Paul Andrews

Posts Tagged ‘uci’

This Day in Doping: So many syringes, so little time

In Bicycle Racing, This Day In Doping on November 2, 2009 at 1:26 am

Doping scandals aplenty, Velo News reports. They’re taking another look at 2008 Giro d’Italia samples for CERA, undetectable previously but now testable. The same may happen for the 2009 Giro and Tour as testing catches up with ever newer, previously undetectable substances.

“The report also outlined a new blood doping practice which evaded current testing protocol which monitor blood parameters. About 200ml of blood is extracted, mixed with an anti-coagulant, and re-injected. The practice does not alter blood values and is all but undetectable, the report said.”

And the UCI, whose efficacy anti-doping authorities continue to question, emerges with another black eye:

“Earlier efforts to back-test Giro samples for CERA were squashed by the UCI, but now Italian officials in Padua have taken up the case.”

The Chicken is back! Michael Rasmussen, who was on track to win the 2007 Tour de France before his team suspended him for deceiving it re his whereabouts before the race began, has picked up a new team following his two-year ban.

Rasmussen’s case bears some investigation, because he essentially beat the doping system. He never actually tested positive. He was put on ice simply out of suspicion of cheating.

Which means the system must be pretty easily beatable, because they suspected Rasmussen well before the Tour began and one would assume must have tested him rigorously during the race. So what went wrong? How could this happen? They’re so convinced he doped that they barred him, but nothing in their vast array of testing procedures could prove it?

Euskaltel-Euskadi on the comeback trail from doping scandals? Can they stay clean? And with this kind of money involved, will they get reported if they aren’t clean?

“As part of continued 1 million euro commitment to the team’s total 6.5 million euro budget, the government has included a clause in the sponsorship contract that would end the deal if more doping cases pop up. Reports in Basque Country media also point to an early exodus of title sponsor Euskaltel – the regional telephone operator – if there’s another doping case.”

Floyd Landis got caught and paid the price. Now he’s saying “politics” will keep him from ever competing in the Tour again.

Here’s an idea: Floyd and the Chicken and Tyler Hamilton and Bernhard Kohl and Vinokourov and a bunch of other banned cyclists get together and form a Tour team sponsored by BigPharma companies that make methadone. They could call it Team LiveClean.

World Champion Cadel Evans now wants to finally win the Tour, a prime motivator for his move from Silence to BMC Racing. We wish him luck. Cadel is one of the few pros who proactively says he does not dope. We trust he’s telling the truth and admire him for taking a stand. We also like him because he’s a former mountain biking champion. (So is Rasmussen, but we don’t admire him because, as with a lot of big names in cycling, there’s too much evidence he’s a cheat, even though he never actually got caught.)

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This Day in Doping: More UCI-French squabbling

In This Day In Doping on October 9, 2009 at 9:40 am

The French and the UCI are fighting again … bring out the Ritalin!

UCI fires back at French anti-doping authority accusations: Did not! Did not favor Lance, Bert & Astana!

But the French aren’t backing down. Saying they’re really really skeptical of 2009’s “squeaky clean” Tour de France, the AFLD announced they won’t play along next year with the UCI (which supervises drug testing during the Tour).

“I am astonished that there was no positive doping tests at this year’s race,” said AFLD president Pierre Bordry.

Small wonder pro cycling can’t make much headway in the drug wars. These guys are acting like junkies coming down off a 3-day jag.

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.

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: Rasmussen ‘rejected,’ 2008 Tour revisited, A scientific analysis analyzed

In Bicycle Racing, This Day In Doping on July 26, 2009 at 2:08 pm

Bicycle.net: UCI opposes letting Michael Rasmussen, the 2007 Tour “winner” who was kicked off his team as he was poised to take the yellow jersey to Paris (for lying about his whereabouts earlier in the season), return to competition because he hasn’t paid his share of anti-doping costs. Although Rasmussen was certainly a cheat, he was never actually caught doping (amazingly). And still hasn’t been “detected.” Further support of the argument that cycling cannot adequately police cycling.

France’s anti-doping agency, which has had a spat or two with the UCI over thoroughness of testing, says it will re-analyze 2008 samples from the Tour. About 15 riders will be affected, although they are not yet being named. (Thanks to BikePure.org for the link.)

The Science of Sport: Can scientific analysis tell if Contador juiced? A detailed look at the VO2 max issue in relation to Contador’s time trial win. Fascinating even though ultimately too many variables (especially wind direction and velocity) impede an accurate consideration:

There are people (experts in the sport) who believe that the upper limit of performance should lie around 5.6 to 5.8 W/kg on a longer climb. This is well below what is being calculated for the current Tour, particularly the Verbier. However, if the wind speed is not controlled, then the calculated power output may well fall below that “ceiling”. The point is, we just don’t know what the wind is doing and so the margins are currently too large. Therefore, you cannot use isolated performances, lacking control over variables, to infer doping.

Thanks to Cyclelicio.us for the link.

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 Drugs (con’t)

In Bicycling, This Day In Doping on June 11, 2009 at 11:36 am

Drug scandals are in the air over international cycling. Hmmm…must be about time for the 2009 Tour de France!

Bernhard Kohl, recently banned for two years, quitting the sport entirely, weighs in on rampant corruption among the peloton. Lots of riders involved. “What were the French authorities going to do? Delete the overall classification for the whole Tour?” Well, that’s the Hobson’s Choice right there in a nutshell, isn’t it?

Bernhard Kohl respeaks, saying he was misquoted. Really? That’s a lot of made-up quotation to misquote!

UCI warns of imminent disclosure of several prominent “suspected” cheats. Sheesh. C’mon, guys, in the pantheon of professional cycling, everyone‘s suspected. You either got the goods or you don’t!

And drug allegations still salt the wound between Greg Lemond and Lance Armstrong.

It’s sad, really, where the whole impetus of cycling seems to be: Avoid getting caught while pretending to be clean. The huge money involved creates no alternative for cyclists other than to beat the system…so long as the system has laughable effectiveness.

As we’ve said before and will say again: Cycling has no credibility in self-regulation. Only an independent body, backed by all parties and with absolute authority and oversight, can clean up the mess that has become professional cycling.

Having said that, I’m looking forward to the Tour as much as the next guy. There are self–avowed cheats wearing professional baseball uniforms every day with impunity, and nobody seems to care, so let the wheels roll and let’s have no more unpleasantness!