Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Wednesday Roundup

News
ESPN picks up an AP piece that states 30 "targeted" riders headed for the Tour de France have already been tested for doping:

France's anti-doping agency has already conducted tests on 30 Tour de France cyclists, and plans more targeted checks before the race starts next month.

The tests were not carried out at random, as cyclists "were targeted based on information from federations, teams or newspapers," Pierre Bordry, head of the French Anti-Doping Agency, said Wednesday.

And so it begins...


CyclingNews reviews the HBO Real Sports piece on PED use in cycling, and Dutch mountain biker Arielle van Meurs denies any doping saying the elevated hematocrit levels found are normal to her:

"The blood is too thick and the International Cycling Union (UCI) said it was too dangerous to ride. That has nothing to do with doping," she said. "I have naturally a very high hematocrit and it is often above the standard. Plus, the night was very warm and that doesn't help."

Blogs
Spinnin' Wheel watched the HBO Real Sports epi last night featuring David Millar talking about attempts to rid cycling of doping. She liked it, she likes St. David as well and doesn't understand those who don't.

Steroid Nation reviews yesterday's Florida court reversal in the Gatlin case. Info and discussion can be found here.

Racejunkie sort of previews the Tour de France, but also wonders if "Baby Contador" will be winning his seventh Tour when we finally hear the Landis CAS verdict. RJ is showing real optimism here.

Eric writes about his battles with Mt Palomar and mentions the climb is/was on Floyd Landis' regular training ride. Eric also posts his power output charts comparing last year's rides with this year's.

20 comments:

Larry said...

I think I'm with "Spinning Wheel" on this one ... what exactly has David Millar done to deserve the nickname "St. David"? Maybe I missed something ...

Mike said...

TBV can explain better, Larry, but from my perspective it is quite sad to see a former doper take such a prominent role in anti-doping publicity. It would be much more appropriate for him to "sit down and shut up." There are a lot of guys who never doped. They should rightly be the voice of anti-doping. It makes good press to have the former cheater speak against cheating, but to me there is just something inappropriate about it.

syi

Mike said...

There was a recent blog at Austin360.com, which begins thusly:

"With the flurry of doping scandals that have rocked the cycling world in the last few years, sometimes it’s hard to be a cycling fan.

I’m trying, but it’s discouraging.

Most discouraging of all was Floyd Landis, whose 2006 Tour de France victory was stripped after tests showed he had elevated levels of testosterone in his blood."

So, I think it is official: even the cycling interested public is never really going to get the basic facts of Landis' case straight. Sad.

tbv@trustbut.com said...

Larry,

We have low tolerance for sanctimony that seems at the same time to conveniently meet pecuniary interests.

Today's racejunkie expresses the problems with Millar's self-positioning more pointedly than we'd do, but we'll quote:

Can We *Please* Shut Off the Faucets Now, For !@#$'s Sake?: finally, if I wasn't happy I don't get HBO before, I sure as hell am now, as St. David Millar predictably hits the airwaves with a special that apparently delves into the irresistible pressure he was under to dope from soulless bottom-dwelling teammates and evil plotting management and how only his strong sense of morality--which totally coincidentally kicked in the second he was busted alone in a hotel room with enough drugs to stun a rampaging ox, but not before--saved him and kept him clean after the good-guy narcs thankfully brought down his career. Y'know, nuthin' against the man's surely genuine transformation from doping cheating scuzzbag to repentant red-handed ex-con, but would anyone else rather jam a !@#damn spoke in their eye than listen to this self-congratulatory !@#$%^%$#@ again?

The same kind of problem often arises with reformed drunks, other reformed addicts, and those who wrap themselves in a flag to equate policy disagreement with hating one's own country.

TBV

Larry said...

Mike, I don't get your comment on David Millar. It's common to take moral instruction from people with troubled pasts, who have taken the wrong path. We get the true story of what can happen when you take the wrong path -- useful for those of us who might be considering taking that path ourselves. Also, for those of us who are already going down the wrong path, it's important to learn that it's possible to reverse course.

