Saturday, December 29, 2012

End of the Cycling Steroid Era?

2012 was a very bad year for cycling fans everywhere. Lance Armstrong was accused of running the most extensive doping network ever conceived in the annuals of sport history and was banned from the sport for life.  His seven Tour de France titles were rescinded without the necessity of due process based upon testimony of ex-teammates who met the legal requirements of the macnaughton rule. USADA chief Travis Tygart would have meted out the standard two year suspensions to the serial and habitual doping ex-teammates of Lance Armstrong except for the fact that they were not only intimidated and forced to take drugs, but due to the fact that they were robotic automatons who did not have the mental capacity to distinguish the difference between right and wrong.  It is pointless at this juncture to point out to Travis Tygart that the doping behavior exhibited by Lance Armstrong's ex-teammates could also fit a person suffering from antisocial personality disorder.  That "scumbags" were more interested in using dope to further their own interests with motivations of greed, fame, and accolades from adoring fans.  In addition, the ex-teammates although intimidated, threatened, and coerced by bully Lance Armstrong with the sanction of his sport director Johan Bruyneel, nevertheless, used these very personifications of evil to catapult themselves into more lucrative positions with increases of salaries and opportunities to compete in Grand Tours and Classic races.  It has been reported that Floyd Landis wishes to sue Lance Armstrong in a whistle blower lawsuit?  Or that Tyler Hamilton is afraid that Lance Armstrong will retaliate against him?  Paranoid delusions.  Floyd Landis used his association with Lance Armstrong and dope as a springboard to win and lose a Tour de France title.  Floyd Landis has only himself to blame for his own mismanagement of his affective meltdown after his colossal bonk, when in a fit of self pity he resorted to swigging shots of Jack Daniels bourbon whiskey and forgetting to take off his testosterone patch.  As for Tyler Hamilton, the guy may be a convicted antisocial personality doper with tinges of chronic paranoia, but he does have a knack for manipulation of fools like Travis Tygart, and any media dolt within range.

The VV 2013 Wish List:
-A dope free peloton.
-A rewritten World Anti-Doping Code that ensures fairness for the athlete.
-A judge to dismiss the Floyd Landis whistle blower lawsuit.
-Greg LeMond to remove his name for consideration as candidate for the presidency of the UCI.  A fabricator of history cannot be allowed to replace a scoundrel.
-Some one to insert a gag into Tyler Hamilton's mouth.  The man who invented the vanishing twin cannot be believed.  So sorry.
-A rewritten World Anti-Doping Code that ensures due process for the athlete.
-The return of the statute of limitations that cannot be subjected to prosecutorial manipulation.
-A cycling union that protects the interests of the riders, that can initiate strikes and negotiate binding contracts.
-All of the existing loopholes to be extracted from the World Anti-Doping code that allows the prosecution to convict an athlete of using performance enhancing drugs sans a mandatory independent official arbitration hearing.
-A divorce between WADA and the UCI.  WADA can't detect performance enhancing drugs with their existing tests and they should be prohibited from extracting fees from signatories that is enforced by blackmail, threats, and coercion.  If the IOC threatens to exclude cycling from the Olympics as punishment for the UCI dumping WADA, then the IOC should be forced to reap the whirlwind.
-Give Jonan Bruyneel a chance to defend himself in arbitration before convicting him of an offense.

The list could be expanded indefinitely, but no extraterrestrial rational entity can be found to enforce compliance with common sense and decency.  So there is a high probability that nothing on the 2013 wish list will be full filled and the requests will be repeated endlessly to no avail.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Jonathan Vaughters: Modern Day Tartuffe

Jonathan Vaughters disgusts me truly.  Bitten by some bug and swelling up like a melon that freak refused to accept a cortisone shot to reduce the swelling and continue to race; touted as a shining example of a principled man who refused to compromise his integrity in the prevalent steroid cure all culture of Grand Tour racing.  But sadly when the affidavit is examined, Jonathan Vaughters pretense and the subsequent media hoopla turned out to be nothing more than a thin facade designed to mask the fact that the man was flying high on a whole pharmacy of prohibited substances.  Thus Jonathan Vaughters joins the expanding club of past professional cyclists who used disinformation to manipulate the media and cycling fanatics into thinking that he or she is the personification of a person prone to resist temptation in the name of moral purity, a mirage that vanishes upon further examination of the factual evidence that these clowns try so hard to suppress and deny. 

