The New Reality - Races are won on the roads and in the court rooms
Alberto Contador's results are tossed out and once again cycling history needs to be rewritten.
This weekend was full of surprises. First off, out of the blue, the federal investigation into Lance Armstrong came to a halt. This caught everyone off guard as there had been no warning signs that this was about to happen. In fact it had been rumored that March was when the Feds were going to start handing our subpoenas like feed zone musettes.
For those conspiracy tin foil hat-wearing folks the fix was in. Over the years Armstrong has built up plenty of support from people in high places. As the blog NYVelocity pointed out, the seven-time Tour de France winner recently donated $100,000 to U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer's charity of choice, Planned Parenthood. In the past she championed U.S. Attorney André Birotte who was the one that pulled the plug on the Armstrong investigation.
And then there's the timing of the press releases - late Friday of the Super Bowl weekend. That guaranteed that the story would be pushed to the back of the sports page.
I'll save you from the additional details as by this time I'm sure you have been inundated by every cycling news source chiming in with their opinion (including me on my personal blog). However, the Armstrong case was just the first course of this doping banquet.
We had been promised this for weeks. No - years - the Alberto Contador clenbuterol case was finally going to be ruled on. After many false starts and delays the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) promised they would announce their ruling on Monday, noon time in Europe. And lo and behold - after 566 days there was finally a ruling - Contador's 2010 Tour de France champion title was to be stripped from him as well as any results from that date, which includes his victory at the Giro d'Italia. Additionally he has been benched until August of this year.
The fall out for Contador's team could be disastrous. As Cyclingnews editor Daniel Benson points out Pistolero counts for 68% of the team's UCI WorldTour points. In theory this could drop Saxo Bank out of the ProTour system and leave them scrambling for wild card invites. And who could benefit from Saxo getting the boot? The Dutch Project 1t4i squad. Tomorrow Team Saxo Bank is going to hold a press conference, but I'm not holding my breath that they will state anything more than what we know now.
Quoting from the Saxo Bank team's press release, "CAS's conclusion is that the most likely cause for the adverse analytical finding is ingestion of a contaminated food supplement." Let's take a deeper look at part of this sentence.
"Likely cause for the analytical finding is ingestion of a contaminated food supplement." Saxo is already softening the blow by being selective of what CAS actually said. They forgot the part, "and the blood transfusion scenario were, in theory, possible explanations." Let's remember about a year ago, there was plasticizer found in Contador's sample inferring that he had received a blood transfusion (from a plastic bag) during that rest day.