Last year, a Spanish raid resulted in the ruined careers of athletes even before any hard evidence ever appeared. For some of the people, such as Jan Ullrich, the investigation had already been dropped. The damage had already been done to his reputation, though, and forced his retirement from cycling.

Now, anybody else concerned about their links to the case have no cause to worry any longer. While the doping was deemed unethical by the judge, he did not feel that the specific practice that they used was damaging to the athletes’ health. Spain only recently enacted laws which made any sort of doping illegal, but they went into effect long after the infractions under investigation.

The new law took effect in February and made it a crime to prescribe, dispense or facilitate use of such substances, regardless of whether they harm a person’s health. If the judge’s ruling holds up, it will mean an investigation into what was considered the biggest doping scandal in cycling in years will all have been for nothing.

This is just the latest black eye for cycling. While the judge has made the right call based on the facts in the article and based on what I have read before, it still makes it look as though cycling really can not do anything to clean itself up. Cycling needs to enact better standards regarding the rights and privacy of their athletes, and needs to be more consistent not only in how they test athletes but in how they announce their results. I have complained about that before, though.

Update: The UCI plans on continuing the investigation once they find out whether there will be an appeal or not. Hopefully they will get access to some of the evidence, but I also hope that they don’t falsely accuse somebody after drawing conclusions rather than having a concrete and definitive way to say that somebody cheated. (2007/03/13)

(Source: ESPN.comUpdate)