Saturday, January 26, 2013

U.S. Postal Doping Prior To Lance Armstrong

The 1998 Tour de France exploded when Willy Voet was caught at a French frontier post with a clearly marked Festina team car full of performance enhancing drugs.  Later French darling Richard Virenque admitted that he used performance enhancing drugs using the same logic that Lance Armstrong used, "It was merely preparation for the race," and "If you don't test positive you are not cheating."  But what is even more interesting is this statement written by Olivier Hamoir In Lille in his article, Virenque:'I took Drugs, I had no Choice'.

Later in the day the trial took another turn when the former Festina trainer Antoine Vayer cast doubt over the current Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong, who celebrated his second victory in succession this year. Vayer testified under oath: "Armstrong rides at an average speed of 54kph. I find this scandalous. It's a nonsense." Then Frenchman Christophe Bassons, known as the only Festina rider to refuse doping, said Armstrong had forced him to leave the 1999 Tour. "Last year during a stage, Armstrong came to me and told me I was doing a lot of harm to cycling," Bassons said. "He [Armstrong] told me I had better go home." Bassons withdrew and did not take part in the event this year.
An entire book could be written on the 1998 Tour de France, the most organized and systematic doping conspiracy in cycling.  There were police raids on cycling team hotels, riders laid down their bicycles and refused to ride, teams packed up their equipment and went home. Team TVM riders tested positive for performance enhancing drugs.

There Were No Tests.

Making things very complicated, if not impossible to draw a reasonable conclusion as to whether the U.S. Postal Service Team used drugs previous to the 1999 Tour de France, but there are suggestions.  According to Neal Rogers in Old Doping Accusations Lead to Altercation:
In 2001 [Prentice] Steffen told Irish reporter David Walsh that in 1996 U.S. Postal riders [Marty] Jemison and Tyler Hamilton had approached him during the Tour of Switzerland looking for information about illegal doping products. Steffen said he reported the incident to then-director Mark Gorski, and at the end of that year his contract with the team was not renewed.

Update: Emma O'Reilly stated in her deposition that she was unaware of any conclusive proof of doping going on with the 1996 U.S. Postal Service team although Tyler Hamilton and Marty Jemison were accused of complaining to team doctor Prentice Steffen about the lack of access to illegal substances that would increase performance and speed recovery.  However, if Emma O'Reilly can be believed, an open and systematic program of doping did exist on the 1997 U.S. Postal Service Professional Cycling Team and probably continued in 1998.

 This query was of an investigatory nature, a rider drawn at random from the 1998 Tour de France U.S. Postal Service team rider roster to see if there was a possible link to doping.  Eureka!  An accusation, but no proof.

So interesting developments occur in the most surprising places and more investigations may lead to further links to doping, but alas one has to question Tyler Hamilton when he told Jim Rome that he told USADA all he knew about doping. All?  Does all include doping on the U.S. Postal Service team prior to the 1999 Tour de France?  Would Tyler Hamilton answer honestly if asked the question: Did you and Marty Jemison ask Prentice Steffen where to procure performance enhancing drugs in 1996?  Would Tyler Hamilton answer the question honestly if asked: Did Frankie Andreu use performance enhancing drugs prior to the 1999 Tour de France?

Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics

If you were to use some simplified statistical comparison between the 1998 Tour de France and the 1999 Tour de France you would find little if any statistical significance in the performance of the riders with one exception: Tyler Hamilton who finished the 1998 Tour in fifty first place at 1 hour 39 minutes 53 seconds behind Marco Pantani, but who in 1999 finished thirteenth at 26 minutes 53 seconds behind Lance Armstrong.  For the other riders who participated in the 1998 and 1999 Tours de France doped or not there is little improvement in performance: Frankie Andreu who admitted to using EPO in the 1999 Tour de France, 1998 finish, fifty eighth: 1 hour 53 minutes 44 seconds; 1999 finish, sixty fifth: 1 hour 59 minutes 1 second.  George Hincapie showed no improvement either.  One might conclude from this astonishing data that Frankie Andreu and George Hincapie unexpectedly had superior performance riding clean than riding doped, contrary to the conclusion of common sense.  Of course, this is a bogus conclusion of anti doping crusader proportions, considering complicated variables such as the length of the Tour, the difference in mountain stages, and the most important variable of all, was Marco Pantani riding with or without dope?  But when, if ever, has the nay Sayers and accusers ever for one second considered all of the variables before making accusations?  Never?

