Kessler Suspended, Petacchi Out? Barloworld In.

Jun 27 2007

On the ride to work today, I hatched this theory that maybe the “men in black” weren’t really Astana like everyone’s been saying. Maybe they were Caisses d’Epargne, a squad that tends wear black kits, and has had a few scrutinized riders. Well, looks like it’s back to the drawing board for me. Matthias Kessler has (of course) no idea how his testosterone became elevated, and Lord knows, asking his team manager, the famously unaware Walter Godefroot, won’t provide any answers either. But I bet Floyd Landis could offer a few suggestions to the young German – provided he doesn’t mind not racing in France for a bit.

Too bad about Kessler, though. I always admired the guy for manning up to finish a Tour stage with a collapsed lung in 2004. I don’t care how much dope you’re jacked up on – that’s some hard guy stuff right there. A decidedly less hard guy is also in hot water on the eve (figuratively speaking) of this year’s Tour – recently re-crowned sprint king Alessandro Petacchi. His offense? Too much asthma medicine. It seems like a stupid exclusion, but as I understand WADA’s draconian rule structure, if Petacchi’s above the the 1000 ng/mL line, then Therapeutic Use Exemption or not, that counts as a doping offense.

Jumping momentarily from those excluded to those inexplicably invited, Cyclingnews has a nice feature on the Barloworld squad. Robbie Hunter aside, I’d still rather see Unibet, or even Tinkoff, toeing the line instead of these guys; that having been said, almost anyone would be a step up from Agritubel. While not nearly as aggressive at recruiting refugee dopers as Team Relax has been, I suppose I can see the ASO harboring some ill will against Tinkoff for hiring Tyler Hamilton and Jorg Jaksche. But excluding an exciting spring performer for purely political reasons really defeats the point of selecting Wild Cards in the first place.

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