Lots of chatter on the airwaves about Hans-Michael Holczer going to Katusha. “How can a guy responsible at Gerolsteiner for Rebellin, Kohl, Schumacher and Levi (the latter according to statements in his own book at least) come back to cycling?” That sort of stuff.
I see it a little differently. Holczer has been trying to get back into the sport since Gerolsteiner collapsed at the end of 2008. Of all the ways that could happen, him going to Katusha is probably not so bad, isn’t it?
- Sure, Holczer was asleep at the wheel at Gerolsteiner when it came to the positive tests they scored in 2008, and according to his book did nothing when he was made aware of “suspicious values” from Levi. He famously remarked that an internal testing program was not necessary because he trusted his riders. But I personally don’t think he had any bad intentions (note: this is based on absolutely nothing but gut feel).
- At any rate, does a swap from Tchmil to Holczer really change the balance at Katusha dramatically?
- The cycling world wasn’t relying on Katusha to solve the doping issue anyway. The most memorable anti-doping moves from the team have been a completely unenforceable 5-year-salary penalty amendment to their rider contracts and the shipping of Kolobnev to the doping goulag without any form of process. I don’t think either are a meaningful contribution.
- It keeps things nice and tidy for fans. White helmet and black helmet teams so to speak. There was never much reason to like Katusha, now there still isn’t. I mean, has anybody every seen the words “Katusha fan” being used without them referring to the air-conditioning unit in their team bus?
This problem is as old as cycling itself. Remember Willy Voet’s book about the Festina affair? To me the remarkable part was not that half the team did everything the cycling Gods had forbidden, but that the other half didn’t.