Finally is all I can say. Finally the UCI is doing something, not even close to enough, but something to stop this blatant use of doping in the sport of cycling. It is hard to fathom how a team such as Astana, could be still racing on the Pro Tour level after all the shit they’ve participated in.
And I’m just using the information of what they have been “caught” for. 5 doping violations, between the Pro Tour Team and Astana’s farm team, in less than a year would seem like enough, in itself, to have this already in place. But, I think, money speaks louder than words and Astana is a big amount of that, money. Money coming out of a place that you wouldn’t normally think money in the sport of cycling would come from. And that speaks a lot in nearly all aspects of sport, and in life.
I’m not a fan of Astana since it’s figure head is Alexander Nikolaevich Vinokourov. Let’s just skip all those extra letters and just refer to him as Vino. I’ve made my thoughts pretty clear on Vino here. It is nearly unfathomable, to me, that he is our reigning Olympic Road Race Champion. How can a guy that has so, so many ghosts in his closets, plus the all the laundry that he’s left all over the sport, still be involved in the sport at all? It is more than mildly embarrassing. I believe that he and Alexandr Kolobnev have been formally charged with bribery and are currently awaiting trial for that. It is about fixing the Leige-Bastogne-Leige race in 2010. Seems that 150,000 euros exchanged hands and the Belgians don’t like that type of cycling publicity to be public.
And look who has been involved with this team. Johan Bruyneel ran the team from 2007-2009. I’m sure he cleaned it up. Then, after his departure, Vino and the crew must have just fallen off the wagon, since they’ve had so many doping positives since. And Lance and the other US guys involved in the USADA investigation show us how often that the dope tests actually “catch” riders. Like hardly ever.
The Padova Investigation in Italy stated that Astana had 17, yes 17 of its riders using Dr. Michele Ferrari, who was Lance’s guy and has been banned permanently from the sport of cycling. He was Vino’s doctor too. 17 seems like a pretty huge number. I don’t quite understand why all those guys are still racing bikes, but the system is flawed, obviously. The investigation says that Astana used systematic doping on their team.
Our current Tour de France winner, Astana’s Vinenzo Nibali on the subject –
“The problems in this team are also in many others. I don’t think our team is the worst because in other teams there are worse people than there are here, I won’t name names.”
Then – “There’s Mafia in Sicily, as in the rest of the world, but that doesn’t mean we’re all gangsters. As cyclists we’re always trying to show transparency. I’ve always practiced clean cycling and I will continue to do so.”
What sound bites, beautiful.
We could go on and on here, but it would take too long. Enough.
I hope removing the Pro Tour status from Astana will make them go away. But, of course, Vino is going to fight this tooth and nail. But, like I stated above, money talks and our sport seems to have blinders on when that is the case.
Maybe, just maybe, Brian Cookson, is the guy, the right guy, to lead us into this new, completely new, era of the sport. It has always been polluted, just how polluted, I think we’ll find out soon when the CIRC report is released within the next month. Or so they say.