I had intended to start this piece on the subject of Mr. Dettori’s current woes and the inequalities of doping sanctions by saying that Frankie seems like a cool guy to me; but then reminding us that so too did Tyler H. and Lance.
But one of our readers has given me a better intro which underscores my point.
Namely that it’s not just about Lance and ever stiffer penalties.
Our reader reckons I should have pressed Tony Doyle during our interview with him for answers on ‘drugs in the Six Days’ when I interviewed him.
It was a quarter of a century ago and the kitting up taking place back then was positively common or garden, compared to Lance and Co.
Sure, there are the anecdotes – like the rider who bolted out of the drug test cabin screaming, without pee-ing, claiming that the tester had tried to ‘touch him.’
Good chat with a beer, but hardly moving us along and out of the mess we’re in.
The problem is that the whole debate on drugs centres on hanging them even higher, getting rid of Pat – and of course David Walsh’s new book.
And a funny thing, I’ve never seen David or Paul Kimmage at a kermis, Classic, Six Day, cyclo-cross or the Vuelta.
But I digress – the point here is that there’s more to the ‘doping problem’ than longer bans, digging up muck from the days of hairnet helmets and steel frames – and sending Pat back to the Emerald Isle, naturally.
And on that subject, please be in no doubt that for all his public gaffs, the man is a skilled politician and survivor and will take some dislodging.
But let’s talk horse racing; it’s not an Olympic sport, granted – but how come Frankie Dettori only gets six months?
Part of the UCI’s remit should be to point out to the media and world at large that cycling is one of the few sports to address the doping problem seriously.
They should be lobbying for uniform testing procedures and penalties across all sports – including horse racing and soccer.
No sport is harsher on offenders than cycling.
And what did Frankie D. take?
The word is that it was cocaine – but under the rules of France Galop, they do not divulge the substance.
Why the hell not?
‘Poor wee Frankie’
If this was a cycling case, the 12 year-olds at the club meet would be debating the metabolic effects of whichever drug it was.
If it was cocaine – as the Guardian alludes to – then if it was used in competition, which it was, then there would be a two year ban if he was a cyclist.
I had to endure ‘experts’ on the Jeremy Vine Show on BBC’s Radio Two explaining that what Frankie took was ‘nothing like the stuff which cyclists take.’
And that the poor little jockeys have to watch their weight and so take coke to speed up their metabolism and dull their appetite. Furthermore, they may race at more than one meeting in a day, so need a ‘line of Chaz’ to keep them going.
If that’s not performance enhancing, I don’t know what is.
A spokesman for the Jockeys’ Union was telling us the other day that his main concern was getting Frankie back in the saddle as soon as possible.
No discussion about what he took, why and what effect it had upon his riding.
It’s just a whole different perception of doping; ‘poor wee Frankie.’
There are some interesting stats in Thursday’s Guardian; the Professional Jockey’s Association tells us since 2005 (that’s seven years) there have been 2,607 in-competition urine tests.
I make that 372 tests per year – one per day across the hundreds of horse race meetings and thousands of races held in the UK each year.
Aldo Ino Ilesic of Team Type 1 has been tested 10 times in competition, this year.
I’ve mentioned this one before; but last year Simon Mensing who plays soccer (It’s rugby football – soccer, if the ball is round, or at least that’s what out games master used to tell us) for Hamilton failed a random test.
He tested positive for methylhexaneamine, ‘having ingested the substance from a dietary supplement.’
You’ll recall that the final verdict on Contador was that he was probably the victim of a contaminated supplement – and that cost him the Giro.
Whilst poor Simon missed a whole five games during his four week ban.
The offending dietary supplement isn’t named and there was none of that expert witness carry on – the soccer authorities showed no real will to get to the bottom of the affair.
The UCI should be standing up and saying; ‘are we the only mugs in sport who take this problem seriously?’
It’s as Jörg Jaksche says; ‘not all the bad people are in cycling!’
And a final thing – four year bans?
I’m no legal eagle, but I can tell you that if that penalty was tested in a civil rights court, I reckon it would have zero chance of ‘sticking’.
Denying a man his living for four years? It’s simply too onerous.
But ‘Change Cycling Now’ will sort it all out; it’s not as if it’s a bunch of guys with vested interests – like hating Lance, having clothes and books to sell and jobs to chase – and who like the sound of their own voices…