|Cyclingnews TV News Tech Features Road MTB BMX Cyclo-cross Track Photos Fitness Letters Search Forum|
Letters to Cyclingnews - April 22, 2005
A quick note: Greta - Sharing blood opens one up to risk of blood-borne diseases (AIDS, hepatitis, etc). Having sexual relations is the primary means of transmitting blood borne diseases (along with needle sharing). He has sex with his wife. Hence, using someone else's blood opens her up to risk.
Of course, what no one (to my knowledge) has wondered is if the (alleged) blood came from her. Then the disease-risk goes away. Where the purported blood came from is, to me, a key question. If he used someone else's blood, at least one other person HAD to know about what he was doing (or at least knows that he requested/accessed blood for some purpose). He had to obtain the blood from someone or someplace. While the "donor" may not have directly given blood to Tyler if he cheated, someone did. Any effort to cross-reference Perez and Tyler's samples? One of my "Tyler-is-guilty" friend's explanation for both positives is that they were both blood-doping with their own blood, stored the blood in the same place and accidentally got each other's one time.
At this point I have to agree with those who are open to him being guilty but are not accepting of the science of the test and its implementation methods. As a social scientist myself I was appalled to read the logic of the majority opinion. Do these individual's have ANY background in science? Do they understand theory testing at all? Do they understand the difference between the sensitivity (ability to "catch" all cases; high sensitivity usually comes at the cost of some false-positives) and the specificity (ability to "catch" only true cases; high specificity usually comes at the cost of some false-negatives) of a test? To imply that this one-study-test has perfect sensitivity and specificity is jaw-dropping. To dismiss low probability events out of hand just because they are low probability is not science.
After all, low probability events due, by definition happen - not often, but they do happen. To say that one study shows the test is infallible is absurd! What in science is foolproof? Everything requires validation and replication studies. There is always error (it is part and parcel of science) and the main way you "prove" to your peers that your results are not due to error is large sample, replication studies. The test developer's time would be better spent conducting such studies rather than arguing that their test is perfect. Scientific credibility is earned, not bestowed by fiat.
The test may be great. The test may suck. Tyler may be a paragon of virtue. Tyler may be a cheat. The problem is at this time it is impossible to know the true state of affairs.
Regarding Tyler Hamilton's wife being in danger from blood doping Greta Heydenrych asked: "What does his wife have to do with it?" Well Greta, a few thing, AIDS, hepatitis, any number of blood born diseases.
An illegal transfusion, I would imagine, carries a higher threat of contaminated blood and unsanitary implements being used. The risk of infusing unsafe blood, perhaps drawn outside of regulated and tested blood donation programs, is foolish. Exposing a spouse to such a risk is criminal.
I don't know if the source of the blood allegedly used by Hamilton has ever been investigated. It seems that it would be difficult to secure blood and a transfusion without the help of medical professionals. It concerns me that there is no trail, no missing blood, no doctor or nurse willing to sell a story. Just like EPO and other banned drugs that hit the open market it seems that there should be an inventory system that tracks medical products from manufacture (or drawing) to application. If there were records of missing blood, EPO, testosterone, maybe we could cut off the suppliers before athletes even had an opportunity to procure illegal products.
Bruce J. Masterson
East Providence, RI USA
With reference to Greta Heydenrych's comments - yes Greta, you are missing something. All of us, taking into consideration that the Hamiltons are a legally married couple, in their mid-30s and apparently healthy, assume they are sexually active. Blood transfusions for any reason have the risk of infecting the recipient with any number of blood borne diseases, including but not limited to HIV/AIDS. If Hamilton was blood-doping, he was not only betting his life on the fact that the blood received was disease free, he was betting his wife's as well.
Let's cut through the crap, everyone. Read the Panel's decision. Read the dissenting opinion. Here are the facts:
a. Tyler Hamilton's defense agrees that he had two different blood populations in his blood at the time of the Athens/Vuelta tests.
b. Tyler Hamilton's blood histograms which show mixed populations at Athens/Vuelta, have not shown a mixed population in February 2005.
c. There are few causes for the presence of two blood populations: (i) disease, (ii) bone marrow transplant, (iii) intrauterine twin-twin transfusion, (iv) chimerism, (v) pregnancy, and (vi) homologous blood transfusion.
