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Letters to Cyclingnews - August 23, 2007

Here's your chance to get more involved with Cyclingnews. Comments and criticism on current stories, races, coverage and anything cycling related are welcomed, even pictures if you wish. Letters should be brief (less than 300 words), with the sender clearly identified. They may be edited for space and clarity; please stick to one topic per letter. We will normally include your name and place of residence, but not your email address unless you specify in the message.

Please email your correspondence to

Biting the hand that feeds you
Cadel was robbed
Congratulations to grand tour organizers
Cycling needs a Norma Rae
Discovery folding
Drugs and cycling
Fewer ProTour teams
Floyd Landis decision
Petacchi’s asthma
Science of doping
Sinkewitz positive

Tailwind withdrawal

The good news....
Unibet, what a shame
World’s exclusion
Vino: "a clear violation of human rights"?

Biting the hand that feeds you

I wholeheartedly agree with Dillan Ballard’s letter. When I read the explanations provided by Armstrong, Stapleton and others I could not escape the same conclusion. Why not just diplomatically admit they couldn’t find a deal that suited them rather than indict the sport as a basis for pulling out.

I represent teams and owners in motor racing and am very familiar the nuances of accepting or rejecting a sponsorship deal. I have never come across any management team refusing to take money because it felt it couldn’t deliver value for the sponsor as a basis for rejecting the deal. While ostensibly appearing to be very honourable in caring for its commercial partners, the whole explanation is disingenuous.

No sponsor able to pony up $15,000,000. US Dollars per annum are naive to the risks associated with a cycling sponsorship in this current environment. They don’t need Tailwind’s help to figure it out. What’s disappointing is they actually could have used this situation positively as a further warning to all of the players in professional cycling to get their house in order. Not only did they bite the hand that feeds them, they missed a great opportunity.

George Cacoulidis
Friday August 17 2007

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Biting the hand that feeds you

I would like to ask this question to all the people that think there are ulterior motives from Tailwind Sports.

If you were in charge of the marketing dollars for your company, would you invest $45 million over three years in this team (or any team)?

Would you consider this a wise career move?

My guess is that "90% of the way there" meant that the remaining 10% represents a huge financial exposure for Tailwind if any doping problems occurred during the contract.

No matter how solid your controls are (ala T-Mobile), you still can end up with a bonehead on your team (Sinkewitz). To quote Demosthenes, "He who fights and runs away will live to fight another day."

Dave LaBerge
San Jose, Ca, USA
Friday August 17 2007

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Biting the hand that feeds you

In a perfect world, this reader would be correct. But what is often forgotten by many of us die-hard fans is that the Pro Tour is a business, just like the NFL, NBA and Exxon-Mobile.

When sponsors feel that their investment is at risk, they’re gone. This includes Lance Armstrong, US Postal Service, Discovery Channel, you and me. The fact that Armstrong won 7 Tours doesn’t obligate him to throw his money away on what the world perceives as cheaters.

William J Murphy
Denver, Colorado, USA
Friday August 17 2007

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Cadel was robbed

The talk of Leipheimer’s "mediocre" tour is really quite interesting to me. To finish 3rd in the Tour is no small feat, and yes his time trial was blazing, but this ridiculous attitude towards Levi is baffling.

Levi didn't get crushed in the mountains, and he did well in the Pyrenees, like he said he would. He managed a podium, like he said he would try for. Levi is no Lance, sure - but he's no slouch either.

Anyhow, to go back to Andy's reasoning and one of the main points about dopers, to say that Cadel Evans was the only one capable of riding a great, clean ride in the midst of the world's premier cyclists, who were caught doping, been accused of doping, or being associated with it, is preposterous. And truly, that takes away from the fantastic tour that he had.

Ryan McBride
Las Vegas, NV, USA
Thursday August 16 2007

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Cadel was robbed #2

I feel that as an Aussie maybe Cadel was robbed, maybe he wasn't. As to the comment that was made about Levi Leipheimer having an otherwise mediocre tour? Is there such a thing?

I think that Levi was very solid, as was Cadel throughout, both knowing they didn't have the acceleration in the hills to go with Contador!

I think you may find that Discovery would have clauses in their contracts that would make anyone think twice before cheating.\

Levi and Cadel both did huge time trials as did Contador, so please think about the context before making sweeping comments. There is no evidence of doping on any of the Disco boys except those whom have gone to other teams.

Damian Lawler
Friday August 17 2007

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Cadel was robbed #3

How can anyone define Levi's tour as "mediocre"?

I seem to remember Levi out climbing Cadel whenever he had to, in support of his team-mate. I think Levi rode a very intelligent race in support of Contador, showing the true class he has as a competitor who came in as the leader and became the domestique.

Also, keep in mind that the mediocre cyclist you speak of would have finished the race 2 seconds ahead of Cadel were it not for the 10 second time penalty Levi was given during the early stages of the race. I do not want to take anything away from Cadel, he is a fantastic cyclist, I just don't think Levi's tour could be classified as "mediocre".

Bernie Molloy
Friday August 17 2007

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Cadel was robbed #4

I'm sorry for the Australians reading this, but you really need to put your jingoistic national pride aside for a second when thinking about Cadel. Sure he is a very talented rider who works very hard. He is super dedicated and passionate about cycling, but apart from this is this really the kind of rider we want winning the greatest race on earth?

If there was a least aggressive rider competition, Cadel would have won it hands down. He followed wheels for 21 days. He probably has no idea what French wind even feels like. When Contador went off the front, Cadel followed his wheel, When Levi jumped, Cadel followed his wheel. Same for when the Chicken went and the amazing Columbian, Soler.

Paul Sherwin even referred to Cadel as "the limpet". I heard Cadel say they he didn't have the energy to attack, really? He had the energy to go with everyone else when they did. Truth is, he was waiting for the TT.

