Paul Andrews

Posts Tagged ‘doping’

This Day in Doping: Kenny Williams joins the fallen

In This Day In Doping on November 16, 2009 at 9:02 pm

So now the doping scandals are making their way into the amateur ranks. Kenny Williams, a household name in Seattle-area cycling for years, a cycling instructor and top Masters competitor, is caught using DHEA and owns up to it (be sure to read comments queue).

What to say? There’s no point in being naive or righteous about doping at the amateur level. Anyone who goes to a high school football game these days knows that performance enhancers are as easy to find and ingest as a double cheeseburger with fries. Drugs permeate our culture, to the point where enforcement has become so politically manipulated and selectively rendered that any deterrence factor is utterly lost.

Kenny’s heartfelt apology, in this context, is pointless. No one with any experience in the sport will take him at face value. See comment queues in Drunkcyclist and Papillon. Cyclists testing positive these days have only two credible options: 1. To own up to all their past misdeeds while noting, as Bernhard Kohl did, that in order to win these days you have to dope. We repeat, you have to dope. 2. Or to just STFU, serve their time and let the chips fall where they may.

Denial is ludicrous. Abject admission in a context of greater denial — the Kenny Williams path — invites scorn, cynicism and disbelief.

Williams has been a role model and comported himself well by all accounts over the years. It’s sad to find him in these circumstances. But shock and outrage serve no point.

If I were him, I’d take the BikePure pledge and really truly mend my ways (which would undoubtedly mean a fall from the top ranks he’s dwelled in over the years). Go on the lecture circuit about the poisoning impacts of drugs on health, self-respect and sports.

It’d be a departure from the norm. I can’t think of many banned athletes who have fessed up and crusaded on doping, because let’s face it, they want to get back to the top once their suspension is served.

But it’s the only path that would allow Kenny Williams, who raised the hopes and fed the dreams of so many fellow cyclists, to live the rest of his life being able to look others straight in the eye.

Notes:

How bad is doping corruption in cycling? So bad that Team Elk Haus’ manager, noting that the taint from doping kept his team from finding sponsorship, suggests cycling should simply look the other way like swimming, football and other sports. He has a point: No steroids user, even those admitting it, has ever been penalized in baseball, and the last time I checked two of the most famous juicers just led their team in the World Series. But is covering it all up really useful — or sustainable?

Joe Papp lays it on the line about his own doping, the way a true confession should read.

BikePure teams up with a BMX bike maker to get its point across. Not a bad idea — reinforce the anti-doping message with the younguns when it can still make a difference.

This Day in Doping

In This Day In Doping on November 10, 2009 at 3:27 pm

Alberto Fernandez De La Puebla Ramos, whose name in Spanish means “I didn’t do it that’s my story and I’m sticking to it,” is suspended for failing a doping test.

This Day in Doping: Did Lance, Alberto & Astana get preferential treatment?

In Bicycle Racing, This Day In Doping on October 8, 2009 at 12:38 am

Team Astana, including stars Lance Armstrong and Alberto Contador, got preferential treatment when it came to drug testing, two leading French newspapers have reported (linked by Bicycle.net).

This is part of an ongoing snit between the UCI, the international cycling governing body, and French anti-doping authorities over the rigorousness of dope testing during the Tour de France. The UCI undoubtedly considers the irregularities, including the infamous 45-minute delay at one point during the Tour, as trivial. If the AFLD is correct in its allegations, however, it raises serious questions as to the diligence of UCI procedures.

It’s hard to know — particularly based on a reading of press reports rather than original documentation — whose side to take, other than the truth’s, which will always remain in question. As we’ve said before, doping at this point is not an athletic issue or even a political issue. It’s a financial issue. Say they found doping on Team Astana and Lance and Bert got kicked off the Tour. Where would that leave the Big Money — TV and commercial sponsors — that makes the Tour possible? This is the main reason why the worst penalty a steroid-soaked baseball star can expect is an asterisk next to his records.

So cycling governance just muddles along, engaging in petty feuding and self-righteous posturing, while the doping continues.

Bert’s and Lance’s main transgression here may be that they’re not French. I mean, where was the AFLD (or equivalent) when Hinault and Fignon were ripping up the Tour?

BikeSnobNYC takes a swing at the doping scene as well, with his usual amusing speculation (every time Lance is tested he tweets? really? or does he tweet only when he knows full well that supposed irregularities will get reported?) thrown in for comic relief. Worth a read as always.

Meanwhile, doping is migrating its way down into the amateur ranks as well, and even the excuses are the same.

And back in Italy, yet another suspension.

Daily Roundup: More Interbike, This Day in Doping

In Daily Roundup, Equipment reviews, Interbike 2009, Mountain Biking on September 29, 2009 at 7:12 am

Interbike 2009 dribblings …

Attendance a mixed bag. Overall attendance declined, but buyer numbers were up. Exhibitors were said to be happy, so that’s good, because if the exhibitors aren’t happy, then the booth bimbos aren’t happy, and if the bbs aren’t happy, well, you know…

Great video from Mountain Bike Action with Richard Cunningham showing off Ibis’ new HD Mojo (beefy, very beefy), Magura fork/brake combo and a new rack from Kuat that, face it, puts the Thule T2 to shame.

And BikeSnob goes off on Reynolds’ $6,000 set of carbon wheels.

