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Letters to Cyclingnews - January 19, 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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Drapac-Porsche and the TDU
I am extremely disappointed the Drapac-Porsche team was not allowed a start in the Tour Down Under by the latter's organisers. Aside from the farcical situation of Australia's only Pro-Conti team being denied a start, we will now not get to witness the newly crowned Australian RR Champion wear the jersey in arguably Australia's premier event. Surely the reason for their not being allowed a start cannot be that they were considered not up to the task.
Come on Bettini, Tom has won the Ronde van Vlaanderen convincingly for the last two years and you want this to be yours? Be a good boy and follow Roger De Vlaeminck, actually now that I think about it don't do that. But seriously, Tom is the man for that race and hey if you want to join him in a two up time trial to the finish, bring it on!
I know this is a little off the topic considering all the latest fab controversy, but why does it seem that all these pro bikes are going to the compact geometry? I'm not talking about a couple degrees of slope, but a full compact, sloping top tube.
I've ridden several different sloping designs, fitted properly to me, and I just don't' see it. Is the flat top tube a thing of the past, or have our bike companies ran out of new ideals? I guess there is only so many times that you can reinvent the wheel.
Anyway, I'm really wondering what's the big deal. The sloping design is less stable, more twitch, not as stiff, and looks, well, kind of funny. I'm a big guy, and a pretty good bike handler so I'm not a novice, and I apply a lot of stress to frames exposing their weakness. Sure I haven't tried every sloping geometry, but I have tried several Giant, Specialized, and Cervelo models which are kind of the big three, within this category.
I've tried carbon fiber and aluminum, and even a steel frameset. It just leaves me puzzling, are we not that discriminating about what we buy? If we look at two cases, Armstrong discouraged Trek from making a compact frame, and also when Cipollini was with Aqua Sapone his frame was custom, with a near flat top tube, which was different from the rest of the team. So if all the riders had the power, and freedom, I wonder what they would choose?
Hoorah for Phil Liggett! It is so wonderful to hear my old colleague Phil's views on both Operacion Puerto and the ProTour. Here is a man with a wealth of experience who is as close to the beating heart of the professional peloton as anyone could possibly be who is openly critical of the UCI's stance on both the major issues affecting our sport. And he talks so much sense.
What we now have to do is to get that message across to the UCI in no uncertain terms. It seems that the UCI is in the grip of some buffoons led by an Irishman who appears to have totally lost the plot. Put Phil in charge of the UCI and we'll soon see a united and healthy sport. Well said Phil!
Christian Prudhomme was recently quoted as saying:
"We reserve the right to take away riders' invitations - their names won't mean a thing."
If he and the Tour de France do indeed preclude riders from taking part in one of the largest sporting events in the world without allowing due process to occur, cycling will suffer. What will prevent him and other zealots from preventing others from riding for other reasons? In the extreme, things such as religious views, political views, race or nationality could be bandied about as reasons for excluding (groups of) cyclists.
It is getting absurd that the lives of athletes can be ruined without any legal reasons by so-called sporting authorities. It is my opinion that pro cyclists should all boycott the Tour de France if the organizers push to exclude riders without just cause.
With reference to your 15 January news item ("Uncertainty over Operación Puerto riders for Tour de France"), I would applaud a decision by Christian Prudhomme to exclude riders who continue to be implicated in the Puerto scandal. I would feel similarly about the exclusion of Floyd Landis. And before anyone of the "innocent until proven guilty" lobby makes the point: yes, I am aware this is inconsistent with principles of "natural justice" (even assuming you accept they apply in the context of the private pursuit of a sporting endeavour for financial gain - which I don't) but no, I don't care.
No TV coverage for Deutschland Tour if Puerto riders participate?!
Which of the fifty-odd nicknames apply to which riders? Could any of those names actually refer to participants in football or other sports - ops sorry - nobody cares about that. Could there be more than one rider applied to any particular nickname? (How do you decide who "Fuzzy" really is anyway?)
