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Letters to Cyclingnews - January 26, 2007
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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Drug testing methodologies
Gary Resnick writes "A more methodologically sound evaluation of the B sample would have it examined by a different lab, but this simple yet effective strategy is conspicuously absent from all doping tests."
Well, funny thing is, they do that on race horses. In last year's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, one of the most prestigious races I hear, a Japanese race horse tested positive for a prohibited substance. What caught my eyes when reading news articles about this incident was the fact that the horse's A sample was tested at a French lab but the B sample was tested at a lab in as far as Hong Kong.
Yes, they treat race horses better than human cyclists. Does anybody else find it ironic? By the way, doping control in horse races is not under WADA control. Well, that figures.
Anyways, I fully agree with Gary that we need to have the B sample tested at a different lab, but the potential offender's B sample should be sent to the second lab along with several other, randomly drawn samples so that the second lab wouldn't have any idea which sample to make it test positive if they wanted to.
So Quick Step public relations officer Johann Museeuw resigns because he was not "100 per cent" honest? That's no reason to resign! Dishonesty is in the job description of public relations officers!
How I did not want to write this letter. I abandoned writing it twice, only to go back to your news today, on Museeuw's admission to "dishonest" practices. After all the allegations, the pending trial, etc.
I followed this guy's racing prowess, and dramatic life events which he seemed to overcome so heroically.
As we do (admittedly childishly), we like to associate with our hero. He was a hero of mine, my special racer because he shares the same birth date (October 13th) as mine. So he got my attention. It was him that got my cheers and not some other guy in the mud sprayed peloton.
And it was him who got the sponsorships, media attention, honors, prizes and recognition. And not some other hardworking athlete struggling to get a contract next year.
To quote your article: "I have taken enough insults in the past," Museeuw concluded, requesting that the media now leave he and his family alone.
Well Museeuw seems to also have "taken" enough honors in the past. Which ones of these honors were actually deserved? Now you think you can just walk away asking us to leave you alone? You are a fraud. Maybe your smiles on the podiums were insults that hit me now.
Although I don't believe he'd be laughing at anyone's misfortune, I sure can see a wry smile on Greg LeMond's face upon the revelations by Museeuw that he doped. Some years ago the "Lion of Flanders" derided LeMond for his approach to cycling, implying, or course, that he and other cyclists in his favor were the real cyclists while LeMond, who one might recollect had almost been killed by a shotgun blast, was a piker. I think Mr. Museeuw owes LeMond an apology. As a fan of LeMond, I can't help but smile over the twist of fate that has occurred from these admissions.
I assume another cyclist has generated a bit of a stir through his comments, and that is none other than Tyler Hamilton. He doesn't shy away at all from taking credit for improving teams before he left them: US Postal, CSC and Phonak. I'm sure the Bjarne Riis saw images of an IMAX movie flash in front of his eyes upon reading that!
Hamilton, after all, was supposed to be the big star in the IMAX film about the brain until he took the world on his version of Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. The first two teams might use the word "jilted" while the last might use something slightly stronger. Maybe I'm missing something, but wouldn't Hamilton's blood always reveal the same abnormality since his wee days, no matter when a test was and is taken, if he really had a chimera? I used to be a big fan of him but am inclined to think he's just been having all of us on.
Dear Sven Nys,
Can you please leave? Please either retire or go into road cycling. You have won pretty much every single cyclo-cross race there is to win (often, several times over). As a fan of the elite ranks, I for one am becoming pretty bored with the discipline because of you. Everyone knows that you are the best cyclo-cross rider on the planet. What more can you possibly hope to do? Please let someone else have a go at winning. Rabobank could always use another good domestique on the road!
The code of conduct within the pro peloton is a very strange set up, the riders know who is doping, they do after all spend hours and hours together. Sporting directors and team managers also know the 'rules of the road' and this applies to many of the UCI too.
It seems in a desperate attempt to clean up the sport the powers at be have jumped on the Operación Puerto evidence due to it backing up what most in cycling knew all along. Unfortunately these rushed tactics have turned into a shambles.
The UCI, team managers and sporting directors are now expected to change the 'traditions' of a sport that they have been bought up with up with.
Will it happen? The 'traditions' will just become more cleverly concealed and will remain.
Humans are motivated by greed and fear, this is even more evident in professional sport.
I have trouble with McQuaid's statement that: "This serious negligence by the Spanish rider is regrettable and harms the image of cycling as a whole, although he is not guilty of any infringement."
