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Letters to Cyclingnews - October 27, 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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Does nobody listen to the riders? The 2007 Tour de France route is as brutal as usual - with multiple stages over 200km, back-to-back mountain stages, etc. While it is sure to be incredibly exciting to follow, it’s not going to do much to encourage a clean field. I know some people will always cheat to get an edge, but come on… It’s time the race organisers do its part to cut down on the cheating.
Great story. You need to keep digging up these bits of the sport's history and bringing them to the light of day. Perhaps if Jan, Ivan, Floyd and others of today read more about the past greats and not so greats, they would have a better perspective on racing. Oh, Magni's final comment, sounds like something you would hear Vino say, doesn't it?
I agree. I have no idea what the powers in cycling or the heads of the three grand tours are doing - I do not think they know either! They cannot agree on anything, will not help each other and are having a power struggle. The cyclist is the one getting hurt. The reputation of cycling is being destroyed by the powers that be. I can only say that the judge in Spain seems to be the only one with any intelligence at the moment, stating that the documents cannot be used until 'we can figure out what has happened.' Wow, guilty until proven innocent.
Dr Bruce Reyes
Landis' presentation #2
I just read through most of the documents on the Landis doping case and while I am not a doctor or a lab technician, I was part of my military unit's team back in the early-to-mid 1980s which documented the collection of urine samples. We were required to attend annual training classes to ensure that we understood the proper techniques, rules and regulations and to ensure that they were followed to the letter.If we did not follow these rules, as defined by the Military Chain of Custody, we could be brought up on Dereliction of Duty under the UCMJ and most likely lose rank and/or spend time in the brig.
The people on this team were all mid-to-senior level enlists and junior officer ranks, so the consequences of not following the rules loomed large. Based on what I saw and heard, if this sloppy documentation was submitted by any member of my team, rest assured charges would have been brought against the signatory, the officer in charge of the team as well as the commanding officer of the unit. All their military careers would have been much shorter.
I don't ultimately know if Floyd was guilty or not - only he knows that answer - but this has definitely given me a reason to doubt the findings of the lab.
Landis' presentation #3
I too work in a Lab responsible for product testing, in the pigments industry. We have defined parameters as to what constitutes a 'contaminated' sample, what to do with it and when to re-sample. If anything is wrong, we risk losing a customer a product or worse.
Seeing as how re-sampling is not possible, and the 'B-sample' produced inconsistent results, which is another time to resample, it would seem that the Lab has failed in its duty to provide good QC in its process. If there is to be any faith in a process, whether customer-supplier or drug testing, one has to have faith in the system that is producing the results otherwise people wont buy into the system.
I am not naive enough to believe that it does not go on, however I do understand the process. I know if I say something to a customer, I say it's what they are looking for and meets all the criteria they want in a pigment, and it turns out its not, well, it's not only my butt but the company's reputation and consumer trust are put on the line.
That seems to be what is going on here - the people doing the testing seem to not be competent in the procedures of the job.
Kevin & Jennifer Phelps
Please stop accepting as definitive any statements form Canada's Dr. Ayotte as she has a huge conflict of interest in the Landis case (and any other case w/ data from LLND). Cyclingnews, USA Today and the New York Times have all used her comments to defend the French lab as well as its procedures and practices.
The problems is that she did her training and got her PhD from the same deeply troubled lab! So any statement she makes is biased. You should not accept any of her comments as anything different than the French would say to defend themselves. Please discount all of her comments.
This Operation Puerto has really shattered cycling but most of it is based on pure speculation. Nobody can prove anything against Basso and Ullrich! Why are they working so hard to keep them away from cycling? Because they are the best cyclists of the present time. Probably pure jealousy!
They have been working for several months now and nothing has been revealed. Until Basso and Ullrich are not found guilty, they should be allowed to ride!
Crt Sojar Voglar
I am a chemist with 15-years regulatory lab experience. Reading that the LNDD used white-out to correct sample labels is inexcusable. On that fact alone they should lose their accreditation. A bottle of correction fluid should not even be present in a laboratory setting - there's simply no use for it. One line corrections are the only avenue as it's a way for the employee to honestly report the error which can can be confirmed and traced. The use of correction fluid would tend to denote an intentional cover-up or lie.
