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Letters to Cyclingnews - June 16, 2006
Antony - in response to your letter where you state that as far as you can tell, Lance Armstrong was guilty of doping during the year in question, let me propose the following scenario:
Your employer requested a urine sample from you for drug testing seven years ago, you passed all tests done at the time, and each and every test since then, and went on successfully in your career. Now you are confronted with this - without your permission or knowledge, without proper procedures, protocol, or even a guarantee the seven-year-old samples had been safely stored and not tampered with, the organisation that failed to follow even its own rules of testing deems you guilty - in a very public, reputation-smearing manner - and you have no way to defend yourself, because the samples have been destroyed. Now tell me how guilty you think Lance is.
Sharon A. Riggan
Antony Hubbard states:
"Well for me it is ALL about EPO use by Lance Armstrong. Which, as far as I can see from the facts, has been shown to have occurred, albeit by an unapproved protocol. Armstrong's use of EPO proves a couple of important things which people would do well to take note of."
Let’s suppose you’re driving down the road at a speed that's at or below the posted speed limit. A local law enforcement officer pulls you over and informs you that you were travelling 15 mph over the limit. You protest your innocence. Nevertheless, the officer informs you that his speed detection device indicated that your speed was 15 over the limit and so you are issued a citation and compelled to pay a fine.
Upon investigation, you discover that the police officer's device was cobbled together from parts he scrounged off eBay. The device was never subjected to any scientific testing. It was not calibrated. It was not validated as being accurate. The officer assembled it in his garage and immediately proceeded to use it to convict you of a violation.
Do you throw up you hands and say "Well, even though the officer used an unapproved protocol, his unapproved protocol said I'm guilty, so that means I'm guilty"?
These drug tests are incredibly complex. Analysing their results is far more complex than looking at number on the back of a radar gun. People think these tests work like an early pregnancy test you get from your neighbourhood pharmacy. Not so! There have been several cases stated where two highly trained scientists analysed the same test results and came to completely opposite conclusions. This is not a situation where one blue line means a rider is innocent, but two blue lines means he's a doper.
Since these tests and the analysis of their results are incredibly complex, the protocol, process and procedures followed for executing and interpreting these tests is highly relevant and cannot be dismissed as Mr. Hubbard suggests. It is not a simple case of "procedural niceties". The validity of the protocol doesn't just give it credibility; it goes directly to the accuracy of the result.
That's the saddest part of this whole travesty. Because these dunderheads failed to use approved protocols, their results are useless and totally invalid. There are no facts, and we still don't know the truth.
First, the ASO doesn't want the Pro Tour to happen. Now they're awaiting the UCI's decision as to who races in their event or not. And they're asking Manolo Saiz to sell his shares of the team management company.
This beginning to sound a lot like a bad Broadway musical, "it's somebody else's problem, not ours". What a horrible state of affairs for the riders to compete in! It’s way past too late for the Tour team inclusion and Wurth has their berth at the start in question.
When will these people act their age and not like some dysfunctional group of preschoolers? All politics aside, Lance Armstrong was the most tested rider during his reign as the Tour champion. Now, amazingly, 7 years later we have information that was "leaked" about his "EPO usage". we get treated to a "tit for tat" round of finger pointing between WADA, the ASO, and the UCI. At the end? Nothing.
Now, we're getting the same thing with Manolo Saiz and his team. he was arrested and the details are not clear yet. The previous stance was as soon as there was confirmation of wrong-doing, then there's the sacking. as of this date, nothing has been confirmed regarding Saiz or his team, but the flags of righteous indignation have been hoisted high.
Take a stand, ASO, UCI and WADA. Make policy and stick to it. All this waffling back and forth discredits you and harms the general state of cycling. Work with and for the riders you claim you're here for!
I disagree with the letter saying Vino's comment about trusting Saiz is "pretty dumb". I think, instead, that it expresses both fairness and loyalty. The case against Saiz has not yet been proven, and so Vino is basing his trust on past relations, rather than as-yet unproved allegations and doping hype in the media.
We would all be better served to follow Vino's lead and not make hasty judgements of guilt. Vino obviously wants to ride the tour quite badly, but not so badly that he is willing to disassociate himself from someone he trusts, before he is given a compelling reason NOT to trust that person. I think this shows honour, loyalty, and a sense of justice and fairness.
Jeff Donaghue isn't necessarily simple minded but he's being a bit simplistic. If I have 800cc of my blood extracted and frozen, I have not committed any crime. I may wish to ensure a supply of my own blood in case I ever need a transfusion. (And before you all go "Aw, c'mon", I'm a pensioner, not an athlete.) On the other hand, someone who takes my blood out of storage, for analysis or whatever purpose, may well be infringing my human rights. Too many people are leaping aboard a media bandwagon and blaming cyclists for 'crimes' before any judiciary system has had a chance to act either for or against them.
