Troubles in Cycling Paradise

News & Results

12/6/2011| 0 comments
by Neil Browne
The computer hacking in cycling has become an epidemic. Photo Fotoreporter Sirotti.
The computer hacking in cycling has become an epidemic. Photo Fotoreporter Sirotti.

Troubles in Cycling Paradise

The computer hacking in cycling has become an epidemic.

Seriously, what's the deal with the hacking stories in the cycling world? Sure, you might get the occasional Facebook or Twitter account violation. But all that requires is sending out an embarrassing, "Sorry I clicked on the Miley Cyrus link and downloaded a virus. I'm changing my password now." message and moving on with your social media life. But breaking into people's e-mails and computer systems? That's just plain wrong!

Our first computer hacking victim was none other than Astana's Alexandre Vinokourov. As reported by Velonation, he noticed the security of his email inbox had been compromised. While no information was reported to have been stolen it shook up the Kazakhstan rider as he might be taking a run at politics in his homeland. Take a moment and let that settle into your brain - Vinokourov is named as a candidate for their parliament. I had a Herman Cain moment when I heard that.

CNN calls Cain fearless and savvy. Vino could be called the same thing. His attacks in the 2010 Tour de France were savage and made his then teammate Alberto Contador wonder if he was having flashbacks to when he and Lance Armstrong were battling for Tour de France yellow in 2009. CNN also opines that Cain was deeply flawed and self-absorbed. Vinokourov has been found positive for EPO and never fully admitted it. When he crashed out of this year's Tour de France he said he retired. Then months later retracted that statement and said he was returning to the professional peloton. However, the team had moved on and bolstered their roster to the UCI limit of 28. Vino's return from retirement put the Astana squad at 29 - one rider too many. So who was made the sacrificial goat - Roman Kireyev who retired with a "back injury." It was never said that a life as a professional athlete was easy.

Vinokourov claims he's going to retire from the sport following the 2012 London Olympic Games, undoubtedly trying to end his career on a high note with a gold in the time trial. Unfortunately Herman Cain can't hope for the same as his political ambitions have ended among allegations of sexual harassment and infidelity. It was never said that life as a politician was easy.

The other recent computer hacking was the crashing of the NYVelocity site. While not known worldwide, this New York based site has posted some amazing interviews such as Paul Kimmage's interview of Floyd Landis as well as Dr. Michael Ashenden (helped develop a test for EPO) who claimed that Lance Armstrong, in his opinion, doped in the 1999 Tour de France.

Coincidentally, the NYvelocity site shuddered to a halt after an article was posted on Cyclingnews about Landis appearing at a fundraiser NYvelocity sponsored, Drink Floyd - a night of roller racing with the funds raised going to support a local junior team. What dark forces could be behind this? I'll be honest - I have no idea. I'm hoping those who committed this crime are brought to justice, but I'm afraid that they will slip into cyberspace undetected.

Not so undetected was the UCI's three sentence press release announcing the last two teams given WorldTour licenses: GreenEdge and RadioShack-Nissan. You might remember that there was some drama regarding Johan Bruyneel's paperwork for his newly merged RadioShack-Nissan-Leopard-Trek squad. It seems that Bruyneel had been all in favor of a new cycling league, which would have wrestled power away from the UCI. That irritated the sport's governing body to no end and you know the expression - payback is a bitch!

So with the Rothschild proposal dead and dreams of revenue sharing dropped, Boss Hogg had to file his paperwork with the UCI and to hardly anyone's surprise it was rejected. So going back to the drawing board and perhaps a few conference calls later team RadioShack-Nissan was granted one of the final WorldTour licenses. Looks like Leopard-Trek didn't make the cut and the "O" that was smack dab in the middle of the back of their bib shorts making it look like a cat's butt is forever gone. Maybe it will be replaced by a large capital "N" in a Times New Roman font. That would look nice...

In a move that smacks of excessive kissing up, Bruyneel tweeted, "We got the team registered. #SoHonoured." Really? Bruyneel tried to stick it to the UCI, failed. Tried to register his team and failed again. Then finally after being made to eat humble pie and he's "honored"? Maybe it's a Belgian thing and they're "honored" when someone smacks them down like an annoying gnat. Me? I'd be upset. But I guess when the anger finally subsided Bruyneel realized that he needed to play ball with the powers that be and sending out a nice tweet would be a way to extend an olive branch. I also recommend a nice fruit basket. Everyone loves fresh fruit and it finally acknowledges that there is an uneasy détente - at least for now.

One last news item that caught my eye was the interview of WADA director general David Howman. In the interview with Cyclingnews, Howman says that Floyd Landis might have been correct in his statement that the UCI protected some riders in the professional peloton.

"Remember, that was all before the [WADA] code so there wasn't the same monitoring. The second thing is, there are lots of things that are possible that might not happen. But if you looked at the whole process now I could find ways and means myself of trying to beat it," said Howman.

So I wonder, how much longer do you think Landis' introduction as "disgraced" will be part of his introduction? I have a feeling in a few more months that adjective will be a label of the past.

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