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Letters to Cyclingnews - September 15, 2006
Here's your chance to get more involved with Cyclingnews. Comments and criticism on current stories, races, coverage and anything cycling related are welcomed, even pictures if you wish. Letters should be brief (less than 300 words), with the sender clearly identified. They may be edited for space and clarity; please stick to one topic per letter. We will normally include your name and place of residence, but not your email address unless you specify in the message.
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Full marks to Frankie Andreu for (sort of) coming clean. But this "There are two levels of guys - you got the guys that cheat and guys that are just trying to survive" is just garbage. Frankie, the only distinction is between guys who cheat to win and guys who cheat to finish. Doping = cheating, whether you are winning or "just surviv[ing]". Its precisely this sort of rationalizing doping which has led to its widespread acceptance.
While Andreu's admission is sup rising and disappointing I respect him for confessing to the sport and to the world. I wish more riders would come clean. He was one of my favourite riders during his tenure and his results now are tainted but, in my opinion, admission of misdeeds is forgivable and enhances his integrity. I hope he will have a place in cycling after this admission, and not be banished by the authorities and his peers.
I am not all that impressed with Millar winning. As a convicted drug user caught in possession he should not be at the Vuelta or even on a Pro Tour team! Ullrich Basso etc have not been caught using at all but are being dammed by us all.
As far as Basso's lawyer inhibiting the DNA test and sticking to innocence based on "procedural" measures. How is that any different than Armstrong's positive EPO without the B sample? Innocent on "procedure." The what if's remain for those with doubts. What if there was a B sample to check? What if Basso took the DNA test? In either case, the shortcomings of science and legal protocol are painfully apparent. In a legal world of technicalities and a sporting world that doesn't want to nail its athletes for market reasons, there will always be some unscrupulous lawyer, legal alibi or scientific deficiency (or all of the above) to shelve the case, which shows how clean the champion really is.
Christ you guys. If someone doesn't do something (Basso) they don't have to prove they didn't. You have to prove they did. Or we are all guilty until innocent and then all is lost.
If I were Basso or Ullrich I would also refuse to take a DNA test, especially if I were innocent. Let's say the DNA test is 99% accurate. If I know that I'm innocent, why take a 1% chance of a false positive? If that false positive result occurred, the case, and my career, would be over.
If I were innocent, I'd wait to see what happens with the governing bodies and take the DNA test if I were given a ban. Then I have far less to lose and more to gain.
I am not one to purport conspiracy theories for they often lead to nothing more than circumstantial evidence, but in light of the recent events in the Tour de France and in the cycling community, why is nobody looking at L’Equipe? The Tour has a tremendous conflict of interest being owned by the same media company as L’Equipe. This has been the history of the Tour and the very essence of the birth of the Tour, but now no one dares to point a finger at the organization themselves.
While all other French newspapers have been declining over the recent years, L’Equipe manages to not only stay healthy, but grow. How is that? How do they keep interest in the paper? Scandal maybe? It is not a far fetched idea that newspapers might medal into the out come of the very race they own. They have done it in the past and probably do it in the future. I feel that we sell short where the actual money is in cycling and the Tour. It is not in the sponsors, the teams or the riders. It is in the circulation of the papers that organize the races and put for the drama that maintains their circulation.
Please do your journalistic duty and investigate and keep your industry clean, why don't you investigate the relationship of the Tour, the ASO and L’Equipe and air out their dirty laundry.
US track athlete Marion Jones recently had an A sample test positive for EPO. Her B sample returned negative. King Richard "Dick" Pound subsequently weighs in. A couple things of note in this story:
1) The governing bodies of Track & Field managed to keep the lid on the A sample results for several months. Granted, they weren't able to contain the news until the B sample exonerated Ms. Jones, but the contrast with cycling's loose lips is striking. Clearly it *is* possible for news of an A sample result to be kept secret. Certain French laboratories and the UCI should be taking notes.
2) King Dick the Blowhard is aghast that the B sample returned negative. He finally admits that the test for EPO, the procedures for executing it, and the interpretation of its results may have issues. Welcome to the real world Mr. Pound.
3) Despite harpooning is very own testing procedures, Dick the Clueless continues to contend Ms. Jones is a cheat. The fact that he continues to vilify an athlete with no scientific leg to stand on, further confirms his incompetence. Is this the guy we want in charge of cleaning up the sports world?
4) Ms. Jones may very well be a cheat, but due to the gross incompetence and distinct lack of integrity of the WADA and it's leaders, we may never know for sure.
Disco talks up Danielson for the US/English speaking market then John works with what he's got. Danielson has been hyped in the English speaking cycling press for too long. Wasn't he supposed to win this Giro this year? Or was it the Tour? Tom Danielson is a great bike rider with a solid palmares. But he isn't ever going to be anything more than "solid". He is not a grand tour contender.
