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Friday, 17 January 2014

WHY THE BALLAN SUSPENSION MAKES ME SO ANGRY

First, I welcome the suspension, that should be clear from the off.
The doping offence relates to 2009, for blood transfusions while riding for Lampre.
Lampre have been investigated since then, in the Mantova inquiry, and more will come out for sure as they go through case by case.
This has taken so long, and is still ongoing, because of lack of resources thrown at it. Add to it that Italian justice crawls to conclusion at best of times.

On the one hand is commendable that Italy will not let go of suspected riders (unlike their Spanish counterpart), on the other, the glacial pace taken to prosecute anyone makes a mockery of sporting justice.
Since 2009 signor Ballan has been able to ride and (although he was very briefly suspended pending investigation) has been paid for his services. He took gold at the Worlds in 2008 in incredible fashion, Flanders in 2007 and nobody can truly tell me he was clean then. The shine has gone.
He was paid handsomely to the detriment of riders who could not get a ride with Lampre or subsequently with BMC because he was in their ranks and with hefty pay packet.
This is what irks me so much about doping. Not just the health risks, not just the cheating, not just the false glory they bathe themselves in, but the potential careers of clean riders who never stood a chance because these dopers were there to rape this glorious sport.
A doping investigation should not take this long. Clean careers are affected by this.
Federations should step in to help these inquiries with manpower and/or financing. It cannot be left to one busy investigator to go through all these files, it's simply ridiculous.
I would also like to see these suspended riders pay back the money earned since the offence, plus a year's worth of wages, plus a hefty fine for denting cycling reputation. That could be a much better deterrent that the current suspension. At the moment, they keep earning money, then after two years they usually find employment again as they made their name while cheating. That has to change. Give them a second chance, but make them pay for it, empty their pockets of the money they stole.
Ballan has been fined a mere €2,400 in total and at 34 he was in the twilight of his career...

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