Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Better living through chemistry

By now, I'm sure everyone has heard the story that former US cyclist and drug runner, Joe Papp has admitted to supplying French racer Jeannie Longo's coach and husband, Yolande Ciprelli with EPO for her use.  Of course, Ciprelli is following the playbook response in appropriate stepwise manner:
1) Declare outrage.
2) Deny everything.
3) Lawyer up.
4) Sue the accusers for defamation of character (forthcoming). 

For those of you who don't know, Jeannie Longo-Ciprelli has an amazing 59 national titles and 13 world titles to her credit and was slated to be selected for the French national team to compete in the upcoming World championships.  Blah, blah, blah - we've heard this all before.  What really struck me about this story was what Papp wrote in one of the newly released emails from him to Ciprelli sealing the deal in 2007 regarding the sale of the EPO.

"We ask that you send us the 500 euros on Monday, with your shipping information.  We then ship to you the 80,000 iu (international units) and we call it "even" because we want you to be happy and satisfied with your transaction from us.  We are closing all specials Monday 23 April, so we want for you to be able to take advantage of the good pricing since you have been in contact with us for some time."

What the shit is this?  Was Papp honestly running special sales on the Poe?  "Buy now for 25% off and get your pre-mixed sterile viles for free.  Only good through Monday, so hurry!"

And in othe recent breaking news, apparently inspired by the RadioShack-Leopard merger, now Astana and SaxoBank are "talking to each other" according to the Dutch newspaper DeTelegraaf

And why shouldn't the RadioShack-Leopard merger serve as inspiration?  It worked for Garmin-Cervelo, right?  Sports writer Bonnie Ford with ESPN has an interesting article on the subject  here.  I've taken the liberty to lift some of the more memorable quotes from her piece:

Brian Nygaard, the Leopard general manager Bruyneel will replace, declined comment. Through a team spokesman, Becca also declined to be interviewed. Stapleton said he took no offense at Becca's reported comments in a Luxembourg television interview that "nothing about this team will be American except the sponsors.''  Why would RadioShack, a company that doesn't do business in western Europe, cede control to an organization based there? "This is not a precursor to expanding" into that part of the world, Applbaum [RadioShack chief marketing officer] clarified.

Applbaum said he and RadioShack are comfortable with their commitment. He expressed regret that some riders and staff will lose their jobs, but said he is confident Bruyneel will make the transition smooth. "He has an incredible track record in Grand Tours. … He's a phenomenal manager of people," Applbaum said. "Integrity is a core pillar of our brand, and at this juncture, we continue to monitor the [Armstrong] situation. If the investigation changes course, we'll address it at that time."

Cervelo co-founder Gerard Vroomen said the constantly shifting alliances in cycling have immunized him from being surprised at anything, and he pointed out that the Schlecks were reportedly first courted by Bruyneel a couple of years ago when RadioShack was being formed. Vroomen speculated that Becca became impatient both with the search for a title sponsor and the team's results. "I can't climb into his head, but 12 months ago he was probably sure he was going to win the Tour de France and the spring classics, and he didn't do either,'' Vroomen said. "Someone must have made the suggestion that Bruyneel creates Tour de France winners.''

Yes indeed, Bruyneel does know how to "create" a Tour de France winner. 
T-shirt now comes in maillot-jaune yellow!

Here's what I find puzzling.  Becca wants that "nothing about the team will be American," (aside from the money apparently) and this in spite the fact that the current US National champion Mathew Busche, in addition to former champion Ben King as well as Chris Horner will be racing for them.  Further, according to Ford, "Capital Sports and Entertainment, the Austin-based company that held RadioShack's license through a subsidiary, will....become a subcontractor, handling marketing and sponsor hospitality. Trek (an American company) was already supplying bikes to both teams" and will continue to do so.  And   "RadioShack will continue its affiliation with its most famous former rider, keeping Lance Armstrong under a personal services and endorsement contract, according to his agent, CS&E founder and partner Bill Stapleton." 

For your consideration:
#1) Team bikes: American.  Team money: American.  Team riders:  American champions.  Team owner: "Nothing...will be American."  I may not know my ass from apple-butter - but something tells me the right hand doesn't know who the left hand is jerking off.
#2) Anyone else think the Hog is looking forward to getting out of the States...like yesterday?
#3) Why would the ever-patriotic Armstrong be OK with supporting a team in which "nothing...will be American."
#4) Truly - what is in this deal for RadioShack which has no presence in Europe, where operations will be based, and the majority of the team's racing presence will be felt?


  1. Sounds like RadioShack will soon be expanding to Europe.

    Buy locally, think globally.

  2. Wow, it's hard to believe, but it does look like Jeannie Longo may be involved with EPO use as implicated by her husband and Joe Papp.

    It appears she may receive a ban from the sport, but Jeez, she's 59 years old! Apparently EPO must produce better living through chemistry.

  3. Sorry, she's 52. Still it's a bit premature to hang her from just an email from Joe Papp to her husband, but admittedly it doesn't smell too good.