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Letters to Cyclingnews - May 25, 2007
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Aldag and Zabel - UCI amnesty now
Rolf Aldag and Erik Zabel's admissions of EPO use are simultaneously disappointing and heartening. I have long been a sceptic to professional sports stars' denials around doping, always presuming the successful to be guilty, whilst hoping otherwise.
Normally my reaction regarding cheats is to want to see authorities ban them from having anything to do with any sport, anywhere, for good. However, these guys have shown some real character in risking their current careers through their admissions. Aldag and Zabel have elected not to continue to deny their pasts in the face of potential allegations by former team soigneur, but to proactively proclaim their mistakes.
Perhaps an amnesty may capitalise on the spirit of truth stemming from these friends actions of conscience. T-Mobile may have a dirty past but it is a driving force for a cleaner future. I hope the sponsor recognises this and actively supports this process - as should we all.
So, a tearful Erik Zabel has now confessed to using EPO. What a pity he didn't have the courage to do it when he was competing at the highest level. The mid-nineties were great years for cycling, with Indurain, Chiapucci, Pantani and Ullrich, but they were also tainted years, because of doping.
I remember Chris Boardman writing in Cycling Weekly, saying how riders he was beating in March and April, would be so much faster for the big events. How many of the top riders were doping in those days, and how would other riders like Boardman (whose fellow riders insist was "clean"), have really fared at the top level, if all the cheats were caught?
I think it is time for lifetime bans to be handed out for second offences (two year automatic ban for a first offence). I also think that riders should be forced to pay back prize money and lose titles, because a message has to go out that cheating will not be tolerated. If the sport allows it to continue, then sponsors will drift away, and cycling will be ridiculed by the media and public.
After reading today's news regarding the T-Mobile team's history of EPO use I cannot believe the level of hypocrisy of these guys. Jan Ullrich gets suspended and vilified by the team's management and then it comes out that the team's doctors are the ones who distributed and administered EPO to its riders during the last ten plus years. Rolf Aldag admits to past EPO use and team management comes to his defense. Is Rolf going to be suspended and fired? Is he going to be prosecuted in Germany for sports fraud?
If Walter Godefroot didn't know about all this doping on his team then he wasn't doing his job (I for one think he knew). I am so sick of all the blame and punishment being placed at the rider's feet when it is more and more clear that team manager's created the pressure to dope and then provided the means to do so. It would take an extraordinary strong willed young rider not to dope under these circumstances.
T-Mobile is certainly not alone in any of this. Patrick Lefevere admits to using amphetamines as a rider and then becomes the loudest critic of Operation Puerto riders. Bjarne Riis has his past as a rider and then cuts Ivan Basso loose to preserve the marketability of his team.
Its time for all to be honest about the past, get all this out in the open and to start over. Amnesty is the only option, otherwise the threat of prosecution and suspension will keep mouths shut. And in my opinion T-Mobile owes Jan Ullrich a huge apology. They should bring him in to tell his full story and then hire him as a team representative.
With all of the turmoil going on in the world of professional cycling right now it would be easy to get very disillusioned with the whole mess. Having been a Jan Ullrich fan for many years it pains me to see him and other high caliber riders implicated in the doping malaise.
But then just as I am starting to give up hope, a new hero appears for me. Andy Schleck's Giro so far has made me sit up and take notice of our beautiful sport once again. I have admired his brother Frank for quite some time now but Andy's performance in the Giro has been exhilarating. Even if he fades in the coming week, I have found my new cycling hero.
I only hope he makes the Tour team for CSC as well. Here's to you Andy, keep it up, you have restored my faith. Please don't get caught up in a doping scandal now!
I thought Jorg Jaksche was suspended from Tinkoff Credit System, he is listed as having finished 90th in the first stage of Circuit de Lorraine Professionnel. What's up? He can ride but Tyler can not, sounds fishy....