Excluded can be (i) and (ii), because as an elite athlete these conditions are either unlikely or would be known. Point (v) can be excluded for obvious reasons. Point (iii) can be excluded because Tyler admits he is not a twin and if he had a "vanishing twin" it is highly unlikely that he would have histograms with a fluctuating population 34 years after his birth. Chimerism (iv) can be excluded because it is so rare a condition. There are only 100 known human cases of chimerism. Add to this the fact of fluctuating populations in Tyler's case and it becomes extremely unlikely that he is a chimera, since it is not even proven that a human chimera CAN HAVE fluctuating populations.
This leaves homologous blood transfusion as the only likely cause of the presence of two blood populations at a specific time. Hamilton's defense did not challenge the find of two populations and they could not give an explanation for it.
d. As to the dissenting opinion of Campbell: false positives are cases where a mixed blood population does not constitute blood doping, but where another cause is possible. For each doping test there is supposed to be a likelihood expressed in odds (1 to 30 billion in the case of EPO) for false positives. The WADA laboratory failed to establish such a false positive likelihood for homologous blood transfusion.
However, all the causes (but one) that would constitute false positives have already been excluded above. The remaining cause would be a laboratorial mistake, which is unlikely since the Athens/Vuelta samples were tested by separate laboratories, yet showed the same mixed blood population. Although legally, Campbell has a point in that there must be standards, factually it doesn't refute the fact that Hamilton received someone else's blood. I's like O.J.
The dissenting opinion also criticises the process by which the test determines a mixed blood population, namely by looking at the histogram and seeing two peaks, rather than one. Campbell again is right in that there should be an established process be it visual or numerical, but again this doesn't refute the facts.
Should Hamilton be let off the hook simply because there are of yet no established standards in the analysis of the test data, even though the test data clearly indicates that he has a mixed blood population? Again: Hamilton's defense did not challenge the find of two populations and they could not give an explanation for it. They simply said that because there are no standards in reading the data it should be deemed invalid.
How about some common sense?
Los Angeles, CA
As a biochemist, I am astonished by the decision of the USADA in the Tyler Hamilton case. Whether he doped or not, is beside the issue. To endorse a test and ban someone from earning a living using a test that has an unknown false positive rate is ridiculous.
When performing tests on blood, how many people get told they have HIV only to have the original test be proven wrong - that my friend's test is a false positive? The test that is being used to ban Tyler has NEVER been analyzed to find out the false positive rate. If I am trying to develop a new blood test for cancer, I am required to perform tens to hundreds of thousands of test with known samples of blood to determine how frequently the test result is positive for a known negative sample. Again, nothing like this has ever been done for the blood doping test.
For any kind of scientific test, there WILL be false positive results, in the case of the antigen test used to convict Tyler, it is just an unknown quantity that no one cares to determine. If this test was submitted to the FDA for use as a diagnostic test, it would be laughed out of the building. If I submitted a paper to a scientific journal that made the claim that there is no chance for false positives, I would be flatly rejected on peer review.
Apparently the USADA must think that they can set standards where ever they want them. Can someone please help me to get the same people who have agreed that the blood doping test cannot be wrong to be on the panel that approves the diagnostic test I am trying to develop for cancer?
In regards to the Tyler Hamilton interview, I would like to say that I feel his arguments are valid. I am an ICU nurse and have seen many innaccurate lab results due to faulty handling and improper drawing of the blood sample. The dirty secret is that in many cases this has resulted in improper treatment of patients with critical illnesses.
Dick Pound and the USADA members should be shown the door and bring in the appropriate people with scientific backgrounds to run these critical organisations. If Tyler is found guilty of these charges based on unsound scientific data it will be a tragedy for all athletes.
Kurt H. Luedtke
I'm still not sure where I sit with regard to the Hamilton issue, but to say he can't be guilty because he has such a good character is naive in the extreme.
Oskar Camenzind anyone? One of the peloton's true gentlemen and all round good guys, as evidenced when I met him a few years back. I too consider myself a good judge of character so imagine my surprise when he tested positive prior to the 2004 Olympics.
A few observations;
1. Fair play to him for 'holding his hand up' and admitting his offence, not requesting a B sample, and quietly bowing out of the sport with some respect intact, and
2. He is an example of a good guy who tried to cheat the system.
People shouldn't delude themselves in thinking that good guys can't get caught up in the (doping) system.
Supporters of Camenzind, David Millar et al realised that long ago.
