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Letters to Cyclingnews - July 27, 2007
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Part 1: 80's style
back in fashion?, A great few days for cycling, Vino excluded, but why the whole
team?, Another drug test result leaked, ASO discretion in administering Tour
justice, Astana in stage 5, Astana’s tactics, Bad day for Australia, Bloody
dopes, Cadel Evans, Catching Vino is good news, Conspiracy?, David "what a joke"
Millar, Doping, Doping controls, Tour ethics, German TV, LeMond, the voice crying
out in the desert, How many big bastards in the peloton?
How will cycling survive
I wouldn’t like to be in team Discovery’s shoes trying to find a new sponsor for next year. Who would be stupid enough to sink millions into sponsorship of a cycling team with so many dopers around?
Where is it all going to end? My 15 year old son thought Vino was fantastic. He is an elite athlete himself and he came home from training this morning to find another cheat. What hope does it leave for future athletes?
We both sat up though the night on Saturday watching the time trial. Now when I look back Cadel was cheated out of a stage win. I find it sad to think this way. We hoped we would be seeing a clean tour but yet again we are all let down.
We need to get serious. Life bans for even the first offence. Having to repay salaries for being a fraud. If we steal from our employers we go to court and go to jail. It is sporting fraud and thus these guys should be treated as criminals.
I am just a social local club racer but even I have now started to give up trying to defend the sport I love so much. Please stop the doping. These guys are so dumb. Can’t they see what they are doing?
I guess they think they won’t get caught but is seems the system is starting to work as more and more get caught.
To be sung in time with Don McLean's "American Pie"
A long, long time ago...
But Vino made me shiver
I can’t remember if I cried
We were singing bye, bye Kazahkstan Pie,
Did you write the book of Lance,
Well, I know that you've never tested positive,
I was a lonely teenage junior racer,
We were singing bye, bye Kazahkstan Pie,
Now for ten years we’ve been believin the hype
We were singing bye, bye Kazahkstan Pie,
“You can drink testosterone faster than Gatorade and it still will not alter your body chemistry.”
Perhaps this statement is true. However I could not find any scientific studies supporting Mr. Shame’s claim.
However, a simple web search of medical journals did show that there is a conclusive link between trace contamination of over-the-counter oral nutritional supplements and positive urine test results for a nandrolone metabolite.
Frequently these products are contaminated with an oral androstenedione. Trace contamination of androstenedione with 19-norandrostenedione is sufficient to cause urine test results positive for 19-norandrosterone, the standard marker for nandrolone use.
Strangely these products do seem frequently to come from China, oral steroid doses as small as 10 µg are absorbed and excreted in urine.
I was also able to find studies that indicated that some brands of oral, over the counter nutrition supplements are grossly mislabelled making it very plausible that a rider could unknowingly create a positive test for testosterone. Hence the odd WADA rules about an athlete being responsible for a test result, even when they aren’t responsible.
Before condemning riders claiming that their story is patently false, perform a web search (to avoid scientific ignorance). You might be surprised at what you find.
Kessler might actually be telling the truth. Alas, Dick Pound’s system still makes Kessler the enemy.
Kessler's lie #2
Regarding the oral ingestion of testosterone...I think Mr. Timothy Shame needs to check his facts before he starts his rants.
This sort of ignorant raving does not help clarify the issue and only serves to fan the flames of hysteria.
For him to say that "...You can drink testosterone faster than Gatorade and it still will not alter your body chemistry..." is simply bulldust.
Published on the Journal of the American Medical Association website on the 9 Feb 2000, the following clinical investigation, entitled "Oral Androstenedione Administration and Serum Testosterone Concentrations in Young Men" (JAMA. 2000;283:779-782), found that oral androstenedione, when given in dosages of 300 mg/d, increases serum testosterone and estradiol concentrations in some healthy men.
Kessler's lie #3
You ask why they lie. They lie for two reasons. One is that there is a chance of getting off. Ridiculous explanations aside, from time to time people do convince an appeals board or court of their position.
Second, and possibly more important, is legal. Even if you are suspended and lose your appeal, your sponsors, team, etc still have an uphill battle to come after you legally for reparations.