Botero and Gutierrez have been suspended. Is this a case of Phonak playing the deniability game? They gladly employ riders as rolling adverts, but the merest whiff of scandal and Phonak holds up its lily white hands in horror and doesn't want to know them. Of course, there were Camezind, Hamilton, and Perez...now it seems anyone with a Kelme connection is a suspect. What about Phonak's directeur sportif Alvaro Pino, formerly with Kelme? And so was Heras (ah, but he wasn't accused of blood doping) and Sevilla. Talk about a witch hunt! It's all rather nauseating, isn't it?
I don't get it. Saiz is nailed (rightly, if he is guilty) for alleged complicity in drug shenanigans, yet there is an outpouring of sympathy for 'the poor riders' under his control. A new team is created in order to participate in the TdF. Same team, just (ostensibly) without Saiz.
Just who do people think those drugs were destined for? His dog? His own consumption? I can just see Saiz physically restraining his riders and forcing them to take 'treatments' against their will. The moon is made of cheese, don’t ya know?
A few weeks have passed since the arrests, allegations etc.
Just one thought; apparently a list of 200 athletes (as they have indicated it’s not just cyclists) was found on the premises with details of their programs. So here is a simple solution to it all, name and shame all the athletes, put the responsibility with them, bravo to Phonak for their response; imagine what would happen to the pro peloton if all the other teams followed suit!
As a fan I hope the riders are clean, know that some are most probably not, and be damned the consequences, would like to see all 'suspect' riders named.
In the same breath (or at least the same Cyclingnews.com report) Communidad-Valencia has to beg for their Tour bid back, but Wurth announces its long team for the Tour while dedicating a win to Manolo Saiz. There's something here that I do not understand. Manolo Saiz (THE guy at Liberty Seguros-Wurth) has been clearly and heavily implicated in Operacion Puerto, while José Ignacio Labarta (an assistant DS with Communidad-Valencia) has been arrested but not much else, and yet C-V loses their Tour spot while Wurth gets ready to race?
How good can ‘cycling's’ unified condemnation of doping be when there is this double standard? Presumably the exception given to Wurth was, on some level, because of their status as a ProTour team, whereas C-V is merely a continental team. If the situation were to be handled properly, both squads would lose their bid and the race would presumably become fairer for the other clean teams and riders.
If the UCI wanted to take a firm stance on doping, now is the time. Let ASO give Wurth the boot, as I'm sure they'd love to do, start throwing down some meaningful suspensions and get the message out that this will not stand. It won't happen, though.
The UCI will continue to be easy on cheaters, and people like Manolo Saiz will continue to be cavalier with their approach to drugs and reckless with the loyalty that we, the fans (the people that buy the gear and read the sides of the team cars and jerseys, who show up to watch a race), show to the sport by begging for better TV coverage and having our pictures taken under a Credit Agricole sign the first time we went to France, or watching more Discovery Channel, or getting some nice new floors put in, or eating more jelly beans, or buying our grandparents really nice hearing aids.
In your Dauphine coverage, JF Quenet often mentions the editorial opinions in France about the Puerto affair - that folks are watching the underperforming Spaniards with some suspicion. But nobody's mentioned one of the biggest underperformers in all three mountain stages so far: Floyd Landis.
Two of his teammates have already been suspended by Phonak (a team with a number of members, it should be noted, previously booted for doping issues: Hamilton, Camenzind, Gonzalez). Has there been any discussion - either on the editorial pages or in the Spanish press - of any connection Landis has to Operacion Puerto?
I hope not, but I have to say it's not looking good.
Dear letters page
The ASO decision to retract their invitation of Communidad Valencia to this year’s TdF is complete nonsense and another part of the vendetta that Leblanc and now Proudhomme have against the former Kelme team.
AG2R, Cofidis and seven-times KoM winner Richard Virenque all transgressed yet are given immunity by this chauvinistic French shambles of an organisation. Communidad Valencia have done everything by the book for the last two years since the Manzano case, and on a sporting level have outshone the best of the Pro Tour in many races within Spain this year and last.
Maybe the French should exclude all "foreign" teams, that way they might get a winner who is French!
Arthur Xanthopoulos raises a valid point – that deals are often done. I have no doubt that deals are done, and that some of those deals include payment of money.
Basso consistently denied Simoni’s claim regarding demand for payment. I like to think a person who is the subject of such an allegation should be given the benefit of the doubt, rather than giving the person making the allegation the benefit of the doubt.
Look at the way in which Simoni retracted his allegation against Basso (all quotes from Cyclingnews.com): “I never tried to offend Basso…I didn't want to damage him. I said some wrong things but I didn't want to cause him any damage. These things are part of the dynamics of racing."
