Blazin' Saddles

Yes to AV?

Blazin' Saddles

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Following two months in Australia
and a few days in Hong Kong, Saddles returned to the UK this week to discover
that, when not mesmerised by the peachy rear of the perma-tanned sister of a
commoner named Kate who married a balding prince called William, everyone was
harping on about AV.

More precisely, either a
resounding "yes" or "no" to AV.

Just why everyone was so
interested in Alexandre Vinokourov is another matter - he's not even racing the
forthcoming Giro, which starts in earnest on Saturday in Turin and will be
covered in its entirety by Saddles (lucky you).

If Saddles had to vote
"yes" or "no" for Vino, he'd probably go for the former.
Yes, the Kazakh snow leopard has been a bit of a rogue in his time, but he
lights the peloton up with his platinum blonde hair and his never-say-die
attacking style of riding. And he looks like a Bond villain, which is always a
good thing.

No, you've got it all wrong,
explained a friend of BS. It's not about voting for Vino but for an Alternative
Vinokourov. In which case, the answer would be "no". Why change a man
who has already changed his spots? The current, ageing, but still aggressive
Vino will do for the next season or two - no need for an alternative version.

No, said another friend, it's not
even about the Astana powerhouse. It's about whether or not we want a
"first past the post" system or a type of "preferential
voting" scheme.

What a stupid question, Saddles
thought. Surely doing away with the "first past the post" system
would somewhat throw a spanner into the aspirations of guys like Mark

That said, if it came down to
"preferential voting" then Johnny Hoogerland would have this Giro
wrapped up in a bag before Vacansoleil had the chance to say the words
"Ricco", "erm", "yeah", "maybe",
"a", "mistake".

Calling his friends in Hong Kong
was rather fruitless: over there, A.V. is a 2005 film in which four university
students, in a bid to satisfy their desire for Japanese adult movie stars,
decide to ask for government funding to direct their own porno flick. The
project attracts numerous youngsters who want to be actors in the film - and
although Saddles hasn't seen the film, judging from the synopsis it would get
his vote.

Anyway, having weighed up all his
options, at the end of the day Saddles put his cross in the "yes"
box. Change and forward thinking is a good thing, right?

Or so thinks the UCI, who this
week came up with an ingenious method of cutting down doping practices in the
peloton: ban the use of needles.

That it has taken the ham-fisted
organisation so long to come up with such a strategic tour de force surely says
more about the UCI's competence than anything else following yet another year
brimming with more bungles than an episode of Rainbow on constant loop.

Yes, believe it or not, but this
uncharacteristically zippy move to bring in a "No Needle Policy" to a
sport where needles have perhaps done more damage than the combined efforts of
Festina watches and a stockpile of Pot Belge, is hoped to contribute to the
eradication of doping by diminishing the use of injections in cycling.

Well, it's nice to know that the
UCI has its fingers on the pulse of the latest in scientific theory. It's like
a school banning cigarettes years after imposing a strictly non-smoking policy
amongst students.

It's been another busy week for
the UCI, who decided to get in on the AV vote by casting a resounding

In this case, its "no"
came when asked by French authorities to hand over blood and urine samples of
Alexandre Vinokourov - along with Iban Mayo and Cristian Moreni - which would
have proved the riders broken French law back during the 2007 Tour.

Clearly, the UCI are happy to let
bygones be bygones in a bid to stop the inevitable fallout which will ensue.
You see, while Mayo and Moreni are long gone, Vino's still around - and seeing
that the Kazakh is now alternative and different from the bad leopard he was in
the past, they'll give him the benefit of the doubt.

The same cannot be said for Floyd
Landis, however, who faces legal proceedings from the UCI following the
"numerous unacceptable public statements" the former rider made while
attempting to sink his old team-mate Lance Armstrong last year.

"The UCI is seeking to
defend the integrity of the cycling movement as a whole against the accusations
of a rider who, by breaching the anti-doping rules, caused cycling serious
harm," a statement read.

Now if anyone knows a bundle
about causing cycling serious harm it's the UCI - although that is an
outlandish observation Saddles will not make for fear of future reprisals.
After all, he's diabetic and needs his needles.

Follow Blazin' Saddles
throughout the Giro on

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