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Letters to Cyclingnews - May 18, 2007
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Armstrong can defend himself
Lance Armstrong doesn't need any of his dopey fans to defend his ability to beat the drugged up Puerto riders (or Pantani).
Just get out your copy of the Jay Leno interview of Lance Armstrong on July 11, 2006 - episode 3176.
Lance is there to promote his hosting of ESPN's 2006 ESPY Awards. Lance says something like "I know people are asking 'How could Lance beat all these Puerto riders that are using drugs?' Well..."
Well...Be prepared to see something you've never seen before - Lance has a brain freeze. He literally is speechless.
Like, for the first time, he is doing the math. Let's see... Ullrich and Basso are two people that are within 1-2% of my physical talent. Drugs and/or blood boosting give at least a 5% performance advantage. Yet, I consistently beat these guys by about 2-4% in time trials. That means I'm at least 7% better than they are. Wait, let me do the math again...
Jay Leno has to pull Lance out of his math induced stupor. "Hey Lance, you never tested positive for drugs, right?"
Lance recognizes this "never tested positive" mantra and kind of comes back
I'm kicking myself for not taping that show. If anyone has an extra copy of that episode - could you please send it to me?
Regarding DI Luca's little temper tantrum on Day 1 when his teammate Enrico Gasparotto crossed the line first and took the Maglia Rosa - show some humility man, this guy's going to be working for you for the next three weeks. DI Luca was being a brat!
While I agree almost entirely with Frans Rutten, there is one point on which I must comment. Frans states that he thinks Chris Hoy will easily eclipse Arnaud Duble's Flying 500m record of 25.850.
While Duble is almost unheard of in world sprinting these days and his world record is by far his most significant achievement, this time was still incredibly fast. In fact, for Hoy to break the record he will have to be traveling at 10.33sec 200m pace for the entire duration.
That Hoy can't achieve this speed is most certainly not in dispute, but to maintain this for another 1.5 flying 200s is unbelievably hard. For the record, I think Hoy will do it anyway, it just won't be by much.
While I wanted Chris to break the record and knew he would go under a minute, I was perplexed as to his final decisions. While looking at the line is essential for a 'tight' ride, skipping the benefits of a full aero helmet at 60 kph seems foolish.
Even in one study where the best helmet saved only 10 seconds per hour, that is 0.166 seconds during a kilo race. As for the Mavic five spoke wheel, utter disbelief. I assume it was forced upon him by the sponsors, although Mavic does produce a full disc front as does Zipp and Corima. This would have saved an additional 11 seconds per hour or 0.183 seconds during his ride (some tests indicate over 30 seconds per hour). mI have ridden my full disc on breezy days and it is much faster than the five spoke despite any additional effort to hold the line.
The total time saved would thus be 0.25 seconds or 58.600.
Part of the problem lies in the belief of science. Some riders have put on an aero component and had a slower ride, convincing them that the new component was the problem. Sorry, the human body cannot perform those exact duplicate rides. Even where a wattage meter is used, the rider may sit up more in one trial and lie lower during the other trial, thus making the aero and non-aero trials seem to yield the same result at a given horsepower (or at times double the effectiveness of the aero trial).
What ever happened to Iban Mayo? I mean just a few short years ago he was pushing Lance Armstrong to the brink in the prep races to the Tour. He was beating him up the mountains in many stages and he looked to be the next "Great Spanish Hope".
Now look at him. He has been nothing more than an also ran in race after race after race. He goes to the Giro this year as the third runner up team leader. If, as many say, he has a sports psychology problem, it is the worst I have ever witnessed.
It really makes you sit and ponder what could have made him so great a few years ago and what makes him so mediocre now?
It is kind of the opposite of the rise of Ivan Basso from a promising rider to a Tour great in just a few years. Oh, but that's right, he had to cheat to get those results (I mean attempted doping, come on now) didn't he.
