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Letters to Cyclingnews – November 16, 2001

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. 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 letters@cyclingnews.com.

Recent letters

Transfer News
NESP better than EPO
Tour du Faso
I'm better in the mountains than Lance Armstrong
Indoor Trainer
Running red Lights
Welcome to the Golden Age
World's Format
Grand Tours Duration
Jean Delatour's Comment
Race Tactics
Coaches
Madison and Six Day Races
Wheel Regulation
Doping
NORBA

Man Who Killed Technology
Julian Winn

Transfer News

I'm no expert, but I think you should run a special section called Transfer News. You could update the latest gossip on which rider is going where. Where is Davide Rebellin going? I'm addicted to this site and it's not pretty.

Troy Walters
Thursday, November 15 2001

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NESP better than EPO? #1

Hello,

Why did everyone repeat the Italian news about NESP (aka Aranesp(tm), Darbepoetin Alfa) without checking some medical information available?

The stuff is not produced by the human body and has three times the half life of EPO. The latter makes it roughly three times more effective than EPO, while the former makes it easier to detect - without the ambiguities the EPO-tests had to cope with.

The information above is easily available on the WWW. Along come the sports' governing bodies: if they had tried to keep up to date, the development of a NESP-test could have been initiated already.

Patrick Hansmeier
Dortmund, Germany
Tuesday, November 13 2001

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NESP better than EPO? #2

Dear sirs,

I could be mistaken, but I think NESP is detectable under the current Basic/Acid EPO testing Method used by the UCI, and due to the longer half life, would be detectable even longer than EPO currently is. NESP is just another form of EPO,and therefor probably flushed from the body similarly.Anyhow, I think the journalistic community should look into this matter and ask the UCI,before claiming the peloton is already using it.

JJV l
Wednesday, November 14 2001

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Tour du Faso

Having just returned from the country of Togo in West Africa, I was happy to see the coverage of the Tour du Faso this year. I have to say I was a little surprised to see that the Societe du Tour de France has taken over the organisation of the event, and it does concern me somewhat.

Some of my good friends were among Togo's elite cyclists, and one is the current national champion. They tough it out on incredibly outdated bicycles, bad roads and in some of the hardest training conditions, and I was sad to see that for some reason they did not take part in this year's race as they had before. I do hope that M. Leblanc is serious in his efforts to keep the balance between European and African teams. While on the one hand, the Tour du Faso gives riders like my friends in Togo a chance to compete on a higher level, and then perhaps improve, they face opponents from Europe with the latest equipment, training methods, and year round support that their African rivals often do not have. In fact, many African cyclists are riding equipment and wearing clothing that European riders likely threw away years ago, and wound up in one of the second hand markets that abound in Africa.

I also hope that M. Leblanc tries to keep what is special about Africa, and Burkina Faso, at the heart of the Tour du Faso, but implying that what works in France logically works in Burkina needs to be spoken cautiously and sensitively. Of the many problems I dealt with in Africa, one was the very low self-image among many people there that feel they are naturally inferior to white people. . .that white people are more capable than they are. This is something that can be traced back to colonial times, and it is a hard mentality to break. Being an also-ran to a field of more highly trained Europeans doesn't help, either. I noticed that only one rider from Niger finished. I would hate to think that his five team mates went home early thinking that it was inevitable that the white riders would beat them.

As important as it is that we westerners visit and learn about our fellow man in Africa, it would be sad to see the Tour du Faso end up as some kind of off-season training race for Europeans looking for an"exotic" destination or some last minute UCI points. That all can come at the cost of the local riders. In addition to international competition, the riders there could use some international cycling knowledge and training. My Togolese friends are fast; they made me throw up during a ride they were so tough. They could be even more competitive if they were given the opportunities and some real coaching and the self esteem that comes with it. One "exotic" race, a sort of "Survivor" challenge for Europeans, is not enough to raise them to the next level. Simply stacking the race with Africans (Africans from both North and Sub-Saharan Africa) will help African cycling no more than stacking French riders in the Tour de France will help French cycling. More help at the development and training level is needed. In fact, I would argue that if M. Leblanc is going to bring more highly trained Westerners into the Tour du Faso, then he has an obligation to see to it that African cyclists can compete and achieve their potential against whomever may show up to their largest stage race. If this happens, then maybe in the future, Africans can win more than three out of eleven stages, and have more than two out of the top ten overall.

