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Letters to Cyclingnews - February 16, 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.

Please email your correspondence to

T-Mobile, Adam Hanson and doping
Unibet's new jersey
Double standards for Unibet?
RCS decision
A letter to ASO
Hamilton and Tinkov
Discovery Channel
Asthma everywhere
Bart Wellens' comments at the cross worlds
Best moment?
Crowd control at the cross worlds
Doping reconciliation
Get into 'cross racing
Pound still wants answers from Armstrong
The sorry state of pro-cycling

T-Mobile, Adam Hanson and doping

I found this stance on doping from T-Mobile's Adam Hansen in his feature on Cyclingnews a bit hard to understand, given T-Moblile's so called new start, clean team image they are purporting to portray.

Is this not artificially raising your red blood cell count in pretty much the same way as EPO does? (The clean in italics in Hansen's quote below is mine).

"What are Hansen's feelings on doping? "I'm against it, of course. You can see that, I try to do as much as I can in training to improve myself. I have an altitude room, which I swear by. I don't spend 35 hours a week in this room for fun. Being clean is the hard way."

David Norwich.
Fountainhall, Scotland
Tueday, February 13, 2007

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Unibet's new jersey #1

I think it was stated that Unibet has not procured a license in France for their operations, and thus is not permitted to advertise. All other references in this letter are licensed betting operations.

Eric Hallander
Little Silver, USA

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Unibet's new jersey #2

I agree about Unibet's jersey - the ? question mark looks great. Unibet shouldn't complain, if its organisers had any sense they would use this as a marketing tool. Lets use the good points of this, not the bad.

When they are available I will be getting one for sure, just because they look so good. Hopefully Unibet will see this, market it and maybe set up ?.com - it gives an inquisitive side to the team.

All in all I feel we need to take this as a positive, let's use what we have rather then suing about what we don't have.

Paul Andrews
Friday, February 9, 2007

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Unibet's new jersey #3

I’m with Tony on this one - Lets all wear the question mark jerseys in protest of this now laughable sport. Cycling has become an absolute farce.

Between the drugs, the leaks to the media about confidential matters, the double standards on who can wear what, I’m just about done with cycling as a spectator sport. I’ll ride my bike until the day I die but everything else I’m just about done with.

Selling the jerseys with the question mark on them is a really good idea. Cycling is burying itself right now and I can’t of a better idea than wearing’s question mark jersey to display my displeasure with the entire organization.

They are a ProTour team for Pete's sake! This sport, its teams, its organizers, its regulators and yes, even its publications are wearing my patience thin. I really am just about done with you all.

Warren Beckford
Bloomfield, USA
Friday, February 9, 2007

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Unibet's new jersey #4

The riders of the professional peleton, as represented by the UCI ProTour have, I think, been presented with a singular opportunity to come together and make clear how they envision the future of road cycling at the highest level.

If any ProTour Team is refused entry to any ProTour event, then no ProTour teams should make a stand and not race.

Steffan Havas
Los Angeles, USA
Wednesday, February 14, 2007

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Double standards for Unibet?

In response to T. Holdsworth and P. Ashley letters:

The reason for asking the boys to cover their sponsor's name is just French laws don't allow electronic gambling.

Eric Soccorsi Marseilles
Friday, February 9, 2007

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RCS decision #1

If one does not take into consideration's status as a ProTour Team, there remains little justification for excluding it from Tirreno-Adriatico, Milano-Sanremo and the Giro d'Italia.

Not including Acqua & Sapone, which was ranked first ahead of at the end of last year's Continental Tour, Astana, which possesses a former Giro champion in Paolo Salvodelli, or Tinkoff Credit Systems, which is a new team even if it is a Continental one, five teams that ranked below Unibet at the end of last year's Continental Tour have been selected as possible wild-cards for these three events - six if one includes Tenax-Salmilano.

Both Ceramica Flaminia and Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni are Italian teams. One could also include Switzerland's Team LPR and Ireland's Ceramica Panaria given that both are Italian in composition with 12 Italian riders each. Being an Italian race, broadcast on Italian television, it is perhaps understandable, though far from justifiable, that RCS would include these four teams on its wild-card list even if it does not select all of them for the race.

However, what is its possible justification for including Barloworld on the list, but not Unibet? Barloworld ranked below Unibet at the end of last season's Continental Tour, it does not have any real general classification contenders that I'm aware of, and it is not Italian in either name or composition.

The answer, as we perhaps all know, is that there is no real justification for RCS to exclude Unibet other than that of trying to re-exert or maintain, along with the ASO, a mafia-like hold on cycling by breaking the Pro Tour.

Monday, February 12, 2007

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RCS decision #2

When is the UCI going to realize that their Pro Tour, as currently formatted, is a farce? Why? Because unlike other sports, where races are organized to include competitors who have precisely the same goal, Cycling does not. It's pretty much that simple.

In a track meet, would you ever see them combine the competitors running the 100M with marathoners? I'll grant you that NASCAR has road races, short tracks, medium ovals and super speedways. There are drivers that are better at road racing than supper speedway, but they're expected to work hard to excel at all discisplines. Nobody expects Alexander Petachhi to win the Tour de France no matter how hard he works at it.

The ProTour champion will be a very good all-rounder, I'll admit that, but I won't bench race with my friends about it. I'm going to talk about the individual races, the Spring Classics, the GrandTours, and possibly the World Championships. Additionally, the ProTour goals are often very much at odds with the team's goals.

So far, there's never been a team that's stated at the beginning of the season that the ProTour champion's jersey was any kind of priority to them, not one! It's always been something that just falls out and becomes a priority late in the season for one of the teams that's had a consistently strong rider.

So how could the Pro Tour offer something significant?

They could give the Grand Tours the points they deserve.
They could give more points to the super grueling Classics like Paris-Roubaix.
They could have an overall champion, all-round champion, top sprinter and top climber.

There is still no guarantees that it will work, but if they keep pushing the current format it's doomed!

Doug Hurst
Springfield, USA
Thursday, February 15, 2007

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RCS decision #3

It looks like pro-cycling is on the scaffold and the noose around the neck with the recent decision by RCS to follow the other major promoters and deny Unibet a start in any of their races - talk about a double standard.

Their reasoning is that only the 18 Pro-tour teams in December are automatically eligible for their races, but they will consider Astana as a wild card but not Unibet due to "technical and economic reasons". Can they be any more vague?

This is a no-win situation for all involved and I don't see a way out. If there's no change on the part of the promoters or the UCI, the UCI's only real option will be to withdraw authorization for the races in question and the major promoters won't care.

But what will the other pro teams do? Will they support the UCI and their fellow riders or just go along as if it didn't happen? If they do the latter then the Tour organizers "win" and the UCI ceases to be any kind of effective organization.

What would that say for the solidarity of the teams and riders? If the teams race, will the UCI sanction the teams or refuse them entry into the other races on the UCI schedule?

If the teams refuse to race the GrandTours and other cycling monuments then the races become a shadow of themselves, and may not take place at all. If the teams don't race or are sanctioned for racing what will the team sponsors think?

My guess in either case is that many sponsors will follow in the footsteps of Discovery. Think about the number of persons that will be effected. I'm guessing here too that the promoters feel the teams will continue to race their races as they have millions on the line also, so if no race or a diluted race, they lose too. But is that rational thinking on their part?

I may be missing something but I don't see a solution here as both sides have basically dug in and I can't see either backing down. After the recent doping issues, is pro cycling on the brink of the abyss?

Rex Gilmore
Springfield, USA
Tuesday, February 13, 2007

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A letter to ASO

Dear ASO,

Along with the disaster that is the Operacion Puerto investigation, ASO is reinforcing the notion that the pro peloton is run in a smoke-filled room. And while I would agree with you all if you said: "Pat McQuaid is a fool, and should be in charge of nothing", I do not agree with ASO's actions to squash a legitimate ProTour team in

Whether you believe the ProTour itself is legitimate or not, you are squashing sponsor interest in a hobbled sport. And you are playing for power with the careers of professional riders/young men who have lives to live and families to support. It is a sad little battle.

