Saturday, May 19, 2007

Fast Peddling

The Tour de Ireland is about to get underway, with teams from Germany, the US, Estonia, Czech Republic, Australia and the Netherlands competing against Ireland's best. The Iranian team was supposed to come, but things took a rather odd turn and there's no Iranians racing after all.

Several members of the team have gone missing since landing on the shores of the Emerald Isle. Event organizer Dermot Dignam had worked long and hard to get them clearance, five cyclists and four support personnel, thinking that he was dealing with a legitimate official of an official Iranian team. He thought he was talking to Ali Zangi Abadi, vice-president of the Cycling Federation of the Islamic Hell of Iran, but he was talking to a complete impostor. Who could have known? When a man tells you he's the bronze medal winning cyclist from the 1982 Asian Games, you take him at his word. There's that commandment about not bearing false witness, except it's a Judeo-Christian thing and the Iranians will have nothing to do with either Jews or Christians. Except to persecute them, of course, but that's going off on a tangent.

Mr. Dignam started to get suspicious when four of the group turned up a week early, and when it was time to check in to their hotel, they were nowhere to be found. When two more Iranians trotted off a plane in Dublin a few days ago, Customs officials refused to allow them into the country, and one presumes that they were shipped straight back to Iran. This was after someone placed a call to the Iranian embassy, to see what was up, and then the whole scam was revealed. Apparently, the entire Iranian cycling team was shown to be a complete fiction.

Where are the four cyclists who made it in? While the legitimate teams spin across 1200 km of Irish countryside, there are four Iranian nationals on the loose. Will they show up and ask for political asylum? Will they attempt to enter the US and engage in terrorist activities? Will they discover that a key component of the Irish national diet is bacon and other pork products, and thus starve to death?

And do you suppose that the Department of Homeland Security in Washington DC is all over the story? And could it be that security's been tightened at Shannon Airport, where troops on their way to Iraq and Afghanistan stretch their legs at the lay-over?