last year, when I was looking for KOM winners of the Grand Tours of recent years to invite to ride the Taiwan KOM Challenge, i received a mail suggesting i get in touch with Matteo Rabottini of Neri Sottoli.
Rabottini had shot to fame with a victory Rabottini on the stage to Piani dei Resinelli at the 2012 Giro d’Italia, taking the KOM classification. the following year he was 17th on the GC. he was young (25 when he won the KOM at the Giro) and charismatic, and looked perfect for the KOM.
(shortest video on Rabbo’s win i could find, excuse the music – sounds like cycling on drugs… oh wait…)
anyway, at the last minute negotiations fell through, can’t remember why, but did we dodge a bullet or what?
why? well cos the Italian just got the results of his B sample back, from a test taken on August 8th. and they confirmed he’s been on the EPO. for sure though he wasn’t on it when he won the KOM jersey.
he’s denying all.
at the time of the KOM classification win he laughed about having been given the nickname Rambo by his teammates. CyclingSnooze wrote:
‘“I’m not like Rambo”, joked Rabottini as he wanted to underline that he’s not naturally gifted.’
perhaps he should have underlined that he’s unnaturally gifted.
this is now the fifth time i have either raced against a guy who was later found to have doped or been in talks to get a guy to enter a race who was later found to have doped. i am not in a rush to get to number 6, but suspect it will happen sooner rather than later.
just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water…
someone just commented on a post i put up on Amgen & their tangled involvement in the ToCalifornia, saying ‘you should write about that’. then i remembered that i already had. so, a re-post from May 6, 2013.
they’ve sponsored the Tour of California since its inception in 2006, and that must be a good thing, right? the sport needs sponsors and here is one willing to provide financial support for an entire race for several years, one that, briefly, looked to be on the edge of challenging the Giro d’Italia as a destination for the world’s top bike road racers.
but exactly what does Amgen do?
well, Amgen is an American-based multinational biopharmaceutical company headquartered in Thousand Oaks, California. located in the Conejo Valley, Amgen is the world’s largest independent biotech firm. Epogen and Neupogen (the company’s first products on the market) were the two most successful biopharmaceutical products at the time of their respective releases.
(gotta love Wikipedia…)
they also hold – and you’re going to think, if you aren’t actually aware of this, that I am making this up – the patent for artificial EPO in the USA.
let’s hear from Kathleen Sharp of the New York Times, who wrote a great article on Amgen and EPO:
“After patenting its artificial EPO [in the late 80s], Amgen formed a partnership with the marketing mavens at Johnson & Johnson and boomed into the world’s largest biotech company.
“Before long, Amgen and Johnson & Johnson were selling two EPO brands — Epogen and Procrit. (Those who biked the short races called criteriums joked it was for “pro-crit riders.”) By the ’90s, in addition to cyclists, runners, skiers and other endurance athletes were injecting the stuff regularly — and illegally. All they had to do was pay a black-market dealer in Amsterdam or Marseille, France.
“But it wasn’t until 1994 that the marketing of these drugs burst into the mainstream. Amgen and Johnson & Johnson began trying to expand the uses of their energy-boosting drugs to include treatment for fatigue, depression and quality-of-life issues. Commercials depicted old, slow-moving people who, after a shot of Procrit, displayed a zest for life, and a young cancer patient, who after an EPO injection happily returned to work.
“The aggressive marketing worked. Soon, exhausted but otherwise healthy people were begging doctors for a shot of what one Amgen executive called “red juice.”
“And many doctors went along with these off-label promotions, even though regulators hadn’t approved them. Indeed, in March 2007, Congressional hearings revealed that many oncologists were profiting. The drug makers paid doctors to prescribe the blood booster in high doses to unwitting patients. Some earned honorariums for speaking to their peers about the unapproved, off-label uses; others pocketed “education grants,” or joined marketing studies that never quite addressed the safety of high doses even as they recommended them.”
yup, that is right. the drug of choice of Vande Velde, Leipheimer, Hincapie, Hamilton, Vaughters and the great Lance Armstrong, the drug that fueled that particularly twisted, mangled form of the American Dream that ran roughshod over the sport for nigh on 20 years and then some, is licensed by the same drug company that just happens to be the sponsor of America’s biggest and most important bike race.
brilliant, right? like, genius, on a Herculean scale. I mean, really, why the heck shouldn’t a drug company, which by the very definition promotes health by helping the sick get better, promote an event that is full of fit young men riding around on bikes, this being the very definition of ‘health’?
in fact, it makes damn good sense.
or would, if the world we actually inhabit made any actual sense.
but it just so happens that (if you really need it spelt out), a great majority – yes, a great majority – of those guys riding about on those bikes in that race were (and some probably still are) doped up to their fluttering eyelids and bursting hearts on the very product that Amgen produces.
