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Why Alberto Contador is Cycling's One True Champion

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Why Alberto Contador is Cycling's One True Champion

05 Feb 2016 22:03

I posted this in the "Will Contador be Juiced" thread, but it's long and a lot to think about, and covers something I think important in the sport of cycling - or what remains of the sport. So I'm posting it here as a separate thread in hope of facilitating discussion.

Herein I explain as best I can, a) why Contador is a significant figure in cycling - its one true champion - and why his sanction for clenbuterol is largely irrelevant; b) why Sky doping is all but a certainty; and, c) why this is not mere fan favoritism.

Today, in 2016, it's pretty much settled business that cyclesport and doping go hand in hand. They always have. Starting with the end of the Armstrong era and going back through the decades we have it on record that virtually the entire GC was doped. The missing bits, the GC riders whose doping is not documented, are few indeed; but given what is documented, and given as well the attitude of the sport as a whole towards doping, we can infer that while there may have been, literally, one or two or three exceptions - it's possible - the entire GC was doped. If there were exceptions, then, they prove the rule: it's a sport that relies on PEDs.

Fans and sponsors and teams alike regarded this fact with complete equanimity until the death of Tom Simpson in 1967. Since then, however, it's been kept increasingly on the down-low.

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Keeping it on the down-low opened the sport to all kinds of corruption: intimidation, blackmail, bribery, sabotage, cover-ups, and race-fixing (though, admittedly, race-fixing has always had a role regardless). The UCI, which exists to govern the sport, was not immune from this corruption but complicit in it, due to its additional role of protecting and promoting the sport. Chosen, money-making riders such as Armstrong were protected; while their adversaries and lesser lights were popped. This served to prop up the money making while giving the impression of fighting PED use. Outside of the favored few, then, riders were subject to being caught, and sanctioned, if they stepped out of line, pissed off the wrong person, or simply made a mistake in implementing their own program.

After Armstrong - and after the interlude of Landis, which is its own story, one in which Verbruggen and Armstrong possibly had a hand - cycling had a new champion, Alberto Contador. Contador was an upcoming race leader of the classical European mold, and molded by the sport itself: talented, dedicated, solely focused on his sport. He kept his head down and his mouth shut and followed orders and in so doing met with great success. So far, so good. What had not yet been tested, though - or even forged, even after his first TdF win - was his true mettle as a champion. This finally happened when Armstrong decided to come back - to the team, it turned out, led by Contador himself.

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Now this Spanish boy who had always kept his head down and followed orders faced a true dilemma. What is a champion to do when cycling's capo dei capi, the UCI's own favored son, Verbruggen and Pat's best partner, and BFF of his own team manager, comes back determined to usurp the young champion's role, which the capo dei capi feels is rightfully his and his alone? If the Spanish boy knuckles under he concedes to himself and everyone watching that the champions' role was never truly his and never can be. But if he defies the bosses he has a very clear inkling, this son of cycling, of what's in store.

Well, we know how he responded and how the story played out. We know he won that Tour and how, subsequently, the next year, his blood sample was sent off for extra-special, extraordinary scrutiny - which turned up one one-millionth of a gram of clenbuterol, a controlled substance. And so he was duly sanctioned.

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In standing up to these creeps and their coercion, in insisting on his role as champion even despite implied consequences, Contador actually proved himself to be champion. Not their champion, but ours, the fans and the riders - for if it isn't our sport, whose is it? In defying them, Contador stole some fire from the mountain (to take a line from Steve Jobs) and brought it back to where it rightfully belongs: away from the corrupt creeps controlling the sport, controlling its teams and riders, back to those who make the sport.

In doing this he redeemed himself as a man, as an athlete, and as champion - and he redeemed the honor of the sport, as well, even if only for a moment. He paid a price - the sanction - as he must have inferred he would; but this sanction, too, was redeemed - absolved - by what he achieved and reclaimed, for himself and for us.

Image

Now the UCI has a new golden boy, a new money making machine: Rupert Murdoch, in the guise of the miraculous Sky team and its unlikely leader, Chris Froome. The Sky team and an entire nation of new, newly enthusiastic, naive, money spending fans.

Given the history, culture, context, and control of the sport as outlined above; and given as well their arguably suspect exploits and antecedents; and given additionally all the money being minted, and even national and corporate soft power being projected: it seems reasonable to look upon Sky with the most wary of eyes, and to question what those eyes think they see.

