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Letters to Cyclingnews - October 22, 2004
What is the solution to doping controls and usage? Let's look at last week's letters. #1 wants us to penalize an entire team for one rider's doping. Bad idea. You are punishing the innocent people. (That would punish all Phonak riders, including new additions like Landis.) You assume that every rider sat and watched one member of their team use doping products; highly unlikely.
#2 wants all the testing possible, no matter what the cost. A good idea, in principle only though. How many of us would be willing to put up $500.00 or more to enter a race? Even the new Olympic rule of storing samples for retroactive testing seems extreme (a length of up to 8 years). Just as an example: consider that some champions of the 60's have admitted to various doping violations. Yet, is anyone declaring victory among the racers they beat? The time, the era, the moment has past.
#3 voices a popular idea that all of the winners are cheating. (True, some sports such as bodybuilding in the 70's seemed to be filled with widespread doping.)
If, though, you actually could see how much hard work and training we do, you would know that many of us would never use doping products. The so-called 'real' users are more likely to be those who can barely survive in the sport, those who are in jeopardy of losing their spot on the team. What of the heroes of our beloved sport who have tested positive? This is what we are now teaching; that 'fame at any price' is the wrong way of thinking. Our heroes must be clean. Perhaps, we should institute rehab for guilty riders, as well as preventative lectures to all riders. Education to prevent drug abuse will work better than strengthening doping controls.
This may also deter those who are tempted to train with doping products, but test clean during races.
Train hard, race hard, and earn respect by living clean.
If we look at a semi-official definition (www.askjeeves.com), "Doping" is defined as: "take drugs to improve one's athletic performance". Ok... maybe not the best reference but even digging deeper into the World-Wide-Web and finding sites explaining "How performance enhancing drugs work" (www.howstuffworks.com) and reading through pages and pages on how to combat doping (www.wada-ama.org) the cycling enthusiast of the new millennium is left to ponder what it actually means to "dope".
A few years back when the hematocrit level-control was introduced to fight EPO I felt confident that a generally acceptable consensus was found. Then, faster than you can say "legal loophole" riders with "unusually high" levels were cleared for racing because they had a medical attest stating that their "natural" level of red blood cells was in fact higher than 50. I was discouraged.
Now we're even deeper in the discussion with regards to Jesus Manzano's springtime disclosures, David Millar's confessions, Tyler Hamilton's blood tests... Oh my... Where is this going and what does it mean to our sport? During the past few months I had to start defending cycling as a sport, the riders as a group and the races (especially the Tour de France) as legitimate in front of MY friends and colleagues, people who oftentimes have no clue about cycling beyond the stigma that "All these guys dope, right?" So I decided to put it all to rest, by defining what should be considered "illegal doping" vs. "legal doping".
Here is the fruit of my labor:
Illegal doping: "The act of taking foreign, artificial or un-natural doses of substances that affect the athlete's organism in a performance-enhancing manner, resulting in medical danger to the athlete's health, perception and/or overall well-being." The goal is to ban all substances that the athlete cannot naturally produce through training or recovery. Example: No growth hormones, no narcotics, etc.
Legal doping: "The act of taking natural substances, occurring in unaltered form in nature or being extracted from natural products and/or by-products to affect an athlete's organism in a performance-enhancing manner, NOT resulting in medical danger to the athlete's health, perception and/or well-being." Example: Caffeine, sports drinks, massage oils, pain relievers, etc.
Now I know what question may come to mind with regards of blood doping. Technically I do not think that blood doping should be illegal. Well... let me elaborate. If I can bank my own blood during the off-season (under medical supervision) hence having produced it myself, and tap this resource during the season when I need it, I still follow the rules, if I do not put my health in danger. This is where the hematocrit level comes back into play. I think that the magic "50" should still be a factor to determine if a cyclist is fit to compete. Of course the blood should be my own, and NOTHING BUT my own, otherwise it's neither ethical, not should it be legal. The loophole should be closed by basically banning everyone from competition that has a 50+ level. No discussions. Hey there are other sports for these guys, ...and if you believe the folks around my office "Golf" is one of them... Bleah! ("Golf" is a GAME, not only because you PLAY it but also because it rhymes with LAME, ha ha).
