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Letters to Cyclingnews - January 12, 2007
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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"You'd think he'd be violating every virgin within 100 miles. How does he even get on his bicycle?"
Put this quote into anyone else's mouth of a high ranking official such as Dick Pound and they would be terminated very shortly after. I despise the fact that American football players and other more televised sports get a slap on the wrist for violating drug policies, but if a cyclist gets caught with a suspicious test the odds are automatically stacked against them.
No test is perfect and neither is every rider perfect. But in the end isn't the motto innocent until proven guilty?
Dick Pound #2
I'm so tired of portrayals of Dick Pound as some sort of hard-nosed, no-nonsense tough guy. His bluster and inflammatory quotes are readily picked up by love-a-good-sound-bite media, and inevitably become the story. The problem is, no one ever tells the real story of Dick Pound: he is a failure.
Doping is no less a problem in international sport than it was when WADA was established - with Pound at the helm - in 1999. In fact, if media attention were the measure, doping is a bigger problem now than ever before. Meanwhile, amidst all Pound's ineffective yapping, WADA has presided over an astonishing series of gross ethical and procedural lapses by testing officials and WADA-sanctioned laboratories. As a result, athletes have no confidence that the anti-doping rules can or will be fairly enforced.
Pound runs WADA like his personal kingdom, and his lack of humility and maturity are matched only by the utter lack of transparency and accountability at WADA. There appears to be a board of directors at WADA, but it is far from clear it actually does anything other than collect good seats for Olympic events. The board certainly doesn't spend any time holding Pound responsible for the lack of progress against doping in sport, or for the circus atmosphere that appears to prevail at WADA-sanctioned labs, or for his numerous injudicious and irresponsible public comments that undermine everyone's faith in the fairness and integrity of WADA agenda.
When we look to the scoreboard, we see that Pound has done nothing to put a dent in doping in sport, but he has succeeded in making WADA a laughingstock. Enough about his tough-guy persona; when do we start to ask why he gets to keep his job?
Dick Pound #3
I've raised my eyebrows at comments made by Dick Pound in the past, but after reading the comments he made to The New York Times, I now question his mental stability. As Floyd stated in his rebuttal, Pound obviously hasn't taken the time to learn the facts of the case, and yet has convicted him publicly.
I'm going to make a donation to Floyd's defense fund, because at this point I don't care whether or not he did anything wrong, I'm just disgusted by how the governing bodies are treating his case. It's people like Pound who are ruining cycling, not the riders. Thank God he'll be gone in November, too bad it can't occur sooner.
Regarding Dick Pound's recent New York Times interview - it seems that he is just hell bent on proving how whacked WADA is. How can any credible organization (the IOC or even the UCI) submit to the findings of an 'Association' that Dick Pound is in charge of?
It's time for the big stars of our sport to boycott the big races until Pound is gone - or since this is about money, maybe it's time for the public to boycott the races until he's gone. Dick Pound should to be publicly fired and then publicly held accountable for the damage he's done to cycling and cyclists around the world.
After reading the story on Dick Pound's doubts, can there be any doubt that any athlete that is accused by WADA of doping will not get a fair hearing as long as Dick Pound is in charge?
I have to believe that deep inside WADA headquarters are scores of overpaid attorneys telling Mr. Pound to shut up, as with each syllable passing his lips, he taints the case against Landis.
I believe cheats should be charged and have their case heard, but in a fair and honest process. Mr. Pound's actions just smacks of extreme arrogance and a complete lack of fair play
Mr. Pound should be censored or removed from his position for his inflammatory comments concerning the Landis hormone levels. Specifically, his comments indicate that Mr. Landis' T/E ratio should have caused a response akin to the hormonal urges of a stressed eighteen year old.
In fact Mr. Landis's testosterone level was approximately 25% of 'normal', which would give him the sex drive of a 70 year old. If Mr. Pound did not know relative concentration he is inept; if he knew the number and ignored the meaning thereof, he is guilty of defamation and criminal irresponsibility. Either behavior should result in Mr. Pound's dismissal.
John R. Walton, Ph.D.
Pound comments #2
I read with interest and scepticism comments by Mr Dick Pound, WADA Chief, regarding the Landis case. My scepticism is nurtured by observations over many years of interest in sport generally and more recently cycling, specifically as the father of an aspiring elite rider. Despite grand claims to the contrary it seems the only uniting force in world sports administration regarding the scourge of performance enhancing drugs is a lack of will to do anything about it.