Well the year after he got 6th in the Tour he got into two car accidents leading up the following Tour. With those two accidents it caused a lot of problems on his back. Last year he won the Queen stage of the Dauphine, but I will agree he sucked it up in the Tour. But he did win the Subida a Urkiola in August of last year and the Vuelta a Burgos.
This year in Paris-Neice he wasn't doing bad at all until the last stage when he crashed and withdrew, that same crash caused him to withdraw from the Tour of the Basque Country. But watch out for him on a couple of the stages in the Giro. He knows he is not a GC man anymore and he is shooting for some stage wins and to help out his team mates. I will say he isn't the star he was a few years ago but don't go think that he has lost it all.
The Floyd Landis hearing is not about whether Floyd is a nice guy or Greg is a nice guy, nor who deserves respect, or who has done more for US cycling. The hearing is about whether Landis can be proven to be a doper.
I have followed the evidence relatively closely over the last few days, and it comes back in my mind to one fact: LNDD had (I believe), 300% more adverse analytical findings than any other WADA lab. After listening to the evidence I asked myself is LNDD doing something really right? Or really wrong?
The conclusion is inescapable: LNDD is incompetent and anything coming from them, if it is of the quality of the Landis analysis, cannot be deemed credible. Whether this is true in the rest of the WADA labs I do no know, although the fact that all the WADA labs got up and said LNDD was doing good work is really scary, considering.
For those who bemoan cycling as a dirty sport, to clean it up first you need a legal system that is fair and balanced, and in particular, competent! If you deem Floyd morally reprehensible for his actions with Greg LeMond, that has still nothing to do with the case in hand.
A true champion accepts his spot in history and does not try and tear down every other champion who comes after him to maintain his position atop the pedestal! This by no means describes Greg LeMond. If you are an American and you win the Tour, I guarantee Greg LeMond with come after you and your reputation every chance he gets!
Would you trust your career to a system that has so much human manipulation involved that anyone could make you look dirty if they wished? The only way to make this whole thing work is to take the possibility of human manipulation out of the testing process!
As a police officer, I can tell you with much certainty that the so called evidence presented in the Landis case by USADA and LNDD would not result in a conviction in a criminal jury case. Why? A simple phrase, "BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT!"
If this level of certainty is what is required to take a person's freedom, should it not also be the same level of proof used in any case that can result in any person loosing their career and their livelihood. I believe so and I believe that any US tax payer money being used to support any organization that does not abide by this same standard should be stopped!
I would just like to commend on your opinion about Eddy Merckx. As far as I know Eddy was tested positive in 1969, 1973 and 1977.
He gave interviews in 1998 and 2004, describing his "strange" opinion about medication of cyclists.
I really don't think he is the best adviser about that subject and I was pleased to hear he wouldn't commend on the Landis case anymore.
LeMond was never tested positive in "those" years, when, by the way, blood doping was still unknown.
Dr. Jurgen Prell
LeMond trying to tear down US riders #2
Congrats Kevin on a well-articulated position. Merckx is the hero. Merckx also does not back down from anyone. But in this case, he made the determination that serving as a witness for Landis would be useless because he has no information bearing on the case, and hence he stayed home in Belgium.
I wish LeMond would show that kind of judgment. LeMond passes off innuendo and insinuation as fact, and it always looks like sour grapes to me. LeMond has been the ring leader of two circuses now -- the first around the Armstrong alleged doping and threats against his wife, and now this episode with Landis, regrettably indulged and inflamed by Landis's manager.
While I personally am not ready to assert or believe that LeMond used performance-enhancing drugs (as I, like Merckx, have not one shred of proof), I absolutely do not buy his self-generated "Crusader for the Good of the Sport" image that he is trying to perpetrate. I don't understand his motivations, but clearly, in this role, he serves not only as the ring leader, but also as the clown.
There is no such thing as guilt by association, this is probably the reason why authors attempting to impart morals to children are not part of the judiciary. But if guilt by association was taken into account, Mr LeMond's treatment by the Landis Camp would go a long way.
