Thursday, July 19, 2007

TdF Stage 10: Will They Ever Learn?

Trick question. Am I talking about riders who continue to dope? Or am I talking about the media, riders, and administrators who jump to hasty conclusions before all of the evidence is in? Time may tell on the first one (and that's a big may, given Floyd's situation). But either way, the second one applies, and is about as frustrating as the first.

We have Versus putting up a graphic on the screen saying that Patrik Sinkewitz had high levels of testosterone back in June. Do we know that? It was weeks (months?) before Floyd got his full results, showing his normal testosterone level. From what I've seen, we have a leaked report of a 24:1 ratio on an A sample. Is it that hard to understand that the high ratio can come from either of two factors (high T or low E)? Are we so concerned about image that we have to make the harshest statements we can, even though we don't even have a B "confirmation" yet? It's moments like these that make me wonder if there are only a handful of us Floyd geeks out there, and no one else has been paying an ounce of attention to the devilish details.

One wonders what Floyd is feeling this evening. On the one hand, seeing this same pattern of leaked information and rush to judgment, he must be banging his head against the wall, feeling like all his work this past year has been for nothing. On the other hand, if Sinkewitz continues to protest, and it's another case of questionable science, it adds credibility to Floyd's case. Although, he might be banging his head on that one, too, to see that the science hasn't changed yet either.

What an odd twist of fate that saw Sinkewitz already out of the race with his crash. I doubt T-Mobile is feeling it, but it is just a little better this way. We don't have to see him ceremoniously stripped of his number and taken away in "disgrace." Yes, quotation marks on that one, because I hate it whenever I see Floyd described as "disgraced Tour champion." I don't believe he did a thing to bring all that on himself or the sport, yet that shit always gets laid at his doorstep. And now Sinkewitz's.

People didn't mince words today in their reactions. They were pissed, condemning, and leaving no room for this to be a false positive. Even the usually good-natured Christian Vande Velde showed no mercy in his VeloNews diary. I understand their anger, no doubt. If I had just suffered an unbelievably long, scorching hot day in a thus-far well-received Tour, and then had to answer a barrage of questions about doping again, I'd be pretty damn pissed myself. And if Sinkewitz did bring this on the sport, they have every right to want to break his nose again. I can't imagine the frustration and betrayal the clean guys feel. It's a good thing they're all tough as nails, hopefully that will get them through it.

But at this point I think some of that anger should be directed at whoever leaked the results, and whoever ran with them, and German television, and officials who are more concerned about being politically correct than due process. I hated to see Jens Voigt lose today, I'm such a big fan. But at least German viewers didn't miss another great Jens victory. Again, I can understand the anger and feeling helpless, but I don't understand punishing clean riders and avid German fans by just pulling the plug entirely. What is taking your ball and going home going to solve? Why let the (possibly) dirty few control the enjoyment of everyone else? And the endless question in all of this, why only cycling? Are the non-cycling Puerto athletes ever going to be exposed? Is real testing ever going to happen in other sports? Why are they so untouchable and yet cycling can be bashed, trashed, and discarded?

Shoot, I'm not usually one to do the endless question thing, sorry. Or ignore the race and go with the doping, seems a bit hypocritical. But this is what happens when we finally have a typical day in the Tour! And really, it was the contrast between that, the workman-like day the guys had in the saddle, and what they had to deal with off the bike.

A few things stood out today in great contrast to destruction and betrayal. There was Saul Raisin's story on Versus, and then Saul himself, full of hope and enthusiasm for the future. And demonstrating the great brotherhood of loyal teammates. He told of Thor Hushovd calling him after winning on the Champs last year, wearing his Raisin' Hell bracelet and making sure Saul shared in the victory. And of Saul calling Thor a few days ago, telling him to win the stage, and Thor going out and doing just that. Today's call didn't work quite so well, but who cares, it's the thought that counts! See Marty, sometimes the teams are a family.

Another family plan that didn't quite work out today, but was equally moving, was Voigt's intention to win the stage for fallen CSC brother Stuart O'Grady, as told at VeloNews. He's on a big Tour breakaway, and he's thinking of Stuey and his two broken collarbones (among other things) and due-in-three-weeks pregnant wife. Jens said the whole team has been thinking of O'Grady, wanting to do something special for him.

And the ever-delightful Chris Horner, describing how he takes care of himself on a day like today so he can be strong for Cadel in the mountains, with no concern for his own time.

All is not lost; I don't know why some people are so eager for it to be.


cat2bike said...

Julie, you nailed it, girl!! Good analysis on today. The riders where suffering, and the last thing they need thrown in their faces is a positive test.
God, I'm patiently(?) waiting for the other sports to have their day in the muck. But when OP hasn't named one single athlete that isn't a cyclist; it makes a fan paranoid. You're right, the stage to today was great cycling, too bad we had to put up with the other stuff, too.

RipCurl said...

Great analysis and I agree with your point of view. The media's as guilty as sin of self-promotion at the expense of the greater good for athletes and sports - especially cycling. How can they pretend to present relevant data and sources without acknowledging the underlying, relevant details or emphasizing the need for due process. Due process, does not, and can't exist anymore, because there's no consequence or accountability to their brazen disregard for it; the latest example being the Sinkewitz-result leak. T-Mobile, Stapleton, Sinkewitz, all learned about the results after they'd been leaked and broadcast for the world to pre-maturely judge.
On a similar note, I still am pissed at Austin Murphy's recent muck-raking on the eve of the TdF.
SI, Versus, ESPN, newspapers, they're all disgustingly spineless and I'm dizzy wondering why they can't report with integrity. Apparently, the self-righteous, disapproving, distancing disappointment in the alleged guilty rider sells airtime and magazines.
Anyway, well done over here.

Camille said...

Julie, you have such a gift for zeroing in and fleshing out the ethics issues at play here. I've been ignoring the drug test news on purpose, but if I had given it attention I should have realized the parallels with Floyd's case. Great point!

Off to read today's entry. Again, thank you for the great insights:)

Anonymous said...

I missed this yesterday. I completely agree with your assessment and outrage of the doping news. It is unbelievable and inexcusable that the team would find out about a positive A test from the MEDIA as they pulled up to race in the TOUR! How can the athletes possibly trust the anti-doping system when it seems that absolutely no regard is paid to following the rules established by the anti-doping agencies themselves.

If I were a rider (and PS is guilty of doping) I would be ticked off, too, but I thought that SOMEONE would say "we need to wait and see what the testing analysis says before making assumptions about guilt". Its not bad enough that the guy has to feel guilty (before a B test is even conducted) about what this has done to TMobile, but also has to be blamed for the entire country of Germany being cut off from race coverage! If there are any doubts about his guilt, he must feel like he is living in some kind of never ending nightmare!

OK, sorry, had to rant on that one :) Keep up the good work!