Ball signs Sevilla, invites Landis to camp
Rubber has yet to hit the road in ’08, but second-year continental road team Rock Racing continues to generate considerable attention, this time because of reports that owner Michael Ball has been courting Floyd Landis to fill an unspecified team advisory position.
Word of the deposed 2006 Tour de France champion’s involvement with the team came in the wake of director sportif Frankie Andreu’s departure based on “differences” in philosophy with Ball.
Less than two weeks after Ball signed a scandal-tinged Tyler Hamilton, Landis’s email address was included on an internal team message relaying details of an upcoming January 18-31 training camp in Malibu, California.
But beyond visiting the camp, Landis risks having his two-year doping suspension extended if he violates section 10.9 of the World Anti-Doping Code, which prohibits him from participating in “any capacity,” be it in competition or other activities “authorized or organized by any signatory or signatory’s member organization.”
Never one to avoid controversy, Ball has also signed former Kelme and T-Mobile standout Oscar Sevilla, a rider who, along with Rock Racing recruit Santiago Botero, was implicated in Spain’s Operación Puerto doping investigation.
No wonder Frankie decided to leave the team … one rider I can maybe see using the “let’s give Tyler another chance, he’s an American rider, blah blah blah” rationale, and granted, Frankie isn’t entirely snow-white himself, having admitted to using EPO during Armstrong’s 1999 Tour de France win … but throw in Botero and Sevilla to the mix, and it sounds like Michael Ball is really just going for maximum shock value before the team implodes and he pulls the plug mid-season, putting a lot of good, hard-working riders out of work, just to pimp his overpriced clothing line with a bad-boy image.
Who pays $240 for a pair of jeans?
Hey, Michael Ball-sack … we want sponsors, but we don’t need your kind … kindly fuck right off, okay?