Today's lead story on VeloNews will fuel the fires of cynicism around this sport.
"VeloNews Exclusive: Ex-cyclist levels doping charges at Rasmussen"
The second graf says it all:
"Whitney Richards, 31, a one-time Colorado-based cross-country racer, told VeloNews that in March of 2002, Rasmussen asked him to transport a box containing cycling shoes. But the shoebox, according to Richards, actually contained bags of an American-made human blood substitute. None of the information Richards provided VeloNews involves allegations of current doping."
My first response: What a dick. Not "How terrible for cycling" or "The Tour didn't need this now" or even "Yup, must be true that all pro cyclists dope." No, what a dick to ask someone to transport your illegal shit across international lines into a country like Italy where doping is not just against the rules, it's against the law, a jailable offense.
Of course, nothing has been proven yet. Who knows if it even can be. I've not heard Rasmussen's side of the story, and he could very well have a perfectly reasonable explanation for this. It certainly came at an interesting time, and whenever I see David Walsh's name I grow a bit skeptical.
But somehow, I feel I could believe it.
If this is true, even if he's not doping now, what a total tool this guy is. If this is true, not only does he deserve to be punished for the doping offense, he deserves to be called out for setting up a fellow cyclist like that.
Where does this leave the Tour leader? I don't know. There is a statute of limitations on stuff like this, and I believe they'll need to show he's doping now to do anything about it now. But who knows. In the current climate, proof of current evildoing is not necessarily necessary to boot someone from a race.
Stay tuned. This'll get interesting.