OK, so maybe I’m being too cynical. maybe Amgen is that hitherto unseen leopard that actually did change its spots.
let’s hear from Elliot Smith, Amgen’s scientific director, speaking back in 2008 in response to criticism of Amgen’s sponsorship of the tour.
“It’s such an alien concept – we show up to work every day and try to find these medicines to treat this disease your friends, family and neighbours might have, and you’re so consumed with that that it never occurs to you that somebody is going to go out and abuse this medicine. It’s so disturbing when that happens.”
well, sounds plausible enough. they seem shocked too, and aghast at their products being abused.
but… wait. weren’t they called out by the US government itself on counts of paying “doctors to prescribe the blood booster in high doses to unwitting patients”?
so who exactly was abusing who? but I guess that’s all in the past, right?
erm, well, no.
cos guess what! (are you ready to put on your mock shock! horror! face? yes? good).
they are still at it!
just a few short months ago, news arrived that stated that federal prosecutors had found that Amgen “had marketed its anemia drug Aranesp for unapproved uses even after the Food and Drug Administration explicitly ruled them out.”
they were “pursuing profits at the risk of patient safety,” cited the report.
‘NOOOOOO!’ the crowd shouted back, though in a mocking voice for they were by now too drunk to give a rat’s arse, to be honest, for they had heard it all before.
corporate monster rapes people for cash?
heard it already mate, a thousand times. stuck record, that one…
the report, depressingly, continued:
“In court on Tuesday, prosecutors charged that Amgen had promoted the use of Aranesp to treat anemia in cancer patients who were not undergoing chemotherapy, even though the drug’s approval was only for patients receiving chemotherapy.
“A subsequent study sponsored by Amgen showed that use of Aranesp by those nonchemotherapy cancer patients had actually increased the risk of death, and the off-label use diminished. “
Amgen pleaded guilty.
Amgen had to pay $762 million in criminal penalties.
isn’t Amgen lovely? what sweet, fun-loving people must work there. real good folk. with kids. with mothers and fathers. with friends. with teddies in their cars, puppies in their homes, dreams in their hearts and hopes in their eyes. people just like us really, when all is said and done.
luckily for them, they still have beating hearts. bless. luckily for them, they can say ‘well, i’m just doing my job.’
and they say that all the way up the line…
appropriate sponsor for the Tour of California?
for any bike race?
a rather long and amazing race in Mongolia kept me away from the computer for about 2 weeks (lordy lordy hallelujah) and as a result depraved PezCycling News of my lowdowns on the Vuelta.
but fear not, folks, for there was just time to get one in, the final roundup of the Spanish Grand Tour.
read it and weep.
click on the image below to go to the article on PEZ.
I do not know where to start when it comes to George Hincapie. Ex-Lance Armstrong teammate, ongoing Lance apologist, ex-doper, supergrass, writer, hotelier, clothing entrepreneur, and team sponsor.
George wears so many hats that we really shouldn’t be surprised that even he gets confused from time to time as to which one he’s wearing.
Let’s start then with the facts. George was a pro rider from 1994 to 2012. He rode for Motorola, US Postal, Team High Road and BMC Racing.
His didn’t win a great deal apart from Gent-Wevelgem and came close in a big Classic or two, though he was national road race champion of the USA three times over his 18 year career. He also finished 17 Tours de France.
He is most famous as being, for much of his career, Lance Armstrong’s faithful domestique and for being a fully committed doper for (according to him) at least a decent chunk of his career.
He was doped good too, by the best. The very best.
yes yes i know, what an amazing pun. or terrible, depending on erm, who you are.
anyway, this 62 yeard old dude, David LeDuc, just got busted for EPO, steroid and amphetamine use. apparently the ‘phet was a by-product of a prescription to control attention deficit disorder, so that’s OK.
i mean, really? why bother saying ‘oh yeah well i did take the other two to cheat but not that one, that one yada yada’ aw man, just shut the f**k up, you idiot.
i apologise for the profanity and for the bluntness but when will they learn? apparently not even at 62.
Leipheimer – sorry, i mean LeDuc – also claimed he’d only been doping since the start of 2012, so that’s a huge relief. if we do believe him – and i see no reason not to, it’s not as if he’s untrustworthy or anything – then it’s comforting to know that he was cheating just a little, and not a lot. now we can rest assured that his Masters Worlds win over ten years ago was legit.
the silver lining of the tale is that LeDuc has confirmed that he will be back to race again after his 22 year suspension (sorry, TWO years, 22 was wishful thinking), and that in the interim he will not stop doping (sorry, sorry! training, i meant training).