Suppose on that fateful September evening, Tyler Hamilton was told he was suffering from a rare disease that spelled the end of his cycling career; how would he have reacted? I'm sure he would have immediately arranged for a second opinion before hanging up his cleats. Which brings us to the very awkward question; why, when he was told he was suspected of having someone else's blood in his veins, did he not pay for an independent lab to sort through his red blood corpuscles? The same question applies to Phonak when they learned Santiago Pérez had failed the same test.
Instead of assembling a panel of experts to look into the theoretical aspects of the test, why didn't they first check his blood which would have shown (I'm presuming innocence with no great sincerity) the Lausanne lab had made a mistake. In Tyler's case, blood taken immediately after his positive test was announced would have shown incontrovertibly either that his positive was the result of "background" noise (i.e. bad lab practise) or else concrete evidence of his long lost twin (elusive chimerism). We know Tyler did actually have his blood tested in this way, showing independent testing is entirely feasible, but he waited (incomprehensibly) until February 2005. If Hamilton and Pérez are innocent, then they were incredibly badly advised if they wanted to acquit themselves on scientific (rather than legal) grounds.
As an outsider, it is also interesting to note that if the professional cycling community genuinely believed Hamilton and Pérez were innocent, not one DS stood up and demanded the test be suspended. After all, if the tranfusion test is faulty, the career of any DS unlucky enough to have a rider on whom it misfires will be instantly over. And yet there has been an ominous silence.
For all those fuming about the injustices of Tyler's case, and I agree that Mr Campbell's counter opinion raises coherent legal questions that deserve an answer (although I think most can be answered), I would suggest that Hamilton has only himself to blame. Even if he is acquitted by the CAS, his more recent website defenses have sullied his reputation beyond repair. His contorted explanations for his profoundly suspicious blood readings, the essence of which is that Phonak didn't realise their equipment was giving lower measurements than the UCI's, prompting them to buy the model used by the UCI, is, for a team accused of blood manipulation, truly mind boggling.
First off, I support Tyler and have been a fan of his before the '03 Tour. He is a fantastic and gutsy rider that ALL cyclists should admire, but it's shameful that many label him as a cheat, doper or an "American Virenque" based on what they hear in the press.
After reading his diary entry describing his 2004 leading up to the positive Athens test and the USADA's decision (including the dissenting opinion) I cannot believe that the WADA, UCI and IOC can approve of a subjective, non-quantifiable, "I know it when I see it"-style of determining an athlete's guilt when these bodies have the opposite standards for ALL the other anti-doping tests in their arsenal. This makes absolutely no sense and reeks of political influence and blind incompetence on the highest level.
Let's not forget about the race to get a reliable EPO test ready for the Sydney Olympics. Thankfully with time this procedure has proven an effective and reliable test, but it became useful by following the validation standards of the IOC, WADA and UCI.
The blood transfusion test has NOT undergone any validation because the reasoning of the reviewing scientists (the Nelson Study) is flawed. While the initial, quantitative portion of the test produces the correct result - showing the presence or absence of mixed RBC populations in a single blood sample - it does not, and cannot prove the origin of the new RBC population. With only a yes/no answer and histogram from the machine, it then becomes a fickle analysis of the output to determine if the athlete received a blood transfusion and this is where the test breaks down. This can be influenced by many outside forces and should never be relied on for determining an athlete's (or anyone else) guilt.
As we know, Tyler's Athens A test was declared positive one month after the IOC-chosen lab deemed his result NEGATIVE (hence no B test). Also known is that the Vuelta tests showed LOWER levels than his Athens sample and for different markers - meaning than the test would have been declared by the Athens lab as NEGATIVE as well. This is where the lack of peer-review on the qualitative analysis of the quantitative data leaves the test wanting and up for legal scrutiny - which is what Tyler's defence has stated since the beginning. Also, why would the IOC, WADA, etc. withhold the validation data about this test from Tyler's and Phonak's legal teams? Could it be that this test is indeed one of the weakest and least sound ever introduced by an international sporting body?
Frankly, Tyler has been screwed over by the very bodies that should be protecting the integrity of the sports they oversee. Tyler's been one of the many outspoken defenders of the fight against doping and has never failed a doping test before this apparent set of "positives." Many of us cheered and supported Tyler during the 2002 Giro (broken shoulder blade) and the 2003 Tour as he defied the pain and put in two of the gutsiest rides ever produced by a cyclist in a grand tour. We even supported Tyler when Tugboat, his longtime pet passed away last year during the Tour. Where are the fair weather supporters now?
