Tuesday, March 16, 2010

UPDATED2: Reader(s) wonder(s) [about Alejandro Valverde] and/or what place the first clean rider placed in, actually, if not first?

VeloNews reports on the recently-concluded Tuscon Bicycle Classic:

"Working all day in a breakaway paid off for Fly V Australia’s Phil Zajicek, who grabbed the overall win at the Tucson Bicycle Classic by a single second over Jonathan Chodroff (Jelly Belly-Kenda). Eric Marcotte (Pista Palace) won the stage from the break, and slotted into third overall." Read more.

 











[UPDATE: This post is based on the musings of a reader, and is not an implication of anyone. That's why there is a poll, by which you can register your opinion. So that it's less controversial, we'll include a second poll, below...] Again quoting VeloNews:

The International Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has rejected Alejandro Valverde’s challenge to his two-year suspension from competition in Italy.

Valverde, who finished second in last week’s edition of Paris-Nice, may also have that suspension imposed globally if the UCI opts to pursue the case.
In May of last year, the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) imposed a two-year ban on the Spanish rider, barring him from competing on Italian soil until May of 2011. As a result, Valverde was forced to skip last year’s Tour de France, which briefly crossed Italian territory on the 16th stage. Valverde then went on to win the Vuelta a España in September.

CONI investigators had acquired blood samples seized as part of the ongoing Operación Puerto case in Spain and were able to compare DNA to another sample Valverde submitted to Italian anti-doping officials when the Tour visited Italy in 2008.
An analysis conducted on the blood seized in the Puerto case not only matched Valverde’s later sample, but also contained evidence of EPO use. As a result, the Italian panel imposed a two-year ban on the Spanish rider.

That suspension, however, has not translated into a world-wide ban. By upholding the Italian suspension, it’s assumed that Valverde will likely face a worldwide ban. The UCI already tried in vain to keep Valverde out of the 2007 worlds based on alleged Puerto links, but CAS ruled then to allow Valverde to compete.

In this latest appeal, the three-member CAS panel ruled that CONI had jurisdiction to impose the suspension and concluded that evidence presented in the case was not only admissible but also relevant and could reasonably lead to a two-year suspension. Read more.

 







UPDATED AGAIN: Thanks, Steve, who left the first comment, focusing on Valverde. I hope that there is someone who'll take the opposing position and debate him based on the facts. If not, you can read a spirited, 7-page Valverde discussion over in The Clinic at Cyclingnews.com Forum. And thanks to everyone who has voted thus far in both polls. I'll leave them up through the weekend for sure, just in case there are any developments of Friday-afternoon press releases that slip under the radar... I personally think Valverde doped, and that 1st ≠ 1st, but hey - why listen to me after all...

UPDATED YET AGAIN: Just saw the results of the third stage of the San Dimas Stage Race and thought another poll might spice things up. Enjoy (and congrats if you read down this far)!


 










12 comments:

  1. My issue with Valverde's case is this: if he was doping how come he hasn't since had a drop in form? He's still a top flight rider and probably the biggest threat overall in an any given one-day race across varying terrain. It was the same when he was an amateur, the same during the period he was accused of doping, and the same right now. Unless he's been systematically doping since he was an amateur and is still doping in the same manner as during OP, which is highly unlikely, his case is completely different than every other rider I can think of.

    Can you think of any rider at the forefront of any doping scandal who was the exact same rider after being busted? They've all had a substatial drop in form. Hamilton, Landis, Basso... even Armstrong who, ya know, "never doped" but is somehow a shadow of what he once was. It goes on and on.

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  2. Steve, good point. There was a thread on cyclingnews.com forum about just this today, though centered on Michele Scarponi and his performance at T-A. Let me dig out the link here for our readers:

    http://forum.cyclingnews.com/showpost.php?p=166810&postcount=34

    I'll definitely concede the point that Valverde has performed consistently throughout this entire period. Now Manzano clearly accused him of doping. Anecdotally we know that doping is easier in Spain than in Italy. Maybe he has been doped this entire time. Or maybe he was just doped during Puerto, but given that most of those riders had to drop down off the juice, if Valverde had to do the same and has natural class, well then he'd still be competitive against his colleagues, even off the juice.

