Cycling’s Silly Season is Almost Over

The new year can't come soon enough. I really don't care much for the last two months of the cycling year. There's the inevitable round of transfers and recriminations; witness the thinly-veiled comments from Riis this week. This is a volley that's been coming for months since virtually the whole team tunneled under the wall to Luxembourg. Contador's situation remains unclear, and whatever the Spanish federation announces, the decision is sure to sour one or two months of 2011.

I don't get the difficulty of deciding the latter. Though it appears some of the steps necessary to prove/refute the validity of the food contamination defense have been taken, the protocol to decide the matter is patently clear to me. Collect random samples of beef from across Spain over a four-week period (after informing AC but before going public) and test each of them for Clenbuterol at the same German lab responsible for the initial positives. Find Clenbuterol in any of the samples and Alberto gets off (and the Clenbuterol standard gets amended with a minimum threshold level). Find no Clenbuterol and Alberto is suspended for two years. Then, and only then, publicize the results.

But these are minor problems compared to the number one reason I hate this time of year. It's the cycling kit transfer rule that baffles me. You know, where riders change teams but have to continue to wear their former team's kit until the clock strikes midnight on December 31st. Whatever contractual boilerplate is responsible for this tradition, it needs to change. Since every team adds and loses riders can't we just declare a moratorium on lunacy. There's absolutely no value to the former team or sponsors in having a defector suit up in lame-duck kit for a few extra kilometres... winter training camps look ridiculous, and the sport decidedly bush league.

Even allowing for cycling's perpetual state of under funding, I'm sure all team's can rustle up a kit for their new arrivals, or perhaps departing riders can simply turn it in on the way out the door instead of selling it on eBay along with their old bikes. Either way, I'd like some graphic consistency in my professional teams while I wait to see if a Leopard can change its spots and win a Tour with or without Spanish beef in the peloton.

3 Responses to Cycling’s Silly Season is Almost Over

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  2. Henry says:

    Spanish authorities recently made a huge bust of a Clen ring (30 arrests) that was using the stuff on cattle. Spain is a major cattle producer and even with strict controls there will be some tainted meat and crooked producers. This doesn’t really shed any more light on Contador’s case though.

    What is more likely to have an impact is this story: ” 25,000 elite athletes, consolidated under the banner of EU Athletes and headed by ex-rugby player Yves Kummer, have decided to mobilize. They are fed up with violations to their most basic rights by the WADA anti-doping code. That’s why this Saturday, December 25, those who have to fill in localation data to facilitate incidental surprise controls are going to leave the box blank. ”

    They are fed up with athletes who authorities concede are innocent of intentional doping getting suspensions anyway because of a zero tolerance policy. Not to say that is what happened to Contador. But if they get their way infinitesimal amounts as found in Contador that could have easily been caused by unintentional ingesting of some food or common over the counter medication will not trigger a doping penalty.

    • Thanks for that Henry.

      I’m unequivocally opposed to doping but I do think it’s time for cyclists to have a stronger voice in these proceedings. In their position I’d be terrified of ingesting something inadvertently. They obviously can’t have everything they intend to eat or take tested at that extraordinary German lab.

      Time for a real Rider’s Association.