“I’d have to be put in a rubber room if I couldn’t ride my bike,” he said.
one other fillip in all this is that, despite the fact that many in his local cycling community have criticised him, several others have offered their support, leading LeDuc to “understand what’s really important in life, and it’s those people.”
sometimes you just know what’s important, and other times, you just have to con and cheat those around you to smell the coffee…
plans for a film, book deal and promo tour preaching to 50 year olds about the perils of doping are most likely on the schedule too.
well done, fella, well done…
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!
“The therapeutic use of HGH is considered to be safe, and is legally approved. However, the off-label use and overdose of HGH for weight loss, muscle building, anti-aging benefits, etc. has been associated with certain adverse effects.”
HGH Benefits assessments on Strength, Exercise & Body Fat:
showed an 88% increase in muscle strength
showed an 81% increase in muscle size
showed an 72% improvement in body fat loss
showed an 81% improvement in exercise tolerance
showed an 83% improvement in exercise endurance
HGH Benefits assessments Skin & Hair:
showed a 71% improvement in skin texture
showed a 68% improvement in skin thickness
showed a 71% improvement in skin elasticity
showed a 51% improvement on wrinkle disappearance
showed a 38% improvement towards new hair growth
HGH Benefits for Healing, Flexibilty, & Resistance:
showed a 55% improvement of healing old injuries
showed a 61% improvement of healing other injuries
showed a 71% improvement on healing capacity
showed a 53% improvement on back flexibility
showed a 73% improvement on resistance to common illness
HGH Benefits for Sexual Dysfunction Function:
showed a 75% improvement in sexual potency and frequency
showed a 62% improvement in the duration of penile erection
showed a 57% improvement on frequency of nighttime urination
showed a 58% improvement on hot flashes
showed a 38% improvement on menstrual cycle regulation
L Cass Terry, M.D., Ph.D. and Edmund Chein, M.D
‘sexual dysfunction function’?
ok so, not only does HGH seem to perfect for pro athletes, it is also, it seems, perfect for the bedroom athlete too…
here’s a breakdown of what the drug will do over a 6-month period:
- FIRST MONTH of hgh use: more energy, better sleep, and a better attitude on life.
- SECOND MONTH of hgh use: better muscle tone, healthier sexual function, better nail growth, clearer skin tone, some weight loss and a better muscle tone.
- THIRD MONTH of hgh use: improved mental capacity, bigger muscles, less fat, hair growth, better mood, more flexibility and stronger sexual desire.
- FOURTH MONTH of hgh use: improved mental capacity, bigger muscles, less fat, hair growth, better mood, more flexibility and stronger sexual desire. (Similar to the 3rd month)
- FIFTH MONTH of hgh use: significant weight loss and a more toned body with less fat, a healthier looking skin with better elasticity and appearance and significantly less wrinkles, and healthier hair.
- SIXTH MONTH of hgh use: most of the changes take place at this stage! the body becomes more contoured with less cellulite, the immune system strengthens, chronic pain might disappear, vision might improve, blood pressure might improve and cholesterol levels might drop.
and some of the side effects:
♦ Weakness in hand(s)
♦ Clumsy finger movements
♦ Elbow pain
♦ Finger and wrist pain
♦ Numbness/tingling in hands
♦ Muscle and joint pain
♦ Increased body hair
♦ Increased hunger
♦ High cholesterol levels
♦ Abnormal fat distribution
♦ Tissue edema
♦ Dry and itchy skin
♦ Altered glucose metabolism
♦ Liver damage
♦ Heart enlargement
♦ Hardening of arteries
♦ Gynecomastia (enlarged breast tissue in men)
Anabolic steroid and peptide hormones or growth factors are utilized to increase the performance of athletes of professional or amateur sports.
Despite their well-documented adverse effects, the use of some of these agents has significantly grown and has been extended also to non-athletes
with the aim to improve appearance or to counteract ageing. Pre-clinical studies and epidemiological observations in patients with an excess of
hormone production or in patients chronically treated with hormones/growth factors for various pathologies have warned about the potential risk
of cancer development and progression which may be also associated to the use of certain doping agents. Anabolic steroids have been described
to provoke liver tumours; growth hormone or high levels of its mediator insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) have been associated with colon,
breast, and prostate cancers. Actually, IGF-1 promotes cell cycle progression and inhibits apoptosis either by triggering other growth factors or by
interacting with pathways which have an established role in carcinogenesis and cancer promotion. More recently, the finding that erythropoietin
(Epo) may promote angiogenesis and inhibit apoptosis or modulate chemo- or radiosensitivity in cancer cells expressing the Epo receptor, raised
the concern that the use of recombinant Epo to increase tissue oxygenation might favour tumour survival and aggressiveness.
