Tilting At Windmills — McQuixote Style

by Rant on February 20, 2008 · 93 comments

in Doping in Sports, Tour de France, UCI ProTour

Something about the previous post must have really struck a nerve, as the discussion has been quite vigorous over the last few days. Last I checked, there were 140 comments. By the time I’m done with this post, who knows, could be more. Kudos to those who’ve been participating, and even more so to the intrepid souls who’ve kept reading and following the thread. Even if I didn’t have a day job to interfere with reading all the posts, it would still be a challenge keeping up.

Tonight’s subject is Pat “Don” McQuixote, our erstwhile chief banana of the UCI republic. Larry pointed out, in a comment over at TBV, McQuaid/Quixote’s latest pronouncement, which is either an idle treat or wishful thinking. From an Associated Press article published at ESPN.com:

“We need to take action, which we’ll do as a consequence of their decisions,” McQuaid said in a telephone interview. “The reason goes completely against sport. … There is no way that UCI can allow it.

“It’s up to our legal department to study the situation and then begin discussions with ASO before action can be taken.”

McQuaid said organizers of the three major cycling events — which also includes the Giro d’Italia and Spanish Vuelta — were unfairly singling out Astana when other teams had also made doping headlines last year.

Certainly, with news that RCS, promoters of the Giro, will not invite Team Astana to their other races, it appears that Astana has become the ping-pong ball of the cycling world that Unibet was last year. At least, where the organizers of the Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia are concerned. McQuaid/Quixote has his facts wrong about the Vuelta, at least at this point in time, as the organizers have already publicly said that Team Astana are welcome to race in Spain’s Grand Tour later this year. So, practically speaking, Unipublic isn’t jerking Team Astana around. Now, if the rumored acquisition of Unipublic by the ASO occurs, Astana’s entry into the Vuelta may not be assured.

Is it sporting to deny the winner of a race the opportunity to defend his title? Well, assuming that the person in question has done nothing wrong, and has no outstanding doping case being prosecuted, and has no suspension in place, it’s odd (at the very least) to deny that individual a chance to race. In Astana’s case, Alberto Contador will not be able to defend either his Paris-Nice or Tour de France titles. And, Andreas Klöden won’t be able to defend his Tirreno-Adriatico title next month, as RCS is not going to invite the team to any of their races this year, either.

Could it get any worse for the team? McQuaid/Quixote notes:

“The decision is completely arbitrary and selective,” McQuaid said. “They give reasons of being concerned about the image of the Tour — but everybody is concerned about the Tour, teams included. How can you have the best riders in the world not take part? It’s a joke. It’s absurd.”

OK, it is arbitrary. Or at least, it seems that way. But the Tour is ASO’s party, and they make the decisions about who will or won’t be invited. As I pointed out recently, although others may disagree with the decision taken by the ASO, they haven’t broken any rules. Who gets to decide which teams race at the Tour? ASO. Most definitely not the UCI — at least, under the present rules.

What’s going on here has, in my opinion, less to do with who’s on the team at the current time and more to do with the on-going power struggle between various factions. Right now, ASO holds the upper hand, as the Tour is no longer an official UCI ProTour race. So selection for inclusion in the Tour is not automatically guaranteed, no matter which team you’re talking about.

It is, however, absurd not to let the previous year’s winner contest a race, assuming he or she wants to. But that’s the ASO’s choice. Just like it’s the choice of fans whether they will show up, watch events on TV, or purchase the products of those who sponsor such events. Pat McQuixote can have the UCI’s lawyers study the situation all he wants. In the end, they will not be able to prevail.

If Pat McQuixote really wants to get ASO’s attention he might be better advised to organize a boycott of ASO races by the ProTour teams and by the fans. He’s got more chance of getting something like that off the ground than Astana does of racing at an ASO event this year. If you want to get the organizer’s attention, you’re going to have to hit them in the pocketbook, Pat.

The politics and power struggles behind the scenes are doing our sport no favors. Denying entry to the reigning champion’s team looks bad, from my perspective. But that’s the ASO’s decision, and RCS appears to have followed suit. If there’s a backlash against them, perhaps that will cause them to change their minds. I wouldn’t bet on it, however. Once certain types stake out a position, they are often loath to waver from it. And it’s not like too many others in the cycling world are sticking up for Bruyneel and company. As Cycling Weekly notes:

What is telling, though, is there are not [many] voices from the peloton speaking out in support of Astana. There is no rallying call from other team managers. It could be that they don’t wish to align with the outcasts and jeopardise their own places, but it could also mean that they’re content to see Astana take their medicine.

In other words, McQuixote will have a hard time mounting a boycott by the ProTour teams, who are either cowed by ASO’s power, or sitting back and watching Astana take the heat for sins of the past. The other teams may also wish to stay out of the crossfire in the struggle between two of the biggest race organizers in professional cycling and the sport’s governing body.

It will be some time, I’m afraid, before the powers that be settle their differences. In the meantime, expect that each year, some hapless team will become the pawn/whipping boy as the various forces struggle for the heart and soul of professional cycling. Some of what’s happening has to do with the ongoing doping wars within cycling. But some of it has to do with something much more fundamental. Money and power.

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Morgan Hunter February 20, 2008 at 10:50 pm

Hey Rant –

If I go to Pete’s – can I order a “McQuixote?”- low-call, hold the cream and sugar, with a twist of orange? I think at this point I may have trouble starting my day with out that fix…

Not criticizing Cycling Weekly for its comment about the “lack of standing up” in the peloton for ASTANA – and I agree also that the the teams may be cowed by ASO’s power – but I think it has a more practical aspect to the teams problems.

These teams have to have lawyers, don’t they? Any lawyer worth his salt would rightfully advise them not to “stand-up.” Let us not forget that the cyclist and the teams need the organizers as much as the organizers need them – it makes no sense to bite the hand that feeds you.

And isn’t this after all, one of the fixes that exist in pro cycling?

The CW is not reporting it quiet fairly – from what I’ve read shortly after “the pronouncement” of the ASTANA ban – was that of the 18 pro teams on the Tour – 9 of them made a statement through their “team union” in support of ASTANA – the other 9 didn’t.

But as you say – this isn’t just about the doping war – dam! – I like the sound of that one “the doping war” – it is also about big money and power and which side holds it.

One thing we may all be certain of – cycling is going through some major changes. Almost everyday now – the “players” are being exposed – I think this is a “good thing.”

If the public finally gets it – that cycling as it was – is – was not merely some guy who sits in the saddle and peddles his butt up and down the mountains and will do just about anything to come out first – we may actually be able to do something about what has been the state of pro-cycle racing in the last hundred years.

The public may easily be “led by the nose” when they can’t identify all the different parties in this little melodrama. The ability of the governing bodies will be severely curtailed when the public realizes – “aha – the last guy they threw under the truck may not have been for the reasons that are being given!”

Heck, we can even dream BIG and aim ourselves at actually having rules and bylaws that protect the cyclists rights, expose the practice of putting people in positions where there are conflict of interests and we could actually be able to look for ourselves what the bastids are doing and why – if we actually have public access! Rather then what the state of cycling is today.

A disclaimer – “Opinions and positions expressed are to be considered solely of the writer and may not be construed as the opinion and or belief of the Rant Line or it’s affiliates.”

William Schart February 21, 2008 at 5:10 am

Here’s an interesting thought I had about this situation. I am not sure where I am on this, but I’ll toss it out here for discussion.

We have already discussed the idea that the TdF is an “invitational”. Now, would it be any different if ASO were to say “We’re going to invite the top 15 Pro Tour teams and the top 5 Continental teams.)? (Insert your own numbers here.) As opposed to saying outright “We are not going to invite team so and so.”

I don’t know where Astana would stand on any sort of rating system. Given some time, however, I’d bet it would be possible to devise some rating system that would put them on the bottom.

Such a system of picking who’s going to get into any given race would not eliminate controversy, witness all that goes on every December re the BCS, or what will go on next month when teams are picked for the NCAA BB tournament. However, while they is often questions raised about why a certain team is or isn’t picked, I don’t ever recall seeing it suggested that the powers that be in these competitions are excluding any team for other than whatever perception they have about how good the team is, and or what sort of fan base the team has.

Compare all this with the Super Bowl, World Series, World Cup, etc. There, a team “earns” its way in on the field or court. There is little controversy about who gets and and who doesn’t: if your favorite team doesn’t make the playoffs, it’s because they didn’t win enough games.

Rant February 21, 2008 at 6:06 am

William,
Interesting idea. A ranking system of some sort could definitely add a more “objective” element. Imagine points awarded for various individual and team placings in events throughout the year. Those teams performing well would rise to the top, those having a bad year would drop down in the standings.
Now, taking it a step further, how about applying that to who even gets to be a ProTour team? Sort of like in pro soccer, where teams rise or fall from the more elite leagues based on their results over time. That way, Pro Continental teams could rise up to the ProTour if they were doing well, and ProTour teams would drop down a level if they weren’t.
Just a thought. It could certainly entail its own share of controversy, but it takes away the element of “We’re not going to invite you because we don’t like you.”
Morgan,
That disclaimer is hilarious!

Jean C February 21, 2008 at 6:36 am

William

How it was recently ? Look at

Selection criteria from 2001 made by ASO
* The team of the winner of the Tour de France 2000
* The team winner of the teams classification of the Tour de France 2000, Giro 2000 and Vuelta 2000
* The team winner of the UCI 2000 World Cup
* The first 10 teams of the UCI Classification on 15th November 2000, under the condition, however, that they are still among the first 16 teams of the classification after transfers.
* The UCI regulations will apply this procedure from the 2002 season for the three major Tours (Spain, Italy, France)
* 4 remaining wild cards will be attributed at the end of April 2001.
This is to avoid the problems of the TDF 2000, where French teams were left at home during our national tour .

So 20 teams of 9 riders chosen in two rounds: January 2001 and May 2001, with the criteria based on “sporting and ethics.”

The PT was a good concept for classic but bad for GT because every PT team cannot have a strong team for every GT, that needs a lot of money to build 3 competitive team for each GT. So as we see for GIRO, some PT send just a “second class” team or a training team.

bitch slap me back! February 21, 2008 at 7:29 am

You guys have your own reasons why poor Astana is tossed by ASO, I have my own.

“””Tyler Farrar, the young Slipstream-Chipotle rider who took the yellow jersey following Tuesday’s stage, only got to show it off for about 50 miles on Wednesday, as he dropped out with stomach bug that is spreading through the peloton.

Team director Jonathan Vaughters said some kind of bug had been going around, and that team rider Steven Cozza had it earlier in the week.

On Wednesday, High Road’s Edvald Hagen and Bouygues Telecom’s Laurent Lefèvre also dropped out at a feed zone.

Hagen reported similar stomach symptom as Farrar. There was no word on why Lefèvre dropped out. “”

Notice how everyone BUT Astana has dropped people because of the flu. This is only one example of another dozen or so I have dug up in which a number of other teams come down with a mysterious ailment during a big race EXCEPT Astana. Just what is Astana putting in the water??? No wonder nobody wants them in the race.

Morgan Hunter February 21, 2008 at 8:02 am

Hey BSMB

If you think ASTANA is spiking the food – wait till what happens when the Olympics gets rolling!

OR – it is obvious that the teams got “sloppy” – not realizing that they were in a third world country…but wait – this is California we’re talking about!

Well then maybe – all the “team chefs” got together and Visine spiked all the food? Hey that could happen! Yeah they’re the team chefs are doing their own “silent protests!”

OR – it is a little known fact that The ASTANA riders are all dark chocolate junkies – I heard that stuff will definitely “bind you!”

Rant,

Just trying to keep it professional – wouldn’t want it “misinterpreted” – aha… really… I mean that…

Imagine that Rant, William – the standings of the individual riders and teams are determined by PERFORMANCE!!! Wow – the sheer simplicity of this blows my mind…therefore let me give you a majority response – IT WILL NEVER WORK!!!