G. Garner Woodall.
Washington DC, USA
Tuesday, November 13 2001

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I'm better in the mountains than Lance Armstrong

Well, it's that time of year again: the off season...the time for big dreams and plans for the upcoming season. And, just like every year, up springs a whole new crop of riders who "can better Lance Armstrong in the mountains". The most recent is Gilberto Simoni. Based upon his experience in the Tour of Switzerland against Lance (where Lance put a big ol' two minutes into Gilberto in the space of 15 up hill kilometers), Simoni has declared that he can beat Lance in the mountains. Last spring, we heard the same silliness from Jan Ullrich (presumably because he dropped Lance on the Joux Plane in the 2000 Tour).

So what the heck, I'm in too: "I, Scott Goldstein, Category III schmucko amateur bike racer can beat Lance Armstrong in the mountains". Wow, it is amusingly easy (and fun) to say that! Trouble is, once we get to the Tour de France each year, plans just seem to go awry. I'll bet that next year, once July 6th rolls around (or, more accurately July 18th, "Tourmalet Day") it won't be quite so easy to beat Lance. I, for one, can hardy wait.

Scott Goldstein
Wednesday, November 14 2001

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Indoor trainer #1

Brian,

Try hitting a few UK Web sites looking for the Imagic system from Tac (www.tacx.nl). The computrainer is another (computrainer.com). Both require a computer and are pretty expensive, and the Tacx adds actual steering to the mix. Both provide super info and are great training aids, as well as variable resistance. The Tacx is about US$350 less than the computrainer, but you may get hit with customs charges if you can't make a "deal" with the over seas shipper of the Tacx having them list
the value a bit low...

Charles Manantan
USA

Tuesday, November 13 2001

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Indoor trainer #2

Dear Brian,

I was solving the similar problem lately and end up buying ELITE FLUID indoor trainer. It is not the most sophisticated one, but goes smoothly, which I think is important. For monitoring I use my heart rate monitor only. I believe that the most sophisticated one that can be hooked on PC is the latest TACX. It was introduced a few weeks ago. Check on their Web page www.tacx.nl.

Leo Miklenda
Czech Republic
Wednesday, November 15 2001

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Indoor trainer #3

The Indoor trainer you mentioned is called the Compu-Trainer. They are very effective for a good indoor workout. The official Web site is http://www.computrainer.com/ and gives full details regarding the product. Hope this helps you out.

Andrew Szafranski
Wednesday, November 15 2001

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Running red lights #1

I am sure that everyone agrees that running red lights in your car is dangerous, not only to cyclists, but everyone on the road. However, cyclists should also lead by example: Count how many red lights you have run on your bike this year. Now add the number of stops signs you have gone through and the number of pedestrian crossings you have zipped through without a glance (at least in New York cars must stop for pedestrians in pedestrian crossings). Lost track yet?

I will admit that I am not without guilt. When on a group ride, I have gone through too many red lights and stop signs to count after the "clear" call had been given. However, commuting is another matter, and I always come to a complete stop when I should, where I should. I set a good example for cyclists, and by doing so I demonstrate my commitment to sharing the road with cars and pedestrians.

It also sets an example for kids to see you stop. Especially, if you are the policeman on the bike who ran the red light and cut me off while I was making use of a pedestrian crossing the other day. So set a good example, and help make the streets safer for everyone. Even if it means giving yourself a ticket.

Ted Erkkila
Albany,USA
Monday, November 12 2001

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Running red lights #2

I agree with Peter about cars running red lights. As a driver and bicycle rider ( I ride more miles on my bike than I drive in my car), I always wait at least a couple of seconds before I start after a light change just for this reason.

Additionally I have found that a lot more bikes run red lights than cars. I can't begin to tell you just how many riders out there don't want to be bothered by stopping at red lights. I have seen more near misses from bikers running red lights, than cars running red lights. I wait the extra minute or so. It just isn't worth my life. Also, by waiting, I get extra practice in starts.

Kathleen Hawthorne
San Diego, USA
Tuesday, November 13 2001

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Running red lights #3

Not that I am advocating running red lights, or trying to belittle the danger, but for every car I see run a red light or stop sign I must see 100 bicyclists doing the same, and placing themselves at risk.