Burdens of proof vary from country to country, but in few places will the simple fact of UCI or WADA upholding a suspension be sufficient by itself for you to lose. If you confess on the other hand, you totally open yourself up.
I have to disagree with Steve Brandt's lie detector letter ,if the test is not proof one way or the other then there's no reason not to take it, if Floyd passes then it makes his case stronger if he fails he can say that its not 100% correct ,so he has nothing to lose
Take the test Floyd, cycling has come to a real turning point lets move forward. If riders can start admitting to their offences, and let’s be honest, that riders like Basso, Ulrich and Pantani may have doped, does not come as a massive shock. It is a embedded in the history of our sport.
So now lets move forward ,clean, and lead the way for other sports to do the same thing .they’re all just as guilty [football ,athletics etc].
We need to start making that point stronger otherwise our sport will become the scapegoat for drugs in sport.
Sponsors like adidas are pulling out of cycling, but they are not pulling out of other sports like football. Why should we take all the blame when there just as guilty .The heads of our sport need to start doing a better job.
I’m writing about chickens and doping. The company I work for grows chickens. If a chicken in one of our flocks tests positive for a disease, we immediately send out a B sample to a lab that is independent of the lab that made the initial positive A test.
When Floyd Landis had his B sample tested, it was tested at the same lab by the same team of technicians. Can anyone explain to me why our chickens are tested more stringently than WADA tests athletes?
When I first heard the breaking news of Rasmussen, just 24 hours after hearing about Vino, I felt sick. It reminded me of the time, not too long ago, when I heard about Riis, right after I heard about Zabel which was right after I heard about Basso...Team Telekom....Ullrich.
After two hours of letting this all sink in, I started thinking about things a little differently.
I think this truly is the beginning of a long and painful process for the sport and the fans. It must be done. We just happen to be the only sport doing it right now. There will be more positive doping controls. There will probably be more big names fall as well.
It is like attacking cancer. Chemo is a harmful way to rid the body of cancer. It is a long and painful process. In the end, though, you can be rid of the cancer and have a clean and healthy body.
Same with testing, doping and cycling. Testing is a long and painful process to rid the sport of doping.
We will get there. It may get worse before it gets better. But we will get there.
And, sometime in the future - all other sports will have to follow. By then, hopefully, we will have gotten to a place where we can sit back and watch the other sports go through the same process.
We will heal from this. We have to.
Armstrong is the winningest tour rider. That's fact. What nags at me is the supposition that he was a clean rider through it all while many, if not all, of his rivals were doping, many since have been caught or have confessed in large numbers.
So Armstrong was considerably better drug-free than all the others pumped full of drugs? I have no proof that he wasn't better clean than the rest were while doping, but I don't believe it.
I believe he either had some medical excuse to use performance enhancing drugs due to his cancer treatment and perhaps obtained a gag order or some other means of avoiding scrutiny, or he just had a better doping system period.
Moreover, some of his team-mates, Heras is the stand out, were hired and paid handsomely expressly to pace Armstrong on the climbs before he launched his famous attacks. Last time I checked cycling was a team sport. Given that his team-mates have been caught for doping (Heras is serving or just finished serving two years), why are his accomplishments under the assistance of said cheats not in question or even revoked?
Call me cynical, but to me it's all too shady to trust any rider of the past decade, and least of all the winningest cyclist of that doping era. We all want to have heroes but I'm not willing to put aside all rational thought to accommodate them.
LeMond and mitochondria myopathy #2
LeMond was indeed a true champion, and it’s too bad he was shot. He himself could’ve won 5 Tours. But, “could’ve” and “if” are not relevant. The record books are.
I believe Mr. Armstrong would be the first to tell you that Hinault, or Indurain and Merckx were better riders than he. I believe he would also tell you how much of an inspiration LeMond was to him and how incredible of a rider he was, and what a pity his terrible luck was.
I believe he would also mention that he himself was an arrogant and uncultured rider when he was in his early twenties (in reference to his snubbing you at the ’93 World’s). These are all things he has stated in his books – which are best sellers. It’s not easy to mention such things when you know millions of people will read them.
