this article originally appeared on The Roar
It seems to be catching, like the sniffly cold your kid brings back from school that explodes into full-blown influenza and ravages the household. Except this isn’t merely a cold virus – it seems that several members of the cycling fraternity have developed collective amnesia.
Forgetting, it would appear, is this winter’s black, it’s that fashionable. Just when you’d have thought that lessons had been learnt from and opportunities to tackle the problems that blight cycling presented, heads are heading right back into the sand after their brief excursions into bleached-out daylight.
We, they, can no longer say we don’t know just how institutionalized the doping problem in sport is/was (delete as you see fit), and yet still individuals and companies that should know better are pandering to former dopers and, in one hard to believe case, even trying to cripple the agency that may have brought an end to a once seemingly glittering career.
One such instance is that of disgraced American professional rider and career doper Levi Leipheimer, who still turns up to thrill the masses at the annual Grand Fondo that bears his name.
Several large companies still flock to sponsor the event even after the ‘admission’ by Leipheimer that he doped for large swathes of his fairly successful career.
Some people seem to have no problem with this, but I have several. The former state that this is a great event that brings out over 7,000 people to enjoy the joys of cycling, but if the sponsors insist his name be taken off and if he didn’t turn up, wouldn’t the event surely be better for it?
What message is this sending out to young riders? That you can dope, have a financially rewarding career, apologise when you get caught, then carry on as if nothing happened?
And what of these companies? Will there be no blow-back for them for supporting the race and, by extension, the man whose name is attached to it?
I find this, in all honesty, unfathomable.
Next up we have Nicolas Roche, the Irish pro rider who plies his trade with the Tinkoff-Saxo team. Now, I’m not suggesting that pro riders have an automatic responsibility to put their careers in jeopardy by criticizing their manager and back room staff, but when you manager is about to be hauled before the Danish courts for his admitted doping offences and for the allegations by Tyler Hamilton, Jörg Jaksche and most recently Michael Rasmussen, who say he helped them dope, then surely it’s better to keep your mouth firmly shut.
But no, Roche is on CyclingNews telling the venerable website that Riis is all that and then some.
“When Bjarne’s around, the team is just that extra bit focused and that brings some extra excitement to the race,” said the son of Stephen Roche. “He comes with ideas that change the profile of the race. He takes the extra bit of risk in races, when maybe some sports directors mightn’t be ready to take the risk, which is normal too.”
The mention of risk comes, apparently, without irony.
To make matters worse, Roche is now on a team owned by a certain Oleg Tinkov, a man who said last week that “doping is over, cycling has changed.” Did the team members collectively cringe when they heard that? Didn’t everyone?
Fear not archaeologists, it looks like the dinosaurs are not yet extinct, at least not in professional cycling.
This brings us nicely to the Schleck brothers. The two lads recently will be working with Kim Anderson as their DS through to the end of 2014, a former pro that they’ve been guided by for some years now.
The excellent dopeology website states that Andersen tested positive seven times in his career and was finally banned for life – from riding, that is, not from being a DS.
Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that Frank at least values the knowledge and experience of Andersen – he was banned last year for doping himself, and was found to have transferred funds into the account of the doctor at the center of Operacion Puerto in 2006, Dr Fuentes.
Schleck was on the CSC team at the time, a team managed then by, you guessed it, Bjarne Riis.
Aren’t these little coincidences amazing?
Finally, we come to Jeannie Longo, the Frenchwoman with a palmares longer than Eddy Merckx’s who is currently trying to cripple the French anti-doping agency, AFLD.
Longo has had her brushes with suspensions but never actually received one. The nearest came in 2011 after she missed no less than three out-of-competition tests.
If you remember that loveable rogue, Michael Rasmussen, he got tossed from the Tour after just one missed test. Longo however got out of a lengthy ban via a loophole that everyone involved (except of course Longo herself) agreed was a proper cock-up.
No doubt about it – she dodged the tests and should have been banned.
Move on a little later and her husband gets busted after being named by dope-dealer Joe Papp as one of his customers. Seems that Longo’s husband was buying EPO from the American, dope that Papp said he was told was intended for Longo.
In early 2012 Ciprelli was charged with the importation of the banned substance EPO, on which he is said to have spent 15,000 euros on 15 purchases in 2007.
But do not fear, it was all apparently intended for him to help him recover from a cycling injury. That is some costly rehab.
No charges were brought against Longo, but she is seeking 1.1 million euro in damages from the AFLD, for her damaged reputation.