Then there were the days when Garmin Slipstream were anti-doping pioneers, employing Rasmus Damsgaard to test team riders and setting a precedent as a no tolerance anti-doping team.  Garmin tried to set a principled example of creative initiatives to be emulated by other cycling teams; to create a permanent log of biological parameters that could be suggestive of a high probability of doping, which could result in warnings, fines, suspensions or termination from the team.  Of course, in highly egregious cases the evidence could be forwarded to the relevant national cycling governing agencies for further action.

These pioneering efforts prompted other teams to initiate no tolerance anti-doping programs and indirectly prompted the UCI to formulate the UCI Biological Passport; physiological data collected from riders in random in-competition and out-of-competition tests that would establish baseline parameters that could be used as a control sample and compared to test scores of a population of people who were established abusers of dope; or against ranges of physiological values that would be deemed normal of the entire population of elite cyclists: if performance enhancing drug use was suspected. Of course, even though this system is touted as having high validity and reliability, in reality there have not been enough comprehensive scientific studies done to effectively calculate the effect of random events such as heat, dehydration, exhaustion, stress, uncommon variations in diet; disruptions of circadian sleep/wakefulness cycles, or other predictable variables that may effect individual rider physiology and performance; variables that directly result from a hectic schedule of racing, travel, road accidents, medical interventions or other causal factors.  Then there are issues of micro-dosing of performance enhancing drugs to establish false baseline values; values that could be detected and circumvented if only the UCI and WADA would invest enough money in scientific research to resolve these issues.

After all a three week Grand Tour is not a laboratory.  In a laboratory the idea is to control all of the variables you are interested in studying by manipulating the environment and then seeking a causal relationship; for example, heat could be examined as a variable and different temperatures could each be regarded as variables that may effect physiological values. If heat value x only accounts for twenty or thirty percent of the variance of a fluctuation in a specified biological parameter, then the experiment must be continued at all temperatures until one hundred percent of the causal relationship between temperature, and these specific physiological fluctuations are accounted for.  Of course, these experiments could be expanded indefinitely.

But the alphabet soup cycling management signatories can shout, bah humbug!  Who wants to expend that kind of cash in establishing the truth when the Court of Arbitration of Sport does nothing but rubber stamp all of our results and verify all of our accusations?  Of course, this scenario only applies if the athlete has enough gumption to challenge our accusations in arbitration: otherwise we have enough loopholes written into the anti-doping process to do an end run around the judicial process.  Obviously, the prosecution should never be allowed to write a decision without a mandated automatic review by an independent commission that has no stake in the outcome of the review process.  But alas, protections that were formerly adhered to in the World Anti-Doping Code, such as the statute of limitations have now been rewritten, excluded, and discarded by the USADA  Reasoned Decision; protections that were written expressly to prevent prosecutorial abuse of power.

But so what?  Jonathan Vaughters has no business having any contact with cycling and he should be run off with a stick!  Johathan Vaughters, the pretentious, pardoned, and amnestied cosmic anti-doping pioneer is, like Pat McQuaid, an intolerable embarrassment to cycling and the sort of person that you don't want your children exposed to: much less emulate!  Nevertheless, some people need more evidence to be convinced as to the truth of their folly, as Elmire sarcastically opined to Orgon in Tartuffe, because they are so blinded by their delusions that they can not understand that it is impossible to fool everyone and that some of us are wise to their perfidy!  This blatant disrespect of cycling can not be tolerated and must end, the deterrence value of punishment of dopers and their adherents is being undermined by fools who subject the anti-doping process to a blatant ridicule that is an exact duplicate of the methods used by Tartuffe.  And Jonathan Vaughters has no need to be critical of Quick Step for terminating Levi Leipheimer, because Quick Step did the right thing, and as a fellow admitted doper cycling should do the right thing and rid us of you.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Winter Riding Blues