Cycling has a new golden boy, but as of now it has only one true champion: Alberto Contador.

Agree? Disagree? Discuss.
Last edited by Maxiton on 05 Feb 2016 22:17, edited 1 time in total.
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Re:

05 Feb 2016 22:30

He won 3 GTs by the time he was the same age as Froome when he got 2nd at La Vuelta. He had much better U23 results too.

There's astonishing natural talent there but I wouldn't go as far as the OP though, it was a case of right person, right time. Always believed that the clen positive was pay back for 2009. McQuaid almost certainly asked for "extra special scrutiny" :rolleyes:
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05 Feb 2016 22:43

This was meant tongue-in-cheek, right?

The findings that UCI was giving Contador favorable treatment (as Gooner mentioned in the other thread) is worth mentioning.
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06 Feb 2016 09:36

I don't know if he's the one true champion but he is a true cycling champion. Very nice post, Maxiton. If anyone ever asks why I support a "known doper" I'll send them this thread :p Oh, and that picture of Alberto and Lance on the podium always makes me laugh :D
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Re:

06 Feb 2016 09:42

LaFlorecita wrote:I don't know if he's the one true champion but he is a true cycling champion. Very nice post, Maxiton. If anyone ever asks why I support a "known doper" I'll send them this thread :p Oh, and that picture of Alberto and Lance on the podium always makes me laugh :D

If anyone ever asks you why you support a known doper tell them it's your right to support whoever you want want.

Simple as that. Don't give in to the bullying attempts from fans of dopers who didn't get caught. You are your own person.
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Re: Why Alberto Contador is Cycling's One True Champion

06 Feb 2016 09:46

Maxiton wrote:<snip>

Herein I explain as best I can, a) why Contador is a significant figure in cycling - its one true champion - and why his sanction for clenbuterol is largely irrelevant; . . . c) why this is not mere fan favoritism.

<snip>


It seems you are basically romanticising the fact that he doped up very heavy to beat lance.
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06 Feb 2016 09:50

..........alberto with his handsome/stylish demeanour...................

the fans favourite..............................................good story from the OP

surely? the OP has it wrong this pointless thread should disappear elsewhere

Mark L
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Re:

06 Feb 2016 09:56

gooner wrote:He's a fraud. End of.


The world has never been and never will be black and white. Everyone who thinks otherwise have some sort of personal bias blinding their eyes.
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Re:

06 Feb 2016 09:57

gooner wrote:He's a fraud. End of.

I find it surprising that you don't like maxitons post because what he is doing is exactly the same thing that the footy and cycling journos that you always praise, do all the time.

He takes a simple mundane every day action from the sport, and makes it out to be something far more meaningful and heroic and historically important than it was
Like how in walshs book brailsford telling the team about the next stage was compared to an ex king giving a speech on the eve of a history changing battle. Froome setting foot on French soil was compared to the first Europeans setting foot in the Americas.

Similarly maxiton paints contador as taking a noble stand against lance. He praises him for embodying European tradition.

All contador really did was dope and pedal fast, but that's the 21st century sports media.

But haven't you appreciated this type of writing far more when it's about Brits / football players?
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Re: Why Alberto Contador is Cycling's One True Champion

06 Feb 2016 10:01

The Hitch wrote:It seems you are basically romanticising the fact that he doped up very heavy to beat lance.

But Hitch, isn't praising an exploit in cycling always romanticising doping, in some way? In my opinion it is best to view cycling seperate from all the doping drama.
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Re:

06 Feb 2016 10:03

ebandit wrote:..........alberto with his handsome/stylish demeanour...................

the fans favourite..............................................good story from the OP

Mark L

I completely agree, Mark. What a great story and indeed Alberto is a very handsome and stylish cyclist and man. It is very clear why so many people like him, what a rider! :)
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Re: Why Alberto Contador is Cycling's One True Champion

06 Feb 2016 10:48

LaFlorecita wrote:But Hitch, isn't praising an exploit in cycling always romanticising doping, in some way?

well yeah, and that's where the whole circus starts, the primitive fact that so many still need heroes to worship.
there's nothing principally wrong with that, we're all human and all need something to help deflect from our mundane problems. For some that's sport, for others its music, and some just grab the bottle.

But it explains the insane amounts of gullibility among fans and their blind trust in pro athletes, and so it's the seed of fraud and cheating as it creates a culture among fans and press alike where fraud and cheating is tacitly accepted.

