Friday, December 27, 2013

2014: The Golden Age Of Cycling?

Have cycling fanatics become like swine who rather than submit to an exorcism to expel demons would prefer, like Ostriches, to bury their heads in the sand pretending to be invisible, oblivious of reality, follow herd mentality, and rush off a precipice into the sea in a fit of mass hysteria?  Sure enough, the hard core cycling fan cannot or will not abandon the sport; no matter how dismal the circumstances may appear.  But this aberration clearly does not apply to the fair weather fans, who are only interested when an American hero has a chance to win the race.

Back in the day there were large numbers of people gathered around the television to watch the Tour de France, and the race was on all day long.  In 2013 the television was tuned elsewhere, there were no requests or desire to watch the Tour de France.  Professional cycling has become European, British dominated rubbish of highly dubious value, the source of this British dominance is hugely suspect.  To investigate the source of this British success seems beyond the power of the regulatory agencies.  But when  Americans test positive for performance enhancing drugs they have their titles taken away, our heroes are always banned for life, zealously hounded, while Europeans who are guilty of similar crimes receive the Ostrich treatment; a small slap on the hand, new contracts and unlimited future racing opportunities.  The credo among the Euro zone; ignore everything and maintain omerta.  Honestly, it is proven that Jan Ullrich used performance enhancing drugs, to claim otherwise is nonsense.  Has Ullrich's title been erased, was he suspended for life? 

Back during the days of Marshall Walter "Major" Taylor, the greatest track cyclist of all time, the velodrome  was packed with over a hundred thousand rabid American fans. American fans ruled the track cycling  world. But with the invention of the automobile, and race fixing by professional gamblers, cycling has faced hard times in America.

So what are we left with, a bunch of jaded fans who have become callous to everything including dope?  Imagine Marshall Walter "Major" Taylor these days killing fools on the track, imagine if you will the accusations and recriminations that would issue from the mouths of self styled evangelical narcissistic perfectionists.  The man is too perfect to be of biological origin, the power equation is impossible sans dope. Oui? I am sure Major Taylor suffered enough from the culture of the day as to the question of his biological origin; but to include probable doping as the reason for his outstanding performance would have been the final coup de grace!

Oui?  But as a human species we have evolved!  Yes.  No longer are people treated differently based on ethnic origin.  The playing field has been leveled.  All men are created equal thanks to the eternal diffusion of knowledge and acceptance of the philosophy of diversity.  Hypocritical reasoning will be abandoned in favor of sound rational reasoning, especially in cycling, our holy sport.  Never again will cycling be besmirched by foul greedy opportunistic cheaters or their facilitators.  Some of the facilitators, sadly, also pose as agents of governing bodies; but in future men who are in positions of power espousing flowery rhetoric, men who engage in under the table sleight of hand and accept bribes to falsify laboratory test results; will be detected, reformed, or removed.  Never again in the utopian world of 2014 will there be greed, avarice, bribery; all will be abandoned in favor of the moniker of "fair play."  Riders will actually win races based on superior physical ability not upon the cocktail of performance enhancing drugs they received during training and racing.  Indeed, punishment will be meted out in a non-discriminatory fashion and apply equally to everyone regardless of national origin, persona non grata will disappear, athletes will be granted the same due process rights as the prosecution, and athletes will always be afforded an opportunity to defend themselves.  2014 onward will be regarded as the Golden Age of Cycling with beautiful riders adorned in festive colors riding through scenic splendor, athletes who will be adored by admiring fans who know that the golden boys and girls who compose the peloton can resist temptation and compete fairly. The podium girls will shine above all with their angelic goodness.

Impossible dream?  Depends upon you and me too, dear reader.  We can take some initiative or continue on as obsessed swine who pose as Ostriches with buried heads; rushing off the precipice in a suicidal plunge of self deception.

Meanwhile, see you on the teeth chattering, bone chilling descent, baby!

 

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Doping: Cycling's Vicious Cycle

Don't ask me to repeat myself again.  You, dear reader, know that the sports world and cycling in particular is saturated with cheaters and dopers who will venture all for greed and fame.  The golden fleece awarded to the winner of the Tour de France is as addictive to some people as the endless accumulation of money is addictive to a Wall Street Banker, and is characteristic of our worthless genetic constitutions as human beings. The degree of doping of sport is certainly driven by monetary considerations where cycling as a profession seems to wane in comparison with Baseball at least in America; but the disparity even though absurd is equaled in some degree by sponsorship agreements.  Think of what Lance Armstrong did for Trek bicycles!  Trek doled out millions of dollars but made much, much, more!  U.S. Postal made a mint too considering the pitiful contribution made to cycling; whom most Americans before Lance Armstrong would not even consider a legitimate sport!

Phew!  Why bother with stupid summations and comparisons, except to state that Lance Armstrong was treated in the most disgraceful fashion by Travis Tygart and the United States Anti-Doping Agency.  Seems like the anti-doping crusade is as addicted to wealth and power as much as the cheating athletes!  Stripping Lance Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles was an excessive abuse of prosecutorial zeal, certainly, and deterred whom?  Probably no one on Team Sky who don't have to worry about a fourteen year personal vendetta from Inspector Javert; but if they were under his jurisdiction instead of Brian Cookson's, things would be different!  Because like Inspector Javert, Travis Tygart would rather drown himself in the Seine rather than to shirk from his civic duty!  This endless police obsession with bringing the criminal to justice after fourteen years of futile effort reflect as much madness on the part of the police as on the criminal.  But fame and notoriety are addictive, who doesn't want to be remembered as a legendary crime fighter?  The poor sport of cycling is suffering from a surcease of embarrassment from these obsessional vendettas, never fear.  Those who were responsible for cleaning up the sport showed an incredible amount of ineptness and let the cancer fester; when with a little initiative they could have circumvented this whole sordid doping plague in the bud!  But, there is still time to strut like a peacock years after the fact when the patient is terminal and facing certain death. But then again if you happen to be stuffing your purse with gratuities why not turn a blind eye to the obvious.  After all there were plenty of allegations swirling around and plenty of finger pointing.  But rest assured with the new administration we can all expect a speedy resolution and ruthless purge of the offending persons even if it happens to be ten years after the fact!

But don't expect any empathy from me, criminals or police, you both belong in the pantheon of cycling shame, a pox on your houses!  As for the intimidation of the riders in professional races, Bernard Hinault makes Lance Armstrong look meek in comparison; but back in the good old days the riders took it on the chin like men and did not run off like cry babies to the anti-doping agency confessional booth.  But someone has to be patron and rule over the peloton and win the race; and being patron does not include being a timid man.  This concept is an unwritten rule of cycling, understood by all.  It is hypocritical to include this behavior as reprehensible when it has been the code of conduct in professional races since Maurice Garon.

So stop the whining.  You ever been bullied and dumped in a ditch for refusing to comply with an order from the patron?  You ever had the patron bridge the gap and order you to drop out of a breakaway?  This sort of behavior is infectious and reinforcing especially when the target is an introverted, nervous man.  Nevertheless, there has to be some sort of discipline with in the pack or there would chaos, mayhem, accidents, and injuries in abundance.  Mavericks who take dangerous chances are not acceptable players.  People who whine about being kept in check need to consider another profession, there is no use in acting like a spoiled child expecting preferential treatment.  If you guys don't respect the sport you are so naturally gifted for, then go drive a long haul truck like Iban Mayo!  Honestly, I can't figure out how the group would even want to ride with you whiny losers, let alone have you on their teams!

Enough!  2013 what a year, phew!  I was expecting improvement and full disclosure by this time.  But instead of immediate action, we see endless procrastination, excuses, denials, failure to communicate, idiocy, and stupidity.  The UCI is a joke, even considering the recent house cleaning, and without immediate reform will continue to be a source of buffoonery.  But don't expect miracles unless you are using performance enhancing drugs!  Fear not!  Even though you are generating amazing amounts of power on climbs up the Pyrenees cols and dropping the entire peloton, friends are watching your back!

It is endlessly the same old thing over and over again!



Saturday, October 26, 2013

Slaying the Badger: Book Review

Slaying the Badger, Richard Moore, Velo Press, 2012

Superbly written, organized, and researched.  Richard Moore is a child prodigy of the eighties cycling scene, he writes with passion.  As to the question posed by the book title, was the 1986 Tour de France the very best of all time?  The answer probably depends; were the epic battles between Jacques Antiquel and Raymond Poulidor "the eternal second" inferior in quality?  How about the legendary struggles between Lance Armstrong and Jan Ullrich?  After all, the Armstrong era glued millions of entranced fanatics to the Tour de France, not only in the United States, but all over the world, and a simple decree cannot erase seven years of cycling history.  Let us say that the 1986 Tour de France was captivating, but no more captivating than the 1985 Tour de France.  The 1986 Tour de France would have never existed with such drama without the unusual circumstances of the 1985 Tour de France. Query, when given the opportunity, why did Greg LeMond refuse to work with Stephen Roche and attack Bernard Hinault who was three minutes behind suffering from the side effects of a broken nose - caused when Bernard Hinault went over the handlebars and landed on his face when his front wheel collided with Phil Anderson's back wheel?  Was Greg LeMond really the loyal domestique who was willing to sacrifice his probable Tour de France victory and follow orders to protect the malliot jaune?  After the stage Greg LeMond wanted to quit the 1985 Tour de France feeling that he had been cheated.  Did Bernard Tapie, Bernard Hinault, and Greg LeMond really strike a grand bargain in a secret meeting, where Bernard Hinault assured Greg LeMond that he would work as domestique for LeMond?  Could Bernard Hinault relinquish his role as patron to a frail, paranoid, weak man, who was afraid of his own shadow?  In the 1986 Tour de France Bernard Hinault could not resist a suicide attack that failed even though he had an insurmountable lead of over five minutes on Greg LeMond, and with conservative riding he could have easily won the 1986 Tour de France.  Was this insane attack nothing more than a bold move to destroy the pack and sort out the pretenders, while testing the meddle of his main rival Greg LeMond?  Was Bernard Hinault merely having fun, mixing things up, honoring the terms of his agreement with Greg LeMond?  Or did Bernard Hinault suffer from "Merckxissimo!" trying to stay away from the chase, therefore cementing his legendary status in the annuals of cycling forever?  Nevertheless! Greg LeMond given the opportunity to bury Bernard Hinault on L'AlpeD'Huez, except for a bravado of bluster from both gladiators years after the event: nothing happened! except for a few chants of "Hinault!" and a few affectionate pats on Greg LeMond's backside by appreciative fans.  Greg LeMond claims that he was afraid of being punched in the kidneys by some disgruntled fan like Eddy Merckx in the 1975 Tour de France.  Bernard Hinault claims he told Greg LeMond to stay on his wheel for the entire climb to deter such attacks, to protect him from harm.  Again was Bernard Hinault testing Greg LeMond's meddle and did Greg LeMond again refuse an opportunity to attack Bernard Hinault?  After the hand in hand grateful teammate theatrics at the summit of L'AlpeD'Huez; Bernard Hinault assured the public that the race was not over; there was an upcoming individual time trial left to consider!  More of Bernard Hinault's psychological intimidation aimed to encourage Greg LeMond's paranoia?  Indeed, one has to agree with Shelley Verses, soigneur, La Vie Claire: "Hinault was a man among boys, he ruled in every country." One might also agree with Shelley Verses when she tearfully complained that Bernard Hinault tortured Greg LeMond during the 1986 Tour de France; Bernard Hinault was still patron even though Greg LeMond wore the golden fleece.

