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

 

 

David Price a professor of anthropology at Saint Martin’s University in Lacey, Washington. He is the author of Weaponizing Anthropology: Social Science in Service of the Militarized State published by CounterPunch Books.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

April 24, 2017
Mike Whitney
Is Mad Dog Planning to Invade East Syria?    
John Steppling
Puritan Jackals
Robert Hunziker
America’s Tale of Two Cities, Redux
David Jaffe
The Republican Party and the ‘Lunatic Right’
John Davis
No Tomorrow or Fashion-Forward
Patrick Cockburn
Treating Mental Health Patients as Criminals
Jack Dresser
An Accelerating Palestine Rights Movement Faces Uncertain Direction
George Wuerthner
Diet for a Warming Planet
Lawrence Wittner
Why Is There So Little Popular Protest Against Today’s Threats of Nuclear War?
Colin Todhunter
From Earth Day to the Monsanto Tribunal, Capitalism on Trial
Paul Bentley
Teacher’s Out in Front
Franklin Lamb
A Post-Christian Middle East With or Without ISIS?
Kevin Martin
We Just Paid our Taxes — are They Making the U.S. and the World Safer?
Erik Mears
Education Reformers Lowered Teachers’ Salaries, While Promising to Raise Them
Binoy Kampmark
Fleeing the Ratpac: James Packer, Gambling and Hollywood
Weekend Edition
April 21, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Diana Johnstone
The Main Issue in the French Presidential Election: National Sovereignty
Paul Street
Donald Trump: Ruling Class President
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Dude, Where’s My War?
Andrew Levine
If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em
Paul Atwood
Why Does North Korea Want Nukes?
Robert Hunziker
Trump and Global Warming Destroy Rivers
Vijay Prashad
Turkey, After the Referendum
Binoy Kampmark
Trump, the DOJ and Julian Assange
CJ Hopkins
The President Formerly Known as Hitler
Steve Reyna
Replacing Lady Liberty: Trump and the American Way
Lucy Steigerwald
Stop Suggesting Mandatory National Service as a Fix for America’s Problems
Robert Fisk
It is Not Just Assad Who is “Responsible” for the Rise of ISIS
John Laforge
“Strike Two” Against Canadian Radioactive Waste Dumpsite Proposal
Norman Solomon
The Democratic Party’s Anti-Bernie Elites Have a Huge Stake in Blaming Russia
Andrew Stewart
Can We Finally Get Over Bernie Sanders?
Susan Babbitt
Don’t Raise Liberalism From the Dead (If It is Dead, Which It’s Not)
Uri Avnery
Palestine’s Nelson Mandela
Fred Nagel
It’s “Deep State” Time Again
John Feffer
The Hunger President
Stephen Cooper
Nothing is Fair About Alabama’s “Fair Justice Act”
Jack Swallow
Why Science Should Be Political
Chuck Collins
Congrats, Graduates! Here’s Your Diploma and Debt
Aidan O'Brien
While God Blesses America, Prometheus Protects Syria, Russia and North Korea 
Patrick Hiller
Get Real About Preventing War
David Rosen
Fiction, Fake News and Trump’s Sexual Politics
Evan Jones
Macron of France: Chauncey Gardiner for President!
David Macaray
Adventures in Labor Contract Language
Ron Jacobs
The Music Never Stopped
Kim Scipes
Black Subjugation in America
Sean Stinson
MOAB: More Obama and Bush
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail