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Letters to Cyclingnews - July 24, 2002
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. 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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Asthma and Salbutamol
In Australia, the moment a child is diagnosed with asthma, the very next thing that parents seem to do is send their child to a swimming squad. There's a perception here that swimming will do asthma good. I'm sure that swimming (at least in Oz) would also appear in the category of "... having an incidence of asthma which is above the normal rate for healthy people...".
I think many parents worldwide think that if their child has asthma then sport - whether it be cycling, swimming, football, etc - will be the best remedy.
Michael Brideson, PhD
Asthma and Salbutamol #2
It's probably true that intensive cycling gives way more easily to asthma than just half an hour of peaceful cycling. It's also true that taking part in the "Tour", the "Giro" and the "Vuelta" and other top level races causes severe drops in the RBC (red blood cells) count and the haematocrit and also in the testosterone level. Why are riders who suffer from a too low haematocrit and a too low testosterone level not allowed to replenish their tanks with EPO and testosterone?
Jef Van Driessche
Asthma and Salbutamol #3
Several recent articles have been published about the incidence of asthma in endurance athletes. Check this article from the BBC website as an example. Articles have also appeared in Master Skier (a cross country skiers newsletter) and on the Medscape website (a health website intended for scientists and health care professionals). You could also try searching the web on "asthma AND ____" (include the name of any endurance sport) and you will probably find other articles. If you read the medical literature, you would also see that the incidence of asthma has increased in the "normal" population in recent years - especially in cities and probably due to environmental factors. So, it shouldn't be too surprising that the incidence of asthma in professional cyclists has increased. With adequate medication and an alertness to asthma 'triggers', many people with asthma can compete or just exercise for enjoyment at high intensity or for long durations.
Asthma and Salbutamol #4
I am reading with interest the articles and letters concerning asthma and the use of albuterol. Asthma afflicts many individuals, bike racers or not; asthma is a very real problem that can generally be treated reasonably well. It would not appear difficult to devise a simple clinical trial to show whether or not this class of drugs actually enhances performance in healthy individuals. Further, the test could also look at whether or not an amount of albuterol above a normal treatment level in individuals affected by asthma enhances performance. Perhaps these types of studies have already been done with large number of cyclists or other athletes? So, instead of a lot of verbiage about whether the drug is a performance enhancer or not (above simple treatment for asthma), why not actually do some research? Or should one, without good, hard scientific data, relegate athletes with asthma to some sort of "special Olympics"? One could even set up different tours for bike racers: those who have survived cancer, those who are vegetarians, etc.
I think Charles missed the point of Andy's letter. Nowhere in it does he ask we Americans to not express our national pride- I'll be waving The Flag as vigorously as any other if we did manage a 1,2,3 in Paris or any combo of Americans on the podium. He is simply asking for the common courtesy of refraining from the 'we're the best, you suck' attitude that tends to arise from such scenarios. I don't think that is too much to ask.
While I personally do not care what pro cyclists do in their spare time, the case of Jan Ullrich is disappointing. Here we have one of the greatest natural talents in cycling coming off the rails. While the use of recreational drugs--which is, incidentally, as illegal in Germany as in the United States--may have little or no impact on sports performance in this case, Jan Ullrich is paid millions of Euros a year and an entire team has been constructed around him to win the TdF. He knows that drug testing is regularly scheduled and that it is his obligation to stay in the sort of condition that warrants his position in the sport. When you are paid to be a role model--and wasn't a part of his winnings dedicated to combating drug use in the Tour one year?--you have to think about these things.
Many of my friends in Germany dislike Lance Armstrong, calling him "a machine" but nonetheless have respect for him. He treats his training, career and the Tour de France with the greatest seriousness. It is a disappointment to us all that Jan Ullrich's conduct shows a lack of respect for his sponsor as well as for his supportive fans. He seems to realize this and I hope that he will sort out what appear to be serious personal problems soon. There are too few racers of this stature and he still has potential to realize.
Leslie T. Reissner
I'm afraid I have to disagree with Stacey Jenkins' position on Simoni and Ullrich's drug problems.
I think that there is a large difference between Simoni's claim that he accidentally ingested an illegal substance which could have and should have ended up (and did) with his ejection from the Giro, and Ullrich's frank admittance that he doesn't give a damn about the rules of the game.
While Ullrich isn't a cheater in the sense that he took performance enhancing drugs or intended to cheat, one has to ask whether or not he would if he has so little respect for the rules the way they are.
Personally, I have a lot of faith in Ullrich and Simoni but the only way to have a sensible drug policy is to consistently enforce it. We could bring up smoke screens by citing other riders who weren't as severely dealt with but the point is that I believe these two were handled appropriately.
