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Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Rusty Crank: Dodgy Stu at the Ride Like Crazy Dinner

Are fans sick of being dumped on?

This post is not about Mick Rogers' meal in China. No it's about Stuart O'Grady's attendance at the Ride Like Crazy Dinner tomorrow night.

An "intimate discussion" about cycling is promised. Is this likely to include what O'Grady knew of alleged doping at any of his teams? He'll say it wasn't just the one time? He knows or doesn't know about any rumoured doping in cycling's other alleged systematic doping programs, closer to our shores (i.e. right on them). And is Rees Homfray, O'Grady's biographer and writer of this piece likely to grill him at the event?

If no, then is he going for any other reason than to exercise vanity and embrocate the book buying loins of the cycling boys' club? (Of course I know he is also doing it for charity).

The argument goes if he or a rider do actually know more, then a dinner like this would hardly be the appropriate forum to share this information and should be happening behind closed doors like with Hesjedal, or at the UCI style commission.

I agree. (Although he did have his chance during the Vance investigation to tell all about his one time doping rather than just before the French Senate report was released).

However, does that mean riders can publicly act like the truth is somehow different, and everything changed after cycling's magical maginot line in the sand of 2007 - or was it 2008,1998, 2004, 2009 or 2012 - and the kids are alright? Does it entitle anyone to possess a refusal for empathy with an exhausted fan base that doesn't believe it was just the once or it was just the era? Stuey's attendance not long after his admission and just before the Tour Down Under appears to do this.

These tweets sum it up well.

Perhaps he should stay home and leave it for another day.

Why? How can we move on when it appears that a rider like Stuey, on the eve of Australia's only World Tour race comes out to play in his home town, not to sell us the truth, but to sell us his image and his future biography? And at an event where he has the opportunity to say again he only did it that one time, talk about how it felt to hoist a chunk of pavé above his head in Roubaix, and then regale the audience about his freakish physiology enabling him to ride tempo like an animal, day after day, year after year in the mountains, well into his late 30s. All before the Tour Down Under - a race he made as much his own party as Lance did.

So what is the answer about the past? Perhaps it is best to leave it there. But we can't, because it just won't stay there. Michele Scarponi gets a ride with Astana following a ban for his links to Ferrari in 2010 - and then tells us he visited him just the once and it was only for two days. A manager like Johan Bruyneel was quite willing to handle the futures of young men and would've continued to do so if he had not got found out. Bjarne Riis tells us he didn't know, how could he possibly know about riders - men he was responsible for - on his past teams doping. Some managers are still out there, with a dodgy not so in the past, past, carrying on without scrutiny. And there's also the clean team's anger about the reaction to Hesjedal's past doping like we were all meant to think it was nothing.

While ever these guys are still around, many of them decision makers in regards to contracts, how can a Truth and Meh Commission hope to succeed with not just ego on display, but warranted fear from potential witnesses and participants?

I often daydream and wish we could just cut the cord and not let anyone, at least in a management, medical, administrative or DS role with previous doping convictions or admissions - or any whiff of impropriety when it comes to doping - anywhere near the sport, ever.

It also isn't the past when there are rumours of new wonder drugs allegedly talked about in the peloton like riders once did about EPO. Then there's still the unanswered questions and rumours about Sky over Leinders, Jonathan Tiernan-Locke, and the scurrying away of Yates and Rogers.

Sure, that's a lot of rumours. But rumours were all we had to go on before though right?

Of course, noone wants a witch hunt or a rider suicide situation when enforcing anti-doping. Nor is a drip feed of doping stories sold by newly repentant ex cyclists ideal. Of course the cord cutting can't and won't ever happen, so let's settle for riders and management not treating us like chumps.

The Rusty Crank - sometimes op-ed, sometimes rant. Feel free to contribute and submit a cycling opinion piece to me at tourdecouch@gmail.com  Publishing will be at my discretion

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