Pro Cycling News – Doping, Imagined and Real

Nov 5 2005

Since the news broke that AMGEN would sponsor the 2006 Tour of California (now with stage details), editorials have sprung up everywhere, saying essentially “Hey, don’t listen to those naysayers! It’s ok that guys that make EPO are sponsoring this race. Sponsorships make for strange bedfellows, and this will be a great race no matter what.” Now, normally, this wouldn’t be anything to catch my attention, as I pretty much agree; sure, this might make racers and members of the race organization a bit less forthcoming to mention a drug bust or doping positive as specifically involving an AMGEN product, but it’s not like AMGEN’s gonna replace the anti-doping trailer with a complimentary carnival stand handing out Darbo-laced SnoCones.

However, what’s remarkable about the media’s ready defense of the AMGEN sponsorship isn’t the defense itself, but the fact that it’s not really defending against anything. As far as I can tell, even on the crackpot-laden (scroll down just a touch) VeloNews MailBag page, most folks just don’t care. The only thing I’ve seen that even half resembles criticism is a WADA spokesperson, question the choice of sponsor on a philosophical level. Yet the defenses keep springing up like Dandelions. And even with today’s America firmly established as the land of reaction without reason, the media’s fortification against a series of scathing attacks that have yet to appear seems a bit suspicious. Perhaps they had some “encouragement” from race organizers, or a certain pharmacutical giant? It is especially curious to note that news agencies outside America have had very little to say on the topic.

But, hey, what do I know? I ought to be focusing on some real doping news, like the story of former Gerlosteiner sprinter Danilo Hondo. First, his former team manager went on record (scroll down) as saying: “Why would Danilo take a stimulant? He knew he would be controlled,” which is a pretty frickin’ stupid thing to say, because if this is a legitimate argument, anyone who knew they would be controlled could dope just as much as they pleased (and that would kind of defeat the point of dope-testing in the first place). But hey, he’s a manager, not a rocket scientist. But today, Werner Franke, a Ph.D, educated at the prestegious Heidelberg University, who shot to fame suing drug companies associated with doping in the old GDR Olympic Program, weighed in on the Hondo case. His conlcuding statement in favor of Hondo’s innocence: “Besides, [Danilo] knew that he would be tested.” Unbelievable.

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