Friday, July 27, 2007

Friday Early Roundup

Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.

[photo via velonews; tip from a reader who said
"a picture tells 1000 words"]

ESPN/DeSimone says Suh and Jacobs are working with Vino/Astana.

The CyclingNews has Greg LeMond speaking for Floyd Landis again in reference to the latest doping scandals at this year's Tour de France. LeMond claims that Landis said the French were against him and that Floyd is either naive or malicious:

LeMond's point of view is that if Rasmussen got kicked out, others should have been excluded, too. "There are others where there is even more proof [of doping]. If I think about Floyd Landis, who defended himself by saying that the samples were manipulated, that the French were against him and that there is no culture of doping in cycling... Maybe he is just naive, or maybe he is malicious."

LeMond then goes on to cast doubt on current Tour leader Alberto Conbtador saying that no yellow jersey should be awarded at this year's Tour. Meanwhile Christian Moreni is out of jail, and obviously out of a job.

Chicago Daily Southtowns has this listed under "this day in history":

In 2006, Floyd Landis’ stunning Tour de France victory just four days earlier was thrown into question when he tested positive for high levels of testosterone during the race (Landis has denied cheating).

The Washington Post
in its' kids posts sports opinion column writes that fair play needs to make a comeback in sports, and that kids should keep three things in mind when participating in sports. The adult athelets should keep these three pieces of advice in mind as well.

The Contra Costa Times
would like to put a positive local spin on the Tour de France, but it can't. It compares Vino to Floyd Landis:

That's because we've seen this script played out before. I remember thinking after last year's tour that Floyd Landis is innocent until proven guilty, and the cycling enthusiast in me has always wanted to believe he didn't use extra testosterone to take over last year's race.

But the fact is that he was hurting. He was in bad shape when he took that mountain stage thanks in no small part to a degenerating hip condition that he later had to have surgically repaired. Did something happen? Who knows?
Vinokourov's ascent was no different

The Leaf Chronicle
seems glad that Americans aren't the only cheaters.

Racejunkie says it's a cruel cruel summer what with "tricky Dicks" Dick Pound, Christian Prudhomme, Pat McQuaid, and Patrice Clerc turning on each other in cycling's equivalent of the Donner Party:

... WADA calling an antidoping summit, UCI complaining that Pound has no respect for the obvious success of their antidoping crusade (like letting an unknown yet likely huge number of the Op Puerto riders ride the Tour, for example), and, most outrageously, Christian--who spent the entirety of last year burning Floyd Landis at the stake in interviews with every imaginable media outlet, taking his Tour away before his arbitration was up, and playing provocative video of mirrors shattering as Floyd's evil cheating visage loomed in the background like Stalin's, as his own country's lab chimps repeatedly proved themselves incapable of reliably analysis the contents of a glass of tap water--whining that everyone is innocent until proven guilty and he is shocked, shocked! and horrified that riders aren't being given the benefit of the doubt (unless they're French.)

Spinopsys cites "Crikey" and its' problem with how the TdF is covered by Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwan.

Yulu on MySpace cries "save the tour", and still thinks Floyd Landis is innocent.

Suitcase of Courage
feels as a lawyer that due process is lacking in the recent doping cases at the Tour de France, and he recommends reading Dave Shield's book, "The Tour".

QuickReleaseTV gives us debate from France 24 on the "guilty until proven innocent" syndrome present at this year's Tour de France.

Rant is thankful that at least yesterday we got to catch our collective breath as no new doping scandal was exposed at the TdF. Tourus Horribilis indeed.

My Life as a Maryland Mom wants to know what it's all about? All the scandals in sports and other places seems to be rampant this summer.


Unknown said...

LeMond is at it again. Check out Cyclingnews.

Now he says Contador has to be watched because he climbed as fast as Rasmussen. He even throws another stab at Landis saying he is malicious.

He needs a fishbat upside his head....

strbuk said...

Michael, I was just posting that CyclingNews piece when I read your comment. Funny I don't rememeber Floyd Landis saying the French were agisnst him, some of his fans have said that , but Floyd has always made a point to speak kindly of the French. Unless that is, GL has found a reference that I have not seen.


whareagle said...

Guys, e-mail me off-list, please. Got some comments to share...


Unknown said...

GL’s comments could be interesting if he had any first hand knowledge of current dopers and if he were willing to provide evidence of that hypothetical first hand knowledge. He hasn't much of a clue as to what Floyd, LA, or Contador have actually done, or not done wrt doping.

I can’t see a legitimate reason for him to interject himself into the controversy in the personal way that he has.