I wonder what Iban was doing years ago that he isn't doing now?
My real question in all of this is simple, why do we care? Pro Cycling is about entertainment and advertising. We get to enjoy a spectacle, the advertisers get their logos out there during the breaks, stage wins, etc. I equate it to people complaining if pro wrestlers use steroids, WHO CARES, it's entertainment.
This whole thing reeks of tabloid journalism and bad judicial process, which is the saddest part of the whole thing. In a real court case all of the evidence would probably be thrown out due to procedural problems. Somebody like Floyd Landis gets thrown to the wolves by a sport that wanted exactly what he gave it, a show. All of this hand waving by the UCI, WADA, Patrick Lefevere is comical to me. Pro cycling is about advertising dollars and the governing bodies and negative publicity are driving those dollars elsewhere.
IF guys like Paolo Bettini are clean (which I hope he is) and are winning races against the doped riders what does that say? It says to me the same thing once again WHO CARES, the best man won.
Doping in the grand tours actually makes a lot of sense to me because I cannot imagine trying to recover from a daily pounding like that without a "little help".
Some of this letter is meant to be tongue in cheek, because cheaters do suck. Some of it is over frustration in people like Dick Pound looking for their 15 seconds of fame while standing on the backs of riders. The point of the matter is that we get to see the show and the advertisers feel that their dollars are money well spent. If pro cycling is not careful the advertisers are going to drop cycling like Lance did Jan Ulrich in his last tour...
I would ask it this way. If we didn't ask and the riders didn't tell, would we really care. Would we look for a problem or just enjoy bike racing for what it is, entertainment?
My 2 cents
My reaction to Basso's "attempted doping" nonsense was the same as most everyone in the English-speaking world. He went from fresh hero to below zero inside of 24 hours. I would like to know what the reaction has been to the "attempted doping" claim in the Italian press (both sports papers and mainstream commentaries) and to the Italian public. I am certain that Cyclingnews' international readership can enlighten us.
In his classic book, 'The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe,' C.S. Lewis has a discussion between the two older Pevensee children and the Professor in whose home they are staying. They are trying to figure out which of their two younger siblings, Lucy and Edmund, is telling the truth.
The Professor has a simple answer: "From your experience, which one has been more truthful in the past?"
We ought to ask a similar question about Floyd Landis vs. Dick Pound-WADA-LNDD-Prudhomme-USADA et al.: Based on their behaviour, who do you think is telling the truth?
Floyd of course is risking bankruptcy to fight this. His side is notable by
the caliber of people who haven joined to help him, many volunteering their
services to his cause.
To name just a few, we have the announcement before Sample B Test, the "We don't trust the lab not to leak the results," LNDD wrongly attributing someone else's (Sergei Gonchar, perhaps?) urine sample to Floyd, data that is off by 200 or 300% in some cases, invalid results of the carbon isotope test - according to WADA standards, the "Virgin" statement that amounts to slander from someone who is supposed to be unbiased and fair, two arbitrators making rulings without the third being present, and now the Tour de France crowd showing their true colours and stripping Floyd of his title BEFORE the appeal process even begins. And this is just a short list of the errors.
Can anyone tell me one thing that the Pound-WADA-LNDD-Prudhomme-USADA crowd has done properly and correct?
To paraphrase CS Lewis, "Based on their behaviour, who do you think is telling the truth?"
Ok so all these guys get caught in way or another and are involved one way or another in doping yet Armstrong kicked all there butts for 7 years and he never doped? If you believe that then have another glass of koo-aid....
Lets use our logic, from Ullrich to Botero to Pantani, to Basso and Beloki
they were or are all involved in drugs yet the lone star cowboy who is best
buds with Bristol Myers Squib top drug company never doped... I just can't seem
to let my logical mind believe it...please help me...