In a completely unrelated note, former pro rider Inga Thompson, a renowned anti-doping advocate, alleged in a November 2012 U.S. radio interview that Longo had used performance enhancing drugs during at least the latter part of her career.
Has Longo forgotten what the AFLD is supposed to do? And can she see no possible reason just why the AFLD and others might just maybe be a little suspicious when her husband is buying bucketloads of the very drug that makes cyclists go really fast?
Seems not. Seems like everyone’s just too busy forgetting.
by Dr. Conor McGrane, co-author of The Pat McQuaid File
I’ve been a doctor for almost 20 years but a cyclist since childhood. Over the years I’ve seen huge changes.
I started cycling as a kid but the 1982/83 TDF’s really sparked my interest.
Ireland is a small country but to see Kelly and then Roche do so well brought a generation of us into the sport.
Back in the day golf was seen as the sport for docs…
Now I see my classmates from medical school comparing rides on strava the way previous generations compared handicaps.
Conversations at conferences and meeting now revolve around new bikes, events or even the pro scene.
Sports medicine is also becoming more formalised and training more streamlined. It has made me look at the whole issue of Doctors in cycling. How did they get involved and why do they do it?
I see then likes of Ferrari (who is a bright and intelligent physician) and see what damage he has done.
The overriding principle for physicians dating back to the Greeks was “First do no harm”
At some point we as a profession threw this principle away.
Gert Jan Theunisse has just has a pace maker fitted at the age of 50 after a series of heart attacks. There is no way this could not be connected to his use of testosterone (at the very least) while a pro. Almost certainly someone prescribed and maybe even administered this to him.
The introduction of EPO (again prescribed most of the time by doctors) was heralded by a series of deaths, often while sleeping.
When you read of what Armstrong, Hamilton, Landis et al were taking under the supervision of a series of doctors I fully expect to see ill health and premature deaths in a large number of ex pros from that era.
Yet for all the cyclists (and other athletes) banned it’s rare to see those who admistered or facilitated the doping get a similar sanction.
It’s time for WADA and indeed the UCI to do more.
Fuentes was a trained gynaecologist yet was allowed become the team doctor for male pro teams without anyone batting an eyelid as recently as 2005.
Agents and DS’s now need to be certified and surely it’s time for team doctors to be similarly accredited.
If we are serious about eradicating doping then we need to do much more than simply ban those who get caught.
We need to be more thorough in checking out those who work behind the scenes.
There are relatively few Pro Continental teams and even fewer ProTour ones. At this level I feel it would be relatively easy to enforce standard rules and limits as to who was allowed act as team doctors. It would be a start and set an example not just to cyclists but to other sports as well.
Would the likes of Fuentes have been able to pass the scrutiny of a proper check of their past training and actions?
Not only did these guys help cyclists cheat, they also endangered their lives at the time and increased their risks of all sorts of illness in the future.
The UCI is now under new management and in my opinion the time has come to properly regulate those who provide medical care to the top echelons of the sport.
There are plenty of examples of doctors working across different countries jurisdictions who make dreadful mistakes largely because they were given positions they were not properly trained for.
At present it falls back on the medical regulatory body of the doctor’s country of practice to certify them.
I have yet to see a doctor be disciplined for doping athletes by these bodies.
If the UCI introduced a relatively simple system of registration with a thorough background check we could at the very least keep tabs on who is doing what.
Considering the risks involved to the sport I think it’s the least we should be doing.
when i asked Betsy Andreu to contribute to the crankpunk website, she being something of a hero of mine and all, i never thought she’d actually say yes being as she is so busy with her own thing and is busy still, unfortunately, taking time out of her life to educate people about the dangers of doping, the dangers of letting Lance back in, and of forgetting the past – which ain’t really so past at all…
but she did, and her first piece from yesterday made it on to the front page of the British broadsheet, the Daily Telegraph, into which their writer inserted a nice little hyperlink to http://www.crankpunk.com.
i think that is what you might call hitting it right out of the park, though even that seems like a terrible understatement.
but this is what we are trying to do here, asides from writing about our love for this wonderful sport. circumstances demand that we keep pushing, keep plugging away and to make sure we do our very best to take advantage of this point we’ve come to in professional cycling, where the issue of doping is more out in the open than ever before.
now is not the time to say ‘ok we’re done, let’s move on.’ that would be a travesty, because we are not done, they are not done.
they are still very much alive and kicking.
