Quick-Stepping Just Ahead of the Authorities

Credit: Wladislaw SojkaYay! Today marks the kick-off of this year’s Tour de France, the 96th version, from Monaco, which will ride through there, through France (of course) and through three other countries (Spain, Italy, and Switzerland) before ending up in Paris on July 26. And you know what all that means: yes, doping! In recent years the drama taking place on France’s (Monaco’s, etc.) highways and byways has reliably been overshadowed by the twists and turns in individual riders’ fortunes caused by bad news emanating out of testing-labs about their urine and blood samples (and even by police raids on teams’ hotels), and then by the deliberations by the cycling authorities about how to react.

Sometimes the sort of doping-drama that has become part-and-parcel of the Tour de France experience has taken place far after the (alleged) winner rode over the finish-line in Paris, so that it has taken until months later for the world to learn which race-results were entirely bogus. But it often gets started early as well, and that certainly is the case this year, as we see in an article from Berlin’s Der Tagesspiegel: Quick-Step defends itself against doping accusations. Basically, Matthias Klappenbach’s piece describes how one of the cycling-teams entered in this year’s Tour, by the name of Quick-Step, already finds itself on the hot-seat. Allegations of doping practices come from one of its former riders, a certain Patrik Sinkewitz, who has specifically accused Quick-Step team leader Patrick Lefévère and team doctor Manuel Rodriguez Alonso of doping their riders – but over the period 2003-2005, it turns out, and in a statement that Sinkewitz submitted to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) in 2007! As Klappenbach reports, it’s only recently that the WADA passed on Sinkewitz’s statement to the International Cycling Union, and it was also only earlier this week that these allegations were made public (in Germany, at least) in a TV program on the German ZDF network, called “Frontal 21.”

Quick-Step is naturally “shocked” at the “false and slanderous” allegations and has signalled its intention to go to court against them. But it needs to be careful, because it’s clear that that team is not really pure as the new-fallen snow: as the Dutch paper Algemeen Dagblad reports (Quick-Step team-leader relieved), Quick-Step team-member Tom Boonen was only allowed yesterday to participate after all in this year’s Tour de France, despite having tested positive for cocaine-use, due to a ruling from the French Olympic Committee’s arbitration panel. He had already been forced to miss last year’s Tour due to being caught for the same thing at a previous point. (Photo credit: Wladislaw Sojka)

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