Perhaps one should not be surprised; after all, most administrators are former athletes deeply embedded in and a fundamental part of the culture of their particular sport. Regretfully chemical assistance seems to have been an accepted part of cycling since chemists first showed an interest.
If we accept that Mr Pound is sincere about cleaning up drugs in sport then may I respectfully suggest his approach is fundamentally flawed? In my view he is not exercising his enormous power in an effective way nor does he recognise where that power should be directed. Power stems from control of entry to the most prestigious events, Olympic Games and World Championships. This power needs to be directed at individual athletes.
Mr Pound, if athletes wish to take part in "your" events let them prove they are clean and always have been. If part of an aspiring elite athlete's advance in his/her sport was a resume including a drug testing and DNA profile from the age of say, 15 years accompanied by secure reliable sample storage for the participating life of the athlete then any questions about performance current or future, could be answered. Funding is found for all other aspects of an athletes' preparation, with good will this can be managed similarly.
Effectively I'm saying today's and yesterday's athletes remain under a cloud of suspicion over their magnificent performances tainted by the choice of some to cheat. This disgraceful state of affairs has been allowed to fester over decades of inaction by our sports administrators tainting the cheat and honest athlete alike.
Can anybody tell me who the honest ones are?
Between Dick Pound warning the virgins of France to lock their doors when Floyd Landis and his inflated testicles ride through town ("Pound casts doubt on Landis: Tour winner hits back") and Pat McQuaid issuing a war cry for Ethelred the Unready and all other able-bodied Anglo-Saxons to spring to the defense of the sport ("McQuaid starts cultural polemic"), cycling suddenly has taken a dramatic turn from the tragic to the absurd.
I can't tell anymore whether I'm reading a real Cyclingnews report or a Monty Python parody. As entertaining as these guys are, this is not exactly the way to restore cycling's reputation. Let's give these two their own sitcom and find some less buffoonish characters to govern our beloved, dysfunctional sport.
Laughing through my tears
I'm sure if you were to look round the back of the head of the UCI president you would find a zip - somewhere just under the hairline - tug it and the skin would split and out would pop Hein Verbuggen!
Same big mouth same lack of thought. Same old story open mouth before engaging brain! Cultural polemics? How can you possibly begin to reconcile different cycling cultures when you have this man, who is the highest official and representative of the UCI call countries which are the heart of our cycling sport " The Mafia,"
It truly beggars belief that he possibly thinks this is diplomatic - and that thoughtless comments like this, are in some way is going to heal the rift.
There's an old saying, know what business you're in. In the U.S., railroads did badly early on until they learned the weren't in the railroad business, they were in the transportation business.
Cycling competition is not like the pro golf tour, formula one racing, soccer, NASCAR Nextel Cup Series, or any other sport. Why? Because, to my knowledge, cycling is the only sport where 100 meter dash men line up with marathoners and mountain goats in the same race. Trying to make a 'series' champion when not all the riders are pursuing the same prize is ridiculous.
In other sports you have a level playing field and varying levels of ability among the competitors. In cycling, you have a playing field that, while it's the same for all entrants, ends up being varied because it plays into or out of the strengths of the various competitors with wide ranges of ability.
The teams know this. The riders know this. It seems only the UCI doesn't know this. So far, have you heard any team saying things like, "The Pro Tour champion's jersey is a primary goal for us this year." No!
So far, the Pro Tour champion has been an "aside" won by a rider who basically has been a good rider, one strong in the spring classics, one who's stayed healthy throughout the year, and then made it some kind of priority when it looked like he had a chance to win it i.e. Danilo Di Luca, Alejandro Valverde.
Both these guys are great riders, but I'll guarantee you if you ask even savvy cyclists, they'll be able to tell you the winners of the spring classics and the grand tours before they can tell you who won the Pro Tour Championship in the past two years.
The bad news? That's they way it will always be as long as the UCI remains stubborn.
This irks me like nothing else I've seen in a long time. First, the calling the charges 'unsubstantiated' is just plain wrong. There was a positive doping test (both A & B samples) for crying out loud! Second, this is the equivalent of contributing money to Barry Bonds so he could defend himself against doping charges.