Did La Vie Claire Ride Clean?

Greg LeMond has long maintained that the 1980's era of cycling was dope free and that he was the only "clean" champion.  The hiatus from doping in cycling during the LeMond era, and even on LeMond's own La Vie Claire team are certainly distortions of the truth.  LeMond knew there was doping going on in the peloton during his reign and so did the UCI who provided control de dopage during the Tour de France and the other grand tours. LeMond was tested himself on numerous occasions and even feared that his 1986 Tour de France samples could be sabotaged with contamination to ensure a Bernard Hinault victory.

Let us consider the incredible results of La Vie Claire during the 1986 Tour de France, as Richard Moore describes in his most excellent book.

"For Paul Kochli, the 1986 Tour represented his greatest achievement as a directeur sportif. In fact, there is a strong case for arguing that the La Vie Claire performance that year stands as the greatest team performance the Tour has ever seen, the roll call of honors included six stage wins; first overall with LeMond second with Hinault, fourth with Andy Hampsten; seventh with Nikki Ruttiman; and twelfth with Jean-Francois Bernard; the team prize; the combined competition (LeMond); the king of the mountains, (Hinault) and the white jersey for best young rider (Andy Hampsten)." P.267
Very impressive!  These results are better than anything U.S. Postal produced and better than English speaking, British based Team Sky!  Of course, there were four great riders on this team, Bernard Hinault, five Tour de France victories; Greg LeMond, three Tour de France victories; Andy Hampsten, one Giro d' Italia victory; and Jean-Francois Bernard, French national champion; that could explain such results sans dope. However, in earlier Tours, when Bernard Hinault rode for  Cyrille Guimard and Team Renault, Bernard Hinault had margins of victory of over ten minutes! suggesting possible use of performance enhancing drugs.  But as everyone knows speculation is not proof, and without further information nothing will ever be proven.

Then there is the case of Pascal Simon.  In the 1983 Tour de France Laurent Fignon won "by default" when Pascal Simon crashed and broke his shoulder blade during a Pyrenees stage. But as Richard Moore points out:
"LeMond had also won a main race by default, also at the expense of Pascal Simon, when the Frenchman was stripped of his victory at the pre-tour Dauphine Libere after testing positive [for performance enhancing drugs]. "When you win a race that way, it's a victory clear and simple because the guy who beat you probably wouldn't have been able to do it if he hadn't been using illegal substances," said LeMond at the time. But, it says everything about the lenient attitude toward doping at the time that Pascal Simon was permitted to return and start the following month's Tour, a tour he would certainly have won had he not crashed." P.92; italics added.
So from Greg LeMond's own statement not only did he know about the existence of performance enhancing drug use within the peloton, he benefited "by default."

 Then there was the issue of the post-Tour criteriums that the riders appeared in that Paul Kochli allegedly hated because these races were saturated with amphetamine abuse and no control de dopage.  To circumvent this problem Paul Kochli decided to forgo the European criteriums, he obtained a sponsorship with Red Zinger and La Vie Claire appeared in the Coors Classic.  This would indicate an effort to maintain clean riding within the team.

Then there was the acetaminophen throwing incident with Shelley Verses where Paul Kochli screamed "there will be no doping on this team!"

But, then there was Dane Kim Anderson, who rode for La Vie Claire and tested positive no less than four times.  As Richard Moore accurately states in Slaying the Badger:
"And the picture painted by the soccer player Tony Cascarino is hardly encouraging. Cascarino recounts one occasion where "[Bernard] Tapie had summoned his personal physican from Paris, and after dinner we lined up in one of the rooms and rolled up our sleeves for a "booster" injection. I hadn't a clue what exactly the boost was, [but they] weren't the only injections at the club. Before games we were offered shots: twenty tiny pinpricks, injected into the lower back by what looked like a stapling gun. I asked one of the physics what it was and if it was legal. 'Of course it's legal' he replied. And then he smiled. 'And anyway, our doctor does all of the tests at the club.'" P.137.
But then again Shelley Verses claims in Slaying the Badger that she never saw or knew of any performance substance drug abuse on La Vie Claire. However, in an interview with John Wilcockson, where the Emma O' Reilly allegations against Lance Armstrong are discussed in L.A. Confidential: the drug running, disposal of syringes, applying cosmetics to hide bruising or needle marks, Shelley Verses makes this revealing statement:
"It is part of a soigneur's job to dispose of syringes.  And I used to drive all over the Continent getting drugs, legal drugs.  And I often lent guys makeup to hide bruises.  Riders are so vascular because they have no body fat, and they bruise easily."  Source: 23 Days In July, John Wilcockson, Da Capo Press, 2004. P. 143; italics original text.
As has been mentioned in several publications, what was once considered a legal drug in 1986, is now on the WADA prohibited list, and is forbidden as performance enhancing.  Although Shelley Verses does not mention La Vie Claire specifically, (she also worked for the 7-11 Team); the implications are obvious.  Professional cycling teams were injecting supplements in order to gain a competitive advantage in the middle nineteen-eighties; a fact that was only briefly alluded to in Slaying the Badger.  Amphetamines were used in post Tour de France criterium races.  This candid admission by Shelley Verses is the first direct link to the possible use of drugs by the La Vie Claire team; Bernard Hinault and Greg LeMond!   And this admission explodes the Greg LeMond myth that the professional peloton was riding dope free in the nineteen-eighties!

Then there are the "miracle" cures.  On Stage 17 Gap to Col du Granon Bernard Hinault suffered from a thigh hematoma on the Col d' Izoard.  As Robert Moore recounts:
"Hinault began to suffer, earlier in the stage, he dropped back to the doctor's car for medical attention: apparently for his knee: and he would later, while negotiating a twisting descent, be seen fiddling with a hex key, adjusting his saddle height searching for a more comfortable position." P.232.
But next day, like magic, everything is cured with no side effects!

Then there is a magical Greg LeMond.  Robert Moore includes this incredible statement from LeMond:
"I suffered on the Col du Granon" says LeMond. "I ran out of fuel." [LeMond] managed to avoid the dreaded fringale [bonk!] but having run his reserves so low, he was concerned about the following day's stage, in Briancon, and tackling the Col du Lautaret, the Col du Galibier, and Col de la Croix de Fer before finishing with the fabled ascent of Alpe d' Huez." P.232.
Nevertheless, quoting Jean-Paul Vespini, The Tour is Won on the Alpe, Velo Press, 2008. Greg LeMond told French Journalist Henri Haget.
"Bernard Hinault is not the man I knew at the start of my career. He's obsessed with winning his sixth tour, as if he's forgotten that, without me he never would have won his fifth. I gave him the 1985 Tour. He should remember that, but instead he's forgotten that, but instead he's created a terrible environment. The worst was the finish at L'AlpeD'Huez, when we crossed hand in hand. It was all a big show. I let myself get played like a novice. I had the yellow jersey and at the foot of the climb, Hinault swore to me that it was all over, that he wouldn't attack me again on the way to Paris. He knew I could drop him at the first turn but he asked me to let him lead on the climb to win the stage. I could have taken five minutes out of him by the top. I shouldn't have had any qualms about doing so." [Source: L'Express Sport, February 1988.] P.76; italics added.
So how did a man who had run out of glucose magically recover to the extent that he could have dropped the Badger on the first turn of L'AlpeD'Huez? Certainly not from eating Mexican food? If that was the case Greg LeMond would have been asking Bernard Hinault to use his hat!

Nevertheless, the phantom injury that Bernard Hinault suffered also seems to have a speedy recovery with no effect on his performance.  Quoting Jean-Paul Vespini, The Tour is Won on the Alpe:
"The embittered Badger responded much later, in his memoirs. He wrote, "It wasn't my fault if LeMond didn't understand how I was conducting my race. I did what I did to benefit him, and him alone. I had told him that I would help him, give him a hand in winning the race. At L'AlpeD'Huez, I could have buried him. I think I could have put a lot of time on him that day, if I had thrown down the gauntlet. At no point was I trying to beat him. After L'AlpeD'Huez, I only waged a small psychological war to see exactly what he was made of."  [Source: Memories of the Peloton, Bernard Hinault, Noel Henderson (Translator), Vitesse Press, 1989.] P.76; italics added.

Conclusion:

Even an injured Badger was a man among boys, and he ruled in every country; even though his recovery time is incredibly short! So many mixed messages from the 1985 and 1986 Tours de France. The truth if one exists may never be parceled out.  But the beauty of Taming the Badger besides the incredibly accurate research and the stupendous writing, is the heuristic value of the book that makes you think and ponder what happened, and what could have happened if fate and karma had not intervened. For example, if Laurent Fignon had not had a freak Achilles tendon injury would any of this history have existed? If Bernard Hinault had not suffered a knee injury during the 1983 Tour of Spain would he have been dumped by Cyrille Guimard and team Renault? What would have happened if Bernard Tapie had not decided to lure away Greg LeMond with false promises of royalties on the Look clipless pedal that Tapie was developing at the time? The pondering is endless, what ifs abound. But the biggest question of all is without Hinualt's senseless attack, with a five minute twenty five second lead, would Greg LeMond have won the 1986 Tour de France, and was Greg LeMond really the strongest rider that year? Have fun figuring that one out for yourselves!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

UCI Joins WADA to Investigate Past Corruption

Well, the International Cycling Union (UCI) has finally discarded the garbage and has vowed to reform the system, which we fans all agree is necessary, but to establish an "independent" commission with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to investigate the past culpability of Pat McQuaid and Hein Verbruggen, who allegedly suppressed positive doping tests in return for bribes from Lance Armstrong, tests that were measured in WADA accredited laboratories, and the knowledge of which must have also been suppressed by the individual laboratory directors who were aware of this confidential information seems a bit odd.  It is logical to conclude that if information relating to the suppression of test results did occur that WADA would should have been aware of the situation and should also be "independently" investigated as to who was aware of these allegations, where the document packages were routed, why further action was not taken by the sanctioning body, and why the laboratory employees were ordered to maintain omerta.

