Archive for February, 2011

Maybe Floyd IS Right

Posted: February 8, 2011 in Bicycling

At this moment there are 3 riders noted in 5 articles related to doping on the home page of VeloNation.com:

Maybe everyone in the pro peloton is doping.

Just What is the UCI’s Mission?

Posted: February 5, 2011 in Bicycling

There are three articles from Bicycling.com by Joe Lindsey here, here, and here. These articles really make you wonder;  just what is the purpose of the UCI? Also, consistent with the facts presented by Joe are some facts on Cyclosm.com that support some of Floyd Landis’ claims in his interview with Paul Kimmage from earlier this week. If the UCI is looking for input on revising and/or clarifying their mission statement, they can contact one of their real customers — me.

Advice to Alberto

Posted: February 5, 2011 in Bicycling

At the same time that Floyd Landis is keeping a high profile in the news, Alberto Contador is wishing that he wasn’t in the news. As he continues to insist that his doping positive for clenbuterol is from “tainted” meat, he is quoted by VeloNews as saying:

I cannot think of leaving the bike due to the amount of encouragement I get and I feel good despite everything that’s going on. If there’s a ban, I will do whatever it takes to defend myself. I will never accept a pact.

My advice: Never say never, Alberto.

Floyd Landis: What an Interview

Posted: February 3, 2011 in Bicycle Racing

I recently read this interview by Paul Kimmage with Floyd Landis published in its entirety on the Velocity Nation web site. I have been an avid bicycle racer since 1974 and an avid fan of the sport since 1970. I’ve always known about doping in the professional and amateur ranks of bicycle racing and I’ve documented my feelings about professionals getting caught doping a couple of times: once about Roberto Heras and once about Floyd. On re-reading those posts I do sound somewhat naive about doping in professional bike racing.

As I was reading the very long interview with Floyd, I also started thinking about my view of the sport. If I try to detach myself from my passion for cycling (some may say it’s impossible) and look at it from some kind of logical perspective, there are a couple of possible general scenarios one could draw about the professional cycling peloton:

Scenario 1: Only a few riders dope and they, for the most part, eventually get caught by sophisticated doping controls;

Scenario 2: Almost the entire pro peloton dopes and only a few riders administer the drugs or do the blood transfusions badly enough that they are the few who are caught by a system of doping controls that is several steps behind “good” doping practices.

Of course there are other potential scenarios, but I will focus on these two for now.

The first scenario is apparently the one that the anti-doping agencies want us to believe. They and the international (and national) professional sporting authorities want us to believe that most athletes compete and achieve greatness without using performance enhancing drugs. I think most sports fans want to believe this too. At least that is my preferred scenario.

However, as frequently as they find professional cyclists with some kind of drug in their blood or urine and despite the riders knowing that they will be tested without warning, the second scenario makes more sense. Floyd also infers that some athletes, like him, get caught because the doping controls are not only generally ineffective but also inaccurate. He still contends that his testosterone positive is false. Many of us have the view that I pose in scenario 1, but what if Floyd is correct, that scenario 2 is reality.

What is still most disturbing to me and was one of my questions in earlier postings on doping is what is the root cause of athletes feeling that they have to dope? Neither Floyd or Paul get to any kind of root cause in the interview. From Floyd’s perspective, it is what it is and he just bought into it:

Kimmage: You say you could justify it because you weren’t cheating anybody else but you were cheating some people. There were riders in that 2006 Tour who weren’t cheating. What is your attitude towards those guys? How do you deal with that?

Landis: Well, here’s the facts; somebody is going to cheat those guys and I’d rather not be the guy getting cheated. There is no good scenario. There is no going and fixing it. I’m not going to the UCI to tell them – they are bought and paid for.

This is just a small excerpt from a numerous passages where Floyd gives his rationale for buying into doping. Basically, since most everyone (everyone who matters at least) is doping and since the governing body (UCI) is somehow complicit (per Floyd), then doping is something he had to do to level the playing field in his pursuit of his dream: winning the Tour de France. But none of what Floyd reveals gets even remotely close to defining the root cause of why professional and amateur bicycle racers dope.

So what drives bicycle racers or any athlete to use performance enhancing drugs or techniques? As someone who has been racing since 1974 at a very amateur level, I still don’t understand the root cause. It must be quite persuasive since so many do it.

As a final note, as corrupt as Floyd makes professional bicycle racing to be, I still wonder about most American professional sports. Professional basketball player for the Memphis Grizzlies, O.J. Mayo, recently received a  doping suspension for testing positive for DHEA. He claims he didn’t know that it was in an over-the-counter supplement that he took. If this same incident had occurred in professional cycling, based on recent precedent, he would have received at least a one-year suspension instead of 10-game suspension (just over two weeks). Maybe the corruption that Floyd describes is just behind-the-scenes parity.