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Letters to Cyclingnews - February 8, 2008
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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I can't believe that no one has commented yet on the CONI visit to Lampre's training camp in the middle of the night! This is surely a publicity ploy on behalf of CONI and WADA to show "look at us we are committed, we are testing riders with surprise visits at stupid hours"! Trying to earn back credibility.
I want doping out of cycling or greatly reduced at least as much as anyone, but the doping controls have to show more respect for the sport & riders if it wants any respect in return!
It is absolutely ridiculous that Cunego might be charged with a non appearance for the test, and giving false information about his whereabouts, because he was out to dinner when CONI showed up! Knowing a rider's whereabouts is perhaps a necessary tool, to perform out of competition testing, but come on, to account for every minute of every day!
Some margin of "error" needs to be applied, If you say you are at training camp, but go out to dinner within "X" amount of kilometres of the training camp hotel, and return there to sleep then you can't be AWOL. The way the media has reported the CONI position on Cunego, it leaves us with the impression that the strictest application of the rules will be applied! The impression is as a pro cyclist now, it's more important to be available 24/7-365days a year, and not enjoy any quality of life! It's almost a prison sentence! Other sports are even worse, yet still enjoy public support!
Lampre doping controls #2
You have got to be kidding. Damiano Cunego may get a three month suspension because he was out to dinner rather than in his room. What if his room had a toilet located down the hall, would he get suspended for taking a dump without notifying the proper authorities?
This is getting way out of control; I don't know why anybody would even consider being a pro cyclist. Is this the goal of UCI, WADA, CONI?
For Christ sake, these organizations act like they are ridding the planet of communism or terrorist activity. It's doping in sport, not the innocent killing of under privileged children and women in some third world country. Imagine what could be done if the money spent by these organizations was used to benefit a true cause, hunger, illness, or whatever! Damn, I am getting annoyed. Better saddle my un-licensed ass up and go for a ride!
I believe the UCI with its ProTour to be a logical step in the progression of professional bicycle racing as a global sport. As such, I see the Grand Tour owners as a roadblock to this progress. The Grand Tour owners aren't battling the UCI for the sake of a clean sport, but rather to keep themselves at the centre of their own perceived universe for business reasons; namely money. Everyone is entitled to make money, but not as a monopoly as the GT owners are trying to do. They own the pinnacles of the sport and are strong-arming teams, riders, and regulatory organizations to do it their way or be excluded/dismissed.
The GT owners have their own subjective selection criteria that are not governed by any regulatory group nor publicly published, another strong-arm technique to bring the cycling community to their knees. I could see the Giro's reason to exclude Astana if they were only to use the Giro as only a "warm-up" to the Tour; however, I don't believe this is true anymore, not in the current climate of sponsors' demand for guaranteed exposure and value. Everyone acknowledges Astana's GT focus. On the other-hand, Quick Step is less of a GT team and is more focused on the one-day races and the Classics. Why their invite to the Giro?
All other major global sports are governed by a regulatory commission that all participants must conform to. Why is it the other way around with cycling and the GTs? The GT owners need to see the future and let the UCI guide the sport fairly for all and not for a few.
When I read the Giro selection article, I thought I had been taken back to the early years of this millennium. Sort of like a really long Groundhog Day (which as I write this I realize is today!).
The Grand Tour Organizers have proven, once again, that greed dominates reason and fairness. To omit the ProTour teams (High Road, Astana and Credit Agricole) based on past acts under prior management or unproven allegations, will lead sponsors to realize that under this "system" their investments are at the mercy and unfettered whim of the organizers. This same situation and its unpredictability and inherent inequality, or outright bias (think Mercury for the 2001 Tour), led to sponsors leaving the sport and eventually to the creation of the ProTour to prevent a further exodus and predictability of investment return.
Despite the protestations of the Grand Tour organizers, the last few years have been very exciting, even in the face of the doping scandals. Now, the organizers want to turn back the clock so they can pay lip service to anti-doping agendas, but instead of ensuring fair competition, they arbitrarily reject teams based on their mere suspicion of doping practices.