it’s up to us to decide whether the wounded beast that is doping gets to continue to live in the shadows and regain its vitality, or to finally be chained in the light, where we can keep an eye on it and truly monitor its pulse.
then, perhaps, just maybe, the great writers here on crankpunk could then get back to writing about the sport they love and not the drugs and the men that are killing it.
over and out,
6,372 indivudual visitors yesterday, with 8,994 page views, 7,084 of those on the Levi Gran Fondo post alone.
seems like people do give a hoot, though montanagirl was particularly irked with herself for reading an article that eschews CAPITAL letters, so much so that she wrote to tell me just that:
“If you’re going to criticize someone so harshly in such a public forum, you should be able to capitalize your sentences. I’m actually bummed I clicked on this and gave you the trafffic [sic].”
apparently if i ‘judged’ less harshly, it’d be ok to use lower case all the time. good to know. i’ll tone it down for you montanagirl – by the way, way to not use capitals in your name, ‘atta girl!
someone else asked why was i picking on Levi, and not the other ‘bad boys’ of the peloton? well, first off, imagine the length of the article if i had to write about every doper every time i wrote abut doping? you know how exhausting this sh*t is already? i’d LOVE to be writing stuff like this every day, or like this, but unfortunately i can’t, because there are far more pressing concerns right now in this sport i love so much.
so for those of you new to crankpunk & company who seem to be sulking at home because i’m ‘only’ picking on Levi, here’s a few links to get your ire a-rising again…
there are loads more, if you can be bothered.
to those who say ‘well it was every thus’ – yes, you are right in that, but wrong to be wearied as a result.
i wrote this a long time ago but as i read it now, i still believe it:
“…so, what’s the point of all this? the point is that, unless we find a way to ‘unlearn’ thousands upon thousands of years of human behaviour, or to eliminate the ‘rogue’ genes that allow for cheating and doping from our sportsmen, we will always have people ready to do it. this doesn’t mean the riders have no responsibility – they bear a great deal. but essentially what we need is a system that curtails ingrained behaviour and encourages athletes to perform clean. we need penalties that are sufficient to discourage cheating, and, most critically, an apparatus, an institutional framework of credible managers and coaches and dedicated officials who are free of corruption, to govern the sport.
then perhaps we can consider talk of a ‘Golden Era’ – and instead of it being dead and in the past, it could, if we do it right, be ahead of us. let’s honor those young men who so tragically passed away [in the early 90s from heart attacks in their sleep as a result of abusing EPO] by not f***ing this up anymore. they, you, we, deserve that.”
finally, this from Terry:
“I’m sure none of my fellow commentors would never watch or buy from a sponsor of ANY sport that is full of dopers, like the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, Pro Golf, Pro Tennis, Soccer, Boxing, Swimming, Track and Field. Lets not forget the sex DRUGS and rock n roll, so no music. For that matter, would any of you even deal with someone who drove 1 mph over the speed limit or “fudged” a tax return? Not me, I’m not that perfect. I love riding with Levi, George, watching NFL…..”
and a reply from MythBuster:
“Nice straw man Terry. You even added a hat with that tax return touch…”
keep ‘em coming folks, keep ‘em coming…!
by Kate Smart
Once again, the off-season has crept upon us and crashed our cycling loving lives with a thick blanket of that dark and heavy fog, otherwise known as boredom.
For those of us watching on the sidelines it’s all a bit like being a kid, stuck inside on a wet and miserable winter’s day, complaining to mum of a never ending and physically painful boredom that cannot be quelled.
This is the time of year that Aussie cycling fans are doing their best Jason Bourne impersonations. We’re down in the blue lit vaults of some swanky Swiss bank, cashing in on our sleep accounts. If you’re reading this from the other side of the world, you try staying up every night for a three week grand tour, living on less than four hours sleep and trying to remain a functioning human being. Let me tell you, it isn’t pretty.
Usually I would be busy at this time of year, making up for all of the sleep that’s been lost over the last ten months, but some genius invented twitter, and even better still, the genius that is Adam Hansen has an account.
Thanks to the peloton’s resident tech-head and twitter supremo, Adam Hansen, who had me nearly choking on my glass of wine, I’ve caught up on what is surely the highlight of the season, the Pro Tour Pins-Up Calendar.
Where to begin?
Once I got over my horror and revulsion at images of stick men, with wicked tan lines that should never see the light of day, the very funny and, pardon the pun, cheeky side, of this little venture became apparent.