Jamie Bridges
Baltimore, USA
Thursday, February 15, 2007

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Hamilton and Tinkov

The article Hamilton targets Giro in First Edition Cycling News for February 9, 2007, Tyler Hamilton states: "My bank account is not what it used to be...I spent $500,000 on lawyers to defend myself. Do you think I would have done that if I wasn't innocent?"

Perhaps he needs to share his conviction about his innocence with his new manager Oleg Tinkov, who clearly thinks Hamilton is guilty of an offence of some sort. Tinkov says in the same article: "[Hamilton has] earned a second chance. He paid for what he did and now he has the right to reintegrate society."

So what did he do, Oleg?

We have a situation where a team manager has signed a rider who he seemingly believes to be guilty, and publicly says so, but the rider in question continues to publicly maintain his innocence.

What sort of rider-manager relationship is that and what are the public meant to make of such contradictions from within one team?

Richard Eastham
Bournemouth, United Kingdom
Friday, February 9, 2007

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Discovery Channel

I would like to make the suggestion that fans of the Discovery Channel team and American cycling in general contact discovery channel viewer relation staff at

It was my suggestion that an explanation for its abrupt end to sponsorship could best be explained to the cycling community with an interview on

Please take the time to send an e-mail and let Discovery know how important this team is to us in the cycling community.

Michael Macon
Georgia, USA
Monday, February 12, 2007

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Asthma everywhere #1

I can remember the day when I finally had to stop a race because I just could not breathe. When I told a friend of mine what had happened he said "you're suppose to be out of breath".

Well, after 20 years racing as a category two and a short time as a pro, I knew what I was suppose to feel like and the next day my doctor listened to my chest and diagnosed asthma.

I didn't start winning every race and then win the Tour. In fact out of 40 races in the four years since I have won just one and that's because I ride 14 plus hours a week, not my two shots from an inhaler.

But I can breathe and keep up with the pack - it's not legalized doping.

I remember when Armstrong won his first Tour, the French papers were all over him for using a steroid cream on a rash. Some one will always complain about something.

Brian Polhemus
Spencertown, USA
Friday, February 9, 2007

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Asthma everywhere #2

I certainly see your point here. The problem is an endogeneity problem between prolonged endurance training and respiratory problems, mostly exercise-induced asthma (EIA) only being one of them.

I'm 27 year old domestic Elite level triathlete and never had asthma or respiratory problems until the year before last, when my doctor diagnosed me with severe EIA. He told me that current research hints to the fact that vast volumes of outdoor endurance training, racing, activities at young ages lead to respiratory problems in the later stages of your career. The main factors being pulmonary stress stemming from pollution, ozone and other emissions.

Pascal Pensa
Basel, Switzerland
Friday, February 9, 2007

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Asthma everywhere #3

Well this is a typical letter from someone who obviously does not know the facts of asthma. Being an asthma patient, I can tell you that there are absolutely no benefits from using any of the products for treating asthma, as long as they are inhaled through the airways.

Also you have to have a medical certificate for using any product against asthma and to obtain a certificate you have to have a reduced air intake of minimum 10 per cent and this have to be measured from an official medical clinic.

Plus you will always find more asthma patients in the sports where large quantity of air has to be taken in, this is called stress induced asthma. So no, it's not a surprise that you do find more asthma patients in cycling, and the medication has absolutely no effect on non-asthma patients.

Jens Bjerregaard

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Asthma everywhere #4


I actually just read a study about this recently. The study Testing of Pulmonary Function in a Professional Cycling Team, published in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, showed that Elite and professional level cyclists do suffer from more asthma-related symptoms than non-athletes.

It included a group of 25 professional, male cyclists and was performed by in Italy.

While this is the only one study, it does tend to give credibility to all the claims of asthma in the pro peloton.

Austin Frey
Friday, February 9, 2007

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Asthma everywhere #5

Rich said: "Compared with the general population has anyone noticed the disproportionate amount of riders in the pro peloton with asthma? I certainly have."

