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Letters to Cyclingnews - July 28, 2006
Is this ever going to stop ?
Of all the racers, I find it hard to believe Landis would dope. Why? He knows he is going to be tested as winner of stage, knows he will be subsequently tested as yellow jersey holder, why, why, why risk it? My faith is being tested.
Of course there will be a deluge of letters regarding Landis' positive, and my comments are unlikely to be uniquely insightful, but I'm incited to write regardless.
I found Landis' ride on Stage 17 extremely exciting to watch. The ride embodied everything I love about cycling: endurance, determination, and utter defiance to succumb to incredible suffering and insurmountable obstacles. I tried to explain to my non-cyclist friends how hard it would be to do what he did, how incredible his feat was.
After hearing of his positive I'm left very frustrated. I had held this ride up well above others and was going to remember it as a display of true grit and redemption. Now it's tainted. Whether he's guilty or not, it's tainted. The news broke and instantly headlines all over the world read "Landis tests positive for doping!" No matter what happens in the coming months, Landis' incredible ride and his tour victory will always be associated with a positive doping test.
I have never met Floyd. I can't conclude that he couldn't have doped simply because he seems like a nice guy. I have to accept the possibility of things going on behind closed doors that I'll never be aware of and would never suspect based on the persona that an athlete portrays to the public.
But I also have to accept the possibility that the science of physiology and drug testing is not completely black and white. Look here for an interesting read: coachsci.sdsu.edu/csa/vol116/kraemer.htm
Really all I have to say is this: I'm sick of this. I just want to watch a bike race and be engaged in the excitement of winning and losing without constantly having to redefine results based on the latest doping scandal.
1) Normal human levels of testosterone to epitestosterone can be as high as a ratio of 4:1.In fact, Dr. M. Colgan theorized that a test cutoff at 4:1 would "unfairly catch some athletes who are really drug-free". [Dr. M. Colgan, Optimum Sports Nutrition 1993 page 422]
2) Since athletic drug testing examines the ratio of testosterone, it would be easy to simultaneously inject epitestosterone to avoid a positive test result. [R.V. Brooks, Drugs In Competitive Athletics page 29-32]
3) This drug has not been shown to give immediate effects on strength or endurance. It must be consistently administered for weeks to achieve the desired results. [Dr. G. Forbes, Journal of American Medical Assoc. 1992 page 397-399]
4) Noticeable effects of injecting testosterone include: irreversible baldness, harmful growth of the prostate, acne, and lack of sexual function.
5) While testosterone is available in a patch form, the only athletes that could benefit from them would be "hypogondal" (only one testicle) since this treatment will bring dihydrotestosterone levels "up to normal". [R.D. McClure, R. Oses and M.L. Ernest, Urology page 224-228]
Some researched food for thought.
Until the "B" Sample confirms the suspicious results of the "A" Sample, Floyd Landis has not tested positive for anything nor has he failed any drug test. So far, cycling news has done a decent job of reporting the facts rather than jumping on the "He's Guilty" bandwagon.
However, I am amazed at how quickly his fellow cyclists are willing to throw Landis under the tires. They are unbelievably quick to presume guilt. I just wonder how they will feel when their "A" result gets leaked to the press and before their "B" result is even given the opportunity to prove their innocence, the whole cycling community condemns them.
Further, it is beyond me that the sport of cycling is trying so hard to get the cyclists to follow the rules of the sport when the authorities that govern the sport can't follow the rules either. The results are not supposed to be leaked until the B sample confirms the A sample results. UCI leaked enough even if they didn't come out and say the rider was Floyd. Phonak leaked it. What a ridiculous bunch of loons. What a ridiculous bunch of meaningless rules.
I can't convey how disappointed I am about Floyd testing positive. I have long held out hope that at least some professional riders were clean, and that it was getting better. When Tyler Hamilton first was caught I figured there was no way he was guilty and really bought into his honest and clean-cut persona. What a crock that was. Now comes along Floyd Landis, a Mennonite, an even more "regular Joe" personality than even Hamilton, and I said to myself and my friends, Floyd Landis is the absolute LAST professional that would dope.
