Frank Schleck suspended after admitting funds transfer
COPENHAGEN, Denmark -- Cyclist Frank Schleck was provisionally suspended by his team Friday after admitting he transferred money to a Swiss bank account held by a Spanish doctor at the center of a major doping scandal.
Ford's take on Schleck
Even in an age where convoluted confessions have become fashionable in cycling, this one is a head-scratcher. Luxembourg's Franck Schleck is said to have blithely transferred $10,000 to a Swiss bank account registered to Spanish doping doctor Eufemiano Fuentes in early 2006 without knowing who Fuentes was or exactly how the investment would help his career. Then -- oh gosh -- a couple of months later, when the Operation Puerto scandal broke in Spain, Scheck realized he had blundered into the axis of evil.
If Schleck had nothing to hide, why not tell his team at the time instead of waiting for an interrogation by anti-doping authorities 2½ years later? Perhaps Schleck could have cooperated with Puerto investigators by shedding light on how Fuentes and his middlemen induced innocent and apparently free-spending cyclists to hand over their Euros on the flimsiest of pretexts.
Schleck, quite properly, has been suspended by the CSC-Saxo Bank team, and has offered to undergo DNA testing to prove that none of the blood evidence seized in Fuentes clinic was his. But even if Schleck didn't actually ship vital fluids to Fuentes, it's hard to see how his actions differ materially from suspended former CSC and Discovery Channel star Ivan Basso, who copped to the "intention to dope" after many months of denial.
We're once again reminded that outside investigation is just as effective, if not more so, in fingering suspects than actual drug testing. Left unanswered is why it took authorities from Schleck's native country this long to go after the rider, who led the 2008 Tour de France for several days.
Operation Puerto continues to play out in dribs and drabs like a recurring scene from a B horror movie. People keep stumbling on the same basement refrigerator, opening the door, and screaming when the same mutilated corpse is revealed.
Schleck and team director Bjarne Riis deserve hard questioning, but the harshest criticism should be reserved for Spanish authorities, who persist in trying to padlock the aforementioned fridge and haul it off to the dump. The "closed" case files should be released to any investigative or sporting body that wants them. Let's not forget that only 50 of the 200 athletes allegedly named in the paperwork were cyclists, yet cycling is the only sport being made to bleed and bleed and bleed.
-- Bonnie D. Ford
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press