|12. Tour de France 2006
On July 1, 2006, the Tour de France began, in spite of a situation
so destructive it seemed like cycling was doomed.
As a firestorm of doping controversy erupted, nine riders were not
allowed to start the race. The repercussions affected everyone in the sport,
and the public. The aftershocks continue.
It’s a long story; sad, frustrating, and full of grief. There are
many sources for interested readers. But there’s little satisfaction to
be gotten from reading it.
Lumped together and flippantly referred to as The Puerto Nine, the
riders in question were accused, either explicitly or with no explanation,
of association with Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes. Fuentes, a sports doctor with
many clients in cycling and other sports, has played the role of chief villain
in the Tour 2006 doping drama.
Among these nine individuals--nine men with nine different backgrounds,
needs, and aspirations--was Alberto Contador.
Although he was immediately cleared of any implications, Contador
and his family have had no choice but to endure the mudslinging of Operacion
Entries to the Notebook for the next few days will show some of the
frustration and heartache he experienced as a result of the multi-layered
and massively screwed-up situation that came to a head at the beginning
of last year’s Tour. They’re presented here as a testament to Alberto’s
maturity and character.
I also wanted to include these entries because by giving a window
into one individual’s experience, we might be inclined to look more objectively
into the cases of others. Contador is one of many who’ve had to put up
with injustices, arbitrariness, and suspicion. They all deserve individual
justice. They can’t all be measured with the same ruler. Cyclists thrill
the public and line the pockets of race organizers and sponsors. Yet, blame
for doping scandals is placed on their shoulders.
Hypocrisy exists at all levels of pro cycling. When all echelons of
the sport accept responsibility for the doping issue and work together,
only then will solutions be found. Solving problems through cooperation
is hard work. It’s a painstaking process that should be put under the supervision
of a committed and fair-minded arbitrator. It takes time. It can’t be delivered
with a sucker punch or advocated in the unsavory bluster of blogs.
People are suffering.
Alberto Contador in the Alps
2005 Dauphiné Libéré
Race organizers, without real solutions to the
problem of doping but with plenty of hypocrisy,
panicked on the eve of the 2006 Tour in the wake
of the Operacion Puerto scandal. It cost climbing
sensation Contador and his team a place in the
race. Contador was then cleared of any
involvement in the scandal but the damage was done.
|Race Report, Stage 12
Montpellier - Castres, 178.5km
“I don’t expect to lose much time on the top riders in the
That was Alberto’s wish on the eve of the all-important time trial
at Albi. Discovery Channel’s highest-placed rider arrives Saturday in fine
fettle, once again staying free of trouble in today’s sprint finish.
“Today got off to a very fast start until the 65-kilometer mark. It
was very windy, and it got quite difficult. Then we had a dangerous descent
of the Category 2 climb, but it worked out fine, and we got to the sprint
without any mishaps.”
Tomorrow Alberto will view the parcours in the morning, “but only
to look at it. I don’t think we’ll test any of it on bikes. It’s a bit
of a mystery what the outcome will be for me. But in any case, I’d
rather the time trial was now than in the first week. I don’t expect to
lose much time on the top riders in the GC.”
Alberto takes heart because of his current ranking, and is optimistic.
“Before taking the start in London, I didn’t think about this. I was only
thinking about doing a good Tour. If someone had said to me it was going
to be like this, I’d have voted for it. It’s true that I’ve lost some
seconds because of that puncture, but in spite of everything I was not
expecting to be so high in the GC.”
Stage 12 43rd s.t. Boonen
Young rider 10th s.t.
GC 5th 3:08
Young rider 1st, 57:40.18