Category: dopepunk

Nicole Cooke: ‘I blew the whistle on drugs but no one listened to me’

From today’s The Guardian, and excellent article by the first British winner of the Tour de France (sorry Sir Wiggo) and former Olympic and World Champ, Nicole Cooke, on CIRC, TUEs and the curious selective hearing of the authorities when it comes to doping.

Click the image below to head to the article.

Screen Shot 2015-03-12 at 11.01.25

Levi Leipheimer moves into PORN

Levi gives good stem

Levi gives good stem

Yes it’s true.

Get the kids and any sensitive souls out of the room because the content of this YouTube video will shock and scar you for life.

It’s basically two dudes going at it for near on an hour.

Quite how the guy in the hat keeps it hard for that long during this intense scene is beyond me.

The money shot basically begins in the first second and goes on all the way through.

Levi, good on you mate for not drowning in the love juice flooding over you…

Thanks to Nick Schaffner for this one.

 

Lee’s Lowdown on Strade Bianche: Valverde and Van Avermaet stain the white roads

Yeah, who to cheer for when one guy is an unrepentant doper, one is under investigation for connections to a dodgy doctor, when one rode on whilst under threat of suspension and the other is copying him?

If you love the sport, recognise the UCI (under current rules) is unable to temporarily stop you racing, know that race organisers are cowards and your team management are without ethics and any understanding why this has to stop, please stop taking advantage of all this weakness and stop crapping on the fans.

Take a stand and sit it out til all is resolved.

We’ve suffered Contador, Valverde and others, now Van Avermaet, who’s even missing a hearing date with the Belgian authorities to ride Tirreno-Adriatico.

Van Avermaet's Facebook profile pic

Van Avermaet’s Facebook profile pic

Click on the image below to head to PEZ – and kudos for them for publishing this, I know many other mainstream sites that definitely would not.

Screen Shot 2015-03-11 at 21.17.48

Cillian Kelly on CrankPunk makes the footnotes of the CIRC report

I said this earlier today on Twitter: the CIRC folk could have saved themselves a lot of time if they’d just read crankpunk.com in the first place. It was a bit of a glib comment but, a little amazingly, it seems that the CIRC folk did indeed do just that when doing research for the report, as an excellent article by Cillian Kelly of Irish Peloton on here last year makes the footnotes on page 150.

 

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A moment for celebration?

No, not really. The real fact of the matter is that this report should never have been necessary and it wouldn’t have been had the authorities, the teams, the riders, race organisers and journalists (I’m getting deja vu here) not been such a motley crew of cretins and cowards.

CIRC has said very very little that people close to pro cycling did not know already – if there is a silver lining it is that it’s shut up even the naysayers – for now. I’m sure we’ll hear them scraping their knuckles over the pebbles when they emerge from under their stones soon enough though.

To read Cillian’s article, which is just as if not even more relevant now than when it was published – click here.

UCI employing former doper – man behind MTN-Qhubeka feeder team also responsible for development of African talent

Speaking last week ahead of the release of the findings of the CIRC report, UCI President Brian Cookson spoke of the need to ‘define who is a fit and proper person’ to have in the sport.

“We want to be able to look at what happened in order to avoid falling into the same traps,” he said. “We would also like to have some guidelines to help us, for example, with defining who is a fit and proper person to work in or around a team – bosses, coaches, directeurs sportifs, doctors etc. We need clear ethical criteria that allow for a proper assessment.”

It appears that the need for such guidelines is as pressing as ever given the fact that even the UCI does not seem quite sure how to decide who is fit and proper even when it comes to their own recruitment, as at least one former doper is in their employ.

Jean-Pierre van Zyl (known as JP) is a former South African professional cyclist who is the director of the African Continental Centre and also the man at the helm for MTN-Qhubeka’s feeder team, as well as being a delegate for the UCI. JP is also known to some as a rider who tested positive in 1999 for the banned substance Testosterone/Epitestsotrone.

JP van Zyl is also described as being a ‘mentor’ to Daniel Teklehaimanot, the Eritrean rider who signed for GreenEdge in 2012 and who now rides for MTN-Qhubeka.

