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Tour in the balance?

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posted Jul 18, 2007

I don't cycle myself but watch the tour, especially during the mountain stages. Every year the doping issue rears it's head, it's a shame to those cyclists who do not do it, and go through that punishing ordeal only to find themselves being tarred with the same brush.

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posted Jul 18, 2007

If broadcasters did the same for all sports television would be a sport free zone. The olympics would never be televised for a start.

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posted Jul 18, 2007

A doping controversy in cycling??

Never!

This sport is a joke.

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posted Jul 18, 2007

Fortune 12 - what a constructive comment.
And what's your sport - just so that the rest of the people on this thread can throw some mud back in your direction.

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posted Jul 18, 2007

Fortune12, I see from your profile you are a tennis fan. You think there is no doping in tennis?! At least cycling is trying to clean itself up. Tennis and plenty of other sports either don't care or have their heads in the sand.

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posted Jul 18, 2007

Phil S,

Do you know who carried out the test?
From what I can tell, it happened at a team training camp, but the team only monitors the riders blood on the look out for suspiscious changes.

So who actually did the test that came up positive for testosterone?

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posted Jul 18, 2007

PS.
A thousand thanks for avoiding the "Tour De Farce" headline! <biggrin>

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comment by Sam (U1650299)

posted Jul 18, 2007

I thought being a public broadcaster is about broadcasting to your audience? ZDF's acting like some kind of ethical broadcasting committee using a ridersí B-sample as itís deciding vote, which is surely wrong and unethical in itself! While i'm shocked that a rider looks like he has doped just weeks before starting the Tour, ZDF are in no position surely to put this pressure on Sinkewitz, guilty or not.

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posted Jul 18, 2007

It just goes to show how the UCIs recent action - i.e. imposition of a declaration by each rider in the tour that they don't dope was useless. In sentiment it was a step in the right direction but by making the declaration a pre-requisite of being able to ride the tour it effectively meant that everyone would sign the document regardless. If the declaration had been implemented with an ounce of common sense this situation could have been avoided.
Despite the damage this positive test will inflict on the tour and his team, we should keep in mind the efforts that the sport at this level is undertaking to weed out these individuals.
Bob Stapleton is cutting a brave and inspiring course by encouraging riders to come clean about their past - I admire his actions. Critics should look to how the sport is attempting to police itself also - Bjarne Riis (Team CSC)employed an independant agency to test its riders regularly (Over a hundred samples from the team over 8 week period). The sport has had major problems but only more so than athletics, football or even snooker in the publication of such incidents. If Patrik Sinkewitz tests positive in the B test, quite rightly he will be dropped from T-Mobile and the sport and wont compete for at least 3 years and at his age probably never at pro-peleton again.
John - Hanwell, London

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posted Jul 18, 2007

Erm golf now , lets face it all sports are at it , and i mean all sports! only that there is too much money involved to bring it up in other sports, simple truth no-one is too be trusted.

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posted Jul 18, 2007

I used to admirer these cyclists as they took on perhaps the ultimate endurance challenge. I no longer cheer their efforts which is a shame. I've heard it all before from the Team Managers e.g. T-Mobile saying it's a new beginning with a young team...nothing ever changes. They continue to deceive us for their own ends..these are not sportsmen but drug cheats.

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posted Jul 18, 2007

T-Mobile said this was a new beginning with young riders and how refreshing their attitude was...nothing ever changes. The Managers of these teams are deluded and try to con the public. The Tour De France was special to watch but when you realise it's all based on drugs it's now just a fascination and no longer admire them as sportsmen.

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posted Jul 18, 2007

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comment by cycl1st (U9042200)

posted Jul 18, 2007

I ditto the question about who did the testing. It seems like they need to review processes and procedures to minimize errors.

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comment by casprd (U9042461)

posted Jul 18, 2007

unfortunately it just underlines the hypocritcal nature of these broadcasters. they are quick to pile on cycling any time there is a hint of a scandal, and when there isn't any, they (l'equipe, david walsh, etc) will create one. when are they going to start demanding the names of the footballers and tennis players from operation puerto? if the media tried this with football the fans would riot. rather than beating up cycling why not accept that they are the only ones cleaning up their house.

