Thursday, 26 July 2007

Tour de Farce gets even more farcical

After the departure of Vinokourov, I might have been forgiven for hoping the rest of Le Tour would pass without incident. Since then, yellow jersey Michael Rasmussen has been sacked by his team, nominally for lying about his whereabouts in the pre-season, and Cristian Moreni of Cofidis tested positive for testosterone.

Most of the discussion today is about the exit of Rasmussen, unsurprisingly as he was the race leader. However, he denies any wrong doing and there is no evidence he has taken banned substances. The evidence against him is that Davide Cassani supposedly saw him in Italy at a time when he told his team he was in Mexico. He has also missed a number of out-of-competition tests. Rasmussen may be a suspect character, but as Tour director Christian Proudhomme said, 'We cannot say that he cheated'.

The worst thing is the positive test of Moreni. Moreni has not denied doping, and has not asked for his B sample to be tested. He rides for Cofidis, one of the eight teams that staged an anti-doping protest following Vinokourov's exit from the race. Cofidis is supposed to be a clean team, and this is surely a bigger blow to the credibility of the sport's nascent clean up than Rasmussen being sent home.

Amid all this mayhem, the fact that yesterday ETA let off two small explosions along the race route, albeit after the riders had passed, has been almost overlooked.

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