Cookson definitely knows who van Zyl is, as the two are pictured here outside the UCI World Cycling Centre in Aigle, Switzerland, just last year. This very image appeared on the UCI website.

JP van Zyl, left

JP van Zyl, left

Once again the depth of the problem in our sport is revealed by the long tendrils of doping. The sooner these ‘guidelines’ are revealed to us the better – and I am sure Brian Cookson will agree.

JP van Zyl’s connection to MTN-Qhubeka is one that will raise eyebrows, as the team’s founder Douglas Ryder is known for strong anti-doping comments.

On February 23rd this year, Ryder was quoted on The Outer Line saying “Why should people who cheated in the past continue to earn their living in pro cycling now? It’s not fair.”

Indeed it’s not. What will happen next remains to be seen.

 

 

Sky screw the doping poodle again & the cycling media go ‘meh’

Sean Yates’ fate shows Team Sky will show no mercy in doping cull!’

So blared the headline in the Telegraph newspaper back in October 2012 atop an article by Brendan Gallagher in which the writer lauded Sky’s zero tolerance policy with regards to doping past and present by any of its staff. He wrote:

‘Brailsford’s zero tolerance approach has been derided as naive by some, and unrealistic by others, who argue that drug use has been so widespread in the sport that if only the ‘clean’ people remain, there would be hardly anyone left. But the departure of Yates in particular will resonate around the sport, and Sky can claim to be delivering on their vow to build a scandal-free team.’

“We’ve made clear our commitment to being a clean team and have always been open about the steps we’re taking,” he said last week.

‘”Sky started as a clean team and we will continue to be a clean team. It is the guiding principle to what we do. A British winner of the Tour de France is worthless unless he is a clean rider. People must continue to be able to believe in us.”’

He then presented a 45 minute powerpoint to the assembled journos on how Sky planned to utilise The Power of the Unicorn in its search for yet another marginal gain, but by the time he revealed the animal, which hitherto had been hidden beneath a papier mache rendering of Shane Sutton, the LSD that the scribes had knocked back after lunch was kicking in that hard that no one was quite sure if they’d actually seen a proper unicorn or if it was in fact just a pony with a traffic cone attached to its forehead with masking tape.

CyclingSnooze had only dropped a half though and was um, like, uh, pretty sure that the ‘unicorn’ was indeed a pony, and even had a grainy cell phone image that might have proved it and did consider doing an expose on the incident, but later it was vetoed as someone in the marketing department pointed out that the pony might in the future want to advertise on the site.

I might be digressing here but I can’t tell as the pharmaceuticals are kicking in.

Anyway, Sky are full of crap. Can I put it more simply than that? No.

First it was guys like Yates walking when asked to sign an anti-doping statement, Barry and the Tramadol stuff, then Geert Leinders, the former Rabo doc who was recently banned for life for possession, trafficking and administering banned substances including the blood-booster erythropoietin, testosterone, insulin, DHEA and corticosteroids; with administering blood transfusions, and with covering up anti-doping violations.

Ticking all the boxes there Geert, you’re thorough, if nothing else. Well, that and a stain on your profession.

Then you had Tiernan-Locke and his drinking habit that pushed up his haematocrit level enough to get him kicked off the team –  good thing he and Contador never went out for a meal together eh?

‘Waddya fancy Alberto?’

‘Ah… steak and a few pints, Lockey?’

And now this palava with Servais Knaven.

What has amazed me about this stuff coming out is that just two days ago in The Guardian by Sean Ingle, Brailsofrd was being praised for his cunning and cleverness in looking into developing technology in pursuit of, you guessed it, those marginal gains.

The article, fawning and not mentioning a word about Sky’s willingness to associate itself with riders and staff that at best can be said to raise suspicions, finishes with this:

As always, Team Sky are determined to be at the forefront of it all.’

Sycophantic claptrap if you ask me (the timing of which might make some suspicious folk wonder if Sky knew the DailyMail article was coming out soon, balancing  a negative article with a positive one). Perhaps journalists like Ingle writing this stuff and instead ask the man why his zero-tolerance policy is seen as a sham. Ask him if he understands why Sky’s failure on its promise has led even more fans to lose what little faith they had in the sport. Ask him, too, why they are continuing to stand by Knaven, who, The Daily Mail today is claiming was a doper, despite his repeated insistence that he never took banned drugs.