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comment by ClaudB (U8296466)

posted Jul 18, 2007

Would these TV stations not be better pulling the plug on football ?? After all are the Germans not the original and best at the most common form of cheating in televised sport - Diving !! They even lent their name to it 'Doing a Klinsmann' !!!

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posted Jul 18, 2007

Casprd,

Maybe "they" will start demanding the names of the football and tennis players from operation puerto at the same time as "they" start demanding the names of the doped-up cyclists that Dr.Fuentes said were riding last year's Tour de France?

Check out operation puerto on cyclingnews.com. It turns out that operation puerto doesn't have any football or tennis players (or athletics) names. There is only a French newspaper's investigation (mentions 4 Spanish football teams, but no player's names and no actual doping records), and Dr.Fuentes' declaration that he treated football and tennis stars - but he isn't naming names.

Where are you getting your opinion? Cut-&-pasting it off cycling forums, by any chance?

I wish all this "Other Sports" rubbish would stop. It's like listening to a (broken record of a) lawyer sticking up for the Mafia on the grounds that the Japanese Yakuza and the Chinese Triad and the Colombian Drugs Lords and Al-Quaieda and the Taliban are just as bad if not worse.

Also, the moral judgement of a TV station? Who cares? It could just be that cycling has suffered a massive drop in popularity in Germany after all the T-Mobile confessions (Riis, Zabel, Jaschke, and Ullrich still to come). It's like one tabloid newspaper dominated by celebrity gossip getting all high and mighty about the way another paparazzi-rag keeps printing photos of the royal family.

The only thing that surprises me is that there isn't yet a TV channel devoted to 24/7 coverage of drugs in cycling. I once watched an Italian TV show that consisted of controversial refereeing decisions in that weekend's football matches. It was hilarious. So what not a Sky Sports Cheats?

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posted Jul 18, 2007

Igmeister,

If I get a whiff of you thinking about upbraiding me over my spelling of 'Al-Quaieda' or 'Taliban', I shall send Sister Mary Catherine round to smack your legs.

Note. No smiley. I'm serious.

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posted Jul 18, 2007

FRE. Promises, promises. I normally have to pay good money for that sort of thing you know. Us drug taking cyclists are a kinky bunch.

It is free to check your spelling on dictionary.com by the way...

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posted Jul 18, 2007

If you sold the drugs instead of taking them, you could afford both Sister Mary Catherine and her Mother Superior.

And I know a few Abbots and Bishops who would pay to watch. (Plus more for the video downloads).

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posted Jul 18, 2007

Excuse my ignorance with this one but my knowledge could hardly fill a postage stamp so could somebody tell me in a paragraph or two...

What does Testosterone actually look like. I mean to take, is it in a liquid form, a pill, a powder etc ... and,

What do you do with it? Inject it, swallow it? You could smoke it or stick it up the rear end for all I know.

Apologies for having no knowledge of this whatsoever, but after the Landis saga last year I'm determined to be a bit better briefed on how a naturally produced & occurring substance can be illegal whne surely we all have different levels?

Mens & womens differ drastically & isn't one of the Spanish riders, possibly Valverde allowed some dispensation as he is known to have a proven high count?

While I'm here, as there isn't a Stage 11 thread - so I've said it. Nick Nuyens e/w at 175/1 tomorrow for a 1-4 place.

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posted Jul 18, 2007

It used to be an injection. Nowadays, it's a patch like a Nicotine patch, so it can be absorbed through the skin.

Remember, all these performance-enhancing drugs were originally developed for medical purposes. Steroids and Growth Hormones to help you build muscle tissue, EPO to help you recover from blood loss. Athletes use them because they want bigger muscles or more blood.

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posted Jul 18, 2007

I find the attitude of the German TV a bit strange. The Tour de France and the UCI are doing their upmost to eradicate the drug taking in cycling. There is a problem, and hopefully, less and less riders are using performance-enhancing drugs.
But what about other sport??? Will german TV stop showing athletics, swimming, football???
Cycling is probably the sport taking the hardest stance on this problem. And it is the one who will have to be banned for trying to be clean???
I don't think this is the way to go. And do the German people remember these wonderfull eastern sportwomen they gave us before the fall of the Berlin wall, some of them had to shave twice as much as I have to do....