When it comes to fighting drug and substance abuse, it seems that ex-abusers play a leading role. Possibly the most famous drug treatment center in the world, the Betty Ford Center, was founded by a woman with a history of chemical dependency. You can't be an Alcoholics Anonymous "sponsor" unless you're an alcoholic.

It seems to me that people like David Millar has an important story to tell us: how they came to PEDs, and what they did in an effort to ride clean.

Ken said...

Larry,

Someone who has lived through the pitfalls of life can help others avoid those pitfalls. I can only speak for myself, but I imagine others might agree that that isn't exactly why people are annoyed with St David. The comment in TBV's post says some of it pretty well. Some of the blame can be laid at the feet of the press and the alphabet soups for proclaiming him a hero and the shinning light of every athlete who may stray from the flock. "See Floyd, if only you had admitted your evil wrong doings we wouldn't have had to burn you at the stake. Joe Paff? John Papp? Oh yeah, he's that guy we used for a second but we're finished with him. Look how bright St David's future is now." And though St David doesn't seem like that bad of a guy to me, he'd seem like an even better guy if he didn't believe the hero stuff.

Mike,
Wouldn't it be nice if reporters actually reported things? Though saying what you've heard is part of reporting, they'd be much better off actually investigating things before assuming what they heard was correct.

Mike said...

Larry, I have no problem with Millar being the keynote speaker at some imaginary cyclist convention and saying "I did it. Here is the slippery path that led me to it. I should have been smarter and showed more character and resisted it. Don't do it. It's not worth it." But I don't think it is appropriate for that type of conversation to happen in the public/commercial realm.

IMHO, doing it at CDA (Cycling Dopers Anonymous) is one thing. Doing it in Cycling News (or wherever) is another.

syi

beeble said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Larry said...

TBV, Ken, Mike -

Clearly, we're in a difficult area here. I'll try to tread carefully. I will write this in the first person singular, and talk only about my own reactions and feelings.

Everything that follows is IMHO.

I think that the BEST stuff ever written about sin has been authored by ex-sinners. I'd start with the confessions of St. Augustine, and move forward to the autobiography of Malcolm X. Maybe not all of my reasons for thinking this way are good ones! Maybe I like a good, juicy story about sin written first-hand by the sinner. Or maybe I'm just a sucker for stories that prominently feature themes of redemption and forgiveness. So, I start with the idea that Millar's prominence in the anti-doping movement is natural and proper.

Then I have to confront my own discomfort with David Millar being a poster boy for anti-doping. I think this has to do with the feeling I often have that the reformed sinner has gotten away with something. If I think that sin is enjoyable (and if I read a well written confession like St. Augustine's, the sins can sound pretty good), then the sinner gets the opportunity to enjoy the sinning. THEN, when the sins catch up with the sinner, the sinner "reforms" and makes a good living out of being an ex-sinner.

Yeah, there's something in this paradigm that feels wrong to me. I admit it.

But the stuff I've learned here at TBV, and elsewhere, tells me not to be so concerned that the sinner has gotten away with something. Millar did the crime and the time. He served his two-year suspension, and suffered the humiliation that went with the suspension. He does not have to wear the mark of Cain for the rest of his life. He should be allowed to return to the world of cycling with full membership privileges -- just the same way that I hope (probably in vain) that Floyd Landis will be allowed to rejoin the cycling brotherhood (more on Landis versus Millar in a moment).

As far as whether Millar should speak out against doping -- well, as I mentioned above, history teaches us that ex-sinners are particularly effective in combatting sin. I point to my earlier post to syi, to the example of Betty Ford. Sure, there's a problem with the ex-sinner as moral reformer, as the ex-sinner must effectively argue that the rest of us should do as he says, and not as he did. But Millar is also a living example that a rider who once thought that he needed to dope in order to be successful, is now able to ride with reasonable success and without dope. Only an ex-doper could provide such an example.

