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Letters to Cyclingnews - May 11, 2007
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An attempt at doping?
It is clear that there are some people who truly have no respect for others. It is bad enough that he made his promises to prove his innocence when in fact he was guilty, but does he have to insult us by saying he did not dope but was planning to?
An attempt at doping? Come on! Is he telling us that after his trouncing of the competition in the 2006 Giro, that he felt a need to step up his game? Please. Are we to believe that his Giro was not the result of doping, but his TdF was going to be?
For one brief and shining moment, Ivan Basso made it look like he had a little integrity by 'fessing up and admitting that the blood was his. He announced that he was Birillo. Yes, we know he was about to get nailed anyway, so he was likely given the chance to admit prior to the release of evidence that he did in fact dope. That is beside the point. He admitted it. Now, he insults us and casts shame on himself with an "I did not inhale" comment. Ah...no. Don't think so.
No Ivan, you need to stop now. Take it like a man. Do your time and move on. OK, you were not the only one, but you have a responsibility. You postured yourself (with the help of others obviously) as a hero and a popular champion. Now you have fallen hard and it must hurt. Life goes on. A real champion deals with the toughest things life throws at him and gets back up. You have won enough on the bike. It's time to be a real champion Ivan.
'It was only attempted doping'
Who is Ivan Basso trying to kid? This man is completely deluded. Why can't he just be man enough to come clean (excuse the terrible pun)?
I am sick of these idiots taking us for idiots. Simoni was right all along and even now, with overwhelming evidence, he still can't own up. Should he continue with this stance then he should be banned for life if it can be shown that he did cheat in the Giro 2006. I just hope no one will try and defend or continue to believe this fool.
It is time we just told Landis, Basso, Ullrich and all the others that we don't want them anymore. The professional sport is in serious danger of dying. I very much doubt any major corporate sponsor would want to touch cycling. I can just imagine the response if I went to the sponsorship department of my company. I think they would die laughing.
Is Basso kidding? Does he really expect us to believe that he only "attempted" doping? What caused him to have his "moment of weakness"? His crushing victory at the Giro last year?
"Wow, I only won by 9 minutes - I should explore illicit means of boosting my performance so that I will be ready for the Tour". For me, this story is as believable as Ullrich claiming that his positive DNA tests are the result of manipulation, and looks like Basso is just trying to protect his past palmares.
This half confession does nothing to redeem Basso in my eyes, but I would have viewed him as something of a hero if he had followed David Millar's example and fully confessed to the when, where, and how of the matter. I hope that CONI continue to pursue the truth in this matter and don't settle for this version of events.
So it turns out that Basso's been lying about doping for (at least) a year. He finally gets cornered and faced by a mountain of evidence admits to involvement in blood doping. But then today suddenly it's only 'attempted doping' and that he had always been clean - I'm sorry but why having just won the Giro by 9 minutes 'clean' would you suddenly decide that you need to dope for the Tour?
I have another theory; maybe Basso has lied his whole career, maybe Basso has always doped. Maybe now he's telling more lies to save his career? I for one hope he (and the others) are banned long enough that he (and they) never race again professionally.
I have just read that Ivan Basso has admitted that he took part in Operacion Puerto. I think now, the big question on everyone's mind has to be; is this the tip of the iceberg?
So far, we have Ullrich who has had his DNA tied to blood bags found with Fuentes. But, we have his denials, through his lawyers of course, out there on the public record. I'm not really sure how he can or could squirm out of this one, but yet, still there are denials.
Now, we have Basso admitting that he took part in this scheme. Finally, a top cyclist, who has been under suspicion since last year, comes out and says unequivocally that he indeed took part. Is he going to talk about what he knows? Or is he going to keep it just to himself? Are we going to finally start believing people like Jesus Manzano when they come forward? Or are we going to keep our heads firmly buried in the sand?
If Basso has indeed taken part, and he as at the top tier of cycling as we know it, what is to stop other riders from partaking as well? I've been cynical of pro cycling, and what happens in its ranks for a long time now, with each admission or finding of doping increasing said cynicism. This admission from Basso pretty much takes the cake for me.
Even though my friends and I have joked about it for a long time, as to how "everyone" is doping, this could actually be the final nail in the coffin. I still hold out belief that indeed, there are some guys not doping, but far and away, I believe, and I think many others will line up behind me, that doping is widespread and rampant through the sport that we love. I indeed hope that I'm wrong, but more and more evidence points me into the direction that I'm not.