He’d be perfectly correct to speak out against doping in cycling. Hell, he could make it his life’s work if he wants. Just stick to the facts GL. Just stick to the facts……

Dave said...

Have you seen that Suh and Company are defending Vino?

Anonymous said...

GL reminds me of chicken little crying, "the sky is falling", then goes and hides behind his alleged molestation if anyone questions his veracity.

What's next, a black listing of cyclists who GL or his dopes at WADA don't approve of?

BigJas said...

Ugh. I am so sick and tired of Greg "I am the only clean winner, ever" LeMond spouting off. I used to covet those who rode LeMond frames, but stopped after hearing him point and accuse any and everyone who has any success in The Tour. Remember how much he prostested when his bikes suddenly stopped selling and Trek became the "it" bike to ride? He is not looking out for the best intestes of cycling, he is trying to protect his brand and livelyhood, plain and simple. By blasting others, he keeps his name in the press and adds minutes to the inevitable count-down to obscurity.

My disgust for him is at an all time high. I might just throw away the Sports Illustrated cover with him in a Tux leaning on his bike. *barfs in mouth a little*

Unknown said...

I’ll add this and then leave the topic of GL alone for a while:

GL was a great bike racer. As a rider, his story was inspirational.

Since shortly after his racing days ended, I have not felt he has given me much cause to be inspired by him.

Unknown said...

I admit to being more than a little shell shocked, but let's try to look forward. From Versus yesterday it is clear that the spin that the ADA and cycling powers are going to put on this is that this is proof that they are being successful in getting cheats. That is what the headlines are going to indicate and virtually no one is going to pay attention to the fact that rules were broken on the confidentiality of A tests, Rasmussen passed all his drug tests and got nailed for lieing to his team, etc.

Non-analytical positives are in and waiting for confirmation through B tests or follow up tests is out. False positives are going to be tolerated "for the good of the sport" and due process undercut.

The best that we can hope for is the arbitration panel to find that Landis demonstrated such incompetence and rule breaking on the part of LNDD to rule is his favor. That might, and I think the chances are slight, might lead to a tightening of procedures and standards on the part of the anti-doping agencies. However, they are not going to feel any real pressure to do so, unless that result is heavily spun as Floyd beating the system "on a technicality" that needs to be elimiated by better action rather than loosening the standards.

I fear that they will take the easy way out and simply make it easier to nail a target.

When a witch hunt gets rolling the mob gets less sceptical, not more refined in its targeting and acceptance of proof.

My impression is that the professional riders are almost all on short term contracts - one year predominantly - and have no effective group organization or representation. The events of this week have shown how little real power even the big names have to secure basic due process.

Unfortunately, the chance of a false positive is not a good rallying cry for an organizing effort. It smacks of an effort to protect dopers and no leading rider is going to associate themselves with that unless they have been accused (Floyd).

It is going to require a clear and absolute miscarriate of justice to counterbalance the rush to "justice". That will end up requiring a whistleblower because no rider is going to be able to mount an effective defense due to the expense.
Pete Crosby

Larry said...

In case it’s escaped anyone’s notice here: with the Tour of 2007, we’ve entered a brave new world. It’s not enough anymore for a cyclist to obey the rules (or at least, not to get caught violating the rules). It’s now necessary for a cyclist to ride “clean” (or at least, to ride above suspicion). If a cyclist cannot prove he’s riding “clean”, he may be excluded from the Tour (or other world-class road races), and he may be subject to expulsion from a race if it’s discovered during the race that he might not be riding “clean”.

The same rules apply to teams. The team must be able to prove that it rides “clean”. If a cyclist on the team violates the rules, then the whole team is tainted.

You may not like this state of affairs, but that’s the way it is.

You may ask, what does it mean for a cyclist, or a team, to ride “clean”? The answer, of course, is that no one knows for certain. It seems to be a good thing to sign on to as many pledges as possible, that the rider is committed to “clean” cycling, that the team is committed to “clean” cycling, and so forth. These pledges are not completely meaningless. Team Cofidis is publicly committed to clean cycling, and while that didn’t prevent one of its cyclists (Cristian Moreni) from testing positive for testosterone, I think that the team reacted appropriately once the positive test was revealed: the rider confessed his guilt, and the team quit the race voluntarily (as it had pledged it would do under those circumstances).

But obviously, riding “clean” has to mean something more than merely saying that you’re riding “clean”. The teams have to get involved, with education, and proactive drug testing of their own. Some teams (notable the Slipstream team in the U.S.) are already doing this.

