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Letters to Cyclingnews - July 13, 2007
Here's your chance to get more involved with Cyclingnews. Comments and criticism on current stories, races, coverage and anything cycling related are welcomed, even pictures if you wish. Letters should be brief (less than 300 words), with the sender clearly identified. They may be edited for space and clarity; please stick to one topic per letter. We will normally include your name and place of residence, but not your email address unless you specify in the message.
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Fair doping tests
I've been thinking about writing this letter for sometime. It really bothers me to see how bad an example WADA is as an anti doping champion. My perception at least is one of a witch hunt. As a former member of the US military and drug enforcement team member I can attest that doping controls can be done in a way in which the rights of the individual and the needs of the community can be upheld.
Unlike WADA the US military is not normally looking for performance enhancing use rather drug abuse or steroids use at the most, so our tests are not nearly as difficult as what WADA is attempting. However, if the WADA test is scientifically accurate and reproducible then certainly the rights of the athletes can be better secured.
Drug use in the US military will result in at least the fining, loss of rank and discharge of the abuser but could result in 10 years or more confinement. Obviously the military is held to a much higher level of proof of guilt than WADA.
When I was running drug controls our procedures included:
1) Samples are treated as evidence and chain of custody rules must be followed. Any break in the chain and all samples are discarded. Each sample carries a unique ID. Only the drug enforcement team will be able to cross reference names to numbers.
WADA or the individual agencies should create a separate department that contracts out for testing. The testing department has over-site over the testing labs. No lab should be able to discern from the sample batch whether it was an out of competition or in competition test. No one other than the testing department and the individual athlete and team should know the result until and unless the B sample is positive. This would remove the possibility of lab leaking results.
2) There are no B samples in a US military test; the service member can request a second test of their original sample.
Any B sample test should automatically be conducted at an alternate site. Should the B sample be returned negative both sites should undergo testing and document review.
3) Included in the sample batch are at least one known positive and one known negative sample. If either sample is returned incorrectly identified all returned results are invalid. This also resulted in the possible desertification of the lab which at the very least was forced to undergo rigorous testing and document review.
This is the one thing that WADA, in my opinion, should do over any others and will go a long way in resulting in a trust that the results are accurate. The labs must be held accountable for their errors.
With his team mates Danilo Hondo finally on an agreed full suspension, and Jörg Jaksche spilling his guts for the world, what is up with the final musketeer, Tyler Hamilton?
Tyler has gone deep, and there has been no communication from him. Has Tinkoff terminated his contract? Is his non-racing a money issue, or is there really still some drug issue at hand?
Even playing Devil's advocate, and saying Tyler did blood dope, didn't he serve that suspension? Wouldn't Operation Puerto not apply to Hamilton, unless there was evidence he doped after 2004? Wouldn't a further suspension on Operation Puerto information be double jeopardy?
Curious minds would like to know what's going on in this case.
Let's hope Dick Pound, and all the sponsorship naysayer’s are watching this years Tour! Let’s hope they see the exciting new stars like Feillu, Napolitano, Cavendish, and Lagadnous showing their faces, young stars like Cancellara, Stegmanns, and Boonen establishing their reputations and established stars like McEwen, O’Grady and Zabel sustaining theirs.
Despite all our doping scandals, what a great turnout at the side of the road in England, Belgium & France it has been so far! This is great news for the peloton.
The UCI needs to keep moving forward with anti doping programs, and swallow some pride and get all teams and organizers on its side!
Allez Allez Allez le Tour!
If federal politicians in Germany are concerned only with scoring PR points in the wake of the Jan/Telekom/Jaksche/etc doping furore, I'm sure plenty of other countries would be more than happy to host the World championships.
Should he succeed in his bid to show off his moral superiority by axing the Stuttgart event, perhaps Herr Schauble and/or his party will compensate Stuttgart for the expenses incurred in soliciting its successful Worlds bid and lost revenue from hosting the event?
