Category: 2013 Tour

doping in cycling – speak now, or forever shut the f*ck up

during the 2013 Tour de France i was contributing to two websites, PEZ Cycling News and The Roar, and amongst my observations was included the fact that Chris Froome was riding very strongly and that, as a result of the previous 20 years of the history of doping in the sport, it would be prudent to wonder just how he was riding so incredibly well.

it wasn’t an accusation. it wasn’t finger pointing. it was a wondering. i feel that anyone that has a genuine interest in this great sport has, now more than ever, a right and even a duty to ask questions when we see something that seems larger than life.

as a result of these comments, i received generally supportive feedback from around the web but, as ever, there were those who wrote comments not just supporting Froome and Sky but more or less telling me to shut up. that all this doping talk was “boring”, or “there is something called innocent until proven guilty!”

yup, indeed there is, but when the crime is largely undetectable – and when the authorities have helped it to remain so – then what’s left of the logic behind ‘innocent until proven guilty’?

we’ve been fibbed to, fobbed off, dumped on and generally treated like spoon-fed idiots for several years now. after every scandal the UCI does nothing and waits for our little voices to pipe down once again – need I name them? Festina, Puerto and on and on – then it’s back to business as usual until slaaaap – another pile of crap falls out the arse of pro cycling onto everyone but those responsible.

people come back after the dust settles, to places like this and the forums, and say ‘hey can we give these guys a break please?’ or ‘surely, SURELY it’s cleaner now!’ or ‘it must be clean, or what’s the point?’ and then bang, another dollop drops.

Gw1516. Aicar. S107. S108. It’s all just waiting in the wings. Another wave will come soon, and we’ll see the same pattern again. To believe that just 1 year after the biggest scandal that hit the sport came about that now it is clean is naive. Frank Schleck got busted, di Gregorio, Contador on ‘beef’, Mustafa Sayer, 3 RusVelo riders on ‘asthma drugs’, Santambrogio, Di Luca…

I do not understand how the committed fan can’t grasp this brief window in time that we have to question all that they see. forget clean or not, the fact that we still, in 2013, cannot be absolutely sure that the guys winning these races are indeed clean is a shame on our sport, on its officials and its standard bearers.

and yes, on its participants too. on its journalists, and even its fans, in some respects. all we ever do, collectively, is bury our heads back in the sand after each scandal.

those of us who question the legitimacy of performances do so because we have seen it all before, and we have heard it all before too. ‘Give him a break!’ – Well sure, we would, if the sport could police itself. If you didn’t learn from the Lance garbage that these tests mean almost NOTHING to anyone with the cash and the inclination to cheat then you really are a True Believer.

micro dosing. Blood doping. new stuff that may be undetectable.

the Bio Passport has been shown to actually aid the dopers – and ex-dopers have said as much. the samples taken at the Tour 2013 will be eligible for retroactive testing in years to come once tests have been developed and perfected for the new generation of drugs, and it is only then that we may see who has been on what. do those calling for people to stop ‘going on’ forget that Lance’s old tests, once retroactively tested, showed use of EPO?

and hematocrit. it is supposed to go down after the body is put through repeated stress, yet the Tour riders of recent years were found with H levels that either remained constant or went UP. is that natural too?

seriously, get over the sense of ‘us’ bashing individuals and see that is it not about that – whoever performed head and shoulders above the rest this year would have and has incurred suspicion. it is not their fault, nor ours, it is just plain as day that there is an existing pattern there that we have been gullible to swallow silently so many times.

and now we are here, in an environment in which we can for the first time ever actually say ‘hey, show us how you do it. we dearly would love to believe again.’

this isn’t ‘us’ against ‘you’, or ‘them’. because WE are the sport.

we have to take this chance. if Pat wins and if there are no changes, and all those ex-dopers come back as usual into management and the peloton shuts shop again, we are right back in the Dark Ages.

your choice.

