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Cycling News and Opinions
Unfair and Unbalanced
January, 2011

Back to news and opinion index page for links to archived stories

January 26: I guess we were all pretty sure it was going to happen, but I take no pleasure in writing that Alberto Contador has been stripped of his 2010 Tour de France victory and suspended for a year after his positive for the banned drug Clenbuterol. This makes Contador the third rider to be stripped of his Tour title, Maurice Garin in 1904 and Floyd Landis in 2006 being the others.

With two of the three Tour victor disqualifications coming in this young century, it certainly gives lie to the mantra coming from the riders, teams, organizers and the UCI that doping is coming under control. I don't believe it. And I'm especially tired of the sorry whine from the riders and some fans that cycling has done more than any other sport to fight doping and there should not be this constant emphasis on drug scandals in our sport's reporting.

That's a bunch of hooey. Doping is part of cycling's DNA and only a constant, unrelenting fight will keep the drug taking within reasonable bounds. I don't think it can ever be stopped. We need to keep the Tom Simpsons of the world from dropping dead in the middle of races and young, ambitious racers from dying in their sleep as a result of their drug taking, as they were doing so often in the 1990s. If we can end up with a fair sport where the cheater don't always win, so much the better. This is a war worth fighting.

Here's the press release from Contador's Saxo team:

"[26.01 22:48] Tonight Riis Cycling, while at training camp at Mallorca, received the news that the Competition Committee of the Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC) will recommend a ban of one year for Alberto Contador. 

"During the 2010 Tour de France Alberto Contador, while riding for Astana, returned an adverse analytical finding for Clenbuterol following the analysis of urine samples taken on July 21st, the second rest day of the Tour de France.
Based on the evidence in the case and the explanation offered by Alberto Contador about unintentional ingestion of the forbidden substance, The Spanish Federation has decided to recommend a reduced ban of one year.

"However Alberto Contador now has ten days to answer the recommendation by RFEC before a final ruling is issued.
But since RFEC has announced this recommendation publicly, Riis Cycling has chosen to address this matter at a press conference on Friday the 28th of January at 16.00 at Gran Hotel Son Net on Mallorca.

"On this press conference Bjarne Riis will be present as well as Alberto Contador. "

January 20: The Tour de france announced the names of the teams receiving invitations to the 2011 Tour:

The 18 Pro Teams getting automatic invites

Plus the four Wild Cards, all French :

Given that there was only one French team with an automatic invitation, it is no surprise that the four Wild Cards went to French teams. There was some uncertainty over former Tour winner Carlos Sastre and Giro victor Denis Menchov's Geox-TMX squad. But without a Pro Team license, the Tour is free to ignore the high-profile Spanish team, which it did. ASO, the owner of the Tour and Paris-Nice, decided not to invite Geox to Paris-Nice as well.

January 18: Racing season is here and it's time top go to work. From here on, the racing calendar is pretty packed. Here is a listing the most popular 1.1 and 2.1 and higher ranked races coming up, the ones we'll be reporting on:

Jan 18-23: Tour Down Under (World Tour)

Jan 23-Feb 1: Tour de Langkawi

Jan 28-Jan 30: Giro della Provincia di Reggio Calabria

Jan 30: Grand Prix la Marseillaise

Feb 2-6: Etoile de Bessèges

Feb 5: GP Costa degli Etruschi

Feb 6-11: Tour of Qatar

Feb 6-10: Challenge Illes Balears

Feb 9-13: Tour Mediterranéen

On Wednesday (April 19), Sports Illustrated is coming out with an issue featuring a damning article on Lance Armstrong, summarizing months of investigating by reporters Selena Roberts and David Epstein. Rather than try to manufacture an article by re-writing the SI website's explanation (I guess I have already done that), here's the link

Be sure to click on the video player imbedded within the story to hear Selena Roberts discuss the article. Armstrong denies all accusations of doping and says he doesn't let the investigation and controversy bother him one bit. If true, and I think it might very well be, he has an impressive, cast-iron stomach.