Sure, you can do this, as long as you know that winners and hero's isn’t always the same person.

Joe Staples
Friday August 17 2007

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Cadel was robbed #5

Andy, I fail to see your surprise at Levi winning a time trial. He had turned in some blistering rides against the clock the last few years. This years Tour of California is a good example.

Levi's Achilles heel is that he is not as consistent as he needs to be to win a 3 week tour; Cadel has shown the same problem over the last few Tours also. Levi's result in the Albi time trial was a bit of an "off day" for him, and he lost a minute and twenty five seconds to Cadel Evans over 54 km.

Contador, who (for a short history) has not performed in the TT as well as either Leipheimer or Evans, finished over 20 seconds ahead of Levi.

On the final day, Levi was within striking distance of overtaking Cadel. He had huge motivation, if he was to achieve this, and if Contador had a bad ride, Levi could have won the Tour. Cadel also rode well - 2nd place isn’t bad!

He had similar motivation, but it mainly boiled down to just beating Contador. Levi was definitely on his game and won, beating Cadel by 51 seconds over 55.5 km. When you break these differentials down by percentages, Levi only rode about 1% faster than Cadel. On the Albi TT, Cadel rode about 2% faster than Levi.

Realistic margins for two top riders? I think so. Don't get me wrong - I am quite the fan of both Cadel and Levi. Both are older riders that I felt should have had the honour of winning the Tour. I was pulling for either of them to win that TT and take the top step, my only reason being that Contador will have many opportunities to do this race again.

Alberto rode a good TT and deservingly ended up winning the Tour, mainly because of his blistering climbing attacks that neither Levi nor Cadel could match.

Scott Edwards
Castro Valley, CA
Saturday August 18 2007

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Congratulations to grand tour organizers

Thanks James! You have hit the nail on the head! Many think that doping had something to do with the folding of Discovery Team. I believe it was the environment that exists as evidence in the Unibet situation.

The ProTour takes their money (entry fees) and then the promoter tells them they can't race! What's up with that? Tailwind Sports saw an environment developing where the team could do all the right things and then be excluded from racing in the last minute because of some hearsay, news report or rumour, without the due process commensurate with and respectful of a multi million dollar investment.

Why would anyone sponsor a team in that environment? Do any of us spend our personal funds with such little "assurance"?

Jim Wright
Jacksonville, FL
Friday August 17 2007

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Cycling needs a Norma Rae

Professional cyclists are mere chattel; they always have been, and it appears that they always will be. They've been manipulated for so long now by the three headed hydra of teams, race organizers and the UCI that they're nothing but thankful to them for the opportunity to abuse themselves in ways that most of us would consider abhorrent. Weighed out by an impartial observer, one would find that the return they receive for all that they invest is extremely low; taking everything into account - all that they invest in time, money, the physical effort, the health risks both short and long term, etc., etc. measured against the compensation, accolades, and self satisfaction received.

Some may find this argument capricious, but it is my contention that if the riders had a strong union backing them that the illegal performance enhancing methods blighting the sport would nearly disappear. Only when the riders become equal partners in the enterprise will this blight end. When concessions are given and positions are supported by all four groups in matters such as but not limited to, race calendar, race length, team structure, amount of days a rider can race, revenue sharing, salary, health care, and, of course, drug testing.

Sure, many here in the US believe the players unions of our major sports are too strong; that they're spoiled millionaires who should just be quiet and play, just be thankful for the opportunity. But, I contend they've only negotiated smartly, getting only what the market conditions will bear. After all, these leagues and teams aren't going broke, are they? And contrary to popular belief, these unions do make concessions. Remember it was the NHL that locked out the players and cancelled an entire season a few years ago.

What the riders need is a Norma Rae to inspire them, to help organize them into in one cohesive and unified body. Someone with a leadership team which will negotiate for their best interests, in good faith, and for the good of the sport. I long for the day when a rider arrives at the start line of a major race with a cardboard sign with the word UNION written on it and the riders dismount, refusing to ride. It may take a strike, and perhaps an extended one, one of great sacrifice, but in the end, one which will bring them great reward; and one which I believe will ring in a new, and cleaner, era of cycling, the sport we all love.

Yanomamo Howard
Rochester, N.Y.
Thursday August 16 2007

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Discovery folding

Has it ever occurred to any of the Discovery haters that their slanderous accusations were one of the reasons they have decided to leave the sport? How do you prove you are clean? Even if they announced they were introducing a program identical to T-Mobile's or Slipstream's, there would still be those accusing them of cheating simply because they win.

Maybe Contador didn't "look" tired enough, or Levi shouldn't have had a bad race prior to a good one. Why would anyone want to live their lives being slandered in the press and on the 'net just because they were successful? I know I wouldn't!

Is it possible that the reason Discovery never made a big deal out of their own anti-doping program was that they didn't want to add to the doping reputation of the sport? Maybe their sponsor wanted to focus their publicity on other aspects of the sport. There are an awful lot of teams that are not speaking loudly about their anti-doping programs, yet none of them seem to get the same slanderous treatment as Discovery.

I don't know if the Discovery team was doping or not. All I know is that they haven't failed the tests and until they do, I have no right to accuse them of anything. They are innocent until proven guilty, a quaint concept I know, but the only one that is fair to the riders.

Timm Smith
Citrus Springs, FL, USA
Friday August 17 2007

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Discovery folding #2

Whilst I have some suspicions with regard discovery, Dirk de Vos is very unfair to cite Contador’s performance at the Dauphine - I was there for 3 stages including the Ventoux and he was cruising, not looking troubled at all, in fact shepherding Levi up the Ventoux.

He was also very relaxed, and open (he signed a picture for me no problem), in fact all the disco boys were out of the bus and Beltran came over on his bike to chat. The teams that were the least available to fans were Rabobank and Astana. Vino had a Dauphine like his Tour: one great day followed by a terrible one the next.