Of course, trying to reconstruct who was involved after the lapse of may years may not be so easy to establish because many of the actors have moved on to other professions, quit or retired.  Also it is quite well known that after a period of time lapses in memory recall do occur and facts become confused with recollection.  Then, naturally people lie, deny, and cover up hard to trace points of contention that cannot be conclusively proved without eye witness accounts, or to protect their own interests.  Point of fact, WADA must have been involved in this scandal, the extent of WADA involvement cannot be placed on a back burner while the committee is investigating the role of the UCI.  This UCI, WADA partnership seems so suspicious and to a credulous person reeks of the old proverb, "one hand washes another," and at face value seems a ridiculous, preposterous proposition.  But who knows, the new regime may have more sense than to repeat the same blunders of the old regime and actually appoint a committee that is independent of both the UCI and WADA, with absolute power to subpoena pertinent information without interference from the agencies being investigated.

Then again this formulation of a partnership between the UCI and WADA may be nothing more than window dressing to save face, a device to divert the ongoing cascade of criticism that the UCI and WADA are not doing enough to address the continuing allegations of doping in cycling.  Merely announcing impending meetings to address the issue of past corruption by the UCI and the possible complicity by WADA will accomplish nothing.  Action speaks louder than words, it is not enough to simply formulate a plan, the plan must be acted upon, disease must be rooted out at the source.  Those guilty must be punished and banned from ever participating or having any future contact with the sport of cycling.  Those who are guilty of violations of national or international laws should be fined and imprisoned.

We shall see.  But for now, the formulation of the "independent" committee is nothing more than a laughable myth.  Let us hope that it does not remain that way.   

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Brian Cookson: UCI Era of Honesty, Straightforwardness, and Transparency?

Brian Cookson is the new president of the International Cycling Union!  Out with Pat McQuaid who has been accused of infecting cycling with his particular virus of lies, cover ups, and corruption.  We as cycling fanatics hope that the new administration will focus on the ideals of honesty, straightforwardness, and transparency.

But will this be the case?  Brian Cookson does seem an odd choice in light of the current doping scandals that continue to plague Team Sky; Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome, and the continuing speculation that the resurgence in British cycling that Mr. Cookson seems to be directly involved in as past President of British Cycling cannot be anything more than an investment of money and a resurgence in British Cycling national pride.  Here are the most salient questionable points directly related to the absurd success of the recently resurgent British Cycling program quoted directly from the New York Times article composed by Ian Austen.

When Cookson, a modestly successful amateur cyclist and landscape architect, became president of British Cycling in 1997, it was near bankruptcy. Britain had won one Olympic gold medal in 76 years, and rare appearances by British teams at the Tour de France were embarrassments. Development programs and partnerships introduced by Cookson, along with British national lottery money, helped Britain win gold medals in eight cycling events at last year’s Olympics. The last two Tour de France winners, Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome, ride for Team Sky, the professional offshoot of British Cycling.  


"One gold medal in seventy six years" then gold medals in eight Olympic cycling events!  Then suddenly British riders who were considered embarrassments in Tours de France, Tommy Simpson not excepted, suddenly dominate the race with wide margins not seen since Lance Armstrong!  Bradley Wiggins in spite of his track racing prowess was never considered a good Grand Tour road cyclist; then suddenly he wins the race going away!  Team Sky dominates the peloton like Discovery Channel!  Brian Cookson seems an odd choice to elect as new president of the UCI in light of the fact that people are declaring this new resurgence in British Cycling suspect, possibly a result of use of performance enhancing drugs.  Brian Cookson may be ignorant of any dope related malfeasance among British Cycling or Team Sky; but then again, if these incredible results call for an "independent" investigation, the chair of this "independent" investigation may be the fox who is investigating the disappearance of the hens from the coop, for which he bears some responsibility.  Of course, this fox will lead the investigators astray with obscurantism since he and his fellow foxes may be culpable.  Realistically,  money can't buy all of this British success!  The British are making the Italians, French, and Belgians look like fools, countries who have produced numerous great cycling champions; Eddy Merckx, Gino Bartali, Bernard Hinault, Fausto Coppi!  The Spanish have produced many great champions Alberto Contador excepted; Federico Bahamontes, a naturally gifted legendary rider of exceptional merit.  What has Britian given us?  Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome?  Both British Tour de France champions are suspected of achieving success from performance enhancing drugs!

I hope this change in the UCI leadership is something more than a cosmetic sea change that amounts to more of the same.  Of course, who would deny that ridding cycling of Pat McQuaid is wrong?  Cycling was tainted from steroids and those who were accused of facilitating their use.  But what now?  Has cycling evolved, finally into a new "clean" era, and can the UCI administration "finally" be trusted to tell the truth in a honest, straightforward, and transparent manner?  Or when the evidence points to potential wrongdoing will we be fed more lies and deceptions?  Brian Cookson is an odd choice as UCI President given his potential involvement in a resurgence in British Cycling that makes no sense and is clearly suspect.  But why not give the man a chance to hang himself?  




Saturday, September 14, 2013

Lance Armstrong: Surrender Your Medal!

The USOC has finally emerged from a thirteen year comatose state and has demanded that Lance Armstrong voluntarily surrender his misbegotten bronze medal to the proper authorities based upon his confession of using performance enhancing substances; sans due process.  I am absolutely convinced that this new humiliation of Lance Armstrong will absolutely serve as a deterrent to neophyte aspirants to Olympic success that the glory achieved by doping is not worth the risk of detection, apprehension, and punishment.

Of course, this opinion as to the effectiveness of punishment thirteen years after the fact when it is very probable that every medalist in cycling during the steroid era used performance enhancing drugs: men and women who were never detected let alone punished; acts as an deterrent for neophyte Olympic aspirants refrain from doping, as the probability of being caught and punished is astronomically small during the Olympic games, let alone after a retrograde admission from a retired athlete.

One of my former heroes, Jan Ullrich won an Olympic gold medal.  Herr Ullrich was linked not only linked to Operation Puerto: but he also tested positive for amphetamines after taking the drug ecstasy during a rave.  Not only that but Herr Ullrich was Lance Armstrong's main rival for seven consecutive Tours de France and there is small chance that he rode clean during any of them. Nevertheless, there is no clamor among the outraged public that the International Olympic Committee investigate Herr Ullrich for possible doping during the Olympic games; or any suggestion that he confess to doping; or that his teammates exact revenge in sworn affidavits.  Nor did the IOC  demand that Rudy Pevenage be banned for life for his alleged involvement in cheating.  Nor did they demand that Herr Ullrich and Team Telekom become an international scandal and example of subterfuge.

Only in America do we drag our past heroes through the sewage exacting revenge; no other country in the world would ever consider doing something so despicable.  Yet who is the better model for our youth, Mr. Armstrong or Herr Ullrich?  One man is punished for his crimes and deprived of everything, while the other lives in luxurious surroundings fearing nothing, even though both men probably committed the same offense at the same time.  It is obviously better to embrace the notion that the ends justify the means; but not to do so for an extended period of time, since the distribution of punishment is focused and narrow, not widely distributed among the offenders.  One example is enough because the process extracts so much energy that success on either side leaves one exhausted.

It is also revolting to note that the very people who are rooted in bribery and corruption are the very people who are demanding retribution from athletes.  Examine the corruption that occurred during the Salt Lake City Olympic Games from members of the International Olympic Committee; men who accepted cash bribes, special academic scholarships for their children, and prostitutes.  Graft seems an acceptable tokens for Olympic games and the city that provides the greatest largess wins the prize.  Revolting conduct that only serves to demean international athletic competition.  But so what?  Cycling has people who are not above accepting cash to provide favors to selected individuals,  hypocrites who paint our sport with a tawdry brush.  Sadly, the majority of these people, like doping athletes, are impossible to eradicate from the sport.  They become entrenched with nothing to fear from outside interference, no matter how apparent their filth.

Lance Armstrong probably spit upon his Olympic bronze medal before he surrendered it to the United States Olympic Committee.  "One reptile devours another" as Ivan Karamazov stated to his brother Alyosha.  The feeblest criminal will be excoriated in disgrace, while those doing the flaying will be extolled as virtuous persons to be emulated; especially by our youth.  Liars!  The whole bunch should be swept out with a broom!    

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Court Orders Lance Armstrong to Testify

Lance Armstrong, poor misguided man and ex-doper who foolishly spilled his guts before an indifferent public who could not have cared less about his former doping exploits; has been backed into a corner with a foolishly misguided court order that demands that he openly testify as to whom and when his former confederates knew of his doping offenses during the seven long years that the cheater reigned as king.  The court is also very interested in statements that would implicate the UCI as participants in accepting bribes from the deposed kingpin. Then there are allegations of coverups that occurred over several occasions; allegations denied by Pat McQuaid and Hein Verbruggen as malignant slanders. The Lance Armstrong saga is like a unending revolving door that is annoying like a persistent fly; some insurance company is suing Lance Armstrong to recover money that was paid out under fraudulent, misleading circumstances.

Travis Tygart, the USADA mogul cares very much about the results of this testimony, be assured.  Tygart appeared on some syndicated horse crap sports show talking smack about his private corporation that is funded with public money, as a constitutional entity based upon a decision of U.S. District Court judge Sam Spears; who opined that anti-doping arbitration offered due process to the defendant, not that due process was required. Where in the constitution is an American citizen denied the option to forgo due process?  Where in the constitution does it state that the prosecution has the option to act as judge, jury and executioner?  Where in the constitution does it state that solicited testimony may be acted upon without the accused being offered an opportunity to rebut this testimony under cross examination?

