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Beltran not big news in France

Tour de France
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As part of the BBC’s coverage of the Tour de France, 5 Live’s Peter Slater is commentating live on the final 90 minutes of each stage of the Tour on the BBC Sport website.

The early signs in France are that Manuel Beltran
is to be regarded as an afterthought on this year's Tour de France.

Certainly Saturday's L'Equipe had dispatched his story, which they broke before the Tour organisers even knew about it, to an inside page, choosing instead to plaster the front of their paper with a giant photo of Luis Leon Sanchez crossing the line in Aurillac on Friday.

L'Equipe is normally a good barometer of French feeling and they're underplaying the news while still reporting the facts.

The discovery of the Spaniard's misdemeanours may not be the end of things, of course, but unless - and until - that becomes fact we have to assume that Manuel Beltran, like Lee Harvey Oswald, acted alone.

If he did, then, to quote one commentator on French Radio last night, "he's crazy".

He's crazy for any number of reasons. The doping controls are so stringent, especially for EPO, that he could never have hoped to escape undetected.

At 37 he's risked the reputation of a half decent career, and he'll certainly never ride professionally again.

But like with Oswald, there are more conspiracy theories than you can shake a stick at.

Beltran's Liquigas team has already aroused suspicion, first with Danelo Di Luca, and then the signing of Ivan Basso, and despite all their denials that they knew nothing about his actions, there are those who won't be convinced.

The news reached us here in Toulouse, which is exactly where the BBC team was last year when the Michael Rasmussen story broke. It was deja vu all over again.

Because Rasmussen was leading the tour, and because the story came on the back of all the other scandal, everyone jumped on the bandwagon to knock the Tour.

Because Beltran was 26th, and because he seems to be a throwback to a bygone age when riders doped almost as a matter of course, he remains that afterthought, consigned to the inside pages of history rather than the headlines.

We wait for more, of course we do, but for now let's hope that what Dave Brailsford said is true, that "clean is the new cool", and that a 37-year-old grimpeur from Andalucia won't be able to turn back the tide.

Latest 10 comments

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posted Jul 14, 2008

I would like to complement the journalists for their robust coverage of the Beltran episode.

Crocodile tears for frauds who deceive the general public with their athletic feats.

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posted Jul 15, 2008

Who knows anything about the B sample? I am all for fighting doping, but the current system is utterly against the cyclists.
If you kick somebody out of the race, take them in handcuffs and let them spend a night in prison, you have to be absolutely certain of their offense.
Besides, does anyone feel that breaking the news through a paper, not the race organizer, is not right?

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comment by Tatruth (U2285993)

posted Jul 15, 2008

I can not believe that someone in a pro team uses EPO without significant medical backup. Beltran may have had a reasonable career but administering and monitoring EPO is not a cheap practice. A sport which is virtually dominated by drugs for many years can not expect to erradicate it immediately.

Hopefully a new generation is emerging. But I think I'm with Paul Kimmage in his statement that he knows of no rider to have won the tour clean; that was in 2006. L'Equipe has been happy to avoid the difficulties of the minor riders for years. If Beltran was on Lance's team still and Lance in the race they'd have made a very big thing of his test.

The pressures and difficulties of minor riders are lost in the clamour for the glamour riders. Maybe if sport journalism in Europe would be willing to let us access the pain and problems of the majority of cyclists, there would be more pressure on McQuaid to do something. Certainly if any British football journalist could perform a decent investigation into performance enhancers in football, we'd realise these problems are cross sport. But sports journalism in the main is at a despicably low level compared to that of America.

Of course the releasing news of the test before the B sample is completely wrong. The constant politiquing between Pro Tour, UCI and olympic association is partly why few of us believe the IOC. Rasmussen should have been stopped riding the tour but National Olympic bodies should not be leaking information mid tour. Guilty or not it makes my hemocratic level rise when people are leaking testing details. It also makes my blood boil when McQuaid supports known liars.

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comment by nasacpa (U3116607)

posted Jul 15, 2008

Humanfrog, please tell me how Lance has the power to ban books? Sure, he has the right to defend against defamation. If the other side had facts that stood up in court, maybe they could publish. Nor do you mention anywhere Lance's extensive/obsessive training regimen, which goes a bit further than "orange juice". Also, care to explain how Lance passed every drug test?

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comment by omgidbi (U8078647)

posted Jul 15, 2008

there seems to be a lot of harry hindsight going on with comments of "obviously guilty" riders. Now, if you were to look at recent events (last 3 days of the Tour say), which riders would you want to take a closer look at given their performances. Then, who do you want to keep an eye on over the rest of the Tour. Let's call it forum targetting - their is no implication of guilt with respect to them whatsoever.

Here's my list;

Voigt
Cancellara
Piepoli
Valverde
A Schleck
Sastre
Kohl
V Efimkin

Do you see how difficult this is? I'm afraid that unlike some (e.g Kimmage) you cannot tell if a rider is on something just by looking at him. Equally, our own mental conditioning with respect to some of the athletes leaves us as either in the "obviously clean" or "i knew he was dirty" camp.

Hands up if you honestly thought Beltran to be dirty. And if you did, who else are you thinking about and why?