I also saw 6 stages of the Tour, and thought Contador was the most animated rider throughout, apart from the day at the Aubisque where he couldn’t get away - don’t forget he has always shown talent, and he is still young - I hope he gets a new team.

Incidentally, I thought the superstars / iron men of the tour were Popovych (Discovery), and Boogerd and Menchov (Rabobank) - they were all up front every day in the mountains working for their leaders, and Popovych still finished 8th - what a star!

Colin Flockton
Kent, England
Friday August 17 2007

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Discovery folding #3

I am an amateur Cat. 4 cyclist and have been a bike messenger for 7 long winter filled years. A huge fan of the European race scene, I wake at 5 am have coffee and breakfast and watch the Tour during July every year before heading out on my bike for the next 9 hours. I love cycling. I really do.

What I am tired of though, is the constant suspicion (and jealousy) of an athlete(s) that does well. Why can't we cheer a winner? Yes, even in cycling.

Why do we sit and spend way too much time concocting conspiracies of how someone or somebody must not be playing within the rules. Dirk de Vos, you sir have too much time on our hands, go ride your bike.

I was stunned as much as anyone about the drugs in this years Tour but why chase phantom cheaters? Do you really think that you have devised a scenario that the officials in charge of doping control have somehow overlooked? How about cheer winners instead of putting them down. The world has enough negativity.

Myles Marshall
Edmonton Canada
Thursday August 16 2007

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Discovery folding #4

You present some pretty impressive accusations and theories in your letter. Of course I don't see any evidence or sources for your theories so one might argue that they are of the conspiratorial kind, especially the line regarding Landis' positive test.

Where is the benefit in all this speculation? Does this mean I can speculate all I want about any rider who has won any race-evidence or not-and be taken seriously? Should we accuse Cadel Evans of doping since he was able to keep up with 2 riders who are accused of doping and/or questionable actions? I know that no one tested positive while on Discovery but only afterward. Does this mean anything? Maybe, but without proof I will withhold judgement.

There is a problem in cycling and as depressing as it seems we may have to increase the amount of testing that happens and go through the weeding out that we have seen this year for a few more seasons until people realize that they will get caught if they dope-end of story.

I do believe that if the UCI was serious about stamping out doping they would have delved into the 400 or so additional pages of documents they received from the Spanish authorities regarding Operation Puerto by now. Of course if they did this maybe the field for the Vuelta would be a bit smaller.

Chris Hatch
Sunday August 19 2007

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Drugs and cycling

Well said, Claudio Izzo. I’ve been cycling and a fan for three decades now. Most fans have long thought that cyclists took drugs to help them get through the gruelling races and lengthy racing season. However, it was rarely mentioned because we still appreciated the spectacle of racing, as well as the talent and dedication of the professional racer.

Most fans recognized that the professional racing schedule itself was abusive, and it was difficult to criticize the riders for doping in order to survive the rigors of the sport. We also recognized that the riders did it not only for personal glory, but often to simply meet the demands of the sport. I recall that a pro once remarked that “anyone who says they can win the Tour without aid (meaning drugs) is a fool or a liar”.

However, obviously times have changed. Newer performance enhancing drugs and techniques (especially those that raise the Heamatocrit) led to an increase in rider related deaths, and the press became very aggressive in writing about cycling’s drug problem.

The money in cycling is much bigger now days, and it seems that doping is done not just to survive a gruelling sport, but to chase better results and money. Furthermore, cycling fans no longer find the use of drugs acceptable, and it’s time for all pro riders and their coaches and team directors to realize that things are different now. They need to change their behaviour to prevent cycling from getting any more black eyes in this new world.

Fortunately, cycling is a beautiful sport with many wonderful stories of strength, determination and character. It will survive.

Mark Hsu
Dunlap, Illinois, USA
Friday August 17 2007

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Fewer ProTour teams

I am not concerned if there are fewer ProTour teams next year as I believe professional cycling - like most professional leagues throughout the world - has too many teams in the first place. With extra teams the talent pool is spread too thinly and there are too many riders of questionable skill and ability within the peloton and too many managers of questionable ability and morals leading them.

With fewer teams receiving guaranteed starting positions in the biggest races we will likely see more exciting racing throughout the entire season and with fewer riders of limited skill and ability the peloton will be a safer place for all to work in.

Perhaps with fewer riders to police and lower wages all round doping will become less of an issue also.

Robbin Penney
Calgary, Canada
Thursday August 16 2007

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Floyd Landis decision

Where is the decision on Floyd Landis? This is getting absurd. First it takes almost 10 months to have a hearing and now an interminable wait for the answer.

I don't know if he doped or not but either he or Oscar Pereiro is getting royally screwed.

Floyd serves a two year suspension even if exonerated? Pereiro may be robbed of a Tour title during the period in which he might most benefit?

This process is a joke, and a very costly one at that. At least the lawyers are profiting, as they always do.

Rich Hardart
Annapolis, MD
Tuesday August 21 2007

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Petacchi’s asthma

I am writing in regard to the quote below in Cyclingnews on 21 August 2007, from Alessandro Petacchi.

"It was not an error or even a lack of discretion but a necessity. You are not able to breathe, you think twice, maybe three times, then maybe take the medicine, hoping that the conditions don't happen that make you surpass the limits."

I really feel for this guy. While doping tests are a necessity of course, maybe this result shows the need for more work to be done regarding prescription medicines. I realise the doping tests have to keep evolving to catch the equally changing cheating methods, but at least there may be an upside to Petacchi’s misfortune in that medical necessities can be taken into account a little more, either way bad luck for Petacchi.

I just hope he fulfils his aims and keeps riding for many years yet. It is good to see him back in the peloton.