The reality is that the UCI, WADA and others need to develop fair and reasonable anti-doping measures, ones that everyone can support, and then the sport can return to growth. Reading stories about racers facing the possibility of being suspended because they went out to dinner (e.g. Cunego) is simply overkill and tiresome. As strongly as I am against doping in the sport, the methods to eliminate it must be fair (to the riders, the sponsors and the race organizers), given the terrible consequences that follow for a rider or a team based simply on an allegation--and now based on a Grand Tour exclusion. The existence of any inquiry or an investigation simply should not be a basis for the exclusion of a rider or team - humans (the testers) can make mistakes, especially when pressured to find particular athletes guilty, and of course machines can malfunction, or be subject to a high margin of error.
Once the cycling powers realize that the public does not demand or support Soviet-style inquiries with utterly unfair standards (as currently used) to combat doping (e.g. guilty riders identified in advance and then pursued until caught), but instead prefers a reasoned and fair methodology that is universally supported, they may find that the fans and sponsors are on the same page.
For now, sadly European pro cycling is sinking back to a level of absurdity that angers fans (and sponsors) and makes it difficult to want to follow the sport when those who run it put their own interests and greed above the greater good. For example, High Road, whose very name shows a commitment to anti-doping and which uses many internal tests to avoid problems, is omitted from the Giro. Who suffers? The riders and the fans, as well as that team's sponsors. For what? To punish T-Mobile racers from years past? When will the organizers realize they manage these races in the form of a public trust, and that irrational and truly unfair team selections simply harm everyone and will not further the goal of clean, fair and exciting racing.
Perhaps WADA is singing, "I got you Babe, ...." and referring to Cunego's late dinner away from his vampire appointment, rather than another day for Bill Murray with Punxsutawney Phil. Please, let me wake up from this day after day of reading disheartening news on www.cyclingnews.com, and may we not see the shadow today (whether of a groundhog or a doping scandal).
Giro selections #2
You have to sympathize with the Giro organizers' dilemma - they realize that their race is staged in one of the most gorgeous countries in the world with some of the most challenging terrain in front of some of the most rabid and informed spectators, yet they continuously play second fiddle to the Tour. Must be monumentally galling (Gauling - ha, ha, ha).
That said does it really make any sense to prohibit some of the better teams from participating? Wouldn't the exclusion talented riders (among the world's best) only work against the goal of establishing the Giro as a tour as worthy or more so than the Tour? Talk about shooting oneself in the foot, and voluntarily, to boot (no play on the shape of the country!).
Here's a question for the organizers: hadn't the sports director of the 2008 Astana team taken his other teams (U.S. Postal and Discovery) to measured success at the Giro over his years as sports director of those teams, including wining a Giro? Shakespeare would recognize this much ado about nothing.
Giro selections #3
I don't know if it's just me but I thought that the cycling community now demanded that there be a zero tolerance of doping in the sport and that those who strive to be clean be rewarded.
Imagine my shock upon reading the teams list for the Giro d'Italia. Three of the cleanest teams in cycling, Credit Agricole, Bouygues Telecom and Team High Road(the team that introduced the in house anti doping scheme) all excluded. Astana are also excluded, despite them clearing out the team and introducing Dr. Rasmus Damsgaard's highly regarded anti doping programme to the team, which is more than can be said for many of the other pro teams and all the Italian squads.
Included in the line-up are Tinkoff (still with something to answer for after their rider appointments of last year) and LPR Brakes, whose line-up includes Danilo Di Luca, a rider who has only just returned from a symbolic three month ban. Also included are two unknown squads who will spend three weeks in May attempting to survive the route.
Cycling is slipping back into its old ways, I am aware that these team will be part of the new biological passport scheme, but at the same time it makes me sick to the stomach that riders like Marco Pinotti, Mark Cavendish, Bradley Wiggins and Thor Hushovd will be excluded while riders like Danilo Hondo and Danilo Di Luca are free to ride.