It seems like it would justify and result in termination of employment assuming gross, sloppy, incompetence or cheating. I've never seen this assertion tested though, because it does not occur - ever! White-out is never used, employees are trained about this on their first day of employment - period.
Madiot's list of wins might not be huge but in my book he gets my respect for winning Paris-Roubaix twice. As for his team, if Ralph Michael Emerson's struggling to remember any other wins this year, I suggest he's just a part time fan. After all, Philippe Gilbert won races throughout the year.
I believe he lack of results in the team is partly down to their honest approach in cycling. Festina won a lot, but we know how. Results are important but the first aim is to ride clean. Go ask Brad McGee why he's not winning as much as he'd like - he's training right but up against cheats!
Madiot is one of the good guys. If only everyone else in the world of cycling was as honest and frank as these guys are, the letters pages of cycling would be full of positive news for a change!
There is another side of the doping story that’s worth more discussion: Pat McQuaid and the UCI’s conflict of interest regarding the Grand Tour doping scandals. The UCI arguably has much to gain through the weakening of the Grand Tours (and by connection the damaging of the GC riders). The row between the UCI and the non-ProTour event organisers over control of international pro-cycling has been aired publicly for some time, and it seems Mr McQuaid is now continuing that battle in the name of doping and the critical need to clean up the sport.
With Mr McQuaid’s skillful use of the media, the public is led to believe the doping scandals are a Grand Tour/GC rider problem, and by definition problems that exist outside of the controlled UCI/ProTour regime. McQuaid’s PR tactics are serving to push up the UCI and increase Mr McQuaid’s position in the recurring power struggle among pro cycling organisers.
As a fan, this display of opportunism is certainly distasteful. What is further disconcerting is the UCI and McQuaid’s unchecked voice in the media. McQuaid has anointed himself prosecutor, judge and executioner and, faced with a relatively weak riders union, it is difficult to imagine this changing.
Is the need to organise cycling so great that cycling requires a McQuaid-like figure and a singular organising entity like the UCI he is trying to build? As with other big-ticket sports, the ultimate answer may be, yes. But I can’t help feeling cycling needs to protect itself a self-proclaimed protector. McQuaid is clearly a Man on a mission but, like some of the riders he criticizes, don’t think for a second his role in this is clean.
Pat McQuaid has got to be biggest idiot ever. What the hell kind of statement is this, "If a team coming into the peloton wants to make progress, why do they go with 35 year-old riders who are past their best?" (In regards to Tyler Hamilton)
How does that reconcile with him (Hamilton) winning Mt. Washington, and Ned Overend (51) second? If they had both not entered then the rightful winner would have been Ian Ayers (26). Putting that aside eight of the top-20 were over 40 years of age.
"Teams should be looking to the future and not to the past". It's no wonder the Grand Tour Organizers want to part company with the UCI. After-all "The Tour de France" alone makes more money and is more popular than all the UCI sponsored races combined, he could learn from their playbook I think.
Furthermore McQuaid seems to be doing more harm than good handling the doping issues. Sponsorship must be terribly difficult to obtain and yet Liberty Seguros, Comunidad Valenciana and Phonak are gone. So far Basso's case has been thrown out for lack of evidence, Botero's case was thrown out for the same reason, Astaná (formerly Liberty) team has been cleared to ride and so have the former Comunidad Valenciana riders. Now he wants to sanction Tyler Hamilton for having committed a violation we already know he did and was suspended for.
Also from what I've been reading and hearing Floyd Landis appears to be on the brink showing more incompetence with their labs. So what does Pat McQuaid think about in the present about teams signing these riders?, "But in doing so, they need to bear in mind that this investigation will ultimately come to conclusion and if they sign a rider who ultimately is sanctioned, well then what are they doing? Also, what sort of message is this giving to the rest of cycling?" Yes Pat McQuaid, what sort of message is this giving the rest of cycling?