This is the funniest thing I’ve seen in an age. It’s hard to spot a favourite.
Could it be Mr January, Alex Dowsett, the Essex native that he is, applying fake tan to those already highly tanned legs?
Or what about Mr June, Taylor Phinney. I love Taylor Phinney’s homoerotic appeal. He’s so 80s chic in a 21st century, retro kind of way.
This calendar is at once a sad and sorry state of affairs, and yet, a joyous celebration of the not terribly macho physiques of professional cyclists. What we have here is our cycling heroes, reduced to torsos of hideous fluoro-white skin and fabulously tanned extremities.
To be serious, this calendar has been produced as a fundraiser for the 2014 women’s Tour of Britain and is associated with a couple of other charities [and can be purchased exclusively online right here].
It also suggests something I doubt the creators or participants could have imagined. These images of two-toned men in many ways act as a metaphor for the whole sport of cycling.
On the outside, cycling is a sport of healthy, tanned bodies competing in one of the toughest endurance sports around. But underneath, is the evil of corruption, of drug taking and allegations of officials being involved in covering-up the once rampant cheating.
I want to be quite clear from the outset, I’m not about to sling mud at anyone. I do, however, believe that speculation is healthy, as long as it is clearly labeled as speculation.
It is this speculation that will lead to what we all hope to be a positive change in the sport. Our speculation need not defame, but it serves an important function in opening up debate on the events of the professional sport we all follow.
If you come to think of it, whether we are reading Crankpunk or writing on Crankpunk, we are all playing an important role in the democratic function of journalism.
Long gone are the days of sports writing being the retelling of results with perhaps a line or two about the weather thrown in for atmosphere.
Today, sports writing performs the same democratic functions as any other field of journalism.
If Tim Berners-Lee envisioned the Internet as a meeting place to enhance democratic participation, then it is sporting websites such as this that are closest to that function.
That’s why we are all here.
That’s why it’s important that we all stay.
Corruption, drugs and cheating are not particular to cycling, although there are plenty who will try to tell you this is the case.
Any sport can easily and quickly descend into the kind of chaos that beset the peloton of days past.
But what is it that breaks that chaos down?
Sure, it’s drug testing, it’s an attitude from amongst the professionals that this is unacceptable, but it’s also about us on the sidelines speculating on the comings and goings of the riders, teams and officials.
This is where the Internet in all its glory unites voices that previously would never be heard.
This is where we speculate on the actions of those who have ridden in the past and where we make it clear our expectations for the riders of the future.
I’m really excited to be here…
all opinions stated by writers are those held by the writer individually, and in no way reflect the opinion of crankpunk himself nor any other contributor to the site. however, we probably do all agree on most things, if that helps any…
google ‘levi’s gran fondo’ – or click here – and check out the number of companies sponsoring this distinguished event.
26, i make it. 26 companies, from Specialized to Nissan to Francis Ford Coppola Winery to Smith Optics. what are they donating? cash? where is it going? charities?
do i care? no. the real question is what are they getting? and, if there is such a thing as an even realer question, why are they getting no sh*t for this?
hiding behind the ‘but it’s for charity’ veil has to come to an end. there are a million worthier fundraisers out there than Levi Leipheimer – whom, lest we forget, got busted last year for being a career doper. you remember that, right? he was stripped of all results from June 1, 1999 to July 30, 2006, and July 7 to July 29, 2007, the periods he admitted to being aided by illegal means.
i remember that.
you probably remember that.
seems though that Specialized, Smith Optics, Clif Bar, Zipp, Camelbak and Capo don’t, however. ah, the collective corporate memory, what a thing full of holes it is. seems odd to me though that Nike and Oakley dropped LA when news came out (definitive news that is, as many in those companies kinda knew that he was on the juice all along) about his infractions, and yet these companies here are flocking to a man who cheated for large parts – if not all – of his own career.
and didn’t Omega Pharma-QuickStep – who ride Specialized – drop Levi after he admitted blood doping? do Specialized America have a soft spot for California’s needle-loving bald eagle? can no one there see that this attachment, this association, might just maybe be bad for their own image?
well, guess what – no. they couldn’t care less. because it seems that cycling America couldn’t care less. now, that is a blanket statement, but look at how many people rode Levi’s Gran Fondo this year – seven thousand and five hundred.