Really – I mean that….I do…..yeah baby…

Rant February 21, 2008 at 8:11 am

BSMB,
You sure it’s Astana spiking the water? No one from Rock Racing has dropped out yet, either. I wonder what that says? Could this just be a case of “Rockazuma’s (with apologies to Montezuma) Revenge”? 😉

William Schart February 21, 2008 at 9:00 am

Thanks for that info Jean. Kind of what I had in mind. Pretty clear cut, anyone would have a clear idea of why or why not any team was in. Notice what was first on the list.

trust but verify February 21, 2008 at 9:37 am

In the previous long thread, Jean C wrote:

I stated earlier that all riders who climbed Alpe d’Huez in less than 40mn in 96 were full doped. So it’s not only one or 2 names or people I dislike”¦

Between 44mn and 40mn few riders “could” be clean “¦.

Refreshing our memories from “who gets to decide part 2”, pre-’06:

1 Marco Pantani (1995) 36’50
2 Marco Pantani (1997) 36’55
3 Marco Pantani (1994) 37’15
4 Lance Armstrong (2004) 37’36
5 Jan Ullrich (1997) 37’40
6 Lance Armstrong (2001) 38’05
7 Miguel Indurain (1995) 38’10
8 Alex Zülle (1995) 38’10
9 Bjarne Riis (1995) 38’15
10 Richard Virenque (1997) 38’20
11 Iban Mayo (2003) 39’06

Add ’06 times:

Landis (38:34),
Klöden (38:35),
Sastre (38:59),
Leipheimer (39:13)
Menchov (39:42).

By Jean’s position, then, Sastre was a doper, and those saying he’d have won a few Tours except for the dopers gets blown away. Note Kloeden, Sastre, Leipheimer and Menchov have never been personally implicated in anything, except by association.

Add the 04 time trial times of those under 44:00:

1. Lance Armstrong (USA), U.S. Postal Service, 39:41
2. Jan Ullrich (G), T-Mobile, 01:01
3. Andréas KlÖden (G), T-Mobile, 01:41
4. José Azevedo (P), U.S. Postal Service, 01:45
5. Santos Gonzalez (Sp), Phonak, 02:11
6. Giuseppe Guerini (I), T-Mobile, 02:11
7. Vladimir Karpets (Rus), Illes Balears-Banesto, 02:15
8. Ivan Basso (I), CSC, 02:23
9. David Moncoutie (F), Cofidis, 02:23
10. Carlos Sastre (Sp), CSC, 02:27
11. Stephane Goubert (F), Ag2R Prevoyance, 02:33
12. Michael Rogers (Aus), Quick Step-Davitamon, 02:34
13. Gutierrez José Enrique (Sp), Phonak, 03:04
14. Oscar Pereiro Sio (Sp), Phonak, 03:06
15. Marcos Serrano (Sp), Liberty Seguros, 03:09
16. Georg Totschnig (A), Gerolsteiner, 03:15
17. Sandy Casar (F), FDJeux.com, 03:19
18. Mikel Astarloza (Sp), Ag2R Prevoyance, 03:25
19. Juan Miguel Mercado (Sp), Quick Step-Davitamon, 03:25
20. Christophe Moreau (F), Crédit Agricole, 03:25
21. Floyd Landis (USA), U.S. Postal Service, 03:35
22. Axel Merckx (B), Lotto-Domo, 03:40
23. Gilberto Simoni (I), Saeco, 03:40
24. Francisco Mancebo (Sp), Illes Balears-Banesto, 03:41
25. Sylvain Chavanel (F), Brioches La Boulangere, 03:43
26. Michele Scarponi (I), Domina Vacanze, 03:53
27. Pietro Caucchioli (I), Alessio-Bianchi, 03:58
28. Laurent Brochard (F), Ag2R Prevoyance, 04:03
29. Levi Leipheimer (USA), Rabobank, 04:06
30. Ludovic Martin (F), R.A.G.T. Semences-MG Rover, 04:11
31. David Etxebarria (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, 04:16
32. Santiago Perez (Sp), Phonak, 04:16
33. Anthony Charteau (F), Brioches La Boulangere, 04:18
34. Pierrick Fedrigo (F), Crédit Agricole, 04:20
35. Benjamin Noval Gonzalez (Sp), U.S. Postal Service, 04:20
36. Kim Kirchen (Lux), Fassa Bortolo, 04:27
37. Marzio Bruseghin (I), Fassa Bortolo, 04:28
38. Richard Virenque (F), Quick Step-Davitamon, 04:30
39. Marius Sabaliauskas (Lit), Saeco, 04:33
40. Yuriy Krivtsov (Ukr), Ag2R Prevoyance, 04:36
41. Oscar Sevilla (Sp), Phonak, 04:40
42. Bobby Julich (USA), CSC, 04:42
43. Pineau Jérôme (F), Brioches La Boulangere, 04:43
44. Igor Gonzalez Galdeano (Sp), Liberty Seguros, 04:44
45. Santiago Botero (Col), T-Mobile, 04:46

I repeat what I said unanswered over in “part 2”:

Jean C and Ludwig, you’re of course free to believe what you want. If you want to believe all times under 40:00 are EPO or blood doped, no one can stop you, and you’ll find plenty of company.

You’ll also get some dissent, in where you draw the line that says maybe there are some clean times below”¦. where? 40:30? 44:00? 46:00? 48:00? 50:00?

For me, I’m probably inclined to think that times under 37:00 are rocket powered, but I can’t prove it for fact, nor could I attempt to sanction someone who recorded that result without some proof beyond the timing itself.

How did Landis compete on S15/2006? He said he let Kloden do most of the work, and his own w/kg was below the 6.0 w/kg line that seems magical in this context. (And even I can do 6 w/kg, for, oh, [updated:] 45 seconds.)

And we saw what the effort of keeping up with Kloden on S15 did to Landis on S16 the next day. If I’m being asked to justify S15, how do you explain that? Some could see it as a non-doped response to trying to keep up with dopers, and failing miserably.

I also insist on separating the specific charge of microdosing T from the more general charge that he was doing something else as well.

If Landis was doing something else, for which he was not caught, does that make it “right” for the enforcement system to nail him on something he may not have done?

Finally, I’ve never suggested cutting the funding of the lab, so that is a red-herring.

If it were up to me, I’d (1) triple the funding; (2) remove the director from management responsibility; (3) do a stand-down until a clean sweep was made of questionable practice, tests were properly validated against control groups, and some serious instruction on ethics involving leaks of data had been concluded.

TBV

trust but verify February 21, 2008 at 9:39 am

lost the close italics above; everything from “Refreshing our memories” is mine, not quoted from Jean C.

TBV

Rant February 21, 2008 at 10:01 am

TBV,
I went in and fixed things up a bit. If the formatting is not quite right, drop me a line and I’ll get it squared away.

Morgan Hunter February 21, 2008 at 10:33 am

TBV,

Back at you baby! – Rock on!

As you may have noticed though – when you “insist” on reliable testing – people seemed to get bent out of shape. Why iis that exactly? I don’t get it….is it because they assume secretly that they have to oppose any critical appraisals and methods being applied to “testing” at this time?

Couldn’t be that just maybe – it works best for the governing bodies to keep things structured so THEY are the only ones who can claim the rightness or wrongness of any testing done by them? I ask myself – “Now – why would they create such a scenario? What do they get out of it?”

Perhaps what they get is an apparent power to point the finger, label whom ever they may not want winning? Or participating?

This all is so wrong man! The majority of people who are fans all want “clean racing” – what do we actually have? We find ourselves in a “catch 22” situation.

Up to now – we have taken for granted that there is Fair play when it comes to rules and regulations. Well – that is up to the time when Floyd Landis allowed us into the court room. Then anyone with half a brain could see for themselves that things were not exactly kosher. (“kosher” is a NY expression meaning not balanced or fair)

When the sheer transparency of the state of affairs that exist in cycling, the fuzzy rules that govern the sport as a whole, the conflict of interests that exist within the individuals who populate the governing bodies – the conscious ignoring of the general publics outcry against such behavior – the repeated attempts at “spinning” the facts that have occurred and are still occurring right this minute, it rankles the hackles of every fair thinking person. It has to!

All the above are a personal opinionated response to the state of cycling today and to the statements of the comments of TBV – the opinions are solely that of the writer and do not represent as a whole the Rant Line or its affiliates.

Michael February 21, 2008 at 11:03 am

I haven’t been able to follow the thread recently. Came down with the flu. I must have been drinking some of that bug juice that Astana was pushing in Cali. I’m still a little off, so forgive me if a ramble a little.

Thank you for the kind words regarding my recent post (“open & shut. . . “). I can’t tell you how pumped I was to find that it was linked by TBV. Just a couple of weeks ago he linked my psycho brother (Sunday, February 03, 2008 http://theangryfan.blogspot.com/2008/02/righteous-and-wicked.html). So I feel like we’ve made the big time (ho ho).

I think some people took from my post what they wanted to read (or perhaps my English was not plain enough?) rather than what I really meant. Let me be clear, I do not feel that cheating of any kind should be tolerated. My points could be summed up as follows:

Doping wasn’t always cheating. As an aside, many things that are not natural and clearly are performance enhancing are not currently cheating (electrolyte IVs, altitude tents, caffeine pills – in moderation, etc). And even stranger still, many things that are used to keep an ordinary body healthy under duress are cheating, but not really performance enhancing (cortisone, ephedrines, etc).
The popularity of cycling exploded in the late ’80 and into the ’90s. Hell, it even made prime time coverage on American TV. According to the pundits, this was the “doping era.”
Therefore it is safe and reasonable to claim that doping in-itself is not killing the sport.
So what is driving people away from the sport? Because clearly it has waned in popularity over the last few years. My contention is that a sport cannot be successful if the promoters and the organizers are telling the fans that the riders are all cheats. That the results are not to be trusted. Even if it is true. This should be self-evident. So obviously so, that I feel stupid for even having to say it.
The governing bodies must be above such cannibalistic practices. They must establish clear rules for a positive test for every product or method they deem to be cheating. If they can’t do that, then they shouldn’t call it cheating (kind of like the sodomy laws in the bible-belt states). The labs must be required to provide an insane level of detail to ensure that the test is accurate. The rider must be given ample opportunity to defend them-self. Only then should a rider be sanctioned. As another aside, the sanction shouldn’t be so damaging as to end a career. Think about it – if I broke into a pharmacy, stole all their OxyContin and sold it to kids at the local school, I wouldn’t lose the ability to work at my job for the rest of my life. Why should a cyclist pay more dearly for a non-criminal activity? It’s nuts. Oscar Seville has fans. Tyler Hamilton has fans. Floyd Landis has fans. All these fans become disenfranchised by a system that can’t even define or prove what these guys did or did not do. Innuendo and anecdotes aren’t going to make these fans decide that their man is guilty (what makes anyone think I care how fast they went up the Alpe? All I want to know is who was first). So if you were a business man running cycling, would you just say screw-it, we don’t need those fans? If it were me, I’d want to be positive that I’d nailed the guy before I told anyone – and I wouldn’t want the system to work against my credibility.

So cycling should have clear rules about doping. Try reading the IOC and WADA code and explain lay person concisely how a person is tested and sanctioned for blood doping. Larry couldn’t do it. The rules are vague, circular, and poorly written. If I ran cycling I would never submit to them.

The rules must be transparently enforceable by tests that will stand up to such rigors that TBV have put the Floyd tests through. Sadly, the Floyd tests, and the WADA rules have not stood up well to the scrutiny of the guys over at TBV. Which means I am still a Floyd fan, but I am sick of the Tour and the UCI.

Now someone explain how that is good for cycling.

Jean C February 21, 2008 at 11:13 am

TBV,

About Alpes d’Huez time, to sort rider, you have to do a difference between a time make on a TT just with one climb and a full stage of 160-200km with 2 or 3 great cols.

The example of cyclismag I quote regularly use only the time on the last col to do the calculation.

That is why I chose to compare Landis 2006 time on a regular stage with Ullrich TT stage of 2004 TDF!