Michael Hanson
Camperdown, NSW, Australia
Wednesday August 22 2007

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Science of doping

In regard to Anne Racioppi's question: "My question is - Would these testing techniques be utilized if there is such a high degree of false positives?"...yes, they can be used. Many of the tests are borrowed from the medical field, where it's better for a test to return a false positive than a false negative, because in detecting medical conditions one prefers to err on the side of caution.

In medicine, having one test return a positive means that there will be more tests conducted (not the exact same test, necessarily, but corroborating tests) that will attempt to hone in on the true nature of the issue.

The motivation behind medical tests is very different from the motivation behind doping tests.

The answer to what I assume was the larger question is that, yes, it's very possible those tests return "positive" and that athletes are telling the truth. Note that this only looks at the issue from the perspective of testing, and completely ignore the possibility of unknowingly ingesting tainted supplements, as occurred with Scott Moninger a few years back.

For the record, I'm against doping in sport, but I'm also against anti-doping zealotry based on bad science and the ensuing witch hunts.

Chris Cleeland
Tuesday August 21 2007

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Sinkewitz positive

So it's come to this - hero worshipping by Bob Stapleton's daughter. Fine Ali - if you want to kneel in adolescent adoration to your father, then knock yourself out. But while you're down there, just ask yourself if the Bob Stapleton who you claim is "...trying very hard to change the future of cycling...." is also the same Bob Stapleton who refused to fire Rolf Aldag after Aldag admitted to doping and then lying about it for 12 years.

Isn't this the same Bob Stapleton who said he'd hire Erik Zabel " a minute...." after Zabel admitted to doping and then lying about it for 11 years? And isn't this the same Bob Stapleton whose rider was tossed from the Tour and caused German television to pull the plug after he blew up the testosterone meter? And isn't this the same Bob Stapleton who just spent the last three weeks waiting for T-Mobile and adidas to make up their minds about continuing their sponsorship in the wake of the team's drug problems?

Either you're against doping or you aren't. When faced with prima facia evidence - from a team manager! - Of the sort of behaviour that he promised would be treated with zero tolerance, he blinked. And then he gave Aldag a get-out-of-jail-free card. And then he said he'd willingly hire a known doper. If this doesn't make mincemeat out of the ascertain that he's "...always fighting for what's right....", then it does something very much like it.

Marshall Ellis
Troutman, NC, USA
Thursday August 16 2007

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Tailwind withdrawal

I think that there is a difference in perception with regard to what Lance meant when he criticized the organization of cycling. To me he seemed to refer specifically to the tension between ASO, UCI, AIGCP etc. When you seek a sponsor for your team and the main marketing opportunity for that sponsorship could arbitrarily decide to invite or not invite you, or to go to national teams, amateur teams or even an all French event, that introduces some very heavy uncertainty.

There is a clear tension among power centre’s in pro cycling. If you want to develop a conspiracy around the dissolution of Discovery, perhaps look at the amount of money at stake, the amount of power up for grabs to be the central organization that monitors/promotes international road cycling and you may see a fertile ground for conspiracy scenarios.

Now most of the doping exposure or tolerance is an attempt to gain more power over the organization and thus the money, prestige, power involved in pro cycling. As for blaming the cyclists themselves and ignoring the fact that they are all operating within a system that was created before their arrival, that seems a bit myopic. To fix cycling, you would need a central set of rules, a single entity controlling doping with some real power, and some real guarantee that if you get a ProTour license you are invited to ProTour races. Drugs are not the only scandal in cycling, but they are a more colourful distraction from the greed and power plays that are tearing the sport apart from the top down.

Blaming Lance Armstrong for the problems of cycling puts an incredible amount of power in his hands. If he is a doper, he was not the first, nor the last. It is unlikely that his tremendous success came to him exclusively through use of dope, since he was competing against other riders who have tested positive, admitted doping, been implicated or been caught. The greatest evidence of Tailwind misbehaviour is their result list? Now that Levi makes the podium people accuse him of doping. I think that everyone faster than me at the weekly crits must be doping also. The assumption that anyone who beats you or your favourite is a doper is a very convenient excuse. If my favourite was Chris Horner, then Cadel is a doper, if it was Moreau, then we have a long list of expulsions. Cycling is doing something about the dope, the doping and the dopers. I expect the cheaters to get caught and I see that medical controls seem to really be improving. Now we just need to get the various power structures within cycling to play nice so that sponsors like Unibet are not forced out of the sport.

Bryan Carlson
Fort Worth, Texas
Saturday August 18 2007

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The good news....

There is an economic theory that proposes that all markets will eventually correct immoral acts. If society does not tolerate something they will not allocate assets for it or will allocate assets for its removal.

The market for pro cycling is no different. Just as the financial markets are now correcting the irresponsible lending that went on the last 5 years so to is the market for professional cyclists correcting the use of drugs in the sport. As sponsors flee the market pro cyclist will make less money. They will then be less inclined to use drugs as the incentive for doing so will decrease, as will the availability of opportunity to dope as the incentive for doctors and/or teams to provide the drugs declines.

As this happens the sport will institute more ways to eliminate drugs to attract more money (sponsors) into the sport. Over time (remember the doping problem has been with cycling for a very long time) the sport will attract new money and the sport will grow again. I may stand alone but I am glad that the situation has come to this as there was no other way for the problem to be resolved. Let the market continue its carnage and doping will be dramatically decreased but never eliminated as some individuals will do things not in their best economic interest.

Bryin Sills
Hagerstown MD
Thursday August 16 2007

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Unibet, what a shame

Having followed professional cycling for 20+ years, I find the current state of affairs sad and pathetic in regards to cycling in general. Cycling is a sport, but you would think it was a country embroiled in a revolution. The main reason I decided to write was in regards to the Unibet team. I don't want to go into any doping related issues, which certainly get my blood boiling, but must admit the treatment of the Unibet team gets my blood boiling to the level where I have to wonder what the hell is going on in this sport that I love.