Simoni’s lawyer, Giuseppe Napoleone, also says on Simoni’s behalf: "Simoni retracted; there was no talk of deals and much less of money. We made it clear that Simoni is a racer, not a public relations expert nor a lawyer. It was a matter of a lack of racing sportsmanship. It was all down to interpretation: to go downhill together and then fight for the victory with a sprint was for Simoni something obvious."
What do we get from this? Simoni makes an assumption that by staying with Basso on the descent, Basso had agreed that they would ride together until the sprint. Simoni’s lawyer states there was no such deal. Basso rides off the front, leaving Simoni in his wake. Simoni has a tantrum after the stage, and then, after sleeping on this issue overnight and racing the final stage on the following day, makes a serious allegation against Basso that is simply made up. He makes that allegation when the cycling world is focused on Basso (as the winner). Clearly designed for maximum damage to Basso’s reputation.
Basso’s excuse – he is racer, not a lawyer or public relations expert, and it is part of “the dynamics of racing”. Sorry – not good enough Gilberto. You thought about it overnight and planned your attack on a fellow cyclist’s character with the same skill that you have employed for many years as a good pro cyclist. You knew what you were doing, and what that was bears little resemblance to cycle racing at all. Sad day for cycling. The UCI should move to suspend Gilberto, as it is empowered to do.
Simoni's false allegations were a childish reaction to his understandable state of frustration. The Mortirolo is the "true climber's" mountain. For him to suffer defeat at the hands of an all-rounder like Basso is certainly humiliating. However, I can sympathize with his feeling of having been cheated by Basso.
Here is why. When two riders are away together and agree to work together, as requested by Basso when he asked Simoni not to drop him on the downhill, it is with the implicit understanding that this cooperation will last until the final kilometre (the "flamme rouge") and that the race will ultimately be settled in a two-man sprint near the line. When Basso dropped Simoni on the slope of Passo Aprica, he breached that agreement. If Simoni refrained from using his superior technical skills to his advantage to drop Basso on the descent, Basso should have done the same and not dropped an unsuspecting Simoni on the following climb. Working together means staying together until the end.
Simoni certainly was wrong to make these false accusations (which he later retracted). He owes Basso an apology. But he remains a worthy champion whose frustration in the circumstances can explain, if not excuse, his behaviour.
Hi, I truly like the insight of Mr Arthur Xanthopoulos. I'm a Simoni fan and Italian.
I would also like to add a couple of facts about this unfortunate dispute; Simoni and Basso were good friends until that day. Gilberto is a person who cannot stand being betrayed, and Basso told him to wait going downhill, so of course he expects to at least finish together with a sprint.
Simoni, right after the stage, was asked how he fared. His answer was "there are no longer gentlemen"; the journalist mentioned that Basso just wanted to dedicate this victory to his newborn son, to which Simoni asked why Basso didn’t just say so.
The day before this happened Simoni was congratulating Basso on how strong he was and wished all the best for Basso's new son on his website. The truth is that Simoni felt betrayed by a friend; Simoni changed his mind after what Basso said and this damaged his trust.
Moreover, Gibo would have preferred not to talk at all, and at least he knew he would have lost or he would have attacked downhill to try his chances. Simoni was quoted on national TV as saying, "Basso would have had a good chance to win the stage no matter what, but at least he should not have asked me to wait for him…and I would have tried my chances differently.”
I have been reading a lot of magazines and websites and all I have to say is that they all did not mention all that was said and discussed, of course with a lack of information - especially in English publications.
I read also about Simoni’s dispute with Cunego; I'd like to remember that Simoni was upset because Cunego did not respect the plan made earlier in the morning with Saeco manager Martinelli. Besides, let's not forget that Cunego would not have won his Giro if Simoni did not give him the green light to escape.
Simoni is popular not all over Italy, but what Simoni fans like about him is that he never lies. Again, he had to retract his words because he could not prove anything given there were no witnesses, and it was Simoni’s word against Basso’s. He would have been sanctioned for six months by telling the truth. So the moral of the story is: truth, in this world, is not important - what matters is being politically correct.
Regardless, I’ll support Basso for the Tour, and believe he is a good guy but even good guys sometimes may say silly things that can be offensive too...
Jean - Piero Sgriccia
Cyclingnews reader Arthur X claims:
“Second point is that Basso has not denied Simoni's claim that Basso asked him not to drop him on the descent through Mortirolo nor has he really denied Simoni's claims of money for the stage win, so this would suggest that Basso did in fact say this to Simoni.”
