Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Why would Moreni do it?

I'm wondering about the motivation for Cofidis rider Cristian Moreni (admittedly) using testosterone during the Tour de France. Particularly when he is a member of a team that is now outspoken about its anti-doping stance.

Why would he dope? Why would he use the readily detectable substance that Floyd Landis was famously accused of using in 2006 and will probably lose his Tour victory over?

As pro riders in the Tour go, Moreni is a solid middle-of-the-pack guy. Most people following the Tour have probably never heard of him. He turned pro in 1998. He's 35 years of age now, presumably in the latter part of his career as an active competitive cyclist. (Well, now he's at the end of it).

He stood 161st in the UCI pro rankings. It was his 3rd Tour, after 66th place in 2002 and a DNF in 2006.

He's been with Cofidis for two years, with modest success:

2007. Cofidis
2e une étape du Tour de Suisse
4e une étape du Tour de Suisse
5e une étape du Tour de Suisse 6e de Milan-Turin
7e du Championnat d'Italie, une étape du Tour de France (Autun)
13e une étape du Tour de France (Castres)
15e de Milan-San Remo
18e du Tour des Flandres

2006. Cofidis
2e une étape du Tour de France (Mâcon)
4e une étape du Tour de France (Pau), du Tour de Lombardie
5e une étape du Tour de France (Dax), de la Clasica San Sebastien
6e du Grand Prix Miguel Indurain, de Züri Metzgete
7e du Tour de Pologne
8e du Championnat d'Italie, une étape du Tour de France (Gap), du Tour du Piémont
10e une étape du Tour du Pays-Basque, une étape du Tour de Suisse
15e du Grand Prix de Plouay
18e de l'Amstel Gold Race
19e de Paris-Tours
44e du Tour de France
Abandon dans la septième étape du Tour d'Italie

The Daily Peleton wrote a glowing preview about him before the Tour: "In signing Cristian Moreni two years ago, Cofidis snapped up one of the most underrated riders in the sport. Endowed with a good sprint, the thirty-four year old Italian can also read races tactically like the best, able to choose the right breaks. Last year, he was outgunned by Matteo Tosatto in a three-up sprint to the line for Stage 18. If Wiggins fails, it is not unfair to say that the former Italian champ will be their best chance of a stage victory. His ability on the hills will also be a boon for the French team."

His positive test came after the 11th stage of the Tour - Marseille to Montpellier, 182.5km, one of the flattest stages of the Tour. He finished 102nd in that stage out of 168 riders. Dave Zabriskie, Igor Anton, and Sylvain Calzati didn't finish the stage.

Presumably he would have used the testosterone after stage 9 or 10. Right around the time the Sinkewitz positive test was announced. He is not mentioned in the medical report for Stage 10 or Stage 9, and the day before Stage 9 was a rest day. Neither is he mentioned in the medical reports for Stage 8, Stage 7, Stage 6, or Stage 5.

His finishes in this Tour before his positive doping test ranged from 7th place in Stage 5 to 157th place in Stage 2. At Stage 11 he stood in 54th place for the green jersey and 53rd overall. In the first week of the Tour, it was said "Chavanel and Moreni rode in the breaks again but without any remarkable results."

His team leader Sylvain Chavanel was named most aggressive rider in Stage 5, and was leading in the King of the Mountains competition (in 1st or 2nd place) through Stage 9, when he tumbled down the rankings. In the middle of the Alps. Well, if you can't hold onto the position then, you're not likely to in the Pyrenees, either.

I'm searching. I'm looking for some obvious logical reason for this guy to dope, to use testosterone for a speedy comeback from a tough stage. Maybe he wanted to help his team leader get back up there in the standings. I wanted to find a horrific crash, or an epic struggle against the broomwagon like we witnessed in Robbie McEwen or Dave Zabriskie this year. Disabling saddle sores, even.

But I'm just not seeing his rationale in the numbers. I didn't want to see some older guy with chronic aches and pains who just wanted the Tour de France to be just a little bit easier.

Did he simply use it routinely? For how long? Where did he get it? Who knew? Who else is using it?

Maybe answers will come out later, maybe not. One can almost understand how the big guns would dope, because so much is on the line. But for this guy, Moreni, all he could do was lose. And take his whole team down with him.

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Thanks to doping we discoverd your page dedicated to the Lanterne Rouge. Nice work (on the page not the doping).
He'd dope to ride with the pack. He used testosterone to be under ratio of 4:1. Simple. More power. Used right he'd not get caught and all would be easier.
He resorted to doping because the rewards (money, fame) are significantly greater than the risk of getting caught. Think about the Enron and WorldCom executives.
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