Has the Issue of U.S. Postal Doping Previous to Lance Armstrong and Johan Bruyneel  Been Resolved?

Emma O' Reilly says there was a program of performance enhancing substance use in place as far back as 1997.  Frankie Andreu may have deceived more than his wife with an improbable declaration of innocence, but he has no incentive to come clean and admit his complicity in doping previous to 1999; because he has more to gain from press declarations of him as a vindicated victim. Of course, there is no need to mention the fact that his wife Betsy thrives on her role as the wrongly accused insulted woman.  USADA has no incentive because there would be more cobwebs to clean out of closets, more non-analytical positives, further suspensions, and destroyed delusions.  USADA has a vested interest in confusing the public interest by maintaining the myth that Frankie Andreu, Tyler Hamilton, and George Hincapie were clean, so clean, prior to 1999.  Of what interest to anyone would it be to accept the fact that the bully was not forcing anyone to do what they had been doing all along, doping and cheating to gain an advantage and survive?  As Richard Virenque said, "I took drugs, I had no choice," not post Lance Armstrong and Johan Bruyneel, but during the 1998 Tour de France.  If this logic applied to Richard Virenque why not this mindset for the entire peloton?  Where was the thermos bottle of EPO and the Rolex watches during the 1998 Tour de France?  Or were Rolex watches only purchased for EPO toting motorcyclists by teams who won the Tour de France?


Saturday, January 19, 2013

Astana Doping Circa 2009 Tour de France?

Lance Armstrong did what they said could not be done, he confessed to using recombinant erythropoietin (rEPO), corticosteriods, testosterone, autologous blood transfusions, human growth hormones, and every other substance on the WADA prohibited list that Oprah Winfrey forgot to include on her comprehensive question list.  Armstrong stated that his doping history included all seven of his Tour de France titles: thus justifying the lifetime ban.  Of course, the media has had an endless discussion about the lack of contrition on the part of Lance Armstrong during his mea culpa, his arrogance, his theory of cheating: where he defined doping as nothing more than a method to level the playing field.

But there are possible future nightmare scenarios that may evolve from this confession.  David Howman of WADA insists that Lance Armstrong be deposed under oath with full disclosure: even if these admissions reveal possible falsification of test results by WADA in exchange for cash. In the New York Times article Banker Says He Was Unaware of Doping  Susanne Craig reports:

In the wake of the antidoping report, Mr. Armstrong was stripped of his Tour de France titles. On one Tour, in 1999, the team masseuse, Emma O’Reilly, has said, according to published reports, that she witnessed Mr. Weisel huddling with Mr. Armstrong after a report that the cyclist had tested positive for a banned substance. Mr. Weisel was frantic about what to do, she said. Mr. Weisel said he did not have “any recollection” of the incident to which Ms. O’Reilly was referring.

The implication of all this not expressly stated is that Tom Weisel may have bribed WADA, LNDD, the UCI or others to suppress the positive dope test.  Lance Armstrong could provide testimony under oath that could be devastating to the very people and agencies have the responsibility for ensuring clean sport.  And some of these accusations could also spawn criminal complaints and prosecutions, not to mention bad publicity that would "incinerate" the sport.  

To those that thought that velovortmax was nothing more than an apologist for Lance Armstrong, blindly supporting the disgraced cyclist, think again! My concerns were centered around a lack of concrete proof derived by solid scientific evidence: positive tests measured in a WADA accredited laboratory.  Non-negative analytical positive bans based on testimony of ex-teammates or upon data derived by the UCI Biological Passport are unacceptable substitutes for standardized tests because there are opportunities for athletes to dope by microdosing drugs that are not detectable through conventional methods, thereby ensuring artificial baseline scores that serve as passports to dope during competitive events. Then there are liars with agendas.  But Lance Amstrong stated in his interview that he did not dope during the 2009 and 2010 Tours de France.  Lance Armstrong claimed that he stopped doping in 2004, even though USADA claims they have "overwhelming evidence" based upon longitudinal data supplied by the UCI Biological Passport, that Lance Armstrong had irregular blood values that indicated use of the blood booster rEPO.  There are three possibilities for these contradictory statements.  (1) Lance Armstrong is lying, (2) USADA is dreaming, or (3) unknown intervening variables that were not accounted for explained the causation.