But Travis Tygart would argue that these constitutional protections are unnecessary because doping in sport is not a criminal offense, but a civil matter, and that when given a license to compete, the athlete agrees to abide by certain stipulations, including USADA testing and USADA prosecution of alleged doping offenses: that essentially to compete in professional cycling racing the athlete agrees to sign away certain constitutional rights.  The whole process from licensing to final arbitration and sanctions are private matters that are governed by private rules; rules that are agreed to in advance by the athletes.  So when the process is subjected to capricious and arbitrary changes the athlete has nothing to complain about.  Thus the evolution of the "non-analytical positives," suspensions based upon testimonials of ex-teammates who claim to have witnessed the use of prohibited substances "taken or distributed" by the accused person.  These statements by ex-teammates saves the investigatory agencies a tremendous amount of time and money and the subsequent expulsions of the accused may not require due process because the athlete may waive his rights.

Nevertheless, Travis Tygart will be more than enraptured to read any testimony that Lance Armstrong may provide to the court.  Feeling slighted because Lance Armstrong refused to testify under oath as to his doping past, Travis Tygart hopes that finally he will have the needed testimony to issue even further "non analytical positives" against potential wrong doers that he failed to catch in the first dragnet.  Of course, this testimony will fill in the gaps that were never explained in the first go around, not to mention a bases for an internal personal justification for the "fair" process that serves to protect the "clean" athlete and ensure "fair" competition.  All free of charge, provided by the chief kingpin, drug racketeer, and disreputable villain Lance Armstrong himself.

Icing on the cake, baby!  Lance Armstrong will be compelled to destroy lives and careers while Travis Tygart cheers from the sidelines!  Hooray! Champagne!  A toast to the death of villains!  Why consider whether these people were the victims of intimidation when they are such convenient victims of the "non-analytical positive," and serve as such succulent fodder for press releases.  Look at these horrific people peddling dope, our funding is justified, the process is working and generates results, outsiders have no reason to meddle. 

  

Monday, August 12, 2013

2013 Tour of Utah: Stage 4 Summary

A couple of photographs of the action:

The breakaway!

The peloton in hot pursuit!


Stage 4 of the Tour of Utah was raced at a hot tempo, Paco Mancebo attempted to escape, but the peloton paced by Garmin Sharp, sensing the danger, would not let him get away.  The tempo of the stage was incredibly fast.  On the last lap the gap was about fifteen seconds and it was a dead certainty that the peloton would catch the breakaway riders.  Glancing at the final stage results this outcome appears to have happened, not only that but the peloton seems to have unraveled a bit.  The stage was won by Michael Matthews (Orica-Green Edge) who seems to have attacked at an opportune moment with a surprise move that caught his rivals unprepared.

The crowds were very good, people were smiling and cheering on the riders all along the route.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

2013 Tour of Utah Preview

Batten down the hatches kiddies, it is time for the Tour of Utah!  There have been fundamental changes to the race with additions of pristine scenic beauty down south around Cedar City; then the race emerges north along the traditional roads of the Wasatch mountains that surround the Wasatch front.

Great, the visual images of the tour should be unrivaled anywhere on earth, but where is the Time Trial?  No race of truth, this year?  That is a curious omission, but the event is only six days long and it is primarily designed for climbers, not sprinters or time trialists.  Sprints and time trials are unlikely to make much of a difference in the general classification, so why bother with the logistical nightmares.

Gone too is Levi Leipheimer, a two time champion who was ensnared in the Lance Armstrong, U.S. Postal Service confession mania and banished into limbo forever?  Back for another round of contention is Francisco Mancebo Perez, Five Hour Energy, a former Tour of Utah champion who is always dangerous and should never be underestimated.  The best team?  Garmin Sharp should kill in the team ratings, studded with stars; Tom Danielson, Christian Vandevelde, David Zabriskie, and Thomas Dekker.  Well known names with international Pro Tour reputations.  Don't be surprised if Christian Vandevelde finishes numero uno in the general classification.

The team list has gone international and there is always a unknown factor that could upset the apple cart.  In cycling racing one crash can end your chances, and these long stage races have a tendency to generate accidents.

Stage 4 is a circuit through the streets of Salt Lake City Utah and with the exception of President's Circle is an exact duplicate of the 2011 course.  Up walls and down screaming descents, round and round, there are very few level spots on the course.  There will be attacks on this course and gaps, but a well prepared team should have very little effort managing the breakaways.  Don't expect anything decisive from this stage.

One comment on the media.  The Tour of Utah can provide a helicopter to provide visual effects, but even though the Miller family now owns a radio station it seems incapable of providing competent race radio.  I am tired of tuning into the official radio station only to hear endless discussions of sports that have no interest for me.  [Hint: The Utah Jazz.]  But after complaining for years and seeing no improvement, I am not going to feign interest.  Bother the local yokels who don't care about a bunch of buffoons dressed up like clowns who are insane enough to race up mountains on bicycles!  Give me another Utah Jazz update instead!  The Utah Jazz are very unlikely to make the playoffs this year, and with the Miami Heat, basketball is boring.  But so what.  It's not like there are not thousands of rabid cycling fans lining the streets of Salt Lake City cheering on their heroes, right?

Come on out and prove the yokels wrong.  There is nothing better in the world than a good bicycle race.


Saturday, July 20, 2013

Team Sky: Sky High?

Is Chris Froome doping?  There seems to be allot of people who think so.  There seems to be some scientific proof of this allegation; +6 watts per kilogram of power. +6 watts per kilogram is considered by some experts as physiologically impossible.  +6 watts per kilogram aptly termed "superhuman power" is produced by blood transfusions combined with micro doses of EPO, testosterone, and other performance enhancing substances.

Now we have all of these self proclaimed sleuths watching the ascent up Mont Ventoux with stop watches and lap top computers loaded with software that measure road grades, wind resistance, tire resistance, temperature, then compare these conditions to riders of the same stages in the steroid era; then compare the watts per kilogram generated between suspected dopers, say Chris Froome versus proven dopers, Lance Armstrong.  Quaint, voodoo nonsense declared Sir David Brailsford, the mastermind behind the United Kingdom surge in cycling: a surge that can only be compared to the old doped Chinese women's swimming team.  Great Britain does nothing in cycling for years, then suddenly they are walking away with all the gold.  Without dope. Very improbable.

These anti-doping sleuths, the human calculators, want all of the professional team blood data teams collect released to the public for inspection.  Pro tour teams that pay lip service to the notion that blood is analyzed to prevent opportunistic blood doping among the riders may be deceptive.  Phonak claimed that an internal blood doping program that they pioneered was designed to detect then punish riders who dared to dope.  But in reality the whole purpose of the program was to not test positive during a race.  Team Sky has the same claim: we support clean cycling and our internal measures are designed to deter cheating on the team and nothing more.  But can these claims be believed?

Because believe it or not the entire cycling world is fixated on one problem: the winning formula.  Michele Ferrari knew the winning formula, he devised the model that for seven years produced a Tour de France champion.  Lance Armstrong's contenders were experimenting with their own formulas; trying to develop a formula that would beat Lance Armstrong.  Tyler Hamilton writes about this quest, so does Floyd Landis, and even David Millar.  Finding the correct doping regimen that would produce results and be undetectable at the same time was the summa cum laude quest for all cycling teams.  Perhaps doping without detection is the current summa cum laude team goal.

Who ever thought of two ascents up L' Alpe D' Huez in a single stage is a deranged sadist; reminds me of the attitude when the Pyrenees were added to the Tour de France: assassins!  Chris Froome looked in distress on the second ascent up L' Aple D' Huez, he asked his team car for food in a non-feed prohibited area of the course and was penalized twenty seconds for this transgression.  The French press jeered: "Chris Froome is human."  Chris Froome is smart, he remembers that dope fueled people who are flying sky high up beyond category cols bonk from lack of sugar; Lance Armstrong bonked, Tyler Hamilton bonked, Floyd Landis bonked.  Chris Froome merely was prudent and very wise to eat food in a prohibited zone and take a penalty, rather than bonk and lose the race.  Does this prove that Chris Froome is riding clean?  Absolutely not.  Theatrical performances that are designed to deceive can even be performed on ascents up L' Alpe D' Huez.  Remain vigilant and sceptical at all times.

David Millar says that when Bradley Wiggins was riding for Garmin that the team never imagined him on the podium; but when he moved to Sky the guy suddenly dominated the Tour de France!  Chris Froome finished second.  Now Chris Froome is sprinting up beyond category climbs at an inhuman rate and dominating the Tour de France!  No wonder people want to look at Team Sky's blood profiles, this is not normal, and the issue should be independently investigated.  David Brailsford says he will release some of Chris Froome's blood profile data to WADA.  What exactly will that accomplish?  WADA is a stake holder with a vested interest, not an independent entity who will examine the evidence objectively.

Rubbish!  We suspect Chris Froome of doping, we suspect Alberto Contador of doping, we suspect Alejandro Valverde of doping; based upon past history, including suspensions for past offenses.  Release the blood profiles of all; end the omerta.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Positively False: Book Review

Is Positively False obsolete?  No.  The curtailment of athletes rights have expanded not contracted since 2006.  The alphabet agencies responsible for doping arbitration have systematically undermined WADA code by exploiting loopholes and by writing decisions that do not require independent oversight.  USADA has eliminated the statutes of limitations, there is no penalty in doping arbitration for inaction, in fact, inaction is rewarded with increased sanctions against athletes sans due process protections.  Floyd Landis should be lauded for attempting to raise awareness into the unfair nature of doping arbitration and the arbitrary application of rules, but raising awareness is one thing, reform of the process quite another.  One must agree with Floyd Landis when he declared arbitration of the allegations raised against him as a waste of money.  But one must wonder why a man would become so obsessed with his own personal crusade against the anti-doping agencies, a hopeless fight that ended in his personal devastation and financial ruin.  The answer may surprise you.

Background: A Poor Mennonite Kid Wanting To Do Good.

