Twisted Spoke

My twisted take on the world of pro bike racing.

Posts Tagged ‘LPR Brakes

CONI recommends three-year ban for Di Luca. The evil conspiracy continues.

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The bad news: no kisses for three years.

On this holiday season we thank Danilo di Luca. He is the gift that just keeps giving.

Since testing positive twice for the EPO variant CERA in this year’s Giro, Di Luca has been an entertaining subject.

He’s outraged, he’s defiant, he’s baffled and confused. The dashing, handsome and flamboyant Di Luca gives press conferences, running his hands through his stylish hair as he attempts to explain the inexplicable.

How could this have happened? He has proclaimed his innocence far and wide like Stefan Schumacher, Mikel Astarloza and Davide Rebellin. Somebody else was the guilty party. They’d tampered with his samples, they’d ignored the testing protocols — always the mysterious “they,” the vindictive “them,” the secretive and malicious “somebody” that had singled out di Luca for reasons unknown and sought to destroy him.

Sounds like Di Luca has been watching the whole box set of the X-files. This kind of far fetched story-telling is usually reserved for Hollywood. But then, Di Luca is a huge star in Italy and somebody is trying to kill the self-styled “Killer.”

Happy holidays everyone, Danilo di Luca has the microphone again. When hard science is against you, there’s no point in defending yourself with factual arguments. It’s time to go, megaphone please, Beyond Logic. Di Luca trotted out the time honored “conspiracy theory” once again.

“The UCI knows what it wants. In cycling, it’s always first the hammer, then an apology,” said Di Luca. “It always happens to me before Worlds – and this time the course was tailored for me.” Yes, it’s that big, bad UCI and their mean-spirited dope tests at fault.

The strength and weakness of the conspiracy theory is perfect in cycling. You can’t prove or disprove it. You can keep repeating the theory forever because having no basis in fact, lawyers and scientists can’t argue against it.  And being accepted as truth by Di Luca’s fans, it becomes its own separate reality. The tifosi are immune to rational argument in the same way you’d never convince a hard core Barry Bonds fan that he’d abused the secret sauce.

“I am certain that I will race the next Giro d’Italia,” Di Luca said in August. “I’m ready to wager. I have not taken anything, and there is a possibility, without a doubt, that I will be acquitted.” It’s a natural fit, isn’t it — conspiracy theories and gambling?

The odds don’t look so hot for Di Luca since the UCI isn’t much on farcical theory. The Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) is recommending a three-year ban. They tacked on the extra 12 months to the standard two-year years “for aggravating circumstances.” Which means they think the Italian rider is a jerk and a habitual offender — taking into account his previous suspension in the ‘Oil for Drugs’ doping scandal.

We’re looking at The Killer On Ice. Three years and done. In the meantime, enjoy the comedy. It’s Christmas and Di Luca is in a giving mood.


Written by walshworld

December 17, 2009 at 9:12 am

The conspiracy farce. Danilo Di Luca joins the implausibility parade.

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I'll sign this autograph if you come up with a good conspiracy theory.

I'll sign this autograph if you come up with a good conspiracy theory.

Lies, denials and attempts to discredit labs and testing methodologies are one thing. But far too often accused riders who’ve failed drug tests stretch the limits of credibility by blaming their positive tests on a conspiracy.

Names are never named, theories are never explained, facts uncovered or witnesses produced. There is never any legal or logical plausibility to these conspiracies. They just exist in an ether that is almost supernatural or science fiction.

Today, Danilo di Luca, he of the failed A and B sample taken on two Giro stages, turned desperate with the “conspiracy” theory. Said Di Luca, “I just can’t explain the two positive tests at the Giro. I’m not ruling out a conspiracy but before I can confirm it I have to be sure.” Good luck with that.

There is a long line of such laughable behavior. Alexandre Vinokourov blamed a vague conspiracy to “tarnish our image” and derail his tour de France preparations.

Floyd Landis insisted there was a “conspiracy” at the Chatenay-Malabry lab to discredit him and strip him of his fairly earned Tour de France victory. He spent two million dollars on his defense but very few people believe that yarn.

