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Thread: Tour de France 2006 Now With Immediate Scandal

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    Cy Young 2010 Mariner's Avatar
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    Tour de France 2006 Now With Immediate Scandal

    Basso and Ullrich Out

    A doping scandal knocked Tour de France favorites Jan Ullrich and Ivan Basso out of the race Friday and threw the world's most glamorous cycling event into chaos.

    The decision to bar Ullrich, Basso and others implicated in a doping probe in Spain also sent a strong signal that cheating, or even suspicions of cheating, will not be tolerated.

    Tour director Christian Prudhomme said organizers' determination to fight doping was "total."

    "The enemy is not cycling, the enemy is doping," he said the day before the start of the Tour.

    Riders being excluded will not be replaced, meaning a smaller field than the 189 racers originally expected. And that's not even counting the absence of Lance Armstrong, who retired after winning his seventh straight Tour last year.

    It is the biggest doping crisis to the hit the sport since the Festina scandal in 1998 nearly derailed the Tour. The Festina team was ejected from the race after customs officers found a large stash of banned drugs in a team car.

    Basso, winner of the Giro d'Italia, and Ullrich the 1997 Tour winner and a five-time runner-up were among more than 50 cyclists said to have been implicated in the probe that has rocked the sport for weeks.

    Basso and Ullrich's teams said Friday that because their names had come up in the probe they were being withdrawn from the Tour. Ullrich's T-Mobile squad said it also suspended rider Oscar Sevilla and sporting director Rudi Pevenage because of their involvement.

    Basso was heading back to Italy, his team said.

    The team of Spanish racer Francisco Mancebo said its rider was being pulled out, too. Mancebo finished fourth in the last year's Tour.

    A total of nine riders who signed up for the Tour were implicated in the Spanish probe, said cycling's governing body, the UCI. Five of the riders were with the Astana-Wurth team, whose former director was among those arrested in Spain.

    The UCI identified the implicated Astana riders as Joseba Beloki of Spain, runner-up at the 2002 Tour and third in 2001 and 2000; Allan Davis from Australia; Alberto Contador and Isidro Nozal from Spain; and Sergio Paulinho from Portugal.

    The team said it was trying to decide whether to withdraw them. Doing so would leave Astana with fewer than the minimum of six riders needed to start the Tour, which would force out the entire team including its pre-race favorite Alexandre Vinokourov from Kazakhstan.

    At Astana, "it looks like a system of team doping," Prudhomme said.

    Just a day earlier, the Court of Arbitration for Sport had ruled against Tour organizers' call for Astana to be barred from the race.

    The Spanish scandal erupted in May when police carried out arrests and raids, seizing drugs and frozen blood thought to have been readied for banned, performance-enhancing transfusions.

    Since then, the names of riders said to have had contacts with Eufemiano Fuentes, a doctor among those arrested, have leaked in Spanish media.

    Then, after more leaks on Thursday, Spanish authorities released details from the probe to Tour organizers and other cycling bodies, showing which riders were implicated in the investigation. It was on the basis of that official information that Tour teams decided to act.

    The UCI noted that while the probe implicated the riders, it had not yet established that they had cheated.

    Nevertheless, Tour organizers pushed for their exclusion and teams agreed, in keeping with their ethical charter that allows riders to be barred from racing while they are under investigation for doping.

    T-Mobile received information implicating Ullrich, Sevilla and Pevenage from Tour organizers, including documents from the Spanish government, team spokesman Luuc Eisenga said.

    "The only thing I can tell you is that the information is clear enough and didn't leave any doubt," he said.

    Another T-Mobile spokesman, Stefan Wagner, told Germany's n-tv television that the team was acting on information indicating "that there was contact between the two riders and Rudi Pevenage and the Spanish doctor ... who is at the center of this doping story."

    Asked whether T-Mobile would consider cutting ties with Ullrich completely, he replied "certainly ... we are now demanding evidence of his innocence."