 Floyd Landis came from a poor Mennonite family, "we never had any money."  Mennonites believe in "strict interpretation of the Bible and non-participation in modern society."  Floyd wanted to upgrade his cheap Huffy bicycle to a three hundred dollar mountain bike, but his father told him that if he wanted a new bike that he would have to pay for it.  Floyd put down a deposit for the mountain bike at Green Mountain Cyclery, in Farmersville, Pennsylvania, and became life long friends with Mike Farrington.  Mr. Farrington would sponsor a local mountain bike team that Floyd Landis rode for.  I am positive that after Floyd Landis won the U.S. National Juniors mountain bike title, and then competed in the Juniors World Championships, that his desire to become a world class cyclist and eventual Tour de France winner did cause him some personal angst: but I would not go so far as to argue that Lance Armstrong became a surrogate father figure for Floyd Landis, as was suggested by Martin Dugard.

Scrappy: Gaining Attention 

Floyd Landis had to become known on the road circuit.  He entered road races and attacked right from the start.  One day Floyd Landis told David Clinger and Scott Moninger of Team Mercury to pull and do some work when they were in a breakaway.  David Clinger tried to offer a deal: we will help you work if you will let one of our riders win the stage.  Floyd Landis refused the offer, he continued to pull with Clinger and Moninger drafting in his wake, but as Landis would report, "I took second anyway."  John Wordin was impressed, "we don't sell races," and he offered Floyd Landis a contract: five hundred dollars a month.  As Floyd Landis expressed it:

"I was a pro racer.  My job was to attack and break apart the field in the last few miles of a race to pave the way for our top sprinter, Gord Fraser, to win stages."

Pure Gold: A Contract with the U.S. Postal Service Professional Cycling Team

Team Mercury soon ran into financial difficulties, John Wordin could no longer pay the riders salaries.  Floyd Landis sent a letter of protest to Hein Verbruggen, president of the UCI demanding that the riders be paid out of a bank guarantee that all professional cycling clubs are required to deposit with the UCI in order to be granted a license.  Hein Verbruggen complained that he considered Floyd Landis's letter an act of intimidation, "that may work in America, but that won't work with the UCI, and certainly not with me."  Fortunately, Bob Stapleton of Tailwind Sport was aware of the situation and offered Floyd Landis a contract to ride for the best professional cycling team in the world: the United States Postal Service Professional Cycling Team, and for the greatest Tour de France champion of all time; Lance Armstrong.

Note:  Floyd Landis also complained that the UCI was not doing enough to recover his salary from Team Mercury to the press during the Tour de France.  These statements apparently violated a gag order that the UCI had imposed on the riders, UCI arbitration between riders and teams over financial disputes was not to be commented upon to the press.  Lance Armstrong and Bob Stapleton insisted that Floyd Landis apologize to Hein Verbruggen for his statements, and Floyd Landis did apologize to Hein Verbruggen.  In a larger context, in Positively False, Floyd Landis attempts to establish the fact that the UCI had an axe to grind over this dispute, and later when Pat McQuaid leaked Floyd Landis's synthetic testosterone positive result to L'Equipe and the New York Times before Floyd Landis had received his Lab Document Package, that the UCI was exacting revenge.

Cappuccinos: Making the Grade: A Tour de France Team Selectee

One fine day in Girona, Spain, with nothing better to do, Floyd Landis and David Zabriskie went to a roadside cafe and ordered a cappuccino.  Then they ordered another, then another, engaging all the while in cracking jokes with increasing hilarity.  The grand total was thirteen cappuccinos ordered and consumed in one setting.  The cappuccino prank became legendary on the U.S. Postal squad, but, Lance Armstrong was not amused.  Lance Armstrong decided that Floyd Landis was an unfocused rider that lacked discipline.  Lance Armstrong decided that Floyd Landis needed some personal training mono a mono to sharpen his focus and cycling skills.  Floyd Landis was up to the challenge, in spite of the warnings by his teammates that riders were broken with these personal training sessions.  At the end of a grueling, physically exhausting marathon of col whipping, Lance Armstrong decided that Floyd Landis had enough stamina to ride as a teammate in the crown jewel: the Tour de France.  The dream was real, Floyd Landis was now a U.S. Postal Service super domestique.  Winning the Tour de France with Lance Armstrong meant real money.

2004 Tour de France: Stage 17: Col de la Croix-Fry: Turning Point

Floyd Landis's status as super domestique ended in incredible fashion on the Col de la Croix-Fry during Stage 17 of the 2004 Tour de France.  Floyd Landis had set an incredible pace throughout the stage and there was a possibility that if he attacked on the last descent he could win the stage.
Here is a conversation Lance Armstrong and Floyd Landis had previous to the descent:
Lance Armstrong: "How fast can you ride downhill?"
Floyd Landis: "Real Fast."
Lance Armstrong: "Okay. Ride like you stole something."

But the ploy failed because Jan Ullrich bridged the gap to Floyd Landis who attacked the group, because Jan Ullrich was angry over the Posties refusal to work with Jan Ullrich to attack Ivan Basso.  Poor Floyd Landis had to "sit up" to protect Lance Armstrong who had been dropped.  Lance Armstrong, who was furious over the fact that Jan Ullrich had denied Floyd Landis a stage win after his huge pace setting effort, won the stage in an incredible surge after Andreas Kloden attacked the group in the last kilometer. Nevertheless, people suddenly realized that Floyd Landis had potential as team leader, and might develop as a favorite to win the Tour de France himself.


Floyd Landis's contract with U.S. Postal Service was about to expire, but there was an under current of friction brewing between Floyd Landis, Bob Stapleton, and Johan Bruyneel over training equipment.  Floyd Landis had complained that with the exception of Lance Armstrong, that the team was training on outdated junk bicycles.  Floyd Landis thought he could improve his time trial skills if he was allowed to train on a new time trial bike.  But Johan Bruyneel told Floyd Landis that if he gave Floyd Landis a new time trial bike he would have to give everybody on the team one.  Floyd Landis was also unhappy when he compared his salary to other riders on the team.  Floyd Landis thought he was being underpaid and unappreciated at U.S. Postal; so he began to make contacts with Andy Rihs owner of Team Phonak to see if he could negotiate a better deal.  Andy Rihs offered Floyd Landis a contract that was considerably larger than the one being offered by Bob Stapleton and Tailwind Sport, as  super domestique for Tyler Hamilton.

Phonak Blood Doping and Positive Tests: The Fall of Tyler Hamilton

Suddenly Team Phonak had no leader.  Tyler Hamilton tested positive of using a heterologous blood transfusion at the 2004 Tour of Spain along with teammate Santiago Perez.  Team Phonak was under scrutiny by the UCI and it was uncertain whether Phonak would be allowed to participate in the 2005 Tour de France.  Floyd Landis describes the situation:
Phonak had no lead rider anymore and was in disarray.  Because of all the doping infractions, the UCI refused to give Phonak a license to be in the big leagues, the Pro Tour for 2005.  With no license, Phonak would need a special invitation to be included in the Tour de France as one of the two wild card teams selected each year, which didn't seem likely after all the doping scandals.
Floyd Landis faced a dilemma, stay at U.S. Postal Service and endure a bad situation or move on to Phonak and miss the 2005 Tour de France.  The choice was important because Floyd Landis was facing a medical calamity and he was racing on borrowed time.  He could ill afford to miss the 2005 Tour de France because there was a high probability that he would not be medically fit to compete in future races because he was suffering from severe avascular necrosis in a hip caused by a training ride accident.

All Systems Go: Team Phonak

Floyd Landis (Ouch). 2009 Tour of Utah Prologue Time Trial. Photo: velovortmax
Floyd Landis decided that in spite of the doping controversies that Phonak was facing to take a calculated risk; but first he had to pass the team physical.  The orthopedic doctor who examined Floyd Landis turned out to be a quack who merely reported that one of his legs "was a few millimeters shorter than the other; but, he was medically sound to race."  Floyd Landis called Brent Kay, who owned OUCH Medical Center, and laughingly reported this diagnoses.  Dr. Kay responded that it was lucky that they didn't take an X-ray.  Floyd Landis slid on some gravel on a training ride that "fractured the neck of my femur.  I had snapped off the ball part of the ball-and-socket joint of my hip."  At the insistence of Dr. Kay, Floyd Landis was rushed into emergency surgery and the ball was repaired with three titanium screws.  Unfortunately, the hip never healed properly and the bone began to die around the injury.  When Floyd Landis was later examined by Dr. Andy Pruitt he discovered that the ball of his femur was flattening out; that the ball was developing a groove; there was a possibility a large fragment of dead bone could become dislodged, and that the entire hip could cease up without warning.  This condition would require a hip replacement and probably would terminate Floyd Landis's professional cycling career.  In addition, Floyd Landis hired Dr. David Chao, Oasis Sports Medicine Orthopedist and team doctor for the San Diego Chargers professional football team, to remove and replace the original titanium screws that was causing pain, with shorter screws in an outpatient surgery, because the joint had compressed during healing.  Dr. Chao also recommended a hip replacement, but, in Dr. Chao's opinion, because Floyd Landis was young and healthy the replacement should be "delayed as long as possible."  Dr. Chao also performed a separate decompression surgery on Floyd Landis's deteriorating hip to encourage scar tissue that would help stabilize the joint.

Good Fortune Smiles on Phonak

Andy Rihs wanted the UCI to re-issue the Pro Tour license that was rescinded due to the blood doping allegations by cleaning house.  Phonak hired former Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) public relations director John Lelangue as directeur sportif.  Phonak also required riders to sign on to a "no tolerance of doping" team code of ethics.  Phonak also initiated an internal team anti-doping program, run by Dr. Denise Demir, who measured riders blood values in the field with a portable centrifuge, and who examined blood samples with a blood diagnostic unit purchased by the team.  Convinced that Phonak had reformed, the UCI re-instated Phonak's Pro Tour license. 

In retrospect, one wonders what team Phonak was really doing with all of this blood diagnostic equipment; employing medical schemes that would keep the riders hematocrit as close as possible to the UCI legal limit of fifty percent without going over the limit?  After all, Floyd Landis admitted that he used two autologous blood transfusions and that he microdosed EPO during the 2006 Tour de France.  And there is other evidence of Phonak malfeasance when the list of suspected cyclists connected with Operation Puerto was released.  As Floyd Landis explains the situation:
Two of those named on the list of riders suspected to be involved with Fuentes were my teammates, and had been part of Phonak's 2005 Tour de France team: Santiago Botero and Jose Enrique Gutierrez.  Botero was a strong climber, and Gutierrez was one of the best all around riders and climbers we had, he had just finished second place in the Tour of Italy, behind Ivan Basso, the week before the scandal erupted.