It’s hard to believe this one. I am sure Tom is a nice guy but…
‘Tom Boonen (Quickstep - third): "I did a good sprint, I am not disappointed, but the speed was really high in the last kilometre. I was well-placed in the front group, but McEwen arrived at the back [of our group] at a speed slightly higher than ours. When he is launched like that it is practically impossible to beat him as the sprint started very close to the finish. McEwen is faster than anybody else in the world in the last 50 metres.”
Then again he might have rephrased these comments had he viewed the footage before hand.
As far as I could see Robbie did the absolute classic of classic Robbie McEwen’s, sneaking into the front at the final few hundred meters on his own. In today’s situation his train team was probably totally knackered after getting him back to the back of the peloton, let alone having the luxury of actually doing a lead out like Boonen & the other sprinter’s had.
Robbie pulled out into the wind at the start of his sprint at a long way out (not 50m Tom) & just slayed ‘em.
“When he is launched”!? Tom, mate, he launched himself, as far as I could see on the other side of the planet.
Races like today will always emphasize why the Tour is great & always will be, no matter what ever else happens in the lead up to the race each year.
Three cheers for Lance Armstrong for nailing Prudhomme and ASO for their hypocrisy. I am genuinely amazed that it has taken so long for a prominent person in cycling to point to the national blinders of this man and his organization.
Prudhomme and ASO seem intent on condemning for eternity any rider who crossed the line as long as they are not French. Almost as intolerable is the quiet acquiescence of the scandal-mongering cycling press that seems to celebrate the opportunity to write about this misbehaviour (and unsubstantiated accusations of it). It brings to mind the reaction of a shark who noticed that a drunk just fell off a boat.
This is the first time in 25 years that I am almost unable to feel enthusiasm for the Tour. I think many others share this sentiment, and for a similar reason.
John R Petrocik
So now Petacchi is out of Le Tour and suffers a 1-Year ban, maybe an overreaction? As doping is the scourge on cycling today, I think Petacchi who possesses a certificate to use Salbutomol for allergies should not have been suspended at all!
CONI, WADA and USADA should all be after the hard core dopers first & foremost.
That said Petacchi needed to still appear before CONI to explain. We need to get rid of the health risk doping, like the aforementioned substances, while putting things like corticosteroids (used to treat skin irritations), Salbutomol and others used for allergies and asthma as well as ephedrine used for colds and sinus irritations on the backburner.
Petacchi is just a pawn to show something is being done but is entirely misdirected.
Should an amnesty on suspensions be available for those who admit to EPO, and steroid use, but stop abusing, be put in place, with a lifetime ban there after should they be caught in the future?
Cycling and doping offences need to be reset to zero, with huge suspensions for serious offences, and short suspensions or fines for minor ones. Does anyone remember that Gianni Bugno was suspended for Caffeine?
Petacchi out #2
This latest 'scandal' involving Alessandro Petacchi’s alleged high Salbutomol levels is completely trivial and takes the doping issue to the ridiculous. And for CONI to recommend a one year ban is like sending someone to jail over a parking offence!
As an asthmatic racing cyclist myself, and many others will testify, taking a puff or two, or four, does absolutely nothing to improve performance other than being able to breathe properly. If I have a slight cold or virus, my asthma does 'play up', and I need to have the extra puffs to avoid an asthma attack. Who knows how many puffs will take them over the UCI's limit?
In this situation, which may have been similar to Petacchi's experience on that day, what do you do: have an asthma attack or have a 'puff' and be sure your health will not be jeopardised. Having asthma as a cyclist is a disadvantage, as to make a huge effort be it climbing, time trialling or in a breakaway situation you need your respiratory system functioning properly. It is the non-asthma sufferers who have the advantage.
If Petacchi goes down for one year over this, it is an insult to all cyclists who are asthma sufferers. I know rules are rules, but the penalty is a joke. For the amount he was over, surely a month is sufficient. Take the example of footy players who are only suspended for a week or two for belting an opponent. Let's hope sanity prevails, just like it did to Pedro Delgado's similar case at the 1988 Tour de France.
