If you are a new reader, you might not know that I wrote about doping extensively last year in the wake of the Hamilton decision and up to and through the tour last year. See all the posts under the label doping Keep on scrolling down to the bottom. Then what happened? I got tired of writing about it, thats what.
The thing that fired me up in the first place has been the incredible degree of ignorance in the press about doping practices. Especially the non-cycling press. I still think most of the baseball and football press think that dopers are people juicing with "roids" in the weight room with Cansenco and the pro wrestlers. Ignorant. Some day we will learn the extent of doping in baseball and football, and trust me, it is not journeyman relief pitchers getting steroids from the internet. I am betting there are tens of eufemiano fuentes type servicing the doping needs of the big three american sports.
Golf still does not test. Also ignorant. Of course they are doping. I wrote about it here last year. Just this month Gary Player claimed he knows people on the mens pro tour are doping. The reaction has been mostly disbelief and denial. I can't wait until they start testing positive.
Anyhow. I was tired of doping writing. I also sensed goodness in cycling. Slipstream and T-mobile had instituted comprehensive anti-doping programs within the team. Lots of retired guys were admitting doping and attempting to move on. Basso claimed he was coming clean. It was a new day in cycling. I don't think it was all better. But it certainly made it over the hump and was heading for a new generation of cleaner cyclists being mentored by older cyclists that may have doped but don't anymore.
The cycling press was much more realistic about it as well. There are people who get paid to write that were covering the issues far better than me. My doping posts were getting repetitive and eerily predictive (see this post pre 2006 tour) I just wanted to watch my classics and tour and get on with it.
As for Vinokourov, I recommend some perspective. Go get the spectacular book Lance Armstrong's War. Read it. Tell me if you have any other conclusions other than the following:
1. Ferrari and Checcini understand human performance so well, they do not need to dope their charges.
2. Ferrari and Checcini understand human performance so well, that it is inescapable that they would use doping to get to the next level.
Now go ahead and factor in that Ferrari was a convicted sporting fraudster in 2004, and was coaching Vino THIS YEAR, and that Checcini (the notorious Checcini) was coaching Ulrich and Hamilton immediately prior to their suspensions. Now which conclusion is likely? Hmm?
Clearly there is a disconnect between the new guard and the old guard. It is hard to believe they let Astana race after Vino admitted he was working with Ferrari a week before the race began. It is hard for me to believe that David Millar or anyone else is so surprised that he was doping. It is hard to believe they could not figure out that Rasmussen was warned for missing controls 4 times total, twice by the UCI and twice by the Danish cycling federation, yet they were unable to suspend him...
Did I know Vino was doping? No. But I was not rooting for him this year after his ferrari link was exposed. Levi is much too boring to dope (probably). Go Levi!
And what of the poultry jesus?. Go ahead and read this illuminating post at Flahute, still rooting for Chicken?
The only thing that surprises me was that he tested positive for homologous blood doping (excellent article on blood doping here). Did he run out of his own blood and hope that they did not test him (after he won the stage?). Did they screw up and give him the wrong blood? Has he been doping consistently for years this way and had never gotten caught? I am baffled here. He just blew a 10 year Astana sponsorship commitment and a probable Director Sportif position for the length of the sponsorship.
Anyhow, I really think the Vino and Sinkewitz positives are emblematic of the positive direction things are taking. The doping tests worked. I think it is better for Vino to get kicked out mid race than to get arrested with a bag of blood in his hand mid-August after he won 4 stages and clawed his way back up to the podium, no?
I am still up at 5 or something tomorrow to see if our flawed heros crack badly in the last of the Pyrenees. It is still a good race.
The real tragedy is that this scandal might end the T-mobile sponsorship and screw up the long term Slipstream sponsorship. I will be very very angry if the two teams most committed to racing clean disappear.
P.S. David "Gimp" Millar please shut up already, you doped and lied and lied and lied about it, see his slanderous response to being implicated by a teammate here. Then he got caught a few months later. Now he is a doping avenger? Just shut up and do your job.