Good Fortune Smiles on Floyd Landis: The 2006 Tour de France

First Lance Armstrong retired.  Then Operation Puerto would be of great benefit to Floyd Landis and would greatly increase his chances for success in the 2006 Tour de France.  But under a most bizarre set of circumstances this would be the case.  At the last moment and in the most dramatic fashion:
Every single rider who finished in the top five behind Lance Armstrong in the 2005 Tour: Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Francisco Mancebo, and Alexandre Vinokourov [were booted from the race.]
Ironically, all of these riders had already completed their pre-race physicals, and in the case of Alexandre Vinokourov, although he had done nothing wrong, so many of his teammates were implicated in the scandal that his team was disqualified because there were not enough riders left to field a legal team.  Under a bizarre ruling it was determined that the remaining teams could not replace riders who were disqualified.  Thirteen riders were banned.  One hundred and seventy six riders started the race.
 
Also, prior to the 2006 Tour de France, tired of suffering from intolerable pain from his damaged hip, Floyd Landis accepts cortisone treatments, he informs his team of this development, and submits a therapeutic use exemption medical explanation to the UCI.  Also, during the 2006 Tour de France, Floyd Landis receives one cortisone shot immediately before the race, and one shot during the race.

On the second rest day of the 2006 Tour de France Floyd Landis announces that after the race he will seek a hip replacement.    

2006 Tour de France Stage 16: La Toussuire: Bonk!

Floyd Landis, wearing the yellow jersey, unexpectedly bonks on La Toussuire!  Axel Merckx in a courageous act of selflessness paces Floyd Landis to the finish.  Floyd Landis loses over ten minutes to stage winner Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank).  Landis drops in the general classification from first to eleventh place.  Oscar Pereiro reclaims the malliot jaune and leads Floyd Landis by eight minutes, eight seconds.

In a curious aside one must ask the question:  Why did Denise Demur give Floyd Landis Jack Daniels whiskey?  Is not Jack Daniels whiskey distilled from corn?  Does not corn generate carbon 13 testosterone?  Would not a hepatic enzyme that metabolizes carbon 13 testosterone be considered a proof of synthetic testosterone metabolism induced by artificial means and not by diet?  Would it not be ironic if the single metabolite above threshold was a result of metabolism of corn based ethanol?

2006 Tour de France Stage 17: Le Bourg d' Oisans to La Toussuire: Attack!

Unforgettable.  The greatest single feat of cycling I have ever witnessed.  Talk about an adrenaline rush!  Every second after Floyd Landis attacked you expected him to bonk again!  After Floyd Landis finished the stage, I sat there and counted the seconds on the clock as they ticked by, praying for a miracle, hoping beyond hope that Floyd Landis would be reincarnated as maillot jaune.  Oscar Pereiro managed to stay on the top of the general classification by thirty eight seconds; but as everyone was aware, Floyd Landis was a much stronger time trialist: employing the patented "praying Landis" style.  Being an ex-Phonak teammate of Floyd Landis, Oscar Pereiro knew that Floyd Landis would make up his time deficit in the time trial and emerge as maillot jaune.  Hope re-emerged for every Floyd Landis fanatic that day.  It was an incredible moment.

Some people called that attack "superhuman."  It certainly was heartbreaking after Floyd Landis admitted that he used performance enhancing drugs during the 2006 Tour de France.  But even in 2006 there were suspicions.  For example, Floyd Landis admitted that he took an intravenous saline solution that was mixed with glucose, nothing more, after he bonked on Stage 16.  This is equivalent to carbohydrate loading and could be considered a form of doping, could it not?  Further speculation: is it possible to add a little EPO to the glucose?  It is possible to transfuse an autologous blood bag on top of a saline bag?  Is that medically possible?

Are Acute Applications of Testosterone of Any Use to Increase Performance or Recovery?

Considering all of the above what possible additional performance benefit would a synthetic testosterone patch offer?  Acute use of synthetic testosterone does not facilitate an increase in performance and it is doubtful if acute use of synthetic testosterone provides any recovery benefits.  So why bother using acute synthetic testosterone patches during a race? Where is the benefit?  True, you might accuse me of refusing to admit that Floyd Landis is lying when he claims that he did not use synthetic testosterone during the 2006 Tour de France.  But even though I am supremely disappointed in Mr. Landis, and disapprove of his doping tactics, I still believe he is telling the truth. 

 Floyd Landis Tests Positive For Synthetic Testosterone

...And this case might be the means of introducing a new method.  One can show from the psychological data alone how to get on the track of the real man. 'We have facts' they say. But facts are not everything, at least half the business lies in how you interpret them.
Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Crime and Punishment

The joyous moment of winning the Tour de France and living the dream had come true for Floyd Landis.  Even his hip survived the ordeal.  Now it was time to cash in on the endorsements and schedule a hip replacement.  But the clear skies and smiling sun would soon be replaced by frowning overcast skies when John Lelangue called Floyd Landis to inform him that his "A" sample for Stage 17 of the 2006 Tour de France had tested positive for synthetic testosterone.  Floyd Landis was astonished at this test result, he could not believe it.  Why?  Because he did not use synthetic testosterone during the 2006 Tour de France, so he could not test positive for synthetic testosterone.  I base this conclusion on Floyd Landis's admission that he blood doped and microdosed EPO, but that he did not use synthetic testosterone.  Why not admit to everything at once, why tell the truth about some drug use and not all?  I was convinced in 2006, and I am convinced in 2013, that the Laboratorie National de Depistage du Dopage (LNDD), the WADA accredited laboratory located in Chatenay-Malabry, France, produced one of the most blatantly false positive testosterone/epitestosterone ratios in history. Then they compounded the problem with a blatantly false interpretation of the carbon isotope ratio test.  This carbon isotope ratio test false interpretation was reinforced by expert testimony of people who were deemed to be top scientific experts in carbon isotope testing, Don Catlin and Christiane Ayotte.  Don Catlin and Christiane Ayotte, directors of top WADA anti-doping laboratories, argued that a single metabolite above threshold found in Floyd Landis's urine was either an indication of use of synthetic testosterone, or a marker of a synthetic testosterone precursor.  However: in rebuttal to these conclusions, Dr. Arnie Baker, in a brilliant discussion, presented: "What is fair is clear" to the USADA Anti-Doping Review Board.  Dr. Arnie Baker explained that drawing a conclusion of synthetic testosterone use based upon the fact that a carbon isotope ratio test found a single metabolite above threshold was nothing more than a smoke and mirror theory that lacked a sound scientific foundation.  Dr. Arnie Baker cited research reports that documented the fact that control medical students in testosterone experiments, people who had never used synthetic testosterone, had higher single metabolite delta unit scores than LNDD measured in Floyd Landis's urine after Stage 17 of the 2006 Tour de France!  Therefore: the single metabolite above threshold found in Floyd Landis's urine may have been nothing more than a random event, or a normal byproduct of Mr. Landis's unique metabolism.  Nevertheless: this convincing medical logic was rejected by every alphabet soup agency: the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), the International Cycling Union (UCI), the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), and the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), as groundless.  Floyd Landis also argued to the arbitration panel that there were infinite documented problems associated with LNDD laboratory practice.  [For the best discussion of the scientific issues that plagued this case consult the most excellent blog trust but verify.]  It seems that everyone reached the wrong conclusion about the carbon isotope ratio results except for Christopher Campbell; who was the only man not to be sucked into the group think vortex, and the only actor in this whole drama who exhibited any intelligence in this case. "What is fair is clear" is located in the appendix of Positively False.  Don't trust my word for it, read Dr. Baker's argument for yourselves, and make your own conclusions.

The Case Of The Dumbo Ears: Profiles In Incompetence

Final note:  The Pepperdine arbitration panel agreed to allow alternate "B" tests that Travis Tygart requested as supplemental evidence of use of synthetic testosterone use by Floyd Landis: conclusive proof that was to be proven by running carbon isotope ratio tests on every "B" sample of every stage of the 2006 Tour de France where Floyd Landis had submitted a urine sample.  [Note! The "A" samples had been destroyed by testing and were no longer available.]  [Note! The arbitration panel had ruled that these tests could not be used to file additional adverse analytical findings, because an adverse analytical finding requires a confirmation "A" sample test.  But oddly, the "B" samples could be considered valid supplemental evidence, even though this decision was unprecedented, and violated WADA code as to what could be constituted as acceptable valid scientific proof.]  But, while examining the GC/C/IRMS used in the alternate "B" tests, Floyd Landis's scientific expert Simon Davis noted that the large metal rings that are used to move the IRMS in shipping, were still attached, "years after delivery."
These machines have two massive magnets that are highly sensitive and key to the accuracy of the results.  Think of how a iron object placed near a compass distorts the magnet, inhibiting it's ability to reliably point north.  The dumbo ears could have a similar effect on this machine.  In other words, not only are my B sample retesting results suspect, but every test ever done on this unit may be unreliable, and no one at the lab ever noticed it before.

Conclusion:
 
Floyd Landis was framed by a group of people who refused to retract their bogus adverse analytical finding even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. WADA, the UCI, the CAS, and USADA had too much invested to lose this case. The abuse continues unabated. Floyd Landis fought so desperately because he was innocent of the adverse analytical finding filed against him. He truly had nothing to lose.

Furthermore, if there is a lesson to be learned from the Floyd Landis case it is the arbitrary and capricious application of "science."  Three metabolites above the three delta unit threshold on Monday, two metabolites on Tuesday, and a single metabolite above threshold on Wednesday.  In Australia, the WADA standard was four metabolites above four delta units to ascertain a positive result.  A WADA positive doping test based on floating amorphous criteria that has no foundation in medical science, medical literature, or in medical experimentation; and which also lacks a physiological baseline, is absolutely unacceptable as a bases to suspend a professional athlete from cycling or any other sport.  Nevertheless, the results, no matter what they be or how they are derived, are interpreted as conclusive evidence of doping: then these conclusions are force fed to a gullible public.  If the "scientific" criteria as to what constitutes a positive test is subjected to arbitrary and capricious interpretations; then how is an athlete to prepare and present a coherent defense?  Impossible.

