July 19, 2004
Pantani tribute will draw protest
Wednesday's ITT up Alpe d'Huez has been officially dedicated to Marco Pantani, the Italian climber and 1998 Tour winner who died in February.
Pantani fans remember not only Pantani's win in '98, but also his exclusion from the Tour in 2001 and 2003, exclusions that Pantani apparently referred to in notes found in his hotel room after his death of cocaine poisining.
In recognition of Pantani's complicated relationship with the Tour, some tifosi plan to distribute a leaflet:
“Today’s gesture of dedicating today’s stage to Marco doesn’t erase the outrage of having prevented him from riding the Tour de France in 2001 and 2003. Races are made by champions (they are not the property of organisers) and champions have the right to participate even when they can’t win. THE WAR ON DOPING CAN’T BE FOUGHT BY CRIMINALISING A CHAMPION. One of the reasons why Marco died is the continual, five-year long, assassination of his dignity, his talent and his pride.
“Marco honoured the Tour de France with his exploits every time that he participated. The organisers of the Tour have excluded him from the race he loved, wounding deeply. Hypocrisy kills, let’s put an end to it.”
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Pantani twice tested a hematocrit over 60%! I don't think it was The Tour that was the major contributor to his downfall.
Posted by: andy at Jul 19, 2004 2:13:40 AM
I take with a grain of salt any doper's claims of "champion." I could be an international cycling hero too if I were able to take steroids and performance enhancing drugs.
However, the "hypocrisy" claim is valid. Let's not celebrate a proven doper, particularly when his win probably came when he doped to the gills.
Posted by: Out4Blood at Jul 19, 2004 1:41:45 PM