OK so a few weeks on and after the dust has settled let's take a look. The premise at post one was "why does women's cycling get such a free pass ?" and then the poster brought us back to the realities of life and the sport with the suggestion that anyone who doubts there are not women as committed to lies, deception and doping, just as seriously as their male equivalents are dumb, and being male, probably thinking using that part of their brain located in their testes.
Up thread I was given a hard time about "silent bans" - basically I was being fanciful suggesting they could exist in this day and age of easy and immediate mass communication. The logic behind them seemed counter productive - why would any sane organisation use them ? Surely they are self defeating ? My answer was of course they were self defeating but the idiots who used them, used them not because they wanted to but because of a series of prior dumb actions meant they were basically in a position where the silent ban v. going public was a far more favourable situation to the organisation, generally the National Federation having compromised itself upstream and to go public would bring even greater scorn and negative press on themselves for prior actions.
Well even the cynic that is myself could not have imagined that in 2016, just prior to the Olympics the theory that "the silent ban exists in contemporary sport" would be proven with a factual account and that person would a) be a GB star and b) a cyclist and c) the current World Road champion. So let's take a deeper look at how this mess may have occurred.
The facts are that Lizzie has not tested positive but has committed three whereabouts violations.
She was banned from competing as a consequence.
We know she appealed the conditions relating to at least two of the violations and the CAS found in her favour in one of them, (which was all they needed to do to get her off the hook).
Lizzie (and her team) lied to the public about the reason she left the Giro stating it was for reasons of ill health.
Lizzie (and her team) lied to the public about the reason she did not ride the GB champs stating it was so that she could prepare properly for Rio.
Lizzie (and her team) lied to the public about the reason she did not ride La Course, stating it was so that she could prepare properly for Rio.
Lizzie (and her team) lied to the public about the reason she did not ride the London race, stating it was so that she could prepare properly for Rio.
From this press campaign, based on lies, Lizzie garnered favourable comment from the cycling journalists in various places stating wasn't she devoted, foregoing an inevitable national title/La course /etc. in favour of dedicating herself to maximising her preparation for the biggest prize in women's cycling. Hell - in every negative there just has to be a positive you can spin. Fact - she span it, she did not need to but she did.
Lizzie tells us that one of the reasons she had a whereabouts violation was because of a family crisis. We know that she is an inveterate twitter poster. Conveniently around the time of the "crisis" dear Lizzie has a silent twitter account. However, late on the day before the violation - which came in the early am of the following day, she was busy arranging bands for her post-Rio Wedding and posting to two companies about the band she had chosen to play at her wedding. During this "family crisis" she found time to wipe her twitter record clean of all this activity. Two of the companies had responded to her during this "crisis", one of them taking a screen shot of her tweet she had removed and using it to promote themselves. Had they not done so, Lizzie's deception would have been complete and we would have had no evidence other than a block of "no activity" in her twitter account, rather than a "wiped account". The evidence as presented to us would have been of some event being so traumatic to stop her usual activity of posting about all sorts of nonsense like the band she has booked for her wedding.
Then we have three very interesting aspects of the story which raise many more questions than they answer.
One - on the face of it quite innocent. After the second violation UKAD and BC have a specific meeting with her warning her of the seriousness of her situation. BC even employ some guy to wipe her backside and change her nappy. This is astonishing given the continued story we have had about her, and from her, about her awesome attention to detail. Firstly this "fastidious" person needs a minder for something so basic ! Then one admin error away from a career ending violation and you don't notice Mr Nappy Changer did not show up for three weeks ? Either you can swallow that story - in which case I wish you well and may your God look after you in this life and the next - or you can accept the absolutely show stopping contradiction it generates. Not a single athlete has come out since and said they sympathise with Lizzie over this. All professional athletes, have said completing whereabouts dominates their lives but it is a necessary fact of the life of an elite sports star. This is an aspect with little room for a grey area. It is either black or white, you either have to believe her tale or doubt it and doubting it, causes doubt elsewhere, that only a fool could suspend.
Two - The timing of the ban. On the face of it, hellish convenient. She committed her third violation. Afterwards she was allowed to start to ride and then finish, and win, the new GB race, the race with the largest prize purse on the whole of the women's circuit, the golden jewel in the crown of the new born again, GB-centric women's World Tour. The ban could have come in earlier, straight after notice of the third violation but somehow, some weird decision was taken to not apply it for a few weeks - Why ? I will develop my answer to that after the third point.
