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Daily Feedbag: Wars of Words

There's little news today, so I figured this space would be best utilized for an update on the sport's chatter.

From BiciRace comes a roundup of the Simoni-Basso mess, where tomorrow it's Ivan Basso's turn to testify in the non-matter. BiciRace makes a good point: that Basso needs thicker skin to be on top. Last think we need is to see him chasing down the next Simeoni in a break. Still, he has a right to remain pissed off. Thanks to the voices in Simoni's head, Basso has to leave his training up by Lake Maggiore (outside Milan) and his family for a day and fly to Rome to speak to an investigator about essentially nothing.

Meanwhile, in France...

In France it was retired Tour director Jean-Marie Leblanc's turn to make a nuisance of himself again, another annual event. Here are some comments from his press conference:

"We don't have all the cards in hand. We can only follow the rhythm of the justice. We're waiting for information from the Spanish justice but we add our determination to that already expressed by UCI president Pat McQuaid. We also appreciate that the AIGCP has told Manolo Saiz that he's not welcome in cycling any more and we approve the courage of Phonak's manager John Lelangue to keep away from racing two of his riders named in the Spanish affair. [We will not hesitate] as soon as we'll have the necessary information. Fifteen days before the start of the Tour de France, the riders of the teams involved must know if they'll start or not. We will not go to Strasburg without having taken a decision.

[The ProTour commission - which is the final arbiter of the awarding of ProTour licences - still has to approve the financial and ethical conditions of Kazakh sponsor Astana taking over from Liberty Seguros, and eventually the presence of Manolo Saiz as a team manager and/or as the owner of Active Bay.] "The facts look overwhelming. This is not sport any more, it's hooliganism!"

Jeesus, what an idiot! How can anyone in such a position be so reckless with his judgment? In one breath he says they don't have all the facts, but before anyone can stop him he pronounces Saiz guilty regardless. Leblanc did the same thing to Lance last year -- he basically picked up a copy of L'Equipe and without any other evidence cried "we've been duped!" Saiz may indeed be guilty, but outside of the investigators nobody has seen the evidence, nobody is qualified to make any official judgments, and Cycling officials at all levels (of both power and intelligence) should know that the less they say right now, the better. For Leblanc, asking him to exercise judgment at any level higher than a 10-year-old is once again asking too much.