Secondly, Floyd Landis risking bankruptcy to protect his innocence is not an accurate barometer of innocence. He has a reputation and a career to protect if he doped or not.
Who's telling the truth? #2
Charlie Mack's logic in his 13 May letter "Who's Telling the Truth" is interesting. Basically, because Floyd Landis is contesting the charges against him, and facing bankruptcy by doing it, Charlie believes he's telling the truth.
Whether Landis contests this charge or not, he's facing bankruptcy, or serious financial consequences as a result of this charge. In fact, probably the only way for him to protect his livelihood is to contest the charge. Not contesting the charge would also be seen as a tacit admission that he was a drug cheat, whether he is one or not. Therefore, regardless of his innocence or otherwise, Landis has no real choice, but to contest the charge and that he is doing so indicates nothing regarding his truthfulness or otherwise.
That there appears to have been irregularities in the testing and notification process is also true, but what exactly about that proves that Dick Pound, the LNDD, Prudhomme, WADA or the USADA has been untruthful?
What we do know is that there was an irregularity in a sample that Landis provided during the Tour. The circumstances surrounding that irregularity must be examined in an appropriate arena, rather than in the court of public opinion (as both sides in this matter have been guilty of doing). Let the current arbitration hearing run its course, which should see the facts and evidence aired in a structured manner and then make judgements regarding Landis' innocence or otherwise.
Le Mond's secret was no secret: by his own admission, he said that keeping a secret nearly destroyed him. So, clearly, he was already "out" about having been sexually abused, at least on some level.
LeMond seems to have a strong dislike of Armstrong, and anyone other American who shines, as if he can't stand to no longer be remembered as the best American cyclist of all time.
Additionally, isn't LeMond in contact with Betsy Andreu, who is already known to be somewhat obsessed to find any information possible to discredit Armstrong, including making allegations that there were "statements" made by Landis that Armstrong doped when they were teammates?
L'Equipe already demonstrated that they will slander Armstrong for suspected drug use. Their last attempt did not work. Now, through shady dealings at the French lab, they are continuing to slander another American. It makes for good press, and it helps restore some sort of nationalistic pride in the Tour de France. That is my guess about what is behind this whole event.
Also, why in the world should a USADA lawyer care what colour tie Landis wears? This is beyond petty.
Am I the only one that thinks it strange that when it comes down to it, the reputation of Floyd Landis is being judged on him not firing his manager quickly enough and the fact he changed his tie mid hearing. Given the chance to cross examine the rider after two days of being demolished by Floyd's technical witnesses it seems all USADA have decided they have left is the shameful LeMond episode and the fact that Floyd had a 'wardrobe malfunction'
Please tell me a Tour de France champion has not had to face such a public
dismantling of their reputation on so little.
OK, let's accept Floyd's argument that the lab is incompetent, but just how incompetent are they? How many tests of how many riders were done over the 3 week TdF, 400+ ? Multiply that by the number of other races they do testing for, times the number of years they have been doing it, you get the picture.
Wouldn't you expect a flood (or at least more than one) of false positives from such an incompetent lab? but only 1/400 (est.) =.25%, and that the 1 single positive of the whole tour also came on the most remarkable day of the race, now that's bad luck, the same kind of bad luck Hamilton had with his chimera thing.
I just find it strange that a lab that knows it's under a microscope, a lab that knows it's competence and reliability will be challenged could still fail so badly ....that is if you accept Floyd's argument.
What does the tape matter? If you are looking for "evidence" with that then you will find nothing. Look to the facts...the guy rode more miles than all of them, rested better than all of them, ate better than all of them, and wanted it more than all of them. His reason for riding was bigger than theirs. Let it go.
So many people have to blame great performances on cheating because they cannot accept the fact that someone can discipline themselves the way Lance did. I don't say that directly about anyone and that remains my observation. Things we can't comprehend we try to explain away or deny. The guy was ruthlessly competitive, had the genetic makeup to do it, and the mental strength (thanks to cancer) to do what he did! Just because LeMond is a jealous little man doesn't mean other people cheated.