Memo to Floyd’s supporters: if Floyd had been able to participate in a program of proactive drug testing, he likely would have had reams of data showing his historic natural levels of testosterone, and he might also have had samples taken at the 2006 Tour that he could have used in his defense. In other words … the effort to ride “clean” can ALSO embrace an effort by a rider (and a team) to protect himself (and itself) from the idiots who run the current drug testing regime.

For those of you concerned about fairness to the athlete, I think you also need to consider what’s fair to the sport and to the fans of the sport. Yes, from the standpoint of fairness and due process, you might want to allow everyone to race, have everyone tested, and then sort out the results of the tests (“A” samples, “B” samples, witnesses at the testing, hearings and appeals) after the race. But nobody wants to watch a race like that. We want to see a race where the winner is crowned at the end of the race, and STAYS crowned.

I know some of you are thinking: if the labs would only follow their rules and do their jobs, we wouldn’t find ourselves in this situation. To be sure, there’s plenty of blame to distribute to the “alphabet soup” of authorities involved in drug testing: not just the LNDD, but the ASO, the UCI and WADA. On this forum, we focus primarily on the likelihood that Floyd Landis was wrongly accused of doping. However, we also have to consider that – even if Floyd is innocent – the system does a poor job of catching the riders who DO cheat. More often, we know about cheaters because they’re caught by police, or because they simply ‘fess up after their racing days are over. Not many cheats are caught by the labs. I think that, drug testing being what it is, the cheats will always stay one or two steps ahead of the testers. We can’t count on labs to clean up the sport.

So in the current environment, it’s not enough for a rider to say, “I’m clean because I’ve never failed a drug test.” The riders are going to have to do more. They’re going to need to build a reputation for honesty and riding clean, just as they have to build a resume of performing well and winning races. And in the current environment, it is in the legitimate interest of the organizers of the Tour to select “clean” participants – even at the cost of unfairly excluding riders and teams that may be under a cloud of suspicion. The Tour can’t survive if it keeps disqualifying winner after winner once the race is over. The Tour has to do what it can to keep the cheaters off the podium in Paris. The race will not survive otherwise.

DBrower said...

Larry, my compliments. What you write is spot on.

I'll add that for riders and temas to make the effort, they need some confidence they are not going to be chased by Keystone Kops who make things worse rather than better. Improvements cannot come without confidence building measures by all involved parties.


Larry said...


Thanks for the compliment! Means a lot, coming from you.

Agreed that in the best of all possible worlds, the authorities would perform competently and in accordance with their own rules. Unfortunately, I think that there's no chance that the LNDD is going to learn how to run a lab, that the ASO is going to learn how to fairly run a race, or that UCI ...

... what is it that the UCI is supposed to do again?

We've already seen that, in response to a crisis like this, the authorities are going to fight with each other, and that the sponsors are going to flee. It's sad, and it's going to get worse before it gets better.

The athletes SHOULD be concerned that the authorities are going to turn on them, that their teams will abandon them, and that the rules designed to protect them will be ignored. (All in the name of "clean" cycling.) The sport is not going to protect the athlete; the athletes are going to have to protect themselves.

(In this regard, the comments we hear from the Tour riders are very interesting! They seem less concerned about the fairness of the system, and more concerned about catching more cheats. Of course, maybe they're afraid of being too critical of the race authorities, at least so long as the race is still on. But it looks to me like the only riders concerned about the fairness of the system are the ones accused of doping. This bears watching.)

I think the only hope is for teams to meet the drug testing issue head-on, to dedicate themselves to clean cycling, and to test their riders regularly, with the result that the teams believe in their riders and are capable of defending a rider in the event that the rider is unfairly accused. Or, maybe it would be more accurate to say: the only hope is that the elite riders will join teams dedicated to clean cycling, and will choose their teams based in part on the team's willingness to stand up for their riders.

Unknown said...

In case it’s escaped anyone’s notice here: with the Tour of 2007, we’ve entered a brave new world.

Which is why I had no interest in the TdF this year. About all I know is what I read on this blog and I can see I was right not to be interested.

The Tour de Toona is local to me and I'm following the womens' race only, since this madness hasn't penetrated their races. Yet.

I can't see seriously following the mens' races again in my lifetime. If it's about "clean," it's no longer about racing. The only way to be clean is to lose and lose badly, every time, if any sort of good performace is suspicious.

I'll follow Floyd's case through to the end, but that's about it. I wonder what the delay is. I suspect it's 2-1 against, but that Campbell's dissent is so scathing they don't want it public.