Nevertheless, the statement by Lance Armstrong that he did not dope in 2009 or 2010 is disappointing because the greatest service that Lance Armstrong could do for cycling would be to expose doping during the 2009 Tour de France when he and Alberto Contador rode for Astana.  After all, accused doping doctor Pepe Marti who has been charged by USADA for numerous doping violations was present on the 2010 team when Alberto Contador tested positive for clenbuterol, and during the 2009 Tour de France which Alberto Contador won and Lance Armstrong finished in third place: red flags appear everywhere, and there is Lance denying everything!  Of course, the situation does not appear to be hopeless: Pepe Marti has asked for an arbitration hearing and there is still hope for a possible resolution of these issues: (1) USADA and Pepe Marti could bargain, a reduced ban in exchange for information implicating doping by Lance Armstrong and Alberto Contador during the 2009 Tour de France or (2) Johan Bruyneel could be offered a reduced sentence for providing incriminating evidence to USADA, or (3) USADA could offer a unconditional amnesty to any Astana ex-teammate who would come forward, end omerta, and provide information to USADA.

There is almost a hundred percent certainty that if Lance Armstrong was taking performance enhancing drugs in 2009 that Alberto Contador also taking performance enhancing drugs in 2009.  Because as Greg LeMond found out in 1991, a clean rider can't beat a doped one, even if it is physiologically impossible for a rider to win three consecutive Tours de France without dope.  How Miguel Indurain won five Tours de France in a row without dope is the eighth wonder of the world.  But this is not a story of Greg LeMond and Miguel Indurain, but the story of Lance Armstrong and Alberto Contador.  We can only hope that if doping existed during the 2009 Tour de France that Lance Armstrong has enough arrogance left to sink Alberto Condator like the R.M.S. Titanic.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Lance Armstrong: USADA's Next Rat Fink?

Wow, wow, wow!  Oprah Winfrey has scheduled an exclusive interview with Lance Armstrong.  Lance Armstrong is going to confess to using, distributing, and compelling his ex-teammates to use performance enhancing drugs, and (we hope) spill the beans on the uber corrupt UCI, Pat McQuaid and Hein Verbruggen!  You know down deep in your heart that the doper denier brigade is trembling in anticipation of the newest revelations to emanate from the mouth of der Fuhrer; the supreme bully is about to break the code of omerta, squealing like a Travis Tygart behind licking lackey and ruin everything.  Yes, indeed.  USADA is licking their chops in anticipation because good old boy Lance Armstrong is going to spare them allot of expense and a whole boat load of money and trouble by explaining all; the actors, the dope networks, the dope distributors, the money trail. Johan Bruyneel is doomed and will, like all the rest, have to admit that he too lied and drop his impending arbitration; unless he calls Lance Armstrong a liar dupe and bum.  In this dope crazed steroid induced era where memory acquisition and retention have obviously been modified through long term chronic drug abuse, recollection and retention of facts have clearly been impaired to the point that the story of what happened fourteen or four years ago have clearly been subjected to certain fictional embellishments and modifications.  These embellishments and modifications have clearly been expressed and identified in certain contradictory statements made by witnesses Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamilton.

But that's all over and no longer important, because once Lance Armstrong admits to using United States Postal Service dollars for dope trafficking, a criminal offense, federal police agents may arrest him live on Oprah.  The audience on set and at home will cheer another antisocial personality dope fiend being removed; hopefully forever: from our streets, from our towns, from our lives!  This is a good thing because it is too dangerous to let a man who is prone to subject others to blind obedience and submission, a man who dares to force people to engage in activity that clearly violates the law and social mores; a man who encourages people to cheat the sport by force and intimidation against their wills: a man who dares to form a cult of his own personality, to remain in freedom.  Lance Armstrong needs to be locked up in prison like Charles Manson before the infection spreads, not spared or pitied or convinced of his newly found honesty.

