|Highroad boss Bob Stapleton has|
done more than most to rid the
sport he loves of doping
However, it seems that the team's exemplary record, now that the end is so near, may be shaken; through no fault of their own but by one single rider - Alex Rasmussen, the Danish track specialist taken on by the team from SaxoBank-Sungard for 2011 and who was due to go to Garmin-Cervelo for 2012, who missed an anti-doping control test earlier this summer and as such broke the team's internal rules which state that all riders on the books must comply with UCI requirements 100% and which led to his immediate dismissal from the team. Closer investigation, with UCI confirmation, revealed that Rasmussen had also missed two tests in 2010, but Highroad had not been informed of this when it signed the rider. He will also now no longer be representing his country at this year's World Championships.
|Rasmussen, when racing for SaxoBank (when two of the|
missed controls occurred) (CC3.0)
The greatest and worst effect is, once again, on cycling's image. Many people with little knowledge of cycling will have almost subconsciously absorbed the news that Highroad's at the end of the road but won't be aware why. Now, when they see this story - and they will, because the press just love to print stories on doping in cycling - they'll automatically link the team's demise with Rasmussen's selfish decision to dope. They'll nod knowingly over their cornflakes and think to themselves, "Ah, I knew it! They're all at it!"
Thus all Stapleton's good work is undone, just a little more each time it happens; and other potential sponsors back away, unwilling to attach their names to a sport with a bad image among the mis-informed non-cycling public to whom the names on the jerseys have to appeal if the millions they would otherwise have ploughed into sport are to be worthwhile; because cycling fans, who would have read beyond the headline and got the full story, are a tiny minority.
Cheers, Alex. Nice one. Don't expect a warm welcome in two years' time if you get a ban.