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comment by Tatruth (U2285993)

posted Jul 16, 2008

I don't know your background omgidbi and no doubt you do know much about cycling. But Kimmage is often proved correct and not only this has a wealth of experential knowledge in the sport. When he does report on it he has access and is aware of the people and the doctor trails of cycling. It is right that a journalist should air potentially damaging questions. As so many don't and didn't is just a disgrace to their proffession.

I think Voet's book is most enlightening, and his comments on the 96 tour and that virtually all the lead players were heavily abusing EPO has generally been born out. Certainly Virenque and Festina, Ris has admitted, TVM, and Ulrich been tarnished by his definite involvement with blood doping.

This does not mean Lance doped/EPO'd but probably the majority around him did. Cyclists are around practices similar to doping day in day out. Whether it be Vitamin B12 injections or legal caffeine hits. The move to illegal methods is no step for any cyclist in any recent generation. Or at the very least the post positive test result perscription emergence.

I'm not offended by Hamilton's and Landis' choice, the pressures of a grand tour and cycling penisonable age would lead many to that solution. The only positive is better testing controls. But let's face it, the very few that didn't dope were the one's seriously punished. It's ludicrous to think that the majority of teams are a new generation. Just look at how many riders for TVM went to CSC, with roughly half the present CSC riders, including Schleck, having come in contact with TVM riders who were deeply involved in performance enhancing substances.

Certainly Stefan Schumacher had amphetamines in his system, for performance or not. If Boonen had to go then so did Stefan. It's the weakness in cross body enforcement and one that still hasn't been solved in cycling.

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comment by omgidbi (U8078647)

posted Jul 17, 2008

tatruth - a pleasure reading your post.

re kimmage. i still read him religously but fear he is going the same way as walsh - a journo i no longer read as for me he has completely lost objectivity, journalistic or otherwise, due to his bitterness over a certain athlete.

i say this based on his writing, kimmages that is. i'll assume that you have read his last 3 weeks efforts in the sunday times (if not the ST website will post them soon enough). imo, the man is full of contradictions and this is as a result of his bias.

first of all he hails david millar as a shining beacon in our sport. but then questions why we would cheer for basso! i don't see this distinction here, the subject being they are both punished cyclists - yet one is to be forgiven!

in another he determines landis to be guilty by "looking" at him. he also determines his coach to be the same with a similar glance. he then meets the coach, now at slipstream and now determines him to be a good guy after all. i ask myself what he would think if he gave landis the same courtesy? in this same interview he tries to goad allen lim into dishing the dirt (if any) on landis, and is surprised when he cannot get the response he is looking for. perhaps there is no dirt!

similarly, with jonathan vaughters, he is looking for the soundbite he can print and attribute to him. the same soundbite he could make himself, but is afraid to do so (for the same reasons as JV - namely legal retribution against unsubstansiated allegations). he just wanted the dirt! no objectivity.

and on this last point, the distinctions become clear as to why voets is such a good account. the man had nothing to lose, but importantly had very little to gain too. Kimmage, Walsh, Swart, O'Reilly etc etc cannot say the same, and therefore you have to question their objectivity....

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posted Jul 17, 2008

Kimmage praising Millar?! Can you post a link for that please, I remember reading something of Kimmage's last year after Vino's failed test where Kimmage wrote about 'the tears of a fraud' or something whn describing Millar's reaction to it.

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comment by omgidbi (U8078647)

posted Jul 17, 2008

it's not posted on the ST website. and neither is the JV interview. perhaps slipstream took exception to them when they read them.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/columnists/paul_kimmage/

in the DM interview there is reference to the previous writings of PK on the man - but again it was more of a journalistic i told you so than anything else (funny how so few report on their previous writings that subsequently prove to be wrong)

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comment by Tatruth (U2285993)

posted Jul 17, 2008

"It's completely shocking," International Cycling Union president Pat McQuaid said.

"It would strike me now that someone would have advised those guys to take some form of EPO thought to be undetectable because we haven't caught guys in this fashion for a long time."

Not really Mr McQuaid, Ricco is definitely one I would have targeted what with his previous and his two stage finishes this year. Whilst McQuaid constantly defends the proffesional setup and teams, it is only through a proffesional setup that cyclists come in contact with EPO. Love or hate Millar, the undercurrent of what he said and didn't say about Saunier Duval has been born out. With them not committing to the more stringent methods of Garmin-Chipotle allows systematic doping to be much more easily carried out.

Watching the 'cobra' on his first stage win, it looked mightly similar to some of the amazing mountain attack of the late nineties. I turned to my friend, and without knowing his dodgy 51% level, stated that he was probably on EPO. I must admit it was partly flippant but the more I watch cycling the more Kimmage's mo is often correct. You can smell a performance enhancer and Stefan Schumacher has it all over him.

Re Kimmage, thanks for reminding me of Times online the interview with Landis' advisor I must have missed last week. I acknowledge Kimmage is rather partisan, and like all selective in his memory, but this article showed a beautiful human nature to the man. He quite clearly liked the guy and apart from his doping theme, displayed a lot of warmth through the article. Refreshing compared to James Lawton, Harry Harris and Steve Curry with their pathetic views and partisan fawning or victim immolation. Sure Kimmage can go over the top, but often his reasoning has a whole load of logic unlike virtually all the English soccer writers.

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