Team Astana, including stars Lance Armstrong and Alberto Contador, got preferential treatment when it came to drug testing, two leading French newspapers have reported (linked by Bicycle.net).
This is part of an ongoing snit between the UCI, the international cycling governing body, and French anti-doping authorities over the rigorousness of dope testing during the Tour de France. The UCI undoubtedly considers the irregularities, including the infamous 45-minute delay at one point during the Tour, as trivial. If the AFLD is correct in its allegations, however, it raises serious questions as to the diligence of UCI procedures.
It’s hard to know — particularly based on a reading of press reports rather than original documentation — whose side to take, other than the truth’s, which will always remain in question. As we’ve said before, doping at this point is not an athletic issue or even a political issue. It’s a financial issue. Say they found doping on Team Astana and Lance and Bert got kicked off the Tour. Where would that leave the Big Money — TV and commercial sponsors — that makes the Tour possible? This is the main reason why the worst penalty a steroid-soaked baseball star can expect is an asterisk next to his records.
So cycling governance just muddles along, engaging in petty feuding and self-righteous posturing, while the doping continues.
Bert’s and Lance’s main transgression here may be that they’re not French. I mean, where was the AFLD (or equivalent) when Hinault and Fignon were ripping up the Tour?
BikeSnobNYC takes a swing at the doping scene as well, with his usual amusing speculation (every time Lance is tested he tweets? really? or does he tweet only when he knows full well that supposed irregularities will get reported?) thrown in for comic relief. Worth a read as always.
Meanwhile, doping is migrating its way down into the amateur ranks as well, and even the excuses are the same.
And back in Italy, yet another suspension.