If You Try Hard Enough, Everything Is Incongruous

Oct 8 2009

getoutofjailcc2With all the vigor of an ankle-biting yip-dog, the AFLD has refused to release its death grip on the boot of the UCI. After two (or possibly three) doping positives announced in cycling in the last week, the French anti-doping agency has now moved the focus of its anti-UCI tirade to “incongruous” substances found at this year’s Tour de France.

To wit: blood pressure drugs Telmisartan and Quinapril, diabetes drug Sitagliptin—which could, in theory, protect muscle glycogen stores from breakdown—and the anti-convulsive Valpromide. Of course, the AFLD neglected to mention the name of the teams or riders involved, what hotels they were staying at, how frequently these substances were found, etc., because that might lead to some sort of coherent investigation, instead of just muddying the waters.

However impressive this “therapeutic arsenal” might be, the fact remains that none of the substances are on the WADA prohibited list, and since the AFLD is a WADA signatory, they really ought to be more respectful of the protocols that shuffle substances onto and off of that register. As it stands, the only nod to procedure seems to be a dubious claim that AFLD head Pierre Bordry “signalled” WADA about his findings back in July—somehow, I feel that not how most list amendments are made.

I think it’s pretty obvious—the UCI implied as much in their press response—who’s at the other end of Bordry’s leash, and honestly, I’d be fine with this power-play if AFLD had been methodical and open about their methods. A detailed report, with evidence of what they found and how often they found it, released shortly after the TdF, would be a welcome thing, regardless of political motivation; if more drugs need to be added to the list, or if the UCI really does need to step up their control procedures, I want to see it done as much as anyone.

But a sensationalist, week-long media blitz, aimed right at the media gap between the European road and ‘cross seasons is of no help to anyone—except, of course, the dopers. Stefan Schumacher, one of the first riders picked off by the new CERA test is now using the AFLD retesting as grounds to clear his name. Now that anything “incongruous” is an implicit exception to the rules, who knows how many others will follow suit.

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