I'm sure his lawyer advised him to admit in order to get a reduced penalty. Now I wonder if he's going to return all of his price money and trophies he won? I also wonder how many sponsors are going to sue him for damages done to their name. This is the reason I think why most riders will never admit because of the potential law suits against them.
Basso has played everyone for fools by denying over and over that he had nothing to do with Fuentes or blood doping. I hope they sent a clear message and never allow him to compete again. Now let's wait and see what Hamilton does. His career at his age was just about over anyway, so he may continue his innocence and hope everyone will forget about it in the next two years or so.
Hats off Basso for confessing. I hope he learns and gets some peace out of this. Some times you have to be dragged through the poo to own up but it always feels good.
Landis your microphone is ready.......
Time for the Viagra eye drops and the room full of mirrors for all the other cheating cyclists, take a long hard look and see if you like the view.
I respect Basso more for this than his riding because it is sometimes harder to own up. than to go up the Mortirolo.
Ok, so Basso has finally admitted it and will get his punishment and rightly so as cheating in any form should not be tolerated. Despite his admission, however, I am still and always will be a huge fan of both the cyclist and the man, just as I am of Pantani and of Simpson.
Basso was a truly great cyclist - winning the Giro by such a margin was an incredible and unmatchable feat even if 'assisted' - and we should praise him for this at the same time as admonishing him for his very human failures. I can't wait to once again see Ivan at the head of the peloton, preferably in either pink or yellow - I only hope he doesn't feel forced to end his career now.
Basso's confession, and defense of his Giro win have the whiff of expedience and compromise. His denials of "assistance" during the 2006 Giro d'Italia are extremely difficult to believe. Why would Dr. Fuentes and his cohorts be discussing his progress in the race, if they weren't involved?
One must suspect that he was promised leniency if he protected the image of the Giro by inisisting he was clean. I'm glad Pat McQuaid has headed this one off at the pass, by insisting that there should be no deals.
The public deserves a full confession, and he deserves the maximum sentence.
Based on his own admission we now finally know that Ivan Basso has been treating us all as fools. His earlier disingenuous announcements of innocence have made a mockery of the procedures currently in place to sanction cheats or, in Basso's bizarre 'confession', an intending cheat. Basso, who now admits to previously lying about any association with Dr Fuentes, wants us to believe that he never actually cheated and therefore should be accepted back into the fold.
This is the Clinton defence - I didn't inhale. Please, we aren't that stupid.
There is only one answer to this ludicrous claim - no, you're out of the sport and you're out for good. How can he possibly expect people to believe him after having admitted to lying for more than 10 months?
People in responsible positions in other walks of life when found out in similar circumstances have done the honourable thing and removed themselves permanently from such positions. The damage Basso (and others yet confirmed) is doing to our sport has been for his own financial benefit and will possibly result in the financial ruin of other innocent members of the cycling world.
If I were a director of the company behind Discovery Channel I would be pushing for the company to pursue Mr Basso for significant damages.
"Discovery Channel Team has declared itself to be 'surprised, disappointed and saddened.'"
Did you notice the date on that press release? It was written the same day they signed Basso.
With today's admission by Ivan Basso of indeed being at the center of Puerto, may I now safely assume that those quick to jump on Gibi Simoni's comments after stage 20 of last year's Giro will be the first to say, "Whoops, maybe he's not a sore loser after all?"
Probably not. I however, being a fan of Simoni, can only sit back and enjoy this turn of events. Basso's destruction of the entire field in last year's event was "extra-terrestrial". Today, re-reading the quotes from last year, it's almost impossible to believe that Basso and Riis could make such statements about hard work and sacrifice with a straight face. Yes, I do include Riis in that statement. It's completely implausible that Basso's activities in Spain were unknown to him, given the close nature of the relationship each pointed to as the core ingredient to their success.
As a fan of cycling for 17 years, I'm not yet ready to throw in the towel. It's still the best spectacle of sport on the planet. Riders like Simoni symbolize that spectacle for many of us. He's hurting for his results, where the drive to get to the line first, up a 10 percent grade, clearly shows in his face. Compare his climbing style to that of Basso, who just spins away with not a hair out of place. Who is more impressive, when using credibility as a measuring stick , now?
Given that last year's second place Gutierrez is also out of the picture, when can I expect to see Basso hand over the final 2006 maglia rosa that's rightfully Simoni's?