"Virenque was showing his class today"?? [Stage 14 - Ed] Last I checked, Virenque was about the last rider deserving of the word. Not only is he an admitted doper, but he lied while his team were serving their suspensions and expected the public to believe him. I appreciate the suffering that got him the stage win, and for any other rider that would be a class performance, but to say that Virenque was showing his class is a bit much. It was a class performance, but dopers don't have class. Period. I don't care how many suspensions served, how many other riders do it, or how many races are won in commanding fashion. Those things are secondary to the integrity of sport; professional or amateur, for money or not, it's still sport. Let's see some more 4-yr bans handed out, or even better, lifetime. The people who are willing to dope to win don't deserve to be in the sport and aren't worthy of the adoration and awe heaped upon them by cycling fans and enthusiasts the world over. They're no different from the 'roided out weight lifters who snap their own bones because their muscles are too strong for their skeletons.
Keep up the great work, just please don't describe Virenque or other dopers, past or present, as having class (or if you do, understand that it bothers me. . . ).
Thanks again for the great site!
My-oh-my what short memories the Euro sporting press has. Has it not occurred to anyone over there that 21 out of the 32 completed Tours (65%), since Eddy's first win in 1969, have been won by only 5 riders? Merckx, Hinault, LeMond, Indurain and Armstrong. Of those 21 Tours, 6 of those, or 28%, have been won by 2 Americans three times apiece. In the time since 1977, when I started following the Tour with more than a casual interest, the event seems to be larger in scale and more popular than ever. My question in reply would be "How has multiple winners ever hurt the event?"
Sounds like a mild case of xenophobia has struck the Euro press corps.
Now let me get this straight. French fans are throwing the insult at Lance that he is a doper and feel Richard has not gotten enough love and respect? And there are questions that Lance is not good for the Tour because he is too good? (What are the thoughts about Bernard, Miguel, and Eddie.) Yes the Tour is a little less exciting than when there is a tense drama hanging over the GC competition, but when are the French going to accept the fact that they have been replaced by the Italians, the Americans, and the Spanish and learn to love the sport again.(Maybe then some young French riders with class will emerge). Lance was totally in awe years back when Indurain simply rode him off his wheel, and yes the nobility of Big Mig's victories was an example of the proud grandeur of this sport of ours. And now Lance's victories and strength, made all the more noble not just because of his rise from the death bed of cancer but because he never forgets that he is a cancer survivor, is a wonder to behold and the resentments of those (few?) fans blinds them to that reality. The French used to represent the knowledgeable ones that new it wasn't just about winning, it was also about how you won. Lance Armstrong is a thing of beauty to watch on a bike. It is a shame that now not only can't the French ride as champions they can't even appreciate the magnificence of the sport.
I watched the finale of stage 11 in shock and disbelief. Armstrong is a good bike racer, but he is no actor. The little one handed fist pump toward the sky had me rolling with laughter. For the Love of Christ, man, you if you feel so terrible after winning a stage of THE TOUR DE FRANCE (!!) that you can't give a proper salute then I hope there is an ambulance waiting to take you to the hospital!!! I don't for one second believe Armstrong is as weak as he is "acting".
Who does Armstrong think he's fooling? Phil and Paul are in on the charade. Notice they didn't notice Armstrong nearly collapse at the line? Or rather, they did notice but didn't comment?!?!
Its is so obvious to me that Armstrong and Bruyneel are playing some kinda game. Apparently they are trying to make the Spanish teams think Lance is not as strong as last year. Why? We're already one day into the mountains, Lance is in Yellow, why didn't he attack to put maximum time into Beloki? USPS has to defend the Jersey now no matter what and isn't more time always better than less time?
Or maybe they cut a deal with the Tour Boss to make a more interesting event by adding some Drama. Well, this ain't no Oscar performance. And I am growing disgusted.
Armstrong's acting #2
I wonder how much USPS is laughing inside the team cars. Lance is playing the Tour like the Maestro he is! A chink in the armour, yeah right! If the rest of the field keeps telling themselves that for maybe two or three more years maybe it will come true, eventually!
David L Reynolds
It would be interesting to know what the record is for most times starting the Tour de France without finishing. Even though Cipollini usually (always?) abandoned, at least he won stages. Jonathan Vaughters kept his perfect record (4 starts, 4 abandons) with his Stage 11 abandon today.
