Vino Gets Booed: Yesterday Alexander Vinokourov won Liège-Bastogne-Liège, probably his biggest victory since coming back from a two-year suspension for doping. But rather than get cheered for beating a field of tough competitors, he got booed. Why? The conventional wisdom is that it’s because he’s a former doper, and once a doper, always a doper, right? Jonathan Vaughters seemed to say as much on his Twitter feed, where he relayed a question posed by Phil Liggett on Vino’s win: “So, Jonathan, how is it these guys can come back from suspension and still ride so well? JV: Ummmmm…. Uhhhh….”
You’ve got to give Vaughters credit for being so shamelessly hypocritical. The man co-runs a team with David Millar, himself a former doper who won’t likely ever be booed for winning a race. I’ll give Millar credit for having been as repentful as he was, but it’s the pot calling the kettle black if his own team manager can’t accept that cyclists who cheat can serve their sentence and come back to have succesful careers. Hell, Ivan Basso has quietly worked his way back into the pro peloton, while Alejandro Valverde still manages to race (and be cheered for it) even though he’s under current suspicion for doping and can’t race anywhere on Italian territory.
That Vino got booed is poor form by the fans lined up at the finish line, in my opinion.
Bike DUI is an Offense in D.C.: In more local news, last week the D.C. Court of Appeals found that a cyclist can be charged with DUI if they are found to be riding their bike while drunk. The stupidity of riding your bike while drunk aside, this may be the most asinine ruling ever.
In essense, the judge seems to have taken the idea that cyclists operate as motor vehicles for the purposes of sharing the road to an illogical extreme. First off, it’s ridiculous to equate a drunk cyclist with a drunk driver. Cars are thousands of pounds worth of steel, bicycles are not. Cars can top 120 mph, bicycles may at best hit 50 mph. (And really, how many drunks trying to get home are going to do sprint intervals downhill to actually hit that high a speed? That’s right — none.) There’s a huge magnitude of difference between the damage that a drunk cyclist and a drunk driver can do, and the application of the law should faithfully reflect that.
Second, I’m just floored that a judge would take a law that contemplates a suspension of a drivers license for six months for the first offense and apply it to a cyclist. Should a drunk cyclist stand to lose their drivers license if they weren’t actually driving? Does that even make sense?
Third, I think the police who arrested the cyclist could have charged him with any number of lesser offenses, whether public intoxication or disorderly conduct. A DUI just doesn’t fit the bill.
Does this speak to the need for a more specific offense to be writing into the books? Some states do list Bicycling Under the Influence (BUI) as a crime; should D.C.? I’m not sure. But this does speak to the larger issue of what space in the law cyclists occupy. Yes, we’re supposed to follow the rules of the road, but there’s also a widely held recognition that since we pose a much less significant threat to public safety than cars do, we can often roll through Stop signs without much of a second look from a police officer. While I do think we should be able to share the road with cars, I think distinctions have to be made so that we’re not treated the same as thousands of pounds of metal capable of incredibly high speeds.
I do hope this decision gets appealed, because it sets a horrible precedent. I don’t expect a rash of bike DUIs to be doled out over the course of the summer, but that it’s even possible is plain foolish.