Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Wednesday Roundup

Today is Day 7 in the Landis decision watch which according to the rules makes the wait three days or less, it won't be long now.

The CyclingNews reports that the UCI is stepping up its' anti doping programs for the upcoming World Championships with an acceleration of out of competition testing leading up to the championships, and further testing during the event:

These may be selected at random or based on the UCI's list of targeted riders - those suspected of using performance enhancing substances or methods.
Perhaps the most significant measure, however, is the storage of blood for growth hormone testing, when such a test becomes available. This, according to the UCI, is likely to be the end of 2007. Growth hormone has long been known as a drug used by cyclists, although its true performance enhancing effects (maintaining muscle mass and therefore increasing strength) have often been called into question scientifically. Still, the UCI will be hoping its latest measure acts as a deterrent while the test is being finalised.
Finally, the UCI will also conduct around 100 early morning blood tests before events, making it possible to prohibit riders from starting or improve the targeting of post-race testing

The VeloNews
says that the RFEC insists it will send Alejandro Valverde to the World Championships despite the UCI ban on his attendance.

The VeloNews also reports that Pat McQuaid has called a truce with the three major three week tours. The UCI president may be ready to give in to demands by organizers of cycling's big three who want out of the ProTour calendar of races.

ESPN prints an AP piece about the company, Specialty Distribution Services Inc., which had sent HGH to various "well known" athletes and entertainers. It has been fined 10.5 million dollars and has agreed to cooperate with Federal prosecutors in an ongoing investigations into the use of HGH.

The Pilot provides the typical op-ed on cheating in sports with an emphasis on the New England Patriots' recent transgressions. The author feels that sports fan have hardened themselves against recent cheaters thanks in part to "the annoying and discredited cyclist Floyd Landis" who, the writer says, continues to insult our collective intelligence with his protestations of innocence. Funny we don't remember anyone describing Floyd as "annoying" before.

PJ laments the fact that even though we see another day of black smoke wafting above the square, the end of this interminable wait is now in sight and he may lose touch with all of the fine people waiting with him for news of this year's Landis conclave. PJ also notes that today marks the one year anniversary of the original Landis conclave.

Rant notes it's been 119 days since the hearing adjourned, that Valverde has been named to the Spanish world championship team (with a fallback plan), and wonders why Landis fan Brad Wiggins isn't on the UCI testing list.

Suitcase of Courage
encourages (sorry) French MTB racer Julien Absalom to follow Landis' path into road racing, so he can be the next French Hero.

The RoadBike has been avoiding the Landis saga for a while, but has noticed more hits lately from searches for Floyd. He's wondering if his traffic will double if he says, "Floyd, Floyd, Floyd". Well, it got a link from us.... Anyway, he's guessing the last possible minute for the decision, but hasn't heard it's likely to be the 23rd, not the 22nd.

SurfaceHippy answers questions about hip resurfacing and it's application for young active patients.

So Quoted makes short mention of the impending Landis decision and gives us a nice plug. Thanks!

An Athlete's Rise and Fall in the World has lots to gab about, including the fact that he thinks Floyd Landis is guilty of doping but will not reveal a reason now. He may make it all clear after the decision is rendered. Can't wait.

Fortyf15teen admires Floyd Landis' taste in Zappa Kappa tee-shirts, and posts a close up of the one Floyd liked so much and took pics of at the SM100. Fortyf15 says he will have more made up so he can send one to Floyd, and you can have one too IF you know the secret handshake. He also says that Phil Liggett will hit on any woman with a pulse, there's more to that story to be sure. Fat boys rule.

Speaker/Ally White writes a puzzling piece that has Landis striped (sic), and, get this:

In Landis specific case media has played an important role and people has been led to confusion since no official trial has been conducted by the U.S Anti-Doping Agency.

One can only hope this is an ancient piece that has resurfaced, and not one that is current and this misinformed.

Through a Glass Half-Empty again likens Landis to Bonds, and loves the prospect of sending the record HR ball to Cooperstown with a branded asterisk.


jandeaux said...

Comment posted on the Pilot Online website in response to the op-ed piece:

"...maybe attitudes toward cheaters began to harden when Floyd Landis, the annoying and discredited cyclist, continued to insult our intelligence with claims of innocence." Bob, would you PLEASE read something about the Landis case that includes facts instead of blanket moronic statements like yours? At the trial this spring, world recognized scientists testified under oath that the French lab's testing procedures were totally unreliable. This is NOT a cute technical argument devised by lawyers to get someone off the hook. Read the transcripts. You should hope the French lab doesn't get picked to test the "powdery white substance" found in your car at a routine traffic stop. You, too, would spend all you had to proclaim your innocence.