How many of these "suspected riders" are in the line-up for the Deutschland Tour? How many of these "suspected riders" will actually be formally accused of anything?
Now - how can we guarantee that any rider the organizers, TV producers, other sponsors, and any other complaining Germans don't like will not be in the starting lineup of any team? We can't !
Oh well - May as well cancel the Deutschland Tour now and let everyone actually race somewhere else?
I've been an on and off bike racer and passionate cyclist for 25 years. I am really sick of all the power struggles and witch-hunt mentality in the sport right now. I am ready to just pull the plug and never watch or read about another race. How very very sad.
There is still triathlon - a very exciting sport with so much less crap involved. Plus what other sport allows every day racers to race with the pros?
How great to see the Saunier Duval team making friends in Mali, planting trees, racing through the intriguing Sahel landscape (actually, I would've loved to have seen a few more pictures of that), and building bridges between Europe and Africa. Kudos to the sponsor, team staff and management, and riders for making time for this positive endeavor! Seeing the smiling faces reminds us that international relations can flourish. "Peace, love, and respect for everybody!"
While no fan of Dick Pound, I have to wonder how many people read the New York Times article before laying into him. The third paragraph of the article opens with "As it happened, the news that the cyclist Floyd Landis had failed a dope test at the Tour de France broke in July, in the midst of a series of interviews I had with Pound in Montreal..."
I have to think that the quotes were several months old, not the breaking news that was given by the Cyclingnews article. Makes for good press though and got the readership all riled up. Isn't that what it's all about?
Dick Pound #2
There are those who have a religious certainty about their views and are on a crusade of one sort or another. Whether it be the president of the United States and weapons of mass destruction, or certain high profile evangelists, it seems to be not unusual to eventually discover that their "evidence" has been sexed-up, manipulated, or purely fabricated.
Mr. Pound seems to enter that category of religious certainty and a crusader. It would not be at all surprising if he, or those around him, were found to be willing to manipulate or fabricate evidence to prove those points of which they are religiously certain. Because of this, if I had to chose, with no other data available, whether to believe Floyd Landis or Dick Pound, it would be much easier to believe Mr. Landis.
When I add to the equation, Mr Pounds' outrageous public commentary, the balance in my mind shifts further to Landis. If there is any kernel of truth in the Arnie Baker presentations of record-keeping and procedural improprieties by the drug testing laboratory that handled the TdF samples, it adds to the sensation that Landis (and perhaps others) may have been gravely wronged.
As I use laboratory data in my professional life, any set of procedural errors such as those presented by Dr Baker, would disqualify the usage of those results for any decision making.
Finally, I do subscribe to the principal that it is a more grave error to harm the innocent, than to fail to punish the guilty and believe that all of us would wish the presumption of innocence until proven guilty if we were innocently caught in a laboratory error, or by manipulated evidence.
I believe that cycling and sport in general would be best served by the removal of Mr Pound from his position.
Rick Abbott, M.D.
Once the news of Operation Puerto became public and names were being named, like most true fans of cycling, I got a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach. It was just another blow to the credibility of the sport that we all love. When Ullrich, Sevilla, Mancebo, Basso etc were shown the door just prior to the Tour prologue, I lost all interest in the 2006 race. The episode with Landis just cemented my disgust with the 2006 Tour.
Now this drama lingers on into 2007. What disturbs me most is how inequitable justice is being meted out in this matter. I must be upfront and tell the readers out there that I am a huge Jan Ullrich fan. That said, I wasn't born yesterday, and don't for a minute believe in his protestations of innocence. I fear that DNA analysis of the blood found in Dr. Fuentes' office will be linked to Der Kaiser. His career will likely be over and we'll never see him line up at another Tour prologue. Some may understandably cheer this, should it come to pass. The problem I have is that the rules are not applied equally across the board. Depending on the individual's cycling federations, riders face a significant, perhaps career-ending ban, while others face no sanctions at all. This is a tragedy.