I sympathize with Greg. I've had difficulties in my sporting and professional activities and it's been hard to diagnose the causes. A physical sickness can combine with other factors so that the effort to unwind the symptoms to arrive at the root cause takes a long time.
A person like Greg, in the public eye, has to explain himself even as the chapters continue to unfold, so of course he would have to revise his story as it progresses - in order to tell the whole truth.
The guy has seen and done more than most people and I consider myself lucky to have been able to follow his story as it has unfolded over the decades. I think he's been straight with himself and with the public, I think he has contributed a great deal to the sport and to his community at large. I think Greg deserves our congratulations - I wish there were more sportsmen with his balls and more fans to see it.
LeMond and mitochondria myopathy #2
Matt is spot on in his observation. I remember LeMond blaming his hunting accident for why he was never as strong as when he won the 1986 Tour. I have always been a fan of Greg LeMond, but I sometimes think he embarrasses himself by speaking out about things that don't really concern him. He seems to be a little bitter to not go down in history as the greatest American cyclist ever.
What he should think about is Lance looked up to him as his idol at the start of his career, also LeMond had to contend with three great Tour riders, Bernard Hinault, Laurent Fignon and Miguel Indurain.
Bernard Hinault was idolised by the French and could do no wrong. A French mechanic supposedly sabotaged LeMond's bike before the Saint-Etienne Time-Trial by fiddling with his brakes.
Laurent Fignon didn't make LeMond's life easy in 1989 having just won the Giro and probably riding on the best form of his career.
Then along came Miguel Indurain the greatest Tour rider apart from Armstrong, who put LeMond into difficulty in 1990 and managed to de throne LeMond in 1991.
Lance Armstrong is a legendary Tour rider but what was his competition, a usually over-weight out of shape German by the name of Jan Ullrich who was possibly more gifted than Armstrong; but never realised his potentially when competing against the American. Armstrong's only other competition was the French media and public, because they couldn't stand for an American to beat them seven times, now eight times straight.
Greg LeMond should go down as an all – time great, but please Greg stop saying too much.
I am an avid sports fan, following a lot of professional codes and disciplines around the world and I am perplexed as to why road cycling seems to be so drastically afflicted by 'intestinal bugs'.
I cannot think of another sport where athletes seem to drop out of events in such numbers. And I don't understand why it doesn't also affect their team mates, who surely stay in the same hotels and eat/drink the same fuels.
Is there some mystery surrounding the metabolism of professional road cyclists
that eludes me?
First of all, your logic is wrong. Getting dropped on a long climb is an incentive to train harder, to climb better. It is not related in any way to taking illicit drugs and risking one's health or career.
Second, you cannot eliminate time limits. This is not because of the difficulty of keeping the roads closed to traffic for hours on end, which is a legitimate safety concern for riders. You must remember it is a race. Allowing riders to go at a snail's pace all day would give them an unfair advantage over riders who put forth the energy to race the previous stage.
Ask Mayo about climbers getting dropped on flat stages. It is not as easy as you may think it is. Riders in a long breakaway suffer greatly the next stage, whether flat or uphill. The rules are the rules for good reason.
As loyal readers of cyclingnews.com here in the US, my friends and I want to applaud your efforts to make pro cycling a drug-free sport. In the wake of each additional bust, it is hard not to become increasingly disenchanted.
Being somewhat of a dreamer, I soon began to wonder how much better pro cycling would be if it were free of doping. While one of my favourite songs (“Imagine” by John Lennon) was playing in the background, I soon found myself replacing some of his brilliant lyrics with my own not-so-brilliant ones to express my personal hope for change in professional cycling. I wrote them down for you here. Enjoy!
Imagine there’s no doping it isn’t hard to do no EPO or steroids and no Belgian mix too imagine all the cyclists racing absolutely clean you may say I’m a dreamer but I’m not the only one I hope someday we’ll wake up to a new dope-free peloton imagine no syringes nary a blood bag or vial no need for secret doctors no more lies or denial imagine winning a stage race without cheating as your means you may say I’m a dreamer but I’m not the only one I hope someday our “heroes” will form a dope-free peloton.