As far as Millar's attitude and his willingness to believe the "hero hype", well ... the reformed sinner clearly has to walk a tightrope. I want Millar to be an example to others to give up doping and ride clean ... but I don't want him to SAY that he's an example, or even allow himself to be portrayed as an example. I want him to speak out strongly against doping, to indicate in the strongest possible terms that athletes should not dope ... while at the same time freely admitting that he doped and that he's understanding and forgiving when it comes to athletes that DO dope. I want him to do the right thing, to act courageously, and also humbly and with great contrition. In other words, I DO expect Millar to act like a saint ... without any self-recognition on his part that this is the way he's acting and without permitting anyone else to acknowledge that this is the way I expect him to act, and heaven save him from my wrath if he slips even a little bit.

It's an impossible standard. No one can live up to it. Given that we need the David Millars of the world if we want to make things better, I would personally try to cut the guy a little slack. At the end of the day, I guess I see Millar as one of the good guys, flawed to be sure, but on balance probably a positive force in cycling.

So ... let's get to the heart of my problem with David Millar, which really has nothing to do with David Millar, and everything to do with Floyd Landis. David Millar is an ex-doper, while I believe that the authorities failed to make any kind of a case that Landis doped. Yet Landis has suffered a great deal more punishment than did Millar, and there's every indication that he will continue to do so. I argued earlier that Millar should not be forced to wear the mark of Cain for the rest of his life, and I know what that mark looks like, because that's the mark that Floyd Landis is being forced to wear.

So, sure. There's a part of me that hates David Millar, because he's a hero in the "Take Back the Tour" kind of story that presently dominates the world of cycling, while Landis is at best a villain in this story (and at worst is some kind of historic curiousity in this story, a guy who went wrong in what the story sees as a bygone era of cycling that we've been able to move past and leave behind us). This part of me hates David Millar, because maybe Landis would have been LUCKY if he'd actually doped, if he'd been caught red-handed with the drugs in his hotel room, because by now HE could be racing for Slipstream and featured positively in HBO specials like Millar.

I mean, what kind of world is this where a guy like Millar is a hero? He cheated for as long as he could, got caught, and then took the only intelligent path available to him, which was to clean up his act and take the "high road" (so to speak). While Landis is a goat for fighting for what he thought (and for that matter, what I think) was right.

But to be honest, my outrage here really has nothing to do with David Millar. I cannot resent Millar because of the way that Landis has been treated. Millar was treated fairly and Landis was not -- the only right way to react to this is to wish for better treatment for Landis, not worse treatment for Millar.

I personally have to be careful about wishing that everyone in cycling be treated as badly as Landis has been treated.

So. I'll assume for the moment that nothing worse can be said against Millar than what I've said already. This being the case, I personally will NOT refer to Millar (with tongue in cheek) at St. David. I understand that it's hard to avoid comparing the way Landis and Millar have been treated, but I don't think that Millar has done anything to deserve the comparison, and I personally don't want to tear down any and every cyclist who's received decent treatment from the powers that be.

My two cents. FWIW.

beeble said...

One more time...

So ASO's "night of the long knives" has officially begun.

Whisper in the ear of the 'authorities' to have a rival potentially taken out because you know the guy hasn't been feeling well and there might be something in his blood that shows up slightly askew.

I know this is a rhetorical question but isn't there SOMEONE with enough spine to stand up to these clowns??

("Eightzero") said...

Maybe this is heresy, but I have no basic objection to the essentials of what the AFLD is doing. Test 'em all, leave no stone unturned. Indeed, "доверии, но проверить".

The problem is obvious, of course. They are indeed leaving many stones unturned. Drop back, be a good little domestique, fly under the radar, take your pulls for the team, then get out of the pack in the last few kilometers. Fall back, and you won't get tested. Yet we are supposed to beleive AFLD is the new sherriff in town, and they are really goin' to clean up this mess.

Speaking of which, there is no disclosure about how AFLD will actually test, and for what. Will they test (and have they tested out of competition) for cocaine? Will there be a A/B sample division, and will the results be confidential? Will LNDD be involved and what evidence do we have their "results" are not shoddy? How will the French tabloid L'Equipe be involved? What due process is guaranteed so that we have some evidence we should be trusting AFLD? Who is watching the watchers?

Other than these minor questions, I have no issue with their plan. Vive le tour. Forever.