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posted Jul 18, 2007

I caught up with T-Mobile's spokesman, Stefan Wagner, this evening and he told me that it was a test performed by the German Cycling Federation. T-Mobile's tests do not find things like testosterone, they are aimed at spotting blood anomalies.
The team is extremely shocked that this has happened and understandably nervous that one person's actions, if the B-sample confirms the initial result, might endanger the livelihoods of many dozens of people.

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posted Jul 18, 2007

Gubby, from what I've read so far it seems Sinkewitz showed an elevated T/E (Testosterone/Epitestosterone) ratio of something like 24:1 compared to the permitted ratio of 4:1.

There doesn't seem to be any information as yet as yet as to whether or not the test identified this as being from an artificial or natural form of the hormone.

It's Iban Mayo who has a dispensation for a naturally high testosterone level, although I'm not sure what ratio he is allowed. That said the limits have shifted over the years and there is some debate as to how effect applying a ratio is. I think it was argued in the Landis case that anything up to about 40:1 was physiologically possible and that his results didn't show excessive testosterone but a difficiency of epitestosterone.

What I find frustrating is the way in which the information is coming out in dribs and drabs. Even the T-Mobile management don't seem to be clear as to what is going on. It makes it very difficult to form a judgment when so many key pieces of information are missing.

One thing that does concern me in all doping cases, not just cycling, is that way in which it seems that it's not up to the authorities to prove that the athlete has actually used a banned substance but up to the athlete to prove they haven't. While there remains this apparent lack of a need for proof beyond level and ratio tests which indicate that it's possible for an offence to have occurred I think there will still be athletes who think they can dodge the bullet.

FRE, I came across this article about the Oil For Drugs investigation in Italy:

http://news.findlaw.com/ap/o/51/07-18-2007/83a4001259b0a861.html

Want to step across to the athletics bit of 606 and ask the questions you seem so keen to ask of cycling over there as to why they seem to be ignoring this story? I don't see you applying your same rigour to that sport's doping issues. "Other sports" is an issue when that example suggests that one sport is being targeted as a doper's paradise by the press and governing bodies while others sneak by the back door.

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comment by cinelli (U9045426)

posted Jul 19, 2007

Drugs have always been used in bike racing, Fausto Coppi and Jacque Anquetil admiited to it 40-50 years ago and drugs are used in other sports but these things don't make it O K.
The drug problem has to be eradicated, if not sponsors of cycling teams (such as Phonak) or sponsors of cycle races will pull out and professional racing can't survive without sponsors, as there is no entrance charge like football or cricket or most other sports.
Thanks to the tour starting in London, English speaking riders competing and winning, the popularity of mountain bikes and the environment cycling is becoming more and more popular. There is even talk of a number of British companies considering a cycling team, amongst others these include Tesco. These companies will want to promote a healthy family friendly brand and will not want to get involved with a sport, they see as having a drug prolem. For these reasons we have to come down very heavy on cyclists who take drugs, one positive test and they should be thrown out of what I feel is the greatest sport there is. If not we will end up wth virtually no coverage of bike racing by the media (which is poor now on the BBC) and races taking place out in the sticks by amateurs only.

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comment by MarcoH (U971888)

posted Jul 19, 2007

The reason people label the entire sport of cycling drug riddled is because we have nearly two hundred riders all competing in the same event. So when one or more are caught out in the only cycling event many have heard of they assume the whole sport is afflicted.

In athletics and swimming there are many events featuring a relatively small number of competitors. When a sprinter is caught people don't make a link in their head and assume that marathon runners must take drugs as well.

People are more aware of other sports that have drug issues. In the UK cycling as a pro sport doesn't get much coverage. Except of course when there is a drug scandal. If the only time someone hears abut cycing it is because of another positive test then of course their impression is going to be bad.

This is why starting the Tour in London was so good. It raised awareness amongst the public that cycling is a great sport to watch and highlighted the good points.

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posted Jul 19, 2007

Verzino, I think you are correct to say that the general public believe that cycling is riddled with drugs because of the high profile of the tour (and the relatively large numbers of participants versus, say, an Olympic 100m final). But what is happening is that some of the "best" riders in the most high profile event in the world are admitting (albeit retrospectively) to having cheated, which leads to the thought that if the best are only the best because they enhanced themselves, then maybe this event isn't so great afterall.
While I also agree that the public don't link marathon runners with sprinters' wrongdoings, I do think the public suspects all sprinters, and quite possibly 100m world record holders will carry the stigma of Ben Johnson (and others) for many years to come. The Tour may have to face up to the same problem.