Following his suspension for doping, Iban Mayo, the Basque super climber, ranted that there was a conspiracy at the UCI. The Saunier Duval rider believed they were out to discredit him for reasons he never made clear, supported or proved.

Marco Pantani, a man filled with delusions of grandeur and the habit of referring to himself in the third person, felt he too was persecuted. The rider once referred to as Mr. 60% for his sky high hematocrit level, alleged he was, you guessed it,  “a victim of a conspiracy.”

Lithuania rider Raimondas Rumsas, third in the 2003 Tour de France, reacted to his doping suspension with an extra twist: the conspiracy was perpetrated by his own team. He followed that outlandish claim with this gem: “It could be that (Lampre) wants to get rid of me…” He had no explanation for the large quantity of doping products the French police found in his wife’s car.

Richard Virenque, the rider at the center of the infamous Festina doping scandal, denied his guilt for years even when three of his team-mates admitted to a whole host of illegal drugs. Before eventually confessing, the winner of seven Polka Dot jerseys went on tv in tears to proclaim his innocence and that yes, he was a victim of a conspiracy.

One thing seems clear: the bigger the ego, the more likely the conspiracy excuse. This far-fetched explanation requires the kind of out-of-control ego that’s lost all concept of truth. The kind of person who believes they operate in a separate universe where all rules and regulations are theirs to twist with no regard for meaning.

Conspiracy theories work well for presidential assassinations, Wall Street financial scandals and Hollywood back stabbing. But it strains credibility in the world of professional cycling. Danilo di Luca is like the kid who claims Nazi frogmen stole his homework.

Next up, Alejandro Valverde. After being banned for two years in Italy, the Spanish rider will most likely have that extended to the rest of the cycling world. Expect a conspiracy explanation from Alejandro very soon. But don’t expect any facts to go with it.

Written by walshworld

August 27, 2009 at 5:06 pm

Danilo di Luca still racing despite suspension. It’s just not bike racing.

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Danilo Di Luca rides to his lawyers offices.

Danilo Di Luca rides to his lawyers offices.

Danilo di Luca, the man they call “the killer,” is racing, folks. No, not on his $5000 LPR Brakes bike — he’s racing from lawyer to lawyer. These are busy days for the soon-to-be-banned star.

We’ve sketched an imaginary day for the now disgraced and terminated rider, nailed with an A & B sample positive for CERA-EPO.

9am. 5 cups of espresso. He’s depressed, down on his heels and needs a pick-me-up for the long legal days ahead.

10am to 12noon. Meetings with lawyers in desperate attempt to come up with a legal strategy that people won’t laugh at.

12noon. Conference call with accountants. Talking on the UCI, WADA and CONI costs money. Jeez, first the Ferrari breaks down, now this! Contemplate bankruptcy.

Quick call to wife to remind her no expensive vacations for the foreseeable future. Tense moment: explaining that manicures and pedicures are also off her spend list.

12:30 to 1pm. Lunch at the house. Save money, avoid the press and those people just staring and pointing fingers at him.

1 to 2pm. Nap-time. Crawl into bed and pull the blankets up. Sweating, restless, keep putting my thumb in my mouth. Why?

2-3. Put the LPR team race bikes up for sale on ebay before they’re confiscated by sponsor. Fire off rambling cell phone rant about innocence and honor to Italian sporting press.

2-5. Meetings with 2nd group of lawyers in desperate attempt to come up with another legal strategy that people won’t laugh at.

5-6. Bernard Kohl, Stephan Schumacher, Mikel Astarolza, Riccaro Ricco, Michael Rasmussen, Roberto Heras, Ivan Basso, Davide Rebellin, Emanuele Sella, Jan Ullrich, Tyler Hamilton and Floyd Landis call to offer condolences. What nice guys! They know I’m innocent!

6 to 6:30. Attempt to start autobiography How “The Killer” Was Killed. Too depressed to write — where’s the happy ending? Drink bottle of wine — what? It’s almost dinnertime anyway.

6:30 to 7. Wander aimlessly in backyard. What is the meaning of life? What is fate and destiny? Why has no one pulled these weeds?