So it appears that almost EVERY professional is a doper AND a liar. Screw the Tour, to hell with the Giro and the Vuelta, Paris-Rubbish, and so on! And the same must be true here in the States... after all, there's almost no doping control here.
I can't help but suspect that every professional cyclist dopes. Europe, the U.S., South America, etc. Even those whom I'm friends with. Unless a professional cyclist can prove to me the he is NOT a doper, then to hell with him!!
Thanks for the great coverage of the Tour de France this year!
Gosh, I'm on my third whiskey and ice – that's when I knew I had to write this letter, spot on.
Honestly it broke my heart to learn that Landis came up positive for the A sample.
But you know what? I don't give a sh1t. Floyd Landis DESERVES the benefit of the doubt at the very least. I believe in him, I'm tired of all this doping bullsh!t! So sick and tired of it.
I don't care what anyone says, or whatever L'Equipe prints - its time to believe in the rider foremost. Floyd Landis is NO DOPER! Anyone who made that legendary break on Stage 17, that beautiful escape that will live in my mind forever, has a pure heart and I will be damned if anyone can prove otherwise! I don't care what they say. I love this sport until I die.
"Everybody cheats. I just didn't know."
"Well, now you do."
These are the words spoken by the once naïve cyclist Dave Stoller and his father’s response in the classic cycling movie Breaking Away. An Italian rider from his beloved Team Cinzano has just sent him over the handlebars and now he has come to the harsh realization that not everyone plays by the rules.
The latest news involving Floyd Landis is a real kick in the friendlies. Just when you think the sport of cycling is moving past its problems by addressing it in a most radical way, this happens. I enjoyed the drama of this year’s Tour. In fact, I’ve enjoyed every Tour since I started watching in 1986. But a fan can only take so much.
If the positive result is confirmed, that would mean that the winners of the last three grand tours will have had their titles either tarnished or stripped away.
And even if the B sample comes back as negative, questions will be raised. “Did he? Or didn’t he?”
Unfortunately, the same goes for Armstrong. I have always hoped that he was a clean rider but now I have my doubts. One shining knight surrounded by rogues? Could you imagine how devastating it would be for the cancer community if Armstrong turned out to be a fraud?
Landis, Ullrich, Basso, Mancebo, Millar, Hamilton, Hondo, Heras. That list is a who’s who of cycling. All-stars. All Cheats.
How can sport survive when ALL of it’s marquee players cheat? Who knows and at this point who really cares?
Oh who am I kidding. When does the Vuelta start?
No matter whether Floyd is innocent or guilty, it is tragic for cycling that neither the fans, WADA, the UCI ,OR the riders understand that a positive test for T/E ratio is not incontrovertible evidence of testosterone supplementation (see link below) In general, the WADA seems oblivious to scientific fact in their zeal to clean up cycling. The UCI is little better. Both are more concerned with the appearance of doing something about doping than they are with the riders' welfare and the purity of the sport. Riders who want to 'level the playing field' should unite and strike until they are given due process and the testing is scientifically and medically sound. It is sad to be robbed of a victory by a cheating opponent, but worse to be robbed of a career by justice gone awry.
Here we go again. He's crucified before the B sample, or other medical tests, are completed. Some of the past tour winners, officials, race organizers, other pro cyclists, and team personnel interviewed by the press, and I use that term with some reservation, are unable to simply say, "no comment." Shame on them. I hope the shoe is on the other foot some day.
This is indeed a sad day for cycling, for Floyd Landis, and for the Tour de France. Even with just an A sample coming up positive, the damage is done, regardless of what comes about with a confirmed positive on a B sample or if he is cleared. I became a cycling fan now for twenty years, and I have endured all of the highs and lows of the modern drug era. As a sports fan in general, I find it painful to watch greatness, whether it be Barry Bonds or Floyd Landis, now, when I realized that the cost of spectacular achievement naturally comes with massive speculation.
