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Thread: GO Virenque!

  1. #1
    TX Ciclista CarlJStoneham's Avatar
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    GO Virenque!

    That was AWESOME! Virenque saw the maillot jaune on trouble and stepped up to help. He even lost himself some time in doing that (I assume) but keeping yellow on a Frenchman's shoulders was more important than anything else. No matter what you think about the deal with Axel, you have to admit that was a high class move. I can't see an American doing that. Gotta love the French sense of national pride Virenque just moved up a few steps in my book (and he was already pretty high)...

  2. #2
    Senior Member Timo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CarlJStoneham
    That was AWESOME! Virenque saw the maillot jaune on trouble and stepped up to help. He even lost himself some time in doing that (I assume) but keeping yellow on a Frenchman's shoulders was more important than anything else. No matter what you think about the deal with Axel, you have to admit that was a high class move. I can't see an American doing that. Gotta love the French sense of national pride Virenque just moved up a few steps in my book (and he was already pretty high)...
    Oh, PLEASE. He simply does everything he can to get exactly the effect that he has on you. As usual, the camera was more important than anything else. Not Voeckler or the yellow jersey. When in 1998 Zülle and his other Festina teammates were imprisoned (they stripped Alex naked and even took away his glasses before they jailed him) Virenque didn't step up to help. No, de denied being involved and instead put the blame on all others. He played the innocent victim but had no problem with accusing the others in the team. Richard Virenque is the biggest rat in cycling and everybody knows it. Only the French still want to believe that he was innocent.

  3. #3
    Retired Member ultra-g's Avatar
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    He's just showing his French Nationalism. If it were a non-French he'd stab em in the back.
    I Changed My User Name!

  4. #4
    Senior Member Timo's Avatar
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    http://outside.away.com/outside/maga.../9907tour.html

    (...)

    It began early in the morning of (...) July 8, (1998), after Willy Voet, a trainer for the Festina road-racing team—of which Virenque was the star rider—loaded a logo-plastered team car with the usual tools of his trade: 250 doses of erythropoietin, or EPO, 100 doses of anabolic steroids, and an assortment of other illicit performance-enhancing substances. Then he set out from Belgium for Ireland, where the 1998 Tour de France would begin. He left the main highway a few miles east of Lille, deciding to cross the French border on a secondary road. Unfortunately for Voet, authorities keep close watch on the smaller road, which is often used by international drug smugglers. Customs agents were there waiting.
    Voet's arrest touched off a dizzying, disastrous series of drug-related revelations and detainments, and weeks of international headlines. The scandal brought the mighty Tour to its knees, embroiling dozens of top riders, warping the competition, and decimating the field. Festina, named for the Spanish watchmaking company that sponsors the French team, was disqualified for doping, and all its members were taken into police custody for questioning. Six other top teams voluntarily withdrew after staging chaotic slowdown protests in support of their castigated fellow riders. Of the 21 teams that started the race on July 11, only 14 finished at Paris's Arc de Triomphe 22 days later.

    (...)

    "In the beginning the officials were friendly, but then the horror show began," Festina rider Alex Zülle said after his arrest. "I was put in an isolation cell and had to strip naked. They inspected every body cavity. The next morning they confronted me with compromising documents they had found. They said they were used to seeing hardened criminals in the chair I was sitting on. I wanted out of that hellhole, so I confessed."

    Voet also confessed. The team director and team doctor confessed. One by one the other Festina riders confessed. They confessed to shooting up EPO and blood thinners that shielded EPO's presence; steroids and steroid-masking agents; amphetamines, testosterone, and human growth hormone. Voet confessed to infusing a sodium solution into the riders' bloodstreams to reduce red blood cell density and beat the tests, and to administering pot belge, a ballistic compound of cocaine, caffeine, heroin, and cortisone.
    They all confessed that the illegal substances were procured through sophisticated black-market networks involving physicians, attorneys, and team officials in league with drug traffickers. They confessed to contributing portions of their salaries and prize winnings to dope funds and to observing major sums of money changing hands. They confessed, finally, that virtually every other team relied on doping as heavily as they did. Festina merely had the bad luck of getting caught.