George Hincapie is exactly the same (and he won't ever win a classic, although he did well winning GP Plouay last year, albeit he has no chance no the organisers have given us a course worthy of the race). Its only the blinkers of parochialism which lead your average American cycling fan to think either of these two are a cut above. And here's a newsflash - just because English is my mother tongue doesn't mean I feel any obligation to engage in Danielson/Hincapie/etc etc cheerleading.
The answer is clear, that is if you know competitive cycling. Brajkovic was wearing a golden jersey of Vuelta's leader and clearly the job of his team colleagues that are lower placed on GC is to wait for him and help him. Danielson didn't have just one bad day, there were quite a few, enough for him to loose his position as a team leader. Plus, I didn't hear Tom complain about it? He is a professional rider and he knows his job.
In Mr. Havas' opinion the foreign riders should be working for American riders in American Team, no matter what? I think sponsors would much rather have a Slovenian rider two days in a golden jersey that all the team working for 10th place of an American rider...
As for Bruyneel, I think you should be really happy for having him around in 1998 and 1999 when nobody (except him and Lance) believed that Lance had what it takes for Tour victory.
What utter nonsense!
Johan Bruyneel only made one mistake, that was appointing Danielson as team leader for the Vuelta. With all due respect to Tom, he has had too many "bad days" in the grand tours over the years. Put yourself in Bruyneel's shoes, you have Tom struggling to stay with the pace or some young kid racing out of his shoes hanging into one of the best riders in the world in Danilo De Luca, sorry Janez come back and look after Tom instead of putting yourself into second place on GC....Only one option really.
Now that he has slipped back the team can look after the best placed GC riders and pick out stages wins.
Without Armstrong in place, Discovery has shown this season they don't have another natural leader therefore they need to take what they can when they can. They maybe have another natural winner on their hands but at 22 do you want to heap that pressure on him. Give Brajkovic time to mature, he may be the future Discovery need, let's face it after years of hope in Spain Valverde is finally coming good. Time is a great thing.
I beg to differ with Mr. Havas. Discovery has given Tom Danielson a heck of a lot of chances to prove his worth. I think its time we all face the fact the Mr. Danielson just doesn't have that top tier ability necessary to win Grand Tours. He’s definitely been given more chances than he was with Fassa Bortolo and still we've got nothing. I say let Tom flourish in the week long tours. He’s proven he can do something in those. The 3 week Tours however are out of his league.
After watching the first three mountain stages of the Vuelta it was very noticeable that Johan Bruyneel had plans for Tom Danielson and it was not "team leader".
Tom Danielson has no future with Discovery and needs to find a team and D.S. who believes in him.
Jo Anne Miller
On the news this morning I heard Dick Pound being confronted with Marion Jones’ negative B test for EPO and how it was possible. After first defending the testing practices in general, how scientific and reliable they are, etc, he went on to explain that the EPO test does not give a clear-cut answer: Some times the test value is so low that there is no room for doubt (i.e. it is negative), other times it is so high that there is no room for doubt (i.e. it is positive), but in some cases the test value is in a range where there actually is room for doubt. In such cases the medical experts may disagree about the result, i.e. whether it is positive or negative. Well, so much for the scientific approach…. (PS. Perhaps I misunderstood some of Dick Pound's answer, after all it was early morning and before I had my first cup of black coffee, but I am pretty sure that I grasped the main points).
Anyway, I have learnt to not take everything Dick Pound says for granted and I would therefore appreciate if a real doping expert could explain me how the doping tests actually works in practice: i.e. are they based purely on sound scientific evidence (like an HIV/AIDS-test) or is subjective evaluation (e.g. when the test value is in the "doubt range") also a part of the process? If subjective evaluation is involved, who is selected to do the (subjective) evaluation and does this practice apply to all doping tests or only the EPO test?
Mandatory DNA testing? Jail sentences? Lifetime bans? Zero tolerance? Ladies and Gentlemen, this is a sport and a business. Nothing more. A great sport, yes. But it is just a sport. Zero tolerance is a fool's errand. Perfection in any human endeavour simply doesn't exist. Lighten up and understand that we have a great professional sport that catches the cheats most of the time. That's good enough for me. I am proud to be a cycling fan and will continue to be one for a long time.
I'm having a little trouble understanding why everyone is so intent on banning an athlete who takes a "banned substance" for so many years. I remember a gymnast at the Olympics whose doctor gave her a cold pill because she came down with a cold, and she was disqualified. It seems to me that the penalty should fit the infraction. If a rider takes an over-the-counter medicine and is tested, does that mean he should be banned for two years.
Also, why should cyclists be treated so much more harshly than other pro sports? I remember a Washington Redskin player who was arrested for cocaine use, and all the punishment was that he couldn't play for the rest of the season. Other pros are not tested during their off seasons and can take any medicines they need, even during the playing season. Somehow, it doesn't seem as if there is a balanced playing field.
Jose Antonio Hermida was racing last weekend in the final round of the Mtb. World Cup series in Schladming, Austria. He finished fourth nonetheless. Did anybody heard about it?