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posted Jul 19, 2007

Alex,

No, I don't care to check out the doping scandals in athletics.

Look at it this way. If your wages depended on how clean cycling was, and for some reason your wages were being underpaid so badly that you couldn't meet the mortgage payments, and you went to complain about it, would you put up with someone trying to fob you off with some excuse about salary mis-calculations being just as bad, or worse, in other professions?

Is there something you don't like about a bit of critical analysis?

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posted Jul 20, 2007

It's even simpler if you delete, "depended on how clean cycling was, and for some reason your wages".

Got my analogies mixed.

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posted Jul 20, 2007

The main problem is identifying and defining prohibited drug levels. Almost all physlogically active drugs or closely associated chemicals exist naturally at some level in the body. This is a specialist area for pharmacists. Athletes have been taking food/drug supplements since the Greeks. However much we wish it aint so athletes will forever battle to help themselves win in any way they feel they can and all sporting authorities can do is try and keep on top of the problem.
At least, hopefully, following from the debacle a couple of years ago the cycling world has been forced to tackle this problem seriously and should be applauded for that. But if you want to see a clean sport then dont look at professional athletes, just participate!

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posted Jul 20, 2007

Get caught face the consequences, But how can this be Testostrone? Boll-cks, We take the ruling body as gospel? Then you are the ones on something... Cyclists are naturally sexy sitting on their little post for 5 hours and wearing Lycra,sporty glasses and all. Why don't the Rolling stones ride bikes then? Eh? No suggestions intended guys, but stop the ... Oh my goodness, it won't do the sports image any good attitude. Check out the BBC website and you'll find the Cycling link under snooker and next to disabilty sports. Great advertising, keep up the good work. Now, where's my Lanolin.

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posted Jul 20, 2007

Cycling has been and still IS riddled with drugs, thats the problem.

At least couple of positives every tour for the last 10 years is a terrible record.


Verzino, you try to push it under the carpet by saying there are 200 riders comapred to only 8 in an athletics race. I'm sure that even you know that is rubbish.

Athletics has a major championship every year at least (olympic, commonwealth, world) in which many hundreds of athletes compete accross races ranging from 100m (usually around 60 competitors, dont just count the final) to marathon (over 100 competitors in some) and then there are the field events as well.

If there were a similar ratio of positives to cmpetitors then we would have to expect up to 10-15 positiive tests on athletes during each championship, which just does not happen.

Cycling has admitted it has a problem, but until it starts to get really tough on drug cheats (making them pay back their last 2 years wages and any prize money for the last 4 years as well as a lifetime ban and their names erased from any record books would be a start). As it happens T-Mobile are one of the better teams for checking but all teams should be required to have a drug/wellness policy like this as a minimum.

Every rider should be tested in the days prior to the tour, with daily tests for the top 20 finishers and 5 of the top 20 in all classifications. This is the only way to clean up it's image.

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posted Jul 20, 2007

I read in a triathlon magazine years ago that there was a 7:1 "rule of thumb" ratio between cycling miles and running miles. Over the 20 stages of this years Tour, that averages out at running about 15.7 miles per day at race pace over some pretty severe terrain in demanding weather conditions. As an ex-marathon runner (2:30 best time) I don't think there's many runners on this planet who could manage that level of performance day-in, day-out with only the "traditional" pre-race high Carbohydrate diet and limited recovery time. I feel sure these tour cyclists are on some form of "performance boosters" (legal or otherwise, knowingly taken or otherwise) and at the end of the day, the pressure they are put under by team managers / sponsors or whoever to deliver day after day or lose a handsome salary has seen them turn a "blind eye" to the morals of it all...

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posted Jul 20, 2007

hackerjack, my understanding was that the UCI follows exactly the same criteria as any other sport that adopts the WADA code. All the riders were blood tested before the tour and came back clean. No rider has yet tested positive on the Tour and there were a further 50 plus tests on the first rest day.

As I understood it, every day the first three on each stage are tested and then a random selection plus all the classification leaders.

Why should cycling be insisting on 2 years wages, life bans etc when nobody else does? Olympics bans haven't stopped althletes testing positive and as far as I'm aware, nor is there any evidence to suggest tougher punishment is any more likely to stop it.