Finally, comparing Tyler to Virenque is totally off base. Virenque was guilty from day one of the Festina scandal and everyone knew it. He put up one the lamest defenses ever and dragged cycling through the mud racing and winning for two years until he broke down in court with a pathetic show of emotion and guilt. Tyler is far more honorable that RV ever was - even breaking his contract with Phonak to help the team's case for a Pro Tour spot. Would RV do that - I think not.
Regarding the letter writer from the UK who wondered what Tyler Hamilton's friends think of him now: The writer might be disappointed to know that after the decision was announced last week, Tyler was seen out in Boulder sharing beers with his friends. I think Mr. Hamilton has plenty of supporters and true friends.
What do doper's friends and family think of the doping rider? I think it depends on the family and friends. However there are a couple possibilities and I think that most of these riders receive support from the people who surround them.
1. Denial. Mark Hacking's (pleaded guilty to killing his wife Lori) father came out on TV and said he honestly believes his son had nothing to do with Lori Hacking's disappearance. Only when confronted with overwhelming evidence did the father step back from his strong convictions. It's very easy to convince yourself that your son/daughter/whoever is "right". I'm sure there are dopers out there who believe they did nothing wrong with friends/family that think the same.
2. Acceptance. Unconditional love means just that. There are riders out there who can barely walk due to the amount of performance enhancers they used (in particular I think of a US cyclist who needs a cane to walk due to heavy steroid use). In a situation like that would you abandon your child or spouse? Probably not. You may not agree with what they did but that's in the past. If your parents got lung cancer because they smoked (and maybe quit but still had the undercover smoke here and there) would you abandon them? You might be upset that they smoked but that won't stop you from visiting the hospital.
3. Support. If a rider could make more money by cheating, and I'm talking a serious amount more (say 100 times more - imagine getting your annual salary every three days!), maybe the rider's family/spouse would understand and help support what they do. If said rider could go from making $50,000 a year to $5,000,000 a year, it might be easy to justify cheating. Or in the case of some white collar criminals, maybe they'll make $500 million or more (Enron, WorldCom, etc). I don't think their families complained too much till they got caught ("No, I don't want another $20 million house" or "no, I really don't want you to hand me down your Ferrari, I'm perfectly happy with my Honda."). Rumsa's wife was supporting someone with all the drugs she had in her car, whether it was her mom or her husband.
Or the rider's friends/family may not care if the rider is cheating or not as long as the rider did well. A friend of mine was a teacher at a private school. If a student cheated, she could not say the student cheated. She had to say something positive like "David has creative problem solving skills". The student's parents would typically sue the school if a teacher or staff said something negative about their child. How can you expect such parents to disapprove of doping?
4. Rejection. Unless the doping rider's family/friends are extremely naive, I can't see this happening. Most people have some understanding of the Machiavellian tendencies seen in business. And a pro rider is a business, riding to make money. A measure of success is how much money the rider makes. So maybe the odd rejection occurs but most racers' friends/family would accept "everyone does it and I did it to stay in the game."
Overall I would think that most "cheating" riders would actually have either support during their cheating or support in the aftermath of getting caught (if they get caught). If true there is little to be lost by doping. The hypocrisy of doping in other sports (like baseball - your first positive gets rewarded by education?) isn't helping matters. This makes it all the more difficult to tether and subdue the practice.
These are my opinions and I welcome any feedback/criticism.
As a sport cycling is by far the hardest. With this demand and emphasis on getting results riders, staff and all that go with the pro peloton know what goes on. I feel sorry for the riders myself, their the ones who are out there putting in mile after mile, hour after hour only to be used and abused by their sponsors/managers. Its such a short career, and one mistake can take all your dreams away.
In the case of Hamilton, I believe he is guilty and has used performance enhancing procedures. However, I firmly believe most of the peloton for some periods during their careers have done the same. One solid year with consistent results can secure a good contract for at least 2-3 years to come. With this in mind and an understanding that when you retire if you have not made much from cycling all you are left with is memories and scarred muscular legs.
The list of riders who have tested positive is almost as long as the peloton itself. This just reiterates that at certain time in ones career most riders have and will use performance enhancing drugs. Take for instance David Miller. He's landed himself a two year ban for using EPO as we all know, but what most don't realise is he could have walked away from cycling at 27 and lived as a very rich man for the rest of his life. The fact he decided to admit his guilt and vow to race again shows the sort of person a professional cyclist is. They are tenacious, competitive and completely set on winning.