I have a hard time with someone who claims that their champion was a rider all season long and could win just about anything, against anybody. It reminds me of what many people have said over the years about racing in the “old days” (prior to EPO). They’ve implied or have said it outright, that doping was the only way to be so competitive all season long.
So, why not put American icon LeMond under the same microscopic lenses? Let’s pull out his urine samples and blood samples (if there are any) and take a peek with all this new hi-tech gear. Perhaps we will see some of his rainbow jerseys and Tour titles as seriously questionable. Is it possible to ride all season long, and get some great results, without performance enhancing products…not just EPO or blood doping – but, also recovery products (what some cyclists don’t consider doping)?
As for Armstrong. I don’t know the man. And like any world class athlete, he must have an ego the size of the Tour de France to survive the personal attacks he receives and to sustain the drive he has. That kind of person must not be a pleasant person to hang out with.
He would not be on my list of people to call up for a party. But, I find him much more believable than someone like LeMond, Armstrong focused so much on the Tour. He used other races to tune up without burning himself out (except for ’03, where he went into the red before the Tour).
Is that not a hint that he was refusing to dope? He couldn’t ride all season long because his tank would be empty for the Tour. And let’s not forget that he did have results through the early seasons as two second places at the Amstel Gold prove, a fourth in the World’s and a Second in Liege-Bastonge-Liege (behind Hamilton, who shows signs that he doped for that victory), a Tour de Suisse victory, a Championship of Zurich victory not to mention several stages and the overall at a few Dauphine editions.
So, in short, Armstrong was not LeMond, or Indurain, Merckx or Hinault. He will tell you that they were better champions in many different ways.
So, let’s cut the crap. Armstrong is what he says he is, and what he worked for – a cancer survivor that became the greatest Tour rider of all time. The record books hold the facts. And if people have a problem with it, they can ask Merckx for his opinion. An Armstrong critic won’t find a sympathetic ear from the greatest rider of all time.
LeMond and mitochondria myopathy #3
“Greg raced a pretty full season; he was active from the early spring classics through the grand tours and to the end of the year classics. He even beat Kelly, in a sprint at Tour of Lombardy one year… LeMond has more talent, class and panache that 10 Armstrong's put together”.
While I love cycling (way before LeMond and Armstrong, came onto the scene), I am infuriated by hero worshipers. LeMond used to have class, but no more.
Let’s assume that Armstrong ‘doped’ (although he was tested probably more than all other cyclists combined) and never found guilty. What does this potentially say about LeMond, that he could do so many races and be so successful?
LeMond’s era (and before and after) was the era of stimulants/amphetamines. I used to love LeMond, until he started talking smack about American racers decades after he quit the sport. He used to be a great athlete, now he is a great embarrassment to himself and America. Eddy Merckx – now there is a man- and a champion to look up to (yes – I know that he took stuff, but he doesn’t belittle riders because of petty jealousy).
In these dramatic times, and because I am on vacation and I have the time, I feel compelled to offer some thoughts on the 'Vino situation'.
Whenever the phrase 'war on x' occurs, in any situation, you know people are desperate and that it's never going to end. That the Tour de France organizers are using this 'war on drugs' language just shows how funny and irremediable pro cycling is.
In a tour where the likely winner is a very fishy figure in terms of doping (failure to inform authorities of his whereabouts and Whitney Richards' allegations against Rasmussen, which seem rock solid), what is the ultimate message being sent? The message is not, don't dope, but don't get caught. The real story is Rasmussen not Vinokourov. It's like David Millar said, we can no longer give cyclists the benefit of doubt.
I feel stupid in that I was genuinely surprised by the news. If you were surprised by what happened, like I was, then it's time to stop believing. Watch, but don't believe.
It's show biz and power, and it's sullied from the beginning. It's Vegas on two wheels and should be seen this way. Vino's news was so dramatic and that's what the media sport of cycling is all about—it's not a few bad apples, but a condition, a spectacle of the battle between purity and impurity.
Love cycling; dig being on the bike, hanging out with racers, but the pros? Come on, it's entertainment athleticism, and must be viewed this way.
Many folks found Floyd Landis' "bounce back" stage last year so shocking that it became part of the "public's" circumstantial evidence against him in his positive testosterone case.