Opinions about Basso and his confession are abound, but solutions to the apparent pandemic of doping are not. And by solutions I do not mean excluding riders from ProTour events based on journalistic accounts, which given their questionable factualness led riders, in this case Basso and now Scarponi to deny their involvement in illegal sporting practices. Nor do I think a two-year ban or more is productive, at this moment, given the chaotic, overdetermined, and expansive nature of Operation Puerto. Where do such actions of such exclusion and ostracism get us? The apparent answer is nowhere!
What then do I propose? Rather than throw down the opinion gauntlet or the prospect of a lifetime ban I herein propose that the cycling community (and this includes its governing bodies) establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission on doping. The TRC will be a crucial component for the sports transition to a dope-free sport.
The mandate of this proposed commission will be to bear witness to, record and grant a general amnesty to all the perpetrators of practices (and this includes doctors, director sportifs, mechanics, etc) related to doping in its most general sense who fully disclose their involvement. Without the full disclosure of doping practices we will never fully understand the extensiveness of doping, which is not only an individual problem but also a structural problem.
A general amnesty will hopefully get to the bottom of this sporting problem, for riders, mechanics, and others will not be afraid to jeopardize their livelihood that not only includes themselves, but the livelihood of spouses, parents, and children.
Do not get me wrong I do not propose a TRC that exists in perpetuity. Instead, like other TRC's, it should be timely and time sensitive so that cycling can move forward and our conversations on and about cycling can turn to the sporting event itself.
Paul K. Saucier
1. Every professional cyclist is given a chance to confess doping from June 1st to June 30th 2007.
2. If they confess they are given a one year suspension.
3. Every cyclist competing in UCI events is required to submit DNA samples.
4. If they are conclusively linked to Puerto or any other doping scheme where the DNA evidence is available... they are banned for *life*. From every aspect of the sport. Director, Soigner, PR rep... anything.
5. Any new cyclist competing in UCI events is required to submit DNA samples.
6. Any doping that is caught with DNA evidence after the grace period results in an automatic lifetime suspension. From every aspect of the sport.
Yes, there are problems:
1. This does not resolve pharmacological doping.
2. Some method of safe guarding the athletes DNA identities would need to be introduced (there are ways to securely and efficiently do this).
It's not a complete solution... but we have to start somewhere.
While it is sad to see Basso finally admit his doping offence, some discussion needs to be undertaken to highlight the general hypocrisy of the cycling world, its organisation(s) and in particular the media that feeds of it.
There have been several cyclists who have admitted doping before and then outlined how doping practices were the norm in the sport. These riders were pillared by the press, ignored by the judges and scorned by the cycling bodies.
It has taken a scandal of epic proportions to indicate what is really going on and look what's happening. The media behaves likes its a first time shock, the judges hold up investigations and the cycling bodies fail to deliver clarification of what they all know, that there is a strong likelihood that none of the races we have seen in the last 30 years were clean.
The science of doping has far outreached the will to restrict it. Speeds and performances have dramatically improved and culminated in the fiasco of Landis "motoring" his way around the mountains of France. It would be interesting to see blood tests before stage starts not just at the end.
In short what the sport needs to understand is that a competitive race all be it at a slower pace, is just as interesting as a competitive race that is simply 5km/hour faster. That understanding begins with the team management, the riders and then the cycling organisations.
Responsibility needs to be widened. If a rider dopes on the Team, the Team is banned. If the Team is banned the livelihoods of many will be threatened. There needs to be that type of level of 'threat' to enable the sport to police itself, for without those sponsors there is no cycling.
Other sports are just as bad and their negligence in this matter just as great. But action needs to be taken before sponsors disappear simply out of disgust. We could be in the position soon that 107, less Basso and Ulle, are guilty and one or more of those 107 could be on the podium of any of the Grand Tours. Do we really need to follow Heras and Landis into sporting oblivion?
With the involvement of Basso, Ullrich, and Mancebo; shouldn't Vinokourov be awarded second place in the Tour de France for the 2005 finish? Should Basso and Ullrich have an asterisk next to their names for victories, with a note that this result has been disputed due to doping charges? How long will we wait for an official 2006 winner?
How many more letters will be written in this format that says, 'I am sick of hearing about this subject...' only to raise the lowest forms of accusations and questions. I am talking about the ignorant ramblings of individuals who claim someone is guilty merely on the basis of his performance or his efforts that were faster than someone who has been caught or admitted to doping.
Why shouldn't cyclists be tried before their peers? Why can't the pro cyclists be allowed to read the official evidence and decide if an athlete should be allowed to continue or not?
