Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Ullrich back in training, Armstrong case dropped

Cyclingnews has reported that Jan Ullrich is back in training. He has no licence to race - having given his Swiss licence back. The Swiss don't want to proceed with his case and have suggested that the Spanish cycling body, if anyone, should take it up. After all, they started it. It remains that Ullrich has no positive result against his name, just the allegation of involvement backed up by alleged documentation about transactions and third-party conversations implicating him in the practice of doping. Jan has stated firmly that he is innocent.

Basso of course has been cleared and has no current charge to answer, but is out of CSC anyway, by mutual agreement. Again, no positive result but a seeming taint on his name. I think the Spanish case rested on the name of Basso's dog, didn't it? He may race with a non-ProTour team to avoid ... well to avoid complications. He again is emphatic about his innocence.

CN also reports that the Armstrong case has been dropped. That was the French case built on allegations made in the book LA Confidentiel, les secrets de Lance Armstrong, co-written by sportswriter David Walsh and former L'Equipe cycling writer Pierre Ballester. Insufficient evidence, apparently. The book sold well, though.

Pez reports that David Millar and his old Cofidis teammates are attending a French court with regard to the Cofidis doping scandal of a few years back. The judge has telegraphed that he considers the riders to be the victims as much as perpetrators. It's EPO related and hinges on a physio's evidence.

I could go on... and on. What to make of it? Well overall we have the seemingly 'factual' positives of Landis and Hamilton et al balanced against the implications of suggestions by various witnesses, in some cases backed up by documentation and other evidence of varying degrees of verifiability. Whilst we can (perhaps!) more easily accept the positive findings of labs - even when we can't understand why Landis (for example) would have used such an inappropriate substance - it's even harder to stomach these seemingly vague as yet untested allegations that have put riders and their careers on hold.

Let's not forget that Basso, Ullrich and all of the riders that remain tainted by the as yet unproven pre-Tour allegations have had their careers either put on hold or their earning power seriously diminished. I wouldn't like that to happen to me in my working life - it's unfair and inequitable for starters. The quicker it's resolved the better - but don't hold your breath.

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