Last thing I heard, Hermida was forced to fly back from New Zealand only a few days before the World Championships in which he was favourite for gold. "Somebody" said he was involved in "operacion puerto". I could read the news in newspapers and on Tv the same day that happened, when normally Mtb. is irrelevant to the media, but also in cyclingnews.com and other sites.
Now suddenly no charges are against him and he can race again. But nobody will talk about that, apparently. Nobody will say to be sorry. A big damage has been done and nobody wants to report it. I think it is disgusting.
Keep riding strong Jose, you have all our support!
What ever happens from now on I believe Landis is innocent. After these gross errors have been found the charges must be dropped. I find it interesting that the laboratory analyzing Landis’ samples are the same lab that provided the media with old Armstrong lab results. There is something rotten in the hen house. Its time we put less energy into destroying our cycling heroes and more energy into investigating who’s at the helm of the testing procedures… (ahem!…Mr. POUND)
Jacques Rogge, the president of the International Olympic Committee, has suggested four primary ways of discouraging the use of dope in sports. Here is what he had to say about the fourth way, in which he suggests that sporting events be made easier, “We have to dare to ask the tours of France and Italy whether the load is ideal. In this context, a panel of specialists together with the riders can examine what the ideal load is. I'm not the only one who's said that: Tom Boonen has also said it.”
However, in response, Tour de France boss Christian Prudhomme had this to say, “We will neither shorten the stages nor the total distance … nobody had the idea to shorten the 100 metres to 90 after the positive test of Justin Gatlin, did they?”
The problem with Prudhomme’s response, as I see it, is that he is assuming that those track and field stars that dope are doing so for the same reasons as those cyclists who dope for the Tour. This is a mistaken assumption, it seems. In track and field, those who are doping seem to be doing so for one reason, to cheat. In the Tour, those who are doping are doing so for one of two reasons, to cheat or simply just to survive the gruelling three-week race, as Frankie Andreu, formally of US Postal, has claimed.
If the Tour is shortened both in stage length and in overall distance, then this should discourage those cyclists from doping who are doing so just to survive the Tour. It may not discourage those who are doping to win, but making the Tour easier will be part of the solution to a very big problem.
Now that operation Puerto (O.P.) is known around the world, why is it that only CYCLISTS have been implicated? According to the early reports there should be at least 100+ other individuals on the BLACK LIST of O.P.. Let's see who else is involved!
I just want to say a big "Thank You" to Chris for 1) writing consistently, and 2) writing something worth reading. Not all racer diaries read well, but Chris at least seems to have a perspective that seems really genuine, and dynamic. Keep em coming.
It is still not clear as to what are the sample testing protocols for the T:E ratio and carbon isotope analyses. For example was sample B tested randomly from a group of other anonymous samples? If not, the whole testing protocol comes into question; as a scientist I know very well the inherent risk of interpreting data to fit "desired results", secondly it introduces the possibility of samples being sabotaged.
However, sampling techniques aside, proving that the exogenous origin of the testosterone is incorrect or "isolated" only to the samples taken after stage 17, should be easily verified by performing carbon isotope analysis on Landis' samples taken before and after stage 17. Negative results from these samples would very much prove Landis' innocence.
It would also be interesting to get a baseline of carbon isotope test data for the other TdF riders, including all that passed the T:E ratio!
Although no specific Cyclingnews citation was given, I suspect Cyclingnews usage of "mano a mano" is correct. (Sorry, Graham)
"Mano a mano" is used when you have a competition between two foes. So when two cyclists are off the front battling for the stage win, for example, they are certainly mano a mano. In such usage, there is also a sense of fair play or fight, as if neither competitor has an initial advantage.
The phrase is a colloquialism and as such can't be translated literally ("hand to hand", not "hand in hand"). "Man to man" actually isn't a bad translation, but it's just a coincidence that it looks like a cognate of mano a mano ("mano" didn't derive from "hand" or vice versa).
What if I told you we fought "toe to toe" or we went "head to head"? If I wanted to translate that into Spanish, I definitely wouldn't say they went "cabeza a cabeza". Translations between languages should probably focus on the content, not syntax.
It's fine for Graham Elliot or anyone else to be pedantic provided he gets it right but, sorry Mr Elliot, in Spanish hand-in-hand is 'de la mano'. 'Los dos iban de la mano' is 'The two were walking hand in hand.' Hand-to-hand (as in hand-to-hand street fighting) would normally be cuerpo a cuerpo (literally body to body) except in bullfighting when two top matadors try to outdo each other, and that's a Mano a Mano.
Now who's pedantic? and bilingual?
Regarding the "Turbo Bottle" it's interesting that it's only being mentioned now.
Does anyone HONESTLY think Floyd Landis needed to drink/tip over his head as much water as he did on his breakaway in the Tour de France?
C'mon, I watched the guy essentially get towed up every climb on that stage by holding onto bottles from the car. I know it's a common thing but why didn't the officials do anything about it then. It was blatant cheating. Oh well, I guess in the end he found an even better way to cheat!
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