Football is the most clear-cut case in point, all these guys making millions a year and still defrauding the tax system. Yet the fans/press don't care.

Contador being heroified by some in spite of his doping is also a symptom, although peanuts compared to what soccer players get away with and are apologized for.

I'm pretty happy to have no sporting heroes left, even if in the clinic this is often awkwardly claimed to mean that you can't enjoy cycling (or sport in general).
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Re: Why Alberto Contador is Cycling's One True Champion

06 Feb 2016 11:12

The Hitch wrote:
It seems you are basically romanticising the fact that he doped up very heavy to beat lance.


The Hitch wrote:
gooner wrote:He's a fraud. End of.

I find it surprising that you don't like maxitons post because what he is doing is exactly the same thing that the footy and cycling journos that you always praise, do all the time.

He takes a simple mundane every day action from the sport, and makes it out to be something far more meaningful and heroic and historically important than it was
Like how in walshs book brailsford telling the team about the next stage was compared to an ex king giving a speech on the eve of a history changing battle. Froome setting foot on French soil was compared to the first Europeans setting foot in the Americas.

Similarly maxiton paints contador as taking a noble stand against lance. He praises him for embodying European tradition.

All contador really did was dope and pedal fast, but that's the 21st century sports media.

But haven't you appreciated this type of writing far more when it's about Brits / football players?


Good response to Gooner, Hitch. But I think your response to me

It seems you are basically romanticising the fact that he doped up very heavy to beat lance.

All contador really did was dope and pedal fast, but that's the 21st century sports media.


and to my analysis, is essentially reductive. What I'm really doing, or trying to do, is what your namesake, Christopher Hitchens, did so much better and on a larger scale: expose the essential truth under a public narrative and uncover the machinations of the power brokers lurking behind the scenes. Of course, he was talking, usually, about the world at large and far more powerful people such as Henry Kissinger, whereas I'm talking about the microcosm that is pro cycling and pigmy tyrants like Hein Verbruggen. But the idea is the same in spirit - even if obviously not the same in level of execution.

The thing about sport is that it's supposed to be a metaphor for our own struggles. That's what makes it important, in the end, and what makes it interesting. And that's why people are up in arms when it's distorted by corruption and tyranny; but then corruption and tyranny are too often part of our own struggles, as well, so there can still be something to learn from it.

I see Verbruggen as the tyrant behind the sport. He was (and may still be) the man pulling the strings. Pat was just his stand in, his puppet. Pat is gone now, but Verbruggen is still there - so who knows about Cookson and their relationship.

Recall that no rider in seven years beat Armstrong, and nothing could touch him. Every rider who might have posed a real threat was busted, or driven out of the sport for some other reason. Pantani, the first threat, is the first example - and he ended up dead. I'm not saying, of course, that Verbruggen or Armstrong had anything to do with the death (although, frankly, if it turned out they did I would not be surprised). Ulrich was the perfect foil for Armstrong because he gave him a good race without ever winning. (An interviewer once asked Ulrich if he felt bad about never winning. "No, not at all," Ulrich replied, "I usually come in second to the best cyclist in the world. I think that's pretty good.")

Recall that Verbruggen and Armstrong were business partners, thick as thieves. Right after the latter's retirement they tried to buy the Tour itself, but the price was too high, they couldn't raise the financing. They needed to find a way to lower its value, or at the very least punish ASO for not selling it to them. Boom, Landis is popped. (I first pointed this out in an obscure thread on this forum, only to see Race Radio a few minutes later suggest the idea as though it were his own in a more popular thread, and then say he was going to get word to Landis. I hope he did.)

The whole Armstrong era was one big corrupt construction of Verbruggen, in my opinion. He and his closest cronies - Pat, Armstrong, Bruyneel, and probably a few lab heads - controlled the sport, and no team, no rider, no journalist dared stand up to them. Anyone who tried to had his career destroyed.

That all changed from inside their own team, with the young champion from Pinto. For him to do that, as I've written previously, was no small thing. It took cojones of cold steal, not carbon, and the heart of a champion.

By the way, it's good to read your input. I was wondering where you were.
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Re: Re:

06 Feb 2016 11:13

The Hitch wrote:I find it surprising that you don't like maxitons post because what he is doing is exactly the same thing that the footy and cycling journos that you always praise, do all the time.