He is correct that a large percentage of cyclist use asthma dilators. His implication is that it is 'legal doping' and that they don't need the medication.

I would argue that if your are traveling all over European, Africa and the United States you will encounter countless allergens that your body is unfamiliar with and those allergens will cause your body to react.

One common reaction is pulmonary constriction. It would be tough to ride 250 kilometres at ProTour pace with even slight constriction, so a little tug of Albuterol might bring them back to 'normal'.

Justin Maines Boise
Indiana, USA
Friday, February 9, 2007

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Bart Wellens' comments at the cross worlds

Last year Bart Wellens shot his foot off and now his mouth. This poor guy has a little anger management problem that gets him into trouble now and then. His biggest frustration has to be that his racing career has coincided with Sven Nys'.

If anybody should have been gripping about bad luck at world's it was Nys - who showed what a classy champion he is by congratulating Jonathan Page personally on his great performance.

You also have to remember that Bart broke is arm in the race - clouding an already overcast mind.

Marc Dettman
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Friday, February 9, 2007

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Best moment?

To Mark Brauer,

I totally agree with you on this attitude, that people will still support a rider when they have been found cheating. The Landis case seems like it will run for some time, and with all the cash pumped into it, particularly through the fund, is there a chance that he will get off on a technicality?

To all the people who do not care if a rider has cheated or not, I say this to you: The general public do not care about our sport anymore and neither will the sponsors.

Kent, England
Friday, February 9, 2007

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Crowd control at the cross worlds

In response to Dan Butler's letter regarding crowd control at the cyclo-cross worlds, I am shocked that anyone could have anything but praise for the organisation of the race.

The event was extremely busy and while the time areas of the course got a little crushed the atmosphere was easy going and other fans polite and courteous. At only one point did I see anything that got close to frayed tempers in the crowd and that lasted all of five seconds.

The temporary train station on site was a stroke of genius on the part of the organisers and I was staggered at how quickly and efficiently we got to and from Bruges each day. Sure it was busy but it was very far from being a crush.

I was at the event with two friends, two of whom are events organisers in both cycling and other events, both had nothing but praise for the event and took many ideas back to the United Kingdom and Australia for their own use.

I can only presume that anyone who could criticize event organisation at this event had never attended similar size events elsewhere. Having attended many events elsewhere around the world, this one definitely had slick and efficient organisation. Just look at the problems currently plaguing Italian football to see what bad organisation really looks like.

Thumbs up Hooglede-Gits!

Doug Cook
Friday, February 9, 2007

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Doping reconciliation

In response to Andy's response – well said. Just one proviso: prove it beyond a shadow of a doubt.

I for one am completely in agreement with those that want to completely ban the guilty from competition. But having said that, it is unjust to render any punishment whatsoever until the accused is given a fair trial and the evidence is presented.

Until now all I have seen is circumstantial and sensationalized information as well as a ridiculously drawn out process. Who will be the one to apologize to those accused of wrong doing who were innocent?
Who will offer to repay lost wages? Had Basso not been "excused" from last year's Tour, would any of this talk concerning Floyd be taking place?

My frustration lays solely in the process. The testing process needs to be simplified and standardized to reduce or eliminate any "the lab goofed it" defenses. How difficult can that possibly be?

The arbitration process also needs to be sped up. It is absolutely criminal that Floyd's case continues to drag on - USADA should be ashamed by the time frames. Let's hear the evidence presented once and for all in the proper "official" setting and move on.

And a note to Mr Pound: get your act together, sir. By throwing darts at athletes and not looking into improving the testing process, you look to be just as silly and immature as the people that you accuse.

Scott Sweeney
Sunday, February 11, 2007

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Get into 'cross racing


Regarding the "clean" and "honest" sport of professional cyclo-cross, realize that this gig has really taken off over the last decade or so, and it's just a matter of time before big popularity equates to big pressure by sponsors, big salaries, and consequently big incentives to "enhance" one's performance...assuming it hasn't already.