SEVEN THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED.
get it? that is a lot. if those 7,000+ folks were not turning up but were in fact staying away because heck, Levi seems friendly enough but he is after all a committed doper, think maybe that the companies might stay away too?
what do you get, in any case, for taking part in this event? what makes this so appealing? well, according to the website, you get “An unforgettable experience from a grand day on the bike with Levi Leipheimer, his pro buddies, and thousands of your new friends.”
first off, there should really be just one rider at this event, Mr. Leipheimer himself. and who are the rest of the people who pay cash to be in a ride orchestrated and overseen by Levi? and who are these ‘pro buddies’? one was Andrew Talansky, of Garmin. another was Luca Euser of UHC.
another of the attendees was Padraig of RedKitePrayer.
here’s how he prefaced his account of a good ol’ day in the sun:
“We’re at an uneasy place with our heroes. Even without the benefit of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the landscape of our understanding of professional bike racing in the last 20 years has fundamentally changed. For most followers of bike racing, doping went from this little problem in uncommon instances to a pervasive culture common to all but the rarest riders. While we beg for the truth about what occurred, as sporting fans, we’ve yet to embrace a single rider who confesses. As a group, we’ve yet to confer forgiveness to a single prodigal son.
“Some people would like to see Leipheimer and every other confessed doper shot by firing squad, or at least expunged from the collective memory of cycling. Truly, some of the vitriol is hard to fathom. But he hasn’t gone away, nor has his eponymous event. To evidence this drop in stock value, entries for Levi’s Gran Fondo sold at a slower rate this year than they did in previous years. But they did sell out.”
yes, it did sell out, and Padraig helped that happen. and this ‘uneasy place’ seems to be a way to justify feeling kinda weird about being at the event but having fun anyway. and ‘to confer forgiveness’ – doesn’t being there in effect do just that?
another who was there was Austin McInerney, “executive director for the National Interscholastic Cycling Association [who] was there with a full gaggle of high school riders from the NorCal league.”
high school riders. you mean, those impressionable kids who might just be confused with Levi’s name up there on all the banners and stuff and his doping past? confused by Talansky being in attendance? Specialized sponsoring? their own executive director smiling away on the start line?
those high school kids?
we have so little power as cyclists, whether or not you pay your UCI dues, that we have very few opportunities to make our views on doping heard. very few chances to register our disdain for people who cheat to win, who corrupt others around them and who, only when the gun is loaded and the hammer cocked, begrudgingly ‘admit’ to doping.
here though is one. it’s one thing to be out for a ride with a man who doped, to chat about how it happened, to hear his side of the story, to wish him well in his future (non-cycling) endeavors and to bid him on his way.
it’s quite another to pay money to an event hosted by an ex-doper, an event sponsored by massive companies, because that legitimizes what he did to get there, justifies the ends, and offers a rehabilitation of reputation that he does not deserve. it also confuses those with impressionable minds.
attending an event like this suggests that those clipping in have either not thought about the consequences of their actions or just do not give a f*ck any old way. both must be questioned.
and those companies? the ones with the heavy wallets? sure, sponsor cycling events and promote getting thousands out on two wheels. and continue to support an event that has become an established part of the calendar for amateur riders in the USA – but demand that Mr Leipheimer’s name be taken off it. it’s pretty simple and would be a great statement to make.
where’s Christophe Bassons’ Gran Fondo? Nicole Cooke’s? Inga Thompson’s?
the message currently being sent out is not the message that cyclists and corporations should be delivering. it is, in fact, the exact opposite.
why is this guy getting any space, anywhere, at any time? did i miss something? as far as i can see it, LA has been making these fumbling, half-assed attempts at clawing back some public sympathy and some of his beaten, battered, smashed-to-a-bloody-oozy-pulp reputation for several months now – and we all knew better right?
we all knew better than to give him that breathing space, to provide him with a platform to pump out his kinky stuff. we all knew better because he wasn’t going to tell all, he wasn’t going to apologise to Betsy, nor anyone else he screwed, despite the constant exhortations of ’100% honesty.’
we all know what a media manipulator he is, and yet he still remains one of the biggest draws in the sport – for some deluded journos – who are willing to allow him to get his rehab up and rolling.
they’re not all so dim though. speaking to a well-respected editor of one of cycling’s leading websites recently, he told me that he’d been offered a chat with Mr. Hospitality some weeks back, but that he had turned it down. the reason? he didn’t want the LA flame to get any oxygen, knowing that any chance of full disclosure and access all areas was zero.
