Sports Outside the Beltway

Pot shots- At least two Tour de France riders shot by BB gun during race

No one was seriously injured. From ESPN-

At least two Tour de France riders were hit by pellets from a BB gun or similar weapon as they labored behind the main peloton near the finish of Friday’s Stage 13. Neither was seriously hurt, but the incident again illustrated the perils of conducting one of the world’s largest sporting events on the open road.

Julian Dean of New Zealand, a sprinter who rides for the Colorado-based Garmin-Slipstream team, and Oscar Freire, a Spanish sprinter for the Dutch Rabobank team, were hit on the descent of a mountain in the Vosges late in the challenging 124.2-mile stage, which unfolded in cold, heavy rain and fog. Rabobank team doctors later removed what they believed to be a lead pellet from Freire’s thigh. A pellet glanced off Dean’s right index finger, causing some bruising and bleeding.

Tour spokesman Christophe Marchadier said the race organization had asked police to investigate the incident. Both teams said they would cooperate.

Unless a sporting event is played without spectators, you can’t prevent some idiot from trying to ruin the event for his own selfish reasons.


Charter Cable to Drop Versus

Charter Cable has made some noise about potentially dropping the sports channel Versus (formerly OLN) prior to the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Sports fans on Charter look to lose exposure to the following sports:

  • Exclusive coverage of the NHL playoffs, including the Eastern and Western Conference Finals and the first two games of the Stanley Cup Finals.
  • Professional Bull Riders (PBR)
  • America’s Cup
  • Field Sports
  • The Tour de France
  • Mountain West Conference College Football, Basketball and more
  • Of course Versus provides you with a who to call and email form to voice your displeasure to Charter Cable. This all becomes a game, because really the only people who really get harmed in this are the people who watch Versus, like those 5 hockey fans.


    Cyclist Jan Ullrich Retires

    German Cyclist Jan Ullirch, most know for the guy always behind Lance Armstrong has retired from professional cycling.

    The 33-year-old German, who won the Tour in 1997 and was runner-up five times, announced his retirement eight months after being implicated in a Spanish doping scandal.

    “I am ending my active career,” Ullrich said. “It’s not easy, but you have to listen to the voice inside you that the time is right. It was a good time and I would do it the same way again, even the bad times.”

    You have to feel kind of bad for Ullrich, he was consistently the only racer to challenge Armstrong during his 7 year run and would of most likely won a fair share of Tours. It’s a shame to see a great career end in scandal, but end it has and only time will tell if he is guilty.


    Levi Leipheimer wins Tour of California

    Levi Leipheimer of Santa Rosa, California won the Tour of California:

    Leipheimer, a three-time top-10 Tour de France finisher, completed 639.2-mile race with a 21-second advantage over Jens Voigt of Germany.

    The Discovery Channel rider took the lead with a 1-second win in the prologue Feb. 18 in San Francisco. He maintained a lead of no more than three seconds until he dominated the individual time trial fifth stage last Friday in Solvang.


    Landis May Keep Tour De France Title

    Floyd Landis may well beat the doping investigation because the French may of mishandled his urine samples.

    According to a report in the L.A. Times, the anti-doping case against Tour de France champion Floyd Landis could be in jeopardy after multiple errors by the French laboratory that produced the incriminating results.

    In one of a number of errors, the lab may have allowed improper access to the cyclist’s urine samples. According to the report, two technicians were involved in both the original urine analysis and a second, validating test. This is prohibited by International lab standards to ensure accuracy.

    It is not yet clear whether the technicians’ conduct will disqualify the findings. A similar error by the same lab in 2005 resulted in the dismissal of doping chargers against Spanish cyclist Inigo Landaluze in December.


    Floyd Landis excuse #238 #6

    From AP-

    PARIS – Floyd Landis insisted Sunday he was drug free when he won the Tour de France, and said that a French laboratory “made some mistakes” when its results showed he had elevated levels of testosterone.

    The American’s positive doping test came less than a week after he won cycling’s biggest race on July 23.

    Although the Chatenay-Malabry lab is accredited by the International Olympic Committee and the World Anti-Doping Agency, Landis believes it got his test results wrong.

    “Even the best people make mistakes,” Landis said in an interview for French television. “I can’t say that the lab is always a bad lab, but I can say that in this case it made some mistakes … I did not take testosterone.”

    Landis was fired by his Phonak team within an hour of the positive test. In the following days he said a number of factors could have triggered the findings, including thyroid medication, cortisone injections for a damaged hip, dehydration, his tendency to produce too much testosterone, or some whiskey and beer he drank to celebrate winning the 17th stage the day after crumbling in the Alps.

    “I have to rely on my lawyers and the scientists, because I am a bicycle racer,” Landis said. “That’s all I know. I have to wait until the scientists can prove it. I hope that everybody will try to keep an open mind.”

    Landis couldn’t explain why his tests showed a testosterone-epitestosterone ratio of 11:1 — well above the accepted limit of 4:1.

    “I was not trying to make a connection between alcohol or with the drugs test,” he told the Stade 2 sports program. “I was trying to tell a story in detail of what happened the day before, and hoping somebody maybe had an explanation.”

    Testosterone, a male sex hormone, helps build muscle and improve stamina. The urine tests were done July 20 after the 17th stage victory during a grueling Alpine leg, when he regained nearly eight minutes against then-leader Oscar Pereiro.

    The comeback was hailed as the best single-stage ride of modern times, and one of the best ever in the 103-year Tour history.

    Give it up Floyd. Nobody believes your excuses anymore.