There ain't no way in hell I'm giving my hard earned money to someone in the hope that that he can continue making millions of dollars a year to ride a bike fercrissake. There are so many people in this world that are truly suffering from famine, malaria, cancer, etc. that it must take a very deprived person to ask for money so that he can prove that he was the winner of a bike race.
David C. Brayton
To all pro riders: The only sensible way to end the divisive and sometimes capricious discord between governing bodies, testing labs, organizers, and promoters of pro cycling events would seem to be the formation of a riders union.
Obviously as in any other pro sport the races don't exist without the athletes. That being said it is a no brainer that if the riders were unified they would dictate the terms that would be acceptable to them and all of the foolishness being foisted on professional cycling would end. Can you imagine a union allowing last minute exclusion of any riders, let alone some of the top names, if no solid evidence was provided to their union prior to a race?
I assure you that if there existed a strong rider's union an immediate threat to refuse to start unless the race organizers allowed all riders to start would put a stop to all of this nonsense. No riders, no race.
I do not advocate a riders union which had absolute immunity from sanction. Such a union would have to be endowed with an internal code of rider conduct and should have an internal testing program which would be responsible for all testing so as to insure that multiple labs and test sample handling would not exist as it now does. This would also insure that institutions such as WADA had no input whatsoever in the process. As things exist now there are too many fingers in the pie, too many personal agendas. Riders, it's time to wake up.
I must agree with William Rostel. While I will be the first to admit I'm a staunch supporter of Ms. Howe, and other North American cyclo-cross racers, to the best of my knowledge she didn't race once this year, due to illness.
That being said, if the readers are going to rank someone 7th in the world based on principle alone, I can think of no nicer person. But it would be nice if she got in some racing as well.
Cyclo-cross reader poll results #2
After reading the recent letter addressing the cyclo-cross poll and its apparent bias towards North American riders, I am struck by the sheer ridiculousness of said letter.
Assuming that a majority of the reader base for Cyclingnews is based in either Australia or North America, what exactly would you expect the results to look like? If you wanted to see results that actually enumerate the best cyclo-cross racers in the world, then go look at the UCI rankings. It is unfair and ignorant to expect a poll to accurately reflect those current UCI rankings. As with any poll there will be bias. With these recent polls the bias just happens to be towards North American riders.
I guess what I am trying to say is...what exactly did you expect the poll results to look like? People are going to vote for their favourite 'cross racer. I am assuming that most North American readers would rather vote for a North American that they can physically see at races ripping up the run-ups and bounding over the hurdles, rather than some distant European professional, even if they know the European is physically faster.
Danny Clark also won the Austral Wheelrace in the late eighty's in similar style. I remember watching him riding the final off scratch at the old outdoor Northcote Velodrome, attempting to win his third Austral Wheelrace. All seemed over at the bell, only for Danny to ride up to and around the fast moving bunch with an amazing turn of speed, raising his arms across the line to win, to everyone's amazement!
So inspired was I that I wrote a year 11 English essay about it, getting a B+, which was quite good by my standards!
Danny Clark - an inspiration #2
I totally agree. I saw him race in Toowoomba in the '70's. I was only a kid of about 12 but to this day my mind's eye can still see him sweeping around a huge bunch to take the main handicap race by a tire after chasing by himself for what seemed an age.
The way he could ride through a crowded track during a flat out handicap race was something else. His timing was superb. A great track all-rounder.
I have just read Allan Peiper's response to the Danny Clark article. If you are the Allan Peiper of the Peugeot days then you should be held in the same regard as Danny Clarke, Allan.
I raced Danny years ago and he was a fine bike rider no doubt but your contribution to Australian cycling should not be underestimated. The current crop of European based Australians can thank the likes of yourself and Phil Anderson for pioneering European cycling for them. Australians are held in such high regard over there because of the reputations of people like yourself and Anderson.
All the best,
Allan Peiper #2
I must say that Allan Peiper himself is an inspiration to me. It was in late August 1978 and I had just started working full time in Belgium and being a keen biker myself I was looking for some races to go to when I saw a silver bike outside a candy and food store near to St Pieters station in Ghent. It had yellow panels and the bars were taped to the stem like trackies do.
Anyway, I went in and bought a mars bar and there were two Aussies and the young one told me to go to Alter Lottenhulle the next day. He would be racing there. What a treat. He rode very strongly and easily won the race and Eric Vanderaerden won the juvenile event.