He takes a simple mundane every day action from the sport, and makes it out to be something far more meaningful and heroic and historically important than it was
Like how in walshs book brailsford telling the team about the next stage was compared to an ex king giving a speech on the eve of a history changing battle. Froome setting foot on French soil was compared to the first Europeans setting foot in the Americas.

Similarly maxiton paints contador as taking a noble stand against lance. He praises him for embodying European tradition.

All contador really did was dope and pedal fast, but that's the 21st century sports media.

But haven't you appreciated this type of writing far more when it's about Brits / football players?


I sure have. Just a couple of weeks ago. I also pointed this out to Rob Draper with the Mail on twitter.

gooner wrote:As was seen on Twitter, all these football journalists couldn't wait to have an opinion on the IAAF scandal. Yet couldn't be bothered to ask questions of their own sport.
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06 Feb 2016 11:54

For me cycling is entertainment and I don't care if Alberto is a fraud or not. I wouldn't really care if Alberto is moto-doping if he beats Froome in the TDF as long as he doesn't get caught and it isn't too obvious. Don't like moto-doping but I'm prepared to look the other way in certain situations.

On a generally level I have come to accept pharmacological doping. But there has to be some balance, I don't like when certain countries/athletes/teams get away with much more than others. Nor do I like when matches/races are fixed etc. But that's how the world works. It's never a level playing field.
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heart

06 Feb 2016 12:22

LaFlorecita wrote:
ebandit wrote: favourite

I completely agree


.........laflo.............i too like alberto...........i am happy when he wins

........however often it is best not to be too swayed by one's heart and remember

to think good...............and hard

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06 Feb 2016 12:31

Contador's career involves more chemicals than BASF's entire range of product offerings.
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06 Feb 2016 12:56

OK, this spilling over from the other thread is just ridiculous.

You don't know (and likely never will) how Contador doped.

Studies have shown that the effects of doping are far reaching. Prior to 2008, Contador could've been doping with HGH, Cortisone and CERA without any need to microdose. And synthetic testosterone to far larger extents, as CIR tests were far less commonplace (yes, they are still too rare even today). Add that up with whatever riders are using nowadays and Contador could really be one of the most chemically enhanced riders of all time. We really can't know.

Is he the greatest fraud ever? Probably not. The greatest champion? Have you lost all sense of perspective?

AC's a fun rider. He animates races and seems like a friendly guy, generally well liked in the peloton. He always goes for the win, damn the torpedoes. You are of course free to be his fan. But you need a reality check. There's a thread right below (as of when I started writing) with some of the greatest jumps of all time. Give "Contador on Verbier", or "Contador doing trackstands with the Chicken" another watch and get back to me.

Also, I know that this is The Clinic, and that I've written other rants to this effect before, but there is a chance that whatever Sky et alia are using to get the weight down without losing power are methods/substances not classified as doping agents per se. And more importantly there are guys working harder than ever to ensure that whatever it is will not be as dangerous as doping agents of the past. Maybe despite all the bureaucracy and the regulations and the purported independence they're but the same tools in a different cog. I don't know. But the fight against doping in sport, whatever else you think of it, is not irrelevant. Maybe it's ultimately useless. Maybe it's completely pointless in the sporting sense. But getting guys off GQ1516, off massive doses of testosterone, getting riders' hematocrits below 50%: these things matter. Whatever else may be going on, whatever deliberations that can be made on the mercurial vicissitudes between frauds and champions, or the sheer banality or absolute necessity of having purity in sport; that, at least, is a good thing. Seriously, some people in this thread are going on like the lives of the cyclists are completely disposable, like if nothing matters as long they get their entertainment. However in denial or stupid or uninformed you wish to make me out to be, I would not be in any way supporting this sport if I though that, whatever it's failings, professional cycling was that corrupt. YMMV, truly.
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Re: Why Alberto Contador is Cycling's One True Champion

06 Feb 2016 13:08

LaFlorecita wrote:
The Hitch wrote:It seems you are basically romanticising the fact that he doped up very heavy to beat lance.

But Hitch, isn't praising an exploit in cycling always romanticising doping, in some way? In my opinion it is best to view cycling seperate from all the doping drama.


Not if you are trying to argue this particular doped rider did something different to the other ones with quotes like this.

"brought it back to where it rightfully belongs: away from the corrupt creeps controlling the sport"
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06 Feb 2016 13:09

When people talk about good dopers vs bad dopers, I usually think in terms of, say, Kimmage, Manzano and Jaksche vs Armstrong, Jalabert and Riis, not in terms of Contador vs Froome.
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