“Clenbuterol? That is sooo 2010, you want to be on this Penisolone stuff.”
Therapeutic Use Exemption. If the phrase weren’t tainted by its association with the messy world of professional cycling, it would be a great name for a band. Perhaps a grimy, struggling post-punk outfit playing to three men and their dogs in Cleethorpes every Saturday night.
Unfortunately, TUEs are more like the divorce papers you half-signed five years ago and never quite got around to finishing. When they’re dug up from the bowels of the bottom drawer of a desk or, in cycling’s equivalent, apparently pulled from Dr Mario Zorzoli’s nether regions, they’re liable to provoke one hell of a domestic.
Chris Froome was granted one prior to the start of the Tour de Romandie in May as an emergency measure, which makes him sound like an extra in Casualty requiring a defibrillator or tracheotomy rather than a piece of paper. He was prescribed Prednisone, Prednisolone or Penisolone (what does that enhance?), depending on which reports you believe. Even Google is confused about the difference.
Prednisone is a corticosteroid often used in the treatment of asthma in horses. Given the way Froome galloped round the stage five individual time trial, beating fellow stud Tony Martin, one can only assume that it worked as well as feeding Polo mints to Kauto Star [twice winner of the Cheltenham Gold Cup, for those unfamiliar with the gee-gees – Ed]
This is all fair enough: Froome had a chest infection that required medication to treat. But corticosteroids and TUEs are, rather like alimony settlements and prenuptial agreements, dirty words that link the UCI back to its dysfunctional marriage with a certain Texan patriarch.
The Journal de Dimanche reported last week that proper protocol had not been followed when the UCI gave Froome permission to use the medication. Instead, the newspaper wrote, the authorisation had come from Dr Zorzoli alone.
This is the same guy who, according to Michael Rasmussen, collaborated with Dr Geert Leinders to allow the Dane to remain in the 2005 Tour de France after he showed abnormal blood values. If true, it’s a bit like former CEO Fred Goodwin still working at the Royal Bank of Scotland.
The fallout has been like Kramer vs Kramer on two wheels. Team Sky insist they have done nothing wrong. The UCI say the same. WADA is the concerned uncle, ready to step in if Brian Cookson starts throwing the anniversary china at the wall.
And at the centre of the battle for moral custody of cycling is Chris Froome himself, who would appear to have done nothing worse than ride his bike quite fast when he was possibly too ill to have done so.
One thing is for sure: in the family division of cycling’s kangaroo court, there are no winners.
STAT’S THE WAY, UH HUH, UH HUH
10 – Number of years stage racer Nicolas Roche has been professional.
0 – Number of stage races Nicolas Roche had won before his overall victory at last week’s Route du Sud.
50-100 – Milligrams of Prednisolone that should be given to horses as an initial dose for asthma.
The toughness of the Tour: Nicolas Roche collapses after the stage to Morzine in 2012.
Cast your minds back to last June; here’s how Cavendish and Armitstead won the British national road races.
Slapstick Spanish comedy, featuring Miguel Indurain (3.25 in). Wonderfully nuts.
June 18 – Sugar-Frenzied Playstation Cycling
June 11 – Hammered
June 4 – Plonkolan
May 28 – Attack of the Colombians
May 21 – Aru!