Oh, By the Way …

Oh, By the Way …

There’s a brief press release on the Union Cycliste Internationale’s web site in which the organization “confirms” that Russian ex-pro Denis Menchov has received a two-year ban and been stripped of his results at the 2009, 2010 and 2012 Tours de France. By brief, I mean that the release is but five sentences long. The ban, suspension and vacation of results are based on biological passport findings. The investigation was initiated in 2013, though we know neither what initiated the investigation nor who initiated it. If we knew when in 2013 the investigation was begun it might give us some insight into whether this came after Brian Cookson assumed the mantle of the presidency of the UCI.

Menchov retired in 2013, citing a knee injury that hampered his form, so a suspension that runs to 2015 is useful in the same way suggesting marriage counseling is after you’ve been served with papers.

Left standing are his 2009 Giro d’Italia victory, his 2011 seventh at the Giro and his fifth at the Vuelta a Espana, plus numerous stage wins. They retain the credibility of a jailhouse informant. His ’05 and ’07 wins at the Vuelta? Even less.

The nose on this particular glass of wine starts with dung. Dissatisfaction can be served hot or cold. It’s dissatisfaction, after all. Frustration is nearly unavoidable with such an incomplete story that occurs so long after the paint had dried. So it would be easy to chastise the UCI for late and incomplete action.

But we have a choice in how we view this.

This is what progress looks like. Let me cite another example. Is the Toyota Prius the perfect car? Nope. But it gets great mileage, is a good deal greener than my Subaru and thanks to the numbers of it being sold in the market, it is helping drive hybrid technology forward. It will probably be noted by historians as an important step in moving cars away from hydrocarbons.

I’m willing to bet that had Pat McQuaid remained president of the UCI, this case would not have been initiated. And even if it had, it might never have reached the point of adjudication. I’m willing to believe that there’s a chance he would have received a phone call telling him to be more careful. Alberto Contador’s positive at the ’10 Tour de France wasn’t announced until October. That suggests we almost never found out about it.

Turning a big organization is like turning a cruise ship. These things do not happen quickly. I’m willing to grant Cookson credit for seeing this through.

Mopping after a flood isn’t completed in one pass.


  1. Sidamo

    I’m not so sure. It’s great that Menchov finally has an official black mark next to his name, but the communication aspects of the case are troubling, particularly Cookson’s comments that they won’t be announcing any future cases. They’ll merely be added to the list of sanctions, quietly published in a back-corner of the UCI web site. That’s nothing like the transparency etc. he was talking about in the run-up to his election.

  2. Aar

    Great journalism. Thanks for giving this story all of the light of day you can.

    Not to detract from the core point of the article at all, Hydrocarbon emissions are only one measure of “green”. The marginal fuel mileage advantage of hybrids is hard pressed to offset the severe damage caused by mining that much lithium. I tend to think of my wife’s VW diesel and your Subaru as greener than any Prius when measured on net environmental impact.

  3. Emil

    Thanks for the different perspective. I had been looking at this as ‘WTF took so long and why wasn’t Menchov dq’d from his Giro results’. Much better to approach it as you suggest!

  4. Marvo larvo

    Would it kill them to provide more details? You need to change more than just one guy at the UCI—the system is broken

  5. SusanJane

    I’ve gotten wind of the conspiracy thing again. Under every rock is a bad guy. Frankly why should we call press conferences? Who does it serve? What benefit does it have to anyone anywhere? To begin with I was only o.k. about it — another doping positive kind of needed to be on every t.v., newspaper, and web site because it was about shame and proof. _Shame_ the rider, shame the team, shame the unlisted suppliers, shame on you professional cycling. _Proof_ that we have caught another one — proof that the tests were verified and the guilty being taken to legal ends. I’m perfectly happy to be past the big deal, make noise, phase. The results are publicly available. Do we really need power point presentations every time forever? I don’t think so.

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