Here is a team that purchased a ProTour license, and having done so, can not race or represent their sponsor due to politics. If anyone disagrees that politics are not at play here I welcome their rebuttal and I certainly stand corrected. To find a sponsor, put together millions of dollars (or Euros if that is how you look at it) but still not be able to assemble a team to appear at the different races because some organizers insist that the laws prohibit this team from competing is just complete nonsense. If these organizers would just put whatever is up there behinds behind them (though behinds are always behind!), then a team that is very much willing to pony up to whatever the powers may be want from them is left out in the cold as we have observed this season.

There is all this nonsense about advertised gambling or betting or whatever it is, but the bottom line is there is a professional cycling team that has professional riders with a professional staff that is not being treated professionally. Someone please explain this to me. Why on earth was the ProTour license granted in the first place if everyone knew who the sponsor is? That should be the question. It is not some deep secret or some grand wisdom as to who sponsors Unibet.

I suggest that these powers that may be take their heads out of their arses (as the Australians so put it) and take a look at the bigger picture and what is good for the sport. Letting a team such as Unibet compete is not going to bring the world to an end and in light of all the controversy that has been emerging (and you certainly well know what I am talking about), letting this team compete among their peers just might be what this sport needs at this point in time. Oh yeah, but I forgot, they are probably going to disband because of all the poor judgment and poor decisions that have been made at the managerial level of this sport.

My ten year old twin sons could run this sport better than the powers that may be at the moment- and you probably think I am kidding. Well, I will tell you that they have asked some important and pertinent questions in regards to what is going on in this sport and they understand a lot more than I would originally have given them credit for. I'll keep riding and watching no matter what just for the love of the sport - just my 2.1326 cents. I just wish the Unibet team could keep riding for the sport they love.

John Thomas Jr.
Silver Spring, MD, USA
Friday August 17 2007

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Unibet, what a shame #2

The sentimental side of me admits a wistful sadness at the news that Discovery/Tailwind is disappearing. While not my favourite team, they certainly deserve the highest praise. The Basso debacle aside, it was USPS/Discovery who almost single-handed spun North America awake when it came to road cycling, notwithstanding those of us who can remember Lemond, Bauer, Phinny and Grewal. But save your tears for the saddest chapter of 2007: for me, the most painful story this year can be found in the saga known as Unibet.

These guys had it all: a great team with heaps of promise and established talent, a Pro-Tour license, a keen sponsor and an excellent anti-doping policy - none of this "I have never tested positive" bovine compost material. But of course, the ASO and the other self-righteous "top-three" tour organizers had a different agenda.

They used Unibet to duke it out with the UCI. Over what exactly I am still unclear, but whatever: it all seems so counterproductive to the sport and its fans. The weak excuse was that it was Unibet's gambling business. So unethical, this gambling thing, huh? Gambling you say? Is not a lottery (Predictor-LOTTO) a form of gambling? Hell, check out the website of Française des Jeux, France's national lottery. How ethically different is promoting gambling on-line from on-line gambling?

Evidently, the ASO and it's ilk have no real issue with gambling - the excuse is a sham. Look at Astana!! You want to talk about an addiction to gambling? Jesus.

Pro-Tour level cycling needs help. And in difficult times, real pros have to step up. I feel Armstrong and Tailwind could have helped bring new lustre to the sport of pro-cycling by working within the system, not running from it. After all, it helped make them who they are today and they have uncharacteristically bailed in the face of adversity. The sparkle, then, is up to the new players. As far North America's newest top-level team, I wish the best of luck to Jonathan Vaughters, David Millar and Slipstream.

Michael Nathanson,
Vancouver, BC
Friday August 17 2007

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World’s exclusion

Peter Davies should probably do a little more research before he tosses out an accusation of "racial prejudice" in sport because Valverde is in a "spot of bother" because of Puerto, yet Klöden is not.

Putting aside the semantics of whether or not Germans and Spanish constitute separate races, I need only remind Mr. Davies of one Jan Ullrich. Recall how Ullrich was kept out of the Tour de France simply because there was a possible link to Operation Puerto. He had not tested positive, his team was not suspended, he was not found guilty or even really accused of anything, but still his career was destroyed right then and there. Oh yes, and he is German. Furthermore, one might want to flip things around and wonder why the two Spaniards Valverde and Contador were allowed to start the tour despite being implicated in Puerto? It certainly seems that "innocent until proven guilty" is selectively applied when it comes to doping in cycling, but the disparate cases of Klöden and Ullrich show there is no "German conspiracy".

Rob Found
Thursday August 16 2007

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World’s exclusion #2

The problem with Peter Davies's argument (letters, August 15 2007) about Valverde is that the Puerto riders have not been treated similarly. The argument that riders should be 'innocent until proven guilty' was equally applicable to Basso and Ullrich. The German and Italian federations were much more willing to pursue the matter than the Spanish and, following Basso's admission, nobody really believes any longer that any of the Puerto rider are innocent, despite the apparently flimsy and circumstantial nature of the allegations.

In an ideal world Peter's argument would be fair and just - I made the same point about Basso and Ullrich when they were excluded from the 2006 Tour. The problem is the approach that makes comparisons between the treatment of one rider and another. Klöden, to be fair, hasn't been named, unlike Valverde. But that's not the point. A consistent trans-national approach is required to this trans-national issue, rather than one which depends on the vigour of national federations.

It's all very well for Peter to defend a favoured rider, but the Spanish federation has pretty much ignored Puerto, using the fig leaf of an excuse that it wasn't a criminal offence at the time in Spain. If Ettore Torri of the Italian federation had the attitude that he wouldn't take action unless there were also criminal proceedings, Basso would have won the Giro and Tour this year, and Discovery would have a new sponsor. Is that what Peter wants?

