On Sunday, Chris Horner did what many didn't think he could do. The 41-year-old American cyclist won the Vuelta a Espana (also known to us English speaking folk as the Tour of Spain) bike race, making him the first U.S. winner of the competition and the oldest grand tour champion. However, the media put a bit of a damper on his celebration.
The media alleged Horner was nowhere to be found when Spanish Anti-Doping Agency (AEPSAD) showed up at his hotel in Madrid. So while cycling followers were reading that Horner might have been trying to beat the system, it seems the AEPSAD just went to the wrong hotel.
Horner, who rides for team Radioshack Leopard Trek, had sent an email to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) informing them where he could be found on Monday and even what time would be best. It seems that information didn't make it's way to the AEPSAD.
Team Radioshack said, "Chris Horner updated his whereabouts with USADA before the start of the final stage, giving the agency the name of his hotel for the night, phone number and room number for his one-hour window between 6 and 7 a.m. This is all according to the rules and Chris Horner received a confirmation email."
Not only is team Radioshack defending Horner, they are also seeking compensation with the "responsible anti-doping agencies" for the media leaking that Horner missed his appointment, instead of the mistake of the AEPSAD going to the wrong hotel. Radioshack added, "The anti-doping inspectors from the Spanish Anti-doping Agency that were asked to do the test by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) showed up at the wrong hotel in Madrid, where the team was staying but Horner was obviously not to be found. The team believes the communication between the Spanish Anti-doping Agency and the media is a violation of the privacy of Chris Horner, especially since it comes down to a clear mistake by the tester."
The USADA are not blaming the mix-up on Horner.
An AEPSAD spokesman said agents went to the address of the hotel the USADA had sent them Monday morning, as well as another hotel. Horner was not found at either address. The spokesman said, "We do not want to make any kind of judgment about whether this was a violation of the rules as we do not have all the facts."
Many doubters out there can't believe a man who is turning 42 next month could win such a race with a smile on his face most of the time.
In an article for Velo News, Andrew Hood explains how the USADA's reports on cheating in cycling has created doubt in believing that people are winning races without cheating. Hood says, "It's a shame for Horner, and for cycling, that his victory cannot be wholly embraced, but that's the reality of today's peloton. Riders have to realize that after winning the race, they must then be ready to convince everyone that they can believe it. Fans simply do not want to be taken for fools again."
Though some people may doubt this win for a bit, one famous fan believes in the win.
Incredible win in cycling for Chris Horner @hornerakg and his team. Congrats
— Ben Stiller (@RedHourBen) September 15, 2013
You can watch video of Horner winning the Vuelta a Espana below.