Giro selections #4
OK, I think I see where we're headed this year with the fight between the UCI and Grand Tour management and, wow, is it bad for pro cycling! Not to mention the drug related fallout. Even though Astana is essentially a new team, with little relationship with the former team except the main sponsors, they are noticeably being snubbed. Team High-Road is in the same boat apparently. So, why, as an avid cycling fan would I care as much about watching the Giro, when some of the best cyclists are not allowed to compete? I can see where this is going with the Tour de France as well. I would wager that these teams will be excluded there as well.
Shades of Unibet? Although I'll still watch for the scenery, I think I will have lost my awe and respect for these races. Perhaps it's time to start getting interested in another sport as far as spectating is concerned. I will still love riding my bike, but my interest in pro cycling is wearing thin.
I would like to congratulate Slipstream on their strong showing at the Tour of Qatar. It's nice to see an American team do well on the international level..... Oh wait, I can't seem to find an American on their roster for the race.
What an injustice to their sponsors and fans! Wasn't that the point of dropping the U23 emphasis and taking your US sponsors and fans to the next level? Could you at least throw one token rider in there?
Discovery was kind enough to their US sponsors to let Jason McCartney take out a grand tour stage and allowed Tom Danielson give it the old college try. There is a great deal of national pride at the Pro-Tour level, and Slipstream was the only team present that didn't have a national representative of their title sponsor. Doesn't seem like a good way for Vaughters to start things off and gain any sort of fan base.
It's a curious oxymoron in cycling. If you dope and are popular, you can serve a doping sentence and get a new job, but guys like Allan Davis can't get a break no matter how straight they fly. I blame the media. If there is bad news in cycling then it is immediately plastered upon the front pages. If its good news it's almost ignored.
I am very sad that the only coverage our sport gets its negative. Case in point: Riders like Danilo Di Luca have no problems finding teams even after being suspended for doping "related" offences, and don't get me started on Ivan Basso, (even our beloved cyclingnews.com skips happily to the next Basso interview). And then there are the good guys like Allan Davis. Davis has never been suspended for any doping offense. In fact, in an extraordinarily short time he was completely exonerated by Spanish authorities after the Puerto Investigation broke. Yet this tid-bit was all but ignored in the press. And yet, as a direct result of the Puerto Investigation Davis is still with out a ProTour contract.
This guy is probably one the best cyclists alive. If for no other reason than the fact that he gives everything he has every time he rides his bike - and he does it without chemical assistance. Maybe Davis should just start being a jerk and take some drugs. It seems to work for the "popular" riders.
We are all the richer for his influence and passion for cycling.
He touched me with his enthusiasm, and directed me many times in new directions through his web pages with his helpful articles discussions tips and humour.
For a man who doesn't believe in a god, he was one of those mortals who I feel worthy of this status.
I remember a Sheldon moment whist on the around lake Taupo cycle ride in New
"Harris Cyclery in Massachusetts"
Ride on Sheldon... Now you are fully single speed and fixed gear.
Chris 'rainbow' Johnson
If it's true that Dick Pound was nominated to head the Court for Arbitration for Sport, and if by some warped quirk of fate he becomes President of the court, then all athletes can simply forget about any expectation of unbiased judgment of doping cases. Mr. Pound has shown repeatedly that his willingness to believe the worst about cyclists without any proof. He has made pronouncements about his belief of illegal activity with only the flimsiest of evidence. His attack against Lance Armstrong based on L'Equipe's article accusing Armstrong of EPO use in 1999 is only the most obvious case.
If the CAS hopes to maintain any shred of relevance Dick Pound cannot play any part in it. While he has shown his dedication to fighting doping in sports, that is not the job of the President of CAS. If Arbitrators of CAS "must carry out their functions with total objectivity and independence" as is stated in CAS' web site, so must its President. Dick Pound has shown time and time again that he does not meet this standard.
