Tour de France - Caution, spoilers!

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Re: Tour de France - Caution, spoilers!

Postby TK » Thu Jul 26, 2007 12:22 am

Though I have the same aversion to doping that I suppose most of us have, I am not sure Rabobank’s sudden decision to fire Rasmussen was the wisest move given all that is at stake.

Rasmussen neglected to notify anti-doping authorities earlier this year of his whereabouts—as he was required to do—and therefore missed several possible out-of-competition drug screens. This is, of course, troubling, and casts a cloud of suspicion over him.

But Rasmussen has apparently tested clean in every stage of the Tour, while several others, most notably Vinokourov, the fierce but now fallen warrior and captain of the Astana team, have failed their drug tests. And you can bet that the UCI French lab that has been testing Tour racers this year has scrutinized Rasmussen’s samples with the greatest possible care and precision because he is wearing the yellow jersey.

As punishment for Rasmussen’s silence about his locale, last week the Danish cycling federation banned him from competition in this year’s cycling world championship and the 2008 Olympics. Severe punishment indeed for someone who is riding so supremely well right now.

According to media reports, what led to Rasmussen’s firing this evening was his admission that, in addition to his lapses in telling cycling officials where he was, he lied about being in Mexico (where his wife is from) when in fact he was in Italy, doing stealth training in the hills and allegedly under the care of a yet-to-be named sports doctor (Dr. Ferrari, perhaps?).

There is no question that Rabobank had the right to sack Rasmussen if he lied about something so important to a professional cyclist and his team. My question is timing—did Rabobank act precipitously in getting rid of Rasmussen now, hours after he won today’s cruelly and wickedly difficult stage, sealing an all-but-certain victory in Paris?

Assuming Rasmussen continued to test clean and there were no more stunning revelations about him, would it have been smarter to let Rasmussen finish in Paris, conduct a more thorough investigation into the allegations about his deceit and lies, and then dismiss him if the allegations proved true?

By acting now, Rabobank has created an out-of-control media tsunami that will quickly sweep over the organization and its team members and sponsors, Danish cycling, the Tour, and, worst of all, the sport itself. Print media and television news stations that scarcely report on the Tour (if they mention it at all) will now have a schadenfreude-fest over another skeletal nut in lycra who dopes so he can ride his bike faster than other emaciated guys who do the same thing for nearly 3,000 miles.

On the other hand, if Rabobank waited until after the Tour was over, the negative media coverage would not be nearly as bad, and would get buried underneath reports of Lindsay’s latest arrest or personal debacle.

But what about “zero tolerance”? You violate company policy or lie to your employer, you get fired immediately, end of story, no excuses, etc. What zero tolerance lacks is judgment and even common sense—something you will never see HR, politicians, school administrators, or law enforcement types admit. Zero tolerance is what your computer has. Type in a single keystroke incorrectly and you get an error message—even if anyone looking at it would know exactly what you meant. Judgment, though fallible and subject to bias and prejudices, is what makes us different—and better—than the best computer anyone can dream of. Zero tolerance, without an overlay of judgment, imperfect though it may be, just reduces us to the level of a thoughtless, mindless machine.
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Re: Tour de France - Caution, spoilers!

Postby Owlman » Thu Jul 26, 2007 7:31 am

TK -

That was really well said, but I must say I disagree ona couple of points. I think there was more to this decision than we all realize right now. My supposition is that Rabobank, the sponsor, came down hard and probably forced this decision. Better now to do the right thing and sack Raz, for cause, then accept the stained glory and get it stripped later. My guess is that the team collaborated on this decision as well. There were some earlier reports in VeloNews that Raz was being ostracized not just by the peloton, but also by his Team. Who would have guessed that given the way they rode, but evidently it was happening behind the scenes. Did you hear him booed at the top of the final climb yesterday by the fans. He was booed through the stage. Even commented on it, saying "now I know how Lance felt and I have more respect for him." The Tour cannot handle two bad end results back to back years. We still do not have resolution with Floyd. Who won 2006?

Who knows if he did something wrong? Who would bet against it at this point? This sport is filthy, dirty, and needs this type of shake-up. You cannot solve a problem without fully embracing that a problem exists. Sacking Vino and Astana, sacking Cofides and now sacking Raz, shows the right kind of little tolerance. I do not think it is "zero tolerance" within your thought process. We are seeing the results of a couple of years of implementation of a plan to cleanse this sport. No other sport has done this yet. But to accomplish this goal, this sport needs a clobbering. It needs major sponsors pulling out. It needs to lose major TV coverage. I bet OLN/Versus drops cycling from its calendar next year. Take out the big money, and perhaps the incentive to dope lessens. I use to think it was great that our sport was growing in popularity among the masses. Now I think we may be better served by this sport once again being a fringe sport, fueled by people who are passionate just about riding a bike, not becoming over-paid, vainglorious athletes surrounded by sycophants and enablers.
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Re: Tour de France - Caution, spoilers!

Postby Manny » Thu Jul 26, 2007 8:08 am

Raz this, Vino that.

My question is, what are the chances now that a Disco member will be wearing Yellow in Paris? Contador? Levi?