This guy's latest boils my blood. He takes the "second offence" clause and twists it around to try to get Tyler Hamilton banned for life. If Tyler's homogeneous blood transfusion test result was his first offence, then his second offence must have occurred after that point in time, not before!
Just because it was reported afterwards does not make it a "second" offence. Second offence clauses are there to give some one more chance, AFTER getting caught the first time.
Then McQuaid goes and singles out Tyler when complaining about teams signing riders who have had one run in. I don't hear him telling teams not to hire all the other "one timers". He seems to want to punish those who defend themselves but doesn't seem to mind guys like David Millar who admitted abuse.
Why isn't he questioning teams who hire him? He has admitted abuse once, Tyler does not admit abuse and is therefore punished with a previous vague suspicion under a "subsequent second chance" clause when in fact the previous vague suspicion is neither plausible, second or subsequent. The end does not justify the means.
It will be a very sad day indeed when all the top cyclists in the world have signed with (pro) continental teams rather than ProTour teams because they no longer wish to live in Pat McQuaid's Police State. It is unfortunate that the whole concept of "innocent until proven guilty" is completely lost on the UCI.
Mr. McQuaid needs to awaken from his fantasy world and either sanction riders, or shut up and let them race. If he has evidence of doping, bring it forward, put them on trial and let them be sanctioned. If all he has is suspicion and a never-ending ongoing investigation, then the riders should be free to race until such a time as there is proof enough to sanction them.
I wonder how Pat McQuaid would react if he was accused of not following UCI's own protocol in doping procedures (which he has done on numerous occasions) and told he was being suspended without pay for six months while the matter was investigated. Then told that while there is no direct evidence linking him to wrongdoing, he can't work for the UCI anymore because they can't be associated with someone who is under investigation? Would be interesting to see how he would handle it if the tables were turned.
As per my daily routine, I checked out the latest news on Cyclingnews and gratefully read your news on African cycling (Burkina riders on road to triple?). We Americans tend to provincialism (!!), and it's always great to gather a larger perspective on the world, including the world of cycling.
Naturally, Australia's geographical location fosters a keener interest in Asian cycling, and that's always been a plus of your coverage, but now I'm seeing more information about Africa, and that's great -- please continue! I know South Africa has a notable presence in the pro peloton, but it's my hope that other nations will nurture their talent and soon we'll be seeing an influx of talent the likes of which we've witnessed in recent years into the ranks of pro football.
Gary Settlers' story is sad, and yes people NEED to be more aware of their surroundings and less concerned with their cell phone, Ipod, and satellite radio station. The problem I have with all of the discussion around Gary's situation is he knowingly entered a dangerous area at 35 MPH.
People make mistakes. They pull out in front of trucks, they pull out in front of cars, and they surely pull out in front of bicycles. A bike moving that fast is difficult to see. A month ago, my regular ride of 20 gave the "clear" to crossing a country road without noticing the guy on the right out over his Aero-bars going 30+ towards us. He locked them up, and skid to a stop after a good 300 feet. We're guilty of heading out, but he was wearing black shirt and shorts on a dark bike at dusk. No lights. He was difficult to see, and some of that was his own doing.
As a regular rider, I deal with absolutely foolish behaviour on nearly every outing. We need to teach people to be more courteous, but we also need to take responsibilities for our own actions. Stay alert, ride with traffic, use lights when appropriate, ride with a group in an orderly fashion, signal with your arms/hands, avoid known danger, and thank the many folks who do stop for you or slow down to protect you. Limiting danger and avoiding injury is often a two-way street.
Mr. Kilmer, I completely agree with you, the riders should not be left out until proven guilty, but the ProTour's code of ethics states that a rider shall be suspended as soon as he is a suspect, and ProTour teams will be very cautious about hiring them until all investigations or doubts have been cast away. When does this happen?
In Basso's current case is it when CONI decides not to initiate legal proceedings, or when CONI, the UCI, the ProTour and everybody else make public statements about Basso being kosher. Whether this is "right" or not, unfortunately just depends on who is making the rules, but it seems to me that if you are a professional rider you'd better be careful about having a lot of good friends and no enemies in the agencies that matter, since "suspicion" is enough to destroy your career for a very long time.