In response to letter posted by Francesco Araya: I also watched with curiosity at Zabel's multiple swats at cameras. Paul Sherwen and Phil Liggett also seemed perplexed, with Paul commenting that Zabel must not have known what he was doing. I believe the answer was at the very end of the camera shot and the circumstances of the victory. It appeared to me that he was making his way to his lead-out man to thank him with an embrace. Zabel was under a great deal of pressure to validate his Green jersey, and it was apparent to me, even from Paul and Phil's very even-handed commentary, that Zabel's ability to win outright was being questioned. I believe he was overcome with emotion over a great win in which he held off the charge by his main rivals to take the win and didn't want his tears broadcast to the world. Angry? No. Just a great champion who wanted a bit of privacy in a moment of validation and joy when the first whispers were that he may be washed-up.
As for my own comments on Zabel, today's first mountain stage demonstrates why he is a great sprinter and cyclist and deserves the honor of the Green jersey. As in Stage 6, he can win outright sprints for the line against the best in the world, and as in today's stage, he can ride over HC mountain climbs at the front to do it when the other top sprinters are gasping not to be eliminated on time. This is Grand Tour not a one day classic. No one combines the ability to flat-out sprint with the overall cycling skill and guts to suffer through the mountains and be there sprinting and collecting points on the last day. Eric Zabel defines the skills exemplified in the Green jersey and has no peer.
K. Scott Drury
Regarding OLN's "Lance vs. the World" logo: if I want to see jingoistic chest-thumping, I can watch Fox News thank you very much! (Besides, shouldn't it be "Lance vs. Whomever Jean-Marie Leblanc Lets In?")
It seems as Mr. Armstrong's being "stylistically challenged" shows up in more than his clothing. I find his not wanting to lose 8 seconds to Beloki a rather weak excuse for not helping Heras to finish the stage and get a well deserved win. Even L.A. said he (R.H.) was too strong for him and asked him to slow down. Everyone says Indurain has taken L.A. under his wing, but I guess the old saying " you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink" seems to fit.
L. S. Paden
Lance and style #2
Well said Greg Saunders. For the last couple of years I was wandering if I am the only one to notice Lance Armstrong's shorts to his knees and socks half way up his calves. I admire him tremendously as an athlete and a person who went through a hell of a battle to beat cancer and win the last three editions of Tour de France, but I couldn't help noticing that, on the bike, he looks more like a triathlete wearing his older brother shorts and socks than a pro cyclist. I even blamed his clothing supplier Nike for the lack of cycling knowledge in designing his team gear. They have been good in making basketball clothing but came short (or rather long I should said) in the cycling department. But surely, he must have noticed how plain, silly they look. It is a pity that Gilberto Simoni is not riding Tour de France this year for some controversial reasons. Maybe riding next to him on the climbs, Lance would take a note of how stylish a pro rider could look.
Lance and style #3
I would have to agree that, compared to past riders, Lance has not done much to label him as a classy cyclist. But as a competitor he has proven many times that he has bucket of talent and as human he might be the classiest person on the planet at this moment.
Lance and style #4
Re: Greg's letter about Lance lacking style... I would guess that a man having a persona so powerful as to create a style of his own is true fashion (your references to Eddy and company are right on, but would be worthless had they not been winners).
While some may believe that simply running to the boutique' and asking some guy (who probably wears full length stockings and a girdle under his suite) to try and press him into the same image as the last "Euro emulator" that walked in is the way to go, I doubt that Lance needs to wear Tiger stripped TT suites (Cipo rules by the way!) or clothes stitched together by anyone who's name ends with "ani, ini, olo" to gain a better image than he has now.
Do the Italians have flare? Oh Hell yes! Would most of them trade their leopard skin Armani jacket, leather ties, Baggy D&G pants and greased hair for a polo shirt and close cropped head if it gave them a few dozen days in Yellow?
You can bet your bottom Bettini they would!
Lance and style #5
First or last doesn't matter if you look good!
I was saddened to read that Jonathan Vaughters and Credit Agricole have agreed to end their relationship. His bad fortune in the Tour de France is the stuff of unfortunate legend. To me, he seemed to be one of the smartest and down-to-earth riders in the peloton, and I wish him the best of luck in his stateside racing and studies.
I do not understand then immense animosity people extend towards Monsieur Willy Voet.
Voet was part of the historical systematic culture of doping in cycling. He is as much to blame as the riders for creating the market place for doping products, for the Director Sportif for setting up the doping system.
Having read Voet's book (Massacre A La Chain) you begin to understand this.
Richard Virenque wins a tough stage in Le Tour De France back doing what he was before as if nothing has changed. In contrast Voet remains ostracised from the sport!!
I can only assume that people are wary that Willy will end up reverting to his old tricks - however - surely having endured depression, prison and personal debt he should have learned his lesson.
Just a quick thank you for the tech overview of headsets. As a novice, it is nice to have things sorted out for me in a clear concise manner. Thanks for taking some of the mystery out of the hardware for me.
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