FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Tour de Witch Hunt

by DAVID PRICE

The fallout continues from last year’s Tour de France doping scandals. Last year as the first post-Armstrong Tour in modern memory was getting ready to begin, a gaggle of top riders where caught in a Spanish doping scandal, and then after the conclusion of the race it was announced that Tour winner, American Floyd Landis had detectable levels of synthetic testosterone in his blood after his crucial stage win.

After these public disasters Tour organizers and professional organizations enacted new penalties for dopers; teams and riders adopted public postures declaring no tolerance for anyone testing positive. The pressure to sign on these tough no-nonsense standards was intense-the riders had no choice but to agree to new draconian conditions that would mark them for life should any test show them deficient. Many riders publicly stated that they were all for increased scrutiny and elevated consequences, but they also wanted increased due process and increased backup samples to protect them from the errors and ineptitude that enter all human processes. But the workers themselves were shut-out from this process, and this shut-out marks the feeding frenzy that is now moving in clockwise direction through the beautiful French countryside.

And now, riders are falling from the Tour in breathtaking speed. First, German rider, Patrik Sinkewitz, was kicked out when pre-race blood samples tested positive for forbidden substances, then, the T-Mobile team withdrew from the race after Italian rider Cristian Moreni, tested positive for artificial testosterone in stage 11. Then, Kazakhstan’s best hope of rebuffing Borat’s insults to their national honor went up in flames after national hero Alexander Vinokourov’s blood samples showed the presence of someone else’s blood. No explanations were forthcoming from Vinokourov, or his Kazakh national railroad sponsors, but one can hear Sasha Baron Cohen working all of this into an upcoming TV special.

Now, the great king of the mountain himself, Michael Rasmussen, is the latest man purged from the tour-but he’s not tested positive for any banned substance and was not pulled from the race by race officials. His own team, Rabobank, gave him the boot for irregularities in his accounting for his exact whereabouts on two dates the past few months. The team knew this for over a month, why they did this after he won the tour’s most difficult stage yesterday is a mystery, but one wonders if some sort of McCarthyistic ethic isn’t driving teams to prove their purity by eating their own.

Professional bicycle racers remain as the most tested athletes in the world. One wonders what the World Series or Super Bowl would look like if only 25% of the participating athletes had to play by the rules that all of these riders must conform to? If 100% had to, the teams wouldn’t be able to suit up enough players to field a team.

With Rasmussen gone, all eyes turn to the great American cyclist Levi Leipheimer. This elevation for Leipheimer is well earned but now stained. The real story is the rookie kid, Albert Contador, who is now pushed to the front–many will see him as a pretender to the throne, but I’ve had my eye on him for the last few years as the next Eddy Merckx, Miguel Indurain or Lance Armstrong, so what we have here is a real Harry Potter story. The shame is that whatever greatness Contador earns this year will be marked by the expulsion of Rasmussen, an act that will inevitably reduce the standing of his accomplishments.

All fans should be glad that there is increased scrutiny of doping, but things are out of control as due process for riders under suspicion is pushed aside to create an appearance of no tolerance. But no tolerance of what? Of not submitting paperwork in a timely fashion? And what of routine lab errors? What recourse does a rider have if they are accused under a tainted lab sample? Under these conditions today, Heaven help any rider subjected to the routine bureaucratic failures that cross each of our paths, generally without dire consequence, on a daily basis.

DAVID PRICE is author of Threatening Anthropology: McCarthyism and the FBI’s Surveillance of Activist Anthropologists (Duke, 2004). His next book, Anthropological Intelligence: The Use and Abuse of American Anthropology in the Second World War, He can be reached at: dprice@stmartin.edu


Weekend Edition
February 12-14, 2016
Andrew Levine
What Next in the War on Clintonism?
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Comedy of Terrors
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh – Anthony A. Gabb
Financial Oligarchy vs. Feudal Aristocracy
Paul Street
When Plan A Meets Plan B: Talking Politics and Revolution with the Green Party’s Jill Stein
Rob Urie
The (Political) Season of Our Discontent
Pepe Escobar
It Takes a Greek to Save Europa
Gerald Sussman
Why Hillary Clinton Spells Democratic Party Defeat
Carol Norris
What Do Hillary’s Women Want? A Psychologist on the Clinton Campaign’s Women’s Club Strategy
Robert Fantina
The U.S. Election: Any Good News for Palestine?
Linda Pentz Gunter
Radioactive Handouts: the Nuclear Subsidies Buried Inside Obama’s “Clean” Energy Budget
Michael Welton
Lenin, Putin and Me
Manuel García, Jr.
Fire in the Hole: Bernie and the Cracks in the Neo-Liberal Lid
Thomas Stephens
The Flint River Lead Poisoning Catastrophe in Historical Perspective
David Rosen
When Trump Confronted a Transgender Beauty
Will Parrish
Cap and Clear-Cut
Victor Grossman
Coming Cutthroats and Parting Pirates
Ben Terrall
Raw Deals: Challenging the Sharing Economy
David Yearsley
Beyoncé’s Super Bowl Formation: Form-Fitting Uniforms of Revolution and Commerce
David Mattson
Divvying Up the Dead: Grizzly Bears in a Post-ESA World
Matthew Stevenson
Confessions of a Primary Insider
Jeff Mackler
Friedrichs v. U.S. Public Employee Unions
Franklin Lamb
Notes From Tehran: Trump, the Iranian Elections and the End of Sanctions
Pete Dolack
More Unemployment and Less Security
Christopher Brauchli
The Cruzifiction of Michael Wayne Haley
Bill Quigley
Law on the Margins: a Profile of Social Justice Lawyer Chaumtoli Huq
Uri Avnery
A Lady With a Smile
Katja Kipping
The Opposite of Transparency: What I Didn’t Read in the TIPP Reading Room
B. R. Gowani
Hellish Woman: ISIS’s Granny Endorses Hillary
Kent Paterson
The Futures of Whales and Humans in Mexico
James Heddle
Why the Current Nuclear Showdown in California Should Matter to You
Michael Howard
Hollywood’s Grotesque Animal Abuse
Steven Gorelick
Branding Tradition: a Bittersweet Tale of Capitalism at Work
Nozomi Hayase
Assange’s UN Victory and Redemption of the West
Patrick Bond
World Bank Punches South Africa’s Poor, by Ignoring the Rich
Mel Gurtov
Is US-Russia Engagement Still Possible?
Dan Bacher
Governor Jerry Brown Receives Cold, Dead Fish Award Four Years In A Row
Wolfgang Lieberknecht
Fighting and Protecting Refugees
Jennifer Matsui
Doglegs, An Unforgettable Film
Soud Sharabani
Israeli Myths: An Interview with Ramzy Baroud
Terry Simons
Bernie? Why Not?
Missy Comley Beattie
When Thoughtful People Think Illogically
Christy Rodgers
Everywhere is War: Luke Mogelson’s These Heroic, Happy Dead: Stories
Ron Jacobs
Springsteen: Rockin’ the House in Albany, NY
Barbara Nimri Aziz
“The Martian”: This Heroism is for Chinese Viewers Too
Charles R. Larson
No Brainers: When Hitler Took Cocaine and Lenin Lost His Brain
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail