When word broke out yesterday that Vinokourov was kicked out for blood doping, I was expecting the network that covers cycling in the US (Versus) to drop its regularly scheduled highlights show and provide analysis of the earth shattering news. To my amazement, the standard highlights show was on at 8pm with a little blurb about Vino in text at the bottom of the screen. The text blurb said to tune in tomorrow morning for detailed coverage.
I decided to turn on the TV before I headed off to work this morning. Instead of giving a detailed report, Versus went with a complete unabashed denial. Al Trautwig, one of the cycling commentators, started out the program by mentioning Barry Bonds, Michael Vick, Golf, and crooked NBA refs. Instead of focusing on the news, the Versus commentators tried to make illogical parallels to completely unrelated sporting scandals. Instead of doing actual reporting, this scandal was portrayed by Versus as an example of the “system working.” I kept thinking to myself, this must be what its like watching the nightly news in Russia.
Doping in cycling has no equal. There hasn’t been a clean Tour De France Champion in over a decade. Vinokourov, Rasmussen, Basso, Landis, Armstrong, and Ulrich all doped. Trying to compare it to steroids in baseball is simply ludicrous. One player can not win the world series consecutively by using performance enhancing drugs. In cycling, a top rider can dope his way to victory. There is simply no comparison, cycling is the most crooked sport in existence. Riders can blood dope with their own blood, and never get caught.
When news broke today that team Rabobank fired current race leader Rasmussen, who had basically won this year’s Tour De France, surely the gig was up. There is no way, Versus could brush this off. Today, the commentators basically anointed Rasmussen as this year’s champion. I can’t say I was shocked, but Versus is attempting to play down the scandal yet again.
Sorry, but no matter how hard you try to spin it, this years Tour is complete rubbish. Most of the main contenders were not even in the race at the start because of doping. Versus can try to spin it anyway they like, but there is no comparison to any other sport. What’s left of the current field of this year’s Tour De France is barren. It would be like having every Pro-Bowl NFL player kicked out of football for using steroids. At this point, it doesn’t matter who wins this year’s Tour.