Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Not a drip so much as a torrent

It was the admission we were all waiting for, not Lance Armstrong or Tyler Hamilton but George Hincapie finally admitting what many, including his wife, had suspected for years - good old George was on drugs. It was of course Mrs Hincapie who first alerted a sceptical world to the possibilities that the US Postal team were consuming performance enhancing drugs when she happened to be watching TV one afternoon and wondered why her husband was suddenly performing so well.

The news comes the same day that USADA has published its 1,000 page report into the goings on at US Postal team during the Armstrong-Hamilton-Floyd Landis era. Armstrong had of course used the threat of legal action and then indeed did use legal action to try and protect his name and there are still people in the cycling world who refuse to believe that he could have achieved what he did by acting entirely within the rules of the sport.

I was on the Champs Elysee when Armstrong finished his last tour and it was the first and only time that I have heard a rider of the podium booed, he was there because his team had won the team medal. It wasn't French cycle fans booing, despite some of them being very parochial the French know their cycling and this year showed they will cheer a winner whatever nationality, it was fans from other countries. I was shocked at the time, I think I said so in the post Tour post (if that makes sense).

Of course there are still rumblings surrounding the Team GB success this year, in particular there are feelings in some quarters that Sky have not been as transparent as they had promised. The main doubts concern the team appointing Geert Leinders as team doctoer towards the end of 2010.

Leinders was previously with the Rabobank team and he was the chief doctor during the period that team manager Theo de Rooy admitted that doping was tolerated on the team. Leinders himself has acknowledged that when he was with the team, EPO was being used. Of course as with all things connected to the sport we don't know how much is truth and how much is jealousy when it comes to complaints against Sky. Nobody is suggesting for a second that they aren't clean but the questions being asked are why did Sky appoint Leinders, why did they appoint Sean Yates as director at a time when Yates former team mate and team Lance Armstrong were still the subject of an investigation and why they have also employed Michael Barry (who has now retired) who was named by Floyd Landis in his testimony?

Of course, things tend to come in threes and the USADA and Hincapie publications/revelations come less than twenty four hours after the news that Team Sky and the good doctor have parted company.

Having spent virtually all my adult life defending a sport I love I found the years from 2003-2011 quite depressing as cyclist after cyclist was caught, then went into denial before being banned and then reinstated. The most depressing sporting sight this year was Alberto Contador sitting on a bike let alone winning the Vuelta. I hoped and still hope that Team Sky have heralded in a new era for the sport, I, along with thousands of other people up and down the country, have bought into Dave Brailsford's dream of winning the Tour 'clean'. There's no reason to believe we were sold down the river and let's hope that the decision to part with Leinders puts the rumours and conspiracy theories to bed.


Span Ows said...

Albert Accountant was the latest of many it seems. It is still a bit unfortunate the way it appears, all this slammed out as soon as Lance decides he's had enough of trying to defend himself but the evidence would seem enough for most. All those colleagues are hardly ALL going to be lying about it. All these charities being effected:

Jimmy Saville
Lance Armstrong

What next? Mother Teresa outed as a SM dominatrix?

Paul said...

I remember Mother Teresa getting some stick on the old 5Live World Board.

George Hincapie was the clincher for me.

What I find difficult to come to terms about Armstrong is the relationship between the man who inspired through his books and the sportsman who then used that knowledge of drugs to his advantage.

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