Friday, November 2, 2012

to fight or to back down?

Just over a week ago Paul Kimmage was interviewed on Off The Ball radio show after the UCI held there management committee meeting and subsequent press conference in which they officially stripped Lance Armstrong of his seven Tour De France titles, (this was before Pat McQuaid and Hein Verbruggen had decide to suspend their legal action against him,) he was asked was he hoping that they would have took the decision to drop the lawsuit against him and he said he wished they did. Kimmage sounded like a guy who was under immense stress, you could hear it in his voice it was as if he was a spring coiled to the maxium waiting to explode.

Kimmage stated that the case has taken over his life with the last two months he described the case as an absolute "pain" to him. It must have being a great sense of relief to him when McQuaid and Verbruggen announced a few days later that they were going to suspend their legal action against him. But in the earlier interview he also stated that he felt he had a responsibility to those riders who carrer's had being affected by doping and people such as Emma O'Reilly and Betsy Andreu who had the guts to testify against Armstrong, he stated that he would use everything within his means to fight the case and would charter a jumbo jet to get people to Switzerland.

People may have considered this just fighting talk and that surely when the dust had settled he would retreat to a corner and write a piece about it for the Sunday Independent and that would be the end of the matter, surely that is what McQuaid and Verbrugge were hoping would happen. But this is not Kimmages style he seems to be stubborn at the best of times and was not to let the matter go, he must have took great strength from the support fund set up by Bloggers Andy Shen of and Lesli Cohen of which is now standing at more than $85,000 and has being contributed to by almost 2,900 people. He decided to fight back in the way he was attacked by going after McQuaid and Verbrugge in the Swiss courts. His lawsuit is a criminal complaint based on for slander/defamation and for strong suspicions of fraud. Hi lawsuit comprises a 28-page document with 55 exhibits of evidence that will be presented to a Swiss judge who will in turn decide if Verbruggen and McQuaid have a case to answer.

The 55 exhibits of evidence will prove to be very interesting if the case comes to court surely it will involve people such as Greg Lemond who seems very keen for McQuaid and Verbruggen to go. Surely the majority of the evidence will be information that is already in the public domain through the USADA reasoned decision on the Armstrong case. If Verbruggen and McQuaid are found guilty I don't know if that will automatically force there resignation from the UCI but I am sure that Kimmage is hoping that if they are found guilty public opinion and the UCI management committee will force their removal.
This court case if it happens will at the same time be a disaster and a positive thing for cycling. A disaster in that cycling will be dragged through the mud again and the headlines will be dominated by bad news as opposed to the good of cycling. But it will be good in that cycling needs this, it needs to be purged and cleansed of the past. I don't know if McQuaid is guilt as outlined by Kimmage but in his shoes would any of us have being able to stand up to the influence of Armstrong? This is a man who forced grown men to take drugs to ultimately benefit him. Its undeniable that for a time Armstrong was good for cycling and good for all the people around the world fighting cancer, would any of us have being able to stand up to Armstrong and all he represented?

The rules were bent for Armstrong for a time he was bigger than the sport he was simply too big to fail. Those such as Kimmage and David Walsh were pushed to the sidelines. The UCI needs to recognise the mistakes of the past, Verbruggen needs to go, perhaps McQuaid as well. McQuaid could take this opportunity to change the sport for ever, the sport is now truly at a cross roads. Drug testing needs to be administered by an independent body such as WADA national federations and the UCI should have nothing to do with drug testing and implementation. Bans for testing positive need to be increased, if someone tests positive for EPO ban them for 4 years, no one takes EPO by mistake. If someone tests positive for a tainted food supplement for example ban them for 2 years as they are still responsible for what enters their body but they still should be entitled to a second chance. A four year ban should end a career and this is the message that needs to be sent to all those riders considering heading to the "dark side". When someone tests positive they should be banned straight away we should not see the stupid situation where someone races for up to a year when awaiting an appeal and then when finally found guilty are only banned for 6 months in effect, they still have the racing days in their legs and the wages and prize money in their bank accounts.

Change needs to happen or we might as well go back to 1998 again, that is why we should applaud Paul Kimmage for having the strength to continue his fight, he could have taken the easy option (many would not have blamed him) but he wont back down. The sport needs more like him, hopefully because of his actions and others like him in 5 years time we can have a sport we truly believe in.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Fixx Supercross Cup Tymon Park

Round 3 of the Fixx Supercross Cup took place in Tymon Park last Sunday on a cold morning with plenty of showers thrown in, perfect cyclo cross weather if you are a bike handling god not so perfect if you struggle a bit with the technical stuff. Having watched the you tube clip of last years race I was confident enough I would be able to handle the course ok as it did not look as technical as the previous round in Swords. I managed to ride 3 laps of the course before the race and was happy enough as there was a few long straights that would suit a roady like me. The spiral section I was less impressed with basically this was were you turned left for 3 circles that got tighter with each turn and then right for 3 more circles in the opposite direction. There was a also a drop off on the course and a bit of an off camber section up and down a banking but overall a good course that was drenched due to all the rain.

I learned my first lesson of the day (there would be a few) upon completing my warm up laps. I had done my laps with about 45 psi in the tyres and and spent the laps slip sliding my way around I was chatting to a lad in the car park and I asked him how much pressure he had in his tubs and he said 25psi I had clinchers so I asked him how much he would recommend and he said 28!! so I took his advice and went with 35 to play it safe as I did not want to risk a puncture. It made a big difference to the grip levels but I still had the fear of a pinch puncture. My second and third lessons of the day were learnt before the start of the race, the first was to wash my bike after the warm up laps I had complete three laps and it was covered in mud which would make a difference as the race dragged on, the second lesson was to get to the start line as early as possible as I am not ranked in the top 20 its a battle to get the 21st position on the grid, the start is super important and starting in 35th does not help your day. Must camp out on the start line early for the next race.

The race started at the usual 100 miles an hour the first lap settled down to the usual lungs on the handle bars experience as I tried to get around the rider in front while trying to prevent any riders over taking me, one or two riders slid out on corners on the first lap but I managed to avoid the worst of the carnage. Laps two and three went ok I was managing to hold my own but was loosing about 5 bike lengths to everyone on the spiral section, must practice riding around in circles more!!! On lap 4 I learnt my fourth and most important lesson of the day: that despite the race being only 1 hour long you can still get the knock and blow up! I started going backwards on this lap and during the following laps I was loosing the will to live and hoping the race would end soon. I had started the race with the goal of not getting lapped by Robin Seymore as you don't get lapped by Robin there is a chance you will be knocking around the top ten. But I was very happy to see Robin lapping me after 6 laps as this meant my race would be over a lap earlier than planned. On my last lap I blew completely and was about 3 minutes slower than my first lap, on the run ups I was not running any more I was walking on the drop off I was not concerned about hitting the three at the bottom of it I was dreaming of cans of coke and the fastest way possible to get calories into my system. I was very happy to see the finish line, I was also very disappointed with my performance but you have to have the bad days in this sport to appreciate the good ones and at little bit of me was already looking forward to the next cross race