So the Court of Arbitration for Sport has decided to ban retired cyclist Jan Ullrich for two years, a shocking blow to Ullrich’s hope of contesting the 2012 Tour de France from a large, comfortable chair at his home in Germany, but also making use of their new time machine, the CAS Doping Offense Win Negator (CASDOWN), to “annul” Ullrich’s results from May 1st, 2005. This move follows the recent reshuffling of race results from 2010 following Tour de France and Giro winner Alberto Contador’s retro-active disqualifications for doping, and begs the question, “Does anyone actually win races anymore?” The newfound ability of the CAS, while honorable and necessary, creates forms of higher math and alternative realities traditionally only found in the study of quantum physics. In a bizarre twist, an engineer at Google today announced that, using a combination of advanced algorithms, urine samples from the past five years, and a brief financial analysis of personal debt levels of the current pro peloton, it’s now easier to predict the 2012 winner of the Tour de France, than to predict the winners from the past ten years.
Critics, of course, are already arguing the CASDOWN system is nothing more than a marketing campaign to try to make professional cycling more popular in places like the U.S. where cycling is currently seen as way more boring than football (real football, the kind played with hands, not feet), but where sports betting, revisionist history, and fleeting celebrity are wildly popular. In addition to wondering who’ll win each of the Grand Tours in 2012, now we can all put money down on results dating back at least into the 2000s. (Personally, my money for the 2005 Tour is on Servais Knaven from Quick Step.)
Many donut-enjoying, rarely-standing-while-climbing “power” riders, myself included, were fans of Ullrich, though, so I’m not insensitive to the human aspect of this result. On that front, I’m happy to report that Ullrich has capitalized even on this setback, by–and I’m not making this up–becoming a spokesperson for a German hair stimulant marketed as “Doping for the Hair.” Sadly, while it appears riders like Ullrich and Contador aren’t obligated to return any prize money or other gains acquired while “not really winning,” it does appear that the riders must be declared legally “non-existent” during the retro-active period of their ban from sport. While the scientific community is still unsure what this actually means for the racers, it seems clear that some form of “undead syndrome” may be occurring, which would partially explain some of the otherwise inexplicable behavior of Floyd Landis, as well as this statement, released by Ullrich yesterday (italics mine):
Shortly before the 2006 tour, I was hit: Suspension, headlines, ostracism, house searches, criminal complaints. I felt abandoned, fallen like a leaf. The whole world wanted to put me against the wall and then I went instinctively to ground, and eventually retired. As I said, I will not complain that not everything was warranted. Shortly after my suspension I wanted to explain my actions publicly but my hands were tied. On the advice of my lawyers, and as is usual in such cases, I have been silent on the allegations. Ultimately, this issue has polluted me for years so much that I was sick and I eventually broke down.”
Did you catch that? While I can’t be certain, I’m pretty sure Jan Ullrich just admitted to being a vampire. In and of itself, it’s a pretty shocking revelation, but like most things in pro cycling these days, it still raises more questions than it answers. While long-term, congenital vampirism would certainly cast a new light on the whole blood doping thing, it seems more likely, in Ullrich’s case, that blood sucking is a result of the ruling by the CAS, not the cause. Clearly, being forced out of existence for a few years by the CAS, and then having to go on living as a spokesperson for German hair stimulants, was really the last nail in the coffin.