Apparently he wasn't reading Cyclingnews on May 29th:
“The surprised Basso turned to the media and explained, ‘It's true that I asked (Simoni) to stay with me on the descent, but the rest is all false.’ But Simoni wasn't backing off his allegations that Basso tried to sell him the stage, saying to Basso with his trademark cold smile "Do you want me to say how much you asked for?", and then turned his back on Basso and moved away.
Clearly agitated, Basso then said to the assembled media, ‘I'm just not going to let anything ruin my day today. I think I've shown all during this Giro that I am the strongest. As I said, I did ask Simoni to stay with me on the descent, but for the rest of his filthy words, they are absolutely false.’”
How much stronger of a denial than "absolutely false" do you need?
I agree with Stano Faban of Vancouver. What Jens Voigt did was a nice gesture. He also is someone whose name is seen a lot on breakaways, etc. George Hincapie has spent his entire Tour de France races riding for Lance Armstrong. In all the years Lance raced for the yellow jersey, not one of his teammates had won a stage.
George had been told to stay back in the breakaway in case the peloton caught up or he needed to fall back to protect Lance. When they finally told him that the peloton wasn't going to catch up and he could ride his own race, naturally he tried to figure out how he might have a chance to win.
He had to go from the back of the breakaway to the front, and he is not considered a climber. Pla d'Adet is up...up...up. I can understand him coming from the back and then going for it. I thought it was wonderful that somebody from Discovery other than Lance finally won a stage.
Besides, sprinters do it all the time. Robbie McEwen nearly always rides on the wheel of a sprinter from another team and then pulls around him at the end to win. I imagine he would do the same thing in a breakaway.
It grows rather tiresome reading the exchanges about Jens Voigt and George Hincapie by delatantes on the sidelines.
I'm quite sure that the one who least liked the way George Hincapie won the Stage 15 of the Tour from Jens was George himself.
But both men are professionals and both knew that George had the responsibility to sit on and to sprint for the win. Jens would do the same thing if the positions were reversed and all professionals know that.
We are all aware and so are all the other riders that Jens won the moral victory but that never shows up in the record books. Discovery Channel pays big money for the best from its team and George lived up to the responsibility he had to his employer.
Let's recap - George Hincapie won the hardest mountain stage in the 2005 Tour de France. Even considering that he sat on that is an outstanding accomplishment for a man who entered the sport as a sprinter.
Um, I think the description of Jens Voigt as merely a "damn good worker", might be a little off the mark. Wasn't he the guy that busted his arse in Liege - Bastogne- Liege for nearly the WHOLE race to be out-sprinted by Vino even though Jens did the majority of the work? He has worn the yellow jersey too, hasn't he? Won tour stages, stage races and time trials?
Jens Voigt has what many watchers of modern cycling fail to grasp. He has CLASS. To give a stage to a stronger rider is not romantic - it is the action of a man who knows who he is and has no need to prove anything to anyone. Jens Voigt is in every sense of the word, a winner. To suggest his action was simply a tactic to "win friends"! Go away and find an article about Charley Mottet or some of the other classy riders of the past and learn something.
On May 31, 2006, Dr. Jane Higdon died while riding with three other cyclists south of Eugene, Oregon, on Territorial Road. The group of four experienced riders were riding single file when a logging truck pulled alongside them so close that one rider was crashed into the ditch and Jane was hit by the rear wheels of the trailer. The State Police are still investigating this accident.
This winding rural road has no shoulder, and is travelled by logging trucks and campers. On June 7 a celebration of life was held at the McDonald theatre in Eugene - close to 1000 people attended. Jane was remembered for her love of sport (a finisher in seven Ironmans, including Hawaii twice), her wit (she loved riding with the guys - and beating them to the top of the hill, hence her title of "Queen Jane") and her work ethic both personally and professionally.
She knew people in all areas of the sports community – swimming, running, cycling. A researcher and author at the Linus Pauling Institute in Corvallis, Oregon she also developed and managed the LPI "Micronutrients" information website. This site is a free source of information to professionals and the public worldwide. Another memorial will be held next week in Corvallis at the Linus Pauling Institute for her friends and co- workers to remember her. (Corvallis is about 50 miles N of Eugene.) So for all the athletes worldwide who have used this site, I'm sure the LPI would appreciate hearing from you.
On a personal note - this one really hurts. For so many of us in the area who ride this rode we know it could just as easily have been one of us. This wasn't an accident - this was aggressive driving - ignoring the consequences - playing chicken with bike riders using a 100,000 pound (45,000 kilo) logging truck. This is truly sickness.
I just wanted to thank Jeremy Vennell for his refreshing and humorous Team DFL-Cyclingnews-Litespeed Diary. His writing style is emotive and full of life, and he does New Zealand proud both as a writer and as a cyclist at the thick end of the action. Back in Aotearoa we're looking out for your tales of the road and wishing you well, Jeremy.
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