Let them race.
Blood bags, DNA match or not, are not conclusive evidence of doping. There are high levels of suspicion and probability, but no actual proof of doping. Even if the blood contains traces of EPO, can we be sure it was ever injected into the rider?
I propose that we give these riders the benefit of doubt and allow them to continue racing. After all, they never tested positive (with the exception of Tyler Hamilton, who shouldn't be punished twice for the same mistake). However, the riders implicated in Puerto should be required to submit to random testing at least twice as often as other riders out of competition. They should also be tested after the completion, or withdrawal, of every race they participate in. If a test comes back positive, the rider is banned for life. No exceptions.
The governing bodies are so intent on "cleaning up" the sport they are ruining it. Cycling may have had a reputation as a dirty sport, a doper's sport but I am more offended by the actions of men in suits and offices reigning down judgment without thought of the future, proof of wrong doing or repercussions for their actions.
Let them race. Put Puerto riders on high alert and drop the legal battles. Then we can all focus on what really matters, the drama of a professional bike race not a court room.
It has been a year since Operacion Puerto, and still there are basic issues that have not surfaced. Where is the money? If Fuentes was supplying basically the elite rung of the peloton, I can't imagine he was doing it out of the kindness of his heart. Has there been any search of his financial records? It would be fascinating to see if his income was coming from teams or if it was individual riders paying for his services. With this list of alleged clients, the guy should be living like a king. There must be some sharp accountants, even in Spain, capable of following the money.
Also, assuming for a moment that there is even the slightest degree of merit to this investigation, then the next issue is this: since the best of the pro riders were doping, everyone else (or the vast majority) in the pro ranks was as well. Those riders who were less talented from the start would not have been able to last for a Grand Tour with the big boys, so it stands to reason that the whole sport is dirty. If we use Fuentes as the example, it would stand to reason that there are a limited number of doctors with the knowledge, the access, and the trust of the riders (you know, the whole confidentiality thing). So who are the other doctors?
That the pro teams are now advertising how "anti-doping" they are (well, this year) is amusing. There is no possible way a team can have dopers and not be fully aware of it, even if they are not sponsoring it. These riders are under a microscope constantly and their performance is scrutinized from diet to heart rate to power output.
Further, the riders are pressured by their sponsors to get results - they are not pressured to be clean. The sponsors want their names waved in front of the cameras as much as possible. For the team management to express outrage at the idea of their riders somehow surreptitiously doping is laughable, and more than a little reminiscent of that great line in Casablanca, where the police captain says "I am shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on here," just before he is given his night's winnings.
So today we have the confession of Ivan Basso as involved in Operation Puerto; despite a full year of professing his innocence. We also see news that blood has now been linked to Valverde and it contains EPO. Is anyone surprised about Valverde? When was the last time you were consistently beaten in city sign sprints by the skinny climber on the club? Now we see the secrets to his success.
With the combination of DNA testing and confessions, hopefully we will finally get to the bottom of who is doping and get them out of the sport; forever.
An interesting proposal was made last week that race organizers sue suspected doping riders on the basis of sporting fraud. This would allow them access to DNA tests. Sounds fair. The organizers put in a lot of time and money into their events, only to have their events tarnished by doping stories. I believe they should take it a step further and start re-stating past race results and asking for a return of prize money from riders busted for doping. Maybe they should also sue for damages.
That would put Gilberto Simoni as the new winner of the 2006 Giro (Basso DQ'd, Guiterrez was 2nd but is another Puerto rider). Also, was it Koldo Gil who finished 2nd but should be the new winner of the 2006 Tour of Switzerland? (Ullrich was 1st)? A lot of people came down on Simoni for whining last year about Basso riding like "an extraterrestrial". But how would you feel after a year of sacrifices and getting beaten by a guy who is doping?
I think the problem is that the sport has not been hard enough on the guys taking the dope. Essentially the dopers are stealing: Stealing prize money, stealing results from competitors, stealing contract money from the sponsors. If I cheat the company, steal its money, and get caught, I will go to jail. Why shouldn't doping cyclists face the same punishment?
Morals and math aside, drugs don't make you a strong or smart rider. Let's use Lance for instance. If he used drugs, he used them from early childhood until late last year. (You'll recall his sub 3 hour marathon.) If he didn't use drugs then his physiological testing that was done on him his whole life was true, he is genetically superior to all but <1% of the Earth's population.