Robert Giffords
Wednesday, November 14 2001

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Welcome to the Golden Age

You find a sponsor willing to give the money to pay all those Great American Cyclists the money they deserve and maybe they would all be on the same team, Lance, George, are both at the top of their specialties and deserve a lot of money, Levi Podiumed at a Grand Tour and deserves cash, Freddie is 2x National Champ, and the rest are all solid players, so that would be a heck of a lot of money and a huge budget, its not that they aren't interested in World's its that it is in October and why bother going without a shot to win?

Geoffrey Rathgeber
Tuesday, November 13 2001

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World's Format

Yes I believe the worlds should be moved back to late August. But I also believe that the riders should not be allowed to wear their trade team colors and the cycling fans should be the ones who pick the riders. When it comes to the race, it becomes a free for all. The riders of their country can work together, but it becomes a survival of the fittest.If any rider goes in a break and another rider misses, but chases it down, then all power to them. Get away from team leaders and let them race like we used to in cat. five and four. I feel Zable lost the worlds because of Ullrich. If he was allowed to race his race, he would have won. Let the strongest rider win, not a trade team member. Let us choose the team, and keep the pros out of the Olympics. But that is another issue.

Patrick J. Buchanan
Penticton, Canada
Thursday, November 15 2001

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Grand Tours Duration #1

Making the grand tours shorter may mean that EPO and other drugs taken in the weeks before the start will aid the riders performance for the entire event.

Dave Erickson
Madison, USA
Tuesday, November 13 2001

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Grand Tours Duration #2

Steve Williams,
We see tours already with teams that are limited to five riders each, and this doesn't really make a huge difference to the way the race develops. For an interesting and entertaining illustration of this point read John Lieswyn's diary of this years Herald Sun Tour in Australia. He relates the shortcomings of teams being limited to five riders, the primary one being that those teams then form 'combines' (come to an arrangement whereby they agree to help each other out) and essentially race as one large team anyway, thus putting those teams that don't arrange a combine as quickly at a disadvantage. So nice idea, but it's already been tried and doesn't really
work.Albert Raboteau


Sam Alison
Czech Republic
Tuesday, November 13 2001

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Jean Delatour's comments

Maybe they just don't have the money to BUY talent in the way that Mercury did. And as for the exclusions... get over it. They have the right to invite who they want and the fact is that Saeco is nothing without Chipo... and he never finishes....Mercantone haven't been able to recover from Pantanis screw ups.

You guys seem to want the greatest race in the world to continue growing, yet you don't seem to understand the importance of sponsoring growth in their own country.

Would you let the French win the superbowl????

Pat Dennis
Australia
Thursday, November 15 2001

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Race tactics

You might try Bromley Books (56 Oaktree Gardens, Bromley, Kent, UK) with the same question. They are very helpful with an extensive range of videos, books and knowledge. No Web site but an email address: bromleytv@aol.com

Chris Lowe
England
Monday, November 12 2001

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Coaches #1

I am sure that athletes head back to you for all the things you provide as compared to the so called "top" coaches. The fact that you continue on with them is great, not everyone is big enough to keep working with someone who has tried for what they thought were greener pastures only to step in a pile of what tends to lie in pastures! Not all riders make it at the "Meat Market" of modern training centers and camps. I can understand why the vast majority come home with complaints of poor treatment. It happens to all but the best, and very very few athletes in any sport are really that good. Conversely, the cream of the crop, or at least a camp or two, come home with a can't wait to go back attitude.

The Coaches at the very highest level can't give the complete handling to everyone who walks through the door. They unfortunately have to cut the wheat from the chafe, and the chafe (along with a little wheat) usually wind up hacked off. It happens hear some and in Europe constantly. At least here, the athletes tend to have a better economic situation that in Europe and have more options and less risk pursuing their dreams.

It stinks that athletes have to find their place in the pecking order, and it could be done with more tact and heart, especially in a sport that is all tact and heart (and some lung). It is an absolute shame that athletes come home more often than not having lost some of the love for the sport because people paid well to handle these kids do a bad job of encouraging anyone they don't see a meal ticket in.

