Thursday, April 16, 2009

AFLD Alleges New Astana Improprieties; Astana Unlikely at Tour de France

PARIS - In a startling turn of events today, the French Anti-doping Agency (AFLD) announced it is proceeding with disciplinary action toward several key members of Team Astana, essentially eliminating any chance the Kazakhstan-based cycling team has of competing in the 2009 Tour de France.

The extraordinary sequence of events began approximately one month ago, when an agent of AFLD asked Lance Armstrong for blood, urine, and hair samples. According to Armstrong, the American cycling star — having just returned from a long training ride — then evidently requested and obtained permission to take a shower while the AFLD representative’s credentials were verified.

Today, however, AFLD president Pierre Bordry revealed that there is much more to the story.

“Yes, Armstrong did ask to take a shower,” stated Bordry, “But he did not follow up by saying, ‘Mother may I?’”

Continued the AFLD official, “If Armstrong had correctly followed the protocol clearly stated in the Mother May I (MMI) handbook, he would not be in the trouble he is in. Because we totally would not have said, ‘Yes you may.’”

Concluded Bordry, “Armstrong purports to be a professional cyclist. If he doesn’t know how [MMI] is played, that’s his own problem and he’ll have to deal with the consequences. As you recall, Mr. Armstrong himself recently said, ‘It’s their event, their country, and their rules, and we have to play by those.’ Well, Mr. Armstrong, here in France we play MMI. And until you hear ‘Yes you may,’ you most certainly may not.”

Contador Out Too

In a press conference today, the AFLD announced that Armstrong is not the only Astana team member in hot water. Said a spokesman for the AFLD, “Today, in a routine out-of-competition collection, one of our representatives requested that Astana team member Alberto Contador fill up a sample bottle with urine.”

Continued the spokesman, “At this point, Contador immediately complied. However, the AFLD had not preceded the request by saying ‘Simon says.’”

“The rules are clear and unequivocal,” concluded the spokesman. “You don’t do anything until you hear ‘Simon says.’ Contador is banned from all professional cycling for two years, effective immediately.”

“It’s true. He totally got me,” said the Tour de France winner and former hopeful. “I had nailed each of the instructions leading up to this — roll up my sleeves, stand on one foot, shave my left armpit — but he got me on that last one.”

Said Contador ruefully, “Man, sometimes these French drug controls can be really tricky.”

More Problems for Astana

Armstrong and Contador — arguably two of the strongest podium contenders for the 2009 Tour de France — are not the only Astana members facing charges from the AFLD. According to the press release sent out today, other violations from the team include:

Levi Leipheimer: Refusing to provide a hair sample. “In my defense,” said Leipheimer, “I didn’t actually refuse to provide a hair sample. I simply don’t have any hair. What were my options?”
Andreas Kloden: Failure to acknowledge that Jerry Lewis is a comedic genius. Kloden defended himself, saying, “I have watched The Nutty Professor, the Patsy, and The Family Jewels. I tried to find the humor in them. I really did. But it’s all just mugging and variations on one silly voice. How is that funny?” “If you don’t get it, just say so,” retorted the AFLD spokesman
Chris Horner: Eating Hot Pockets. “Those things are an abomination and we will not permit anyone who eats such things in our country,” said Bordry.

AFLD Not Done

Once in contention for an unprecedented podium sweep at the Tour de France, Astana is now unlikely to participate in the race at all. But the AFLD housecleaning is far from over. “Unfortunately,” said Bordry, “there are many more non-French teams who have exhibited suspect behavior.”

Concluded Bordry, “We will not rest until all these nefarious cyclists have been removed from contention, making way for a truly clean team — such as Ag2r-La Mondiale, Agritubel, Bouygues Télécom, Cofidis, Crédit Agricole, or Française des Jeux — to take its rightful place on the podium on the Champs-Élysées.”

Story courtesy of Fat Cyclist Fake News Service

7 comments:

  1. I read the headline, and thought it was true.

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  2. On a more "serious" note..snipped from cyclingnews.com

    Astana hit by global money woes
    Salary worries for Contador?
    Photo ©: Susanne Goetze
    The Astana cycling team has found that winning races does not make it immune to the global economic crisis. The Kazakh cycling federation which backs the team announced Thursday that it would pay the salaries owed to riders and staff which had been delayed while it awaited payment from sponsors.

    The team of three-time Grand Tour winner Alberto Contador has not been paid since March, according to the Associated Press. News of the delayed payments was kept quiet until the announcement, but has not allayed fears that the team is standing on sound financial footing.

    Air Astana withdrew its sponsorship of the team run by Belgian Johan Bruyneel, but the government has said it would continue to support the team.

    The squad was initially conceived as a way to raise the profile of the former Russian state, and was built around the team's former stars, Alexander Vinokourov and Andrei Kashechkin, who are now out of competition on doping suspensions. Bruyneel assumed control of the team after his former outfit, the Discovery Channel team, disbanded after giving up on a sponsorship hunt.

    Seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong does not receive a paycheck from the Astana team. He agreed to race for free when making his comeback in order to raise awareness of his global cancer fight.

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  3. Thanks for posting that. Very interesting.

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  4. That was an awesome post, KK. Love it.

    Impaler, how far did you read before you realized it may not be serious? My money is on the "Story courtesy of Fat Cyclist Fake News Service", but only because you were hoping so much that it was true...

    Campy Only - also a very interesting post. Looks like LA may have been a good investment for Astana, eh? Heck, RRR may be in the market for a ringer, and I think we may be able to muster up a two-four to sweeten the offer if Astana's supporting cast folds. I may even finally get to training so I can be a domestique!

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  5. Domestique? Whatever. We all know you just want to scratch and sniff LA's chamois.

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  6. I have nothing to add except KK owes me a new keyboard becuz I snorted a rye and coke out my nose onto my old one

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  7. Ooh...after I give you Kudo's for your post? Just so you know, quagmire, the line for that comment is well past the horizon behind you - yeah, you crossed it miles ago. The gloves are off on this one, my friend/current-nemesis-for-this-thread.

    sleep with one eye open...

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