Weighing up the rights of the individual against the need to deal with a widespread problem is difficult and any solutions are likely to be less than satisfactory. But I suspect that part of the delusion of some riders is a feeling that if they DON'T cheat then THEY are the victims, because other men in the peloton can cheat in the knowledge that they are unlikely to be pursued vigorously.

A consistent international approach to detection AND punishment is required as part of the battle.

Michael Huggins
Lancashire, UK
Friday August 17 2007

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World's exclusion #3

For an organizer to say that dopers are not welcome at their events is one thing. To say that riders like Alberto Contador and Alejandro Valverde cannot ride, though, is another.

With no formal charges against them and no firm ties to Operation Puerto, one has to assume the grounds for their exclusion are little more than being fast and Spanish. That is tantamount to racism, and it cannot and should not be tolerated for any reason.

Jeffrey Jones
South San Francisco, CA
Thursday August 16 2007

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Vino: "a clear violation of human rights"?

In your news round up on Sunday Vino denounced cycling's current anti-doping procedures calling them "a clear violation of human rights".

Notifying the proper authorities of ones whereabouts in advance in order to allow for out of competition testing is somehow a violation of human rights? Really?

Odd that he would choose to complain about the advance notification when it was his post-stage testing in this years Tour de France which has cost him his job.

Perhaps Vino wants to muddy the waters, to deflect blame for his problems away from his own actions and onto the test protocols? The truth remains, Mr. Vinokourov was found guilty by testing positive for blood doping during a grand Tour. His fall from grace and the loss of his "good name" are the result of his own unethical actions. Actions which have cost his entire team dearly.

