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Wheels Of Justice …

  • October 11th, 2007
  • Posted by EUEditor

On Monday, the 2006 Tour de France doping controversy will be all but over — as the race’s runner-up-turned-winner finally gets recognised.

tour-de-france-logo.gifTo many watching from a close-up vantage point, this was no surprise, as sports journalist John Flynn tells Sarah West.

Now that the arbitration hearing is done and dusted, and Floyd Landis has been stripped of the 2006 Tour de France yellow jersey, it’s time for the rightful winner to be crowned.

On Monday (15.10.07) last year’s race runner up, Oscar Periero, will be officially added to the long and illustrious list of tour champions, more than a year after the riders crossed the finish line in Paris.

Last month the American Arbitration Association decided Landis was guilty of doping with testosterone during the seventeenth stage of the tour, which he rode for the now disbanded team Phonak.

Journalist John Flynn was in France to report on the 2006 Tour for SBS television and says Landis’s actions after that controversial stage of the race were suspicious.

“I remember we were the only media crew that interviewed Floyd Landis, ironically, when he came out of drug control on that day,” says Flynn.

“I personally found it unusual that Floyd didn’t want to speak to the media at the time, after stage seventeen.”

And even with the speculation now proven, the saga isn’t entirely over, as Landis will once again appeal the decision, this time through the last avenue available to him – the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland.

Through the website ‘Floyd Fairness Fund’ Landis declared he’ll keep fighting.

“Having risked all my energy and resources – including those of my family, friends and supporters – to show clearly that I won the 2006 Tour de France fair and square, I will continue to fight for what I know is right,” Landis said.

Nonetheless, the tour organisers will pull out all the stops for Periero on Sunday, and John Flynn says it’ll be more about the anti-doping message than justice.

“What they’re doing with Oscar Periero is making a statement.

“In terms of putting his name in the record books they’re saying ‘well, we’re doing the right thing,'” he says.

Nor does he feel the occasion will mean as much to the rider as it would have if he’d been crowned on the Champs Elysees.

“I don’t think he sees himself as having been a winner of the tour de France.

“But he had a very good ride in 2006 and he should be applauded for that,” says Flynn.

And applauded he will be, at a ceremony on his home soil in Spain.

Tour director Christian Prudhomme will be there, as will the President of the ASO (the tour’s organisers) Patrice Clerc, and Spanish Minister of Sport Jamie Lissavetzky.

John Flynn of SBS says treating doping infringements in cycling seriously will eventually save the sport.

“They’ll come a time when the sport of cycling I’m sure is better off for having dealt with these crises.”

And he feels the riders have more motivation now than ever before, to stay clean.

“It’s a business issue at the end of the day. Sponsors are pulling out of the sport, and people are exiting the sport who were otherwise putting dollars into it.

“And when it gets to that point the riders have to say, well, my income is now at stake.” he says.”

Floyd Landis has been slapped with a two year ban from competitive cycling.

TOUR CRASH NOT THE END FOR O’GRADY

Still on elite cycling, and just three months after what could have been a career-ending crash in the Tour de France, Stuart O’Grady will make his comeback to competition on Sunday in Victoria’s Jayco Herald Sun Tour.

O’Grady suffered eight fractured ribs, a punctured lung, a blood clot in the brain, along with a broken shoulder, collarbone, and three vertebrae as a result of the crash on stage eight of the grand boucle.

And although he’s expected to draw big crowds to the race, he’ll put aside personal ambitions to back his younger team-mate Trent Lowe, as the team leader.

Lowe, a 23 year old from Melbourne, is in his second year as a professional bike rider and is a former junior mountain bike champion.

Along with O’Grady, Nick Gates, Chris Jongewaard, Trent Wilson, Joel Pearson and Patrick Shaw will also be riding for Lowe at the event, as members of the Australian National Team.


Reference:

“What’s Fair is Clear”, Floyd Fairness Fund (Home), 10.10.07. http://www.floydfairnessfund.org/, (11.10.07)

Jayco Herald Sun Tour (Home), “O’Grady to provide the Lowe down …”, 10.10.07. http://www.heraldsuntour.com.au/2007/, (11.10.07)

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