So while you're out there downing brews and rooting for all those hard-working, clean, innocent athletes, why don't you go ahead and stick your head in the sand. There's usually plenty of it around.

Kurt Bauer
Austin, USA
Friday, February 9, 2007

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Pound still wants answers from Armstrong

Even if I didn't like Lance Armstrong before, hearing Dick Pound go on and on about trying to crucify him and others via the media is just plain tiring! Let the courts and legal panels do its jobs.

Even though he has been reprimanded by the IOC he still goes above them and continues to spout off. Now when I hear Pound talk all I hear is: "blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah..."

I think he just likes hearing himself talk. Certainly no one else does!

Gary Lee
Daly City, USA
Wednesday, February 14, 2007

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The sorry state of pro-cycling

However, Landis' situation is different from other athletes recently caught taking illegal performance enhancing products. He knew if his plan to attack was successful that he would be tested. Testosterone enhancement is not a quick fix, it works over time to build strength. He won several other races in 2006 without any drugs at all. His biggest rivals were not even in the Tour de France.
Landis also has a reputation for clean riding. This reminds me of Sean Kelly. I remember he took a very strong stand against doping. It was, of all places, the race of Paris-Brussels that Stimul was found in his urine test. Kelly had a great season that year, '200 drug tests' all without a drop of dope products (according to Kelly himself in an interview). Then in a race he finished third, ( because he felt tired ) a product which is easily detected showed up in his test. Kelly knew when the B result was positive that someone had deliberately tainted his sample. He served a suspension since he had no way of proving his innocence. However, his friends, trainer, coach, and wife, and teammates all agreed that Kelly was 100% innocent. It was, according to one cyclist, a drug that no one in the peloton was using ( or using anymore since testing for this product was implemented about 10 years prior to this event).

Who had the most to gain from a positive Landis test? Could it have been Spanish cycling? A country who were so deeply involved in blood doping that they would have done anything to insure a Spaniard won the Tour? How much would it cost?I fear we will never find the truth. But you can see this whole matter smells fishy.

Timothy Shame
Friday, February 9, 2007

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Recent letters pages

Letters 2007

  • February 9: Unibet show they won't be put down, Double standards for Unibet?, Unibet's new jersey, Asthma everywhere, Bart Wellens' comments at the Cross Worlds, Crowd control at the Cross Worlds, Jonathan Page's mechanic beaten, Cheers to Bradley Wiggins, Bradley Wiggins' comments, Jaksche lashes out, Get into 'cross racing, Le Tour was created to sell newspapers, The stakes are too high, Doping reconciliation, Best moment of 2006?, Ivan Basso interview, Ullrich's DNA sample, Ullrich to Relax-GAM?, Ullrich partners with sports-clothing company, Still love to ride, My perfect state of mountain biking, A terrible model for cycling
  • February 2: The sanctimonious need to be taken out back, Confidentiality of test results, Oscar Pereiro cleared, Cyclo-cross reader poll results, Fairness in Operation Puerto?, Riders' nicknames, Doping reconciliation, Help for Floyd Landis, Museeuw's insults, Sven Nys, The Floyd Fairness Fund, The sorry state of pro-cycling
  • January 26: Drug testing methodologies, Museeuw the PR man, Museeuw's insults, Johan Museeuw and Tyler Hamilton, Sven Nys, Conduct in the pro peloton, McQuaid unhappy with Pereiro, Put doping in the correct context, Moreau wins 2006 TDF, Who wins the 2006 Tour now?, Drapac Porsche's exclusion from the TDU, Bike sponsorship, Compact geometry, The Floyd Fairness Fund
  • January 19: Drapac-Porsche and the TDU, Bettini to win the Ronde?, Frame geomtry, Phil Liggett's recently stated views, Prudhomme's zealotry, 3 cheers for Christian Prudhomme, Deutschland Tour, 3 cheers for Saunier Duval, Dick Pound, Fairness in Operation Puerto?, Do the maths, The Floyd Fairness Fund
  • January 12: Dick Pound, Just 'Pound' him, Pound casts doubt on Landis, Pound comments, The Dick and Pat Show, McQuaid starts cultural polemic, Why the Pro Tour model will never work, The Floyd Fairness Fund, Riders' union, Cyclo-cross reader poll results, Danny Clark - an inspiration, Allan Peiper, Do the maths, Peter Van Petegem's secret, Justice and America, Lance in Leadville, Tubeless road tires
  • January 5: Danny Clark - an inspiration, Legal standards and cycling, Peter Van Petegem's secret, Lance a no show for Leadville, Cyclo-cross reader poll results, Do the maths, A fair trial, Tubeless road tires, Manzano's polygraph test, Blind trust in implicated riders, A terrible state of affairs, Armstrong's credibility - the conspiracy theories, Best ride ever