Charles Manhatan
Arizona USA.
Tuesday, November 13 2001

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Coaches #2

As the holder of a French BEESAC coaching qualification I can only reiterate REEG's comments. Here in France coaches are named "educateurs" which means just that!
Cycle sport is the education of life itself, building character for it requires a certain "environmental" input to succeed in this sport as well as in life. Having been a rider, I am lucky enough now to coach professional and amateur riders alike, the satisfaction remains the same, although the personal expenditure following a professional is hardly in line with that of a local clubman. I never used to charge for my coaching practices, yet I now cover my costs so as not to prejudice my family, and by having those earning salaries from cycling to subsidise the youngster up the block. I would agree that an awful lot of so-called coaches charge inflated fees based upon the simple fact that they have a college qualification. What exasperates me is the number of these "coaches" who have no experience within the sport, have never seen let alone participate in an Elite race, yet preach to all and sundry the merits of their coaching ability. Sports science may go a long way to explaining how, why and when, but science is black or white, whilst coaching is a vast grey area! Transmitting the knowledge from marrying science with experience is what true coaching is about.

Yes, coaching is like being married. A good coaching relationship is based upon interactive confidence, and whilst one has to realise that not all riders are going to become club, regional or national championship winners, any coach worth his salt will assist any rider obtain the best possible performance potential. Too many coaches bask in the reflected glory of their riders whilst some select to coach only the best kid in the region, even country, riders who would succeed irrespective. These guys create a marketable image which lends itself to charging huge fees, but whether the performances or results follow, is another matter!

However, imagine the satisfaction of having a "no-hoper" discarded by other coaches, win a gold medal in a World Championship when most coaches would have lost interest long before. I've been lucky in my coaching career, with riders having brought home no less than 10 World medals.

David James
France
Tuesday, November 13 2001

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Madison & Six Day Races #1

Madison races are track races where teams of two men (or women) pair up and sling one another 'round the track collecting points on designated laps. They are like points races where riders with a lap up take precedence over the points accumulated, but now you've got two people, one racing, and one staying, trying to get points or laps.

Six day races are, you guessed it, six days of racing. The racing usually happens in the evening, and the Madison race is the race most closely associated with this type of racing. It got it's name from the six day held at Madison Square Garden when the promoter had to figure out a way to circumvent the new rules regarding the duration of the racing overall. If memory serves, they used to last somewhere along the lines of 144 hours and people became somewhat upset over the riders going around like crazed zombies all in the name of entertainment. I only know of one six day program being run in the United States. It happens in Portland, or at the Alpenrose Velodrome. If there are others, then I stand corrected. For more information consult the book "No Brakes!"

Craig Sinanian
Monday, November 12 2001

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Madison & Six Day Races #2

Although I am sure many readers here are much more familiar with track racing, you should know that the Six Day Race, which originated at Madison Square Gardens at the turn of the (last) century is alive and well in Europe. It is the social event in Berlin each January and I have had to order my tickets a full year in advance. The team of two riders who cover the greatest distance in the six days are basically the winners, but there are a lot of different competitions during the race. Unlike the old days, when they really did race six 24-hour days, the current European races are generally about 5-6 hours per evening. The Olympic Sprint and the Madison are both particular kinds of track races, the first being with three man teams, the second with two.

Leslie Reissner
Saturday, November 3 2001
Berlin, Germany

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Wheel regulations

In response to David de Gama's letter about the ultimate crit wheels.

There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about bicycle wheels, one of the best ways to combat this is to arm yourself with a copy of Jobst Brandt's 'The Bicycle Wheel' without a doubt the most comprehensive tome ever written about bike wheels, both how to build them and how they function. Much of the information I will proffer for you here comes from this as well as a long experience of working in the industry.

The main thing in crit wheels is weight, in particular, that sort of weight which effects the moment of inertia (how hard it is to turn the wheel) due to the amount of times the wheel has to be brought up to speed and the fact that acceleration is paramount.