BTW, the time of 2004 TT are a bit greater than the real time of climbing (around 1’20 less).

When I draw a line it’s not a line to sanction cyclist, it’s a line where I don’t trust a caught rider!

For the cutting fund I was referring to Landis’ statement and appeals to write to senators, and of course I wanted your reaction which I would share with you but there is a lot of people around the world who are very far of our problem of rich! But that is an other problem.

William Schart February 21, 2008 at 12:58 pm

Michael:

Your idea that drug use wasn’t always cheating raises the question of just what exactly is cheating. Is cheating only breaking the rules in effect at the time, or can it include doing things which might not be covered in the rules. Of course, we can’t sanction an athlete for doing something which wasn’t banned at the time, but perhaps we can question the ethics here.

I recall reading an article in Bicycling magazine, following the 1984 Olympics, describing the use of blood doping by some of the US cycling team. At this time, blood doping was not a violation of either Olympic of UCI rules. However, I do recall that the article questioned whether it was ethical for those cyclists to have done this. Similarly, recently there have been revelations, or at least allegations about basebll players use of HGH before this was banned by MLB. Did they “cheat” or merely take advantage of a loophole?

This has some importance, I think, as it can play on the public’s perception of both a sport in general as well as the public’s perception of a given athlete. Cycling could easily eliminate “cheating” (drug use) by simply allowing cyclists to use anything they want. However, if they did so, I suspect that most public support of the sport would cease. But I may be wrong, look at professional wrestling. It is well know as being fake, without the outcome of any “match” determined in advance. In any real sport this would be cheating, but it is accepted in pro wrestling. And pro wrestling still makes a lot of money. So maybe an openly drugged up TdF would attract a following. But I hope this doesn’t come to pass, although the list of prohibited substances could use some pruning. Stop wasting time and effort testing for drugs that have little real benefit.

By the way, there is an interesting article in this week’s Newsweek regarding HGH. There is little if any scientific evidence that it is of any real benefit to an athlete. There is also a statement from the head of the American Endocrinologist’s association to the effect that athletes will take whatever they believe to be of benefit, regardless of whether or not it actually is.

trust but verify February 21, 2008 at 1:55 pm

Jean,

Yes, last to last comparisons are more valid; I don’t think TT vs. last climbs are valid. I’d expect better times on a last climb than a TT, which is what we see in reality. Despite the work of the earlier climbs, there is usually some recovery time before the last one, and effort has been planned to save some in the tank for the last., which is competitive against whoever is in the group.

On a TT, the goal is minimum total time, and the approach is also flat out with no recovery possible before hitting the base. This makes the climb harder and slower, and possibly also being done with a heavier TT bike and helmet. Thus direct comparisons not valid.

I have seen the cyclisme graph discussed many times. Its supporting data is somewhat dubious, for the reasons I mentioned before, and it isn’t revealed in details for examination. It is relatively easy to go along with the conclusions the EPO era made big differences, and then we saw a drop as there was enforcement.

It’s not clear that the second rise is exclusively doping related; there doesn’t appear to have been investigation of a linear regression of predictable increases over the same periods, because the artificial fluctuations were so great.

In any event, the Landis win seems to me to be right in the middle of the grey area of “can’t really tell”.

I will grant that Basso and other non-starting favorites might very well have smoked Landis. Which doesn’t prove anything either.

As to funding, I don’t believe Landis was referring to UCLA, but to USADA, which has not carried his case forward in a manner consistent with a search for truth. As soon as HRO, the outside counsel became involved, it became scorched earth “win at all cost” litigation, and I don’t see any reason for taxpayers to be funding that. I’d rather they paid UCLA and Catlin on time than Mr. Young.

TBV

Michael February 21, 2008 at 2:53 pm

I like the post William.

The wiktionary defines cheating as follows, “To violate rules deliberately, as in a game: was accused of cheating at cards.” For what that’s worth. I guess kind of a shallow place to start.

I also take your point regarding the ’84 Olympic team. They didn’t cheat. But there is no doubt that they were playing loose with the ethics. Although, I would submit that the Olympics with their stated oath (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olympic_Creed) is outside our discussion regarding professional cycling, which is a business.

I don’t think that the wrestling analogy is completely accurate. In professional wrestling it looks like they are wrestling, but they’re really not. No matter how much dope a cyclist takes he still needs to turn the cranks and self inflict great amounts of misery. But I accept the gist of your statement nevertheless.

What I am getting at is really pretty simple. If you were given the job of running cycling, as it is today, what measures would you take to sell your product and improve it’s public image. Note that the fight against doping does not have to run counter to the growth and long term health of cycling (although under the current leaders it has been bad). So if you want people to believe you are doing what you can to fight doping we need some ground rules. My short list:

No non-analytical findings (unless you catch a guy like frank vandenbrouke who claimed the epo was for his dog). These give the appearance of mischievous behavior, which is not good for business.
Therapeutic drugs should be permitted. I mean please. NOBODY is winning the tour because of a cortisone shot or some ass cream. But a great tour rider might actually survive a bad spell because of it. Just ask Vaughters.
No suspensions without convictions.
Advertise to everybody how your tests will be performed. Write it down. Scream it to the world. Let every rider know exactly what you will do to catch them.
Make absolutely sure your tests are rock solid. After all, the riders and their efforts are what you sell. You screw the riders, you might as well start selling ice cream from the back of a truck.

That’s the short list. I could probably come up with a dozen others. I am also confident that some would be bad ideas. But one thing I am sure of, disqualifying the winner of the tour without a positive A-sample, and a B-sample that used the “eye-ball method” was a bad idea. It made everybody in the system look incompetent.

Jean C February 21, 2008 at 2:58 pm

TBV,

I suppose that you are writing about that graph:
http://www.cyclismag.com/photos/evolution_20060711180734.jpg

I interpret the graph like this

* progressively increasing performance by a progressively icncreasing of EPO use and more experience of its use
* then the 50% limit of Hematocrit level.
* then Festina’s affair where some teams dropped their EPO (Voet’s testimony)
* then EPO testing
* then increasing of performance by EPO microdosing and blood transfusion

ludwig February 21, 2008 at 3:53 pm

TBV,

You say:
“By Jean’s position, then, Sastre was a doper, and those saying he’d have won a few Tours except for the dopers gets blown away. Note Kloeden, Sastre, Leipheimer and Menchov have never been personally implicated in anything, except by association….

…..

Jean C and Ludwig, you’re of course free to believe what you want. If you want to believe all times under 40:00 are EPO or blood doped, no one can stop you, and you’ll find plenty of company.”

Well, first I’d point out that it isn’t consistent with the testimonies of whistleblowers or common-sense analysis of how doping and omerta work in cycling to say dopers are only a few bad apples. Naturally, the “few bad apples” approach seems like the intuitive answer at first–ie. why would cycling even have these rules if the majority won’t follow them? But if you take a closer look at the findings Jean as provided, the testimonies of those who have spoken out, the evidence of doping rings and systematic doping and the way cyclists react vis a vis cheating and doping (ie omerta), then it’s not justified to assume that people like Sastre must be clean. Now that’s not evidence to sanction anybody, but it does justify those who point out that cycling’s credibility on doping is in the gutter and that it needs a change of leadership if it wants sponsors and fans to continue to believe in it as a respectable sport. Chastizing the media for staining the reputation of the sport by stating the facts is not a constructive answer to the problem—a constructive answer is dealing with the problem in a way that gets fans and sponsors back on board.

Second, it’s sad but true that not being implicated in any doping scandals is not reason to believe a rider is clean from the point of view of realistic fans and sponsors (and in the context of elite’s cycling’s larger doping problem).. Very few of the riders implicated in OP had tested positive or been implicated in doping scandals prior to the scandal. Every one of the riders you list above has been part of a team implicated in scandals or has ridden under a DS that has either encouraged or tolerated doping in the past. Given the teams they ride for, their calls for the benefit of the doubt deserve a fair hearing, but on closer analysis they seem hollow.

the Dragon February 21, 2008 at 7:20 pm

Jean C,

You may not realize it, but citizens of the United States have Constitutional Rights. It may be something you find useless, yet MY TAX DOLLARS were used in the Landis farce.

Ammendment 1: to the US Constitution grants EVERY citizen the right to FREE SPEECH, RIGHT to PETITION their Government for the REDRESS of GREIVENCES, and the FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION.

These rights CONNOT be abridged, EVEN by WADA World, no matter corrupt they become.

Landis has the right, GRANTED BY THE US CONSTITUTION to request individuals to write their Senators. I am sorry if you and WADA World don’t like that fact.

I on my own accord have collected petitions to be given to my Congressional Representative and Senators. I DID NOT do it at anyone’s behest. I did it because I have that right, and I can complain at INJUSTICE when I see it, particularly when funded with MY TAX DOLLARS. Just as I would do if the government funded the KKK, although, I suspect the blacks in the South got more due process from the KKK, then Landis got from WADA World.

But you are in good company, as USADA and WADA World denegrate Constitutional Rights. Prior to the Arbs decision, I HAD NOT made a contribution to FFF, partially because I make my contributions anonymously. I contacted a lawyer, and I sent notice to USADA that should they persue their witchhunt in FFF Contributions, and at least, accoring to my lawyer, I would have a Civil Rights action against USADA and WADA World.

Regards,

the Dragon February 21, 2008 at 7:58 pm

Jean C,

Just to be clear.

I may ridicule your arguments, or disagree with them, yet I WILL NEVER ridicule your right to make them.

When WADA World get into Court, we will find out very quickly that they will exercise their own Constitutional Rights, and I will defend them in that exercise. Even as I marvel at their HYPOCRACY.

Regards,

Ange February 21, 2008 at 8:20 pm

I wanted to send out a congratulations to “Michael” for providing some extremely interesting reading over the last several days and to ask him (or her for that matter) a very serious question. As you seem to have some an excellent grasp of the nuances of the “doping question” and more importantly, have an inordinate amount of perspective regarding cycling, my question to you is this….would you consider running for UCI chief or even better, CEO of USA cycling (they both really need you!) I am not kidding here. Having suffered over the last year or so reading the immense overreactions in the press and public in general, watching the sport of cycling keep picking at the scab while it cuts off yet another appendage, and getting generally pissed off at the idiocy and incompetency of the FL prosecution, I have finally read something that makes sense and has the right of historical perspective…maybe not perfect, but damn good!!! The sporting world needs this perspective in such a huge way. Only one problem, it doesn’t feed the insatiable need for scandal, but I’m sure something could be worked out.

Rant February 21, 2008 at 8:28 pm

Michael,
Spot on.
Ange,
Great suggestion. Both Steve Johnson and Pat McQuaid should be quaking in their boots at the mere thought of being replaced by someone like Michael.

trust but verify February 21, 2008 at 8:34 pm

Ludwig,

I’d like to observe what appears to be a misreading of what I wrote in your response:

I wrote, “If you want to believe all times under 40:00 are EPO or blood doped, no one can stop you, and you’ll find plenty of company.”

You answered:

“Well, first I’d point out that it isn’t consistent with the testimonies of whistleblowers or common-sense analysis of how doping and omerta work in cycling to say dopers are only a few bad apples.”

I said you would find plenty of company in your belief; and I will agree that your general belief is in general supported by general testimonies, and general trends. And I’ve never used the “few bad apples” posturing myself.

My first problem comes when it gets down to deciding /specific/ cases, which still, to me, need to be based on concrete, solid evidence and not just extrapolation and assumption. I believe there is wider variability in human performance than is often claimed, and the regions where there may or may not be doping are a lot harder to determine than many are inclined to believe.

Second, you wrote, “It does justify those who point out that cycling’s credibility on doping is in the gutter and that it needs a change of leadership if it wants sponsors and fans to continue to believe in it as a respectable sport.”

I agree with the second part of this statement, if not the first. Yes, I totally agree the leadership needs to change, and the goal of being a “respectable sport” is completely appropriate. I salute you on that wise choice of terms, because it admits a reality that many do not admit — you did not ask for a “completely clean sport”, which is likely an impossibility. A “respectable sport” is something that ought to be achievable with an enlightened leadership. As compared to what we have now.