Dick Pound to head CAS? #2
Upon reading the news of Dick Pound's nomination to the presidency of the Court of Arbitration for Sport, I kept checking the calendar to see if it was April 1st. sadly, it was not. Pound is without question, the worst possible nominee - living, dead, or imaginary - for this post. Pound's nomination is all the more ridiculous given that the other candidate has an extensive background in arbitration and is currently the chairman of the International Court of Arbitration, making him well-qualified for the post.
CAS' activities require above all a commitment to two tenets: objectivity and the rule of law. As the world's #1 self-appointed (anointed?) anti-doping crusader, Dick Pound has shown nothing but disdain for both. His frequent comments concerning ongoing doping cases, which often border on defamation, combined with his focus on cycling as THE problem sport, display an agenda on which objectivity is clearly not an item. His unwavering support of prosecutors, labs, and arbitrators who side against athletes, regardless of those entities' conflicts of interest, shoddy work, breaches of confidentiality, and just plain incompetence, show us a man who is far more interested in "nailing" someone than in the process upon which a judicial system depends.
Some people credit Pound's holier-than-thou, disrespectful, and confrontational approach to the problem of drugs as being a positive wake-up call to governing bodies such as the UCI. However, CAS' role is one of objective arbitration, not vocal finger-pointing. Thus, even if one believes (as I do not) that his approach has been useful, it is another major reason he is such a bad candidate for CAS.
No drug testing/enforcement regime can maintain credibility unless it is transparent, confidential, and held to stringent standards. The current combination of the UCI, WADA labs, and national federations fails on all three counts. CAS is the only body capable of holding the various authorities to reasonable standards. As such, CAS does not need a new sheriff in town. Rather, it needs a wise and reasoned jurist to keep the sheriffs honest. Richard Pound is wholly unfit for such a role.
Verge Manyen, Thank you.
Thank you for your solid Mid-Western sensibilities.
Find out who's leaking lab results and who put them up to it.
Everyone should be asking that question.
I want to know about the rats behind the scenes.
That's where the greedy culprits are at.
Stop being so elitist in your view of who can, and who cannot watch a bicycle race. There are plenty of folks out there who support things they don't understand, especially in the world of sporting events, why should cycling be any different? Why isn't it enough for someone to be interested in the sport that we love because they see a race in an industrial park somewhere and are thrilled with the speed, and maybe even the colours that we all seem to sport in our kits? Why isn't it enough that this guy sitting at Starbucks actually now knows that bike racing exists just because he bought a designer t-shirt? I think that it's more than enough. You don't have to understand bike racing to enjoy it, or to be interested in it, and your attitude, well, it stinks. This is why a lot of people are not interested in the sport, simply because snobs such as yourself make it inaccessible to others who might happen across a race on the weekend. I'm sure that you've been at a race before where someone not in the "know" has asked you a question about what was going on, and I can only guess your response, but it was probably something about turning up your nose because that person didn't "understand" what was going on.
How is someone buying a t-shirt any different from the "good old" Lance days when tons and tons of people started watching the sport because another American won the Tour de France? I seem to remember a lot of people coming up to me and asking me about the sport for only one reason. They saw Lance on TV and wanted to know what this cycling business was all about.
I sense that you're trying to portray some sense of "purity" of the sport, and this elitism that is coming out from your letter is ridiculous. It's a bunch of grown men riding toys around the countryside, or in the case of the US, in some out of the way industrial park. Yes, it's a beautiful sport, and one that we all seem to love and cherish, but drop the attitude, and maybe more people will realize what many of us already know. I am certain you think that you have the "secret handshake" to get into the sport, having read many magazines, and maybe having watched many races on TV, and obsessively buying the newest greatest gear and wearing team kits to emulate your heroes and all. Let the out of shape guy in the Starbucks wear his shirt. Let him come out to a race or two. Have you ever seen some of the guys watching bike races in Europe? It's a sport for the masses; stop acting like it only belongs to people who have some sort of secret decoder ring for crying out loud.
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