Well, Vino looses 28 minutes one day and bounces back to take the win by how many minutes the next day? Some will say "they let him go". Well initially, the contenders from last year did the same with Floyd. By the time they realized it was a mistake they had no "workers" left around them to do the work.
They were in "Pack Denial". Floyd may be guilty, or maybe not. But from now on let's not use a great "bounce back" stage performance as part of any damning evidence. Otherwise we risk appearing foolish later on when some "golden boy" duplicates or nearly duplicates the circumstances.
What will it take to watch a pure cycling race of the world's best men? Am I a dreamer? I'm not alone, I know that. I do have my limits though, I know that too. This is from a guy that has followed this sport like a damn religion for over 20 years. I'm losing my faith. That’s saying a lot, believe me!
To all you pros and ex-pros who have had the balls to stand up and tell the world you've sinned - bravo! I forgive you. We need more of you.
To all you sinners who are too afraid, too selfish, or too stupid to come clean – go find another job. This sport is more important than you.
I'm going to go ride my bike now and get right in the head.
Does anyone remember the quote from Moreau after the Landis attack and stage win last year – ‘that it was a typically American move’ a quote which it was not difficult to see the broader criticism that was expressed – guess the Moreau collapse after someone had the temerity to actually try and race against the poor little French champion was a ‘typically French reaction’.
A classified ad:
Oh the moronic irony (morony?) of Vino's situation last year, not riding due to no fault of his own, and his team-mates' situation this year, forced to abandon because he blood doped?!?
Oh the millionth public accusation with no B-sample...
I follow the drug testing results with incredulity when I see drug testing for out of competition tests taking place in June and May. To my (limited) knowledge, we know that the training done over winter and spring is the base to launch your season yet you rarely read of out of competition tests taking place for the top GC contenders on their training camps in February/March.
Do the drug testers hibernate over winter and only venture out when the season opens up for Paris-Nice? To give the sport the clean image it requires, we should have drug testers with the top GC contenders on their training camps in Pyrenees, Lanzarote or worldwide?
These tests should also extend to following the rider over to the country of choice to see their 'doctor' for the baseline testing.
The fight against Blood Doping and PED's is incomplete. While The UCI, WADA, IOC, Race Organizers, and National Federations, are united in their efforts to stop this curse, their efforts will never be enough.
The above stated agencies and the newly formed MPCC (Movement for Credible Cycling, consisting of the teams AG2R, Agritubel, Bouygues Telephone, Cofidis, Credit Agricole, FDJ, Gerolsteiner and T-Mobile as soon as they sign the documents) are only focusing on the detection and punishment of offenders.
Operation Puerto has proven the system of testing and detection can be beaten. The only reason the principals involved in OP have been suspended or are under investigation is because of an investigation and not testing. The Festina doping scandal was a result of a Customs Inspection.
It is imperative that the UCI, WADA, National Feds and the IOC offer a period of amnesty for all riders who confess to past or current PED usage. Riders are less likely to come forward knowing they face heavy penalties.
I am not advocating for no punishment at all, but rather reduced suspensions, say six months, without pay to begin at the onset of the next season. Any rider who makes the admission must report to their Federation before an agreed upon date. Say late July/early August for a blood and DNA test. Riders with a non-negative result are suspended from competition immediately and will still serve the six month sentence as well. Riders who pass the drug control will be allowed to continue riding this season and serve their six month suspension to begin at the start of next season.
Furthermore, any rider who provides information to these agencies or legal authorities that leads to the suspension, indictment or arrest of persons engaged in the use, administration, sale or distribution of PED's can have their suspensions reduced to 90 days . Confessing riders must also describe to these agencies practices or procedures used to avoid detection of PED's to aid in the fight against doping.
National Feds, with financial assistance from UCI and race organizers, must institute mandatory education classes for all riders under their jurisdiction. Young riders need to know the health and legal consequences involved in the use of PED's.
The final leg in the fight against cheats is the riders themselves. Currently, the OMERTA, (Code of Silence), is the principal within the Peloton. The clean riders must institute a sense of Peloton Justice themselves.
