Today a Spanish judge removed the gag order that has been in place since the May arrest of Doctor (and I use the term loosely here) Eufemiano Fuentes and the beginning of what is being termed Operación Puerto. This has potential to have a huge Tour de France impact. You heard me, huge. How huge? I'll tell you.
The Spanish Secretary of Sport is flying to France tonight to discuss the results with his French counterpart, Jean-François Lamour, before the start of the Tour. Which, I need not remind anybody, is in two days. Some of the names being tossed around are big names in the Tour. In fact, two of my top three podium picks. Names like Jan Ullrich, Ivan Basso, Oscar Sevilla, Joseba Beloki, Santiago Botero, Santi Pérez, Quique Gutierrez and Angel Edo.
No matter the outcome, it won't be pretty. Here are the possibilities as I see them, from best possible to worst:
1. The Tour decides to allow the riders to participate in the Tour, pending more evidence. In my perfect scenario, the ultimate winner of the Tour will be cleared of his involvement post-race.
2. The Tour decides to ban the suspected riders from the tour. They are later implicated. It's risky, but it would look like a genius decision in hindsight.
3. The Tour decides to allow the riders to participate in the Tour, pending more evidence. In this scenario, the ultimate winner is later implicated. Bad for the Tour, and bad for the sport.
4. The Tour decides to ban the suspected riders from the tour. They are later cleared.
Here's the rub. If Scenario 4 should come true, while it would be terrible for this year, it could be a good thing in the long run. If athletes are not allowed to race just through involvement with a dirty doctor, it could be the one message strong enough to actually do something about doping.
Sources for the above are:
Date: June 29
Ride type: Commute
June mileage: 360
Year to date mileage: 1822