Bill said...

I was dismayed to see a couple of comments on Tuesday to the effect that entire teams should be disqualified upon a positive doping test of even one of it's members. That kind of "shotgun" approach is contrary to the principles of fairness and due process that I thought this blog represented. That is punishment because of "proximity", i.e., being on the same team - why not then just extend that a bit and disqualify everyone in the race. Punishment should be based upon proven culpability - with emphasis on "proven" - not proximity, innuendo, or rumor. Punishment should also fit the transgression - lifetime bans for fist offenses seem too draconian to me.

Unwarranted and draconian punishments have the potential to do as much, if not more, damage to competitive cycling sports as does the doping problem they purport to address because they will deter talented young athletes from committing themselves to careers in such an uncertain environment - one in which they may be punished without warning, without effective recourse, for the transgressions of others. It would also have a chilling effect on sponsors because what business would want to commit significant resources to such an uncertain endeavor. This is already happening and not just because of doping, but also because of the disproportionate "enforcement" actions being taken by some tour organizers and the anti-doping establishment.

ddt240 said...

I'm with Bill on this one. I found it to be a bit of an over-reaction in the Tour when the entire Astana and then Cofidis teams were asked to leave the tour due to acts of stupidity on the part of individuals.

Cycling is now in a situation where sponsors are leaving due to issues that may not even involve the teams they sponsor. Look at Man dropping their sponsorship of CSC, or worse on the domestic front, Navigators going under and Kodak parting ways with Sierra Nevada. You would think that given the prospect of being completely removed from a race due to the actions of one single rider would scare off any potential sponsors.

Worse than that, it’s not fair to the other riders. If I were Kloden or Wiggins or any of the other riders who trained for countless months just to make it to the tour only to be removed after a week into it due to the stupidity of a teammate, I would have been absolutely livid. Dare I say, someone would probably need to take out a restraining order. said...

I can't say I'm in favor of tossing teams, because it is disproportionate. But I'm not for letting the teams off the hook as is now the case.

What I've proposed before is that a banned rider cost the team a roster spot, and possibly a starting spot.


Jacob said...

Along the lines of teams and sponsorships, why continue the culture of naming a team based on their sponsor? In terms of drug scandals, this certainly invites association of a sponsor with the doping problems of the sport. But what if in a sport such as soccer, and in particular, a high profile team (for example, Manchester United and their principle sponsor AIG--displayed upon the front of their jerseys) multiple players were found to be using performance enhancing drugs? Yes, the sponsor may drop the team, but I doubt the sponsor would feel the same association in the public eye that sponsors in the cycling busines fear will occur if their athletes/team use PEDs. One could even apply similar logic to the Nike Swoosh on pro team jerseys.

Like so many things in life, there is a lot to perception.

("Eightzero") said...

There is something to be said for the process of self-regulation, though. Making the entire team responsible is a step in that direction. It is predicated on the testing being reliable with meaningful rights of appeal. In the end, this forces teams to be responsible in a strict-liability sense for the product they produce, and in some ways, this would be no different than existing law in many countries, the US included.

Then of course, you'd get to create a private right of action in the innocent riders - they'd get to bring a civil suit against the dopers to recover damages. And since many riders have no assets, they'd have to get insurance policies to cover this. Likely insurance companies would then want to do independent testing....

PEM said...

Looks like I woke a few people up.

Bill, I understand your position and I fully agree in the principles of fairness and due process. Perhaps it was my feeble attempt at looking for easy solutions for complex problems.

However, it is well known among cyclists that winning The Tour is a team effort. All winners admit they could not do it without their team. It is possible to have your gifted team leader not dope, but have some of the support riders dope in order to get their leader across the line the fastest. They are not going to win the stage, and so, unlikely not get tested, but they would have done their fair share of the work to get their clean leader in the position he is in. Perhaps all riders need to be tested at some point during the race and not just the random one per stage.

I also suggested yesterday, the teams need to be accountable for the riders they pick. This would force the teams to do their homework and internal testing to ensure they do not have cheaters.

Is it not fair knowing before the start of the race that if one of your teammates is caught for cheating, the team is disqualified, rather than finding out during the race that this is what could happen (as they did in this year's tour)? Would there not be added internal pressures not to cheat? Maybe I am thinking too much.