Armstrong can defend himself #2
If you know bike racing, then you should know that physical ability is only part of the equation. Remember the mental part, tactical part, team part? If it was all based on physical ability, then they could just line up all riders on wind trainers, measure who has the highest %, and then hand out prize $ based on that....and not even run the race!
Armstrong can defend himself #3
Part of the anti-Armstrong logic seems to be: "Lance beat guys who were obviously
doping. Therefore, because their talent levels were almost the same, he too
must have doped, or else he couldn't have kept up."
Second, outside of Armstrong, top-caliber riders didn't focus exclusively on the Tour in their training/racing, or start as early if they did. They usually rode the Giro in May, or rode spring classics, and raced into shape, banking on some one-week race in June get them ready. Better for the fans, sure, but sloppy as a training tool, admit it. (Indurain couldn't win #6 because cold wet weather in the first week of July derailed his crash-weight-loss plans; does that sound like tip-top training to anyone?) By the time other riders tried to isolate around the TdF, they were years behind US Postal in know-how. Their DS's never built the finely-tuned system US Postal had.
We all know that careful, rigorous training designed around a specific athlete will generate better TdF results than thoughtlessly riding whatever spring races your team sponsor orders, eating whatever dinner the team hotel brings out, and banging out some long rides on off-days. Who was first to use a wind tunnel? Who else rode all the mountain stages months ahead every year? Lance benefited from far better preparation, even skeptics must admit.
Third, people say talent levels were close, but who was built for the Tour like Lance was? No great climbers in his time could match him on time trials, and no good TT'ers could accelerate, or create gaps, or match uphill speed in the mountains like he could. Even taking a couple percent off his raw watts/kg, he would not have been an Ullrich-style sit-and-mash climber on hills, or Pantani-slow on time trials.
Face it: he had great talent, a lucky build for Tour riding, and he was worlds better than any other rider at training for it.
I'm not surprised people see him like some see football's Peyton Manning --
clinical, unemotional, brutally effective, never injured or wavering in focus.
Plus, his take-a-lead-and-hold-it strategy took suspense out of the Tour. We
look for reasons not to like people like that. Lance changed the tour, separating
it and its winners from the rest of the yearly schedule. Contenders weren't
part of the cycling lifestyle anymore; they were cloistered monomaniacs you
never saw till raceday. But given his prep, and all the dope tests he passed,
I'm quite comfortable believing he was clean every day of his racing life.
Mike's point is fair, and one I quite often hear cycling and non-cycling circles. However, Lance Armstrong's situation and approach differ radically from his main competitors e.g. Ullrich.
As an ex-1st Cat roadie and Cancer survivor, I understand exactly why Lance pitched his seasons the way he did. Primarily, I don't believe he would be capable of holding anything like peak form for more than a month or so, the after effects of chemo include reduced resilience to long-term fatigue, and longer recovery times after big efforts. So to me, he played his cards exactly right in targeting one major period.
Additionally, his efforts in winning each Tour were clearly focused on the key points in key stages. As a metaphor, where other riders were obliged (by sponsors) to adopt a spreadshot approach to each season (and the Tour), Lance employed a highly accurate sniper rifle. So I don't think your formula is valid Mike.
Basso + Ullrich =Armstrong? #2
Every once in a while, someone comes along, who is so much better than everyone else, in talent, work ethic, and natural ability, that they make the rest of the pack seem like a bunch of Cat 5s in a Pro-1-2-3 race.
Ever heard of a guy named Merckx? Lance is one of those guys.
Basso + Ulrich =Armstrong? #3
Guilt by the absence of evidence? I sure hope you don't get picked for jury duty! To answer the question of whether Lance has doped or not, I honestly do not know. My opinion is that he has not and I hope I am correct. What troubles me though is that some want him guilty for some reason and are willing to spew unsupported allegations simply because he beat other riders who we now strongly suspect have doped in the past.