Even then all the spectators said he was very special. I followed how Allan became ill, went home and then returned to Europe and the rest is history. Allan it is true how quick Danny was and what a great rider, but you are human in a hard world .Now every time I go into the kitchen of the boss of my club I see the photo of Alan with his winners flowers and I remember that day.
Mr. Hobbs is correct to correct all those that make the, incorrect statement that Landis' testosterone level was high. Very true, it was the T:E ratio that was high. Unfortunately, a "normal" testosterone level and an abnormally low epitestosterone is also indicative of doping with testosterone, which is a reason why the doping tests for the ratio, and not simply the level of testosterone.
One reason is that doping "masking" products can lower a person's testosterone level back down to normal, but it also has a lowering effect on the epitestosterone level. Most damning in such cases is the presence of artificial testosterone or testosterone metabolites.
Do the maths #2
Mr. Hobbs, I'm not so sure that Jon Goonen is "wrong". He states "...I'm not saying that he even knew testosterone was administered..." As you note there is the question of the T/E ratio, but there is also a question of exogenous (synthetic) testosterone in Landis' sample as shown in both the lab report and Dr. Baker's slide presentation.
When I read Mr. Goonen's statement my impression was referral to the possible exogenous testosterone.
Do the maths #3
Sorry, John, but you are wrong. The reason is that you aren't accounting for the difference between how kidneys secrete a molecule like testosterone and how they handle water.
The functional unit of a kidney is called a nephron. Look it up on Wikipedia for a nice description. Each nephron will secrete a molecule such as testosterone at a certain rate, which depends on factors such as the molecule's concentration in the blood.
But in addition, the nephron gets rid of water as needed. If you are dehydrated, the nephron reabsorbs water (and your urine is dark and concentrated). If you just drank 10 liters of water, the nephron dumps water (and your urine looks like, well, water).
Now put the two together. If you secrete a constant amount of testosterone, but a variable amount of water (depending on your hydration status) in a given time, then the urine testosterone concentration is variable. Put another way: if my testosterone status is stable and I collect two urine samples on separate days, one day when I have not drunk any water for 12 hours and a second day after I drink 10 liters of water, my urine testosterone concentration will be much lower the second day (the blood concentrations will be the same). Both urine concentrations are "normal", however, relative to my water status. Your argument - that a urinary T level within the "normal" range means that T in the body is normal - doesn't hold water.
On the other hand, you can assume that two similar molecules like T and E are handled in the same way by the nephron. In that case, the ratio of the two, not their absolute concentrations, gives important information that's independent of water status - i.e. the ratio in the urine should reflect the ratio of the two molecules in the blood.
John Munger, M.D.
Do the maths #4
In response to Jon Hobbs's letter if you leave aside the testosterone/epitestosterone level the B test showed the presence of exogenous testosterone (i.e. not produced by Landis' body). Even before the results of the second test became known Landis and his team seemed to expect them to confirm the A test, odd if you were innocent.
If the tests were accurate then the most likely source of the testosterone was patches, Cyclingnews even ran a story about the use of such patches earlier in the 2006 Tour (see here). More disturbingly the misuse of steroids has been linked to the type of hip condition Landis had.
As to Landis bonking one day and riding away from the pack the next, I followed both stages live on French television and what I saw looked more than a little suspicious. Other elite riders I have watched who have bonked during mountain stages have not normally recovered by the following day, let alone ridden away to win a stage by a commanding margin. Think of Indurain in the 1996 Tour de France, if any rider had fantastic powers of recuperation it was him, but blowing in the mountains spelt the end of his Tour bid.
Do the maths #5
Isn't the use of a ratio in the analysis of testosterone in urine because the total value is meaningless due to dilution? If total values were used all an athlete would have to do is drink a lot of water before the test to dilute out the drug and give them a negative test result. Also a lot of people have asked about the use of testosterone by Floyd, commenting that it wouldn't help him in that situation.
Maybe the Tyler Hamilton case gives us a clue to what was going on. Say Floyd was doping in the spring, taking all kinds of drugs and then putting deposits in the blood bank. Maybe a mistake was made and blood was taken that was too doped up, or wasn't treated correctly, and come stage 17 he tops himself up with tainted blood, whoops, positive testosterone test.
On this note I think Phonak may have been the most dope free team in the sport. Why? Well, without team resources behind them, riders were doping independently, making mistakes and getting caught. Sorry to see you go, Phonak.