and yet there we have CyclingNews giving LA a nice, chunky three-part interview last week. i’m not at all criticising the quality of the interview but it is the simple fact that LA said ZERO NADA ZILCH new. and of course he didn’t. this is all part of a lengthy rehab process, one that an public relations firm will know all too well.
it’s called ‘the process’, and involves, interviews like this, placed in carefully-selected spaces (interestingly, the un-named editor of the well known website was not a very welcome member in LA’s camp before, which may well be the reason he was approached), some public appearances, apologies and the like.
if you read the CN interview you may have noticed that LA says one of his biggest regrets was that he denied doping so forcefully. ok, hang on, so, had it been less ‘forceful’ (this is the guy who destroyed careers, remember), it would have been ok? does he really even feel sorry?
no, i don’t think so – just sorry he got caught. he’s now bemoaning the huge dent his fortune has taken, calling it ‘frustrating’. we know the feeling Lance, if it’s anything like seeing the sport you love being take over by King Bandit and his Bandoleros…
thankfully, others have said that they want his skin and all he knows in a bag, and hois desire to get his lifetime ban overturned will need a ‘miracle’, says WADA prez John Fahey.
the CN space given to LA wasn’t in any way ill-intentioned – it was just kinda dumb and very naive.
Ah, Mark Cavendish. The most divisive rider in the pro peloton has a new book out.
He seems to have decided that the best way to publicise it is to spend several pages trying to roll back the years on behalf of everyone’s favourite sociopathic doper, Lance Armstrong, coming out with a stream of claptrap that leaves the reader in no doubt that he’s definitely had one crash too many.
Now before we get to an investigation into the warped thinking expressed by Cavendish in print, I’ll ask that you watch this short extract from a very interesting film released earlier this year about the OmegaPharma-Quick Step team (warning: there is some strong language used in the video).
When I first watched this I was a little taken aback by the force and severity of Cavendish’s reaction, but I gave him the benefit of the doubt, figuring he must have been on a bad day and had perhaps been asked a similar question several times.
However, the extracts from his new book wash away those benefits, and leave the reader in no doubt that Cavendish not only wants to forget the past, he also believes that the man about whom he says has an incredible charisma didn’t really do much different than anyone else in that era.
“Like everyone else, I was well aware of the doping rumours that had swirled around Lance,” writes the Isle of Man native, “but never dwelled on them: firstly because I hadn’t been competing against him between 1999 and 2005; and, secondly, I had gathered from riders who had competed in that era that doping had been widespread if not endemic.”
‘Never dwelled on them’? Just because you’d never competed against him before?
But you would be just a year after the time that you speak of meeting him, in 2009 during his comeback.
That doesn’t seem to be worthy of a mention thought in Cav’s mind, despite the fact that USADA reckon there was a one in a million chance that Armstrong rode the 2009 Tour de France clean.
And then there’s the statement about how in that era, “doping had been widespread if not endemic.”
Ah, that old chestnut.
Way beyond its sell-by date is that particular nut.
LA, as we all know, not only doped his arse off, he also brought others into doping through various means and went after any of those riders –and indeed anyone at all – who later claimed he had doped with the single-mindedness of an assassin.
He wrecked careers, almost ruined a marriage, preyed on the desperation, hope and need to believe of cancer sufferers, but hey it’s ok, because Cavendish has chosen to “simply concentrate on the present.”
But the present, you see, is a product of the past. See how that works? You get here ‘cos you came from there. In life we learn that to solve problems almost invariably means we must work out the cause.
Not in Cavendish’s mind though. “To me,” he says, “it’s gone far beyond the point where the soul-searching has become useful to the sport.”
Soul-searching? Is that what this is?
I thought that what the majority of fans – people who are fed up with being cheated and taken for fools long enough – were after was a thorough investigation into just how we ended up in this state.
I thought they wanted to know role the major players had exactly, and then to work out, once that knowledge has been acquired, how the flip to sort this out so that the next generation of riders can escape the turmoil that so many have been led into by the very people they should have been able to trust with their health, safety and welfare.
But no. Apparently it’s soul-searching.
How dismissive that term is, describing something the sport truly needs in such a way that it seems lame, pointless, and almost teenage in its scope.
Yet what it really does is to reveal Cavendish for the apologist that he has become.
Cavendish though is not quite clever enough to thread together a credible argument on this one for two reasons.
First, there is no credible argument to be found here.
Secondly, he and his ghost writer, if he used one, just are not clever enough and they eventually expose the slackness in Cav’s logic.