Of course that's just my opinion, but I would be interested in what other Cyclingnews-junkies think.
I am not in favour of an open book on doping. It would degenerate the sport into a competition for the bio-chemists and drug companies. So I want doping stopped. The problem as I see it is that although the pros race as a team, live as a team, train as a team and are managed as a team, they are punished as individuals. Make any ban applicable to the team as well as the individual and it would change the sport overnight. No sponsor would want their name associated with a banned team, they can live with one or two bad apples, but having the whole team banned would mean they take their money out. No team would want a doping rider because of the risks involved. Make the team responsible for the actions of its members and the number of positive tests would plummet.
Doping in cycling - credibility
This has been beat to death. Of course that won't stop me from weighing in.
Credibility goes both ways. If I shouldn't base my belief in Tyler's innocence based on articles in the media, I shouldn't believe in his guilt either, since they're based on the same source of information. Through the media, I know about WADA's blood test & Dick Pound as much as I know about cycling and Tyler Hamilton.
My guess is there is more to be revealed.
Is it just me, or does anyone else get tired of the drama. Of course I think doping is a big problem (and I have enjoyed some of the discussions), and no I don't give a rat's a** about Armstrong, and Simeoni (personally there both just little spoiled kids on the playground), but I'm just getting tired of the same old. I want to hear some peoples thoughts on real cycling issues, like what people think about the rider transfers, team dynamics, season disappointments or some other cycling analysis that we can debated intelligently.
For example, I am excited to see Chris Horner back in Europe. I think he's got a ton of talent (8th at Worlds isn't bad), and hope he can keep his head on straight this time. Also, I don't understand why he wasn't courted by Discovery?
Let me know what you guys think, and please no drama!!
While I am also a big fan of Landis, the only way he will be on the podium next year is if Tyler is sacked and Phonak takes the approach that USPS has the last 6 years and rides him to the front. Even then, he will have to do some serious work in the mountains to not have a bad day, or even a semi-bad day, and lose time to the true climbers.
On the subject of Lance in the '05 Tour, I would rather see him try the Giro Vuelta double and try for the Tour again in '06 - then ride into the sunset.
As for Lance Armstrong's participation in the 2005 TdF, I think he has every reason to take part, not only because seven is a nice number, but mainly because of the special stage that is planned in honor of his former teammate, the late Fabio Casartelli. I think a stage win in that Pyrenean stage that features the Portet d'Aspet is too much for him to miss.
Looking at the photos taken at Interbike it surprises me how many vendors are surrounding themselves with cheesecake models to sell their product when so little support is given to women racers who actually ride bicycles.
Have your letter-writers for one second considered why LA did this? LA was basically telling Simeoni to shut up (LA gave the zipped lips gesture), and changed the outcome of the race with his stupid move. His (LA's) actions were wrong! Simeoni was testifying in a court of law what about Ferrari had done and LA told him he shouldn't have done it -- can anybody say omerta? Simeoni did nothing to LA, or one might conclude that LA wants no light to be shed on people like Ferrari (convicted enablers of drug use in professional cycling) ao that there his own errant ways go unnoticed.
Armstrong and Simeoni #2
Chris Gelineau wrote, "what Armstrong did was equivalent to dropping the gloves with an opponent in a hockey game for which he would be cheered for trying to settle the dispute 'in the arena of sport.'"
To borrow from baseball, it was more like hitting a homerun then walking out to the mound and mouthing off to the pitcher for daring to pitch to you. No, Armstrong's chase of Simeoni wasn't intimidation of a witness, and the Italian authorities should drop it.
However, it tainted an impeccable Tour for Armstrong and the USPS team. Ekimov's snot rocket directed at Simeoni when he returned to the peloton didn't help either.
I am writing to ask you folks at CyclingNews.com whether you're aware of the ASO's bizarre new policy for registering foreign participants in l'Etape du Tour 2005.
In previous years, those of us who wanted to participate in the "Etape" had a choice: we could book a group travel package through a travel agency, or we could download a registration form from the ASO's "Etape" website, mail it in, and make our own travel arrangements. But for 2005, the ASO wants all "non-residents in France" to book a registration through a travel agency (http://www.letapedutour.com/2004/us/inscription_2005.html).