Marianne O'Brien
Monday August 20 2007

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Recent letters pages

Letters 2007

  • August 17: Dying from within..., Cadel was robbed, Biting the hand that feeds you, Discovery folding, Astana-Tour cover-up?, Christian Moreni, UCI may lose it all, Drugs & cycling, Aussie proTour team, Valverde and the worlds, Klöden: are things getting out of control?, Congratulations to grand tours organizers
  • August 10: Smarter Drug Testing, Cassani and Rasmussen, Bruyneel: take doping seriously, The dubious Disco boys, Spanish ethics, Who's to blame for doping?, Untrustworthy authorities, Insurance for pro riders, Science of doping, It's working?, State of cycling, Less mountain stages, Positively false, Sinkewitz positive, Team suspensions, Tour ethics, Vino response, Editorials call for ending Tour, Revoking le Tours jerseys, LeMond, the voice crying out in the desert, WADA vigilantes
  • August 3, Part 1: What about team suspensions?, WADA vigilantes, Vino response, Vino excluded, but why the whole team?, Unanswered questions, Tour de France doping "scandals", State of cycling, Spanish ethics and the A.C. joke, Sinkewitz positive, Secondary testing?, Editorials calling for ending Tour, Rasmussen's location, Quality control and anti doping, Positively False, McQuaid: not the Godfather of cycling, Less mountain stages
  • August 3, Part 2: LeMond, the voice crying out in the desert, Le Tour, L'affaire Vino, It’s the culture, IOC questioning cycling in Olympics, Greg LeMond is not surprised, Greg LeMond, German TV, Due process, Evans v Contador - the real margin of victory, Doping, the media and the MPCC, Doping, Evans, Dope tests and the tour, Different perspective on doping, David Millar, Cycling revolution, Cadel was robbed, Bruyneel a 'man in black'?, Another drug test result leaked, Andy Hampsten
  • July 27 Part 1: 80's style back in fashion?, A great few days for cycling, Vino excluded, but why the whole team?, Another drug test result leaked, ASO discretion in administering Tour justice, Astana in stage 5, Astana’s tactics, Bad day for Australia, Bloody dopes, Cadel Evans, Catching Vino is good news, Conspiracy?, David "what a joke" Millar, Doping, Doping controls, Tour ethics, German TV, LeMond, the voice crying out in the desert, How many big bastards in the peloton?
  • July 27 Part 2: How will cycling survive, Kazahkstan Pie, Kessler's lie, Landis and lie detector, Landis testing, Le maillot jaune is gone, LeMond and mitochondria myopathy, The'Vino' scene, Losing time and bouncing back, Losing my religion, Moreau, No, not Vino, Out of season testing and baseline tests, PED's, Revoking le Tours jerseys, Petacchi out
  • July 20: What about team suspensions?, Tyler Hamilton, Stuttgart Worlds, Sinkewitz positive, Petacchi out!, Bad day for Australia, Kessler's lie, Landis and lie detector, LeMond and mitochondria myopathy, Intestinal problems, Greg LeMond, the voice crying out in the desert, Fair doping tests, Drug testing and sequence of recorded results, Revoking le Tours jerseys, Advice for Stapleton and Sinkewitz, Astana in stage 5, Crashes, bike changes & team cars
  • July 13: Fair doping tests, Tyler Hamilton, Tour downright exciting!, Stuttgart(?) Worlds, Rocketing Robbie v tormented Tommy, Armstrong's comment to ASO, Petacchi out, LeMond and mitochondria myopathy, Intestinal Problems, Incentive for doping, Imagine, UCI agreement, Does the UCI test for blood transfusions?, The real heroes, Bicycle options,
  • July 5: Tour de France boring!, The real heroes, The flying Scotsman, Signing the contract, No Zabriskie?, LeMond and mitochondria myopathy, Incentive for Doping, Bicycle Options, Anti-doping charter, Sale of the century
  • June 29: "The Flying Scotsman",Cancellara,The real heroes, Categorised Climbs, Tour for Devolder and Zabriskie?, Tour de France, boring!,Nationalistic pride, Anti Doping Charter, Bicycle Options, Doping, Doping Coverage - Enough already..., Who dopes? Who doesn't? Who cares!
  • June 22: Anti Doping Charter, The real heroes, Basso's "suspension", Categorized climbs, Bicycle options, Greg LeMond and record ITT's, It is about us!, Finding the clean winner of the TdF?, Tour de France, BORING!, Prudhomme and the 1996 Tour farce, Riis, the '96 Tour and Prudhomme, Amnesty for doping..., Cycling, doping....???, Who dopes? Who doesn't? Who cares!
  • June 15: Bicycle options, New Trek Madone, A week of confessions, Cycling - not yet a real professional sport, Di Luca's finest win..., Three Tour wins for Ullrich?, Ullrich getting screwed, Giro fever, Amnesty for doping offenses, Greg LeMond and record ITTs, Is drafting a known doper cheating?, Let's sort this mess out, Doping hypocrisy, Cycling, doping....?, Prudhomme and the1996 Tour farce, Simoni goes 1850 meters / hour
  • June 8: Di Luca's finest win, Simoni goes 1850 metres / hour, What ever happened to Iban Mayo?, Andy the Dandy, Three Tour wins for Ullrich?, Ullrich getting screwed, Percentage of pros with asthma, Amnesty for doping offenses, ling - not yet a real professional sport, Doping and cycling, Greg LeMond and record ITTs, Meaningless defense, We are out of denial - Let's look forward
  • June 1, part 1: A thought for cycling's true heroes..., A cunning plan, A great opportunity for the UCI, Admissions of guilt, Let's have some real confessions, Amnesty is the way forward, Suggestions for an amnesty, Amnesty, Amnesty or punishment?, ASO's double standard, Tour Clowns, Bjarne Riis, Bjarne Riis confession, Riis must go, Riis, Basso, Zabel, et al..., Repairing the Magenta Express, Tip of the iceberg, Riis and winning the tour on EPO
  • June 1, part 2: Confessions?, Honour - Seemingly rare in cycling, How deep do you go?, Who do we give it to?, A week of confessions, Peer pressure, Mind boggling hypocrisy, Pro cycling - Sometimes you make it hard to love you, Meaningless defence, Riding with Lance, Lucky Lance, Cheating by proxy, LeMond trying to tear down US riders , So, if Floyd is right..., Thank you Floyd, Floyd Landis hearing, Mr. Young's closing arguments, Something more important..., What ever happened to Iban Mayo?, Percentage of pros with asthma:
  • May 23: Landis case live coverage, LeMond a true champion, Questioning LeMond's motives, LeMond trying to tear down US riders, Saint LeMond, Landis and his character, Landis has made cycling a joke, Landis had his drink spiked?, Landis in a corner, Landis polygraph?, Landis' disclosure of information, The quality of Landis' character, Landis' behaviour, Joe Papp
  • May 18: Armstrong can defend himself, Di Brat, Chris Hoy's world kilo record attempt , Hoy in sixty seconds, What ever happened to Iban Mayo?, Hypocrisy of the cycling world, Italian Reactions to Basso, Who's telling the truth?, Basso + Ullrich = Armstrong?, Basso still a legend, Simoni vs Basso, Basso, Landis etc The new mafia?, Landis to ask UCI to boot Pound, Vinokourov to claim second in '05 TdF?, Percentage of pros with asthma, Unibet at Dunkerque
  • May 11: An attempt at doping?, Almost as bad as Ullrich, Basso admission, Hats off Basso, Basso still a legend, Basso's attempted plea bargain, Basso and Discovery, Discovery's PR, Basso vs Simoni , Truth and Reconciliation Commission, A means to an end, Hypocrisy of the cycling world, Vinokourov to claim second in '05 TdF? , New Puerto plan, Where is the Puerto money?, Time to start re-stating race results, The morals and math of cycling, Chris Hoy's world kilo record attempt , Unibet at Dunkerque, Davide Rebellin