One of the things an enlightened leadership can do, in my opinion, is stop chest-beating about the doping and find some actions that are likely to control it effectively and lead to fewer explosive scandals. Not the least of the problems leading to a perception cycling’s credibility is in the gutter are people who ought to be supporting the sport, but say that it is in the gutter instead, because of their own agendas. For examples, see Mr. LeMond and Mr. Pound. What Michael wrote earlier today is part of the equation: “a sport cannot be successful if the promoters and the organizers are telling the fans that the riders are all cheats. ” This is not saying “bad apples”, it is doing discipline in a quiet, effective manner. Today’s penalties from NASCAR are significant, but are not done in a way that brings the “credibility of the sport” into question. This is effective in terms of the credibility of the racing product, and in the viability of the sport on a commercial basis.

Those running the UCI, WADA, and the GTs do not seem to be much interested in the commercial viability of the sport; WADA does not seem concerned much with the viability of ANY sport, as it’s sole concern seems to be agitating a moral panic in the name of the mythological spirit of the Olympics, and the heath of the overall Olympic “movement”. Individual sports can go to hell, as far as the WADA/IOC is concerned.

I don’t really want any of these bozos in charge. but if forced to chose a poison, it’d be for a few promoters working under a reasonably transparent rule set to produce racing objectively free of pre-determined results, with credible detection of cheating, and having reasonable and low-key punishments for violations. That is to say, NASCAR is a better model than that of the FIA/FOCA hegemony over F1.

Anyone who brings in the pro-wrestling examples is completely off-base. There’s a big difference between staging entertainments and having truly competitive events where some participants are pushing the boundaries of the rules.

TBV

R Wharton February 21, 2008 at 8:36 pm

Ange – I got my MBA in Sports Marketing & Management for the sole purpose of running a cycling NGB. Boy was that a waste.

However, this IS interesting – regional reps and at-large board members are usually voted in with something like

Morgan Hunter February 21, 2008 at 11:10 pm

William, Michael,

—“Is cheating only breaking the rules in effect at the time, or can it include doing things which might not be covered in the rules. Of course, we can’t sanction an athlete for doing something which wasn’t banned at the time, but perhaps we can question the ethics here.” (W)

—“I also take your point regarding the “˜84 Olympic team. They didn’t cheat. But there is no doubt that they were playing loose with the ethics.” (M)

You both bring up an excellent “ethical question.” Perhaps I am being thick here but both your comments seem to split but are discussing two different points.

One — the question of rules is as far as I can see — should only be determined by what is written in black and white. The rules that are written down are “accepted” by the participating individuals as a means to the conditions of their participation, No?

For example — if the rules say that you cannot wear RED — VIOLET and FUCHSIA on Tuesdays — this is “clear and direct” — just as a rule saying – “you may not use EPO”– is direct and clear.

On the other hand — when you are “talking ethics” you are discussing a worthy concept but are not addressing the rules. You both are addressing how you believe the rules should be interpreted with an ethical basis.

Ethics “mean” different things to different people. The belief in what may be “right or wrong” is a societal development. For example, today there is an ethical clash between the east and the west over “what is considered ethical in war.”

One side would have us believe that it is ethical and right to target all individuals of a society as “enemy” and therefore ethically correct to kill. The other side holds a belief that the only legitimate “targets” for killing are military, therefore it is unethical and immoral to kill none participating parties, citizens as targets.

Personally — I am against killing. In my ethics therefore – BOTH PARTIES “ethical” perspective is wrong — my ethics do not allow for targeting people for destruction in the name of any cause.

I once read a short story — and for the life of me, I can’t recall the author or the title — but — in the story a young man makes a bet with a member of the establishment — the bet was simply that the young man would stay in isolation for years, seeing no one, talking to no one. If the young man could survive this then the “establishment person” would transfer all his wealth to the young man. The story was simple and addressed directly this question of “ethics.” Is it right for the state to take a life?

The story’s summation of the question ended with this observation. “Can the state have the right to take away what it cannot give — in this case — life.”

Rules are written in black and white, the work of making them clear and understandable and therefore acceptable to the participating parties are agreed upon by said parties. If the rules are correctly written, they may be simple in appearance or complicated but their boundaries of control should be clearly defined. On Tuesdays — no one may wear – RED — VIOLET and FUCHSIA. Or simply — “you may not use EPO.”

Now — there may be conditionality in the rules — for example — it is found that EPO helps someone combat a disease. Then it is the “responsibility” of the rule makers – to clearly define how a subset of individuals who medically need EPO — may or may not participate in the activity under discussion.

A decision may be made to exclude such individuals – or – that such individuals must meet very clearly defined parameters. (TUE’s?) – are supposedly of this category.

I put to you then — that “ethics” may come into question when “rules and regulations are being born” but they have little to do with the understanding of the written rules themselves. That is how clear “rules and regulations must be to be effective.”

If the case is submitted that such rules are impossible to create – then I contend that either the “rule makers” are being lazy or that it is impossible for them or anyone else to develop “fair rules.” Therefore the question of having an organized activity controlled by “rules and regulations” is moot. You cannot have it both ways.

So to cap off the above — ethics may very well be used in writing rules and regulations. But to discuss ethics and rules and mix them in the discussion, discussing two separate issues presents a moral conflict that cannot solve the problem. Rules “are” – once they are put into black and white — as they are written. While the question of ethics will remain an unfixed concept since different people adhere to different ethics.

William, Michael, thank you both for bringing forth a very subtle question. These are my thoughts on the subject.

Jean C February 22, 2008 at 2:14 am

Rant,

ad Behavior” blocks successive posts of the same IP. It’s probably seen as spamming.

Not a real problem for me, I know you will act when you wake up.

Jean C February 22, 2008 at 2:20 am

Dragon,

I am not contesting Landis’ right to appeal to congress and so …
I am just pointing the stupidity of Landis’ request which is like a cutting demand of funding US justice or police even after their failure !

If you are complaining because the WADA world is using old equipements, have not the better staff, and so it’s stupid to think to resolve the solution by cutting the funding.

A request to congress for better equipement, better training, better staff, … would have been more justified.

Best regards

———————————————————-

TBV,

Those running the UCI, WADA, and the GTs do not seem to be much interested in the commercial viability of the sport; WADA does not seem concerned much with the viability of ANY sport, as it’s sole concern seems to be agitating a moral panic in the name of the mythological spirit of the Olympics, and the heath of the overall Olympic “movement”. Individual sports can go to hell, as far as the WADA/IOC is concerned.

I don’t really want any of these bozos in charge. but if forced to chose a poison, it’d be for a few promoters working under a reasonably transparent rule set to produce racing objectively free of pre-determined results, with credible detection of cheating, and having reasonable and low-key punishments for violations. That is to say, NASCAR is a better model than that of the FIA/FOCA hegemony over F1.

The battle between UCI and GT is a commercial battle. Verddrugen dreamed to make a cycling F1.
But the GT organizers with the history of F1 have seen the bullets. They were afraid to have to pay UCI to be allowed to run their races.

In a battle or a war there is always colateral damage. Here of course it was the teams and riders.

Morgan Hunter February 22, 2008 at 3:52 am

Well well, well, Hey, hey hey – it looks like some one is actually not saying bad things about Landis or Ball or cycling – My how the tunes can change. But it is better. Check this out you all: http://velonews.com/article/71200

Morgan Hunter February 22, 2008 at 3:55 am

Collateral damage – my ass! (sorry)

Lets kill the kittens and the puppies – nobody wants them either!

Rant February 22, 2008 at 5:29 am

Jean C,
Not sure what causes that, but the configuration within WordPress’ control panel doesn’t offer many options. I’m afraid I’ll have to get into the guts of the plugin to see what’s happening. Since I’ll be away for the weekend, and I’ve been tipped off to a few other problems that people have appeared to have (posts accidentally cut off in mid comment), I’ve deactivated it for the time being. I’d rather wade through a few more spam comments to find the legitimate ones than for your and everyone else to have problems actually posting.

the Dragon February 22, 2008 at 7:18 am

Jean C,

As I have posted on numerous occasions, I would be happy to request more funding…IF WADA World was an organization that operated with ETHICS and INTEGRITY. At the moment IMHO, that is NOT the case.

I REFUSE to support my TAX MONEY going to an organization who sees their mission as destroying people while NOT applying ALL their own rules to themselves.

Regards,

trust but verify February 22, 2008 at 7:24 am

The US Congress is in no position to fund the LNDD; it is in a position to question and provide oversight of USADA’s prosecution of cases that are referred from the work of the LNDD. USADA’s work is being done in the name of us US taxpayers. Increased funding of USADA won’t do much to alter the approach they bring to referred cases. Adjusting the budget is about the only way there is to show approval or disapproval of the way the way the agency is doing its job.

To my other confused point, “And even should they be reasonably accurate, they don’t tell one anything about a particular performance, especially one that is under the highest envelope values.”

You can look at a scatter plot and make some general observations; you may run regressions to identify a trend. But with wide variations and multiple causalities, it is not possible to make a conclusive ruling about the effect of one agent on individualpoints because of the distribution. Above, below, or exactly on the trend line, we really can’t know without solid additional information. That is, just looking at performance as Cyclisme did does not tell us what we need to know to judge a particular case. As soon as you are talking trends, you are talking “most”, and “most” is not “all”. Then you have to end up looking at the specifics of a case, determining whether this set of evidence proves the particular charge being made.

If a policeman thinks you were speeding (and maybe you were, along with everyone else in your lane), but he didn’t get a reading, and he writes you up for running a red light that you stopped at, has justice been served? If someone else confesses to running a stop light, does that mean you must have done it too?

TBV

Sara February 22, 2008 at 7:59 am

BSMB, CSC have all their rides also still in, wonder what’s in their water.
Lame.

William Schart February 22, 2008 at 8:33 am

The nature of competitive sport in general is that rules are created that impose what are really artificial restraints on what you can or cannot do. Change those rules and you can change the nature of the sport itself, perhaps in small and subtle ways, perhaps in very large and significant ways. And rule changes can also change how a sport is perceived by the public. Look at the DH rule in baseball: some fans think it’s a perversion of the game, other point to the fact there is more offense in AL games than NL as being a good thing.

My point about pro wrestling was perhaps an unfortunate choice which seems to have struck a nerve with some. I understand the difference between a totally rigged game and one that is not rigged. But many people seem to think that drug-fueled performance is in some way not “real”. Perhaps this is only in comparison to “clean” performance, and if rules were to allow some or all drug use, than performances boosted by legal drug use would be perceived as OK. Or maybe not.

Look at the situation regarding technological innovations with the bicycle. As far back as the 1930s, aerodynamic fairings were used to set world records. But UCI some moved to ban these. More recently, the UCI has also banned various aerodynamic innovations, even some aerodynamic positions. I think this is because of a perception of what “real” cycling is and is not. Henri Desgrange banned derailleur gearing in the TdF for a number of years for the same reason: he felt that it would make things too easy and that the sport would no longer be a contest between men, but rather a contest between machines.

So if cycling were to open up drug usage, the public might perceive the sport as no longer a contest between human beings, but rather between drug-fueled robots, or at least something other than real humans, and hence, unreal in some way. The only “sport” I can think of that is widely held to be “unreal” is pro wrestling, hence that is what I used.

Michael February 22, 2008 at 10:51 am

Thanks Ange. But I think I will keep my day job.

FYI: I dress to the right – except on the bike.

William, I think your take on the public perception regarding drug use is correct.