    One rider, however, confessed nothing: Richard Virenque, Festina's team leader and the darling of French cycling fans. He was one of the sport's premier hill-climbers, four-time "King of the Mountains" in the Tour de France and overall runner-up in the '97 race. At age 29, Virenque, a darkly handsome Frenchman who grew up in Casablanca, was at the height of his powers, poised to finally win the Tour and thus claim a place in the French sports pantheon. "Richard the Lionhearted" was adored for his competitiveness, panache, and dash. He was a heartthrob for teenagers from Calais to Marseilles.

    Virenque denied everything. At first his resistance seemed brave, as if he were keeping faith with the riders' traditional solidarity and code of silence. But then, as the scandal widened and hardball police tactics shattered the riders' formerly inviolate code, his repeated denials began to seem disingenuous, then disloyal, and finally ludicrously self-serving.

    Festina's team doctor, Eric Ryckaert, admitted to presiding over a long-term doping regimen that involved the whole team. Voet enumerated in detail the times he'd administered drugs to Virenque. The trainer charged that besides being one of the team's heaviest dopers, Virenque was instrumental in supplying EPO to his teammates. When Virenque joined Festina in 1993, Voet said, the rider told him, "I will try anything."

    "Virenque clearly knew what he was doing," Voet added in his book, Massacre à la Chaine, or Assembly-Line Massacre, a dope-and-tell exposé published in France this spring. "He was the leader. He was the chief and spokesman. Nothing could be decided without consulting him. In the period leading up to the Tour...he was the person who pushed the use of banned substances the most." Blood, urine, and hair analyses suggested that Virenque had been using steroids, steroid-masking agents, and human growth hormone as well as EPO during the Tour.

    Confronted with this evidence, Virenque continued to deny, dissemble, and stonewall. He only took what his doctors gave him, he said. They told him they were injecting vitamins. He had never failed an International Cycling Union¬sanctioned doping test.

    Nearly a year after Voet's bust, the criminal inquiry into the Festina affair grinds on. Today's court appearance in Lille will be Virenque's first since he was placed under formal investigation. If there is a court trial, however, it won't begin until September at the earliest, well after the '99 Tour de France.
    Virenque's case has thus evolved into an excruciating dilemma for Jean-Marie Leblanc, the Tour's beleaguered director. Leblanc has vowed that no rider involved with drugs will compete in this month's race. While involved up to his eyeballs, Virenque has never admitted using any illegal substances, has never been found guilty of a crime, and, as he claims, has never failed any official doping tests. For all his difficulties, he remains France's most popular—and now most ridiculed—cyclist.

    (...)

    Through the winter the sport was shaken by repeated Festina-affair aftershocks. The court inquiry in Lille kept deepening and expanding. Thirteen people are now being formally investigated, including not only athletes such as Virenque or factotums such as Voet, but officials such as Daniel Baal, vice president of the ICU and head of the French cycling federation.

    (...)

    Virenque, meanwhile, battled on two fronts. Besides being criminally prosecuted, he lost his job when Festina fired all of its veteran, scandal-ridden athletes. Judged damaged marketing goods and a pariah on the circuit because of his betrayal of former teammates, he was passed over by every other elite professional team, even those from France. Last December, a tearful Virenque, still claiming his innocence and petulantly threatening retaliatory lawsuits, retired from the sport.

    The retirement lasted a month. In January, Virenque signed an estimated $1.5 million contract with the Italian team Polti, which decided that the French cyclist might be an OK investment after all. Franco Polti, an extremely wealthy manufacturer of home appliances, cheerfully acknowledged he was hiring Virenque to boost his company's exposure in the lucrative French market.

    (...)

    Then, in early May (1999), the French criminal justice system lobbed another bombshell, when police apprehended 15 members of the cycling community in a doping sting in Paris. Among the detained was 24-year-old Belgian Frank Vandenbroucke, the most talented young rider in the sport.
    The alleged doping ring was led by Bernard Sainz, a horse breeder with longtime ties to the cycling world, and a prominent sports lawyer, Bertrand Lavelot. Police raided Lavelot's house and his office and found doping paraphernalia and $60,000 in cash. Agents tapped Lavelot's phone, recording damaging conversations with many of his rider-clients, including Richard Virenque.