I also agree that Basso is still a legend even though he's a cheater at his sport. Winning the Giro by 9 minutes is unbelievable. More impressive would be if he had won by 15 minutes, while using a motorcycle, or perhaps more subtly with a 500W motor encased in his Cervelo, which I believe is an option now. I see no difference between winning by 9 minutes with drugs or on a motorized bike, they're both cheating and you can't factor out the drugs and say he would have won by 4 minutes or something without them and justify his prowess.
This kind of thinking makes me sick, it's like someone blatantly plagiarizing a book, getting caught, and then people still saying he wrote a good book, copied or not. Get your head straight man, these men are thieves, nothing more.
Ivan Basso's recent comments of never having doped are almost as ridiculous as Gilberto Simoni's excuse when he tested positive for cocaine a few years back in 2001. He said it was from candy that his grandmother gave him.
In the light of the events of the last year, I think we have to accept that, with riders such as Hamilton, Landis and Basso (and who knows how many others) we are dealing with a hard core criminal class who bear more relation to Michael Corleone in The Godfather than to Fausto Coppi and Eddy Merckx.
I am generally a cynical person, I believe doping is extremely widespread, but Basso has managed to leave even me speechless and very angry with his 'attempted doping' rubbish. I'm sick of being taken for an idiot.
Because of the Basso situation Tyler Hamilton seems to be avoiding the level of scrutiny/scorn that he deserves. Here we have a convicted doper, a person who had come under considerable scrutiny long before his positive Olympics or Vuelta test, a person linked to Fuentes via a load of circumstantial evidence and a person that despite the weight of evidence continues to deny his guilt. If found to have definitively had a link to Fuentes he should be banned for life!
And how about Tinkoff? The team seems to be a refuge for every ex doper / shady character in the peloton.
At least Basso has sort of admitted it and not had the gall to blame his non existent twin!
May I be the first to support Floyd Landis in his request to UCI to boot Dick Pound. This man is a total disgrace to anti-doping and should have been removed from office a long time ago. If the fight against doping is to succeed you can't have a man with personal scores to settle chairing WADA.
I don't know if Floyd was doped, but I must admit that the situation concerning the French lab is worse than fishy, and it has been for quite a while. UCI's own investigator has come down real hard on the ethics of this lab and yet it is still used by ASO. Why ? Is there money involved for others than the riders and the teams ? This is the task that the head of WADA should be concerned with, not trying to implicate Lance Armstrong.
Dick, a piece of advice: Lance is way out of your league and always has been. What can you say, life sucks! Learn to live with it and let somebody who can serve the purpose take your place.
Timothy Shame's suggestion of trying cyclists suspected of doping before their peers is absolutely ridiculous. Has he ever heard of the idea of a fair trial?
Professional cyclists will undoubtedly build close relationships with each other, or on the other hand hold grudges for various reasons. The idea that they will remain impartial is utterly absurd. Would you really think it wise for the fate of a suspected criminal to be decided by a dozen of his close friends, or individuals that he has been accused of stealing from? I think not!
Along the same lines as Mr. Antonelli, in reference to everyone doping, and with team knowledge, it would be interesting to see a listing of the riders on Pro Tour teams who have exemptions for prescription asthma. It would also be interesting to see a comparision of the percentage of the pro peloton using such medications, as compared to the percentage of the general public, or other professional athletes.
I have no factual basis, except what appears in print, but it seems to me that there are an inordinately large number of cyclists who allegedly have asthma. I am no doctor, and may well be demonstrating my ignorance, but I find it hard to believe that athletes at such an elite level, where cardiovascular performance is everything, can succeed while suffering from asthma.
Is there any independent assessment by WADA, or any other drug agency, of the claims of asthma, and whether the treatment of these riders with what amounts to performance- enhancing drugs is legitimate, or does professional cycling simply take the rider's personal physician's word for it?
James K. Weaver
As I understand, Unibet is able to ride in France (and Belgium) as long as they do not carry the sponsor's name. In those countries they ride under the name of co-sponsor Canyon.com.
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