Bad times to be a doper. Or a team with dopers. Or a rider who doped within the last 10 years still masquerading as clean. Or a banned coach dispensing training advice. The list goes on.
The UCI’s toughened Anti-Doping Regulations, enhanced (naturally, we assume) in the wake of a similarly strengthened WADA Code, means the outlook for artificially enhanced members of the peloton is bleak.
It’s an outrage, of course: little more than the crudest violation of the professional cyclist’s right to employ his local pharmacy as a training aid, or to include the chemist in cycling’s family. The salaried rider must now think twice about indulging in the sort of innocent conversation that any of us might enjoy over waffles with a banned doctor. Or his son.
Four years is a long time – twice as long, to be precise, as the previous ban for major infringements. How might a rider cruelly prevented from pursuing his livelihood by such a draconian sentence pass the time? Improving reading, perhaps (here, we can help). Mastery of basic first aid might provide another public spirited diversion, though we’d caution against the zeal that led Riccardo Riccò to a botched autologous blood transfusion.
Ten years is still longer. How can a rider expect to move on? An increased statute of limitations is an affront to those who found themselves caught up in the excesses of an era. The party’s over, right?
Bad news too for the absent minded. Where once a rider had eighteen months in which to miss three tests by failing to inform the testers of his whereabouts, now it is just twelve. A post it note on the stem might help, perhaps; or a knot tied in a leg warmer.
Team owners may have the worst of it, however. As little as two rider violations in a 12-month period could gain them a fine of five per cent of the budget declared during registration. This is a headache for some of the upstanding citizens who run professional cycling teams. Astana suffered three violations last year. Vino is not immune to displays of largesse, but there is a limit.
National federations have been cruelly absented from the sanctioning process. Matters will be decided solely in Switzerland (progress?- Ed), either at UCI headquarters or by the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Such admirable displays of consistency as from the Royal Spanish Cycling Federation in the sanctioning of Contador for his Clenbutorol positive (a recommended 12-month ban, followed by a Tweet from the office of then-Prime Minster Zapatero, followed by exoneration) will be no more.
We can only protest in the strongest terms against such unnecessary persecution of those who cherish the noble virtue of fair competition above anything else. Except maybe a blood bag.
STAT’S THE WAY, UH HUH UH HUH
15 to 45 – the number of days a team can be suspended following a second anti-doping regulation violation by a rider
Ricccardo Riccò. A tribute to The Cobra. Really.
Michael Rasmussen. He eats. He drinks. He leaves.
Floyd Landis rides into trouble.