Aftermath:

Floyd Landis scolded the anti-doping alphabet organizations in Positively False for their idee fixe to prove that Lance Armstrong used performance enhancing drugs.  "Let it go!" One must wonder if the positive synthetic testosterone test was nothing more than a ploy to obtain evidence from Floyd Landis that would serve as a bases to file non-analytical positives against Lance Armstrong, Johan Bruyneel, Michele Ferrari, et al.  Why else would Travis Tygart offer Floyd Landis the shortest suspension in history as a deal for evidence?  Ironically, Floyd Landis may have reasoned after he was declared persona non grata and refused a continental or pro tour contract with any team that it was in his best interests to provide evidence to USADA.  Once Floyd Landis made allegations of doping against Lance Armstrong and U.S. Postal Service;  USADA sprang into action with threats and coercion of other ex-teammates of Lance Armstrong, extracting a mountain of coerced testimony that resulted in the USADA prosecution summary The Reasoned Decision. Floyd Landis said he wanted to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.  In the end Floyd Landis gave Travis Tygart everything on a silver platter.  But in the end Floyd Landis may in up in the lurch with nothing, once again.
Floyd Landis (Ouch) 2009 Tour of Utah Prologue Time Trial
Photo: velovortmax

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Racing Through the Dark: Book Review


Racing Through the Dark David Millar Touchstone Books 2012

It is immensely refreshing to read an anti-doping tome that is not all about the Lance.  It is also nice to see that the Millar family does not possess an inherited trait of honesty.  No.  David Millar's father was a Royal Air Force wing commander, his mother was a common housewife. David Millar was a military brat, rootless.  David Millar's parents were divorced, David went to Hong Kong to live with his father, his sister Fran lived with her mother in the United Kingdom.

David Millar was an amateur sensation, who's greatest skill was time trials.  He signed a professional multi-year contract with Cofidis in 1997.  The first thing as a neophyte pro that he experienced when leading out a training ride was the increased level of performance of the riders.  When Millar rode at front at a pace that would have totally destroyed an amateur race, he noticed that his teammates were barely winded.  Welcome to the professional ranks!

It didn't take long for David Millar to become acquainted with the doping culture in professional cycling.  After the training ride Millar's Cofidis teammate Frankie Andreu was breaking ampules of assorted "legal" recovery products and syringes; "d prefolic, epargriseovit, and ferlixit could boost your blood values one point, completely naturally."  But don't tell Betsy!

That would have been all well and good, after all what harm could an injection of iron in the rump do?  But Cofidis had a different philosophy, a concept called being prepared.  A preparation might include increasing hematocrit values as close to the UCI prohibited fifty percent value as possible.  Of course, this necessitated the use of prohibited performance enhancing drugs, like EPO.  There were other common performance enhancing products available; cortisone, testosterone, and "Italian recovery products."  Cofidis was a results driven team and they paid bonuses to riders based on UCI racing points accumulated during the year; but since Cofidis and other professional cycling teams has no culpability when a rider tests positive for a performance enhancing drugs, how these points were accumulated had no interest to Cofidis.

Millar Time.  2000 Tour de France.  Futuroscope Time Trial.  David Millar smoked Lance Armstrong in the Futuroscope Time Trial and became an instant sensation as maillot jaune; and he did it riding clean!  There were endless discussions of David Millar, he was so young, he had ample time to win a future Tour de France.  He gave interviews in fluent French, his mother complained that the odds of him winning the 2000 Tour de France at fifty to one odds was an outrage.  Millar was a remarkably charismatic character who became immediately loved by the cycling community as the greatest time trialist on earth.

The Fall of Dunkirk. 2001 Tour de France.  David Millar suffered from several crashes during the race and abandoned; but he was still riding clean at this point. But this would soon change; after abandoning the Tour de France; Cofidis suggested that Millar go home, rest and prepare for the Veulta d' Espana (Tour of Spain).

David Millar was introduced to EPO by a teammate known as L'Equipier, who had possessed disposable syringes of EPO which he had purchased through black market contacts stored in a faux soda can with a cap that screwed on.  The best part of this recollection is where David Millar and L'Equipier were searching through the seedy ghetto area of town looking for drug contacts and how this whole episode disgusted David Millar.  This contact with L'Equipier would later provide the French police with information that David Millar was using performance enhancing drugs and lead to raid on his personal home that would lead to his arrest and eventual two year suspension from cycling.

My Personal Jesus. 2002 Vuelta d' Espana.  Jesus Losa was a sports doctor who specialized in doping and who David Millar worked with to prepare.  They were using EPO, cortisone, testosterone, and Italian recovery products. Millar and Losa also used high altitude training to increase endurance on the cols.  But there were pitfalls, Millar says he became so incensed on losing weight to increase power that he became obsessed, losing too much weight, which decreased his power.  Then, of course, karma intervened on the Angliru climb; a vicious col with leg breaking grades up to twenty five percent.  Worse, it rained, the surface of the road was covered with coal dust from the local mines creating dangerous racing conditions and multiple road crashes during the stage.  David Millar crashed three times during the stage, the third time his bicycle was run over by team car while his feet were still clipped into the pedals.  At the summit a concerned fan attempted to cross the barriers and assist a battered and bloodied David Millar; but the heroic fan was tackled by a police officer and thrown to the ground.  David Millar protested the unsafe conditions of the stage by ripping off his race number, by abandoning his bicycle, and by quitting the race.  All of his preparation was a pointless waste of time and effort, circumvented by karma. Bummer.

This wouldn't be the last time that karma would intervene to foil David Millar.  2003 Tour de France prologue and the famous dropped chain. David Millar says Alain Bondue modified the time trial bikes by removing the small chain wheel, the front derailleur, and the front derailleur shift lever.  To make things worse, Bondue decided to change the large chain wheel to a chain wheel manufactured by a sponsor at the last moment.  The problem was that the chain wheel and the chain were incompatible. Millar says he watched in horror while his teammates lost their chains through the various cobblestone sections along the course.  In the final corner Millar dropped his chain and went from first through the time checks to 110th overall for the stage.  Alain Bondue and Cofidis originated one of the strangest time trial bike modifications in history, a modification that will never be repeated, and a modification that cost Alain Bondue's job at David Millars' insistence.

2003 World Championships.  David Millar: UCI World Time Trial Champion.  Millar stated in interviews that he could have won the World's time trial without using any performance enhancing drugs, probably true given his talent.  But he did use EPO; disposable syringes which in a moment of carelessness instead of disposing of, he placed into the lining of his suitcase.  This carelessness would later sow the seeds of doom for David Millar when his home was searched by the French police.  Millar stated that he placed the syringes among his personal library and simply forgot about them.

Millar's home was raided, he was arrested by the French police. His telephones had been tapped by the French police and his conversations were recorded before the raid.  Cofidis fired Millar.  His life began to spiral out of control into an alcohol induced haze.  The French tax authority was ready to seize all of his personal property as payment for a tax haven scheme.  Millar thought his cycling career was over.  Millar thought that his life was over.

Redemption.  There are human beings in cycling too.  David Millar after serving his suspension went to Jean Marie LeBlanc and asks if he could return to the Tour de France?

Le Blanc: "you have served your time, that is punishment enough." But: "mais alores, David.  You can not ride the Tour if you do not have a team."
Jean Marie LeBlanc pointed to a photograph of the Catholic Pope visiting a man in prison who shot the Pope, as an example of how ASO should treat miscreants. Too bad Christian Prudhomme, in spite of his pious name, could not have followed LeBlanc's example.

David Millar found a team; Sunier Duval, low budget, low pay, full of misfits, low quality riders and ex-dopers making a comeback.  Sunier Duval considered David Millar a big name bargain.  But Millar began to suspect that riders on Sunier Duval were experimenting with performance enhancing drugs, which were in direct violation of his new philosophy of "riding clean."  Millar sent several letters directly to the UCI expressing his concerns as to the suspicious behavior of certain riders on Sunier Duval.  The UCI responded that they were aware of the situation.

Time for David Millar to move on.  Jonathan Vaughters and Slipstream decided to start a new cycling team that would have a "no tolerance" policy toward doping.  Millar was eager to join a team that promoted clean cycling and a team that would go beyond the UCI out-of-competition doping controls by employing internal random blood and urine tests of team members; a prototype biological passport system that would employ longitudinal measures as safeguards against doping.

The Persuader.  David Millar expressed his outrage that Discovery Channel would have the audacity to hire Ivan Basso; even though there was an unwritten rule in cycling that riders who were under investigation for doping offenses would not be employed.  Ivan Basso was then under investigation for links to Operation Puerto.  Millar scolds Lance Armstrong at a cycling function:
 Millar: "Look, Lance.  I know how much you love the Tour, but you're alienating yourself from it more and more.  What are you going to do twenty years from now if you're not welcome back?  How can they invite you back as a past champion if you treat the sport like shit and are clouded in controversy?"
Lance Armstrong scoffs and says that the sport needs to do a better job and police it's self.  Lance Armstrong says that he is now focused on exciting projects away from cycling.  Millar rejoins:
Lance, that's bullshit. You will always come back to cycling."
Yep.  Much to his regret.

David Brailsford and Team SKY.  David Brailsford, the King Midas of cycling, everything the man touches turns to gold.  Team Great Britian became the dominant team during the 2008 Beijing Olympics; Bradley Wiggins, Chris Hoy, and Vicki Pendletonp; mountains of gold poured onto the velodrome floor.

David Millar was torn, he loved the purity of Slipstream, but he wanted to join British sponsored David Brailsford lead team SKY where Bradley Wiggins and most of the Slipstream riders were destined.  But, alas, as David Millar describes it, the decision was made for him:
In the end the decision was made for me.  Dave Brailsford told me that SKY couldn't take me because of my doping past and that he would be enforcing a zero tolerance policy toward any members of the SKY professional cycling team having any prior doping history.
Quaint logic that even David Millar could not understand.  Millar reasoned that as an experienced doper who had run the gauntlet that he would be an invaluable influence for novice cyclists who might be tempted to circumvent the rules.  Of course, there may have been even more sinister reasons to exclude David Millar from SKY.  Perhaps Dave Brailsford did not appreciate a man who had a tendency to blow the whistle to the UCI when he suspected doping and cheating.  After all, team Great Britain, with the piles of gold it accumulated in Olympic track races and the improbable domination by team SKY in the 2012 Tour de France, was, as Lance Armstrong would express it: not normal.

