tour license. So if Astana actually lost their license, Nibali would have a relatively easy out.

        “Mr Ring” seems a knowledgeable cycling “insider” and has written extensively about general pro team finanances. Aside from Team Sky, Tinkoff-Saxo, and maybe Astana, even the highest level teams are very precarious year-over-year on finances. Indeed, several have dissolved in recent years after losing major sponsors.

        I dont think it would be so easy for another team to “scrape up the money” — their rosters are now mostly filled. A team would have to break contracts of several others to free up enough $ for Nibali. There would be termination & “breach of contract” fees to sacked riders.

        There’s also the issue of “too many chefs” as GC leaders. Froome-Wiggins @ Sky and Contador-Armstrong @ Astana are some recent examples of why 2 strong leaders on a team doesnt work well.
        Other teams, eg Garmin-Cannondale, seem to eschew “superstar” GC leaders as a matter of policy.

        Astana remains a major blemish. UCI does not seem eager to sanction or punish the team owners and management, instead going after individual riders.

    3. Your faith in the sport’s administrators running cycling with some integrity is *completely* unfounded.

      Is Nibali clean? The UCI knows. If they didn’t sanction Horner, they aren’t sanctioning Nibali.

      The sport is rotten at the most senior levels nationally and internationally. At low levels, there are some well meaning people. But, they don’t have any authority.

      1. I agree with this. As with all other professional sports, including chess, doping exists up and down the food chain. And it will continue forever, because the reward for some will always outweigh the risk.

  5. Easy to understand a young rider’s temptation to dope for Big dollars.
    Ludicrous when a Masters is caught and ROTFL when they press release a denial!

  6. Astana replaced Liberty Seguros as the sponsor of the team. Liberty Seguros pulled out when several riders in the team got implicated in Operacion Puerto in 2006. In 2007, Vino, riding for Astana, was caught doping in the TdF, and Astana was asked to leave.
    Dirty, dirty, dirty.
    I have sympathy for Nibali, but Astana should be suspended.

    1. Yep. You sign up with the Confederate Army at Ft. Sumter, don’t complain at Appomattox.

      1. The CSA will rise agin’, you dirty yankee lovin’ snake.
        Are you really from Texas, or did you just pass through there on your way to the left coast?

  7. You’ll note the UCI is as quiet as the grave about the money stolen by the Continental pros and the getting results updated.

    The UCI is still perfectly okay with doping.

  8. I use a red taillight, five separate diodes right to left, which can be set to slow / one second flash rate, all diodes at the same time. Think this attracts attention best, as the light fades entirely, then blossoms again out of complete darkness. This is the same flash rate used by aircraft and the beacons on towers and other tall sturctures to warn aircraft. Also, if a light flashes so quickly that it is nearly continuous, it becomes more difficult to determine the position of the flashing object relative to your own vehicle. Again, more aircraft studies.
    Ewing Taylor, Rockville MD

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