Consistent snow is the outlook this weekend which gives me a chance whilst watching the Alpine Ski Racing to review some of the news from the past week.
Jon Vaughters wrote an interesting article about Sponsorship and Team rankings mid week and then this morning I read that Pegasus( new Aussie team) are not only missing out on the Pro Tour Status but possibly the Pro Tour ranking also. Racers of the calibre of Robbie Mc Ewen & Stuey O’Grady could well be side lined by this decision and this will defeat the Sponsors prime objective for setting up the team , which was apparently to contest the Grand Tours in 2011. There is something to be said about BMC ‘s approach to the Pro Tour in that they started out as Continental and worked their way up through Pro Continental to Pro Tour Status. Sponsors are all interested in “Return on Investment” no matter what else they say and gravitating to teams that are constantly in the news and presented on TV is the main objective of any commercial decision. Since 2000 when I visited John Morris in Sydney and told him that “Australian Tourism” should sponsor a team, I have been waiting to see an Aussie team at the Grand Tours, looking bleak for 2011 at this time.
Contador continues to be in the news as Spanish Sport in general is having a successful period, but with the latest Police Raids and confiscations the tide of sympathy even in Spain must be turning against him. An article about an Italian Cyclist caught my eye because the Italian Authorities are going after the whole family. Lampre are unlucky to have had several Cyclists over the years become casualties of their desire to take short cuts. Gerolstein was a team that collapsed because of lack of sponsors because several of their roster were either too smart or too greedy, and each of these individuals blame all but themselves.
This week I commented on Contador and suggested that either UCI boss Pat Mc Quaid bite the bullet and bring his desire for 4 yr suspensions to reality or resign and allow a stronger personality to get the job done. Seeing that CONI the Italian Organisation taking a firmer stand about doping came as a surprise but I hope that they will continue to prosecute families and supporters in the future instead of their previous wishy washy defence of their “Sporting Fraudsters” ! High Profile Athletes are the idols of the young and impressionable and thus when they behave badly we have a new generation of “copycat behaviour” which is detrimental to all regardless of the sport. Having been somewhat of an oddity since 1998 I have had access to some of the Prime Movers In Cycling and have advocated more Drug Testing and Longer Suspension periods since I first visited UCI offices in Lausanne during 1999. What effect I have had on their thinking is obvious in that nothing appears to have changed except the names being suspended and the drugs and methods they use.
Sporting Fraud is a Criminal Activity whether by individual or by team it deserves being treated by draconian measures, the athletes involved and their “handlers” are petty thieves and just as you would lock up a burglar or drink driver these miscreants deserve a spell behind bars. Fact is the prisons are full so being locked in the house with an Ankle Device for 4 years causing the family grief would save the community money and serve as a warning to any athlete contemplating similar activities. Andy Schleck was 2nd at the TDF but I know IF “pistolero” is suspended he will not wish to wear No 1 at the Start in July 2011. Most of the prestige in winning the TDF is being able to make that triumphant Lap of Honour on the Champs Elysee on the final day, being deprived of that by the likes of flandis must be hugely disappointing to the eventual winner.
Over the years I have written to various Heads of State to ask them to call for a Moratorium on the Drugs Question, “Drip, Drip, Drip “ seems to be the order of the day , pass the 10 year cut off period and then put your hand up to usage when there is no longer risk of prosecution. Continually hearing of these criminal activities does not encourage the public to believe that the fight against drugs is being waged let alone won. Several countries have put “Sporting Fraud” into their legislative powers in recent years but there are too many out there still awaiting the end of the 10 years to get their transgressions out in the open. Proclaiming a World Wide Moratorium on all SPORT with a time limit and removal of the current cut off will cause many a head line . Those with the skeleton in the cupboard will face a bleak future with Draconian sentences when found out if they refuse the “Olive Branch”.
Cycle Safety is another area that needs far more attention, too many cyclists are being bullied by those who most likely also rode a bike whilst growing old enough to earn the PRIVELEGE of a driving license. What is it with these people who fail to leave their starting point with time enough to arrive safely at their destination. Life isn’t about how much aggravation you cause as you spend your day and it certainly doesn’t require causing others harm. The Cycling Silk Blog recently has come to be a series of items about a thug who the authorities refuse to investigate let alone censure. English authorities handle formal complaints from the public with an eye to how much time and resources they will use. Being presented with Video evidence by a prominent member of the legal profession and treating this with disdain sends the wrong message to the rest of the cycling community. When you or I get on our bike we wish to be treated equally and fairly by road users and deserve to be penalised for transgressions but when the authorities treat cyclists as a lower form of life then all the encouragement by politicians for us to get on the bike are frustrated.
Martin Porter QC is not only a cycle commuter but cycle racer and Blogger and with his knowledge of the law deserves more respect from the authorities he is attempting to involve in prosecuting the miscreant who not only abused him but threatened to kill him., currently he is looking for action by the head of the English Criminal Prosecution Service with the support of a variety of cycling organisations.