The comparison marker for Tour De France is not something like Commonwealth Games, it is like the Olympics every year. How many positive tests were there at last Olympics? Can you remember a single Olympics in recent times that hasn't had a drugs scandal attached to it? Greek sprinters, chinese swimmers, Austrian biathletes. I think Geordielass makes a very valid point about the intensity of the focus on the Tour De France having an effect on the perception or the problem.

FRE, criticial analysis requires balance and context. If you're going to bang on about drugs in one elite sport you cannot do so in isolation and removed from context. Performance Enhancing Drugs are an issue for all sports, not just cycling, yet you seem determined to ignore this. Why should cycling be asked to act as the whipping boy for the drugs in sport issue?

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posted Jul 21, 2007

I remember reading an article in the mid 80's about Sean Yates eating 10 of those choclate bars, the ones named after a planet. Could these contain illegal substances? He used to do some excellent times.... I thought so. Did they have drugs then as well, no wonder I couldn't get anywhere hear his times. The point I am making is you are beginning to become alarmists... Drawing a conclusion without real evidence. I still don't see how Testosterone makes you go faster... Oh Dave Lloyd beat me too. He was an Ex-pro. Raleigh team I think. Name and address supplied.

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posted Jul 21, 2007

The phrase I remember from Willy Voet's book about the Festina affair was 'masking'.The
pharmacists supplying the 'pepped up'riders
can no doubt mask anything,maybe in particular testosterone; maybe the mistake Landis is alleged to have made was to panic - he wanted a quick fix on the final mountain stage and the 'mask' slipped.
There are always whispers about certain riders being 'on'something : the French are still trying to prove that Armstrong's performances were more than human.Maybe there should be separate races, one for chemical enhancement: a jersey for best chemist.
Don't agree with Brown Bottle's assessment of pro bike racing against marathon running.If you notice the way much of the stage races stagger themselves - some of the early stages
were run at a fast club run,then the pace quickens when breakaways are collected.The mountain stages are rarely attacked from the start to the finish.Even Armstrong used his team to create a pace that burned off the opposition before he made his final push.
There have always been great rolleurs - men like Taffi and Agostinho -sprinters and climbers, the mix that makes the great Tours the events they are.Despite the drug outbursts I continue to follow the TDF as the great event it is: the landscape, the French countryside,rivers and mountains are never drugged (maybe as good as a drug), and surpass anything created by cyclists, chemists, sponsors or the whole rigmarole.
May not be the best place to add this, but what about the Danish cycling association and Rasmussen.Someone in the Danish org doesn't like Rasmussen being in yellow ?

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posted Jul 21, 2007

alfbinda,
There's also slipstreaming. Also, often forgotten, coasting; when you stop running, you stop; when you stop pedalling, you can roll quite a distance.

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posted Jul 21, 2007

Alex,

Not the half-baked critical analysis they teach for writing essays, the kind they use in logic.

Menís pro cycling has got very little credibility; meaning itís very naive to follow it without wondering if riders are still cheating the dope controls. That is true whatever goes on in other sports.

On a credibility scale of 0 to 100, where 0 is no credibility and 100 is pure as the driven snow, I would rate menís pro cycling about 10. Maybe 5, maybe 15, but definitely not very high. Sport X has a credibility rating of 8 or 9; sport Y has a credibility rating of 13 or 14; sport Z has a credibility rating somewhere between 2 and 30. If you like arguing about which sport is the worst, and quibbling over insignificant differences between them, you go and enjoy yourself.

Right now, I am following bike racing; I am only interested in how credible bike races are, and not whether they are slightly more or less credible than other sports. I do not want to argue about which sport has got the least credibility, and I do not want to join-in with a name calling contest. And I will thank you in advance for not trying to drag me into either one or both.

Does that make my position clear? I do not think it is a difficult position to grasp, nor an unreasonable one. I think itís legitimate criticism, and not merely fault-finding. Can you explain why you are so attached to calling it Ďpicking on cyclingí?

You carry on calling it 'picking on cycling', and I shall continue to think cycling is scraping the bottom of the barrel if its defence has sunk to ďItís not fair, other sports are just as badĒ. That manner of complaint belongs to whining 10 year olds destined for Brat Camp. I can do far better than that, and I think cycling fans can do themselves a favour: stop squabbling like playground crybabies, and respond to criticism like grown ups instead.

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