 

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parts of this article originally appeared as a comment on The Roar

Brailsford let us down…

can’t really see it any other way.

a ‘decision’ mid-Tour to announce that you’re going to release data to WADA, who then say they can’t take it and that in any case no one from Sky has contacted them, then suddenly l’Equipe announce that they received the Froome data and trot out the same quack that said LA was clean to say Froome is clean.

not in the least bit odd?

read my thoughts here.

if you can be arsed.

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Alpe d’Huez: the madness analysed!

'Chris! Does my arse look big in this?'

‘Chris! Does my arse look big in this?’

it was bedlam. seriously, that stage could not have been scripted better, apart from if Mark Cavendish had pipped Riblon at the line and Valverde had turned into a giant grapefruit.

let’s do Ventoux twice next year, please!

read my take on the giant, rolling mess that was Stage 18 right here.

tdf13st18-crowd620

think you’re hard? pfffft! try a Tour with a broken pelvis!

“What sport in the world demands the same focus and attention to all details, all the time, that the Tour de France does of its potential winners?

A Grand Prix? Nope, that’s over in two to three hours or so. A 15-round boxing match? Again, too short.

The closest I can imagine is a non-stop individual sea voyage lasting a similar time, but even then there are periods of monotony there, of peaceful seas and relaxation.

No, nothing on the planet compares with the Grand Tours and in particular the Tour de France in terms of the focus and concentration required – no traditional sporting event in any case.

These men are tough physically, but it all stems from the core of their being, from an inner steel that the normal man in the street will never comprehend.

Like Scott and Amundsen crossing frozen wastes, Cook setting off into uncharted waters and Hilary and Norgay Tenzing reaching the summit of Everest, these riders are driven by something else, something almost other.

It all makes no sense when considered rationally, and yet it all makes such absolute, perfect and beautiful sense in so many other ways.”

I take a look at the physical and mental strain of the Greatest Race on Earth here on The Roar.

Image courtesy of Sky ProCycling

Image courtesy of Sky ProCycling

 

Are you a Froome Believer? I just can’t do it

“The problem resides in me. I lack the requisite faith to make any of what I see worthwhile. The signifiers elicit only one possible meaning, rage headlong to the same inevitable assumption. I want to believe but I cannot. I just can’t make it happen.”

i’m like a Catholic who’s been excommunicated. read all about it here.

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Froome’s performance raising flags

“Overall, the data suggests that the performances on AX3 fell within a range that could be expected for a relatively clean peloton with the exception of Froome. His performance on AX3 is clearly flagged as an outlier and warrants healthy rationale skepticism. Going forward, the progression of his performance should be closely followed over the rest of the Tour.”

doubt is ‘healthy’ and ‘rationale’. that is the the conclusion from Scott Richards of Cyclismas.com, which can be read in its original form here, or in a more digestible form here in Outdoor Magazine.

incredibly, after all we have been through, there are still people saying we should just trust blindly when we see performances that are on a level or even greater than those performed by riders who we know achieved similar feats when aided by performance enhancing drugs.

the debate has finally moved from the murky shadows – at least in some circles – and we have to persist in this. otherwise, it is back to square one.

a ‘healthy ‘ and ‘rational skepticism’. an absolute requirement.

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*thank you to Sean Hogan for sending in this link

vive le ITT!

lemond89

ITTs are, generally, boring. not the actual results but more the action itself – unless of course it was planned by a mad Italian and goes up 27% inclines, then they are brilliant.

but yesterday’s TT was fascinating in that we got to see a tall, skinny arsed machine destroy the race – and I am not talking about Tony Martin.

let the forums blaze… read all about it here.

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Stage 10 of the 2013 Tour de france, analysed on The Roar

le Tour! all-consuming. for me, in any case.

the daily routine consists of:

get up * eat * walk the crankpooch * write about the Tour * ride * write about the Tour again * eat * watch the Tour * write about the Tour * walk the crankpooch again * sleep

anyway, Stage 10 analysed on The Roar, right here. *Spoiler Alert* – it was Cav who did it…

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