The biggest cycling story on Twitter last week was, again, about doping. As I try to keep my regular Tweets of the Week column fairly light and (hopefully) funny, I often put together a special Tweets for stories like this. I did it a few times during the Lance revelations and, unfortunately, I have to do it again now. This column is mainly to take a snapshot of conversations that have been going on over the past few days, not to editorialise about what happened. I’ve also included links to news features et cetera, if you’ve missed anything. So here’s the background to what happened …
Last week, the tell-all memoir of former CSC and Rabobank rider Michael Rasmussen, aka Chicken, was published in Denmark. If you remember, Rasmussen was the ex-mountain-biker-turned-road-racer who was kicked off the 2007 Tour de France due to whereabouts irregularities. (He told the authorities he was in Mexico when in fact he had been spotted in Italy.) If he hadn’t been ejected, he was well on his way to winning that Tour. He went through the whole ‘lies, lies, damned lies’ routine, fighting Rabobank for unfair dismissal, getting banned for two years, fighting the ban through CAS, et cetera, et cetera.
But in January this year, he confessed that, not only was he dishonest about his whereabouts, but he doped his entire career – well, until 2010, even though he was still riding professionally as late as 2012. That date is significant in that it was in 2010 that he formed Pro Continental team Christina Watches-Onfone with Christina Hembo. And it is also significant in the fact that UCI regulation 1.1.006.2 states that anyone guilty of doping was blocked from working as support personnel for pro teams. But that only came into effect on those found guilty after 1 July 2011.
Here are a few tweets from January.
And so it begins …
At first, the conversation was around Rasmussen himself and how this would affect Bjarne Riis. Little did we know the bombshell that was to come.
….and the bombshell hits right about … now.
Here’s a question. Who *was* ‘deeply shocked’ by any of this?
Instead of saying ‘lies, lies, damned lies’, Ryder actually came out with a statement, admitting to doping in the early 2000s. USADA also put out a statement and the Canadian cycling authorities confirmed that, due to the statute of limitations, Hesjedal would not be sanctioned.
Vaughters on the front line
Of all the people involved in pro cycling, Jonathan Vaughters is the most accessible and engaged on Twitter. And he bore the brunt of questions, accusations, disgruntled comments, support …
This thread started with the discrepancy between dates as noted in Rasmussen’s book and what Vaughters and Hesjedal consequently said.
And there was also a lot of scepticism about Hesjedal doping for – well as long as he doped – and then stopping to ride clean.
Then the question of whether there are more guys on Garmin who have a doping past that we don’t know about.
And in conclusion, here are some fans’ comments ranging from supportive to very disillusioned. And here is an editorial on why sorry isn’t enough.
In response to John’s tweet about wanting to speak to Ryder himself, here’s something that really mystifies me about this whole thing. I scoured Twitter and I couldn’t find one tweet from one current rider who spoke about this AT ALL. Not even teammate David Millar (surely he has something to say about this), not Dan Martin, not anyone. Maybe the team directive was for Vaughters to do all the talking for the time being, but surely other riders on other teams (Kittel, Greipel, Cav) would have something to say about this? But I couldn’t find any. (Which is not to say that there isn’t any – if you find any, let me know.)
And finally – guess who else is ready to tell all?
THIS JUST IN
I’d already put this column to bed when I saw a series of tweets from @MikeKaltoft – who is a Danish journalist this morning. He tweeted comments by Rasmussen from a number of interviews he gave to the press last night, plus Mike seemed to have sped-read the book! (Now I don’t have to read it! RESULT!) More revelations … here are a few, plus a few others thrown in that seemed appropriate. Go to Mike’s twitter timeline to find out more. (These are in no particular order.)
Update: 05/11/13: After intimating that Oscar Freire and Juan Antonio Flecha were part of the Rabobank team doping programme, Rasmussen has since recanted. Oscar Freire had threatened to sue Rasmussen for his claims, which brought a swift retraction: “There was organized doping, but it did not include all the riders,” Rasmussen told EFE. “Not once in my life did I see Oscar Freire doping. Flecha as well, he also didn’t know anything.” The link to this feature is here.
Update: 05/11/13: Orica GreenEdge are standing by Pieter Weening, one of the 2007 Rabobank Tour de France team that Rasmussen alleged doped, and word is that the Dutch anti-doping authorities have not opened an inquiry against the rider.“The team has received documentation that, based on information the Dutch NADO have — including in relation to Michael Rasmussen’s allegations of 2007 — they have not opened any doping inquiry against Pieter Weening and do not posses any sort of evidence or testimony to do so. Pieter Weening has been fully collaborative in relation to this and Orica-GreenEdge would like to express its full support in him going onwards.” The link to this story is here.
What I find funny is a lot of confessing dopers keep talking about what nice guys they are, or the people who doped with them are, as if that somehow mitigates what they did. Certainly I’d rather them be nice dopers than bullies who set out to destroy people, but I find it very strange that so many guys take that line. (Just a musing …)
And now here is the nub of it all.
The ‘I regret only that I was caught’ line – well, at least he’s honest, I guess. But if he didn’t regret doping (and there were other tweets saying he said he’d do it all again if he were in the same situation), then why would anyone believe that any team he was involved with (remember the Christina Watch team earlier?) could be clean? Oh, he says something about that.
(As with a lot of Twitter conversations, it’s very difficult to get the whole string or to find where one string begins and one ends, particularly in something as contentious as this. I did the best I could to make sure that different points of views were represented and I hope that I didn’t misrepresent anyone’s comments due to missing a linking tweet.)