Cancer risk associated to doping might be higher than that of patients using hormones/growth factors as replacement therapy, since enormous
doses are taken by the athletes often for a long period of time. Moreover, these substances are often used in combination with other licit or illicit
drugs and this renders almost unpredictable all the possible adverse effects including cancer. Anyway, athletes should be made aware that long-term
treatment with doping agents might increase the risk of developing cancer.
[taken from a pdf that can be found here: www.cenegenicsfoundation.org – entitled ‘Doping with growth hormone/IGF-1, anabolic steroids or
erythropoietin: is there a cancer risk?’ by Lucio Tentori ∗, Grazia Graziani, Department of Neuroscience, University of Rome]
so yeah, let them eat crack. let them all dope. they might die a premature death, but who gives a f*ck? it’s just the way the world is, right? our athletes are so driven to win, so blinded by the $ signs, so desperate to be praised and put on a pedestal for simply riding a bike fast or throwing a ball hard and accurately – skills which, just in case it need be mentioned, mean almost nothing to the kind of human being they are – that they will take the risk of having a cinder black colon by the time they’re 42.
and we can’t get enough of it. we’ve seen our sport’s stars driven to the bottle, the madhouse and the grave by whatever it was in them that made them do it and in us that cheered them on. more will die. right now there are men in their 40s who took all this crap who are pissing into bags or on their third stroke already, people you’ll never hear about cos they aren’t famous enough and they’re demise isn’t as spectacular as others. no, for them it’s a far more grisly, lingering descent into nothingness.
is the way it’s supposed to be? like many things in this world, i look at it all and figure it’s hard to conceive it could be any more wrong…
ok as you know i often decry the lack of top pros making their feelings about doping heard but, amazingly, today in CyclingSnooze there is a fine little article about the reactions from within the peloton to the news of Santambrogio’s doping positive.
copied here in full:
“I hope cycling followers realise that s(t)upidity of the individual can’t be banned. Damaging our credibil(i)ty anno 2013 deserves no 2nd chance.” Stef Clement (Blanco)
“I just don’t get it!!! What are they thinking? What actually goes on in their mind? STOP CHEATING DICKHEADS.” Greg Henderson (Lotto-Belisol)
“The peloton knew Vini Fantini weren’t trustworthy: was the talking point for the first week of the Giro (until misery & survival took over).
“The UCI doping controls are there to catch the dopers when nobody else will stop them. It’s wonderful to see we can trust the system.” David Millar (Garmin-Sharp)
“It’s to be expected some will take the opportunity to cheat with big gains now cycling is much cleaner. Let’s hope we’ll never see them back.” Koen de Kort (Argos-Shimano)
“It’s hoped with the last shot of “flushing” we also released the last of the idiots! There are no words!” Manuel Quinziato (BMC)
and just, wow, awesome, great work guys! you’ve punked my crank for the day…
there is a significant doping problem in the Asian cycling scene and no one is taking it seriously.
in UCI races that I have taken part in here on the UCI Asia Tour, it is quite obvious to the majority of the peloton, the journalists, the team managers, the mechanics and even the dogs by the road that certain riders – and even whole teams – are doped up.
we all talk about it after the stages. at the hotel. the next morning. on the bus. someone says ‘man I was in the break with those guys, and i tell you, it was not natural.’
some guys appear to be on something like HGH, others on EPO. others still might be on something new altogether, or both. we know it, because we can see it and we can feel it. we see incredible feats not just by individual riders but by whole teams. four, sometimes 5 guys making the break and putting minutes into the chasing pack over nowhere near enough kilometers.
guys spending half an hour on the front then featuring in the sprint.
guys that weigh no more than 58kg powering for half an hour into headwinds and hitting top 5 places in time trials.
big, heavy guys flying up mountains without a care in the world.
i went to one high-level UCI stage race earlier this year and there was no testing.
the same thing in at least one other major tour this year, one i did not attend but heard about from several sources.
we see whole teams disappear for months then come back shadows of their former selves. then later, they are flying again. we see riders go off to Europe, ride like crap, then come back and thrash the living bejeezus out of us.
we hear about positives then see a rider disappear but see nothing on CyclingSnooze or on the regional sites. we hear rumors about cycling federations working to keep things hush hush.
you hear ‘this is ridiculous – ‘it is so obvious’ – ‘are they stupid, why do they win by so much?’
