Monday, February 06, 2012

Speaking Of Sport

Alberto Contador has been stripped of his 2010 Tour de France title after he was unable to convince the Court of Arbitration for Sport that the test results showing he had ingested clenbuterol were erroneous, or more accurately, picked up traces from meat he had eaten. The panel showed great insight by pointing out it was more likely ingested by a "contiminated food supplement," (i.e. pill.)
Contrast this with the fact that the US Federal government closed their investigation of Lance Armstrong over allegations he not only used performance-enhancing medications, but pushed them on other teammates. No charges will be filed.
This two-year investigation was likely the last Armstrong will be subject to, now that he has ended his professional athletic career, but is also one of at least a half dozen investigations that have throughly looked into the matter and have either cleared Armstrong or refused to level charges.
Some would say that's because of Armstrong's pull and his public persona, but here's the thing: Contador had similar pull with the international cycling and sport federations as a multi-time Tour winner and as one of only five men to win the trifecta of the Giro d-Italia, Tour de France and Vuelta d'Espana in the same season. Even Armstrong had not pulled that off. The 2010 victory was arguably one of the most exciting bike races in history, as Contador won by the same margin he gained over eventual second place finisher (and now likely champion) Andy Schleck when Schleck threw a chain on his bike.
True, Armstrong is a pretty likable guy, especially after his involvement with his Livestrong organization, while Contador's history is littered with other riders (including, ironically, Armstrong) he's used to climb his way to the top, so there's less loyalty for Contador.
But then, Armstrong's personal history is pretty ugly, in and of itself, so six of one, half a dozen of the other.
For me, there's a certain schadenfreude in seeing an uberaggressive (steroidally so?) rider bumped down a notch. I wonder, had Contador done the gentlemanly thing (and bike racing is nothing if not genteel in such matters) and waited for Schleck when his chain slipped, if any of this would have happened?