I got the winter riding blues, the weather has turned nasty again, and in Salt Lake City with the lake effect, huge quarter size snowflakes pelt against your glasses rendering your vision inoperable with an opaque fog, you lower your glasses so you can see out of a tiny little vent between eyeglasses and helmet visor thus subjecting your eyeballs to a vicious pelting; you pray you can reach the stoplight before your eyeballs go opaque so you can reach into your pocket for a napkin to clear off your glasses before venturing onward.  Riding down the bench, a feature caused by the Wasatch Fault; a fault that separates the Colorado Plateau from the Great Basin; a precipitous descent that is harrowing on a clear spring day let alone with the greatest snow on earth driving straight into your face horizontally.  If it has snowed all night long, which is of frequent occurrence in the Wasatch, the morning rides become fraught with danger with a heavy covering of slush or worse clear ice on the pavement; then idiots; pedestrians and automobiles entering the roadway in your path completely oblivious of the fact that wet wheels and breaks require a longer stopping distance; or worse: your wheel locks up just a wee bit on the clear ice and bang down you go.  I swear when the weather gets bad the suppressed automobile driver idiot gene expresses itself in spades, it is not enough to be chilled to the bone with frozen fingers and feet, you also must be petrified with fear hoping that that nut who is ahead has enough common sense to get out of the way.  Get out of the way!  Vocal demonstrations of frustration are common among cyclists when contemplating the certain extermination of the self: a poor delusional fool who has enough stupidity to try to steer, under the most abysmal road conditions, a two wheel self propelled vehicle that weighs twenty eight pounds out of a path of a demented person who possesses a fifty intelligent quotient and nitwit who is driving an automobile that weighs four thousand pounds and has the energy equivalent of four hundred horses.  Yes, the pavement is a very hard object that has a tendency to road rash the skin and break the bones, you need to develop the skills of a professional tumbler to avoid lethal consequences when encountering an automobile collision as I found out one fine day when a distracted driver turned left right smack dab into my front wheel and I was propelled like a rocket from my saddle in a parabolic arc straight into the street. Fortunately, a nifty acrobatic roll saved me from any serious injury while a passing shuttle bus full of horrified passengers looked on.

Riding a bike in winter is hard work, you can wear a neon green, florescent yellow, or retina scorching red skin suit that is supposed to wick away moisture and heat from your body but they still can't see you.  At night you can have the best headlight and flashing taillight in the world, wear a vest with reflective tape, plaster your frame pedals and wheels with reflective tape, reflectors, and lights; and still they can't see you.  With too much frequency lately you hear reports on the radio news of another winter bike rider being crushed by some hit and run driver; they murder you and then flee like rats from an aflame sewer.  Two days ago a twenty five year old cyclist, in the prime of life, probably riding his bike to work was extinguished like a candle by some moron probably texting or yucking on the phone, or who was in a hurry and could not be bothered.  Salt Lake has a ghost bike, an old cruiser painted white and chained to a power pole, a monument to a young woman who was killed by a hit and run driver who was never tracked down and who did not have enough courage or honesty to come forward and admit their responsibility.

Winter riding trashes all of my components, and I hate the filthy ice and oil spatters that ruin my clothes...ah shut up already you big crybaby.  You want to be a couch potato, go out a buy a car. 

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Amphetamines Are Performance Enhancing Drugs

Millard Baker made a very perspective comment concerning the peloton of the eighties, they allegedly were not too focused on enhancing oxygen transport to the mitochondria, or increasing the levels of red blood cells which also transport oxygen, or beating the drug testers with forty nine point nine percent hematocrit levels, or enhancing their performance with human growth hormones. Although the transition was in process with doping pioneer Francesco Conconi, who was accused of providing human growth hormones and doped blood to the Italian Olympic Team as far back as 1980.