I will say first and foremost, that I am a fan of Floyd Landis, and I pray that somehow this incident becomes explained with logic and integrity. I hope that he can show that his high testosterone level was naturally produced, or somehow related to medication taken for his hip. Unfortunately, if I have learned anything over the past few years, more often than not, the first sample is confirmed. I was hurt and angered over the convictions of Tyler Hamilton and Roberto Heras, and I have been confused over the Armstrong allegations. I do believe in innocence before proven guilty, but I also understand that the court of public opinion can be so much stronger than what a laboratory discovers.
I will say that I do not believe that illegal substances have any justified place in cycling, or in any other sport. As a coach and an athlete, I have also believed in integrity, and the dignity of competing for competition sake. I realize that in professional athletics, the stakes are higher, and so are the temptations. The pressure for certain riders to perform must be beyond understandable. With this in mind, however, firmly believe that all athletes have the moral responsibility to meet their obligations to following the rules, and competing cleanly, if no other reason than to set an example for the younger athletes who watch and idolize them, and indeed for the fans who support the sport, financially and enthusiastically.
I am at a crossroads as it pertains to Landis. I really don't know what to think. As with Hamilton and then Heras, I hope things work out. I believe if he is guilty, though, he should be man enough to confess to it, and anyone who watched the last week of the Tour would understand it, even if they may not forgive him for it.
I will also say that in this culture of suspicions, I am not a scientist, and I neither understand nor necessarily trust the technology and testing procedures. With this in mind, I will say that should Landis be stripped of his title, I would not be in favor of passing it down to Pereiro or giving away his stage victory or other spoils. I believe that to do so would be to bestow a hollow honor on other riders who perhaps earned them through potentially questionable means themselves, but went untested in their own rights.
This Tour started with such promise of an open competition, then suffered a black eye with the Operation Puerto fiasco, and then after one of the most spectacularly open races I have seen in decades, now ends with perhaps the biggest disappointments in the history of sport.
I pray for help for cycling and all of sport, and I sympathize with the other masses of fans who probably feel as distraught today as I do. I search for a reason to believe.
This doesn't make sense. I thought that testosterone and other steroids were taken during training to increase strength. Landis should have had increased testosterone in his blood throughout the Tour, not just after stage 17. I assume that he was tested more than once because I thought that the yellow jersey was tested on every stage. He should have lots of positives, not just one. Can any of your readers explain? Informed comment on how steroids are used from cyclingnews.com would be helpful.
While we could all do without the news that possibly Floyd Landis has taken a performance enhancing drug, we should also expect that the UCI and WADA ought to be able to engineer a testing protocol that will decide reasonably promptly whether, at least according to the rules, an infraction has taken place. For example, why not send an A sample to Lab X and a B sample to Lab Y at the same time (but not, perhaps, to a French lab associated with an ASO newspaper). If both samples are positive, the rider takes the wrap, at least until some reasonable explanation for the test results is given within some specified period of appeal. Other wise, the presumption of innocence prevails. This simple device results in a couple of advantages.
1. The question is decided in half the time it is now. No one wants to see the final announcement of the Tour in December. The Heras-Vuelta fiasco, I'm sure, has gone a long way to stifle interest in the Spanish tour.
2. If a lab produces a false positive because of a systematic error, then an innocent rider is much less likely to be condemned for what is really a problem at the lab, since it is a improbable that both labs are making the same mistake. There will be a greater confidence in the result if both -- i.e., two different -- labs determine that a sample has tested positively.
No doubt there is an essential, but very small, uncertainty connected with these tests and there is always a chance that an injustice will occur, but at least this way of doing things seems to divide that risk reasonably evenly. Clearly, the 2-samples/2-labs approach would not be a perfect system, but it seems to give a fair balance to presumption of innocence, alacrity, and sureness of justice.
What I can't figure out in this Landis mess is why didn't Pat McQuaid keep his big mouth shut until after the B-sample is tested and Landis has the opportunity to defend himself? If it turns out there's a natural explanation for the high testosterone level in the sample, then he's stupidly brought about irreparable harm to the Tour de France and professional cycling in general, not to mention Landis' reputation. If I were a more suspicious person I'd speculate what McQuaid's motives were for spilling the beans prematurely. For now I'll presume it was simple stupidity resulting from excessive zeal. Let's patiently wait for the results of further tests.
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