My belief that Lance has raced clean comes from my belief that every once in a while, an athlete comes along that transcends his or her sport. The examples are endless but I will name a few. Ali, Babe Ruth, Bob Gibson and Sandy Koufax, Bill Russell, Jesse Owens, Wilma Rudolf, Tiger, Michael Jordan, Eddie Merckx, etc. And yes, unless PROVED otherwise, add Lance Armstrong to this list.
Why is it that so many people can't look past a failing (be it big or small) and see the big picture. Yes Basso is a cheat, but does that automatically mean he has cheated every time he swung his leg over a bike, does it make him entirely devoid of value? No.
Basso's ride in the 2006 Giro was astonishing, not just for time gaps, but more so for the little things like his perfectly smooth cadence, gracious victory interviews and rapport with the crowd. Doping does not negate these things. Even if you do put aside those efforts, what of his career prior to that, back even to climbing the Stelvio when only nine years old (happy to stand corrected on the age).
I do not object to (indeed I support) riders being punished and chastised for cheating, but I do object to riders being crucified by officials, the press, and fans alike. This is no way to encourage a clean sport. We should punish those at fault (including the riders) and then provide support so it does not reoccur. There is no reason one (or even many) human failing should completely colour our view of an individual or stop us from recognising the positives in that individual.
The world is not black and white.
I couldn't agree more. Logic is the one pure test to blow away the smoke screen
of lies misinformation and disinformation that all the cheats have relied on
for so long.
Chris Boardman, a fervent anti-doper throughout his career (and still, I believe) couldn't match the consistency of Armstrong or the powers of 'recovery' shown by Landis. Why? Because he wasn't doping! Millar, since his return as a clean competitor, has had some very good days, but isn't able to produce that former consistency either. Why? Because he isn't doping! As an American might say..... "You do the math!"
We all love cycle racing but unfortunately that 'love' clouds the realities of the 'sport'. It is in my opinion a show biz event and like a Victorian circus or freak show the authorities will turn a blind eye to what ever illegal means are necessary to develop the stars and bring in the money. This I believe is the truth of all professional sports.
Ultimately the UCI and Olympic committees are responsible for the health of the riders. God bless Greg LeMond - a true cycling hero.
I was very annoyed to read comments by David Millar in a cycling magazine in which he proclaimed that 'the winner of the Tour de France will now always be suspected of doping.'
This is now quite true, but the reason for this, which Millar cannot seem to see, is because of people like him, who doped and caused the loss of confidence in these athletes. Sure, there is nothing wrong with him coming back after his ban and winning races (although personally I'd ban him for life), but he could do with choosing his words more carefully and try to install some confidence in the practice which he preaches.
I, a 16 year old, will be one person in London this July who will not be cheering for Millar.
As Oscar Pereiro seems to insist he is not involved in Operación Puerto and
I read that he threatens to quit racing if he is ordered to give his DNA...
Further, this test should already be in place and perhaps completed by the time of Floyd Landis' verdict.
The problem with doping is that the athletes will always find some new way to stay ahead of the tests. Whether it's gene doping or blood doping, there are things that are very hard if not impossible to detect because there are no foreign substances.
With that said, take a look at pro football, John Madden was recently on the radio and commented that there is a noticeable difference in the bodies of the athletes today verses just a few years ago. He said there is definitely a steroid era and the players were unnaturally large. Now big guys are big because that is there genetic make up, most players are less cut.
In response to the recovery comment, I completely disagree. A well-trained athlete can recover overnight if proper nutrition, massage, and rest are incorporated. I have watched teammates at age 40+ get stronger during a stage race or multi-day series of events, and all we had were burritos and some good wine.
It's all about conditioning, and the pro riders have everything they need. What I would like to see is the money go away, work a 40 hour a week job then go race like us masters...hell there are few masters racing for kicks and giggles that are putting it to a few pros.
Take a look at the results from the 2007 Cat's Hill Criterium, a paid pro rider took second to a guy that sits at a computer for 50 hours a week and normally races with the geezers.