“Now we’re asked to comment on Armstrong and have our morals judged on the strength of what we say, when a lot of us are, rightly or wrongly, too preoccupied with the here and now to have an opinion. Even though I was watching those Tours that Lance won, wide-eyed and innocent, I also can’t pretend that I’m eaten up with resentment or feel betrayed now [that] I know it was a big charade,” he writes.
But you say we should focus on the now, Cav. Then say that people who do that are “too preoccupied… to have an opinion.”
And yet here you are dishing one out, a feeble, apologetic one that attempts to reclaim some of the shine of the now impossibly-tarnished reputation of LA.
Apparently the thrills Armstrong dished out then under the guise – delivered whenever possible with a mighty bellow – of riding clean are still of greater worth than the revelations of the rampant and institutionalised doping that LA was a leader of.
Before trotting out the old argument that cycling has done more to bust drug cheats than any other sport and that tennis, football and others need to look at themselves in the mirror, he reveals that no matter how much Lance doped, the lasting memory for Cav will be of glory, not, as it should be, of fraud and deceit.
“As unjust, as distressing as it may be, as hard as it is for us to accept, I’m sure that Lance still feels that no one and nothing can take away the emotions of those seven Tours at the time, and the same really goes for those of us who were watching.”
This from the same man who said of the disgraced Italian rider Ricardo Ricco, this:
“The sport’s better off without him,” Cavendish said at the time. “He’s not a problem that the sport faces, he is the problem that the sport faces.”
Uh, like Armstrong was you mean?
“He doesn’t mirror a lot of riders, he’s a special case and I think we’re better off without him,” Cavendish continued.
“Obviously I hope he does recover well [from an adverse reaction to a blood transfusion], but I really do hope he becomes someone’s bitch in prison.”
Lovely stuff. But where’s the consistency? Do we forgive LA because he in fact DID reflect a lot of riders at that time?
Sorry, Mr. Cavendish, but these excerpts are nothing but evidence of very sloppy logic, and you’re wrong on all counts. Just plain wrong.
apologies for the silence of late, been running around like a lawyer for Lance Armstrong recently.
how does he even still have lawyers anyway? thought he was broke? anyway he may soon well be, if his battles with the US government heat up as they seem to be doing. couldn’t happen to a nicer fellow, and i really, really, really, really, really, really mean that.
very interesting report on CyclingSnooze yesterday about new detection methods for new dope. amazingly enough, at an anti-doping held at the Spanish (yes I did say ‘SPANISH’) Olympic Commitee’s behest, Dr Cristóbal Belda-Iniesta explained how “there are substances that degrade in hours and can therefore be practically undetectable, but which leave a footprint in genetic memory that can be detected five years later”.
some of what the good Doctor has to say is fascinating – in particular, the stuff about how EPO increases tumor growth by 1,800 times – as opposed to just doubling if left untreated.
“Indeed, tumour cells feed off EPO and because of that they develop specific receptors. For that reason, we know all about EPO and we are learning how to fight that as part of the battle against cancer,” El País reported Dr. Belda as saying. Adding EPO to a tumor cell will increase it’s size by “1,800 in just five days when normally, without EPO, it would double in size at most over the same period.”
And how about it causing cancer in those who misuse it?
“It can be affirmed that doping substances like these are substances that can be used experimentally in a laboratory to produce cancers and cardiovascular illnesses. They are substances that help to create cancer.
“I have said experimentally because there are no epidemiological studies to back this up. But the scientific basis for this is simple: each cell has needed millions of years to evolve and reach a perfect state. When we modify it in an accelerated way with one of these substances we modify all of them, because they are all connected. For this reason, I want to fight against doping because it is a health issue.”
quake in yer boots, dopers. ’5 years’ the man said, ‘cancer’, the man said. if you don’t see the ethical reasons not to dope, maybe you can see the damage to health that you’re risking…
in other news, almost as heartwarming as that above, Tom Boonen looks to be heading for a return to the Tour.
“I was actually starting to miss the Tour. Winning is contagious and my heart bled. I missed the atmosphere of the team: fighting together for that one goal.”
safe to say the Tour missed him too. come on Stage 5!
Let me set my stall out from the start: I don’t believe former dopers have any place in the management or training of current professionals.
Be it Eric Zabel, Bjarne Riis, Matt White or any other former pro that has either admitted to doping or been outed post-career, their presence within the firmament of the top tiers of the sport is, I believe, sending the wrong message to the current crop of professionals and, even more damaging, to the ranks of amateurs aspiring to turn professional.
