Lemond, praise for Phinney, Sky’s policy rids questionable apples and Manifesto garners support

crankpunk is not in the best of moods as a result of a strained back muscle sustained in a race on Sunday that means my buttocks are permanently clenched and i can’t even break wind without spasms of pain. which is awesome, obviously. we did win though (i was racing in a Gentlemen’s Race – not that you’d have known it), and by a mere 0.36 of a second, which makes the pain just slightly more bearable.

and so i’m going to talk today about how to prevent injuries whilst racing. just joking. it’s all doping, folks. maybe one day when all this has been either swept under the already very bumpy carpet or actually sorted out i can then write about such mundane things as training, racing, results, the love of the bike and so on. maybe.

but for now – dope.

is momentum gathering? voices emerging? the tower block of power swaying? yes, i think that’s all happening. several encouraging signs have emerged in the past few days that suggest that we may well and truly be turning a corner – and all it took was the near-destruction of our beloved sport – how fairytale-esque. first up of course was Lemond’s call for Daffy McEvadeTheTruth – sorry, i meant Pat McQuaid – to resign.

crankpunk had to read the letter twice and then to check on the ethernet to be sure it was genuine, so lacking in doublespeak was the text, so genuinely cheesed off was its author, and so unpolished the tirade- and that made it all the more powerful. in a world where everything gets checked and authorized, screened by lawyers and sprayed with l’Eau de Bollocks – here finally was something so very real, something that hadn’t been within 100 miles of a lawyer and, to top it all off, it was written by a three-time winner of the Tour de France.

Greg Lemond is an honorary crankpunk, make no doubt about it.

so that was good. i liked that. it was heavy-handed, more of a brick hurled at the cranium than a piercing arrow to the heart but it was solid, a good start.

then Marcel Kittel suddenly popped along with his tweet (be careful with those though people, for as they say, too many tweets makes a tw*t). if somehow you missed it, here it is:

‘I feel SICK when I read that Contador, Sanchez & Indurain still support Armstrong. How does someone want to be credible by saying that?!’

wait though- Contador and his beef come from Spain. Sanchez I’m pretty sure isn’t a Swedish name, think he’s Spanish too. and Indurain is also Spanish. Spaniards supporting convicted dopers, that must be unprecedented… anyway, to Marcel, a doff of the cap. he could have thought twice before sending that around the globe but, as i’m sure lemond has done, he sensed that there is something in the air and that comments such as these are not going to be punished either from within the peloton nor by the UCI, which, given it’s current plight is no real surprise.

nobody is suggesting at all that this pig on a spit in any way resembles the UCI

Another young rider that has come of attention through a tweet is BMC Racing’s Taylor Phinney, who commended Steve Cummings’ for winning the final stage of the 2012 Tour of Beijing without the aid even of vitamins.

“He, like me, follows his own personal policy of no caffeine pills and no painkillers. Purest of the pure!” wrote Phinney.

the young American explained that he felt that painkillers and caffeine tablets could be used as stepping stones to banned substances. tellingly, in an interview with Velonation, he went on to say that “I feel comfortable talking about this right now, in light of recent events.” and that, i feel, is one of the great positives to come from all the brouhaha – riders now feel that they can make their anti-doping position clear without fear of recrimination. had someone like Phinney spoken out 2, 5, or 15 years ago he’d have been flayed alive.

remember the words of the French sports minister, Marie-George Buffet (who was known for always having pockets overflowing with those little sausages and cheese on toothpicks), who spoke about the treatment the peloton dished out to Cedric Bassons, who spoke out about doping in the peloton in the late 90s: “What a strange role reversal. Rather than fighting against doping, they’re fighting its opponent.”

Speaking in 1998, when Bassons was known for not doping but had yet to write about doping publicly, he said: “They [teammates and team management and other riders] have ruined three years of my life as a racer.” so things have changed, and Kittel and Phinney are proof of that, and more power to them. almost certainly there’ll be no sideways glances next time they race nor hands on their shoulder, pulling them aside for a little ‘chat’ in the midst of the pack. indeed, riders like Kittel and Phinney could soon find that their economic value rises as their stance against doping should make them more attractive to sponsors. if the gods are watching then Levi should end up riding nothing more competitive than a watt trainer at his local gym, as these guys rise, but we’ll have to see.

the fact that Giro d’Italia director Michele Acquarone has praised Phinney’s words does indeed suggest that being clean and stating the fact is to be encouraged. “I was hugely impressed by the position that Taylor Phinney and some other young riders have taken against doping,” Acquarone said. “He said he was happy to finish fourth in the Olympics, knowing that he competed clean. That’s a great thing to say and perfectly represents the true spirit of sport.”

Acquarone is not just praising the riders who come out against doping, he’s actually designed a race for them. the 2013 Giro course feature shorter stages to allow riders to recover and to be a ‘rider’s tour’, meaning that the parcours will not be demanding impossible feats from the riders, and that nor will the public’s desire to see heroics be so pampered for. i’d say though that the majority of fans would rather see three mountain summits, a 130km course and real racing than gargantuan distances, 5 summits and over-tactical riding.

as a racer myself on the Asia Tour i know that the majority of racers prefer shorter stages where we can actually race from the get-go, rather than 200km+ stages where you just let a break go then sit in all day. bring on Reality, Michele – i think we can handle it.

much was written and said recently about Sky’s new anti-doping pledge and that it was not the “correct course” yet despite the criticism the team held its position, and as a result we’ve seen Bobby Julich leave after admitting to taking EPO, and now Steven de Jongh and Sean Yates go. in the case of Yates and de Jongh there has been no confirmation in regards to previous doping incidents, but Yates insistence that he knew nothing about Armstrong’s doping over his years of working with him are quite simply difficult to believe. i’ll leave it at that. if anyone does want crankpunk’s opinion, i feel that anyone who returned any sort of positive from before today should not be working in a managerial position in this sport.

we can talk about the loss of knowledge all day, if that were to come into effect, but their knowledge is tainted, and there are plenty of good, professional, honest and clean ex-riders and coaches out there looking for work. again, we need change, not more of the same.

and finally, on this PunkPost of Hope, we come to the news that both Liquigas-Cannondale and Radioshack’s managers have come out in support of the newspapers’ Manifesto, as reported here. Roberto Amadio and Luca Guercilena say the Manifesto needs the support of the peloton and agree with its aims.

“We agree with the idea of an independent committee and for anti-doping controls that are given to WADA. Increasing the length of bans for doping are also ok: there’s nothing wrong with that. We’ll accept any rules by those who govern us,” said Amadio.

“I’m optimistic because there’s been a huge change in the peloton. The manifesto seems to contain a correct message but more for the past than the present. We shouldn’t forget that huge advances in prevention have been done thanks to the introduction of the Biological Passport and the whereabouts program in 2008.”

that last statement kind of denies the damage done as a result due to Armstrong’s comeback in 2009 but we can let that slide. what is a little more undermining though is the fact that Amado broke an agreement in 2008 not to sign former dopers when he secured the signature of Ivan Basso. there’s always something it seems, eh?

but, fear not fellow devotees to the greatest sport on the planet, there are some little green shoots of recovery emerging. caution and vigilance, however, are very much advised…

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