Three - the absolute lock-down on news about the ban. It was a silent ban. Post the leak, we had a load of rubbish about the rights of the athlete etc. Hold on a minute. One of the tenants of the social order of Western Democracies is that justice is not only conducted but observed to be conducted. Making the news at a similar time was https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/aug/06/senior-uk-soldier-accused-of-sexual-assault-in-canada
. The case has not been heard yet, no decision made and the whole of the world knows the guy's name and what he is accused of. His case has not yet come to appeal, because a verdict has not yet been reached. Somehow, all the Lizzie fans are screaming that despite an official verdict having been reached - she is banned, somehow her being is so precious that the decision must remain hidden until the CAS have heard her appeal and produced their view on it and I would add, there is no compunction on the CAS making their decision public or even making public that they have even heard such a case on her behalf. I would suggest those arguing most strongly for the sanctity of such an obviously flawed system are not doing so on behalf of "precious Lizzie" and her ilk but for entirely selfish reasons - they wish to maintain their own delusion. They have so much emotional investment in this delusion they know it is best if they preserve themselves from uncomfortable fact. If Lizzie tumbles, so might Froome, and if he goes it could be Brad and who knows where the domino chain might stop - Boardman and Keen - heaven forbid - that would put the skids under the whole GB Olympic success story.
So let's look at three and two together. Nobody is saying Lizzie and BC constructed the system that enabled silence over the decision and appeal process at CAS to be facilitated. It was there, designed in by the sporting officials who constructed the process. These are the same bunch of numpties that got sport to where it is at the current time, these are the Sepp Blatters, the Samaranchs, the Diacks of the World, to whom dishonesty and theft are part of the natural order of life to be exploited by the most able. Cookson, Verbruggen and Coe are just treading in well worn footsteps, their lack of fibre not enabling them to tread the more difficult alternative. A vehicle existed to enable BC, UKSport UKAD and last of all Lizzie, to keep the whole thing out of the public eye. UKSport and UKAD need a fig leaf to put in place if ever it becomes public so they don't want to go "soft" on Lizzie and let her off. BC do not want one of their stars felled because of the domino effect. However, you need to know an event like the Women's tour of Britain will have a vast investment of public money in its organisation. Yes there is a headline sponsor, but the bulk of the money for running it comes from the public purse by way of a distribution of lottery funds authorised by UKSport. In 1999 Hein and Pat had a situation where Lance tested positive at the tour but presented Johan and him with a "give us a good reason and we will let you off" opportunity. Johan and Lance googled things until they came up with a saddle sore cream that contained the stuff and then told the doc to sign a fictitious post dated TUE, which a very grateful Hein and Pat accepted. Of course Hein and Pat were both one step away from the actual decision makers with the race commissaires being the executors of the decision process. This delicious and prescient side-step enabled Hein to successfully challenge Cookson, stating that the CIRC was misleading in its references to Hein being engaged in deception over the Lance story and of course in another meeting Cookson kept secret from us, he agreed to handing Hein many tens of thousands of pounds of of the UCI's membership's money to Hein by way of compensation. Of course Hein being Hein he just could not go along with keeping Cookson's embarrassment silent but proclaimed it to the World with a press announcement. (Many thanks Hein - you just confirmed all we knew - you and Cookson are both sh1ts cut from the same cloth.) So let's have a look at the decision on the timing of Lizzies ban. Flip that burger and see the fall out if the ban had been immediate.
Getting the costs on bringing the Tour of France start to GB in 2014 is quite difficult. Have a look at this https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/tour_de_france_costs
Here also at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-28424843
"This year, inside the M25 TfL alone paid £6m for the finish of Stage Three. "
So we can easily imagine a figure of between say £20 million and £60 million for the whole extravaganza. From what I learnt the Grand Depart went seriously over-budget with a good number of agencies very free with their spending of money from the public purse. I would suggest that the longer Women's Tour , but taking place in less prominent localities, cost a smaller but still substantial figure. No sponsor for 2017 and it would be either more public money or cancel the show. Now that is a hard decision.
So with no Lizzie there is no story about the "growth of women's cycling and how UKSport and BC are driving to new plains of achievement" as pedaled so many times during the race. Instead we get - "current GB World champion gets 2 year ban from competition - for missing three, yes can you believe it, three violations despite being given a personal arse wiper and nappy changer". "Biggest race on the calendar now a non-event as the biggest star goes missing". A tearful Lizzie bleats "its all their fault - they did not employ two arse wipers, so when one went and got a better job there was still somebody else around to wipe my back-side". (Which is what she did say but the farcical effect was somewhat lost with all the build up to Rio.) I put it to you that, just as the commercial future of Men's cycling hung in the balance in 1999 post Festina, so the fall out of Lizzie having her ban made public and not riding the GB Women's Tour would have been catastrophic for the women's scene. (Somebody else can correct me but aren't the current sponsors on long term notice that this was their last year and the organisation was trawling around for replacements. Part of that deal will be wining and dining potentials at this year's race. Imagine the conversation at the hospitality suite. The deals would be killed. ) The stakes for Lizzie's ban were higher for the agencies around and were more important to those agencies, than Lizzie's personal circumstance.