Larry said...

MMan -

I don't know about the Tour de Toona. I CAN tell you that a friend of mine volunteers as a doctor for a local cycling club, and they're worried about doping, too. Not to ensure a "clean" race, but out of concern for the health of their members. They think that a number of the younger riders take EPO. There is, of course, no drug testing in most of amateur cycling.

Ultimately, this is the biggest concern. Perhaps we need not worry about the health of the hundreds of elite athletes who dope. But I do worry about the health of the tens of thousands of high school athletes who may be doping to get a competitive edge.

If you care about sport at any level, I think what happens in the Tour de France should be important to you.

And yes ... I'm not watching the Tour as closely as I did in prior years.

Unknown said...

I don't know about the Tour de Toona.

It has pro divisions (men and women) and Cat 2-3-4-5 races as well.

I CAN tell you that a friend of mine volunteers as a doctor for a local cycling club, and they're worried about doping, too. Not to ensure a "clean" race, but out of concern for the health of their members. They think that a number of the younger riders take EPO. There is, of course, no drug testing in most of amateur cycling.

If they want to make it about health, then do so. Right now they've banned all manner of things they can't prove are dangerous or not, performance-enhancing or not, testable-for or not.

And it's hypocritical for anyone to feign concern (I don't necessarily mean you) about the health of young people w.r.t drugs until anyone who even thinks of giving kids non-athletic but mind-destroying crap like Ritalin is locked in a dungeon and the door welded shut for all time. I have a nephew and niece they ruined with that stuff. That's where I'd start, not with sports.

The whole doping thing looks like a pure witchhunt/pogrom to me.

Larry said...

Mman -

Since I posted, I've read a bit about the Tour de Toona. Sounds like a nice race, seriously. I hope you enjoy it.

My point about drug use in amateur cycling WAS made out of concern for the health of the participants. I was trying to indicate that doping at the Tour de France matters, if only because young amateur athletes will dope if that's what the pros are doing.

As for Ritalin ... my experience with ADD and ADHD drugs is very different from yours ... still, we can be concerned about MORE than one health problem at the same time, right?

Finally, about the witch hunt/pogrom reference. I don't see the analogy between what's happening at the Tour and a pogrom. I DO see the analogy to a witch hunt, in that the REACTION to doping may be completely disporportionate to the EXTENT of the doping, or to the THREAT posed by the doping.

I'm not sure I agree with you that we have a witch hunt going on. There DOES seem to be a serious problem. Let's put Lance and Floyd to one side for the moment. Look at the number of top Tour performers tied up in the doping wars! Riis, Ullrich, Basso, Hamilton, Vinokourov, Pantani. There's a lot of podium space over the last 15 years covered by this list.

But your witch hunt analogy is certainly right in at least one respect: the folks we've put in charge of professional cycling seem willing to destroy the sport and each other in their anti-doping efforts. Almost as if the effort to stamp out doping is secondary ...

Unknown said...

Almost as if the effort to stamp out doping is secondary

Exactly. If it's about health, why are there no rules against riders smoking? Some do, you know. Because it's not thought to be "performace-enhancing"? It was thought so by riders in the past (1940s, for sure, teammates would pass cigarettes around in the peloton!). Judging from the career record of Petra Rossner, who smoked like a chimney off-course, maybe it is!

Then there's good old caffeine, which was UNbanned, yet is certainly performance-enhancing and potentially harmful. It has cynically, but probably accurately, suggested that it was unbanned because Coca-Cola is a major sponsor of the Olympics. Lots of caffeine in Coca-Cola products.

My solution (they'll never do it):

Start from scratch. Assume every piece of conventional wisdom about "doping" is wrong. Throw out loaded words like "doping" (which is whatever WADA says it is, this time, in this case) and "clean", get some *real* scientists and medical people with no stake in getting long-term money for "nabbing dopers", determine what they're really trying to ban and for what reason and what sort of tests are accurate.

Real doctors and scientists outside the WADA community have written that some of what's now called doping is actually healthy when done right, that the banned substances list is incomprehensible if "dangerous and performace-enhancing" is the standard, and the "deaths by doping" have only happened to people who used EPO and other substances in amounts way past the point where they enhanced performance, believing "more is better" becausing accurate information cannot be gotten in the current atmosphere.

Some of this is available through the links on this site and the references in those articles.

(This doesn't mean every one of these scientists is right. But how can good policy be set by non-scientists who scream about "goddam Harleys" and "Nazi frogmen"?)