    Lance Armstrong Beaten by a Girl

    Lance Armstrong didn’t train very hard for the New York City Marathon and came in half an hour behind the woman’s winner.

    Lance Armstrong, who knows a thing or two about tough competition, got more of a challenge than he expected Sunday when he ran the ING New York City Marathon. “For the level of condition that I have now, that was without a doubt the hardest physical thing I have ever done,” the seven-time Tour de France winner said after the race, according to the Associated Press. “I never felt a point where I hit the wall. It was really a gradual progression of fatigue and soreness.”

    Armstrong, 35, placed 856th in a field of more than 35,000 runners. His goal was to run the five-borough course in less than three hours – a feat he accomplished, though barely, crossing the finish line in 2:59:36. Visitors to the marathon’s official Web site could watch his progress live on a special “Lance cam.”

    Lance Armstrong Marathon Photo The week before the race, Armstrong told the AP, “I’ve been training some, but I wouldn’t call it serious. It’s just something to fill a void in my life after I quit competing as a professional cyclist.”

    That approach may have come back to haunt him. “I think I bit off more than I could chew. I thought the marathon would be easier,” he said on Sunday. “(My shins) started to hurt in the second half, especially the right one. I could barely walk up here, because the calves are completely knotted up.”

    Marilson Gomes dos Santos of Brazil won the men’s race in a time of 2:09:58. Defending champion Jelena Prokopcuka finished first among the women, with a time of 2:25:05.

    Beaten by a girl. Actually, probably several. How embarrassing.


    Landis Stripped of Tour Title after Confirmation of Doping

    Floyd Landis has been stripped of his Tour de France victory and fired by his team after a second test confirmed that he had synthetic testosterone in his system.

    Floyd Landis was fired by his team and the Tour de France no longer considered him its champion after his second doping sample tested positive Saturday for higher-than-allowed levels of testosterone. The second or “B” sample, “confirmed the result of an adverse analytical finding” in the “A” sample, the International Cycling Union said.

    The Swiss-based team Phonak immediately severed ties with Landis and the UCI said it would ask USA Cycling to open disciplinary proceedings against him. “Landis will be dismissed without notice for violating the teams internal Code of Ethics,” Phonak said in a statement. “Landis will continue to have legal options to contest the findings. However, this will be his personal affair, and the Phonak team will no longer be involved in that.”

    Given the politics of international sports and the inherent corruption in the system, we’ll never know for sure whether Landis was legitimately dirty or was set up. Still, owing proof of the latter, the reasonable bet is the former. Truly disgraceful.



    Tour de France Winner Floyd Landis Flunks Drug Test

    Tour de France winner Floyd Landishas failed his drug test.

    Tour de France champion Floyd Landis tested positive for high levels of testosterone during the race, his Phonak team said Thursday on its Web site. The statement came a day after cycling’s world governing body said an unidentified rider had failed a drug test during the Tour.


    UPDATE: More information is coming now.

    Floyd Landis Doper Floyd Landis of the US checks the clock as he crosses the finish to place second of the 7th stage of the 93rd Tour de France cycling race, a 52-kilometer (32.3-mile) individual time trial between Saint-Gregoire and Rennes, western France, in this Saturday, July 8, 2006 file photo. Tour de France winner Landis failed to show up for a one day race in Denmark on Thursday July 27, 2006 a day after missing a scheduled event in the Netherlands. (AP Photo/Christian Hartmann) The Swiss-based Phonak said in a statement on it Web site that it was notified by the UCI Wednesday that Landis’ sample showed “an unusual level of testosterone/epitestosterone” when he was tested after stage 17 of the race last Thursday. “The team management and the rider were both totally surprised of this physiological result,” the statement said. Phonak said Landis would ask for analysis of his backup “B” sample “to prove either that this result is coming from a natural process or that this is resulting from a mistake.”

    Landis has been suspended pending the results. If the second sample confirms the initial finding, he will be fired from the team, Phonak said.

    Landis won the Tour de France on Sunday, keeping the title in U.S. hands for the eighth straight year. Lance Armstrong, long dogged by doping whispers and reports that he has vehemently denied, won the previous seven.

    Speculation that Landis may have tested positive had spread earlier Thursday after he failed to show up for a one-day race in Denmark on Thursday. A day earlier, he missed a scheduled event in the Netherlands. On the eve of the Tour’s start, nine riders — including pre-race favorites Jan Ullrich and Ivan Basso — were ousted, implicated in a Spanish doping investigation. The names of Ullrich and Basso turned up on a list of 56 cyclists who allegedly had contact with Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes, who’s at the center of the Spanish doping probe.

    While I hope this is indeed a false positive, it doesn’t look good for Landis. Let alone his sport. While it’s true that American team sports have long been dogged by steroids suspicions, there hasn’t been anything like this since the testing era began.



    Landis Wins the Tour

    American Landis wins Tour de France

    Floyd Landis won the Tour de France on Sunday, keeping cycling’s most prestigious title in American hands for the eighth straight year.

    And, no doubt, the French are so pleased.

    This is really a remarkable story, given that Landis has trouble walking, yet just won the Tour de France–and that after making up a seeming insurmountable gap a few days ago (via SI):

    “disaster” struck Wednesday in Stage 16 in the Alps.

    Landis allowed Pereiro to take the yellow jersey as the race left the Pyrenees at the end of the second week to conserve energy for the three crucial stages in the Alps. That strategy seemed to backfire after Landis lost the jersey in a second Alpine stage at La Toussuire, dropping from first to 11th — 8 minutes, 8 seconds behind Pereiro.

    Yet, Landis was able to make that up in one day and go on to win.

    (x-posted at PoliBlog)

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