Perhaps we could add another clause to the UCI
anti doping charter:
I wonder if anyone in that organisation knows what side their bread is really buttered.
UCI agreement #2
I was about to compose a letter when I saw that Paul Hurdlow had already drafted it for me. Congratulations Paul on a quality letter.
The only thing I would add, and perhaps this can be taken as rather tongue in cheek, but the insertion of some form of language that prohibits members of the various organisational bodies charged with governing cycling from working for their own narrow vested interests as opposed to the sport as a whole would, in my opinion, be a great idea.
Maybe if a "fit and proper" test were to be included it would make some of these power hungry individuals take notice. Just ask yourselves - how many times over the last few months have the various heads of these organisations made statements that just left you bewildered at the stance they are taking, given it is clearly to the detriment of the sport as a whole, as well as being against the principle of plain and simple decency.
UCI agreement #3
To begin with, the USPS is not interested in preventing its employees from using performance enhancing drugs. The USPS is worried about preventing its employees from using illegal drugs such as heroine and cocaine. In fact, I'd bet the USPS would be ecstatic to have one of its employees using performance enhancing drugs to boost their efficiency on the job although, not exactly a likely scenario.
WADA isn't trying to combat poppy growth in Afghanistan; it is trying to keep a level playing field in sports. The anti-doping clauses of the various jobs are two different programs trying to eliminate two different kinds of doping problems.
That being said, I am sure most riders, regardless of their status as dopers, would be equally appalled by heroine use in the peloton. Nevertheless, they have some legitimate issues with the current athletic anti-doping process. If you are a clean rider you have nothing to fear, except perhaps a false positive.
The Landis Case has revealed wide ranging problems with quality control, standards for accreditation, and a secretive, closed system that rewards compliance with the WADA line and makes it almost impossible for a rider to prove his innocence without bankrupting him or herself.
That makes it seem downright suspicious that the UCI wants to take away a riders salary, the very thing that a rider needs to get lawyers involved in a putative system riddled with politics.
Out of curiosity, if WADA falsely accuses an athlete, will they give him an entire years salary as punishment? Will they reimburse him for lost endorsements?
I don't think anyone is impressed with WADA at the moment. If we really want clean riders, then we also need clean, transparent, and accountable doping controls. Just ask Petacchi.
Eric E Greek
Does the UCI actually test for the presence of all of the banned substances listed in their ‘Anti-Doping Rules’? While they are obviously catching some riders with banned substances in their blood, I have not heard of anyone since Tyler Hamilton at the 2004 Olympics getting caught transfusing their blood at doping controls.
Are they actually testing riders for blood transfusions at ProTour events? Although there will always be those who try to break the rules, the results of the ProTour events can only be trusted if the UCI actually uses effective tests for all of their banned doping products and banned doping methods.
There have been many true statements made by pro cyclists saying that they have never taken any performance enhancing drugs (Armstrong, Landis, Basso, Ullrich). These statements say nothing about tampering with your blood. If it is illegal, then test for it and make this beautiful sport an example of fair play to aspiring athletes and to the international sporting community.
To Bob Hutch, I certainly do ride, and I understand as well as anyone what Lance has given to the sport, as well as what he did not give to it.
All indications are that he wanted to do more – he would have been at Paris-Roubaix in his last year, if not for pressure from the team, and he did take the chance of winning the Dauphine before what turned out to be his “worst” Tour (my favourite though) in 2003.
In the end, though, his single-minded focus on the Tour de France made him less interesting to watch anywhere else, because you knew he was under pressure to give less than his maximum. Let’s just chalk this exchange up to traditional South City head-butting and agree to disagree.
I am 197 cm tall (6'5") and back in 1987 I bought a Viner frame with Columbus tubing. After a couple of months I had a big crack in my head tube so the bike shop kindly replaced it with the same and a couple of months later I cracked the replacement frame in the exact same position.
I have never returned to Viner, even though I like the concept of riding a bike with heritage, I hope Viner now makes a better bike that caters for the larger rider now,
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