    "If this evidence can be provided, then we have a completely new situation," he said. "If it cannot be provided, nothing will change about this situation."

    German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, who is responsible for sports, said: "This is a sad day. It can only strengthen us in pursuing the fight against doping with determination."

    The extent of Basso's implication was not immediately clear. His team said that Basso insisted he was innocent. But it also said that the suspicion hanging over the Italian would have made his participation in the Tour difficult.

    "It would be big chaos if those riders remain in the race," said the manager of Basso's team, Bjarne Riis. "We have to protect cycling."

    Riis noted that Basso's contract forbids him from working with doctors from outside their CSC team.

    "Ivan must prove with his lawyer that he is innocent," Riis said. "I believe in Ivan but I have been forced to take the necessary steps."
    "I miss Darva Conger." - Phonegrrrl

  2. #2
    Staying Afloat speedbump's Avatar
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    Ah yes. Shades of 1998 are already showing. Too bad Lance started drinking beer. He could've had number 8.

    The one good thing I'm looking forward to this years tour is the emergence of new talent who might otherwise go unnoticed. This also puts Floyd Landis in position to have a great Tour and I hope Levi and Bobby Julich have a good showing.
    You got to cry without weeping. Talk without speaking. Scream without raising your voice.- U2

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    Allez les Bleus! Zaius's Avatar
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    I feel really bad that merely being associated with someone that was involved with doping means you're automatically out. I understand the ethical standards are extremely high in bike racing because of the recent scandals, but I would have loved to see some thorough testing on all these implicated racers being the real determinant for their participation.

    But as speedbump says, this should make this year's Tour a little more interesting.
    "The bureaucracy is expanding to meet the needs of an expanding bureaucracy."
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    Staying Afloat speedbump's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zaius View Post
    but I would have loved to see some thorough testing on all these implicated racers being the real determinant for their participation.
    See, here's what baffles me and why I often want (or maybe hope) to think that the top riders like Basso and Ullrich aren't stupid enough to dope.

    If you're a top rider, you're going to be tested at minimum a few times during the tour. All of the jersey wearer's get tested daily. The winner of the stage gets tested and then 2-5 random members of the peloton are tested. All daily. Plus they are tested in all the major classics.

    Ullrich hasn't had any monumental spike in peformance. His downfall is too many pastries, beer and partying in the offseason. On the other hand, if there was ever a year post-Lance to win, this would've been it. Even so, Ullrich didn't have any surprsing victories and he is linked to the scandal on the outer rings, not inner.

    I'm partial to the big ole German lunk. He was the best nemeisis to Lance but a good guy as well.

    As far as the Tour goes, today was great to watch. I'm not holding much hope for Hincapie but Floyd Landis put in a good performance considering he missed his start by :08 seconds.
    You got to cry without weeping. Talk without speaking. Scream without raising your voice.- U2

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    Bitten Critical's Avatar
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    This was only a matter of time. I really don't feel sorry for any of the guys implicated in doping. Look at all the accusations against Lance and they never found anything. I don't want to debate the whole "did he/didn't he?" use performance enhancing drugs, I'm just saying.

    I do feel bad for guys who now can't race because there aren't enough cyclists left on their teams. I was probably going to be rooting for Basso this year, but now I don't know who I'm rooting for. It definitely won't be Floyd Landis. I thought he showed a remarkable lack of loyalty last year when he jumped ship on Lance in his last year on the Tour. Yeah, it's an individual sport, but they raced together for some time and I thought it would have been nice if he'd stuck it out and stayed on the team for one more year.
    Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.' - Isaac Asimov

    I was thinking of the immortal words of Socrates, who said, "... I drank what?"

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    When I'm 64 William13's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Critical View Post
    This was only a matter of time. I really don't feel sorry for any of the guys implicated in doping. Look at all the accusations against Lance and they never found anything. I don't want to debate the whole "did he/didn't he?" use performance enhancing drugs, I'm just saying.