How can Ivan Basso sign a multi-million Euro deal and be back in the peloton, maybe winning the Tour or another Giro and placing his name in the history books, while Ullrich will only be able to sit home and read that history book and dream of what might have been?
Does anyone else out there believe that justice should be dispensed equally, or not at all?
Thanks for the opportunity to vent,
Stephen Burke's letter raises a number of key issues in the Landis case that deserve further examination. Why would the Landis camp expect the B sample to be positive? For the simple reason that it came out of the same lab as the A sample. A more methodologically sound evaluation of the B sample would have it examined by a different lab, but this simple yet effective strategy is conspicuously absent from all doping tests. Additionally, the lab in question was not any lab, but rather the same lab that is in cahoots with L'Equipe regarding Armstrong's doping results; not exactly unbiased.
With regard to the theory that Landis used a testosterone patch to recover, many doctors have confirmed that this would not have been useful for a single day, single shot recovery process as it requires repeated administration over a period of time to assist in muscular regeneration. Further, if a patch was used, we would have seen extremely high testosterone levels, which was not the case.
Finally, as to the notion that Landis rode a superhuman effort to ride away from the others, we only have to look at Allen Lim's (Landis' coach) analysis of his wattage output to see that this was a normal mountain ride for Landis, well within his known performance range. What happened was that the other riders failed to chase when they had the chance, as they knew what happened to Landis the day before and figured he would blow up later in this stage. So, unlike what Dick Pound brazenly argued, Landis was not riding "like he was on a motorcycle" nor was he doing anything he had not already done previously. The fact that he was able to recover from the day before was primarily due to the fact that, on the earlier stage, he was dehydrated whereas, when he was riding away from the others, he took large quantities of water (as we all saw on the TV coverage).
In response to David C. Brayton's letter, Mr. Brayton should go back and re-read most of the material regarding the case for and against Floyd Landis.
Floyd tested positive for an abnormal testosterone ratio. This does not mean that he tested positive for doping. What it means is that he could have been using performance enhancing drugs, or he could have a natural or genetic abnormality, or (and this is my favorite theory) he could have had one too many beers the night before. Any number of reasons could have contributed to his non-negative test, just as eating a poppy-seed bagel will score you a positive drug test for opiates.
In order for this to be as fair as possible, Floyd needs all the help he can get. While the organizers of the sport have seemingly endless buckets of money to throw away on litigating this case, Floyd is a simple man from a simple family who can't put up the amounts of cash needed to prove his innocence and continue to feed his family.
And isn't that the whole irony of this sordid affair; why should he have to prove his innocence when it is the lab, WADA and UCI (who have already proven their incompetence) that should be held to prove his guilt?
The Floyd Fairness Fund #2
Every one in the cycling community knows that there is a higher probability of Floyd being framed by disgruntled Tour de France organizers who detest another American raining on their parade - more than - one cyclist trying to pull the wool over everyone's eyes, knowing he is under the microscope even worse than Lance, and that he will be tested and retested.
Even Greg LeMond was told by the director of Le Tour back in the 80s to watch his back and his samples because there were many that did not want him to win and were willing to do anything to stop him.
The modern Tour de France can be considered a farce and a sham, by some, because of the possible under-handed shady dealings in this context.
I have been a USCF cyclist since 1977 and I love the Tour de France and Floyd Landis.
The Floyd Fairness Fund #3
Mr. Brayton, I can see where you're coming from, however, I disagree with you on just about every point. First off, he did not test positive for high testosterone, but rather low epitestosterone. But I'm not going to argue over the scientific aspect of his case, because as far as anyone's concerned, if the science was exact and 100% accurate then there wouldn't be a question about his innocence. The fact that cases have been thrown out in the past due to lab errors (Landaluze case) shows that the lab is in fact not 100% precise in its finding. But knowing if a test was followed through with correct proceedings is also something that the likes of you and I will probably never know for sure.
