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The Session: Days of the Dope

The Session By Gav Welcome to the Days of the Dope. Really, every day, it’s more doping news. There’s the Contador decision. Which, if you've been underwater for a week, led to a two year ban and the loss of his Tour de France and Giro d'Italia titles for Contador. But don't be sad, he'll be back racing in August.

It's not enough to have a decision. No, we have to have the press conference about the decision. Which! Was fun times, amiright? My favorite part was Riis and The Contract Talk. Riis, he looks so hot when he puts on his Earnest Face. We don’t have a contract with Contador now. Because you know, doping. But we’d really really like to have one in the future. Because ohmigod, he’s so awesome. Just look how awesome he is. We looovveeee him so much.

Raise your hand if you think a contract is already signed? Yes, I think this is entirely possible. And really, you’d hate to see so much love go unrequited.

And then, there’s this. Really, you can’t make this stuff up. You people are seriously going to ride around Spain wearing Contador masks? Boundaries, people, boundaries. Also, we are laughing at you, not with you. Just so you know.

In less amusing matters, the French narcotics police (OCLAESP) paid a visit to the Longo-Ciprelli household on Wednesday. It was not a social call.

The French authorities arrested Patrice Ciprelli, who is accused of buying EPO on the internet. Mise en garde, which is the fancy French word for put in jail pending hearing and other legal stuff. Is it wrong that I always picture this with swords? Or better still, long spears? Not wrong? Good. Anyway, swords aside, this latest news comes rather quickly after the AFLD recently dismissed a case against Jeannie Longo for missed doping controls.

For those of you playing along at home, yes, this is a continuation of the long-running Joe Papp trafficking case. Truly, this case is the gift that just keeps on giving, eh? Amusingly, Ciprelli wasn’t even buying the good stuff, just old-fashioned, first generation EPO. According to reporting by Damien Ressiot (remember him? Oh Damien, so good to see you, how you been?), Ciprelli made two purchases in 2010 and three in 2011. The 2011 purchase reportedly came just before the French National Championship where Longo won the time trial. In another twist, Ciprelli apparently used the address of Longo’s mom for a 2007 shipment.

Less amusing is the inability - or unwillingness? - of doping controls to detect the use of first generation EPO, if in fact, the shipments were used by Longo. Which! We don’t know. I mean, not for sure. They could have been for her dog. Or her mother.

We’ve known for some time that doping controls in women’s cycling are impressive in their absence, though by all accounts the situation is slowly improving. And plenty of riders - including Marianne Vos - have spoken out in favor of more controls with the goals of making women’s racing more fair and more professional. But first generation EPO? How delightfully retro. Does anyone in men’s pro cycling even do that shit anymore? What with the blood doping and the Clen-Clen. EPO? So over.

Of course, retro is all the rage these days. The Court of Arbitration of Sport - the CAS-TAS, which should never be confused with the Cache Cache - announced that it will issue a decision in the Jan Ullrich case. For really? A Jan Ullrich case? I’m tempted to ask Jan, who? But my memory isn’t that bad. He’s that dude who looked crazy fast on a time trial bike and came in second in the Tour de France every year for a while there. I remember! Really I do! But a doping case? Say who-wha? Apparently, this is another gift from Puerto, which is another case that just keeps giving. Anyway, Thursday, there will be a decision on that one case about doping.

On the subject of decisions, did you all do this week’s reading? Because you know there’s going to be a test, right? What reading? Why the Contador case, of course. I mean, they even released it in English. The CAS-TAS, such givers. Hey! CAS-TAS, where was the English on that Valverde case, huh? Too little, too late, that’s what I’m saying.

Anyway, once I got past all that filing shit. Really, could we have condensed that part, or put it in an appendix or something? Yes, we get it! Papers were filed! And translated!

The anonymous witness from 2005-2006, I really wish we got to hear what he had to say. Operation Puerto time, baby! Alas, the court did not find the request for anonymity compelling enough to allow the testimony. Total letdown. Really, I’m just here for the gossip. Legal, shmegal.

“WADA considered it therefore established that the relevant calf was reared and slaughtered in Spain.” Now we’re getting somewhere. I mean, we had the probability talk and now we’re to the cow-killing. Did they use a sword? Because I really want there to be a sword here somewhere.

If there aren’t going to be any swords, maybe TAS-CAS could cut to the chase already? Yes! The arbiters applied strict liability. Lately, they’ve been liking the strict liability. That means, they didn’t exactly claim to know how the Clen-Clen got in the Bert-Bert, but it was there! And since there’s no minimum threshold? There’s no getting around it.

Banhammer! But only until August, because the arbiters decided to apply time-served. Maybe you forgot that part? It was like forever ago, but Contador was suspended provisionally after the positive test was announced in August 2010 and before the Spanish Federation ruled him innocent and before the UCI appealed to the TAS-CAS. TAS-CAS, TAS-CAS, I feel like this should be a song. So, he gets to return to racing faster.

But Contador did lose the Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia. This made him sad, and Andy Schleck only a little less sad. No cause for celebration, said Andy, before going back to his room to play with his unicorns.

Anyway, Contador will be back racing in time for the Vuelta. Maybe even for Saxo Bank. Because Riis really really really wants him. Like so bad. In the meantime, the UCI says maybe Saxo Bank will lose its license. And Vaughters says, oh yeah? Breakaway League. Which, may be like waving a red flag in front of a bull. The UCI, not always doing the smart thing, which would be, avoid the fight, and let Saxo keep racing.

Meanwhile, in Italy, the Giro is crying into the cappucino, because they need a new trophy. Because you know, the results aren’t right anymore. Hey! Giro! The results, they change! Like all the time!

Really, I no longer have any idea who won which race. I look at the results and I think, wait, did that dude test positive, or did I just think he should have tested positive? Or, maybe he tested positive but talked his way out of it? Or, maybe he confessed to attempting to dope and failing rather than actually doping and kept the results? It strains the brain, it does. It’s all a bit surreal. They held a race, and like a party where nobody shows up, nobody actually knows who won.

On the bright side, look at all the doping we’re getting out the way. Done! Gone forever! And hey! Look over there! Boonen won something! See? There’s good shit happening all over the place. You just have to know where to look for it, that’s all.