So to finish my point is before you judge any athlete who has tested positive for drugs, ask yourself if you where in their position would you have chosen to do it differently? I suspect if would then that's the reason why their the best in the world and your not?
All those emails applauding the Hamilton guilty verdict should take note of this part of case arbitrator Mr Christopher Cambell's statement: "Athletes should not have to worry that high-ranking officials are sending clear messages to the arbitrators to find the athlete guilty regardless of the facts of the case."
I think there is no doubt we have a very clear case of the arbitrators being "leaned on" to find a guilty verdict
This is clearly wrong and a complete disgrace.
If this was a court of law, had the authorities found evidence that the Judges were being pressured from outside influences here in Britain, this would certainly be declared a mistrial - and the case would either have been thrown out or a new trial instigated.
With the recent ruling against Tyler and word of appeals in the works, it appears that the primary defense is that the test is unreliable and that one sample may have been mishandled by the lab. Tyler has said he will spare no expense to clear his name. Now my question: if you believe you are innnocent and the test that implicates you is unreliable, why not show everyone how unreliable it is? Where are the previous samples that show different results? Why not get tested several times last fall/winter with TV cameras rolling and UCI/WADA officials present to show the variability in results? Pay for the tests yourself, whatever it takes. Looking to get off on a technicality does little to instill public confidence.
Recently, former US football and baseball star Bo Jackson vigorously challenged steroid use accusations against him by offering up his medical records and threatening a lawsuit. Other baseball players remain under a serious cloud of suspicion because they have tried the "I didn't know what it was" or "My lawyer has advised me..." defenses. No one other than Jackson has threatened legal action-probably because the best defense against slander/libel is truth and nobody in baseball wants anything to get out.
Back to Tyler: News of the warnings given to Phonak as early as the spring and that the WADA uses a more strict citeria (two distinct peaks vs a peak and a "hump") than is used clinically makes me wonder. Also how come, to my knowledge, only one other cyclist has tested positive using this supposedly flawed test? Santi Perez was on the same team and has been curiously quiet during this whole situation.
I can see from what Tyler has written in his responses to all the questions from Cyclingnews (and everywhere else) that he is approaching this the same way he approaches his profession- with grit, guts and determination beyond the call of duty.
Think about what you or I would have gone through emotionally to handle someone accusing us of something we didn't do - and in the meantime banning us from our livelihood under the most currently 'scandalous' circumstances.
Tyler has taken this on with a backbone most of us can't imagine. I personally thank you Tyler for doing the work the Dick Pounds of the world would never do - educating people - and under the harshest circumstances! Tyler has taken the 'sensation' of his story and turned it into an opportunity to show people the injustice foisted on him - and them, should they make it the highest level of sport. What if your kid succeeds in becoming a top European cyclist? Someone you coach? Your local teen who goes well uphill? Think about that. People need to hear this.
This sort of thing always happens when the bureaucracies of the world step in. You know this from your own job - the "new manager" has to make a difference - show people he's doing something. What about that something he's doing means the career of a non-European athlete is sacrificed? That's OK with them! It's more important to be right than correct. Ooops! The big boss opened his mouth and now everyone lines up behind THAT. It's ridiculous.
Everyone reading this knows how they have been treated unthinkingly in this way by some organization sometime - the phone company, a hospital, a store, a government...why not an explanation of all the inconsistencies in this case? WHY NOT? It's clear why not and someone needs to call them on it.
What Tyler is relying on is you. For you to do something about it. It's said that the only real crime in the world is when good people see a problem and do nothing. I have sent money to Tyler's defense fund and written a letter to the USADA and WADA. What will you do?
I would like to see some real muckraking journalism from someone in the cycling field and go on the attack towards the USADA and WADA and Dick Pound and find out what happened. It's only right. What ever happened to the day where people weren't afraid to take a stand and really point out things to people. I am sure there is some sensation to be found under a rock named something other than Tyler Hamilton.
Thanks for your in depth review and interview with Tyler Hamilton and his case.