I don't remember every detail about the 2005 Tour de France but I do remember that Lance's teammates had a particularly bad day in the mountains then came back on the next stage and did better.
If I remember correctly, there was a rest day between those 2 stages. Regardless, this change in performance is not necessarily proof that anything illegal was done. I can imagine the conversation that took place the night after that bad day and I can imagine how pissed Lance was with the team's performance.
I know that when my supervisor is angry or pissed or is just out for blood, my job performance increases beyond what I think I'm capable of. Vaughters wasn't with Discovery in 2005, Andreu wasn't on Discovery in 2005 and Landis wasn't with Discovery in 2005 so, really, the conversation between Vaughters and Andreu is nothing but speculation.
And as far as getting past the doping controls by doping your domestiques, there is random testing done and there is always a chance one of these domestiques will be tested. Neither Andreu nor the other rider who admitted to using EPO says they used it during the Tour and "both felt as if they had to take EPO to make the Tour team in 1999."
That sounds to me like their own insecurities. They didn't say they were asked or told to take it, simply that THEY felt they had to. Also, I find it hard to believe that all these professional riders that Lance had riding for him with the reputations they have in the pro peloton, would risk their careers doping as a domestique on one team when they always had the option of going to another team.
Either you're a Lance fan or you're not and either you believe he doped or you don't. Just let it rest for God's sake. Let's deal with the present and the future of cycling and let the past be the past. I'm a new cycling fan but it's not the dopers that are turning me off, it's everyone else. It's all the people out there on their high horses who act like they've never done anything wrong in their entire lives. It must be nice being a saint. Guess I'll never know.
I plead guilty: Yesterday I entered the dark world of bike racing performance enhancement by artificial means. I donated a pint of blood to the blood alliance. I did it last year too and expect that Mr. McQuaid will have me stripped of all my victories last year.
Here is how my evil scheme works. I get rid of a pint worth containing old, aging, nearly worn out red blood cells, (they got no nucleus so they can't repair themselves). Red cell production increases in response to this loss and in 8 weeks I'll have a higher percentage of fresh, new red cells than I would have had if I hadn't donated. It worked marvellously last year and I won about 4 times as many races as any previous season.
So under the guise of charity and caring I have tweaked my body to over achieve by artificial means. I suspect 20 cops to bust down my door later today. No team will hire me now but blood banks all over will thank me for this.
Thanks for your interest into a subject which has caught the interest of many people of late. That is the forming of an Australian ProTour Team.
As far as my past goes. I retired from cycling some eight years ago. Before I retired, I was caught up in the whole Festina Affair. Following on from that, I was required to answer questions to the Australian Cycling Federation, who in turn turned things over to the AOC.
Since hanging the bike up, I have endeavoured to help out Australian cyclists whenever I can and to the best of my abilities. What I have not done is try to sensationalize or profit from what was for me a very traumatic experience. I spoke to and answered questions to the appropriate people at the time and then turned the page and got on with life.
I, along with many other people, hope to live to see the day when we can bond together the best from Down Under to take on the highlights of the world of cycling. I would be a very proud Australian if I were invited to be a part of this project.
Future Australian ProTour team #2
Matt, let's be clear about one thing - David Millar is an admitted doper. In fact he only came clean when his room was raided and the authorities found empty phials of EPO, and used syringes. He's not clean…just caught.
I'm not saying Neil Stephen's is clean, but if I recall correctly he was never even vaguely implicated by the Festina scandal. Worst case is that he simply kept his mouth shut about what others were doing. I'd love to see an Aussie ProTour team. Just please leave a couple of them to ride for our local US HealthNet squad.
If anyone wonders why pro cycling struggles so mightily with "preparation" for races, one only needs to read that Manolo Saiz may keep his ProTour license! I love the sport and will continue to follow it and cheer for the events and participants, yet I can't believe that a man caught "red handed" with "blood" on his hands, could keep his license, regardless of whether or not he has a team. If riders have a code of conduct to sign off on, shouldn't there be rules for directors to sign off on?
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