P.S. Gotta say, watching David Millar toss a $12k racing bike he didn't buy over a barrier because he was pissed at it made me wonder how he respects sport. Yeah, bike racing is tough stuff, and I've been upset because my equipment has failed too. But what else does he disrespect because it didn't serve his immediate purpose?

Actions::Words.

PEM said...

Another great post, Larry.

That wasn't 2 cents. You make complete sense!

wschart said...

I am not sure to what extent Millar personally has assumed the role of "St. David", but what bothers me is his canonization by the press.

It seems that every doper who gets caught has the same tale: "My team officials, team mates, etc. made me do it. I was pure and innocent until I hit the pros, then all these bad guys forced me into it." I mean, come on, don't you think that just once, someone doped because he wanted to, because he thought it was the ticket to fame and fortune? And what about the amateur ranks, don't you think there is some doping going on there as top and near top amateurs seek admittance into the pro ranks?

As far as I know, most PEDs are not addictive and one can simply decide to stop taking them, so we are not talking Betty Ford here. MIllar got caught and then took what was the best option open to him, knowing that he was guilty as charged and had little if any hope of contesting the charges. If he hadn't have been caught, he would probably still be doping today.

Ali said...

I always took the St David tag as a bit of good humored ribbing. I never realised that there was genuine resentment against him.

I read an interview in the British cycling press before he had made the transition back to the pro ranks. I have to admit, his life sounded grim.

Kipping down on his sister's floor, not riding, just drinking and smoking. Being constantly tested by the UK ADA officials. His former life had simply ceased to exist.

He claims his breakthrough was watching cycling on the TV again, becoming a fan again. Then training harder than he had ever trained before on the local hills in the UK.

Yeah, I'm sure it was tarted up to make a good story, but I'm also sure he paid the price for his doping. Maybe more than most people think.

And maybe if you've been through that, you may believe you've earned the right to be "holier than thou". And you know what, he did it and he fought his way back to the pro ranks and now he's a successful rider again with a healthy bank account.

As far as I'm concerned, my view is good luck to David. He showed a degree of fortitude and strength of character which should only be admired.

Finally, I'm not perfect either (gasp !). I've done things I regret. Nothing outrageous, but maybe that's just because the circumstances were never right to be outrageous. I may have my faults, but I try to ensure that hypocracy is not one of them. I'm not religious, but the old "let he who is without sin cast the first stone" usually resonates in my mind before I criticise others.

racejunkie said...

If I may weigh in somewhat belatedly on the St. Millar issue, I don't know who the heck called him what first, and in any event it's not important, but way back when I started out ranting on-line I did indeed think he was gunning for sainthood and said so: http://racejunkie.blogspot.com/2006/09/st-millar-and-more.html
Larry and the rest of you make great points and I think they're entirely fair. For my money, there's nothing to show he objected to doping's benefits 'til he got busted, which is wholly understandable, but also why I find his sobbing for the cameras over it so ostentatiously irksome. Still, I wish him the best--I just wish he'd enjoy the inner peace his honesty brings a bit more "inner"!

rj

strbuk said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
strbuk said...

What rubs me the wrong way is not the "canonization" of David Millar, but its juxtaposition with the "demonization" of Floyd Landis.

str

beeble said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
beeble said...

Oh it gets better:

"The men's urine samples were then sent to two labs accredited by the World Anti-Doping Agency, and EPO tests were requested."

"The second lab never deemed any urine sample positive for EPO and found only a few to be suspicious. The two labs did not agree on which samples were suspicious."

Giggle, giggle, giggle...

beeble said...

[Sorry, I was trying to clean up my html]

Oh hell yea baby!!

Remember the line from Meatballs (1979) "it just doesn't matter! it just doesn't matter!"

Here's why:

Their tests don't work!!! Woooo!!

"A urine test that is supposed to detect the drug, and that will be used in the Tour de France next month and in the Olympics in August, is likely to miss it, the study says."

Dope it up baby!

In 2009 if you see an out of shape, asthmatic with a broken neck wearing an old red & black Supergo jersey win the TdF, that'll be me!