On the horns of a dilemma
How soon before checkmate?
Let’s say you’re a WorldTour caliber racer. You’ve had a decent season – maybe a win or several top-10 finishes in some big races. However, the team you’re a member of has several riders like yourself on the squad and you feel you could have accomplished more if you’d had some support. So come July your agent starts looking around for other teams to join. Then the USADA report hits like a tsunami and rips through the sport.
The fallout continues and soon not only is Lance Armstrong’s reputation shredded to pieces but numerous other riders’ as well. Not just reputations of active riders, but also reputations of former riders who have now become team directors.
You’ve always considered yourself a clean rider and don’t want to get caught up in the doping scandal, so you look to join a team whose reputation isn’t swirling down the toilet bowl. Who do you choose?
Astana has strengthened their squad with Vincenzo Nibali and Jakob Fuglsang. The lone American on the squad is 22-year-old Evan Huffman. However, stepping off the bike and behind the team car’s steering wheel is Alexander Vinokourov. As you might know previously suspended for blood doping and now under investigation for buying his win at the 2010 Liege-Bastogne-Liege.
Do you look at RadioShack? While they have riders on their team roster and recently signed Stijn Devolder to what must be his last chance at remaining in the World Tour, there is the huge dark cloud hanging over Johan Bruyneel.
Saxo Bank sees the return of Alberto Contador, but team manager Bjarne Riis has come under fire recently. While he has admitted to doping as a professional cyclist he claims that he’s cleaned up since then. That might be the case except Tyler Hamilton’s book, “The Secret Race” states that Riis introduced Hamilton to the infamous Dr. Fuentes. Riis, AKA Mr. 60%, denies ever introducing the two.
Another awkward situation is that a new co-sponsor for Riis’ Saxo Bank squad is Tinkoff Bank. Hamilton also claims that the founder of Tinkoff Bank, Oleg Tinkov, told him and a room full of riders back when the Russian was sponsoring Team Tinkoff Credit Systems they could do whatever they wanted, “Just don’t get caught.” Tinkov denies this claim by Hamilton. Curiously for a man who no doubt has a few lawyers on retainer, he hasn’t done a thing other than posting a snarky comment on Twitter.
Team Sky Procycling seems like a good squad to be a part of. They have a strict anti-doping policy so you can be assured there won’t be any clandestine flights to Madrid to pick up a blood bag. But in their not so distant past they had employed Dr. Geert Leinders who was a doctor for Team Rabobank and is accused by former Rabobank team director Theo de Roy of being part of a medical staff that tolerated doped riders on the team, notably Michael Rasmussen. Leinders’ contract was not renewed for 2013.
Even as recent as last week Team Sky enacted a zero-tolerance policy regarding doping