Morgan, One of the problems with fighting against doping is clearly defining doping. Because all sorts of things qualify as performance enhancing. Some legal products will accomplish the same thing as illegal products. Some of these legal things may fall into the gray area of ethics. But I don’t think it’s necessary to muddy the waters with those types of questions. EPO = bad. Altitude tent = gray area. Assuming the test for EPO is actually sound (perhaps a bad assumption) then we can make a rule stating that EPO is against the rules – but how do we ban a tent? Let’s say we pick an arbitrary hematocrit ceiling for the riders (like 50 – don’t ask where I came up with such an arbitrary number), then we could test for EPO with our rock-solid test, and weed out the guys who spend 15-hours a day in their tent. Clearly, the punishment for using EPO should be more severe than the punishment for having a high hematocrit level, because you can only have EPO by cheating, but you could have a high hematocrit level by smart training (which we don’t want to discourage). Now this is system is very close to what actually occurs today. So why does WADA tell us that this doesn’t work? The only conclusion I can come up with is that the test must suck.

Therefore, WADA must go, because they then have obviously been lying to us for years.

Morgan Hunter February 22, 2008 at 11:17 am

Michael,

Thanks for your response – I agree with your conclusion about the test. As far as I know – if I spend my time living at say – 8000ft

My hematocretic level will be what my body needs to supply my system with the proper amount of oxygen – At “altitude” the red blood cell count goes up. I realize this is not scientific in nature but it is what tends to happen – no? This altitude or oxygen mixture difference is what the tents try to simulate.

Therefore the problem is not that tents are in the grey area – BUT that the method for testing EPO is to check hematocretic levels. If the “testing” will only inform the tester that the red blood cell count is higher then “normal” we still don’t have a test that measures the EPO itself – do we? So then the answer is to get a test that does this – AND NO MATTER that we ban EPO or not – until an accredited test is found that can trace EPO in the system – we cannot test for it – otherwise we are testing for red blood count- which is itself merely a result – which can be achieved by living at altitude, no?

I live in the Alps – I have several mountains here that are between 3000 and 3850 METERS – that is over 10,000 ft – Sometimes during the summer – some of the Sherpa from The Everest Area come to work here – they carry loads of provisions up to the mountain lodges – let me tell you – can you imagine what it is like to be able to make a hand assisted hike up a trail carrying 50 kg packages and be able to do it in around 2 hours while everyone else needs 3 to 4 – WITHOUT carrying anything?

There is no comparison – none of the Sherpas are doping. Nope they just are born into altitude and what is “high” for us is the lowlands for them – so – what if one of these guys becomes a pro racer? The testing is done for EPO by measuring hematocretic levels – What do you think will happen? THE GUY IS OBVIOUSLY A DOPER!!!!

Michael February 22, 2008 at 12:13 pm

My understanding is that the test for EPO detects the presence of artificial EPO through variations in the ph of urine. I have not checked this. But WADA claims their test is solid. I was merely using it as an example of how hard it is to define cheating and doping and then enforce such rules.

trust but verify February 22, 2008 at 2:38 pm

It’s not ph, it’s a pattern match dealing with interfering proteins in a mumbltey-iso-focused-technobabble.

See http://bloodjournal.hematologylibrary.org/cgi/content/full/108/5/1778-a

for a defense of the technique by an LNDD scientist. FWIW, the EPO test really is the LNDD’s moment of glory, and it’s not bad except for inconsistent execution.

TBV

Morgan Hunter February 22, 2008 at 3:12 pm

Michael, tbv,

I do not know what the test for EPO is – I am certain that tbv knows if any one does – my point was not to call the EPO test in to question – I am not knowledgeable enough to do this – But I don’t have to be knowledgeable about the testing procedures to have observed that the execution of testing appears to be less then consistent – from what I learned reading the transcripts of the Landis case. As tbv points out – there are inconstancies in the performance of tests and procedures.

As to the difficulty of the testing procedures – I am not so certain this should be considered an excuse or a justification. If you ban a substance then you had better have means of proving WHEN AN ATHLETE IS ACCUSED OF BREAKING THE RULES by using a banned substance. A mistrusted test result backed up by media accusations and innuendos is not good enough.

The concept of “this is all we got – so it’s got to be good enough” – that the WADA people are employing – is not acceptable. The rules as they are are a “closed system” so that no one except WADA may call a test good. In fact it is not allowed to question their testing, but we are to take their “word for it,” the events do not support this to be the truth about their testing methods.

tbv – how many of the testing procedures for the various doping substances that are on the banned list – have been “vetted” by scientist OTHER then WADA’s chosen?

Michael – the point I was aiming for is simply this – when you deal with the lives and means of livelihood of individuals – It is not acceptable to stack the deck merely so you can come out the “winner.” Nor is “good enough” acceptable as a description of any type of testing – unless it is accepted by the majority and vetted by the scientific community.

I apologize for any “misleading” or erroneous inferences you may have read from my comment – I hope this clears it up.

trust but verify February 22, 2008 at 3:41 pm

I make no assumptions any way about specific method validity of any particular test used at a WADA lab. While they are obliged by The Code to be validated, the standards for doing so are not transparent, and there is an appearance that some tests as performed by some labs may not be doing what they claimed to do. However, they are certainly presented as valid for reasons of deterrence, and they are legally presumed valid should the issue come up in a case.

Method validation was the subject of Larry’s extensive series at TBV – http://trustbut.blogspot.com/2008/01/larrys-curb-your-anticipation.html

It is my opinion that the sides of the competition – and yes, it is one – have developed in mirrored fashion, like Mad Magazine’s Spy vs. Spy series. Each wraps itself in honorable phrases (“play fair”, “personal dignity”), and then blows smoke and denies the most obvious of flaws.

If you go read the link I referenced about the EPO test, you’ll see that things are not exactly hunky-dory in test harmonization land, and the kind of blanket denial defenses that are made by those on the laboratory side for their own weaknesses.

TBV

Morgan Hunter February 22, 2008 at 11:27 pm

TBV,

I agree with you you – and if I was trying to make a point it was that I come away not trusting the rules – because I am left with the impression that I may not question them. That my comprehension is severely curtailed by the language of the rules and laws being applied as they are.

Larry wrote as a response to Mike in the comment section in the blog that you reference above ( the blog spot is FANTASTIC) – here is the exchange:

—“You can write rules, but the people have to follow them. You can have sound principles of science, but the scientists have to follow them. You can have oversight, but you’re still relying on a human over-seer.

The law does not protect us because it sits on a shelf in a library. The science does not protect us because it sits on a different shelf in the same library. We say that words have power, but that’s not quite true. An unread word has no power. A word that is read but not understood has no power either.

When the word is read and is understood, then it has power.”

To me – these words are truly wonderful. Easily understood by everyone who cares to read them. Larry’s response to Mike is inspirational, but also they are a statement of clarity and beauty in of themselves, and they happen to state how I see the human condition in action as far as WADA and the present situation in cycling exists today.

If I gave another impression – less clear – then Larry’s words above – for that I am sorry – but I am not as elegant and able as Larry is in expressing himself.

Morgan Hunter February 23, 2008 at 12:42 am

To every one,

There is a taped conversation supposedly between St Greg and Mrs Andreau – It is fascinating – I DO WANT TO STATE that I cannot say if the individuals are who it said they are – but it is fascinating. But in the interest of information out there…you may want to check it out.

http://j.b5z.net/i/u/2132106/m/gregstef.mp3

One thing that is IMPORTANT: “Lemond” tells Betsey that “this conversation” is NOT BEING RECORDED.

The “conversation” is interesting in that the “talk” is not in the vein of people talking to the press – rather it is an exchange between two people streoking each other with “insider gossip.”

Jean C February 23, 2008 at 3:10 am

TBV,

To my other confused point, “And even should they be reasonably accurate, they don’t tell one anything about a particular performance, especially one that is under the highest envelope values.”

You can look at a scatter plot and make some general observations; you may run regressions to identify a trend. But with wide variations and multiple causalities, it is not possible to make a conclusive ruling about the effect of one agent on individualpoints because of the distribution. Above, below, or exactly on the trend line, we really can’t know without solid additional information. That is, just looking at performance as Cyclisme did does not tell us what we need to know to judge a particular case. As soon as you are talking trends, you are talking “most”, and “most” is not “all”. Then you have to end up looking at the specifics of a case, determining whether this set of evidence proves the particular charge being made.

If a policeman thinks you were speeding (and maybe you were, along with everyone else in your lane), but he didn’t get a reading, and he writes you up for running a red light that you stopped at, has justice been served? If someone else confesses to running a stop light, does that mean you must have done it too?

I don’t undestand well your point. There is some questions:

Do you not see any correlation between the curve and EPO evenement?
or
do you say the curve has some correlations with EPO evenement but we cannot make any conclusion for a particuliar individual?

Devon February 23, 2008 at 5:13 am

Morgan,

That conversation is NOT between Besty Andreu and Greg Lemond. It is between Stephanie McIlvain and Greg Lemond. McIlvain was Armstrong’s rep at Oakley sunglasses. They were good friends for many years. McIlvain lied for Armstrong at trial. She testified in the insurance case there was no hospital confession.

Morgan Hunter February 23, 2008 at 7:22 am

Devon,

As I stated right at the beginning – I could not even assure anyone that it was Greg or now as you say Ms McIlvain – All I knew is that it was on the net and available – I tried to point out that I make no conclusions from it.

None the less – the dialogue itself was interesting – in that 1. the “character Lemond” reassures the woman that she is “not being recorded.”

If one listens to the entire tape – 2. – the personalities and opinions of the individuals certainly betray themselves. BOTH OF THEM do not come off as “stellar” individuals – since they both tend to gossip about any parties they mention – with the direct intent to show their own characters as being more pristine – BUT THEIR OWN WORDS CONDEMN THEM…

Thanks for clearing up who the female is – how do you know this for sure – and is this Lemond or just someone who sounds like him? Since neither persons come off as being very honorable in character.

Devon February 23, 2008 at 8:03 am

It is Lemond. It is McIlvain. She lied in court. Lemond lied to her. Armstrong was a dope fiend. So was Hincapie. Everyone close to them knew it. Floyd lied to everyone. Will Geoghegan acted despicably. Hamilton lied to everyone. His wife paid his dope bills. Pray that the next generation of American cyclists turn out better.

trust but verify February 23, 2008 at 8:25 am

the curve has some correlations with EPO evenement but we cannot make any conclusion for a particuliar individual

Yes. We’re back to correlation and causation. A trend does not prove anything about particular data points.

Since I’ve answered your question, would you please answer mine:

If a policeman thinks you were speeding (and maybe you were, along with everyone else in your lane), but he didn’t get a reading, and he writes you up for running a red light that you stopped at, has justice been served? If someone else confesses to running a stop light, does that mean you must have done it too?

And let me add: If he writes you up for speeding, but has no readings and makes up a value for the ticket, is that OK?

TBV

Morgan Hunter February 23, 2008 at 9:16 am

Devon,

I hear that you feel very disappointed in the state of cycling and the racers within it. I do hope that cycling gets cleaned up too.

My feelings on the matter” are that the “cyclists” are not the only cause and ruiner’s of the “reputation of professional cycling.” I believe that there is more involved then merely who did or didn’t dope. Who is lying and who is not. Understand – I am not saying that the question of who is lying and who is not is not valid. I just believe that even if you actually could find out and provide proof – this alone would not change the situation in pro cycling.

I do not think that “hoping” that the “next generation” in cycling “turns out better,” – is a bad hope – one can hope for the best – always. But I do not think that the situation that exists in pro cycling is merely the result of “lack of character” in the peleton of racers. As to how the next generation in cycling will turn out – I think they will turn out by how pro cycling is structured.

If the structure remains the same as it is today – I do not believe our hope for a “better type” of rider will be realized. Since – like living in a neighborhood – you come out as a product of the neighborhood you grow up in – the pro cyclists will also turn out as the society is in actuality that he exists in.

As it is possible for an individual to shrug off the society that he may exist in – it is possible for individuals to come out independent of the cause and effect that shapes their lives – in other words – if a pro racer exists in a “contaminated environment” – it is possible for him to come out not contaminated by this environment – BUT – this is the EXCEPTION not the norm.