As bad as this is for the sport, it sure can be good for Team Discovery and the future of that team. If, that is, there is a future in cycling after all this shit gets cleared up.

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Re: Tour de France - Caution, spoilers!

Postby Manny » Thu Jul 26, 2007 8:11 am

From the letour.fr website.....

The 17th stage of the 2007 Tour de France is due to begin at 12.45pm. Due to exceptional circumstances relating to Michael Rasmussen (RAB), the winner of two stages this year and the leader of the general classification after 16 stages, there will be no yellow jersey in the race today. The Danish rider has been asked by his Rabobank team to withdraw from the Tour de France.

There will be no yellow jersey worn in the 17th stage following the withdrawal of Michael Rasmussen overnight. Alberto Contador (DSC) currently leads Cadel Evans (PRL) in the general classification by 1’57”. A new race leader will be determined at the end of the race today.

THE TOUR ORGANIZERS ACCEPT THE WITHDRAWAL OF RASMUSSEN

Following the departure of Michael Rasmussen who was withdrawn from the race and dismissed by his Rabobank squad, Patrice Clerc, the President of ASO, and Christian Prudhomme, the director of the Tour de France, have held a press conference in Pau before the start of the 17th stage. The race organizers accept the responsible decision of the Dutch team. The other riders from Rabobank will be at the start. A new yellow jersey will be presented to the leader of the general classification at the end of stage 17.

The departure of Michael Rasmussen from the Tour de France...

Patrice Clerc: “We asked Rasmussen to explain to us in Pau with total transparency about the doubts about his preparation program and his whereabouts. The information offered by the rider was enough for his Rabobank team’s management to determine that he has been lying. That’s proof that he had no place at the Tour de France and that his behaviour demonstrates that there was a clear intention to cheat.”

Rasmussen At The Start Of The Tour...

Christian Prudhomme: “He should never have been at the start. But we would have known this in advance if we had full disclosure of all the elements relating to the rider. The UCI was aware of the matters [surrounding Rasmussen] as they had issued a warning letter on 29 June to Rasmussen. They should have allowed us to avoid this crisis.”

Patrice Clerc: “The big problem is that we have declared a unified fight against doping together with the UCI and the teams. This was not respected. We should have been informed about all the anomalies relating to Rasmussen.”

The credibility of the general classification rankins in the 2007 Tour...

Christian Prudhomme: “Today the general classification is more credible than yesterday. The departure of Rasmussen is the best thing that has happened to us these past few days. The most important thing now is that we give the Tour back to the hundreds of thousands of people who follow the race and love it. Now the Tour continues with riders who love their sport and are prepared to practise it with respect to the rules.”

The Future For The Fight Against Doping...

Christian Prudhomme: “We have to break every link of the chain, not only the riders who are the final part. Now we have to pursue the doctors and managers of the riders.

“When I see riders sitting down to protest against doping at the start of the race, it’s completely different to what happened 10 years ago. It’s the absolute opposite because, at that time, they were protesting against the [doping] controls. That means that we have a part of the path [to a clean sport] has been forged.

“In the future the access to our races, which will be determined by a sporting criteria, will be primarily determined by ethics. We will create a new set of conditions involving the institutes like the French Anti-Doping Agency (AFLD). We won’t give our confidence to people who no longer deserve it.”

Patrice Clerc: “We just want to kill doping. In this sport, the presumption of innocence no longer exists. That’s why we have to make sure we go all the way to achieve clarity. This must be done to reinstate the right of a presumption of innocence.”

"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way in which its animals are treated."
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Re: Tour de France - Caution, spoilers!

Postby Owlman » Thu Jul 26, 2007 8:50 am

Just watched the intro to today's stage on OLN. Al Trouthead made an interesting, thought not sure if intentional, comment that he hopes the peloton essentially gives the yellow jersey to Evans. He suggested that he found Contador's performance as unbelievable as Raz's performance. Oddly, neither Phil nor Paul jumped on him about that, and intead simply said, "hmm, interesting theory."

Enough of this TDF crap, as it is obfuscating the real scandal here locally. Basically 36 hours later, we still do not know the results of the Lake Louisa RR from Tuesday night. Zilla rode with the Bs. Got beat by a 17 year old kid. D-Rx, a pharmacist that was on "vacation" in the mountains for three weeks, laps the field. BB, at 58, again places top 5. Kern rode hard last night. Adam is nowhere to be seen, perhaps hiding in shame. Ah . . . the inhumanity . . .. Where will it all end . . . .
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Re: Tour de France - Caution, spoilers!

Postby Kate » Thu Jul 26, 2007 10:33 am

Owlman, I watched that intro too, but I don't think it implied any tacit agreement. In fact, Phil Liggett said twice he felt confident the current top three riders are clean. I took the supposed plan to give Cadel Evans the yellow as simply recognition for all he has done in his career, not just this race.

But Troutwig (sp?) also threw a lot of folks under the bus in his little speech (he is such a drama queen sometimes), basically saying that all the greats in the past three decades have been dirty. Now, maybe they have, but I doubt whether Troutwig has any more evidence on that than the rest of us.
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Re: Tour de France - Caution, spoilers!

