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By Patrick O’Grady
The O’Grady Awards are back for a fifth consecutive season, ensuring that generations of libel lawyers will continue to disperse their flatulence through silk. Named for the notorious right-wing political commentator Patrick O’Grady – who was compelled to dictate this year’s list while strait-jacketed and strapped to a bed in the Raimondas Rumsas Wing of the William J. Bennett Recovery Center Casino & Pharmacy – the awards rear their hideous, hydra-like heads below.
BERT LAHR MEMORIAL MEDAL FOR COURAGE
Mario Cipollini. After crashing out of the Giro d’Italia, takinganother Dorothyesque swat to the snoot from Tour de France organizers,and bailing from the Vuelta a España after a single stage — a teamtime trial in which the world champion’s teammates had to push him up thePrudencia climb — the once-regal Lion King spent most of his year on therainbow throne acting more like Lahr’s Cowardly Lion in the “Wizard ofOz.” Except Cipo’ wasn’t funny — especially when he declined to defend histitle in Hamilton.
I mean, we gave the dude the cover last December as International Cyclistof the Year. Lahr himself may have written SuperMario’s epitaph when hesang, “I’m afraid there’s no denyin’/I’m just a dande-lion…” Here’s hopingthat next year Cipo’ will pud’dem up instead of piddling off.
LOLLIPOP GUILD DECORATION WITH XANAX CLUSTER
Marco Pantani. The latest comeback bid by everyone’s favoritemanic Munchkin — who earlier this year proclaimed, “Only Pantani can challengethe American!” — ended with a 14th-placing in the Giro, a snub from LeTour, and a long-overdue trip to a mental-health clinic. Now Il Pirata,having grown weary of life as a sailor on the stormy seas of professionalcycling, reportedly wants to be a captain — a directeur sportif. How’dyou like to work for a bald-headed nutcase with a criminal nickname? Oops,wait a minute … I do, and he’s me. But at least Patrick O’Grady doesn’t make a habit of speaking of himself in the third person.
AND NOW A WORD FROM OUR SPONSOR (AND THAT WORDIS “GOODBYE”) CERTIFICATE
Saturn, Prime Alliance, 7UP, Diet Rite, Schroeder Iron, ONCE, iBanesto.com— as the year ground to a close, it seemed professional cycling was aspopular with sponsors as a Clear Channel shock jock at a League of AmericanBicyclists meeting.
OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES MEMORIAL AWARD FOR EXCELLENCEIN BROADCASTING (FIST VERSUS NOSE DIVISION)
Clear Channel’s Shock Jocks. This multi-armed conglomerate is not evil, not really. Sure, it’s acceleratingcommercial radio’s long-running degeneration into elevator music and advertisements,while blacklisting artists whose work contains a soupçon of originality,style or left-of-center content. So what? I listen to NPR.
But when a platoon of Clear Channel’s on-air “personalities” declareswar on cyclists, one must take notice. If these brave lads want to useradio to order men and machinery into battle, why, let’s commission themas second lieutenants in the Army and ship them off to Iraq, where thecritics have roadside mines, homemade
rocket launchers and RPGs at their disposal.
AMISH COUNTRY PLAQUE FOR ACHIEVEMENT IN THEADVANCEMENT OF TECHNOLOGY
The UCI. Though manufacturers have been building disc-brake-equippedcyclo-cross bikes for a number of years now, global cycling’s commissarsforbade them just as the 2003-04 season got under way in an announcement reminiscent of the motto of the anthill (“That Which Is Not Compulsory Is Forbidden” ) in T.H. White’s “The Once and Future King.”
If these Luddites spent as much time inspecting courses as they do pickingnits, there might’ve been a four-cross at this year’s World Cup final,and Eric Carter would’ve been able to race it with his clothes on.
THREE STOOGES MEMORIAL DOPE SLAP
A three-way tie among the UCI, USA Cycling and the athletesthemselves for the snafu that sent Todd Wells and Adam Craigto mountain-bike world’s without their UCI-required drug tests. It makesyou wonder who’s really taking the dope in this sport, and whether it isin any way performance-enhancing.
BIGGEST AMERICAN BOMB TO HIT STUTTGART SINCE1944
The 2003 U.S. track team, which won just as many medals in Germanyas George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Rush Limbaugh did in Vietnam. Insteadof treating the world’s as a training race, maybe USA Cycling should reroutea little money from the air-travel budget toward refurbishing America’sdecaying velodromes.
FOGHORN LEGHORN MEMORIAL BIGGEST CROW/SMALLESTROOSTER AWARD
Gilberto Simoni, whose unhealthy Lance Armstrong fixation causeshim to make more bad noise than six Clear Channel stations and a brokenchainsaw.
NEWS-FREE MAXI-PAD WRONG TIME OF THE MONTHCITATION
U.S. Postal mouthpiece Jogi Müller. During this year’sTour, Denver Post reporter John Henderson sought an interview withFloyd Landis, only to be told by Muller: “Floyd’s kinda busy right now,can you come back next month?”
VIRGIL “THE TURK” SOLLOZZO MEMORIAL BUSINESSMANOF THE YEAR TROPHY
A tie between Tyler Hamilton and Jan Ullrich, both ofwhom had spectacular seasons, then said arrivederci to their old famigliasand joined new ones. This irked many an American sports fan who fondlyrecalled his junior-high coach intoning, “There is no ‘I’ in ‘team.”
Sounds like a personal problem to me — and as coach Tom Hagen remindedbackup QB Santino Corleone as he stepped in for injured starter Vito Corleone,“This is business, not personal, Sonny!”
Gord Fraser and Threshold Sports, for their ingloriouspissing match over prize money from the 2000 BMC Software Series, a contestderailed by the death of Saturn’s Nicole Reinhart.
NATIONAL ENQUIRER COUPLE OF THE YEAR
Lance and Kristin, Lance and Sandra Bullock, Lanceand Sheryl Crow … oh, for the good old days, when cycling never got anycoverage from the mainstream press.
The O’Grady Awards, apparently conceived as a diabolical means of driving advertisers to Cycle Sport, Bicycling and pezcyclingnews.com, are the opinion of the author alone. They are shared by absolutely no one capable of passing the rigorous drug screening required of all Inside Communications serfs, lackeys and villeins, and indeed should be anathema to anyone with a brain and moral code in good working condition.
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