Tuesday, October 26, 2021
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The VV View: French Senate Report – Justice isn’t meant to be a Lottery


O’Grady wears yellow at the Tour.

The release of the French Senate Report ‘findings’ on the ’98 Tour – why do it now, what do it at all? What’s the point, other than to create a mess and give Brian Cookson a fresh crock of manure to hurl at Pat? Justice is not meant to be a lottery – of course it’s not right that the riders named cheated but what can we do now?

And if you’re going to have an expose then it has to be full – not selective.

It’s not right that O’Grady gets crucified simply because he’s about the only one still racing – up until last Sunday, that is.

That said; the lists aren’t really surprising:


  • Andrea Tafi, Erik Zabel, Bo Hamburger, Laurent Jalabert, Marcos Serrano, Jens Heppner, Jeroen Blijlevens, Nicola Minali, Mario Cipollini, Fabio Sacchi, Eddy Mazzoleni, Jacky Durand, Abraham Olano, Laurent Desbiens, Marco Pantani, Manuel Beltran, Jan Ullrich, Kevin Livingston


  • Ermanno Brignoli, Alain Turicchia, Pascal Chanteur, Frederic Moncassin, Bobby Julich, Roland Meier, Giuseppe Calcaterra, Stefano Zanini, Stephane Barthe, Stuart O’Grady, Axel Merckx

But didn’t Herr Zabel say he only took EPO in ’96?

Oh well, an easy mistake to make – ’96/’98, whatevah!

And Kevin was such a nice lad …

I shouldn’t joke about it because I think it’s nonsense that the results were released.

Kevin Livingston.

If the results from every rider in the Tour were released then fair enough; but not like this.

There will be people staring out at you from your TV screen spewing forth righteous indignation about ‘dopers,’ when they were actually pioneers of EPO use and whose performances demonstrated admirably just how effective the stuff really was.

We can’t name names because we can’t afford the legal costs of a defamation action but take it from us that there were other big names well kitted.

And we’ll spare you the rumours we heard about some of the lengths riders went to in order to avoid the gendarmes when the race returned to France on that ’98 Tour.

And whilst US veteran road and MTB pro Steve Tilford is a perhaps a wee bit too ‘hang ‘em high’ in his attitudes for us, he does have a point when he says;

“I’m not sure why these guys that are ‘caught’ doping sometime during the last 20 years in the sport of cycling aren’t intelligent enough to realize that all the excuses have been used up and they should either just not open their mouths and speak at all or just tell the truth.

It’s pretty simple.”

I have to agree Steve.

If you’re pragmatic about the situation then you’ll realize that Stuey O’Grady was just doing what he had to do, within that era.

But for him to say that he only used it the once, well…

Belkin has fired Jerone Blijlevens, the Vuelta has fired Abraham Olano and Katusha will probably have to fire Erik Zabel.

Not that the Russians will be that fussed; guys like Konychev were there, they know the score – but they’ll probably have to bin Zabel in the interests of PR.

French Senate Report
Erik Zabel gets upset when he’s confessing.

And Erik, stop greetin’ – it’s just embarrassing.

“My son rides, too, and I don’t want him to go through what I went through.”

Excuse me, Erik – that would be basking in massive public adulation, being one of the highest salaried riders in the sport and commanding some of the highest contract fees ever paid in Six Day races?

Stop whinging, man.

You made the choice, it worked well for you for years – but now you’re exposed.

You have to admire Jacky Durand’s honesty – “I admit my actions,” he said.

“I always deliberately discussed this for many years, whether with young riders, different journalists or my employers.

“Anyway I think that nobody is fooled.

“Press, supporters, spectators and racers know the difference between current and traditional practices regarding EPO.

“But of course, the general public may be confused between what happened in 1998 and what is happening now.

“The next generation must not pay for our crap from the past.”

And whilst I rant about this stuff – I don’t enjoy it.

The revelations and scandal depress me – but the Forum Trolls will love it.

And another man who’ll love it; yeah, you guessed it – Big Tex.

The opening salvoes of Lance’s rehabilitation battle have come sooner than I thought they would.

French Senate Report
Abraham Olano has lost his job as a Director of la Vuelta.

Now he can justifiably claim that he was just doing what a man had to do – like Tyler Hamilton said; ‘we got our asses to carry home from Milan-Sanremo.’

‘Damn Euros!

Lance took ‘em on and beat ‘em at their own game!

Why the hell wouldn’t he take the same shit as they did ?’

But going back to O’Grady, the Australian Olympic Committee has hung drawn and quartered the man without so much as hearing one word from him about his motivations, reasons or what the scene was like in that era.

The climate which has been created where those who admit wrong doing are immediately pilloried and branded pariahs is completely illogical.

The UCi should draw a line in the sand at a set date and encourage riders who have transgressed to come forward with complete confidentiality guaranteed and talk to a panel about what they took, why they took it and where it came from.

The findings from that would be of much more use than the current trial by media, condemnation by the ‘holier than thou’ brigade and endless political wrangling over ‘who did what and when’ within the UCi.

And on the subject of the UCi; there is still no system in place to educate young pros on the pitfalls of taking banned substances – physical, psychological or financial.

I hate to use ‘buzz words’ – but until the UCi starts to apply ‘joined up thinking’ and remembers that it’s here to protect and nurture the sport nothing will change.

Restoring the sport’s integrity should be the main objective – not ‘developing ladies professional teams’ or ‘Mondialisation.’

Their number one goal should be to lay to rest the spectre of 90’s/00’s doping and to show the world that our sport is doing more than any other to ensure that results are solid.

Not just with bigger suspensions but with education and more subtle methods than allowing Stuey O’Grady to be hung out on the washing line.

Ed Hood
Ed's been involved in cycling for over 45 years. In that time he's been a successful time triallist, team manager, and sponsor of several teams and clubs. He's also a respected and successful coach, and during the winter months can often be found working in the cabins at the Six Days. Ed remains a massive fan of the sport and couples his extensive contacts with an inexhaustable enthusiasm for the minutiae and the history of our sport.