Yes yes, more than just the dark blue jersey under his new Quick Step kit, what is that white jersey under the dark blue one?
I think PVP is earning a little extra money as a double spy! Very creative and enterprising on his part.
Some do some don't, but reading discussion of Tyler and Landis and the Armstrong "persecution", it is starting to sound as though many American's feel that the drugs in sport procedures for cycling are unfair to the cyclist.
I have to agree there, but hearing such complaints from nationals of the country that administers Guantanamo bay makes it hard to take such comments seriously. Can you say "Guilty until proven other... well actually you don't get a hearing". However unfair the process is to cyclists at least they get a hearing, and are not locked away from the world.
I think it's funny how so many folks are ready to sit back and assume that Lance was scared away from Leadville by Landis' presence. I've read a number of letters here and elsewhere portraying Lance as a guy who can't stand up to competition, can't win unless it's prepared for him by a team of assistants, etc.
Give the guy a break. Have you won 7 Tours? I think there was some competition there. Did you overcome cancer? Maybe you have; God bless you. So did Lance. He's overcome and achieved more than any of us in those realms. So he won't be at Leadville, too bad. Quit acting like he's a wuss.
Lance in Leadville #2
If by 'hint of stiff competition', you mean 'ridiculous media circus characterized by another endless pseudo-discussion about doping' then I'd have to agree.
The worst motive you might attribute to Armstrong in this case is that he didn't necessarily want to share the spotlight with a confirmed doper or get involved with being asked five hundred thousand more times it comment on the "Landis Case". I doubt that he - or his PR team! - wants or needs to be Floyd's co-star in that particular circus.
I feel bad for the other participants in the race who are put in the awkward position of endorsing-by-racing the promoter's apparently unquestioning faith in Landis' innocence. I hope the increased media glow will help the race and not irradiate it to death; in cycling right now, there is such a thing as bad publicity.
Lance in Leadville #3
One of the things that make very great racers great is that they make winning appear to be so easy. It is only every great once in awhile that there is a small crack that might demonstrate to people that the rider is indeed human and not the pedaling machine that he might appear.
Perhaps the greatest compliment that can ever be given a racer is that he made the race boring. Lance was accused time and time again of making the race boring. So was Miguel Indurain, Anquetil and Eddy Merckx.
These men were all champions beyond the realm of champions and each one of them was great in his time and age. Mig not known in Leadville? He was known by all who counted even if that was only one.
The only great racer who never seemed to bore people was Bernard Hinault. He just had to show off. Would that we had more like him but he was one of a kind.
And since we can only have one Bernard Hinault each century then give us some more boring champions that can show everyone else what being a champion is all about.
And at least Leadville had Indurain pass through. That's a heck of a lot more than Milwaukee had.
In response to Dudley Walton's comments regarding Cyclingnews' tubeless road tire test, linking high pressure capability if a tire to high performance is short-sighted. As I recall a study released by Continental a few years back that showed no correlation between higher pressures and improved tire performance.
In fact (again, if my memory is accurate), having too high of a pressure is a detriment to performance since the tire tends to rebound off road imperfections rather than roll over them, thus costing energy. Looking back to when index shifting was first released back, there were many who panned the idea. Since then it is hard to imagine not having the technology.
If you are not convinced, try taking an old bike that has downtube friction shifters out for a spin. It's fun for a bit but the novelty wears off quickly. Perhaps it's best to withhold judgment on the new tubeless tires or any other new product until either you get a chance to actually try it for yourself or the marketplace deems it a dud.
Tubeless road tires #2
I do not view lack of high tire pressures as a knock out for tubeless tires. I view tire pressure is a function of rider weight. Over inflated tires offer a harsh ride, less cornering ability and less contact with the pavement. Rolling resistance is much more a function of rider weight than tire pressure.
If the rider weighs about 68-70 kg, about 90 to 100 lbs pressure would work for me. These are about the pressures I have used for years in sew up and clinchers. I have switched to tubeless tires on my mountain bike and really like them. They offer advantages. The safety of no catastrophic failure - a blow out with a tube - is a big comfort factor in training and racing. If these new tubeless tires only do this, I would train on them. I like to race courses with lots of corners. If the tubeless tire feels like a sew-up, I will definitely use them.
The new clincher tires with tubes are very good. Tires makes a world of difference. I will try the new tubeless system. My vote is that this trend is here to stay.
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