Hypocrisy of the cycling world #2
There is a significant difference between entertainment and sport. Can sport be entertaining? Sure. Can strict entertainment be sporting? Not usually. Sport is pure, and sure it is being tainted by the entertainment money, but that doesn't mean it is okay to cheat.
And sure, if Bettini wins clean against dopers, I have no problem. More power to him. But what if the clean riders lose to those who cheat? At that point, sport is lost and all we get is WWE "wrestling." So if you just want entertainment, change the channel.
Robert P.W. Price
Hypocrisy of the cycling world #3
Why care? Because there are young people out there that would like to someday be a pro and not have to destroy their bodies with drugs to do it. That's why! And think about how much closer the racing would be if it was drug free.
Paul G. Rytlewski
Hypocrisy of the cycling world #4
Mike does touch on an important question: why should we care if athletes dope? While he admits to his comments being tongue in cheek, and recognizing doping as cheating, it does bear some thought. Why not "don't ask, don't tell?"
I think the answer is two-fold: kids and the Olympics. Cycling is an Olympic sport, and as such, it is a world-wide, historic entertainment enterprise with political overtones. When the consumer thinks they are being cheated - not seeing what they think they are seeing - they will tune out, stop watching, stop attending, stop buying.
This costs the promoters (the IOC) money, and they will not stand for that. When the consumers think they are seeing athletes compete on a level field, they think they are seeing an artifact of human endurance, perseverance, and individual achievements. All of these are lofty and admirable ideals everyone can relate to and understand.
No one wants to try to understand doping protocols, human metabolism, physiology and science as entertainment. Heck, most people have a hard time grasping the basic rules of some sports. (Remember, using free wheels was once "cheating" in the Tour de France, as was accepting assistance from another person.)
The second reason we can't tolerate dope is kids. Kids want to "be like Mike" and will pay aggregate billions to buy his shoes. Contrary to what Charles Barclay says, athletes, particularly pro athletes, are role models. Period.
Kids want to aspire to be like pro athletes, if for no other reason it is easy for them to understand they can one day be given accolades for winning a game. In the longer run, they understand they can be paid money to play a game, and games sure are more fun than...well, learning about science and becoming a doctor and studying human metabolism.
If we turn a blind eye to dope, kids will want to use whatever dope their favourite athlete uses, and the resulting public health crisis would be tragic beyond belief. When Mark McGuire testified before the US Congress regarding dope in US Major League Baseball, behind him were the parents of a young man who killed himself after becoming involved in personality changing steroid use for high-school level athletics. His heroes used, so why not him?
I want no part of any organization that doesn't take their responsibility of sportsmanship and exemplary practices seriously.
Hypocrisy of the cycling world #5
Why do I care? Because I don't find watching drug fuelled zombies powering over mountain passes in 54/11 entertaining. There is no emotion in it for me. I still hang on to the romantic notion that an athlete trains hard and makes sacrifices to get where he is. To watch someone push himself to the limits, put their heart on their sleeve and overcome seemingly insurmountable odds. Add drugs to the mix and the playing field maybe level at a much higher pace but the heart is gone.
Stuart O'Grady's recent win is a 'classic' example. Someone who has paid his dues many times over. Someone who put everything on the line and came up with his greatest win. The most important win for Australian cycling this decade. Now imagine if it came out that instead of riding on heart he just happened to have a better batch 'supplements' that day. Where is the sport in that?
Hypocrisy of the cycling world #6
Any pro race would be as exciting if they didn't dope. Does it really make a difference whether the average TdF speed is 42.9 kph or 44.2 kph? The show/drama would be as exciting. I just don't understand why they don't figure it out.
Without dope, the ratings would go up (after Puerto, my local TV channel dropped the Giro), they could sign more lucrative contracts, the fan base would increase and I would stop being subjected to all these bad jokes/puns about doped cyclists.