That's sucks for Fred, and Francois and Franco. However, what really set him apart was his indomitable soul. Ever climbed a mountain in a rain storm with a head cold and a sore on your ass on a time-trial bike? I'll bet you that if it was penned in on his training schedule Lance did.
When Lance won in 1999 Alex Zuelle was the man to beat that year. Ask yourself, did Alex ride the classics that year? Did he train on cobbles? I don't know, but I do know that Alex fell on the cobbled land bridge that lead to the finish of a that stage that day and Lance ended up winning the Tour by just about the same amount that Alex lost that day.
That is solid racing not superhuman. Dido times 6. His mental preparation and physical ability to prepare is not an excuse for another rider's failure. Watch the tapes, watch the rider's mistakes and watch Lance take advantage of them. Or you could prove otherwise.
Performing at high altitude of La Paz, is always, no matter what, (quite) advantageous. But perhaps Arnaud Tournant is the only track cyclist to date, whom performed to his max.
As widely understood both the one kilometre in track cycling and the 400m in track and field are among the most demanding sporting events with great oxygen debt and blood lactate accumulation. At La Paz there's even less oxygen (67% of sea-level) available.
Analysing most of the few high-class 1km performances established at La Paz and alike, one has to conclude, that the final stages of Arnaud Tournant's world record were phenomenal.
To remember (in calculated 250m splits): 18,850s (rather slow due to a big gear), 13,293s, 13,181s (fastest quarter, probably the only fastest 3rd quarter ever) and 13,551s.
The staggering point was that Arnaud Tournant in his final quarter rode more than two seconds faster than in his sea-level world championships ride in Antwerp only a few weeks before.
Although not noticed then, Arnaud Tournant rode from 333,333m - 833,333m with 26,495s below the existing world record 500m with a flying start of 26,649 (Alexandre Kiritchenko). And all that without the help of the banking.
How could Arnaud Tournant 'survive' the extreme physical discomfort in the final stages?
An advantage always is of cause the fact that the duration of the effort is less. But even so: Ben Kersten in his co-ride with Tournant's world record in Mexico 2000 fell apart totally. And other riders in history were not able to sustain the power in order to keep up the pace.
Although Shane Kelly rode a very solid World Record of 1:00.613 during the World Champs 1995 in Bogota (2600m), he still rode the last lap almost 5 km/h slower than Arnaud Tournant did. But the fact remains, that Shane Kelly started considerably faster than Arnaud Tournant, but also slowed down 1,7 km/h in the 2nd lap.
The power to overcome air-resistance increases exponential as the cyclist speeds up. Therefore at La Paz the track rider benefits the most if he succeeds keeping up the speed.
That's the only reason why Arnaud Tournant was doing the 'impossible': his top speed came only after the 500m split up to 666,666m. In fact his 500m to 833,333m split as a calculated lap of 333,333m that is, was the fastest 'lap' of the whole race.
The crucial point for Chris Hoy in order to succeed is therefore the final
Since Chris Hoy can make a fair advantage during the first half of the race, he can afford to lose some time in the second part. Undoubtedly the technical innovations since 2001 also will bring him some benefit. And since Chris Hoy is a real warrior, he should (could) get it.
Breaking the WR 500m with a flying start should be quite 'easy'. Breaking the 200m WR with a flying start will be tough, since he's not the world's best sprinter.
Can somebody please explain to me why Unibet.com can race at 4 Jours de Dunkerque, on French soil, but not in the Spring Classics, or the Tour? Wouldn't the same French anti-gambling laws pertain to this event? Or is it simply an ASO vs UCI peeing contest with Unibet caught in the middle of it all?
I don't think this comment gets the picture right. Michael Boogerd might be animating, but if you like him as a rider, it's unnerving to watch him throw away winning chances nine out of 10 times with his way-to-straight-forward-approach to racing. In fact, when he did win one of his greatest victories, a mountain stage in Tour de France, he was ahead on his own, and did not have to lose in the end to some unknown donkey given the chance of his life as has happened so often!
Riders will do whatever it takes to make themselves win, and the reason Rebellin gets away with it, is his magnificent ability in an uphill sprint. After all, there were at least 40 other riders to the finish line in Fleche Wallone, but Rebellin still made it as the only one who wasn't gritting his teeth at the last 500 m.
What did look odd, though, was the French team sacrificing all their own hopes at the last four kilometres with three-four riders taking monster-pulls to catch the break away. One should not be too surprised if it turns out, that some cash changed hands afterwards; Rebellin's own team could not have helped him any better!
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