At the same time, comparing Floyd Landis to Barry Bonds is akin to comparing a WWF wrestler such as Hulk Hogan, to a UFC fighter. Anyone who can go out and train 900 hard miles in one week is nothing shy of a god in the cycling world. For some reason I can't see Barry Bonds' coach saying, "Hey Barry why don't you take it easy today. Let's go kick back and have a brewsky." Yet he's still making a living, and yes, he's still earning an income that dwarfs Landis' income any day.
The winner of the Tour earns 450,000E ($581,500) and it's is a Tour custom that the winner splits most, if not all of the winnings up amongst his teammates. It was estimated that the defense for his case is going to cost Floyd around $500,000. I don't care who you are, that is a lot of money to spend for a team of lawyers (take into account that Landis is not even close to being the highest paid cyclist).
True there are funds that are for better causes as you've stated. So go give your money to them. But as far as Landis being deprived, you're damn right he is. You'd be hard pressed to find one thing he's isn't deprived of. He's been publicly slandered, his case wasn't given due process and results were leaked before he even had a chance to make a defense for himself, his father in law committed suicide days after, his money is stretched thin, and his reputation is ruined. People say his ride up Morzine was impossible, but his wattage shows that he's done better on just training rides. I couldn't imagine going to sleep every night with that weight on my shoulders. If you think that all that is at stake is "proving that he was the winner of a bike race" then you'd get along fine with Mr. Pound. If he isn't deprived then "fercrissake" I don't know who is.
The Floyd Fairness Fund #4
David you have judged Floyd guilty and therefore feel a contribution to this fund is wrong. Anyone who feels this way should not contribute to this fund. However, I contributed $20 to this fund because I want to make sure that Floyd has the resources to defend himself.
The actions of WADA and the UCI are a concern to me. I love the sport of cycling and it disturbs me to see it torn apart by self serving bureaucrats. My hope is that this fund secures enough money to get the attention of the leaders of cycling that the people are fed up with the public comments and poor treatment of its professional riders. No other sport treats its professional athletes with so little respect.
We the fans want fair treatment and justice for our heroes. I encourage anyone who feels like I do to contribute to this fund. Take a stand and send a message to the leaders of Cycling that things have to change and we demand it.
The Floyd Fairness Fund #5
Well David, you are the first one on this list to tell it as it is, it is farcical to think that somebody of Floyd Landis' level of ability could do what he did on that so called epic day, I get so sick and tired of the Americans crying the innocence of their top riders when caught but calling the Europeans guilty for all their worth when they get caught, thanks for being an honest American.
The Floyd Fairness Fund #6
While it is true that donating to the Floyd Fairness Fund probably does not rank up there with donations for AIDS in Africa, or even Katrina relief, let's be clear what the donation is for. It is to help Floyd Landis get a fair hearing, not to help him continue to race bikes. Landis has contributed a considerable amount of his own earnings and will continue to do so, but he is up against a juggernaut of WADA/UCI "guilty until proven innocent" publicity and a public that is deeply misinformed as to the facts of the case, as Mr. Brayton's letter attests. Landis is trying to bring the facts out in front of the public, and to allow experts to assist in his defense. Doesn't he have the right to do this, and don't we, as cycling enthusiasts, have a responsibility to at least withhold judgment until all the facts are in?
Naturally, everyone wants to declare Landis guilty as charged, without carefully examining the facts. These facts include the same lab testing both A and B samples (it is basic research methodology to have different labs test each sample, but this is universally not done in doping tests), sloppy lab procedures (the samples were left out at room temperature for over 24 hrs), different testosterone to epitestosterone ratio's across three trials of samples by the same lab, and testosterone levels that were within the normal range (or even somewhat below normal). We don't even need to consider the relatively high "false positive" rate of these tests nor the fact that Landis tested negative on all occasions during the Tour prior to (and after) the stage in question. To think that calling Landis guilty at this stage is not even remotely realistic, and he deserves a fair hearing. Contributing to the fund would assist in his getting a fair hearing.
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