Many 'issues' addressed by reader's letters and press articles are clarified now or have valid questions and remarks posed against them. More than ever, I'm inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt. April 19th reader Kurt H. Luedtke mentioned that WADA's mistake needed to be rectified and with a little investigative reporting you guys could help save the career of an inspirational cyclist. I'm glad you do your part of the job and... as perception so devastatingly rules over truth these days...that it isn't too late
It appears there may have been a misunderstanding in relation to Kloden's comments. I think the reason he says that Armstrong's accomplishments could only have come on an American team is due to the focus that is given to the Tour. A European team would never be able to focus entirely on one event. Look at T-mobile now. They have not had a win [until the weekend's win at L-B-L - Ed.] this season and people are asking questions. Look how there is always a fight as to whether Ullrich gets more helpers or Zabel does. US Postal was the only team where only one result really mattered. No-one was really bothered if Big George took a classic as long as LA did the business in July, and he had the 8 riders who were best suited to helping achieve that with no secondary objectives.
Which leads me on to what I think he meant by solo fighter. US Postal was only about one rider. In T-mobile, no doubt Jan holds most of the cards, but Kloden or Vino could win the tour. At Discovery there is no second option.
You called attention to it, in your original statements, yet never brought it back to the table. Why would you make such a ridiculous announcement, if there were facts such as these?
C'mon! Tyler, what the heck was that all about!?
The real fact is, none of us will ever, ever know the truth, because we want to believe Tyler, but we want to believe that cheaters will be caught, and we don't want Tyler to be a cheater.
Such is life.
Michel van Musschenbroek
I think it is interesting that everyone seems to be hyping the Giro as a duel between Cunego and Basso. In my opinion, Simoni will prove them both wrong. My reasons for this:
1) The Giro is Simoni's race. In the last 6 years, he has finished third three times, won it twice, and would have won it in 2002 if he hadn't been kicked out.
2) Simoni races better when he is angry and has something to prove. In 2003, he approached the Giro with an Armstrong-like determination and was merciless, coming in first or second in every mountain stage. This was the year after he was kicked out for the infamous Peruvian lozenges that caused him to test positive for cocaine. He remembered what people thought of him and how no one supported him, and he proved that he was the man to beat. I suspect he is equally angry this year after his teammate stole victory from him last year.
3) After two years of going for the Giro-Tour double, it seems like Simoni is concentrating more on the Giro. Last year he started his season later in hopes of being fresher for the Tour, sacrificing some fitness at the Giro which cost him. This year he won on top of Mount Faron in March, and just won another Giro tune-up at the Giro dell' Appellino. I think he learned from last year and is peaking for the Giro. He also said he isn't interested in the Tour overall, and may just go for the KOM jersey.
4) He really wants to stick it to Cunego. They both say they are friends/teammates, but they haven't raced once in the same race this year. Look for Simoni to turn on the jets when the road goes up.
I could be wrong, but I think Simoni has one more great Giro left in him and he will surprise a lot of people this year.
While there's no argument that the phrase is chronically overused, "end of an era" still feels just about right to me in relation to Mario Cipollini's retirement. I'm not entirely sure why, but this is hitting me much harder than Lance's announcement last week.
Obviously Mario's retirement wasn't completely unexpected, but his mid-season departure was out of the blue; not at all like the artfully foreshadowed Armstrong retirement speech, staged for media consumption by a lead up soundbite issued the month before.
I think the real reason I'm so affected by this, the knowledge that we've already seen the Lion King's final charge to the finish line, is that Cipo's been a fixture in cycling for nearly the entire time I've followed the sport. Although I've ridden bikes since childhood, bicycle racing only came onto my personal radar in college days, when Greg Lemond had his run of Tour successes. During that period, Mario Cippolini hit the pro ranks, and began to build his dual reputation as the World's Fastest AND Flashiest man on two wheels...and he's been there ever since. He amazed us with astounding sprinting prowess by eclipsing Alfredo Binda's Giro stage win record. He reminded us that there was more to Cipo than 200 metres of dazzle by bridging a wet, windy gap to an elite group of Classics riders en route to victory at Gent-Wevelgem in 2002. Most of all, he guaranteed that any top-level bike race you saw, for almost two decades, would be enlivened by the irrepressible personality of one of the true icons of modern cycling.
I highly doubt Lance retiring from cycling has anything to do with his girlfriend. I remember how fried I used to feel after a season of racing...and I never made it out of the cat 4's!
The guy probably wants to sit back and enjoy life after a very distinguished career. The man's career achievements are beyond comprehension. I can't imagine how hard it is to get out of bed and on your bike after a career like Lance's. So after six tour wins and a seventh yellow jersey defense, give the guy a break!
Recent letters pages