  • May 4: Call that a race?, Reflecting on Schumacher's win, Pose with Landis, at a price, Danielson should leave Discovery, Davide Rebellin, The year of the clean Classics?, Basso and Discovery, Basso this, Landis that, Ullrich the other..., Basso, DNA and whatever else, Basso's DNA, Say it ain't so, Johan, Let's cut them some slack!, Armstrong, head and shoulders above?, Landis, Armstrong vs the Lab, It's not all about the Tour!, Puerto Affair
  • April 27: The year of the clean Classics?, David Rebellin, Call that a race?, Reflecting on Schumacher's win, Danielson should leave Discovery, Inspirational O'Grady and those cobbles, L'Equipe does it again!, Tour de France speaks out, The morals and math of cycling, Basso and Puerto, Puerto, part deux, Gilberto, you were right!, Landis, Armstrong vs the Lab, Pose with Landis, at a price?, Taking blood, Gent-Wevelgem and the Kemmelberg, Gent-Wevelgem and water bottles
  • April 20: Stuey wins Roubaix, O'Grady Rocks!, An Aussie in Arenberg, Deep-dish carbon versus the cobbles, Gent-Wevelgem and water bottles, Unibet/FdJ/Lotto - Help!, U.S. Open Cycling Championships, Racing in America, Retesting Floyd's B-samples, Taking blood
  • April 13: Thoughts on Flanders, Crashes at Gent-Wevelgem, Gent-Wevelgem and water bottles, What about that loose water bottle?, T-Mobile one-two, Popo for the Classics, Racing in America, U.S. Open Cycling Championships, Unibet/FdJ/Lotto - Help!, French hypocrites?, Bjarne Riis, Floyd Landis 'B' sample fiasco, Taking blood, Ullrich DNA match
  • April 6: April Fools, Ullrich DNA match, Taking blood, T-Mobile and Puerto, The song remains the same, Ullrich and Hamilton, Tyler Hamilton and flu, Unibet and access into France, Bjarne Riis, Popovych, The death of irony, Armstrong boring?, Ullrich/Armstrong comparisons
  • March 30: Basso wind tunnel testing, Bjarne Riis, Riis' response, Drugs in other sports, Dominquez at Redlands, Armstrong boring?, Ullrich/Armstrong comparisons, Popovych - the new Armstrong?, ASO wildcard selections, ASO-UCI split, Boys atop the sport, Cycling at two speeds, Puerto shelved, Tyler Hamilton.
  • March 23: Popovych - the new Armstrong?, A few years ago, Tyler Hamilton, Operación Puerto not complete, Puerto shelved, ASO-UCI split, Drugs in other sports, Basso wind tunnel testing, Water bottle and cage sponsorship, Bates' article on Jan Ullrich, Ullrich's retirement, The current state of cycling
  • March 16: Don Lefévère, Lefévère tries to reinforce omerta, Spring fever, Ullrich's retirement, UCI has no power, Puerto shelved, Who's been taking what?, ProTour a flawed competition?, UCI-Grand Tour organizer dual!, ASO-UCI split, ASO needs to see benefits in ProTour, Sponsorship, drug use and dinosaurs, The current state of cycling, New Pro Cyclist Union, Congratulations to Unibet, Unibet situation, marketing, Tour of California mistake
  • March 9: ASO - UCI split, UCI has no power, UCI vs. ASO, UCI vs. the world, ProTour and contracts, The Unibet fiasco: is it that bad?, Unibet and French law, Unibet situation, Pete Bassinger's Iditarod Trail record ride, Bates' article on Jan Ullrich, Ullrich's retirement, Tour of California expenses, Discovery's profile in Europe, Discovery's reasons for pulling sponsorship, Floyd's big ride
  • March 2: Ullrich's retirement, Altitude tents and EPO, Home-made altitude tents, Tyler Hamilton and drug testing, The agony of Unibet?, Discovery's reasons for pulling sponsorship, Discovery's world upside down?, Upside down Disco solved, Tour of California mistake, Graeme Brown, Hats off to Dick Pound?, Grand Tours, who really cares?, ProTour and contracts, ProTour vs wildcards, RCS' decision, UCI vs. the world, Floyd's big ride, Asthma everywhere
  • February 23: Altitude tents and EPO, Tour of California mistake, Chavanel's training regime, Discovery's reasons for pulling sponsorship, Discovery's world upside down?, Tyler Hamilton and drug testing, Grand Tours, who really cares?, The Unibet fiasco: is it that bad?, A solution to the Unibet situation, UCI and the ASO, UCI vs. the world, Will the fight never end?, Paris Nice and others, Pro Tour and contracts, RCS decision, Hats off to Dick Pound, Armstrong owes Dick Pound nothing, Graeme Brown, Asthma everywhere, The sorry state of pro-cycling
  • February 16: T-Mobile, Adam Hanson and doping, Unibet's new jersey, Double standards for Unibet?, RCS decision, A letter to ASO, Hamilton and Tinkov, Discovery Channel, Asthma everywhere, Bart Wellens' comments at the cross worlds, Best moment?, Crowd control at the cross worlds, Doping reconciliation, Get into 'cross racing, Pound still wants answers from Armstrong, The sorry state of pro-cycling
  • February 9: Unibet show they won't be put down, Double standards for Unibet?, Unibet's new jersey, Asthma everywhere, Bart Wellens' comments at the Cross Worlds, Crowd control at the Cross Worlds, Jonathan Page's mechanic beaten, Cheers to Bradley Wiggins, Bradley Wiggins' comments, Jaksche lashes out, Get into 'cross racing, Le Tour was created to sell newspapers, The stakes are too high, Doping reconciliation, Best moment of 2006?, Ivan Basso interview, Ullrich's DNA sample, Ullrich to Relax-GAM?, Ullrich partners with sports-clothing company, Still love to ride, My perfect state of mountain biking, A terrible model for cycling
  • February 2: The sanctimonious need to be taken out back, Confidentiality of test results, Oscar Pereiro cleared, Cyclo-cross reader poll results, Fairness in Operation Puerto?, Riders' nicknames, Doping reconciliation, Help for Floyd Landis, Museeuw's insults, Sven Nys, The Floyd Fairness Fund, The sorry state of pro-cycling
  • January 26: Drug testing methodologies, Museeuw the PR man, Museeuw's insults, Johan Museeuw and Tyler Hamilton, Sven Nys, Conduct in the pro peloton, McQuaid unhappy with Pereiro, Put doping in the correct context, Moreau wins 2006 TDF, Who wins the 2006 Tour now?, Drapac Porsche's exclusion from the TDU, Bike sponsorship, Compact geometry, The Floyd Fairness Fund
  • January 19: Drapac-Porsche and the TDU, Bettini to win the Ronde?, Frame geometry, Phil Liggett's recently stated views, Prudhomme's zealotry, 3 cheers for Christian Prudhomme, Deutschland Tour, 3 cheers for Saunier Duval, Dick Pound, Fairness in Operation Puerto?, Do the maths, The Floyd Fairness Fund
  • January 12: Dick Pound, Just 'Pound' him, Pound casts doubt on Landis, Pound comments, The Dick and Pat Show, McQuaid starts cultural polemic, Why the Pro Tour model will never work, The Floyd Fairness Fund, Riders' union, Cyclo-cross reader poll results, Danny Clark - an inspiration, Allan Peiper, Do the maths, Peter Van Petegem's secret, Justice and America, Lance in Leadville, Tubeless road tires
  • January 5: Danny Clark - an inspiration, Legal standards and cycling, Peter Van Petegem's secret, Lance a no show for Leadville, Cyclo-cross reader poll results, Do the math, A fair trial, Tubeless road tires, Manzano's polygraph test, Blind trust in implicated riders, A terrible state of affairs, Armstrong's credibility - the conspiracy theories, Best ride ever

Letters 2006

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

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