If he isn't guilty of anything how can Pereiro be pointed at for damaging cycling's image? The real fault lies with the AFLD. Their fight against doping is not doing anything positive by making headlines about the Tour runner up and his asthma medication.
If Pereiro deserved a warning about procrastination from the UCI, fine, but don't blame him for further tarnishing cycling's not-so-gleaming reputation. Mr. McQuaid should get out a cloth and get to work trying to polish it up instead.
Doping is not new. It's been around forever in one form or another, and would have stayed around forever, if people inside and outside the sport hadn't changed their opinion about it since the drugs got better, and with them the gaps widened between drug users and no-drug users.
Now everyone wants the culture and standard operating procedure to change yesterday. No culture changes that fast. It will take time, maybe several more years, but because the decision makers continue to hold their line, it will change.
For everyone who says the last few years of drug scandals have turned them off, they are impatient. Wait it out. Let the bad times run their course and we will eventually get to a better place where dopers are few and far between. The only question is if you have the patience and fortitude to wait it out?
I hate to be a conspiracy theorist, but it seems apparent that the AFLD and that fish-wrapper of a newspaper, Le Monde, are out to dig-up and fabricate as much dirt as possible on anyone doesn't have a French racing license.
Re-testing Lance Armstrong's 5 year old urine samples, the dubious handling of the Floyd Landis case and now this tripe they've rolled out to try and discredit Oscar Pereiro all seem like attempts to discredit anyone who stands in the way of a French rider winning the Tour.
And yes, I realize the Cyrill Dessel beat Moreau and is also French, but in their illogical witch hunt how can we assume that these people would know when to stop?
I have to admit a smile came over my face as I read the news of the "non negative" on Oscar Pereiro over his "approved" asthma medication during the 06 Tour. Why was this not released back in July? Now he is getting just a small taste of what Landis' life has been like for the past seven months. And before anyone accuses me of favoritism with Americans, my favorite riders have always been Hinault and Sean Kelly.
I have mostly admired Pereiro's stance on the Landis ordeal, but as of late, he is starting to pile on, along with his D/S. I don't believe Pereiro is a doper any more than Landis. Because of my experience with my own severe allergies and some of the meds I have had to take for them, I would go so far as to suggest that Periro's "approved" steroids would net him a much bigger performance gain than Landis' alleged testosterone use for an evening.
These asthma steroids calm and open the airways. I'm not turning the other cheek here. If Floyd did take testosterone, he knew the consequences and how easily he'd be caught. I just don't believe anyone would be that foolish. Floyd is no fool.
This morning's release of Museeuw's "dishonesty" should help divert the blaming of Landis for ruining the Tour and cycling in general. Landis isn't the first cyclist to return a non negative test, still not proven, by the way, nor the first Tour winner to do so either, so why is he carrying all of the blame? Dick Pound says you can't dispute Floyd's test results.
Testing is so overly complicated, I'd be surprised if the margin of error is less than 5%. I would also go so far as to say that the doping control has to be handled by a different country than is holding the race, to be chosen at random.
Here's to a good year in 07. If I had my druthers, and the doping is as widespread as the innuendo, how about amnesty for all, establishing a baseline with blood tests, DNA tests for ID, and let 'em all ride. Wouldn't it be something to see Basso, Ullrich, Landis, Vino, Valverde, Sastre etc. meet in the Tour, like was supposed to happen in 06.
Here we go again. An enthusiastic backer with a different view, who does not have connections to the old school, is being taught a lesson.
Let's be honest, the Drapac team and program has been gossiped about from day one. A number of State based "Academies" or "Institutes" are very intimidated by the kind of success that they are having. Heaven forbid a young cyclist could have a non-government funded path!
Please, please, please, embrace , absorb , welcome and encourage! The above agencies will be enhanced by good domestic teams not threatened. We are right on the edge of success, just a few more steps.
Modern racers will have a difficult time riding a bike that doesn't look similar to what the bike supplier/sponsor provides, no matter their personal preference. After all, the bike makers sponsor pro teams in order to drive consumer sales of their brand.
Eddy Merckx and the big stars could easily have DeRosa or Colnago make personal bikes just for them no matter what logo was on the downtube, as all the bikes looked pretty much alike in those days.
Even as late as 1988 American Andy Hampsten won the Giro d'Italia supposedly on a bike made by Ben Serotta for Huffy (the team bike sponsor) though in this case the bike was actually constructed by John Slawta of Landshark Bicycles.