you feel like you are being mocked, blatantly, right out on the road under the full glare of the sun.
and also you will hear: ‘we should complain’.
but who to? what do we do? in fairness I have heard of one case of a concerned competitor complaining and, later, of guys getting tested, but the positives have not gone public and these guys come back and ‘resume’ their previously unbelievable levels of strength eventually. and whether the two were in fact connected i do not know, may have been coincidental.
however it is fair to say that IF that call prompted those tests and uncovered evidence of doping that more tests should have followed, and that certain riders should be highlighted for more consistent testing from now on in.
we want to talk about it. in fact, we want to shout, kick and scream about it. just last week a well known pro on the Asian scene mailed me to check on things he had heard about guys that are ‘heavily suspected’ of doping that are in our races, and we had a whole list of tales, but all are, unfortunately, unpublishable because we have no hard proof.
just last year a well-known journalist came up to me after a stage in a big tour here and said ‘Oh man, when X attacked with 5km to go we were all in the car [he and three other journalists] and we were all cheering when you guys caught him before the line.’
why? because there was/is a general consensus that this guy was/is dirty.
it’s hard to describe what it looks like, hard to say why we can be so sure that a guy is doping, to anyone who hasn’t themselves raced in these kind of races and seen what we see, on a regular basis. but we are fit men, strong, and we know what is possible on bread and water and what is not. we know what a small guy can do on the flat and a big guy on a hill. and we know the exceptional when we see it, can begrudgingly admit that someone is just a true natural. but there are times when you are in a race, going up a hill that is just so steep, so long, or flying into a strong headwind for two hours, and then you see a feat that makes you certain that the man (or in some cases several men, on the same team) performing it cannot possibly be chemically unassisted.
it’s not sour grapes. it’s not bitterness. it’s not because we are bad riders and burning with jealousy. we are indeed riding our own race within the race, fighting for scraps, but that is not the cause of these concerns.
we just know.
it’s 1993 all over again out here. it’s the Wild East. not as rampant as in the Euro peloton back then but here nonetheless. the drugs are so hard to detect and yet the testing is only done through urine, not blood. I could, if I was so inclined, dope my ass off and get away with it all, doctor or no doctor, just by reading the web and managing my doping schedule.
now, at the same time, we have a governing body and national cycling federations that regulate the testing of these events and yet have a heavily vested interest in the image of the sport being – if you’ll excuse the tired old pun – a positive one. they want the sport to succeed in Asia for largely economic reasons, and yet are supposed to be testing for doping infractions.
is that not a conflict of interests?
this is the major factor in the problems we see now in Europe. and i’ll tell you, bring in blood testing over here and you will see something similar.
institutionalized doping on certain teams, with the knowledge and assistance of the management, and ‘rogue’ individuals on other teams that are doping themselves. there is, amongst the peloton, no doubt that this is the case.
and how can you have ZERO testing at an international cycling event? how is this even remotely acceptable? and what does this communicate to the peloton? any guesses?
at the end of these stage races yes, sometimes the guy in the jersey is clean and the majority would agree with that – and I’d still say that for now at least, the majority are clean in the pack – but sometimes the result is a joke. and then it’s another victory for a doper, for incompetence, and for greed.
then there is the issue of ‘ex-dopers’ who have been busted in Europe and South America ending their bans, coming to Asian teams and winning races here. we have issues with that too, and yet there is nowhere we feel we can complain to. want to go to the officials and ask then why there is no testing? want to ask them if they believe that performance was possible?
go ahead, but your manager will most likely not be happy. and you might find that your team doesn’t get into the race the following year. these are the bare bones of this situation, f***ed up as they are.
we need the same level of testing here that they have in Europe, or we will be looking at the same problem we have there with an entire generation of Asian racers.
forget cutting corners and tackle this problem seriously, right now, when we still, barely, maybe, just, have a fighting chance.
so did the journalist Stuart Stevens. so, he took it.
many of you will have read this fascinating account in Outside Magazine of just what it feels like to be juiced to the eyeballs, but if you haven’t it is a must read.
and even if you have, it is worth reading again. how to become Superman…
‘“OK,” the doctor said when we settled into his examination room. “What do you want to be?”
I looked confused, so he explained.
“You want to be bigger? Leaner? Faster longer or faster shorter? More overall endurance? You want to see better?”
“Human growth hormone does that for some people. It improves the muscles in the eyes.” He tried again: “So, what do you want?”
This was quite a concept. Freud wrote that anatomy is destiny, and here was a doctor giving me a chance, in my late forties, to alter my body in the most fundamental way. It was strange, but also strangely alluring…’