There is confusion as to the advent of the blood dopers, but it is certain that in 1984 Francesco Moser, aided by Francesco Conconi and his star student Michele Ferrari, blood doped to break Eddy Merckx's 1972 One Hour world record ride.  Of course, Francesco Moser also built a unconventional bicycle with improved aerodynamic properties that was considered an unfair advantage over the conventional safety bicycle design and his record was subsequently rescinded.  Naturally, this reminds one of the 1989 Tour de France time trial where Greg LeMond used questionable aerodynamic additions that were not only allowed but probably proved to be decisive.  Of course, Laurent Fignon had a decisive aerodynamic disadvantage with his ponytail flapping in the wind.

But for the common rouler, a cyclist who has all the requisite talents of time trialist, sprinter, climber, ace lieutenant; the man or woman who chases down the breaks, sets tempo, eats wind, protects the team leader; there probably was not too much of an investment into the newly evolving unconventional methods of cheating: most of the small fry probably relied upon the old conventional methods of amphetamine or cocaine use which had been in practice since the days of Maurice Garin.  But, there is no need to plead ignorance of the fact that team doctors knew that increases in oxygen transport from autologous blood transfusions increased performance in long term endurance sports and that cycling teams were using blood transfusions to gain an unfair competitive advantage.  After all, Jacques Antiquel understood that the Tour de France can't be won on mineral water alone.  There must be additions, sympathomimetic amines, for example.  In 1967 Jacques Antiquel broke his own world record ride but he refused to submit to the newly instituted doping testing.  From Wikipedia:

In 1967, 11 years later, Anquetil again broke the hour record, at 47.493 km, but the record was disallowed because he refused to take the newly-introduced post-race doping test.[8] He objected to what he saw as the indignity of having to urinate in a tent in front of a crowded velodrome and said he would take the test later at his hotel. The international judge ruled against the idea and a scuffle ensued that involved Anquetil's manager, Raphaël Géminiani. Cycling reported:[9]
Wonderful Jacques Anquetil has broken the world hour record as he said he would... and then ran into official trouble when he refused to take a trackside dope test demanded by the Italian authorities. An Italian Dr Giuliano Marena asked for the urine sample, but Anquetil refused and asked him to come to his hotel. Dr Marena refused and, after waiting a couple of hours at the track, left town to go home to Florence. Anquetil said at his hotel: 'I didn't and don't intend to escape the test, but it must take place under circumstances far different from those at the velodrome. I'm still here and ready to undergo the test.' While Italian officials talked of taking the matter to the UCI, Dr Tanguy of the FFC [French cycling federation] took a sample from Anquetil on his return to Rouen, pointing out afterwards that it would be valid up to 48 hours after the record attempt. But Raphaël Géminiani, his manager, had all but lost his temper with the Italian medical man and had tried to throw him out of the cabin, though Jacques had remonstrated mildly. Later he said that he understood the tests would be valid for up to 48 hours and said he was trying to locate another doctor for the test.[9]
Wonderful are these examples of cheaters who refuse to submit to dope tests after setting inhuman athletic records.  Remember, that the man who laughed at mineral water as an acceptable supplement won five Tour de France titles; none of which have been deleted from the record books.

But no matter.  These diversionary tales of yore, the cocaine users and amphetamine users, would be considered cheaters by any rational definition, but do we live in a rational world?  Apparently not.  There seems to have emerged into the discussion a dispute over what class of drugs constitutes performance enhancing drugs. For example, I heard a raging debate on a nationally syndicated sport talk show the other day where the host insisted that Dexedrine was not a performance enhancing drug, and when the caller insisted that amphetamines were performance enhancing drugs, the host called the caller an idiot.  There is some debate as to the action of amphetamines but it is clear that amphetamines increase the levels of catecholamines in the brain and thus could be considered a performance enhancing drug.  From

Mechanism of action/Effect:

Amphetamines are sympathomimetic amines {12} {13} {14} {15} that increase motor activity and mental alertness {14}, and diminish drowsiness and a sense of fatigue {14}.

In attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, amphetamines decrease motor restlessness and enhance the ability to pay attention.