When I was in the military, soldiers whose behaviour, attitudes or actions, created a negative impact upon the unit were dealt with through methods of barracks justice. Severe offences were normally dealt with by a good old-fashioned butt-whuppin'. Then the offenders were turned over to the Company Commander or MP's for legal or disciplinary action.
While I am not abdicating violence within the Peloton to enforce compliance of the Code of Ethics, measures can be instituted such as preventing the bad apples from getting into breaks. Where he will not be allowed to retrieve water for the team, (this is to prevent their being seen on T.V.). If these or other punitive measures fail to change the behaviour or actions of the rider, then a bike pump inserted into the spokes should do the trick.
In response to Jared Wilden's assertion that Eric Zabel's participation in this year’s Tour is inconceivable; the UCI has rules governing the length of time that infractions can be punishable. The admissions by Zabel are outside the UCI 'statute of limitations' and therefore no action can be take against Zabel under UCI rules.
The German national federation IS however suspending Zabel from competing under the German flag.
What is more interesting is the close racing we're seeing in this year’s tour. No one rider or team has been dominant as in past years. Are we seeing 'real' performances where riders work hard one day and pay for it the next? We saw Astana breaking the peloton apart, then Vino cracking at the end of the stage, unable to take the win.
The performance of the French this year is equally outstanding: Moreau's work in the Alps and Vasseur's win (ten years since his last TdF victory). Is this the end of cycling 'a deux vitesses'? If so, I welcome it. It's a return to really interesting racing.
When I read about Petacchi, it was a great disappointment. I was a big fan of his.
Regarding Scott Van Maldegiam's letter and the severity of using Salbutomol (Albuterol in the USA); in the doses that Petacchi is taking it; he is cheating plain and simple. It is important to note that Salbutomol is a beta-2 agonist: there are fast-acting (Salbutomol) and long lasting (Salmeterol) beta-2. This is not caffeine.
Salbutomol besides keeping his bronchial pathways open and relaxes the smooth muscle in the lungs. It also has the recuperative characteristics of testosterone, being a strong anti-inflammatory agent. Salbutomol is also abused by bodybuilders in the quest for increased lean muscle and increasing fat burning. The research is clear that using a beta-2 agonist systemically will increase physical performance.
Additionally, Marlene van Baak and researchers from the Netherlands conducted a study of Salbutomol in non-asthmatic athletes. They found that an 800-mcg dose of Salbutomol inhaled 30 minutes prior to testing did improve performance, as measured on a cycle ergometer (van Baak MA, et al. 2004).
Why did they find benefit when so many other researchers did not? Van Baak and colleagues designed their study to measure how long it took to complete a fixed amount of work. Most of the other researchers measured how long an athlete can sustain intense exercise before exhaustion. This is a subtle, but very significant, difference in study design. The van Baak study more closely approximates what occurs in a race: The distance (the “amount of work”) is fixed and the athlete races the clock, not his or her own physiology.
(*International Journal of Sports Medicine 2004;25:533-538. from an article by Stan Reents, PharmD)
In a double-blind, randomised cross-over study, 16 athletes performed two trials – at least four days apart – in which they had to perform a certain amount of work as fast as possible on a cycle ergometer, 30 minutes after inhaling either 800µg Salbutomol or placebo.
average performance time on Salbutomol was reduced by 82.7 seconds – 3,927.6 seconds (65 minutes), compared with 4,010.2 seconds, a difference of just under 2%. As the researchers point out: ‘The relevance of a more than 1-minute improvement in an approximately 1-hour time trial for competitive events is obvious.
It seems that at the end of this type of trial subjects perform a ‘finishing kick’ which is absent during time-to-exhaustion tests.’ It is possible,’ they conclude, ‘that Salbutomol specifically improves this finishing kick.’
*International Journal of Sports Medicine 2004;25:533-538.
The only legal delivery method is by inhaler according to WADA's rules. So if you think Petacchi is innocent- Let's push the rewind button from the doping control after the finish: how many meters before the finish line must Petacchi pull out his inhaler and inhale a huge quantity of Salbutomol to register over 1000 after the finish?
Common delivery methods are inhaler, injection, tablets and syrup. Care to guess what is in Petacchi’s bidon w/ 2K to go?
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