Yes, it is not enough to decimate Lance Armstrong financially, or to hoist him on his own petard, or to burn him in effigy, or to subject him to redicule.  No, the best thing that could happen to Lance Armstrong would be arrest, prosecution, and conviction, followed by long imprisonment.

Then we could forget this stupid cheater forever.   

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Lance Armstrong: Fess Up!

Bizarre, Lance Armstrong has decided to strike a deal with Travis Tygart (USADA) and David Howman (WADA) and confess to doping in order to continue to compete in triathlons? At forty one years old? How odd is that?

That does not compute and his intentions have been shrugged off by his lawyer.  What is the point of striking a post facto deal with men who have already banned Lance Armstrong from competing in athletic events for life, without even affording the poor man a hearing?  Is it possible to reason that behind closed doors Lance Armstrong, Travis Tygart, and David Howman has struck some sort of deal to lessen the punishment in return for favorable testimony against the third rail of corruption, Pat McQuaid and the UCI?  Because there is no other possible incentive to confess, Lance Armstrong has been devastated financially, his endorsement contracts have evaporated, his character has been libeled, he has been booted from his foundation, he faces an incredible number of legal challenges, including a lawsuit from Rupert Murdoch and BSkyB! BSkyB! the very people who sponsored Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome, one, two, on the podium of the 2012 Tour de France; a team that is currently under suspicion of using performance enhancing drugs to produce this improbable result.  But there is a silver lining, the whole issue could be resolved if Bradley Wiggins would post his UCI Biological Passport data on the Internet for perusal; but his doctors warned him not to...too many variables don't you can't explain away, and people with a little sophisticated statistical manipulation can make a case of probability out of thin air these days...but there is nothing like setting an example of clarity and transparency for other people to emulate...ask Jonathan Vaughters.

Every sport has dopers and worthless characterless scoundrels, but nobody goes after the jugular like they do cyclists.  Barry Bonds who was associated with BALCO; a man who was convicted of doping in open court with protections afforded by the constitution of the United States of America; has been dragged through the proverbial mud and ridiculed non stop: but at least he has a few dollars left and his home run record.  Not the case for Lance Armstrong, a man who has been deemed a cheater by all and sundry based upon a prosecution summary of evidence that has never been contested in open arbitration, but who is nevertheless a consensus convicted doper: stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and his opportunities to compete in further athletic endeavors for life.  And the loathsome parasites, Trek Bicycles, Oakley Sunglasses, Nike Shoes, who benefited from Lance Armstrong's shameless exploitation of a group of scientifically challenged fools (WADA) who could not produce a single viable anti-doping test that could not be easily be defeated by Dr. Michele Ferrari: if, in fact, Dr. Ferrari is guilty of facilitating doping on the United States Postal Cycling team. There is still a question as to the demonstrable proof of Dr. Ferrari facilitating doping on the U.S. Postal team because USADA has yet to provide a written summary of fact in the Michele Farrari case even though a written report is mandated in absence of an arbitration hearing, (separate from the Reasoned Decision, which dealt solely with Lance Armstrong) by the World Anti-Doping Code...but since when has USADA obeyed a legal order? But even corporate parasites have enough sense to abandon endorsements of Lance Armstrong at the slightest hint of trouble, fleeing the ship like rats when the corporate image is threatened with banishment; what was Trek Bicycles before endorsing U.S. Postal Service?  A second rate floundering company that was thinking of quitting.  Post Postal?  The largest, most successful bicycle company in the world, where the corporate executives are stowed away in a bunker  busily counting their money and wondering how to be rid of Greg LeMond permanently.  Disgusting rubbish!

Lance Armstrong if you are willing to spill the beans on Johan Bruyneel and Pat McQuaid in the name of good deeds, go for it.  If you are just going to confess for selfish reasons like your worthless ex-teammates, forget it.