Devon – one more small question – “How do you know that it is Lemond and McIlvain?” – I’m not kidding or calling you out – I just want to know “how you are certain” that it is these two? In otherwords – how did you verify this?

Jean C February 23, 2008 at 9:28 am

TBV

If the policeman see a driver speeding, he can at least stop it. To give a fine probably not but if the driver were exceding 2 or 3 times the limits probably he can arrest him.
No? Should he wait an accident to act ?

ludwig February 23, 2008 at 9:39 am

“It is Lemond. It is McIlvain. She lied in court. Lemond lied to her. Armstrong was a dope fiend. So was Hincapie. Everyone close to them knew it. Floyd lied to everyone. Will Geoghegan acted despicably. Hamilton lied to everyone. His wife paid his dope bills. Pray that the next generation of American cyclists turn out better.”

It’s the sad truth. No reasonable person could listen to this conversation and not agree that McIlvain believes she heard Armstrong confess to drug use (just like the other 3 people who confirm Armstrong confessing at this time and place). It’s sad that this sort of backroom-dealing and bullying exists in the world of sport–but let’s face it, Mr. Armstrong has a lot to lose and is willing to step over a lot of bodies to keep his secret. When did cycling become so corrupt–such a mafia? Maybe it’s always been this way. The bottom line is omerta and the structure of money in cycling drives cheating in sports–cheating can’t be wished away. And you can’t fix the problems of cycling by blaming it on the messenger (in this case Mr. Lemond).

There will always be a messenger–ie there will always be people who can’t stand the hypocrisy or feel cheated by the cheaters. Ie omerta will never be able to fully protect cycling–especially in today’s Internet driven communication world. If you believe Armstrong, anyone who stands up to him is psychotic and driven by jealousy or other petty emotions. The truth is closer to this–those supporters who cling to the illusion of Armstrong as a clean winner encourages every up and coming cyclist in America to dope and lie just like him. Practically every card the Landis team played was a variation on some lie already put into motion by Armstrong and Hamilton–ie the legacy of lies perpetuates itself. Every lie digs them deeper into the hole.

Lance Armstrong deserves respect as a champion. But clinging to the idea of him as a clean winner is a destructive illusion and will only harm cycling in the long run. It’s time to tell the truth for a change, for the sake of the next generation.

William Schart February 23, 2008 at 12:27 pm

Ludwig:

I am not sure how believing that Armstrong won clean encourages doping. To the contrary, I would think that believing that it was possible for him to dope his way to a record 7 in a row TdF victories without being detected would be more likely to encourage doping. If up and coming cyclists looking to LA for inspiration think he is clean, wouldn’t they want to emulate him?

Of course, he couldn’t have confessed to winning the TdF while doped during the incident in question, since that occurred before any of his TdF wins.

Morgan Hunter February 23, 2008 at 12:53 pm

William,

—“Of course, he couldn’t have confessed to winning the TdF while doped during the incident in question, since that occurred before any of his TdF wins.” —

William – Sometimes – you are such a stickler for little details like that. Perhaps – you may be missing the “big” picture? — William – I hope that you know that I am kidding.

ludwig February 23, 2008 at 1:08 pm

William,

It encourages doping because it encourages the notion that you can get away with it. That people don’t really care–at least not enough to pursue the issue with the vigilance necessary to arrive at the truth.

The incident in question is just a representative example of the lengths LA and his team have gone through to cover the situation up.

Let me be clear here–I think LA and his associates may have good and noble reasons for covering up the doping. He may believe with all his heart that doping in cycling is too complex a problem to speak publicly about–he may believe that omerta is the best of all possible worlds because it acknowledges the inevitable/unspeakable (that cyclists will dope and the authorities can’t stop them) while also discouraging the idea that drug use is acceptable in any way.

So I acknowledge without hesitation that there are noble reasons to practice omerta, and that it’s frequently short-sighted to morally condemn cyclists who are faced with difficult choices. I simply believe omerta is not sustainable in the long run and brings cycling’s reputation into disrepute. As a system for dealing with a problem, omerta is profoundly unaccountable, irrational, and anti-egalitarian. It’s also an insult to the concept of fairness, which has to be a key value for any respectable sport.

Sure, I may be wrong–that’s why I would like to see a (at least a limited) public debate on the issue–to really sort out the pros and cons of banning drugs vrs. tolerating them and determine what cyclists actually think. But either way, continuing to lie/practice omerta will lead to further scandals and perhaps worsen the situation. And it’s gratuitously unfair to those actors whose voices and interests are quashed in the interest of protecting dirty secrets.

trust but verify February 23, 2008 at 5:37 pm


TBV

If the policeman see a driver speeding, he can at least stop it. To give a fine probably not but if the driver were exceding 2 or 3 times the limits probably he can arrest him.
No? Should he wait an accident to act ?

Answering these questions, if a cop sees you 2 or 3 times the limit, you’re going to be stopped on a reckless driving charge, not a numeric 37 in a 30 zone. That is why there is a different charge. When traffic is flowing at 63 in a 60 zone, he is unlikely to flag everyone, because that causes more risk than letting it move at its natural rate. He’ll only come in if there is an accident.

That’s twice I’ve directly addressed our hypotheticals; now will you do me the courtesy of answering mine:

(1) If he writes you up for something else you did not do, is that right?
(2) If someone else confesses to speeding, does that make you guilty?
(3) If he has no reading on you, and makes up a number for the ticket, is that OK?

TBV

Morgan Hunter February 23, 2008 at 11:11 pm

Forgetting for just a moment – that my original question had nothing to do with LA – rather it had to do with a simple query – Have we some kind of “proof” other then Devon responding and saying that it is St Greg on that “taped conversation” – meaning – has it proven that the “taped conversation” is between Lemond and as Devon claims – McIlvain?

Personally – I have come to not like Lemond for his behavior and public stances – but I certainly am not willing to simply take Devon’s word for it alone that the characters speaking are the ones who it is purported to be.

Anything may be cast out into the Net and then touted as some true event – but this doesn’t make it so.

Has a “voice recognition program” been run on this tape? After all – there are “recordings of Lemond’s voice” that are in the public domain – It should be rather easy to check this against that.

There are at least 3 places where the “recording” changes ambiance, even though the overall “poor quality” of the tape is maintained.

Did – as is claimed – Lemond “make this recording?” Or is it a spliced together piece of work that is made to seem as “one continuous conversation?”

In otherwords – even admitting to not being a fan of Mr Lemond – I would not automatically jump to the conclusion that he is – AS CLAIMED, the star of this little recording. Nor can I just jump to the conclusion that the other person is Ms McIlvain.

So I ask again – DO WE HAVE PROOF that the recording is what it claims to be? Responding to my simple question about the veracity of the “tape recording” HAS NOTHING TO DO with whether LA is guilty of anything!

Ignoring the question’s need of a direct response does point to a simple conclusion and that is that it is mere convenience on the part of some to “believe” what suits them without proof – can be nothing more then a bad habit.

The tape is purported to be a “taped conversation” between Lemond and McIlvain – that Lemond supposedly made of McIlvain – after assuring her that their conversation was NOT being taped.

So – AGAIN – is this tape what it purports itself to be? Before we go one more step further and draw “conclusions” about it – wouldn’t it be a good idea to actually KNOW that it is not a piece of “creative fiction?”

Luc February 24, 2008 at 4:16 am

Morgan, If it is a legitimate recording my question would be “Who put it out there?” If Lemond recorded it, as one would expect, then what was his purpose making it public. I suppose his intent would be to have someone corroborate his allegations against LA and to legitimize his positions against others ie Landis. Aside from his cloak and dagger methods, he does come across as someone in the know and fairly knowledgeable about physiology. At this point my feelings about LA are that he doped and so what. He was, as Lemond has contended that he said, doing what everyone else was doing. Taken in the context of the times he still would have been the best had he and everyone else not been doping. It was only in the latter part of his reign that a shift in attitude towards doping began to materialise. And it was a shift that was slow to be taken seriously by the team management, UCI, ASO, etc. If the recording is legit, it gives me a second perspective about Lemond despite his shortcomings

William Schart February 24, 2008 at 7:16 am

Ludwig:

I will concede that if someone believes that LA won dirty but was able to get away with it, that person would be more likely to dope. But I don’t see how the fact that some people believe he was clean would encourage someone to dope.

Does the fact that many people believe Greg Lemond to have won clean (which is probable true, IMO) encourage doping?

William Schart February 24, 2008 at 7:21 am

Morgan:

It might not be such a nit-picking detail, regarding LA’s putative hospital “confession”. Suppose that he had indeed doped during his pre-cancer career, but as a result of his cancer and resulting treatment, decided to swear off doping when he resumed his career? (Now I am just making a hypothetical statement here.) If that was the case, his TdF wins would be legitimate.

Luc February 24, 2008 at 10:37 am

Speaking of Greg Lemond, he was voted #10 at Vogue in all time best sporting rivalries with Bernard Hinault http://www.mensvogue.com/health/slideshows/2008/01/rivalries?slide=1 .
He was beat out by car racers and chess players! Can you call that sport?

Jean C February 24, 2008 at 10:56 am

TBV,

(1) If he writes you up for something else you did not do, is that right?
(2) If someone else confesses to speeding, does that make you guilty?
(3) If he has no reading on you, and makes up a number for the ticket, is that OK?

Of course such questions have just one answer, so probably you try to tell us something for which I don’t see the link with Landis who was caught speeding.

Jean C February 24, 2008 at 11:05 am

About Saint Greg, as some people call ironically, certainly not risk to harm their family and no double standard:

Pr. Mondenard who supervised 4000 riders of TDF stated : “The only rider for who I have never seen a clue of doping is Greg Lemond”!

The same Pr. Mondenard requested many times a debate with DS, manager or/and riders who proclaimed that cycling was clean during Festina’s affair. All refused.

Rant February 25, 2008 at 6:34 am

Greetings all,
I was away for the weekend. Glad to see that the discussion carried on. Lots of interesting comments for me to wade through. I’ll be putting up a new post later this evening.

trust but verify February 25, 2008 at 7:10 am

Jean C, you have made extensive arguments that the speed of the pelogon is related to EPO and blood doping. Many riders have been convicted of one, and there have been confessions to the other.

Landis is charged with neither one; he’s charged with something others have also been found to hae done, and confessed to.

To my knowledge, no one has made the case that testostesterone is a cause of the speed of the peloton — not even you.

I take your position on Landis to be: everybody is speeding (taking EPO or blood doping). They don’t have the good on Landis to charge him with that, so they’ve written him up for running a stop sign. Sinkewitz and others have been guilty of and confessed to running stop signs.

Landis says the evidence of his running the stop is flawed and wrong. We can debate that elsewhere.

Are you saying that T-doping is the cause of the speed rises you cite as reason to say “everybody dopes”?

(1) If he writes you up for something else you did not do, is that right?
(2) If someone else confesses to speeding, does that make you guilty?
(3) If he has no reading on you, and makes up a number for the ticket, is that OK?

To me, they are very relevant questions, and it still feels like they have been evaded.

TBV

ludwig February 25, 2008 at 7:57 am

TBV,

It was up to the arbs to decide whether the T-positive overcame reasonable doubt and the burden of proof. Personally, I’m comfortable deferring to their judgment.

Obviously what bugs me (and I assume Jean as well) is the fact that Landis has taken doping denial to an unprecedented level and has sponsored a huge PR campaign to that effect. In response to this (dishonest) behavior (rather than his legitimate right to contest the science behind the positive), it is more than fair to bring up statistics on doping, his elevated hmct, and circumstantial evidence that Landis doped or is at least not telling the truth. I only starting caring about this case when it became clear that Landis was willing to mislead the public (slandering the USADA as pursuing a vendetta against Lance, claiming he wouldn’t dope because there are tests against it, denying the existence of the doping culture, publicly threatening Lemond) to get what he wants. There is nothing wrong with a lively discussion of science and standards–but Landis crossed that line a long time ago.

