Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Falling Leaves & Dry Heaves

The sun has set on the 2006 Pro Tour. The season finished in storybook fashion for Paolo Bettini, who rode the Giro di Lombardia with the strength of two men. He rode flat out up the final climbs, nearly crashed about six times on the descents, including one amazing near-miss of knee and armco, and finally reduced Fabio Wegmann -- the only rider almost able to keep pace -- to shedding tears of pain. Literally. Bettini cried also, crossing the line with his brother's accidental death a week earlier still weighing heavy on his heart. The Race of the Falling Leaves was, in a word, spectacular.

And now, the dry heaves. The duodenumic duo, Ballester and Walsh, last seen excreting their tidy little duece of character assassination, LA Confidential, in which they accuse Lance Armstrong of doping throughout his seven -- SEVEN -- tour wins, are back for Round Two. This time it's LA Official (my but they are a creative pair, non?). But don't misjudge them:
The book's co-author, Pierre Ballester, said their aim was not a relentless pursuit of Armstrong.

"It's a vital addition to an inquiry which throws the spotlight back on claims which in the past tried to reveal Armstrong's personality," Ballester told AFP.

"(He is) a rider whose career has been characterised by lies and cheating, but who nonetheless left the sport unsanctioned, unblemished and untouchable."
There is, of course, a reason Lance left the pro peloton unsanctioned, unblemished and untouchable: despite being the most-tested athlete in the history of sports, Lance never failed a dope test -- not once. This time around, the "evidence" is straight out of the Journal of Parapsychology. Australian doctor Michael Ashenden flatly states that "There's no doubt: he used doping products." Of course, Ashenden was not Armstrong's doctor, never once examined the man and had frack all to do with USPS or the Disco boys during Lance's seven -- SEVEN -- tour wins. How does Ashenden know what he claims? Well, apparently he just does. A skeptic might say he was full of shit. To Frenchmen, though, Ashenden is something to believe in. I mean, how else to explain the fact that Lance dominated their race seven -- SEVEN -- times when even the greatest Frenchman could muster only five.