Comparing the ratio of asthmatics to non-asthmatics in sport to the ratio of asthmatics to non-asthmatics in the general public is not useful. The reason is that many asthmatics of the general public, most notably the couch potatoes, go undiagnosed. Many never push their bodies to the point of onset of serious and limiting symptoms of asthma.
Indeed, I never treated my own asthma until I had been racing for a while. It was one key race in which my teammate had told me to attack - I did, and she said that she could hear me coming. Anyway, at that point, I decided to go in and seek treatment.
When I'm not treating my asthma, other racers commonly tell me that they can ALWAYS hear me coming. This is a drag, I must say. Put me on a climb of reasonable distance, and you will hear me wheeze. Put me on my asthma medication, and I still wheeze a little... but I don't get dropped on the big climbs anymore. Yes - it does improve my performance. Funny how getting oxygen to one's muscles and brain can have that effect. I don't, however, feel as though I get an unfair advantage. Seems like I just breath like most other people now.
Now, I won't argue that there are no cyclists inappropriately using asthma drugs. Quite the opposite - I expect there are. But, I will argue that the ratio of diagnosed asthmatics to non-asthmatics in sport is probably significantly higher than in the general public simply because athletes breath harder....
Percentage of pros with asthma #2
James, you have echoed my thoughts.
I am a life long asthmatic. I was able to do some good things in cycling that
I am proud of, such as representing my country and gaining a silver medal in
Commonwealth Games in the 1970's.
I contend that you cannot possibly perform consistently at the elite ProTour level, or indeed, many levels below that if you seriously have asthma. UNLESS, you are taking drugs that enhance your performance, thus making a mockery of the whole drug issue.
Cycling is very dear to my heart and it is very distressing to see the sport being brought into disrepute with these drug scandals.
Percentage of pros with asthma #3
I'm no doctor either, but I do have asthma. I know--from experience--that there are number of different varieties of it. I can ride four hours, or do an hour's race, and never have trouble with asthma, but if there are a lot of cats around, I'm in real trouble.
More importantly, from what I can tell--again from my own experience--asthma drugs wouldn't do a thing to improve my CV performance even if I took them when I was already feeling fine. An asthma attack constricts your airways, and the medication relaxes them. But your airways are just tubes; you can put as much air as you like through a tube of any size. The medication doesn't affect my lungs or my heart, which are the real factors in CV performance (or, more accurately in my case, lack thereof).
I have no idea whether the professionals are taking the same medications as I am. If not, one of us is getting the fuzzy end of the lollipop. But I do know that my inhaler wouldn't make me go faster up a mountain, and EPO is not an answer to cat hair.
Percentage of pros with asthma #4
I previously interacted on occasion with Dr. Wade Exum, the USOC's pre-WADA/USADA anti doping director about 10 years ago. He told me that the average of all elite athletes with asthma conditions requiring medication in the early 80's was around 10%. By the early 90's this had grown to 90%.
Percentage of pros with asthma #5
Asthma is actually a quite prevalent disease. Depending on the source, 7-19% of children suffer from asthma with 10 million new cases every year. Simply based on statistics, the number of professional riders with asthma is not surprising. Many very successful athletes have been successful in other sports including Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Mark Spitz in addition to Oscar Pereiro, Joseba Beloki and Jan Ulrich . I was diagnosed with asthma myself at age 2, and have used medication for it since that time. It has not prevented me from being successful athletically (junior national sprint kayaking champion and successful collegiate cyclist).
Having used the same medications as many pro cyclists, I can say from my own personal experience that the only performance enhancement that someone with asthma gets from these medications is having a normal lung capacity. Medically, the drugs act to relax constricted airways to a normal state. It seems unlikely that any performance benefit could be gained from them.
The real problem in cycling comes from drugs like EPO, HGH and testosterone.
I can't imagine any asthma medication having the same effect. Rather than go
after athletes with legitimate medical problems, that take drugs with nebulous
(at best) performance enhancing effect, we should be concerned about the drugs
with very few plausible medical reasons for athletes to be taking.
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