Claudio Chiappucci rode bikes labeled CARRERA though at least a few of them were actually made by Antonio Mondonico.
I'm sure there are readers out there who can recall instances even more recent than these but it does seem more and more the riders simply ride what they're given. They know the importance of marketing/sponsorship, hence you rarely (if ever) read comments from riders regarding the team's new bikes that vary from "this is the best bike I've ever ridden" no matter what brand they rode the previous season.
In the end, the winner of the Tour de France would just as surely win the race even if he and the guy who finished last swapped bikes (size and fit issues excluded of course) though that is the last thing the bike makers would have you believe!
The compact geometry is 98% marketing and 2% engineering. Claims of weight savings must be offset, to some degree, by the mass of the longer seat tube that is needed. In terms of making a stiffer frame; is the claimed increase in stiffness where it needs to be (i.e. bottom bracket) or does it add up to a more uncomfortable ride?
Also, getting a water bottle in and out of the seat tube holder is a real fun event when there is only a few cm of clearance due to the sloping top tube. I would love to see some real engineering test of strength, vibration transmission of two frames built with the same materials (including seat posts), one standard and one sloping. I suspect that the real differences, if any, would be very small indeed.
Compact geometry #2
The manufacturers have to make only a few bikes (usually three). Now if you are an engineer at BigBike company and you need to send some specs for frames to the Chinese factory where they are going to build the frames, three is better than 8 or 10 designs when the actual build happens. And now when you have to QC these rigs you find far less mistakes. There is still no guarantee as we have seen with some of the early race bikes from Giant (chainstay bridge too far towards the dropout i.e. no quick wheel change).
There is a slight weight savings of course because there is less material. These restrictions (3-4 sizes) make fit tough for some folks on these bikes so not everything about compact design is good.
If you ride behind one of these bikes fitted to a large person you can watch the seat post flex and bounce as the rider peddles. This can mean more comfort or loss of power to flex depending on your view.
A well braced system will always be a superior frame unless you have the above compromises as part of the needed design (i.e. as light as possible)
Compact geometry #3
Compact geometry leads to a more comfortable machine for those of us who are shorter than average. There is nothing inherent about a compact frame that should make it twitchy - wheelbase, trail, etc, should be independent of whether the seat tube is short and the top tube rises. I've not had any problems with handling or comfort from my compact bikes and I enjoy them as much as I do my older, traditional bikes.
A compact frame itself should be no less stiff than a similarly designed and built traditional frame. If one looks at the seat tube as a lever contributing to bottom bracket flex, the shorter lever of the compact frame should theoretically result in less flex (of course, this doesn't take into account the additional exposed seat mast length, and the seat post is a relatively narrow diameter tube and therefore might contribute to the overall felling of "stiffness" or lack of it, but this might be rectified by the new integrated seat mast frames).
Certainly, one can argue the traditional horizontal top tube frame is more attractive (although I don't necessarily agree), especially if one tends to be a traditionalist about these things. As I recall, Lance equated compacts to women's mixte frames. But from a functional standpoint, compact frames are great. Most cyclists I know seem to feel the same, and it doesn't seem to me that I've heard or read about very many complaints from the pros about their compact bikes. And of course, mountain bikers have been using compacts longer than roadies, and they don't seem to find compact bikes a problem.
Looks like there are a lot of people who have taken in the Floyd Kool Aid reading the letters this week. I seem to remember the same amount of letters coming in about Hamilton's little doping adventure, and also how we were supposed to "Believe Tyler" and all. I believe that he, Hamilton, served his suspension, and now he is going to race again.
Why should you contribute to Landis' defense fund, or in the past, Hamilton's defense fund? Landis is not some super human being, he's just a guy, who rides a bike for a living. He's human in other words. He is as susceptible to doping as much as anyone else out there.
And all of this talk about France hating America because we've been winning "their" race quite a bit these days, and about the lab purposely flubbing Landis' test because they hate Americans. Remember, the lab doesn't know whose test vials they have, they just have a number. They don't know whether it is the yellow jersey they're testing, or the lantern rouge.
Don't you all have more important things to donate your money to? How about the LAF even, or some local charity that could use the dollars. How about a local homeless shelter in the town that you live in? Or hell, how about just purchasing yourself some new bike gear. That would be a better way of spending your hard earned dollars. What is that old saying? A fool and his money will soon be separated? Seems to be the case here.
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