The exact mechanism of action has not been established. However, in animals, amphetamines facilitate the action of dopamine and norepinephrine by blocking re uptake from the synapse, inhibit the action of monoamine oxidase (MAO), and facilitate the release of catecholamines. Increase in locomotor activity at relatively low doses and increase in stereotypic behavior with a concomitant decrease in activity at higher doses appear to be due to stimulation of mesocorticolimbic and nigrostriatal dopaminergic pathways. Dextroamphetamine may also stimulate inhibitory autoreceptors in the substantia nigra and ventral tegmentum. {01}

Some studies support the theory that amphetamine exerts a dual effect on the striatal dopaminergic nerve terminal, thus explaining the paradoxical effects of amphetamines. Amphetamines may selectively facilitate the dopaminergic transmission by promoting the release of recently synthesized dopamine from a reserpine-resistant pool and, in addition, may inhibit the classical dopaminergic neurotransmission involving the calcium-dependent depolarization-evoked release of dopamine from reserpine-sensitive storage sites. {02}
Cocaine increases the neurotransmitter dopamine in the synaptic cleft through autoreceptor blockade, but this is only one method of reuptake inhibition.  Autoreceptors act as a feedback loop; the pre-synaptic neuron is attempting through this feedback loop to maintain synaptic neurotransmitter homeostasis. Once the feedback is disrupted through autoreceptor blockade, the presynaptic neuron increases the quantity of dopamine in the synaptic cleft through depletion of storage granules, which generates long term depolarization in the post synaptic neuron.  Long term potentiation of post synaptic neurons that are catecholamine dependent has been demonstrated to enhance performance.  It has been postulated that the central nervous system neurotransmitter norepinephrine regulates drive, and that dopamine regulates reinforcement of behavior.  Amphetamines are stereoisomers designated dextro and levorotatory. "Dexedrine (dextroamphetamine sulphate) is the dextro-isomer of the compound d, l-amphetamine sulphate,"* having the longest half-life, and the most potent longest lasting effects.  "Adderall (amphetamine dextroamphetamine mixed salts) tablets contain d-amphetamine and l-amphetamine salts in the ratio of 3:1,"** which would reduce the potency of the drug, and theoretically the performance enhancing effects.  However, there is a caveat to this logic, hyperarousal has a tendency to decrease performance both physically and cognitively.

Of course, if the drugs are not modern: adderall, provigil, or ritalin, and they were not abused by the legends, Jacques Anquetil or Eddy Merckx in cycling, or Babe Ruth in baseball, as the nationally syndicated radio show host claimed; then they have no performance enhancing benefits. No matter that amphetamines and similar central nervous system stimulants were the most abused drugs in cycling and baseball during the sixties, seventies, and eighties.

 But even the legends used performance enhancing drugs, Eddy Merckx tested positive for fencamfamin a central nervous system stimulant during the 1969 Giro d' Italia and was given the boot.

Here is an another example.  Though the exchange between cycling legends Gino Bartali and Fausto Coppi is hilarious, the discussion does reveal the acceptance of amphetamine use at the time.  Quoting: Seven Deadly Sins, David Walsh, Atria Books, 2012.

Gino Bartali:  "Do cyclists take the la bomba [amphetamine]?"
Fausto Coppi: "Yes, and those who claim otherwise, it's not worth talking to them about cycling."
Gino Bartali: "And you, did you take la bomba?"
Fausto Coppi: "Yes, whenever it was necessary."
Gino Bartali: "And when was it necessary?"
Fausto Coppi: "Almost all the time!" P.59

Then, of course, there was British rider Tommy Simpson, who sadly died on the moon scape of Mont Ventoux during the 1967 Tour de France, so high on amphetamines that he did not know he had ridden beyond his physical capacity.  Tommy Simpson collapsed just a few kilometers from the summit of Mont Ventoux, his jersey pockets were full of amphetamine tablets, more amphetamines were found in his luggage at his hotel.

So come on.  Do your homework before you shoot your mouth next time.  Amphetamines are performance enhancing drugs and that is why they are on the prohibited list.

Warning:  Too much amphetamine arousal can have counterproductive adverse effects that will diminish performance in both cognitive, and physical areas, and chronic abuse will produce a syndrome that exactly mimics paranoid schizophrenia.