    I do feel bad for guys who now can't race because there aren't enough cyclists left on their teams. I was probably going to be rooting for Basso this year, but now I don't know who I'm rooting for. It definitely won't be Floyd Landis. I thought he showed a remarkable lack of loyalty last year when he jumped ship on Lance in his last year on the Tour. Yeah, it's an individual sport, but they raced together for some time and I thought it would have been nice if he'd stuck it out and stayed on the team for one more year.
    Oddly enough I had just the opposite reaction about Floyd Landis last year. He had the opportunity to be the leader of his own team and he took it. He said that after he switched teams Lance Armstrong refused to even talk to him. I thought that it was only natural to want to be the leader and that Lance Armstrong was the guilty party for not being grateful for the years of support and not being happy for his former teammate's opportunity.
    The racers on the tour that I always felt a lot of sympathy for were the support racers. Racers like Armstrong, Ulrich and Basso at least had some hope of winning. The other team members rode the gruelling race every day for the sole purpose of helping someone else attempt to win. I guess that is what they are paid to do, but it seems like an awful lot to go through so that someone else can grab all the fame and glory.
    "The sun rose promptly at dawn."
    Tom Clancy in his novel The Teeth of the Tiger

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    Bitten Critical's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by William13 View Post
    Oddly enough I had just the opposite reaction about Floyd Landis last year. He had the opportunity to be the leader of his own team and he took it. He said that after he switched teams Lance Armstrong refused to even talk to him. I thought that it was only natural to want to be the leader and that Lance Armstrong was the guilty party for not being grateful for the years of support and not being happy for his former teammate's opportunity.
    The racers on the tour that I always felt a lot of sympathy for were the support racers. Racers like Armstrong, Ulrich and Basso at least had some hope of winning. The other team members rode the gruelling race every day for the sole purpose of helping someone else attempt to win. I guess that is what they are paid to do, but it seems like an awful lot to go through so that someone else can grab all the fame and glory.
    I don't know, I think that if Landis had stayed on Discovery for one more year, Lance would have been the first one to support him in being the next number one rider on that team. Maybe I've just never like Landis and that jump to Phonak last year gave me more of a reason to dislike him Still, I'd prefer any other rider over Landis for the win this year.

    ETA: Of course, I'm obsessively watching the Tour coverage on OLN, as usual. Does it bug the crap out of anyone else when Bob Roll says "Tour DAY France [rhymes with pants]"?
    Last edited by Critical; 07-11-2006 at 01:57 AM.
    Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.' - Isaac Asimov

    I was thinking of the immortal words of Socrates, who said, "... I drank what?"

  8. #8
    C'mon Without Cmon Within QuinntheEskimo's Avatar
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    Finally, some order has been restored in the Tour day Frants...
    Today's huge climbing day in the Pyrennes has finally siphoned out the pretenders from the contenders.

    Landis, Menchov, Evans, Kloden, Sastre, and Leipheimer appear to be the short list of who is going to win this years tour. Hopefully someone takes charge of the peloton, b/c so far the inmates have been running the asylum!

    American's George Hincapie and David Zabreskie have proved to be pretenders in this years tour after hearing possibilities of an all USA final podium.

  9. #9
    When I'm 64 William13's Avatar
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    I think that Floyd Landis' coming back and winning the stage today after his collapse yesterday shows a lot of grit.
    It has been a pretty interesting race this year, because it is so unpredictable. Even the announcers don't see like experts. How many times have they said that something can't happen, only to have it happen shortly after?
    "The sun rose promptly at dawn."
    Tom Clancy in his novel The Teeth of the Tiger

  10. #10
    C'mon Without Cmon Within QuinntheEskimo's Avatar
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    that stage win by Landis may have been the most amazing single person accomplishment i've seen in sports.
    to go from throwing the tour away one day back to tour contender in one stage- and the manner in which he did it- by hammering off alone into the Alps for the last 100 miles by himself and creating the time gap he needed to get back in contention...
    he'll win this race saturday in the time trial...

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