It also cannot be explained away as insignificant that practically every advanced doping program in cycling (as exposed by testimony and whistleblowers) contains testosterone treatments, including the programs of Phonak colleagues who worked with Dr. Fuentes. That ought to be sufficient to establish that cyclists believe testosterone is performance enhancing.

Landis apologists keep coming up with analogies that supposedly illustrate why we shouldn’t assume he’s guilty. I find this problematic since the arbitration is already over–consequently the line has already been crossed when it becomes fair to assume he’s guilty.

William Schart February 25, 2008 at 8:24 am

TBV:

I see the point you are trying to make, and in general agree with it. However, the situation re Landis is a bit different. It is not really a case of a cop making up a case for one violation because he couldn’t get him for something else, but rather a case of the cop writing you up because a witness said you ran a stop sign.

I see USADA as the cop here. LNDD is the witness. USADA took the position that LNDD’s evidence was good enough to warrant a hearing, and the 2 arbs there felt it was good enough to convict. As you say, we can argue that elsewhere. But there was evidence. Maybe LNDD concocted the results to “get” Landis, maybe they just screwed up, or maybe it is valid after all. But there was evidence.

Rant February 25, 2008 at 8:48 am

Ludwig,
You said,

Landis apologists keep coming up with analogies that supposedly illustrate why we shouldn’t assume he’s guilty. I find this problematic since the arbitration is already over–consequently the line has already been crossed when it becomes fair to assume he’s guilty.

You know, of course, that there are two appeals that any accused athlete can go through. First via his/her sport’s governing body’s arbitration system in his/her home country, and if necessary, to the International Court of Arbitration for Sport. (For that matter, the federation, the international governing body, the home country ADA and WADA could also appeal to the CAS if they weren’t satisfied with the decision.) The USADA/AAA hearings for Floyd were the first step, and he’s currently appealing to the CAS. My hunch is that had he won the first round, USADA/USA Cycling/WADA/UCI would have appealed to the CAS.
So, while you’re correct that the initial arbitration is over, his case isn’t over yet. Once the CAS speaks, it’s over. At that point, your criticism will carry more weight. Today, he’s still got an avenue of appeal open. We can disagree on whether or not he should take that appeal, and whether people should assume innocence or guilt at this point. And we can disagree over the facts of the case. Once the CAS speaks, the rotund operatic diva will have sung. 😉

Michael February 25, 2008 at 9:33 am

What line did Floyd cross? Does he owe USADA, the UCI, or ASO any respect? They didn’t give him any. Is there a “do not cross” line that I have missed? When the USADA called Lemond as a witness, was this to support their quality scientific proof, as part of the lively discussion? Quite frankly, short of accusing the USADA of sleeping with pigs, I really wouldn’t blame him for any sort of bazaar comments. It’s his prerogative. What unprecedented level has he gone to? And more importantly, what if he is telling the truth (god forbid!!)?
Ludwig you are merely making a bunch of hyperbolic statements based upon presuppositions. They are really quite meaningless to this discussion and not very helpful.

Ken S February 25, 2008 at 10:17 am

You can assume anything you want, doesn’t mean it’s true.

“I don’t like his attitude/personality/comments” does not prove guilt.

The ruling of the jury and judge may make the case final, but it still doesn’t mean someone is necessarily guilty or innocent. As with all things, mistakes are made.

Me, I still like cycling. Whether doing it or watching. I am getting tired of the everybody dopes witch hunting attitudes. I would like to see the riders starting to get the attitude that doping is wrong. But it’s never going to go completely away no mater what you do. I’d like to see reasonable rules that the cyclists and organizations both can follow. And then when you can prove someone doped suspend them. Innuendos and shoddy tests do not count. If it can’t be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, then stfu.

All this has got me thinking. And I’ve thought back to times like one July when I came into the clubhouse with my brothers after another sad excuse for golf and watched Pantani fly up the mountain. Truth is, I still have fond memories of that and enjoy moments like that even if he was on cocaine. I’m disappointed, but I just can’t get all outraged over it.

Larry February 25, 2008 at 10:22 am

I’m happy to be on the sidelines for once, reading through the current debate.

But I think y’all have misunderstood Ludwig when he said “the arbitration is already over–consequently the line has already been crossed when it becomes fair to assume [Landis is] guilty”.

I read this to say no more that in a conversation like this one, Landis lost the presumption of innocence when the arbitration went against him.

Before the arbitration, the most that one could fairly state was that the lab had made an adverse analytical finding, and that USADA had decided to bring a sanctions case against Landis. Any pronouncement of “guilt” prior to the arbitration would be a statement of opinion, and should have been properly qualified as such.

But the arbitration is over, and Landis has had his day in court (so to speak). He lost the arbitration. You might believe as I believe that the arbitrators reached the wrong decision. But Landis WAS found to be guilty of doping. The fact that Landis still has avenues of appeal open to him does not change the fact that the arbitration went against him.

In criminal law, a defendant loses the presumption of innocence after a conviction, regardless of whether the defendant can appeal the decision. I don’t think that Ludwig is saying anything more than this. If Ludwig wants to say that Landis is “guilty of doping”, I think this is a technically correct statement, as well as a fair statement to make in a discussion like this one. In this sense, a line WAS crossed when the arbitrators reached their decision. Of course, those of us who think that the arbitrators were wrong are free to so argue.

Michael February 25, 2008 at 11:14 am

Larry,
My beef is with people who condemn Landis for being a loudmouth. While he certainly fits that description, and I can understand why people find him abrasive, I do not feel that any of that speaks to his innocence or guilt, or to the propriety of the inner working of cycling. I also think it is not helpful to claim his willingness to eat his foot is why we shouldn’t believe him.
If Ludwig doesn’t like Floyd, that is fine with me. I even understand it. Floyd would appear to be a difficult person to get along with at times.
I just don’t think that fact is relevant and it muddies the discourse.

Jean C February 25, 2008 at 11:46 am

TBV,

Testosterone can be use for a better recovering.
Police investigations like Ferrari, Fuentes, …Voet, riders confessions show that it is used in combination with other products. Moreni could be an exception.
Landis’s case showed too his blood profile which were dubious even if you alleged that measurement are inaccurate.

Why have some teams their own equipements to measure hematocrit when we know that hct could only decrease?
How are the range of variation for hematocrit in case of “deshydratation”?
With a small deshydration like 2%, how big are the effect on rider’s performance ?
Why a lot of riders had/have their hct level close of 50% if measurement are inaccurate?

In the thread http://rant-your-head-off.com/WordPress/?p=462,
I request to Richard his help for this points:

As R. Wharton is a professional of cycling, he is probably one of the most able to:

* Listing the principal reasons of the different types of “big” bonks
* describe their effects on the body
* and what consequences will or would be for the next days of racing.
He may limit his review to the case of clean cyclist participating at TDF .

I hope he could help us.

I will demonstrate that after a natural bonk (outside a fringale / raging hunger?), Landis’ body could not recover in a night. So it would be impossible to be in front of the peloton, he would have difficulties to stay with the peloton.
His bonk was probably the same bonk as Zuelle, a bad mix of PED!

As speeding I would say that Landis was caught speeding inside a group who were not caught, and we, as spectator could easily evaluate that the group were speeding. Maybe one of them could have been just overtaken in front of us and not be speeding but it’s very very unlikely.

Larry February 25, 2008 at 12:23 pm

Jean C, have you seen anything approaching scientific proof that testosterone aids recovery? I have not.

There appear to be people in cycling who believe that testosterone aids in recovery. But have you seen any science to support this belief?

Michael, one thing you’ll notice is that there’s no “good” way for an athlete to behave once he or she has been accused of doping. If they act like Jan Ullrich and go into virtual hiding, that’s an admission of guilt. If they fight like Landis, that’s an admission of guilt. If they come out like Martina Hingis did initially and say that there’s no fighting the ADAs, that’s an admission of guilt. If they meet with the media immediately, like Landis did, and answer questions in an arguably honest and unarguably naive way, that’s an admission of guilt. If they wait a bit to gather facts, like Clemens did, that’s an admission of guilt. Can’t win for losing here.

It’s the same way when people look at how cyclists ride. If they ride like Lance, “machine-like”, with great consistency, that shows they’re doping. If you they ride like Landis, or Vinokourov, with large swings in performance from day to day, that shows they’re doping. If they ride like Ullrich, with great power, that shows they’re doping. If they ride like Contador, the opposite of Ullrich, with great acceleration, that shows they’re doping. If they ride surprisingly well, that shows they’re doping. If they disappoint, that shows they doped when they were riding well, and that something has gone wrong with their doping program. Can’t win for losing here, either.

Michael February 25, 2008 at 2:15 pm

Larry,

That’s why I think your search for “truth” with Jean seems a little off the mark. Does testosterone help? Jean would have you believe so, but I can’t find any proof. All gains in the last 20-years due to blood doping? Maybe. But this is a post hoc argument that confuses correlation with causation. The problem with assuming cause and effect from mere correlation is not that a causal relationship is impossible; it’s just that there are other variables that must be considered and not ruled out a-priori. Until actual scientific studies are performed on doped and non-doped riders (and variations thereof), what difference does it make how fast guys are riding? We won’t ever know what the ultimate effect of different doping methods are. The number of variables is too staggering. Therefore, I think we just accept certain things as against the rules (regardless of effectiveness) until we know better.

BTW, at the time of Landis’ bonk and subsequent recovery, most people argued that it represented clean riding. Now people look at the same situation and claim that it represents doping. Funny how a post hoc arguement can rub either way.

trust but verify February 25, 2008 at 3:03 pm

Jean and Ludwig, I think you have missed the point that I am attempting to make.

(1) I will not dispute that Landis has been found guilty of T doping by an empowered tribunal. You can call him “guilty” if you like without correction from me. I’ll argue the correctness of the finding, and we can do that if you like, but appeal to the authority of the panel won’t be convincing by itself, because their correctness is the issue.

(2) I believe the only claims being made for T in the doses in question are that it aids recovery in some unquantified way. For the sake of discussion, let us take that as true. If so, then T alone says that someone taking it is recovered to the “natural” speed of the peloton. I have not seen an argument that says that T makes you faster than you were, it lets you go your “normal” speed for more days. It would appear to me then that T doping does not lead to the speed increases that are in question based on final climb times such as the Cyclisme article cited. It is alleged that the speed increases are from EPO and/or Blood doping, which have significant effects.

If one claims that Landis’ real performance gains are from EPO/Blood Doping to account for his times on L’Alpe, there is no evidence beyond the times themselves to go by. The power data available does not make the results seem impossible by natural means.

If instead the argument is that T doping does cause this kind of performance improvement, then why does the cyclisme graph seem to follow the presumed EPO/blood doping prevalence rather than anything that follows a steroid/testosterone timetable?

What I’m saying is: I don’t understand what case is being argued when the conversation turns to Landis. I completely fail to see how the Cyclisme claims have any relevance to the question of T doping.

What I think I’m seeing is a claim that because everyone on the freeway speeds, this has some relevance to the charge that Landis ran a stop. Using an analogy offered later, a stop violation based on witness testimony that some believe and others don’t. While we agree that running a stop can increase your average speed (recovery), it doesn’t seem to prove anything about your ability to keep up with speeding traffic in the fast lane (EPO/blood doping), does it?

TBV

Jean C February 25, 2008 at 3:35 pm

Larry,

For Testosterone, when we are young we can do “easily” 48 H with few sleeping, night being used for recreative activities. Older it’s become more difficult, in the same time our body provides less testosterone. That is an explanation from a doctor.
It would be good to have a study with athletes of 30-35 year old.

I agree with TBV testosterone only will never compete against EPO. There is more reasons to use it in combination with other products as we can see with variations of hct level.

—-
For your other post, yes today no one has confidence in any results. Too much doping , too many cases, … the crowd has sometimes difficulties to see the truth, and propably that is not the same who cry doped at all time.

But, there is still people able to identify with a high probality the athletes who dope. By targeting those most probable dopers some good results could be reached.

