Andre Cardoso's former teammate Phil Gaimon has criticised the Portuguese rider's defence after he tested positive for EPO ahead of the Tour de France, suggesting that he's 'getting lots of advice from an idiot'. Gaimon added that, "it just comes off like he doesn't give a shit, which is frustrating."
Cardoso made his defence on Tuesday night after the UCI confirmed his Adverse Analytical Finding for Erythropoietin, in a sample collected in an out-of-competition test on June 18, just days after he rode the Critérium du Dauphiné alongside Trek-Segafredo team leader Alberto Contador and finished 19th overall.
He was named as part of the Trek-Segafredo team for the Tour de France but has now been suspended until his B sample is tested and his case his heard by the UCI Anti-Doping tribunal. He risks a four-year suspension.
Cardoso's first reaction came via a message on Facebook, saying: “I believe in clean sport and have always conducted myself as a clean athlete, but I realize that this news puts a dark cloud on not just myself but also on our sport and my team, teammates and staff.”
He asked his colleagues and fans alike not to judge him too quickly.
"I am fully aware that I will be presumed to be guilty, but it's important to me to say that I am devastated by this news and I wanted to state that I have never taken any illegal substances," he wrote.
"It is my great hope that the B sample will come back as negative and clear me of any wrongdoing. Until then, I hope that those who know me, trust me when I say that I'm innocent, and that my colleagues and cycling fans everywhere don't judge me too quickly during this difficult time."
Gaimon is well known as being a staunch anti-doping advocate. Now retired, he has created a project to target and take any Strava records set by known dopers. In his blog post he talked affectionately about Cardoso as a teammate but is critical of his defence.
"It looks like almost every other denial, from Tyler Hamilton to Bill Cosby, and I can't see how that ever works," Gaimon wrote.
"Andre probably thinks it's smart to lay low and leave it to the experts. He's getting lots of advice from idiots, and it just comes off like he doesn't give a shit, which is frustrating.
"That's a big part of why I believed that something was off with Tom Danielson's positive in 2015 - he went crazy on twitter, with denials and confusion and typos and raw emotion. It's exactly the reaction I'd have had at a positive test, and if he was lying, he should win an Oscar for that. If someone said you were under arrest for rape or murder, you wouldn't be able to patiently let a lawyer craft a response. You'd be screaming from the rooftops and tweeting like our president and it would look like you lost your mind. Whoever wrote that statement for Cardoso either doesn't have his best interests in mind, or doesn't respect the intelligence of cycling fans."
The risks and damage of doping
Gaimon tried to understand what could have led to Cardoso's positive test for EPO and highlighted the risks and damage doping causes.
"I'm sure there's not a doping culture on Trek, either. There's a few guys left from that era, but they've learned the hard way by now, too - or they've skated and know how lucky they are,” he wrote.
“Doping is different now. It's not like they'd hand it to him on a bus like you might have read about in 1998, or peer pressure him into it. He'd have had to find the right doctor or buy it somewhere off the internet. Morally, it feels like that makes it more of a crime to cheat in 2017, because it's not so easy. You're risking your own career, your family, your sponsors, and your teammates.”
He ended his post by hoping his former teammate is somehow cleared but highlighted the damage that doping causes to riders defeated by the cheaters. He cited his distrust of Paco Mancebo as an example.
"I don't know how to end this. I hope it is a false positive and he's cleared somehow, but it doesn't look good,” Gaimon wrote.
"I'm angry but I'm more confused and sad. A lot of young guys in the sport didn't know why it killed me to see Mancebo win the Sunset Stage at Redlands this year. They think I'm a hater, because they weren't watching the Tour when those guys lost the right to earn a living in the sport. They don't realize that's the reason they get their pee tested today, or they live in a shitty apartment, and the guy who got second is running an eBay business to get by, deprived of a result that might have changed his life.
"I hope young riders see this one and realize it's not worth it. I hope I don't have to fly to Portugal on a Strava KOM hunt."
Click here to read Phil Gaimon's full blog post.