Finally, I proposed all riders finish the race. Right now, riders are let go if “caught”, and we are left with “could have or should have”. If all riders are allowed to finish, we could debate afterwards on who deserved the win, who earned the win, and so on. We all know Landis won the race even if the arbitrators rule against him. This does not help Landis, but he finished the race with the shortest time. Can we say the same for Rasumssen for this year’s race?


knitseashore said...

Re: team disqualifications and bans: it reminds me of the "one bad student and the whole class loses recess" principle. I would think that unless you install surveillance cameras in every rider's home, hotel room, etc, and then attach a tracking anklet to make sure they don't dope at friends' houses or doctor's offices, there is just no way to prevent a single rider from doping if he or she is determined to do it. (Especially in this era where riders who don't even mean to dope are still punished for cough drops and vitamin supplements). They are presumably adults and responsible for their own choices. The teams can't possibly have that much control over every individual.

I don't know if the comparison of sports doping to alcohol or drug addiction is a fair one, but from what I have read, those who "need" or think they need their drug will do most anything they can to get it, at the risk of hurting family (aka team) and losing their job. In that respect, I don't know if doping is all that different, in which case, do you punish the family/team any more than they already have been? I just can't see any fairness to teams like Cofidis who were asked to leave the Tour because 1 rider made the wrong choice. How many teams would be thrown out before they'd have to cancel the Tour? And, on a related topic, how legitimate is a rider's win if some or most of his competition is absent on a technicality?

If doping can be proved (another issue altogether), then I am in favor of punishing the rider only.

Debby said...

Jacob, the naming rights are the main things sponsors are buying, along with prominent placement on the jersey. Every time the TV announcer says "Leaky Gas" is part of the pro quo that earns the quid.


jrdbutcher said...

Thanks for firing up the discussion Bill. I didn’t respond earlier because the proposal seemed too far fetched to warrant a response. Upon further thought, the discussion you started has brought up some good points.

With regard to racing road bikes, it is a team sport, particularly the example of road bike stage racing such as occurs in the TdF. There is precedent for disqualifying whole teams in other sports. Disqualification of whole teams is usually an extreme reaction to extreme circumstances. High school and college teams have been known to have retroactively forfeited games/seasons due to the use of ineligible players. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Nascar hands out fines and suspensions, but is loath to alter the results of individual races to kind of keep the race that the fans saw and the scoreboard for the race consistent. Sometimes universities take themselves out of competition. The 2006 Duke Lacrosse Team comes to mind as an example. That didn’t work out too well for Duke University and probably less so for the City of Durham. It’s a pretty clear example of the consequences of rushing to judgment, screwing around with the discovery process, lying to a judge, and generally showing little respect for the concept of due process. Duke University has, or is in the process of, settling with the three accused players. The City of Durham is facing a $30 million + lawsuit with only a $5 million insurance policy to cover their liability. Mike Nifong, the disgraced Prosecutor, was disbarred and served a ceremonial 24-hour jail sentence.

Professional cycling has its own traditions. It grew up primarily as a Western European sport and has expanded to include top riders and some teams from outside of Western Europe. Many traditions have remained the same and others have evolved or changed entirely. It could be argued that tradition of doping in cycling has evolved and changed. Certainly the definition of doping has evolved and changed in the context of professional cycling.

There was a time in professional cycling were a small number of agents exercised undo power/influence over who would ride on which team and thus would also have a great deal of influence over the make-up of races an the likely winners. Drug use (often not used outside of the rules of the era in question) has been documented in bike racing since its earliest days. Insert the name of most other sports, in place of bicycle racing, and you’ll end up with as true a statement.

The question is more about the tradition of how the organizers/authorities in professional bike racing handle issues related to breaking rules, those related to doping, in this example. Depending upon the era, I will proffer that the organizers/authorities have done nothing, done little, tacitly promoted the use of ped’s, ignored their own rules, swept the issue under the rug, under-reacted, and over-reacted. Regardless of the era, the organizers/authorities have generally acted in an aggressive authoritarian way. They have occasionally tried to claim a high moral ground by declaring their actions to be in the best interest of the riders’ health and the health of the sport. I see more evidence to indicate the organizers/authorities could care little about the health of the riders or the health of the sport. I will continue to argue the actions of the organizers/authorities are almost always for their own benefit and at the expense of the riders.

Disqualify whole teams for the alleged actions of one rider? It doesn’t sound right to me. Will this become a standard penalty? It wouldn’t surprise me given the reactionary and haphazard way in which the organizers/authorities have collectively handled professional cycling in the past few years.

Just some random thoughts and opinions on the subject.

Chris said...

AP is reporting the decision. See:,1,3767041,print.story?coll=sns-ap-sports-headlinest