    But correct me if I'm wrong, isn't there a direct match to the DNA of Valverde and the blood evidence from OP? And wasn't he challenge to CAS that the blood evidence couldn't be used b/c of procedural issues or questions of jurisdiction? He wasn't arguing that it wasn't his DNA, was he?

    Nonetheless, a fun rider to watch, though I'm glad Evans won World's after he got shafted at the Vuelta and lost the chance to challenge Valverde for the overall thanks to the ill-timed flat.

    Hey everyone, don't forget to check out www.vdb4-ever.be and memorialize another classy - if troubled - rider...

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  3. He probably did dope. My guess, which is pure speculation of course, is that he just didn't do it well. Given that during a period where almost all of the best cyclists' were training scientifically while Valverde was still racing for telephone poles, and given that he hardly ever lost as an amateur, and the way dope flowed so freely in Spain at the time, his attitude would suggest that he just followed along with whatever the team was doing and didn't pay it a lot of mind. When things got ugly he was probably one of the first to stop because it wasn't something he focused on but his blood was in the lab by that time. I knew a lot of casual dopers like this when I played sports (where'd you'd be thinking "if you're on so much sauce how come you're not very much better? Man, you must really suck naturally.) This could explain his lack of great success or decline during this time, given that most of those who had huge improvements in performance were clearly very systematic. Did you catch Hamilton's schedule when it was first published? Impressive. Okay, I mean it's cheaing and all but, damn, those guys were doing some intresting science, too.

    Also, when I was watching Valv as a young racer he had so much talent it seemed just a matter of time before he got with the program and slaughtered everyone. But this never really happened. Which made me think that he never got tight with doc and their modern approach to performance.

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  4. Btw, the first post questioning Scarponi asks who has returned from a doping suspension as strong as their were prior. For that answer they needed go further than watch that race and see Garzelli, once disgraced, pipping Scarponi in a sprint bonus for the GC. Interesting, because there are very few examples of this.

    I don't know much about Scarponi's case. He was very young when he was busted. Garzelli, oddly enough, is a very similar rider to Valverde and could have followed a similar path.

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  5. Re. Garzelli - he definitely came back strong, but never again as a Grand Tour contender...

    Nonetheless, I REALLY like watching Garzelli race. His win in the KOM at last year's GIRO was utterly fabulous. I loved following his efforts, and you could tell that he wasn't charged like DiLuca/Menchov. Just look at his effort that day on stage 10 over Sestriére...

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2009_Giro_d%27Italia,_Stage_1_to_Stage_11#Stage_10

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o9S9lsGTpYk

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  6. Note: the youtube clip I posted starts AFTER Garzelli was caught by the two ISD riders...

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  7. Conversely, it appears that it took not doping to finally have Valv win a grand tour. I agree, Garzelli's great to watch. Plus he had the best helmet I've seen in last year's Giro TT.

    That thread on CN was disappointing. Just bantering semantics of law. Does Armstrong have threads like that about him, where everyone assumes his guilt without question? He's been under the same type of scrutiny and somehow always comes out clean. I was under that impression that Valv lacks that kind of political clout, but what do I know?

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  8. The rider I most loved to watch, unfortunately, was DiLuca. I wish he'd not been a doper - when he got caught for CERA he robbed me of a rider who I could enjoy watching. What was Garzelli's helmet design? Can you post a link for everyone to check out?

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  9. Oh, I just read an "old" interview with Tom Zirbel that appeared in the January 2010 issue of "ProCycling," and I have no doubt now that he was doping. The interview just reeks of ambition and its DRIPPING off the pages...you could just hear him flicking the side of the syringe to get the bubbles out before he injected himself with...(whatever he injected himself with that he needed to use DHEA to bridge the cycle).

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  10. joe,

    when are you going to quit speculating on people who made it further in the sport than you, and instead, give us the names of people who you sold to?

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  11. Not sure why anyone would think that there aren't those with legitimate power over me who decide what to do with things like the information you mention, and that it's hardly my call.

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  12. I think you'd have better luck calling out to the people you mention and asking them to step forward.

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