And then to the rider herself. I think most human beings knowing that a decision on a possible career threatening 2 year ban, even with the prospect of a later challenge at CAS, was pending, might put them off their conrflakes each morning whilst waiting. But hold on a minute, iron-woman Lizzie (yes the same Lizzie Wizzie who's extra sensitive feelings need to be put foremost in keeping this all out of the public domain) manages to ignore all this stuff and not only ride and win the biggest race outside the Olympics but also promote the forward sales of her book due out straight after the Olympics. Hold on a minute - isn't there something I am waiting to hear about that could influence the final chapter - How I won gold in Rio ? Just remind me what am I waiting to find out about ?
Well - knock me down with a feather - who'd have thunk it - she just rode and won ! We can't know, but the circumstantial evidence that the timing was arranged and the nature and way around the decision was shared with Lizzie prior to the GB Tour looks one that is way more likely than unlikely and that, my friends really stinks and may well be the real reason the tale found its way to Matt Lawton at the Mail. Because sure as hell BC, UKSport and UKAD and Lizzie herself did not want nasty Mr Lawton getting that story but it is complete fact - somebody told him; an uncomfortable fact that even the most ardent BC/Sky/Lizzie fan cannot deny. And that somebody just had to be somebody who did not like what he saw was going on.
And of course, if you accept that degree of connivance - the construct of a "silent ban" exists for this incident, then one can accept that it may not be unique - it might have happened before. It then explains why having two strikes did not generate in Lizzie the change of attitude to whereabouts that lots of fellow athletes have gone public with sharing. Missing one is serious - you don't miss two. Missing two is a life changer. Not for Lizzie, two down - who cares - her priority is booking bands and wiping her twitter account after the event. Just who else has gone to CAS and been let off - is Lizzie really the first ? Of course we don't know because the system as designed does not have to tell us. Believing we knew the first time it occurred, is like thinking Femke is the only ever pro cyclist to have ever used a motor in her bike. You can believe it if you want to, but it takes some doing.
There is nothing out there to tell us Vos was on a silent ban. However, construct a scenario where the Dutch Fed got themselves into an identical situation to that BC/UKSport/UKAD have just done with the Lizzie affair and came up with the same "master-plan" - just tell them your are ill and preparing for some race or another (exactly like the lie Lizzie told us). It would not take an unimaginable leap of faith to adopt a position where Lizzie, BC and UKAD all knew that Vos had, in the recent past, been on such a silent ban. Now that road ahead - spinning the deception does not look twisting and pot holed, it looks like a positive four-lane highway. Imagine if it gets too hot - you just have to turn the finger and point. Just how hard are UKAD going to fight any decision at CAS ? That now becomes not only a walk-over but completely sold out before it was ever even contemplated. "Yes my lud our testers screwed up big style - please let the poor innocent little waif off".
So you can make your choice, even on the evidence of the recent weeks, I would suggest the arguments for innocence on behalf of the rider and no connivance by the agencies, is too thin to be sustainable by any rational observer. Throw in distant history of the sport and peripheral events such as Lizzie accusing the twitter army of bullying her on the same day her fiance uses that same media to go public to bully FPF and the evidence is more damning. Follow the pro career of previous boyfriend Adam Blythe and I want to meet the person who will commit that Blythe would not have been exposed to managers, support staff and other riders who would have versed him in the dark arts; then the "missed tests" have a very much blacker potential. We are back at trying to somehow break the link Sky fans use straws, as that is all they have available, to break- Froome is married to Cound. Cound's mum is a champion bodybuilder with a ripped body that could only possibly have been generated in the manner all champion body builders have done over the last few decades - with chemical assistance. That Froome's mother in law may have used steroids to sculpt her body in no way is evidence that Froome may have used PEDs to win the Tour, but explaining away the moral code of your life partner and justifying that in a sport riddled with dopers you are the rarest of individuals, a character with morals and the ability to beat without using those who do use PEDs to improve their performance, somehow becomes a lot, lot, lot harder.
Are there silent bans in our sport ? I was criticised for making the suggestion.
Gore Vidal said the best four words in the English language are "I told you so".
A few weeks ago there was a super post over at the clinic. The poster wrote that he thought the whole BC/Sky thing was the World's most elaborate trolling experiment, just trying to see how far a story so similar to that of US Postal and Lance could be shoved down people's throats so quickly after the original was exposed. My favourite moment of this whole episode was when Lizzie stated she was one of the most tested athletes in sport, the implication being that she just had to be clean. I hope Lance read that.