1- Aero or Box. Aero rims always weigh more than box section rims due to the deeper section. Aeordynamics is not so much of a concern in a crit as you are mostly drafting someone else, it's not like it's a time trial. Go for box section, Mavic Open Pros would be my recommendation.
2- Rim Materials. This is basically answered by the previous point, but ask anyone how carbon rims go when trying to slow down in the wet and you will also get the correct answer, aluminium only.
3- Spoke section. Aero spokes generally weigh more than light double butted round ones, therefore go for some 15/16 double butted DTs. The one exception to this, and my personal choice, is Wheelsmith semi-bladed 15/18 AE 15's,
these are some of the lightest spokes out there and vastly more durable (and cheaper) than things like DT's metal matrix spokes. I believe also make a spoke very similar to the Wheelsmith.
4- Read Jobst for a full explanation, but radial lacing on a conventional hub is a BAD IDEA, it reduces lateral stiffness and wheel strength as well as hub (flange) durability, it offers no real advantage save for a negligible weight saving due to the shorter spoke length. Cross them at least once, preferably twice, what the heck, what was ever wrong with 3-cross anyway?
5- Tying and Soldering- Another myth Jobst blows out of the water, it does next to nothing, not to mention adding weight.
6- Nipples- Brass is definitely more durable than aluminium, but if you going for the lightest crit wheels possible, and at the rim where weight matters most, alloy nipples are definitely the way to go.
7- Spoke number- As few as you can for your weight and riding style. If you're normal two 32s should be fine, if you're a bit lighter you could go for a 28 in the front. Two 28s should only be considered by real flyweights. On the contrary, don't be afraid to use a 36 in the back or on both if you're a big fella, the extra lateral stiffness will help acceleration if you've got some horsepower and weight.
8- High-low hubs. Differentially sized spoke flanges (if that's what you mean) do have an effect on the evenness of spoke tension, but it's only relatively small, for this reason most hubs have the same size flanges.
9- Hubs. Also on hubs, there's a lot of expensive, lightweight hubs getting around and there's nothing very wrong with that. But for compatibility, durability and performance it's hard to go past as good a level of Shimano as you can afford.

The other factor you should really take into account when considering the ultimate crit wheels is tyre choice. The main thing to decide here is tubulars or clinchers. There are arguments for both. The lightest singles on a singles rim are still lighter than the lightest clinchers on hooked rims, however that gap is narrowing these days. People can argue all day about the 'difference in ride' between a single and a clincher, but most of the pro's still ride singles. I think that is mainly for the reason that although you can get a clincher tyre/tube/rim combination that is nearly as light as a single, puncture resistance with these super light tyres and tubes totally goes out the window. However there is no denying the extra expense and hassle of a single, choose your poison.

Hope this helps,

Sam Alison
Czech Republic
Tuesday, November 13 2001

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Doping #1

I think you should have a separate headline for matters concerning doping and riders suspected and convicted for doping.

Johan Gahm
Monday, November 12 2001

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Doping #2

A bit sorry to see that British cycling sweeps doping under the carpet. If Johnny Foreigner had been caught with an illegal dose of Ephidrine, would the British authorities be happy with a two year suspended sentence? I think not !

John L Strachan
Market Rasen, England
Wednesday, November 14 2001

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NORBA National Schedule

In response to Tom Arsenault's griping, I feel I could have written that letter myself. You have expressed my exact feelings about mountain bike racing here. One thing I would like to add is this: With race entry fees of $35 (local races) to $55 (nationals) and prizes such as a tube or a medal, where is all of this money going? Are the mountain bike promoters getting fat and happy at our expense? How come road race promoters can afford cash prizes for amateurs when they charge significantly lower entry fees? Same goes for cyclocross.

I have decided to forgo mountain bike racing next season and spare myself the expenses of petrol, lodging, food and high entry fees in order to sleep in my own bed, drive up to two hours for a road race, win money and be at my table in time for a home cooked dinner.

Leslie Lowery-Abate
Parker,USA
Friday, November 16 2001

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Man who killed technology

I don't know guys. Racing is about going fast and advances in technology tend to make things faster. Why stop at a Colnago with 32 hole wheels? If Hein were in charge of the UCI in the 30's we would still be riding steel cranks, derailleurs and other components, because that new fangled aluminum stuff is just too light and dangerous to be trusted. How about solid tyres on high wheelers, you know those tyres with air in them are really dangerous 'because they go flat at the most inopportune times?

