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The Ghost of Henri
By Staff
Date: 6/25/2004
The Ghost of Henri

In a board room:

"Gentlemen, it irritates me no end that those damned Spaniards got such a scoop with that young Spanish fellow, what's his name, I think it's the word for apple. It went on for weeks - article after article. That is exactly what we need for our paper. You obviously do not have the same sense of scope that I did when I ran a paper."

"Henri, I don't really think that's at all fair..."

"Well, you are not doing all you can, obviously. Not that that Spanish business really surprised me - I have never liked that team - I would have figured some way to get them out of my race long ago, even with them being such an institution..."

"What do you mean?"

"You are too shy of controversy, you modern fellows. There is really nothing to be afraid of, not if you can use it to your advantage. I have an idea, you see... it will take some very careful planning, but I think I have come up with a way to establish once and for all that we are the pinnacle of cycle racing in the world...and to accomplish a few other things too."

"Henri! We already run the biggest race in the world, and are one of the most important publications! What are you talking about???"

"Patience...You modern fellows are so...oh, never mind.

"As you know, this doping business will never go away - even in my day, the riders were disgustingly lax in their habits and even flaunted it in public - I tried to make my race hard enough that they would have to forego such things, but no, I was never successful. An appalling business, it was. Even after several tragedies, and with all your so-called progress, it is just the same. We all know that they are still in the race, but today even your civilized methods for eliminating them do not work. Simply appalling.

"It also irks me more than a little that this entire year, and last year, and the year before, it is all about the American. The American this, the American that. Frankly I'm a little tired of it. He gets more coverage than the race and it eclipses us, you know. There has to be a winner of course, but in my day I would have seen to it that this never would have happened."

"Yes, Henri, we know...but we do need the riders in order to have a race, and the publicity has not exactly been bad for us. What's your point?"

"Well, I believe we could accomplish several goals at once - get rid of the Spanish team, increase circulation for the paper and elevate the race even more, taking some of the attention off the American in the process. This French rider, I think he could be of help to us."

"But he's no longer even a part of the team."

"Yes, but that doesn't matter. He has implicated a few of his teammates, riders still on the team. We could use that if we had the right information."

"But we can hardly afford to have another French team in trouble - and just how do we get our hands on that kind of information? And how does that relate to the Spanish team? And to the American???"

"Just a moment, please! You are always in such a rush. Certainly there are details to be worked out. And as you know, there are always casualties, an unfortunate truth in our business. Unless, of course, you want something other than the biggest race and the biggest newspaper...."

"Er, no, Henri."

"Very well then. First of all, I think in a week or so you should announce that there is entirely too much suspicion surrounding the Spanish team, and then a short time later deny their participation. I doubt they will recover and we can be done with them once and for all. That will lay the groundwork.

"Then, we publish an increasing amount doping related news, building it up even more just a few weeks ahead of our race, climaxing say, a week before the start. I think there will be some interesting information, and you know, the Italians are always investigating something, usually during their tour, so we might be able to count on them for a few riders too. There will certainly be some who are slated to race for us."

"Henri, are you mad? That would give our race a black eye! Not to mention that it could be very dangerous for the paper. And just where do we get this information???"

"On the contrary, it is a perfect plan - you men these days simply have no vision... I will make a few visits and see what I can find out. As you know, I can get around... I will feed you the information for the paper, and we might even give a few tidbits to some of our competitors - spread it around a little, just to build it up - leaving the lion's share, so to speak, for us. The public will be disgusted, but more important, they will be clamoring for the latest information - we might even be able to run a special edition or two. It would be very good for circulation.

"Further, I happen to know that there will be an exposť coming out on the American by one of our competitors. A far sight better that than that hideous book that came out about me just before the race last year...but never mind.... We will have to leave that book business to them, of course, but it will work in perfectly. The American and his team do have enormous resources at their disposal to diffuse the issue, but the pall will have been cast, and we can still use it.

"And then...say, end of business the weekend before the race, we proclaim that we will not tolerate even suspected dopers in our race! Even though we know damn well that cheaters ride in our race year after year, and even though it would not stand up in any court, we will still be taking the perfect moral stance, placing us above all suspicion. It's a point no one could argue...

"Ha! I can see it now - everyone will be hanging on our every word. The teams, riders, and our subscribers alike will be in complete state of uproar... Merde! I can't wait! We will capture the very biggest audience possible, and just as it was in my day, we will be the ones making the news!

(Utter silence in the room)

"Well, what are you waiting for??? Get to work!"

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