It’s been a great (or should that be terrible) few days for that niche area of the English language: the doping denial.
Jakob Fuglsang and Alexei Lutsenko, teammates at the Astana Pro Team, found themselves the subject of a leaked he-said-she-said report by the Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation (CADF) whoever they might be.
A non-profit foundation that manages the anti-doping programme of the governing body of pro cycling, the UCI. That’s one for you, sports admin fans.
The leaked report spewed out headlines and elicited a collective weary sigh from fans of pro cycling at this apparent pro-cyclist-caught-doing-something-dodgy narrative. Surprise has long since been a redundant response in these cases. As has innocent-until-proven-guilty. Presumption of innocence, I’m afraid, blew its chance long ago.
But then, upon reading, odd things leapt out.
Links with Michele Ferrari, dodgy doctor extraordinaire from the Armstrong era, including clandestine meetings and, hang on…motor pacing sessions in and around Nice!?
So, a top pro cyclist, in an area chock full of top pro cyclists (and, almost certainly civilians, too), riding his bike behind a moped ridden by perhaps the most notorious of all the notorious, vampiric, blood-fixated doctors to ever stick a needle in a pro cyclist’s arse.
Right out there in the open?
Giving it the old…what, we’re friends…this is just innocent fun…we’re off for a picnic!
If that weren’t enough, this leaked report suggested Ferrari had been present at the Volta a Catalunya; a World Tour bike race, no less, where, and I’m making assumptions here, lots of fellow human beings, many of whom might be expected to vaguely recognise Senor Ferrari, would also have been present.
And Ferrari was (allegedly) hanging out with the Astana team, no less.
Hidden in plain sight, you might say. Would he? Would they?
And so, as we digested the absurdity of these allegations (in the context of being heathily sceptical about the honesty of pro sportspeople), along came Fuglsang and Lutsenko’s masterpiece. An identical statement, no less.
A stone-cold classic of the genre:
Guys, seriously, take a bow.
It’s that wording; part legalese, part Google Translate.
“I contest that I have met with Dr Ferrari.”
Not denying, contesting. And the confidence of that counter-attack against the CADF:
“…competent doping authorities.”
Say what you like about Astana; these boys know their way around an opaquely worded doping denial.
And Ferrari himself, doping royalty, and not a man to sit in silence, unleashed his own theatrical tirade:
“I have not had any relationship with athletes from Team Astana for over 10 years…I haven’t been to Monaco/Nice for at least 12 years…I have never been on a scooter/motorbike in my entire life, let alone motor-pacing a cyclist…I haven’t been to the Volta a Catalunya in 2019. I haven’t physically been present at a single race since 1994…I have never been convicted of doping.”
I presume this was his edited response, the full version going on to clarify:
“I do not know this Fuglsang…what is a bike…who are dopings…why is the Tour de France…which part of the body is blood…Lance who?”
We probably haven’t heard the end of this story. Who knows how true (or otherwise) it is?
Join the dots, I say, and come to your own conclusion.
One thing is for sure: language, and the exquisite craft of the doping denial, is the only winner here.
(Granada [CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D)