Bikes have become lighter as new materials have become available, and while some designs might be questionable for the most part, bikes are stronger and safer today than they were when I started riding and racing. I remember vividly crank and pedal spindles shearing off during races, frames breaking at the head tube because they were over heated during the brazing process (including Colnagos), steel forks breaking at the crown and steerer tube etc. etc. etc.

Relative to current technology, it is, and always has been incumbent on the user to make sure they are purchasing the proper product for the job. If some idiot who weighs 100kg+ goes out and purchases a 1kg frame and a set of 1kg wheels, I think they get what they deserve when it breaks on them in the first week, this isn't the fault of the manufacturer! It was the same thing in the 70's when you could buy a frame made from Columbus KL that was super light but wouldn't last a season if you weighed more than 60kilo's.

The technology development in cycling is going to move forward irrespective of what the UCI does. It is a natural progression that is driven by market forces and manufacturers constant desire to have new things to sell. Some of it will be good (clipless pedals, carbon fiber components and bikes, high tech wheel sets etc) other things will suck (Bio-Pace, Campy Mountain Bike groups), but the market will make the determination. All the UCI accomplishes by arbitrary limitations on certain technologies is to make sure that the racers under their restrictions are not competing on the best technology the market has to offer.

In the long run, where do you draw the line, what do you allow what don't you allow? Giant just showed a 13lb bike at the recent Interbike show that had light components, but nothing insane and nothing that anyone under 85 kilos couldn't ride and race on safely. Why shouldn't this be allowed to be raced on when there are bikes that less strong that meet the weight rules?

That is the real problem, the UCI rules are too arbitrary and the organisation does not enforce them consistently. The UCI is about business and much of the decision making is politically motivated and has to do with power and strength of national federations and trade teams and keeping the control base of the sport in Europe. It is far easier for the Italian federation to get something moved through the Technological Committee than the US or other countries who are not part of the "inner circle". Besides, if "safety" were the real concern, why does the UCI leave the use of helmets to the personal choice of professionals, rather than mandating them? How about tighter regulations on the design of the final 5k of races? This would have a more significant impact on the overall safety of the sport that all of the rules on bikes and components.

Bill Corliss
Park City, USA
Tuesday, November 13 2001

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Julian Winn #1

Although I feel sympathy for Julian Winn, in that I doubt that he used the Ephedrine-containing preparations with a view to gaining an unfair advantage, I feel strongly that it is incumbent upon riders (especially at the level at which Julian competes) who feel the need to use 'natural' supplements to do or have done stringent research to ascertain that such products contain no (even in the guise of another name) banned substances. In the same breath I have no compunction in chiding the powers that be for the idiocy of an otherwise laudable Anti-Doping Policy which dictates, (vide Jonathan Vaughters TDF 2001) that medicines, even those containing traces of prohibited substances, may not be dispensed in a 'one-off' situation by a qualified medical practitioner on the grounds of informed decision. The fight against cheats must vigorously be pursued, but when this goes against common sense and decency then we might as well hand over the running of our sport to the lawyers. Lord knows, these noble gentlemen, with their insistence upon adherence to every dot and comma of the law, have already made a mockery of what most of us would describe as justice. Any Italian climbers care to comment?

John Rudge
North Wales, UK
Tuesday, November 13 2001

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Julian Winn #2

Dear Cyclingnews,

There are plenty of precedents for this outcome. Generally truly inadvertent use of a minimally performance enhancing agent will attract a light or suspended penalty. Ephedrine falls into this category, as would the inadvertent use of recreational stimulants away from competition. Levels recorded at testing (which are rarely publicised) will generally give a strong indication as to whether usage was truly inadvertent and consistent with claims, or was in fact intended as doping. As you have correctly stated, there have been too many recent examples of allegedly inadvertent use, and a firm stand is necessary to prevent this problem. Athletes must bear responsibility for whatever products they may use.

The knowing use of potent performance modifiers such as EPO, anabolic agents etc is a totally different matter, and should always be dealt with to the full extent of regulations.

The Jonathan Vaughters case has aroused much ill-informed comment. Various medications were permissible, but relatively ineffective in his situation. Corticosteroid by tablet or injection would most likely have been effective, and permitted continued racing, but is specifically banned, for good reason as a performance modifier. In principle, drugs in sport regulations state that "normal" medical treatment should be permitted, but in reality this principle has never been defined or upheld. Hence the
officials had to decide between following the moral spirit of the rules and permitting the use of a banned agent, or simply observing the clearly defined ban. The officials, whilst no doubt sympathetic to the circumstances, quite reasonably preferred to avoid a dangerous precedent. A prior entry in the rider's health record would have no influence in this situation.