Postby kduf70 » Thu Jul 26, 2007 2:00 pm

:evil: WTF This is definitely the suckiest suck that ever sucked. TK.... I have some issues with your post. First off, let me say that I am a believer in due process. Individuals need to be treated fairly and given an opportunity to defend themselves when accused of wrong-doing. Established proceedures must be followed. That's why I get livid about sloppy and unethical laboratory work. In addition I agree that "zero tolerance" policies often throw common sense out the window. But none of that is at issue here. The fact is that Raz looked his employers in the eye and lied to them. He intentionally avoided out of competition drug testing and lied about it. There is no way to put enough lipstick on that pig. I give Rabobank credit for taking the hit and emphatically stating that his behavior is unacceptable. The idea that they should have swept this under the rug for a month or two to lessen the PR damage is just wrong-headed. That sends the message that they want to do the right thing, but only if the cost is not too high. Rabobank is among the very best sponsors in cycling. They have been around for years and sponsor not just the pro team, but also a very large junior program. The sport will die without good sponsors and sponsors can't be seen to support liars and cheats.
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Re: Tour de France - Caution, spoilers!

Postby Jan » Thu Jul 26, 2007 6:31 pm

In today's environment, what's the value of a commentator saying that he is confident that the top-3 is clean?
I truly hope they are clean, I really do, but I'm not confident!
It's getting very difficult to believe that "Insiders" like Phil L. were ,or are, not aware of what is going on in the peloton either. It's just not credible. And Phil L. wasn't there yet when real champions won the Tour.
But Kevin, I agree with you on the what the position of the sponsors should be. They are not supposed to need any proof of doping to fire someone. Lack of honesty and ethics is sufficient.

:) Didn't I tell you last Sunday that Vino looked healthier than healthy! I would do too with super-oxygenated blood running through my veins. While it lasted, it looked good !
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Re: Tour de France - Caution, spoilers!

Postby One Nine » Thu Jul 26, 2007 8:01 pm

Much better to sack the individual than to have somehting come out and tarnish the entire team. I think Rabobank did the right thing since the precedent has been set, one rider tests positive the entire team goes home. Rabobank avoids that by tossing Raz. The mood over there is for shite everyone is disgusted for one reason or another. Oddly no protest by the peloton today after Raz is tossed as there was the day before.
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Re: Tour de France - Caution, spoilers!

Postby ProBikeFitter » Sat Jul 28, 2007 12:21 pm

Not to change the subject, but did anyone see Millar's MAVIC disc wheel come apart when he rolled off the start ramp?

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Re: Tour de France - Caution, spoilers!

Postby Jay » Sat Jul 28, 2007 2:21 pm

Saw it happen...TWICE! Now that's some bad Juju.
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Re: Tour de France - Caution, spoilers!

Postby kduf70 » Sun Jul 29, 2007 8:39 pm

That was amazing, I'll be interested to read what that was all about. It was unusual the see wheels break and carbon fracture and not have Owlman involved. :)
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Re: Tour de France - Caution, spoilers!

Postby Gisclair » Mon Jul 30, 2007 6:03 am

On the Landis ruling. The result was supposed to be released the Friday before the Tour start. My guess is it's in his favor and they knew by releasing this prior to the Tour would put all potential positive reults in question......not that their history of knowing whose samples they were testing, kicking the machine to get it to "work properly", and slipping the results to L'Equipe before notifying the UCI or ASO, doesn't place enough reason to shout "foul play".

Part of the cleaning of this all needs to be ending any contracts with this lab, as they are as much a part of the problem as the solution.

My guess is we recieve the Landis ruling this week. However, he still will need to fight the French authorities, who will drag it out beyond what would have been a two year ban. So, in the end if you fight a result, you spend $1M on lawyers, win or lose your case, and spend the same amount of time fighting it as it would have taken to just accept the ban. The result is you still probably lose credibility amongst sponsors, many fans, lose $1M in the process, and also forfeit the lost wages and post-tour crit gravy. I suspect the lab will be facing a rather large punitive suit if this is the case.
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Re: Tour de France - Caution, spoilers!

Postby Owlman » Mon Jul 30, 2007 7:43 am

hey, i've had that happen before with a carbon crap wheel! bombing down hogpen mountain at 34.98734987+ mph and the carbon delaminated from the metal rim strip! Not fun to see the wheel shatter, tube pop and tire shred when you are going downhill that fast on slightly wet roads. how i stayed uprigHT is beyond me.

JUST SAY NO TO CARBON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1
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Re: Tour de France - Caution, spoilers!

Postby Gisclair » Mon Jul 30, 2007 9:09 am

Taco'd one on a switchback descending Hautacaum last year. Rolled into a burmed embankment Had that been at the wrong turn on Tourmalet or the Aubisque, and it would have been lights out! I use my American Classics for flat, open roads. Otherwise for climbing and descending, I'm looking for a light, yet more reliable material than carbon. Spoke to a guy at the top of Aspin who had the same thing happen with his 404's while in France. Complete wheel failure. My guess is the wheel gets some sort of prior stress to it that's not obvious, then it's under pressure and boom!
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