Finally, re our standing feature This Day in Doping, check out this video on new anti-doping controls that somehow feels like a 5th grade tutorial on urine testing for pot. No wonder Lance gets annoyed with these people. We support rigorous dope testing of cyclists (emphasis on rigorous, because so far there’s little evidence testing is inhibiting doping). We also support doing it in a professional and respectful way.

This Day in Doping: “Pure Tour” no more?

In Bicycle Racing, This Day In Doping on August 2, 2009 at 2:24 am

About that “Pure Tour” of 2009? It’s getting closer to dirty. Spaniard Mikel Astarioza’s breakaway seemed unreal on the 16th stage. Now it seems it wasn’t unreal, just unclean. The UCI has suspended Astarioza for testing positive for EPO in June. It was before the Tour began, so technically we still have a clean Tour. Or not…it seems to us here at Bike Intelligencer that a doped rider sullies the race no matter when he actually did the deed. After all, Michael Rasmussen had the 2007 Tour won and still managed to smear the race by being kicked off his team on suspicions (never proven) of doping.

Rasmussen by the way is claiming he’s been blacklisted, which the UCI says is not true.

Riccardo Ricco is appealing his two-year suspension. “The rules almost don’t exist in cycling,” he says, somewhat opaquely. He’s not denying doping but trying to get out on a technicality. I guess public sympathy isn’t the goal here.

BikePure: “We acknowledge that it is the air of secrecy behind such testing whose results are rarely disclosed that has the rumor mongers shouting. Openness is the future…” Right on.

This Day in Doping: Chief downplays ‘clean Tour’

In Bicycle Racing, This Day In Doping on July 28, 2009 at 11:40 am

Bicycle.net has a great update on the “clean Tour” of 2009, but as Prudhomme notes, it’s too early to declare victory. For one thing, detection techniques that today find nothing will tomorrow improve. People are looking askance at Contador, a little guy who somehow nonetheless can time trial with the best. But something about Contador strikes me as being honest. And since no one challenged him except Andy Schleck, whom I also feel is clean, then maybe this indeed was a dopeless Tour.

Time will tell. Well, time and the lab…

This Day in Doping: Lance ticked off, Spaniards kicked off

In Bicycle Racing, This Day In Doping on July 18, 2009 at 12:03 am

Bicycle.net: Lance lashes back over report that his team (he’s the leader, right? are we all clear on this?) Astana may be beneficiary of “laxity” in drug testing. “I think it’s ridiculous,” Lance says. Well then, case closed, right?

BikePure.org: Two Spanish riders, not in this year’s Tour de France, are suspended for using the blood booster Cera.

More indications that the curtain is coming down. The bright side: So far, this year’s Tour is still “clean” (i.e., no suspensions announced yet).

This Day in Doping: Team Astana beneficiary of “laxity”?

In Bicycle Racing, This Day In Doping on July 17, 2009 at 12:18 am

Cycling News has a piece about irregularities in testing the Astana team, led by Lance Armstrong, er Alberto Contador. Whatever. The French anti-doping agency has warned the UCI “to treat all teams the same” after testing of Astana was delayed last Saturday. Interesting side note: The French don’t really trust the UCI to conduct doping tests impartially and “professionally.” My position continues to be that a completely independent, non-cycling organization needs to conduct the testing, monitored by independent physicians and scientists as well as aggressive, investigative media. Otherwise we’re all just whistling in the dark, are we not?

Thanks to BikePure.org for the tweet on this.

This Day in Doping (Tour 2009 series)

In Bicycle Racing, Bicycling, This Day In Doping on July 9, 2009 at 9:39 pm

New York Times: Germany’s new cycling star hopes to put Germany’s doping troubles behind Germany. The question being: Since when are doping problems restricted or disproportionate to Germany? Statistically, does Germany even surpass other countries in doping problems? As a friend put it recently, doping in pro cycling is big news as long as it doesn’t involve Americans.

Bicycle.net: New tests can detect the previously undetectable. Why all those old samples still may have relevance.

Lance fires back: “I’ve nothing to hide from the testers.”

You can’t win at pro level without drugs

In Bicycle Racing, Bicycling, This Day In Doping on May 26, 2009 at 12:36 pm

That’s the lament offered by Bernhard Kohl, an Austrian cycling star and last year’s Tour de France king of the mountains winner, as he departs the sport after being banned for doping:

“I doped voluntarily in a system in which you cannot win without doping. The weeks after [being caught] were tough for me. But after discussions with friends and family, I realised that a return to professional cycling was a return to a life of doping and lies… Somewhere along the way, talent, training and tough discipline just aren’t enough anymore.”

All this, at age 27.

What it suggests is even more depressing: That the pro tour is still driven by drugs, that enforcement is a sham, that Big Money from sponsorships and residuals promotes and perpetuates a system of deception, fraud and illegality.

In other words, the whole sport is gamed beyond redemption.

The situation calls out for an independent investigation, or at least investigative journalism along the lines of a cycling Seymour Hersh. Otherwise we’ll never know whether to believe Kohl or just pass it off as sour grapes. Certainly he has an axe to grind. But there’s abundant evidence, including a growing number of cyclists stepping forward with painful but cathartic admissions, that what he says is true. It’s obvious that cycling cannot police itself. It’s been trying for more than a decade, with nothing but scandal after scandal to show for its efforts.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.