This is from the article:

 

  • An expert toxicologist who tested Knaven’s blood, taken when TVM abandoned the 1998 Tour following a police raid that July, testified he had taken EPO
  • Cortisone, a banned endurance steroid hormone that riders are not allowed to take without special permission, was found in his urine
  • A drug called Naftidrofuryl, which widens the blood vessels and is most typically used in the treatment of arterial disease, was also in his urine, as was a trace of the anti-inflammatory drug propyphenazone
  • Sachets of a drug called Persantin was found in Knaven’s room. Also known as dipyridamole, it is a blood thinner designed to prevent clots. There is seemingly no sporting reason for taking it but it could be used as a ‘counterbalance’ for users of EPO, which can dangerously thicken the blood
  • Knaven said: ‘With regard to use of Persantin and Naftidrofuryl, neither of them were illegal or on the list of banned substances. I used them on very rare occasions to get rid of cramps during long stage races.’
  • Statements given to police by Knaven in December 1998, of which the MoS has full transcripts, show that he did not contest the findings of tests on his urine, blood and hair. He said there could be an alternative explanation to the EPO finding other than doping; he had no idea what some of the other drugs were or how they got into his system; admitted taking Persantin, for ‘heavy legs’; and concluded by saying Mikhailov was a good doctor and that he, Knaven, took whatever the doctor told him; the medical evidence was disputed in court.
Knaven

Knaven; Sky’s the limit

“It is important to remember that no charges were ever brought against Servais. This goes back over 15 years and has been looked at several times during that period,” reads a Sky statement on the matter.

If you think about Sly’s initial zero-tolerance policy from when the team began, it was something to be praised. Many wondered how they could do it with the sport so full of juicers, but they pinned their colors to the mast and for that, they deserved credit. Many scoffed and they have been proven right but Sky did not need to do it. It might have been part-marketing ploy and part genuine, at the time, it’s hard to say completely.

However, it has been a disaster so far, no doubt about that. It is these blatant failures to fulfill that promise and their inability or unwillingness to look to former riders and doctors who were considered clean rather than these who were not that marks Brailsford as a hypocrite on this issue.

What is telling about the state of cycling in a wider sense is that neither the UCI nor any other team either praised Sky when they made their initial zero-tolerance statement not said ‘hey we’ll do that too’, and dare we wonder why?

Because you’d be very hard-pressed to find a DS in the sport now who did not dope when he was a rider, and also because the UCI has at least one doper on its payroll itself (more on that later). Braislford’s decision to go with (should I say try to) zero tolerance was in effect a policy that, if adopted by the UCI itself, would have seen a mass exit of coaches and directeur sportifs leave the sport overnight.

In a sport in which you have a man busted for amphetamine use (Roger Legeay) heading the Movement for a Credible Cycling, another busted for EPO (David Millar) being an athlete representative for WADA, and all those cronies managing teams when they’re not purring over their bank accounts and the plaudits of fools, well, what do you expect?

And still through all this the cycling media will report on this as ‘news’, delivered to the hungry with absolutely zero subjective commentary – if they report on it at all. Why? Because opinions don’t pay the rent, nor do they buy advertising space, not in the bike world.

Right. I’m off to find me a unicorn.

zv9TA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Uli Fluhme & Pietro Caucchioli’s little chat, doping, and the tainted legacy of certain brands

Uli Fluhme and his wife run the Gran Fondo New York organisation and have a very clear rule in, or all places, their rule book, that states that no rider that has been banned for doping, ever, can compete in their events.

3D

Participate yes, race, no.

When he got an email from Pietro Caucchioli asking if he could start at the front in the GFNY, he said no, but you can do participate and start at the back, explaining that the front line was for competitors, not riders who had served doping suspensions.