    Yet again, Virenque spent a day under interrogation, this time in a Paris police station. Initial reports had the cyclist caving in and admitting everything. But then Virenque's attorney in the Festina case, Gilbert Collard, arrived on the scene and the story changed. Collard insisted that Virenque had only acknowledged receiving "vitamin injections" and "homeopathic substances" from Sainz. "He did not admit to having ever been doped," Collard said.

    (...)

    "I've been in this business for a long time," Festina's Alex Zülle told reporters after his arrest last summer. "I know what goes on. Everyone knows. The riders, the team leaders, the organizers, the officials, the journalists. As a rider you feel tied into the system. It's like being on the highway. The law says there's a speed limit of 65, but everyone is driving 70 or faster. Why should I be the one who obeys the limit?"

    (...)

  5. #5
    don d.
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    Quote Originally Posted by CarlJStoneham
    (and he was already pretty high)...
    I think I know what you meant by that.

    Virenque, like all of us, is assuredly a flawed human being, and like most of us, is probably a fundamentally decent human being. Kudos to the Harlequin Virenque.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Timo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by don d.
    I think I know what you meant by that.

    Virenque, like all of us, is assuredly a flawed human being, and like most of us, is probably a fundamentally decent human being. Kudos to the Harlequin Virenque.
    ...the problem is that Virenque is anything but a decent human being. He's a big rat and what he did in 1998, the lies and stabs in the backs of his Festina teammates, is the biggest but certainly not the only example of his disloyal and self-serving nature.

  7. #7
    TX Ciclista CarlJStoneham's Avatar
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    Say what you want, I was immensely impressed by Virenque's respect for yellow on a Frenchman's shoulders, even when on a competing team. I like Virenque and, short of you posting a story where he is found guilty of hitting another cyclists in the knees with a crowbar, I'll continue to pull for him. Personally, I hope he gets the KoM this year. Then we'd have TWO unbeatable records Sorry you don't feel the same way Timo, but your posts are in vain

  8. #8
    Senior Member Timo's Avatar
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    Your actual believe that Virenque acted out of respect for Voeckler really makes me wonder if you've watched the cycling news over the last twelve years. You can't be serious.
    "He was the leader. He was the chief and spokesman. Nothing could be decided without consulting him. In the period leading up to the Tour...he was the person who pushed the use of banned substances the most." Blood, urine, and hair analyses suggested that Virenque had been using steroids, steroid-masking agents, and human growth hormone as well as EPO during the Tour.
    like I said, he should have stepped up to help when this happened to his teammates...
    "I was put in an isolation cell and had to strip naked. They inspected every body cavity.
    ...not when the problems for yellow jersey Voeckler gave him yet another possiblity to act out his carefully ochestrated acts in front of camera. Given his behaviour in the Festina case, even if found guilty of hitting another cyclist in the knees with a crowbar he would play the innocent victim who was framed and falsly accused and will do what he does best: he'll start crying like a baby and through his tears he will point his ratty finger at others. "It was them, France. Your hero is innocent as always".

  9. #9
    TX Ciclista CarlJStoneham's Avatar
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    You can't be serious
    Why not? I'm serious all the time. Why would this time be any different?

  10. #10
    Since Ever Since Devil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by don d.
    I think I know what you meant by that.

    Virenque, like all of us, is assuredly a flawed human being, and like most of us, is probably a fundamentally decent human being. Kudos to the Harlequin Virenque.
    Here, here.

    Man, what the hell is wrong with this place? It seemed to pull a 180 since I left on Thursday. Everybody is so goddamned negative all of a sudden. "The race sucks, Lance is doping, Basso let him win" etc..

  11. #11
    Wood Licker Maelstrom's Avatar
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    This is only my 3rd race to watch and the only road race I do watch (mtb/dh fan here) Well here are some positives. I love this race. Ok, not a lot of charging, but everyone is killing themselves constantly.

    Whether lance is doping or not has no affect on my opinion. I already spouted my beliefs on doping and sport.

    People complain in sports. This is really no different then in the 90s when you would talk to a buffalo bills fan in the fall and then talk to them again jan31st. Like jeckyl and hide haha

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