cycling matters


The VV View: The USADA Reasoned Decision Should Be the Start, Not the End

Just like those CNN images from Iraq when the Saddam statues crashed to the ground, Lance is in pieces in the dust – the legend shattered, following the USADA Reasoned Decision being ratified by the UCI.

The Zealots told us that it was a great day and the start of a new era in cycling.

But it’s ‘Xmas gift ideas’, what’s left of the Six Day scene, Sven Nys in Belgian 'Cross and the transfer market which dominate the news.

It's been 60 days since USADA's reasoned decision and Lance hasn't commented publicly at all.

And whilst I might be naive and do think that it’s a cleaner scene that it’s ever been during my lifetime, with team orchestrated doping gone and a sea change in the attitudes of riders and staff – there’s still something “rotten in the State of Denmark.”

Lampre star, Michele Scarponi claims that he only met with Dr. Michele Ferrari for two tests at the end of 2010 and ended the association immediately he signed for his current squadra.

That’s the same Michele Ferrari who features so prominently in Tyler Hamilton’s ‘Secret Race’ and more significantly, in the USADA report on Lance Armstrong.

Scarponi is a cool guy; hard, committed and there’s always a smile - even after the toughest Giro stage.

But he’s already served an 18-month suspension after he confessed to blood doping under the supervision of Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes.

However, he insists that he was not aware that working with Sr. Ferrari was taboo.

If he’d asked just about any other cyclist in the world, they’d have told him about Ferrari’s rep.

Scarponi looks tired following Stage 11 of last year's Vuelta. Photo©Bettini.

According to the Gazzetta Della Sport’s quoting of police reports, Scarponi tells Ferrari that he could have won the Giro (he was fourth behind Basso, just missing the podium); Ferrari replies that if; ‘he'd had a bag,’ he could have had a chance.

Quoting from CyclingNews web site;

"Scarponi then talks through his training programme, criticising Dr. Ferrari for mistakes he made.

"The asterisk you did was wrong," Scarponi indicates, "the period when I had the virus, the asterisk to indicate period at altitude, then when he left for the Canaries, then the asterisk put there near the end when I was already high."

Scarponi will probably get a three month suspension, served during the winter, so the ‘disciplinary factor’ is zero.

The UCI should be dragging Scarponi in and asking him what would have been in the ‘bag’ – my guess is, not prawn cocktail crisps.

But there’s a notable lack of ‘Lance-esque’ righteous indignation with hardly an eyebrow is raised.

Scarponi isn't finished explaining himself, just yet.

If Scarponi - fresh back from his Puerto suspension - is happily discussing blood bags with the brilliant but severely flawed Ferrari and that goes without comment from the UCI then what the Hell was the point of bringing down Armstrong?

If the same investigative process was applied to Scarponi as was to the Texan, there’s little doubt what the outcome would be – the Italian would never put a leg over a bike again.

Situations like the Scarponi/Ferrari scandal simply cannot be left to go past with ne’er a mention.

But there’s just not the same publicity in attacking a ‘dodgy’ Italian as there is in a millionaire friend of presidents, celebrity like Lance.

It’s not going to excite sports editors – or sell books.

Sponsors have already tied their track shoe laces tight and bolted to a ‘safer’ sport where there aren’t drugs scandals every five minutes.

We have to do our best to make sure that the Armstrong scandal is the line in the sand which should have been drawn after the Festina nightmare.

Situations like the Scarponi/Ferrari scandal simply cannot be left to go past with ne’er a mention.

In our opinion, the USADA Reasoned Decision and Armstrong’s subsequent downfall wasn’t the end of anything, but it should have been the start of something and the Scarponi story should receive close scrutiny if we really do want change – and not just juicy scandals.



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