The Week That Was...

News & Results

06/30/2004| 0 comments
by Ian Melvin

The Week That Was...

Ian comments on the happenings in the world of cycling.

that he?s covered by a rider who was fifth in last year?s Tour de France, Haimar Zubeldia.?


Finally this week, I can?t ignore the messy situation that my fellow Brit, David Millar, finds himself in.  Having originally not been a part of the original Phillip Gaumont investigation, Judge Richard Pallain last week issued a warrant for the arrest of Millar.  The rider was picked up by local police outside a <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" /?>
restaurant.  Initially, Francis Van Londersele, the Cofidis Manager, commented that, ?this isn?t about Millar, it?s a follow-up to the Gaumont affair.  I find it regrettable that they wait this long to question someone, several days before the Tour de France.?   However, after having been held for 48 hrs in cells, the World Time Trial Champion was released to see allegations from L?Equipe claiming that whilst in custody, French officers had found empty ampoules of Eprex (EPO) in Millar?s house.  The paper added that the rider had allegedly confessed to EPO use whilst in custody.  Cofidis President, Francois Migraine said that, ?ten days before the Tour, this is clearly a problem. We?ll dispose of anybody found guilty, but as long as the investigation is ongoing, new information can always come out.?   Following the weekends? press stories, the Societe du Tour de
released a statement clarifying that ?no rider who is subject of a legal procedure or police investigation will be permitted to start the Tour de France.?


If the allegations from L?Equipe are correct, whom can we blame for this? Millar?  An athlete who (at this stage) has allegedly used performance enhancing drugs?  Do we blame his Director for putting pressure on the rider to perform?  Do we blame his sponsor, Cofidis, and their President, Francois Migraine, for putting pressure on the team to produce results and thus, increase the return on his investment within the team?  Perhaps we the fans expect too much from these athletes, our idols?  Every which way you look, there is another scapegoat, somebody else to blame.  Make your own mind up but all I ask is that in these days where it seems that the law enforcement agencies within certain countries appear to have a quota of athletes to catch doping each year, maintain your open mind, believe in these riders until they are proved, beyond all reasonable doubt, that they are guilty.  It would be very easy for us to turn our backs away from the sport but now, more than ever, cycling needs our backing.  In January, as this scandal broke, Millar commented that, ?it?s not a Cofidis problem and it?s certainly got nothing to do with me.?   How I hope you are right Dave.


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