Letters 2006

  • December 29: Lance in Leadville, Leadville Trail 100, Manzano's polygraph test, British Cycling and the Tour de France, Tell me, what's the problem?, "Disco" team?, Presumption of innocence, Landis and the Landaluze case, Landis' defense fund, American culture, Armstrong's credibility, Back room politics and the IPCT
  • December 22: Scott Peoples, Hypocrite?, Landis and the Landaluze case, Landis' defense fund, Rumours and innuendo, Bjarne Riis interview, Enough already, Back room politics and the IPCT, Armstrong's credibility, American culture, Bjarne's ignorance factor, Deutschland Tour and Denmark Tour, Operation Puerto and the UCI
  • December 15: A totally predictable situation?, Armstrong's credibility, Deutschland Tour and Denmark Tour, Back room politics and the IPCT, Holczer and others, Holczer and the Discovery exclusion, Bjarne's ignorance factor, Can't we all just get along?, DNA safety, Floyd Landis on Real Sports, Genevieve Jeanson, Mark McGwire, Operación Puerto bungled...deliberately?, Operation Puerto and the UCI
  • December 8: Genevieve Jeanson, Floyd Landis on Real Sports, Deutschland Tour, Bjarne's ignorance factor, USADA does it again, Labs and testing, Astana denied ProTour license, Isaac Gálvez, McQuaid, Question about DNA testing, Le Tour de Langkawi 2007
  • December 1: Hamilton, Isaac Gálvez, USADA does it again, Bjarne's ignorance factor, Shorten the Vuelta?, Vuelta short, shorter, shortest, Labs and testing, Ullrich to CSC, Clean up cycling's own house first, Fed up with doping, Strange sponsorships, What about Leipheimer?, French anti-doping laboratory, Basso agrees to DNA testing, Basso to Discovery, What's going on behind the scenes?, Graeme Obree
  • November 24: Graeme Obree, What about Leipheimer?, French anti-doping laboratory, Basso agrees to DNA testing, Basso to Discovery, Richard Virenque, UCI are the problem, What's going on behind the scenes?
  • November 17: Saiz and Tinkoff, Countdown to the 2007 Tour, Improving the reliability of testing, Basso to Discovery, Cycling and DNA testing, Forgetting Tom Simpson, Operación Puerto and national federations, Refusing DNA testing - an admission of guilt?. Reverse blood doping, Richard Virenque, What's going on behind the scenes?
  • November 10: Forgetting Tom Simpson, Tour Route, Basso to Discovery, Cycling and DNA testing, What is DNA testing?, Refusing DNA testing - an admission of guilt?, Jan Ullrich, Operación Puerto and national federations, Reverse blood doping, What's going on behind the scenes?, Comments on McQuaid
  • November 3: Tour Route, Return of a real good guy, Cameron Jennings, Future Australian ProTour team, Neil Stephens, 2007 Tour Intro Video Snub, Richard Virenque, Reverse blood doping, Comments on McQuaid, Marc Madiot, Who's more damaging?, What's going on behind the scenes?, Wada & Cycling's Governing Body, UCI and Doping, The Pope of Cycling and the Spanish Inquisition, Refusing DNA testing - an admission of guilt?, Put up or shut up!, DNA, its so ‘easy', DNA Testing In Cycling

The complete Cyclingnews letters archive