Dinner. No appetite except for chocolate. I’m getting fat already. Could take an appetite suppressent but those UCI pigs would be all over me.

9 to 11pm. Watch American Idol in Italian. So angry Paula Abdul is leaving the show. She’s still hot at 47. Loved that Opposites Attract CD.

Midnight. Am I sleepwalking? Why am I standing naked in front of the fridge holding this celery stalk. I’ve won the Giro, for crissakes. What’s happening to me?

1am. Call to lawyer with another outlandish legal strategy. Bedtime.

Written by walshworld

August 12, 2009 at 5:55 pm

Danilo di Luca and doping denials: the A to Z story.

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I am innocent. Test results mean nothing!

I am innocent. Test results mean nothing!

What does a positive A sample really mean? Nothing. All riders immediately proclaim innocence. It’s a knee jerk thing.

When the positive B sample comes back, most athletes continue to deny the evidence. The explanation is always that the lab is at fault, bumbling some obscure protocol.

Other riders simply snarl and foam at the mouth and invent bizarre conspiracy theories. Our question is, how many positive drug test results would it take before a rider tells the truth.

Let’s take the sad case of Danilo di Luca (LPR Brakes) and his positive A & B samples. We can easily imagine the following scenario:

Positive C result. “I’m not guilty, look how they persecute me by doing three tests. Three is a crowd, I say.”

Positive D result. “My lawyers will show no mercy. They defend pathetic criminals all the time. Not that I am one.”

Positive E result. “I dispute these results. That lab couldn’t test for sugar in a candy bar.”

Positive F result. “This is an insult to my Italian manhood. That is why the test results are inaccurate. You cannot measure a man such as I.”

Positive G result. “They will never break me like they did Pantani. I am innocent, just as he was.”

Positive H result. “I did not take CERA. I might have taken SARAH Lee, but that is a cake.”

Positive I result. “My lawyers are suing the UCI, WADA, CONI and every other acronym they can find.

Positive J result. “I am the victim of a conspiracy. Someone must have dumped that CERA in my Bolognese sauce when I wasn’t looking.”

Positive K result. “L stands for Lies. My fans know the truth even though they’re deaf and blind and immune to scientific fact. The Tifose stand behind me.”

Positive L result. “One of the lab technicians was wearing an off-white lab coat instead of a white one.  A clear violation of testing protocol.”

Positive M result. “This is a CIA plot to defame me. Or it’s the Russians. Maybe the Chinese. I cannot explain why.”

Positive N result. “My conscience is clear. An overwhelming body of factual evidence means nothing compared to my word.”

Positive O result. “My samples were tested in France. They hate Italians — ever since the wars of 1551 with Henry the Second. Don’t ask me how I know this stuff.

Positive P result. “I am like Ghandi. The people love me. They understand that I must suffer because I am a saint.”

Positive Q result. “I will spend every last lira to defend my reputation. Actually, I did just spend my last lira. Perhaps Floyd Landis will loan me money.”

Positive R result. “Ha, they think they can wear me down with their relentless alphabetical attacks. I will win this battle.”

Positive S result. “I will never stop repeating the truth in the face of their lies. I plug my ears, I close my eyes, I am an angry 6 year old.”

Positive T result. “I have suffered under this stress. Look, I have a gray hair. But I still have my integrity.

Positive U result. “They call me “the Killer.” I will kill them all. I would rather go to prison for murder than listen to these unfounded lies.”

Positive V result. “They cannot touch me. I have moved to Iceland. I hate cycling. I am taking up dog sledding.”

Positive W result. “I am innocent. I will repeat this a million times until people forget puny things like evidence.”

Positive X result. “A conscience? A moral code? Ethics? I do not need these things. That is why I am so light on my bike.”

Positive Y result. “Y? This is what I ask myself? Why, why, why? What is a test? Is this life? Is this meaning? Is it love? I have become a philosopher.”

Positive Z result. “You see? I have won. They are out of letters and I am still here, innocent and honest. I will see you after my two year suspension. I hate you all.”

Written by walshworld

August 8, 2009 at 3:45 pm