And then we have Jonathan Vaughters, the former professional rider-turned-impressario who ran the Slipstream team that in 2009 entered the ProTour ranks, founded on a platform that advocated a drug-free approach to cycling at the highest level.
Vaughters’ men stood out in an era that many felt – correctly, it emerged – was riven by illegal substance abuse.
They were lauded for their honest and ethical approach to the sport, and drew in sponsors and fans alike on the back of their pledge to ride clean.
And yet not was all as it seemed. Not even close. In August 2012 Vaughters admitted to doping in a New York Times article, though only after rumors were circulating through the cycling world that he was to be outed for the very act he so bravely admitted to.
“I chose to lie over killing my dream,” he wrote in The Times article. “I chose to dope. I am sorry for that decision, and I deeply regret it.”
He then went on to claim that, well, everyone else was at it, so what was there to do? You were either on the bus, it seemed, or not.
Interestingly, Vaughters’ advice to those who have doped is the first thing they must do it to apologise to the fans, exactly as he did – years after the fact, when that apology means absolutely zero to anyone.
Here is a former doper who funded and set up a team based on a clean riding policy that was stacked with – you guessed it – former dopers.
David Millar was the most famous, having returned from a ban to become the media’s go-to-guy on all matters doping.
But it later emerged, thanks to the Lance Armstrong case, that there were other dopers in the Vaughters’ stable, men who many assumed were clean as whistles.
Christian Vande Velde, Dave Zabriskie and Tom Danielson were all exposed as dopers too.
Add to that the reinstatement at the highest level of another doper, Thomas Dekker, and you may see a pattern emerging.
Vaughters started this team not by admitting his doping past nor by stating that any of his riders had doped, but by parading them as a clean team, full of clean riders trying to change the sport.
Would he have secured the sponsorship needed to fund a top pro team had he admitted even his own past?
Think about that for a moment, all those of you who will say that at least he was trying to change things: Vaughters would not even have come close to having his own team had he admitted his past. Not even close.
That is the problem I have with Jonathan Vaughters.
The whole thing has been a fraud and a sham from the get go. What nobility can come from that beginning? What morality?
And now, as if this was just what the sport needed, we have the revelations by Danish rider Michael Rasmussen, infamous for leaving of the 2007 Tour de France while wearing Yellow after it was revealed he lied about his whereabouts for a doping test, about Ryder Hesjedal.
Rasmussen claims in his new book he taught 2012 Giro d’Italia winner Hesjedal – whose win by many, me included, was lauded as a victory for clean riding – how to inject EPO.
Rasmussen had three Canadian mountain bikers staying at his house in 2003 – Seamus McGrath, Chris Sheppard and Ryder Hesjedal.
He writes in his book the three “had seen the light: A good result in the World Cup (2003) would send them to the Olympics in Athens in 2004.
“They moved into my basement in August,” writes Rasmussen, “before I went to the Vuelta a España, and after I had ridden the Championship of Zurich.
“They stayed for a fortnight. I trained with them in the Dolomites and taught them how to do vitamin injections and how to take EPO and Synacthen.”
Hesjedal’s response? You guessed it, an apology.
“I have loved and lived this sport but more than a decade ago, I chose the wrong path,” said Hesjedal, echoing Zabriskie’s and Vaughter’s statements in an eerie fashion.
“Even though those mistakes happened more than 10 years ago, and they were short-lived, it does not change the fact that I made them and I have lived with that and been sorry for it ever since.”
Phew, that’s a relief! He’s sorry about it.
Vaughters’ attitude to ex-dopers is a clear one – that they should be forgiven and allowed back into the sport in the hope that they have learnt from their mistakes and thus can improve the sport.
That’s a very convenient outlook to have, because it corresponds precisely to his own situation.
If he had never doped, do you think he’d have the same view? No, I doubt it.
Others who were pros and never doped tend to want the ex-dopers out, forever.
Vaughters is a product of his environment and he is twisting this way and that to justify his own existence and his place in the sport – and packing his team with ‘ex’-dopers in the meantime.
Is Hesjedal the tipping point for JV? Just how many guys on your roster can be exposed long after the fact to be dopers before you get red carded? Three? Four? Five?
Yet another sad indictment on the prevailing attitudes within the sport.
If Brian Cookson wants to do something truly positive, he should turf Jonathan Vaughters out of the sport, once and for all.
this article originally appeared in The Roar