They don’t call it the press pack for nothing and in London the snarling hounds with pens and tape recorders in their paws showed their teeth for the first time.
At Alexander Vinokourov’s press conference the agenda was dominated by one subject alone. The question put to the Kazakh over and over again was: “Why do you continue to work with Dr Michele Ferrari?”
It’s a perfectly valid question considering Ferrari’s reputation and background. Vinokourov’s team-mate Andreas Kloden slid in his seat and declined to answer questions about doping.
The Kazakh stated that there was nothing untoward about his relationship with Ferrari. But the black mark against Ferrari’s name has definitely smudged across Vinokourov’s pale blue and yellow jersey and the questions will follow him back to France and right around the country.
They will only intensify if Vinokourov finds himself in yellow.
One obvious question is, if Ferrari is just a coach, why not get another coach – one who is not going to cast any doubt on Vinokourov’s conduct?
As a colleague put it yesterday: “He’s not a coach, he’s a doctor.”
And as another remarked: “You can learn all you need from a coach in four weeks.”
A little flippant, perhaps, but Vinokourov still needs to explain why he kept his relationship with Ferrari secret for so long. At a time when cycling has to be white than white, Vinokourov’s choice of adviser is not clever.
Meanwhile, over at the Caisse d’Epargne press conference, German journalists held up a 6,000-page document, purporting to be the Operacion Puerto files. They asked Alejandro Valverde whether the codename Valv Piti referred to him. “Only sporting questions,” was the response. At that 15 journalists got up and walked out.
One thing is certain. London has, thankfully, been spared a humiliating scandal but there are still questions to be answered. And for those in the spotlight the awkward questions won’t stop coming.