Ullrich or more Riis are heavier than Rasmussen or Contador, so even with doping the physical laws are still available:
– a light rider will be better on steeper slope
– a heavier rider will be better on slope with 5-6% like Hautacam for Riis, Ullrich or Indurain

And the big body will ever be “faster” on flat race than lighter rider at the same wattage/kg! 2 advantages : more watt to beat the drag and proportionnaly less drag. Luckyly big riders have more diificulties to have a good drag protection inside peloton.

—-
Landis’ bonk could have been see as no doping without the 17th stage.

the Dragon February 25, 2008 at 3:46 pm

Larry,

I have a legal question for you.

First, as I read the Arb’s decision, they found the T-screen in error. Then, because they could, they went on to the Rorshach Test to convict.

Please let me know if you think my reading is in error.

If not, in a court of law, wouldn’t the finding of initial error end the case? Or, since the trial is going on, let’s go search through the closet?

Regards,

Larry February 25, 2008 at 4:20 pm

Dragon –

The Landis arbitrators (correctly, in my view) found that an AAF for exogenous testosterone could be based on either the T/E ratio test or on the CIR test.

True, under the LNDD procedures, the LNDD would never have performed the CIR test on the Landis samples if they hadn’t first made a positive finding based on the T/E test. But the screw-up on the first test does not necessarily invalidate the second test, so long as the WADA rules view each test as an independent basis for an adverse analytical finding.

This is pretty much common sense. Imagine for the moment that the police get a report that a bunch of kids are acting up at a local park, but they misunderstand the report, go to the wrong park, and catch a mugger there. The mugger doesn’t get to go free just because the police screwed up and went to the wrong park.

The situation would be different if the police screw up involved a violation of the defendant’s constitutional rights. That kind of “initial error” can end a case.

Now … there are more than a few of us who believe that the LNDD screwed up BOTH the T/E test and the CIR test … that in fact, the same flaw that existed in the T/E testing ALSO existed in the CIR testing, and that the arbs should have thrown out both tests on the same grounds.

I don’t know if this answers your question. If not, please follow up.

Larry February 25, 2008 at 4:30 pm

Jean C, that’s a good answer. Quite true, we produce less testosterone as we get older. There might be a performance benefit in an older athlete using exogenous testosterone to mimic the endogenous testosterone production of a younger athlete. But I don’t think there’s any scientific evidence that such a thing produces any tangible benefits.

Also agreed, when it comes to cycling, the benefits of any form of doping (such as EPO) that increases the body’s ability to handle oxygen is going to be significant, and probably more significant than anything that can be done with testosterone or HGH. Again, the studies I’ve seen are not as conclusive as I would like to see, but they’re good enough to at least allow us to draw careful and preliminary conclusions.

Larry February 25, 2008 at 4:35 pm

HOLD THE PRESSES!!

The UCI has totally freaking declared war on the ASO.

http://sports.espn.go.com/oly/cycling/news/story?id=3264373.

William Schart February 25, 2008 at 6:17 pm

Wow!! This feud between UCI and ASO is getting nasty. Both sides now have rather painted themselves into opposite corners of the room. If one side or the other backs down, they run the risk of losing creditability. If neither back down, someone will come out a big loser, either PN fails (and maybe the Tour) due to a UCI instituted boycott, or UCI turns out to be a paper tiger.

And of course, the riders are caught in the middle.

trust but verify February 25, 2008 at 8:32 pm

I don’t understand what the UCI is doing, and whether they can just withold what they appear to be renegging on.

Taking Rant’s earlier post, “Who gets to decide II” (http://rant-your-head-off.com/WordPress/?p=457) at face value, either PN and other ASO races on on the PT calendar, but not PT licensed races or not. The decision to place them on the calendar was to be done by the PT Council.

Assuming they were on the calendar, they they are to be run under the PT rules, except for some omitted clauses.

I don’t see how the UCI can decide they are “unsanctioned” if run by the FFC, or under what of their own rules would allow them to deny officials and doping control for a race on their own calendar run under their rules.

My first reaction that the UCI is going to lose this badly, and we may have the evidence others need to conclude it is time for McQuaid to go.

TBV

Rant February 25, 2008 at 8:45 pm

TBV,
One of those omitted clauses, by the way, is the one requiring that all the ProTour teams be invited to ProTour licensed races. If a race is on the UCI’s PT calendar, but it’s not a PT-licensed race, they’re not required to invite all of the ProTour teams. So, even if Paris-Nice had been included by the PT Council without the “license” they wouldn’t be required to invite anyone they didn’t want to invite.
McQuaid is picking the wrong fight over the wrong issue if he wants to maintain the UCI’s hegemony. That will certainly lead to others questioning his leadership, and whether his time has come to pursue “other business and travel opportunities.”

Larry February 25, 2008 at 9:03 pm

TBV, we should continue this discussion over on the new post. But based on Saturday’s Cycling News interview with McQuaid, I think he thinks he has an agreement with the 18 Pro Tour teams that none of them will race unless all of them race.

trust but verify February 26, 2008 at 7:09 am
ludwig February 26, 2008 at 10:06 am

Ken S said:
“All this has got me thinking. And I’ve thought back to times like one July when I came into the clubhouse with my brothers after another sad excuse for golf and watched Pantani fly up the mountain. Truth is, I still have fond memories of that and enjoy moments like that even if he was on cocaine. I’m disappointed, but I just can’t get all outraged over it.”

I can understand if the cheating doesn’t bother you. But Pantani’s death ought to bother you. Cycling’s culture of omerta and Pantani being scapegoated played a role in Pantani’s sad, lonely death. Cyclists choose to take the drugs of their own free will but it must be remembered that they are people, not gladiators. They don’t exist for our amusement.

In his testimony, Manzano elaborated on the fact that most cyclists come from humble backgrounds. They don’t necessarily have the luxury of choosing other professions. And they don’t have the luxury to refuse to do what needs to be done to win. Omerta means you don’t have to think about this when you watch it on TV. But omerta also means you don’t have the right to simply assume the results are clean.

ludwig February 26, 2008 at 10:58 am

TBV,

But doesn’t ‘t the elevated hmct and blood values indicate blood doping?

It’s important to keep in mind in the course of this discussion that all evidence indicates that UCI controls were/are not an effective deterrent to blood doping or EPO use. This is why I find the argument that the testers/authorities are abusing their power or pursuing vendettas for no reason so absurd–the truth is that for whatever reason they don’t have the means to detect and/or deter most doping.

The implicit assumption in how Jean and I interpret the data is there was blood doping in the 2006 peloton, and most likely all of the Top 10 are suspect. According to this explanation, testosterone (being a common part of doping programs) was what was found. Testosterone alone can’t explain Landis winning the Tour–it’s the drugs that weren’t found either in Landis or in any of his rivals that do more to explain the data.

ludwig February 26, 2008 at 11:19 am

Michael,

I don’t know Landis personally–I have no opinion on his character. I think it’s obvious he has made a lot of untrue statements and that it’s also obvious why. When I talk about when he “crossed the line” I’m simply explaining that the moment Landis decided it is ok to slander institutions and threaten individuals in order to get his way, it also became fair to highlight the empirical and circumstantial evidence that he is lying, even if not directly relevant to the offense at hand. If he had simply hired his lawyers and made his case on empirical grounds without all the PR and the deceit then there wouldn’t be so much hostility. When you say “Does he owe USADA, the UCI, or ASO any respect? They didn’t give him any” it gets at the stakes involved. Landis was willing to slander all these organizations, even on the basis of falsehoods, if it helped him raise money, escape suspension and clear his name. That’s something cycling fans have a right to get upset about.

I’m not saying these organizations don’t deserve criticism. But because Landis waged his defense in bad faith, he was forced to criticize them for the wrong reasons.

Landis should have told the truth and accepted the consequences. It’s not necessary to like or dislike the guy to come to that conclusion.

the Dragon February 26, 2008 at 1:14 pm

Ludwig,

Using your logic above, I KNOW you are a murderer. I presume you will IMMEDIATELY admit guilt. As you well KNOW there are many murderers in the world who don’t get caught, and I am sure that many common items which are in your household are used in murders, SO you’re guilty, end of…

Please save us the lies (defending yourself from this baseless charge), because the DPF idea is that defending yourself IS PROOF of guilt.

Regards,

trust but verify February 26, 2008 at 2:54 pm


But doesn’t “˜t the elevated hmct and blood values indicate blood doping?

I don’t believe the hmct values have been explored in any degree beyond casual speculation. We know nothing of the accuracy of the machines in question, the times of day and state of hydration under which they samples were collected, or whether there were other medical issues that would explain the raw values.

I look at those values and can conclude they indicate nothing, except that different samples were measured at different times and had different results.


It’s important to keep in mind in the course of this discussion that all evidence indicates that UCI controls were/are not an effective deterrent to blood doping or EPO use. This is why I find the argument that the testers/authorities are abusing their power or pursuing vendettas for no reason so absurd–the truth is that for whatever reason they don’t have the means to detect and/or deter most doping.

I thought we were of the belief that EPO use had been controlled.

I’d agree there isn’t a good control for doping with your own blood.

I see no relation of either of those to the issue of testers/authorities abusing their power; nor do I see any cases of “pursuing vendettas for no reason”. What I do see is completely typical bureaucratic ass-covering and unwillingness to admit weakeness or mistakes for fear of diminishing credibility.


The implicit assumption in how Jean and I interpret the data is there was blood doping in the 2006 peloton, and most likely all of the Top 10 are suspect. According to this explanation, testosterone (being a common part of doping programs) was what was found. Testosterone alone can’t explain Landis winning the Tour–it’s the drugs that weren’t found either in Landis or in any of his rivals that do more to explain the data.

Suspect, OK; but where is the evidence beyond the performance itself?

I think we are now clearly in agreement that, at least, the claimed testosterone use does not explain or account for Landis’ victory.

Great. Moving on,


When I talk about when he “crossed the line” I’m simply explaining that the moment Landis decided it is ok to slander institutions and threaten individuals in order to get his way,

Since I’m unaware of instance where he’s “slandered” institutions (truth is a defense against such things, at least in the US), or personally threatened individuals to get his way in a way that is improper, I don’t know what you’re referencing.

I do think people have prejudged him, and based on that premise, have painted many things with nefarious intent. Since doing so presumes the conclusion, it feels like Alice in Wonderland to me.

TBV

thanks!
-dB

Jean C February 26, 2008 at 3:49 pm

TBV,

The vampires usually collect blood before stage start.

Why a lot of riders are/were close of 50% if there is no accuracy?

About dehydratation , from (in french) http://www.msport.net/newSite/index.php?op=aff_article&id_article=607

Any loss more or less equal to 2% of body weight jeopardizes the muscular effort. A loss of 1 to 1.5 liters of sweat for a 70kg athlete reduces the physical capacity by about 20%. Dehydration 4% body weight reduced working capacity by 40%.

If I remember it correctly, to affect hematocrit level, dehydration need to be severe, and with a severe dehydration a rider cannot “climb”, he would lost an amount of time.

With the rider of Rock &Racing, we know EPO is still used. People can put soap on their hand or diectly inside their penis. Some of them are injecting clean piss in their bladder.

TBV, if you may give a link to Floyd hct values, it would be fine.
Thanks.

trust but verify February 26, 2008 at 4:17 pm

The values that were in question were not even mainly vampire values; they were a mix of vampire and Phonak internal tests taken at various times on different machines. This is why simple comparison is tricky.

I can’t find the reported values at first glance; I’ll look later.

TBV

trust but verify February 26, 2008 at 4:29 pm

I find what may be a selected set of values in
http://ia351413.us.archive.org/1/items/Floyd_Landis_Case_Documents_14/USADAProposedFindingsofFactandConclusionsofLaw.doc
in paragraph 192. Values range from 41.4 to 48.2 in pretty wide ranges. It’s surrounded by argumentation I won’t go into.

If you look at videos of interviews on the day of the tour tests that was 48.2, you’ll hear he has a cold, which affects hydration and Hct.

Without more information, it’s hard to know what to make of any of this.

TBV

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