The loophole is that if the medical staff had administered the injection, falsely declared it to have been placed within a painful joint, and said nothing about the swollen eye, it may well have passed without comment. By doing the right thing the rider and team were seen to have been penalised, but their alternative was to commit an illegal act.

Corticosteroids are widely reputed within cycling to be used as performance modifiers, and it is possible that false declarations of use have also been fairly widespread, which is why these drugs cause much concern. In this example, a small minority suffered in order to uphold a principle for the benefit of a much larger majority. There remain many legitimate and beneficial uses of corticosteroids in different forms for both elite athletes and the general community, but systemic (tablets, injections) forms will remain banned for athletes both within and outside competition.

Your efforts in publicising doping cases, and attempting to offer well informed comment, can ultimately only be of benefit to all of the cycling community. Keep up the good work.

On a totally different matter, I enjoyed the feature on the 4.8 kg bicycle. In the best tradition of virtually all expensive lightweight products and machines, the numbers simply don't add up. Try assembling the front wheel for a start to achieve 305g - not easy with a rim alone listed as 245g. The anti-gravity scales have a lot to answer for. Generally you approach these matters with a nice edge of Australian cynicism and scepticism, may be lost on some, but enjoyed by others.

Andrew Garnham
Australia
Tuesday, November 13 2001

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Julian Winn #3

Just very curious why someone of the caliber of Julian Winn would be taking a slimming aid tablet during a stage race??? Normally something like herbal ephedrine should be out of your system with in two or three days if you stop taking it before an event. .

Tommy E
Wednesday, November 14 2001

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Julian Winn #4

It stinks - a rider like Winn knows the rules - it is one rule for riders who are liked and another for those who are not.

Ask the BCF about what has happened to Neil Campbell's appeal - he made the Olympic team last year and was was banned just before the Olympics last year due to HCG being found in his sample - he was given a one year ban - produced medical evidence that was rejected without being looked into fairly - the ban has come and gone but the BCF has not given this man an appeal yet!

Paul Barber
England
Wednesday, November 15 2001

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The last month's letters

  • November 12 - Virenque, Indoor Trainers, Running Red Lights, UCI Points, Golden age, Worlds Format, Coaches,Tour Duration, Delatour
  • November 1 - Virenque, Golden age, Worlds Format, Coaches,Tour Duration, Ullrich
  • October 25 - Virenque, Pietrzak, Ullrich Worlds TT, Coaches Wheel Regulations, Support Vehicles
  • October 17 - Virenque, EPO Testing, Ullrich Worlds TT, Millar's TT helmet, Wheel Regulations, Support Vehicles
  • October 11 - Tribute song to Lance Armstrong, Podium Girls, High blood pressure, Saddle Hieghts, Santiago Botero
  • October 2 - High Blood pressure, Saddle hieght, Podium Girls, Vuelta, cycle bashing, Oscar Egg
  • September 20 - Vuelta, cycle bashing, Oscar Egg, Bupropion, climbing times
  • September 11 - Altitude tents, high BP, attacks, Oscar Egg, Bupropion
  • September 5 - Mckenzie & Vaughters respond, climbing times, anti-doping, 1989, Pantani
  • August 29 - Pantani, Vaughters, Where's Cipo?, McKenzie, Velodromes, 1989, Armstrong
  • August 23 - Vuelta, Mercury, Ullrich, Soviets, 1989 again
  • August 17 - Doping, Armstrong, LeMond and The Devil
  • August 14 - Tour, Armstrong, Chemo, Vuelta, Doping, Rooting, & more
  • August 8, part 2 - More about the Tour, and more
  • August 8, part 1 - Tour reflections, chemotherapy, commentary, commercials
  • July 31 - Armstrong, Ullrich, Rous, Hamilton, Drugs, Canada
  • July 18 - Armstrong on l'Alpe, Cycling Manager, food, 35 minutes, commentary, Men's World Cup, Schmoo, van Vliet
  • Letters Index - The complete index to every letters page on cyclingnews.com