July 30, 2007

"The future of this sport is one where we have to get back to basics,": As the Tour caravan disperses, the post-mortem begins. ESPN's Bonnie DeSimone wonders whether a riders' union would change the atmosphere. The ASO has floated the idea of opening the TdF field to national teams, though that's tied into its power struggle with the UCI and ProTour teams. But a common theme emerges after this Tour de chien: the sponsorship money that has built team dynasties now threatens the sport.

posted by etagloh to other at 02:32 AM - 7 comments

It was interesting to compare the wrap-up packages on Versus and Britain's ITV, which share the Liggett/Sherwen partnership. The American channel left much on the cutting room floor, almost pretending that Vino and Rasmussen played no part; it reflects its uneasy dual role as the country's lone cycling broadcaster, promoting the sport while trying to report on it critically. (Floyd Who?) The British coverage, with a heritage extending back to the days of Hinault, LeMond and Fignon, had a much more ambivalent final montage. One final link, with something to ponder:

Contador's victory was watched by Lance Armstrong, the seven-times Tour winner and a part-owner of the Discovery Channel team. Given that last year's race was "won", until his disqualification for an excess of testosterone, by Floyd Landis, one of Armstrong's former lieutenants, it could be said that the man famous for coming back from cancer surgery to set records in the world's most gruelling sporting event has simply found other means of extending his period of domination.
I have to take a deep breath and look very hard at Lance Armstrong's legacy. Even putting aside the doping allegations, Amstrong changed the character of the sport, and not necessarily for the better. He ignored the spring classics, the Vuelta, the Giro. He helped market a product for 'three-week cycling fans' to his home audience. His success helped build a team that's competed on the financial equivalent of EPO.

posted by etagloh at 03:15 AM on July 30, 2007

Dog Crash One Dog Crash Two Michael Vick Questioned.

posted by JJ at 06:48 AM on July 30, 2007

It is a clear indication of how much damage cycling has done to itself that no matter what rider's name is mentioned, someone is absolutely certain they (or their entire team) are doping. I've read hundreds of comments on other boards implicating Contador, Evans, Leipheimer, the entire Discovery team, all Spaniards, etc. etc. etc. It will be a long time until cycling recovers from this. They need to stop the constant bickering between UCI, WADA, and Grand Tour organizations and realize that if they don't fix things soon, they'll be about as popular as competitive eating competitions. Too many of their "solutions" are aimed soley at the riders and not at teams, managers, sponsors who look the other way when doping is obviously occurring. I have a hard time believing Vino was blood doping on his own and no one else on Astana knew about it. Am I supposed to believe he's got an IV of blood hanging by his bed and no one noticed? Vino is facing the consequences of his actions, as he should, but I"d like to see the others involved (team managers, doctors, etc) facing sanctions as well.

posted by BikeNut at 08:17 AM on July 30, 2007

Rumor has it that even big-name sponsors like Adidas and others are going to pull out of the Tour thanks to all the allegations. It's reached a point now where anyone who does even halfway-decent is accused of doping. That's how low this event has sunk.

posted by NerfballPro at 09:33 AM on July 30, 2007

Now Mayo, too.

posted by Amateur at 08:28 PM on July 30, 2007

Bloody hell.

posted by JJ at 04:29 AM on July 31, 2007

I think it's true that the blame can't only be pinned on the riders. However, I have some concerns about the involvement of sponsors in the decision-making process. All they are interested in is their image, which is to say the public perception of cheating. They have little interest in protecting the rights of the athletes, nor do they have any interest in exposing cheating, as long as it is well-hidden. Take Rasmussen as an example. I understand that Rabobank pressured the team managers to withdraw him from the race. I suppose they looked at the fact that he was getting booed by the crowds and decided that enough damage had been done to their good name. But that's not the process Rasmussen was due. Rabobank apparently didn't care -- as long as most people believed he was a cheater, that was good enough for them. The opposite could also happen, of course. What if a known cheater was still wildly popular with the public? Or the sponsor finds out that an athlete is cheating, but hasn't yet been caught? In this case, I think most sponsors would be thrilled to have that athlete flying their flag, at least until the scandal breaks.

posted by Amateur at 07:46 AM on July 31, 2007

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