Friday, October 19, 2012

Orange, Crushed

Time to go.
In a sport whose teams change title sponsors faster than a bastard from a Texas trailer park changes baby mamas, Rabobank has for 17 years provided consistent, professional and enthusiastic support for road racing at its highest level.  But now it’s gone.  The Netherlands-based bank has lost faith.

“Rabobank has come to this decision following publication of the report from the American doping authority USADA last week,” the company said in a news release today.  “It is with pain in our heart, but for the bank this is an inevitable decision.  We are no longer convinced that the international professional world of cycling can make this a clean and fair sport.  We are not confident that this will change for the better in the foreseeable future.”

So, Rabobank believes USADA.  There must be some other player within the “international professional world of cycling” in which the bank has no confidence.  You would have to be pretty thick not to recognize the UCI as the target of this criticism.  Rabobank’s departure is a huge blow to cycling and we can only hope that it will be the straw that breaks the backs of the jackasses who govern the sport.  I don’t know whether the UCI can be salvaged under new management—maybe it’s time for ASO or a breakaway league to assert itself—but things cannot continue as they are.

Here’s what all the armchair lawyers fail to understand while they’re screaming about “due process” and “fundamental human rights” and all of that shit: In the end, professional cycling is just entertainment, nothing more.  Proof beyond a reasonable doubt is something the public demands in a murder case but not in a doping investigation.  Go back almost two years and re-read my post on Garmin-CervĂ©lo’s firing of Matt White, whose recent confession has sent ripples through Australian cycling: in a sport whose credibility with the general public is so damaged by doping scandals, the mere appearance of impropriety is grounds for censure.  As a large international business, Rabobank gets that.  So does Nike, Trek, Anheuser-Busch, etc.

Without the sort of stable sponsorship that Rabobank provided, cycling cannot exist as a truly professional sport.  The UCI must now accept the findings in the USADA report not just as they pertain to Lance Armstrong, but also as they pertain to weaknesses and corruption within the UCI itself.  And Pat McQuaid must go.  If the UCI is to continue at all, then as its president he must accept responsibility for its past failures.

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