Finis:  David Millar has a message for all of you neophyte riders.  People are human beings who are capable of making mistakes and they should be forgiven if they succumb to temptation.  But it is never too late to learn from your mistakes and reform.  And the most important message of all?  You can win without using drugs.  David Millar proved it when he beat the most doped man in the world at Futuroscope, during the 2000 Tour de France: Lance Armstrong: riding clean.  David Millar came full circle, he is a survivor and a man who should be emulated by every young rider.  His memoir should be required reading for every aspiring cyclist and serve as a blueprint for what not to do.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Secret Race: Book Review

The Secret Race by Tyler Hamilton and Daniel Coyle.  Bantam Books 2012.

The Secret Race is a sad story of a poor prodigal son from Marblehead, Massachusetts, a "C" level cyclist who rode paniagua: (a "Spanish status name for a servant who worked for his board and lodging") but who with increasing improvements in cycling performance was promoted to the "A" squad. "A" squad riders were considered elite Tour de France riders, and they used large amounts of performance enhancing substances distributed in white lunch paper sacks under the direction of debased doctors. Only after Tyler Hamilton was permanently banned from professional cycling for repeated doping violations after years of cheating, did his guilty conscious prompt him to return to honesty with a full confession and disclosure of the illegal doping that was rampant on the United States Postal Service Professional Cycling Team. The Secret Race summarizes examples of doping during Tyler Hamilton's days with Lance Armstrong at U.S. Postal: but, after the admission of Lance Armstrong to doping, these examples are of secondary importance. What is of primary importance is the cognition and behavior of Tyler Hamilton, not a cheap and tawdry psychological examination of what may have been driving Lance Armstrong.

We start at the end, not the beginning, at the Cache-Cache in Aspen, Colorado, and we have to ask the question of why Tyler Hamilton and his attorney visited an establishment known to be a favorite haunt of Lance Armstrong, after Tyler Hamilton claimed on the news program 60 Minutes that he personally witnessed Lance Armstrong using performance enhancing drugs? The answer is not as propounded in The Secret Race as a simple entertainment for friends. No. Tyler Hamilton took people along as witnesses to an explosive event that he attempted to provoke. Remember, there was Jeff Novitzky and a secret Federal Grand Jury investigation into possible criminal conduct by the United States Postal Service Professional Cycling Team and Lance Armstrong, and there was a distinct possibility that Tyler Hamilton would be called to testify for the prosecution. A confrontation with Lance Armstrong at the Cache-Cache with witnesses would lay the ground work for a new theatrical performance Tyler Hamilton desired: The Intimidated Witness. Predictably, the encounter at the Cache-Cache generated international headlines; Tyler Hamilton's lawyer claimed that Lance Armstrong told Tyler Hamilton that if he testified, that Lance Armstrong's legal team would "rip his lungs out." Tyler Hamilton's ploy would have worked to perfection except for one fly in the ointment, no one could clearly hear the conversation. So there was no absolute proof that Lance Armstrong threatened Tyler Hamilton. Bad Karma. Undaunted by this flaw in the plan, Tyler Hamilton spun one of the most paranoid delusions in the history of cycling. Lance Armstrong was everywhere, tapping his phone, hacking his computer, reading his e-mails; the lady who glanced at Tyler Hamilton at the grocery store was one of Lance Armstrong's moles. When Tyler Hamilton shaved in the morning, Lance Armstrong's grinning face was reflected in the glass. Tyler Hamilton repeatedly phoned Jeff Novitzky, "Lance is everywhere!"  If Jeff Novitzky would have placed Tyler Hamilton in the federal witness protection program, Tyler Hamilton would have been ecstatic! But, an unexpected event occurred that derailed Tyler Hamilton's performance; suddenly the secret Federal Grand Jury was disbanded and the criminal investigation was terminated! Tyler Hamilton was so angry at this development that he "punched the refrigerator." Without an indictment of Lance Armstrong that Tyler Hamilton expected daily, there would be no trial, thus Tyler Hamilton would not be needed as a prosecution witness, thus there was no reason for Lance Armstrong to continue his intimidation surveillance. Bummer.

There is a second possible reason for Tyler Hamilton's journey to the Cache-Cache; he went there to deliver a message. But first we must examine some of the historical record presented in The Secret Race. Pay special attention when the UCI called Tyler Hamilton to appear at their corporate offices in Aigle, Switzerland; and the subsequent malfunction of Tyler Hamilton's paranoid delusional mind. Dr. Mario Zorzoli, UCI chief medical officer,* called Tyler Hamilton into his office and informed him that blood tests had revealed a double red cell population consistent with a blood transfusion from another person. Tyler Hamilton called the tests an "impossible" error because he knew that he only used autologous blood transfusions of his own blood that was collected and stored by Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes. Tyler Hamilton incorrectly reasoned since there had never been a problem with any of Tyler Hamilton's autologous blood bags, because blood doping had never been previously detected, there could never be a problem. Dr. Zorzoli stated that the possible blood irregularities detected in Tyler Hamilton's blood could be accounted for by other medical reasons, but Dr. Zorzoli warned Tyler Hamilton that he was a marked man. When Tyler Hamilton returned home to Girona, Spain, a letter from Dr. Mario Zorzoli was waiting for him that repeated the warning that his blood profiles would be carefully monitored. Dr. Zorzoli's warning letter was dated June 10, the same day Tyler Hamilton set a personal time trial record up Mont Ventoux and put "1:22 on Lance Armstrong in less than an hour."

Then there were an uncanny number of bizarre circumstances that were misconstrued, but these circumstances would sow the seeds of eventual destruction of Tyler Hamilton. Floyd Landis spins a yarn?

"Lance called the UCI on you. He called Hein Verbruggen after Ventoux. Said you guys [Team Phonak] and [Iban] Mayo were on some new shit, told Hein Verbruggen to get you. He knew they'd called you in. He's been talking shit nonstop. And I think you have the right to know."
P.211.
Tyler Hamilton rationalizes Dr. Zorzoli's warning in this completely irrational way after the information provided by Floyd Landis:
Now it all made sense: the trip to Aigle, Switzerland, the weird meeting with Dr. Zorzoli. It all had been because of Lance. Lance had called the UCI on June 10, the day I'd beaten him on Ventoux, the same warning letter they'd sent to Girona, Spain. Lance called Hein and Hein called me. P.211.
Talk about and odd coincidence! The warning letter was based on solid scientific evidence of heterologous red blood cells due to a probable mix up of blood bags by Jose Maria Batres who was an assistant to Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes, but Tyler Hamilton has rationalized the whole episode as a set up by Lance Armstrong.
Lance called the UCI on you. Told Hein on you. He's been talking shit nonstop. P.212.
Tyler Hamilton reasoned that Lance Armstrong was a rat who finked Team Phonak to the UCI. Tyler Hamilton, the $900,000 Phonak team leader and 2004 Tour de France favorite contender rode up to 'le patron' Lance Armstrong during Stage 1 of the 2004 Tour de France, and when Lance Armstrong opened his mouth to speak he was abruptly cut off by a legendary steroid rage infused tirade:
Tyler Hamilton to Lance Armstrong: Shut the fuck up Lance, you piece of shit, shut the fuck up. I know you. I know what you did. I know you've been ratting me out, talking shit about our team. [Phonak] Worry about yourself, because we are going to fucking kill you! P.212; italics added.

Tyler Hamilton thought he would win 2003 Tour de France going away.  But bad karma intervened again.  He was mixed up in an early stage peloton crash and fractured his collar bone.  His date with destiny to become a Tour de France champion was derailed again, although Tyler Hamilton did finish fourth in the general classification and win one stage of the race.

Back to the Cache-Cache. Tyler Hamilton went to the Cache-Cache to send Lance Armstrong a message, something along these lines. Listen you rat. Me and my new team, Jeff Novitzky, the secret Federal Grand Jury, the Justice Department, Travis Tygart, USADA: worry about yourself, because we are going to fucking kill you! Like some tragic Shakespearean jester Tyler Hamilton could not resist singing arias about the certain demise of the king. He arranged the "accidental" meeting with the deliberate intention of provoking an argument, baiting the bear, savoring the moment. Tyler Hamilton would finally have revenge on the rat who took away his Olympic time trial gold medal, the rat who foiled his destiny to win the Tour de France, the rat who ruined his life.

And it was all a misplaced paranoid delusion, the UCI didn't need Lance Armstrong to convict Tyler Hamilton of doping.  Tyler Hamilton was obsessed with his blood bags, even after he, Iban Mayo and Jan Ullrich all got sick with a high fever during the 2004 Tour de France from blood that came from Eufemiano Fuentes laboratory. After all Tyler Hamilton realized that he got a bad bag when he urinated dead red blood cells all night during the 2004 Tour de France. How could a man with such a sophisticated doping education not realize the danger and fit the pieces of the puzzle together, how did such a superb athlete become so dependent upon dope that he failed to reason out the consequences of his behavior?

Easy.  For the same reason that these supermen bonk.  The muscles don't need high hematocrit, they don't need steroids, they need glucose; a fact they forget when they are flying high and bonk. Cheaters need a stable mind and a good amount of luck. Most of all dopers need a good doctor and people who keep their mouths shut. Tyler Hamilton was evolving from Dr. Jekyll into Mr. Hyde and eventually he would have offended someone and been caught even if his precious doping doctor had not gotten careless.

Tyler Hamilton: a man of bad karma, manipulative tendencies, and self delusions; was an attention seeker who Lance Armstrong in the end refused to entertain. When Lance Armstrong refused to fight USADA, Tyler Hamilton's influence ended. Tyler Hamilton was counting on years of arbitration.

Conclusion:

There may be further civil litigation against Lance Armstrong since people are lined up for miles to sue him, so don't despair Tyler, they may need your services yet. And you are a despicable enough person to provide them.

Footnote:

*Dr. Mario Zorzoli, chief medal officer of the UCI was fired after he released Lance Armstrong's 1999 Tour de France doping control forms to Damien Ressiot of L'Equipe, during the 2004 research tests done at LNDD that reportedly found recombinant EPO in Lance Armstrong's 1999 Tour de France "B" urine samples. These "B" sample results Travis T. Tygart later called "flaming positives."  Unfortunately, the confirmation "A" samples were depleted in 1999 and unavailable for testing. Under WADA Code an adverse analytical finding cannot result solely from the "B" samples. Travis Tygart exploited the unsophistication of his audience to spin a "white lie."