The ASO's lame excuse for eliminating mail-in registrations from outside of France is that the mails are too slow, since registration is on a first-come, first-served basis. But eliminating mail-in registrations for non-French participants is a ridiculous way to address the problem. Even if the ASO resists using the Internet to register participants, there are certainly other ways to ensure fairness for mail-in registrations. For example, the ASO could simply prioritize registrations by the date they were postmarked instead of the date they were received.
Furthermore, participants who would prefer to make their own travel arrangements will now be compelled to work through one of the ASO's "authorized" travel agencies. This is hardly fair or practical for people who have family or friends in France, or who prefer not to travel in groups, or who simply have other travel plans to coordinate with their participation in the Etape.
Finally, the cost of registration will certainly be significantly higher when it is processed through a travel agency. The ASO reserves registrations for travel agencies at a much higher price than it charges individuals to register by mail, and the travel agencies themselves will charge an additional fee to cover their own expenses and turn a profit on the handling of registrations.
I won't speculate on why the ASO wants to discourage "foreign" participation in the Etape du Tour. But it sure would be nice if the ASO reconsidered what they are doing before it's too late.
Name and address withheld
Okay, the science seems to prove that Tyler Hamilton used blood transfusion. WADA, the IOC and the UCI are standing behind the test.
Does anyone here really believe that Tyler is the only blood doper in the peloton? Maybe I didn't read it correctly, but out of 3000 or so tests carried out at the Olympics, Tyler is the only blood doper, and again the only blood doper shown during the Vuelta?
How can that be?
After an intimate encounter with a piece of wood and my foot, I'm stuck with a friggin walking boot cast, a foot fracture and no cycling for 6 weeks. Enjoy the rest of the cycling year. You lucky bastards.
Does anyone know what ever happened to Brad Davidson (rode a couple of years for Saeco), Tom Leaper, Marcel Gono, Peter Rogers, Jason Phillips or Josh Collingwood (Former junior world time trial champion).
If anyone knows, I am curious as they appeared to be on the verge of
If I am the world record holder in any sporting event and I chose not to participate in the World Championships, I cannot be the World Champion. I may be the best in the world, but not the world champion.
The people who show up and win are the champions.
A climbing friend of mine had it done 2 years ago. He is a climbing guide in Scotland who got fully fit within 16 weeks of the op and was back to guiding again.
I am due for mine in 6 weeks. I can't wait to be able to stand up straight again and walk without a limp!
In response to E. Scott Dawson's letter of August 27th ('$125,000 Criterium in Charlotte), I'd just like to say three quick things.
First, it's ironic that he chooses the word 'vendetta' to describe my email of August 2003, given that someone would apparently need to have a bit of a vendetta himself to remember & respond to a year-old Cyclingnews letter.
Second, if Mr. Dawson is looking for an apology, he can keep looking, because the fact that the Bank of America Invitational actually happened doesn't mean that the promoter was proven right. My complaint about the Charlotte race was that the promoter promised a $125,000 prize list when he didn't have a title sponsor - a valid complaint, as Bank of America wasn't announced as the title sponsor until something like six months later. If Bank of America was confirmed as the title sponsor back in August 2003, then the promoter was derelict in not getting the company the publicity due them. And if it wasn't confirmed, then the promoter had no business announcing something he didn't have the money to back up. Either way, the promoter was in the wrong, regardless of the ultimate outcome.
As for Mr. Dawson's defense of the Outdoor Lighting Perspectives team's plans to turn pro, actually, it was the 2003 Monex team described as 'wannabe-pros', not OLP. But if the shoe fits... the two 'star' riders in OLP's 2003 team announcement were John Patterson and Ian Jackson, both of whom last raced professionally some twenty years ago - probably not quite the sort of racers the UCI had in mind when it instituted Division III, which was/is meant to be a developmental pro division. How many NRC races have they done in the past two or three years? And as far as that crop of espoirs goes, other than Zoran Klemencic's 5th place in the Bank of America Invitational, what have any of the OLP racers, espoirs or not, done on the national stage? Isn't it reasonable to expect that, before a team turns professional, it should at least be competitive at the elite level nationally? Apparently not, according to E. Scott Dawson.
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