Some background on Mr. Caucchioli’s career, with Alessio, Credit Agricole and Lapmre:

2001 Giro d’Italia

9th GC, winner Stage 8 & 17

2002 Giro

3rd GC

2004 Tour de France

11th Overall

2005 Giro

8th overall

2006 Vuelta a Espana

Led the Mountains Classification, Stages 9-11

Then Pietro got suspended for “abnormal testing results” in 2009 and he was sanctioned by the UCI on the basis of his biological passport on 3 June, 2010. He was banned for two years and lost his contract with Lampre, and did not return to the top ranks. He now works for Ale bike wear.

And who says doping pays? You cynics!

Ale, left red-faced in his pink kit

Caucchioli, left red-faced in his pink kit

Uli went on a closed FaceBook page that I am a member of that discusses all things doping, a page whose other members include several former pro riders, fans, journalists and similar folk who aren’t exactly the biggest fans of doping, and posted the messages you are about to read below. He granted permission for me to publish this.

Uli Fluhme (to the FB page members): We recently had a former pro ask for a front start at Gran Fondo New York. I decided to make our conversation public because these guys haven’t understood anything. Note: parts in […] are pertaining to an expo booth and not relevant to this part of the conversation.

PC: Hi Uli,
[…]
For the race me for sure I want to race and Al [name edited] is not sure 100%, I need to pay to race? I was 3rd, 8th and 9th in the General at Tour of Italy and I won to stages also at same race, 11th and 12th at the Tour the France…
Probably I have some people who want to race also and I would like to know if they can start with me in the first group ( for them i will pay )…I don’t race to be in the front but I want to enjoy the day with some dealers and friends.
[…]
Cheers.
Pietro

UF: Hi Pietro
[…]
Of course I know your racing history. GFNY is open to everyone, pros and amateurs alike. However, riders who have served a doping ban will not receive a timing chip and have to pay their entry. Usually they will be starting from the same corral as their age group but you can start like all exhibitors in the third corral.
Rule 2.2: https://granfondony.com/granfondo-2014/race/rules/
[…]
Many thanks
Uli

PC: Hi Uli,
I didn’t read this rules and 2 years ago I start at the same Granfondo with the chip in the first 200, I don’t want the chip, I am not interested in the real race and my friends also.
I will speak with Al, about this, thanks.
I will send you an update, if we confirm the booth.
Thanks.
Cheers.
Pietro

PC: Hi Uli,
I am sorry for my late reply, I has been very busy with the Press Camp in California.
I didn’t want to give bad advertising to NY Gran Fondo, I didn’t saw the rules before.
So we will not participate to the expo, thanks.
Pietro
Best regards
Pietro Caucchioli

UF: Hi Pietro
We have no problem with you riding. You just wouldn’t get a free entry or timing chip. You would start with the other exhibitors.
Best regards
Uli

PC: Hi Uli,
as You know Alé is a new Brand owned and made by APG, one of the biggest company for bike clothing, I don’t want to risk nothing, we never know.
I wish you all the best for the event, thanks
Best regards
Pietro Caucchioli

UF: Pietro
I know Alé and APG well and like what you guys do. If anything, it’s a bigger risk not to come because that would mean Alé is shunning events that are antidoping.
We strongly believe in antidoping and implement a lifetime competition ban at first offense. However, while we don’t give a second chance in competition, we believe in second chances in life because everyone can make a mistake.
Cheers
Uli

PC: Uli
I don’t think is a big problem for Ale’, but I am not stupid.
I don’t think you believe in a second chance on the life otherwise you should given me a different reply.
Thanks
Pietro.

UF: Pietro
Life yes, competition no. You had your chance in bike racing. A stealing cashier at a bank will never work as cashier again. A doctor misusing his license to sell drugs illegally will lose his license for good. You got caught cheating in bike racing so we think you should not compete again. But we certainly give you a chance in your new role at Alé.
Uli

PC: Uli
I’ve never asked to compete in the GranFondo, just ride. I closed with the competition in 2009 and I promise to me and my family I’d never raced again. I don’t consider the granfondo a race, because the races are different.
For you this is business, for me is different I have spent most of my time riding a bike and I like to mix work with fun.
You can think what you want about me and I don’t want to persuade you I am a good person.
Sorry if I have taken your time.
Take care
Pietro

__________

If that seems a little long and convoluted I apologise but there is something very important going on here.

When Uli stated that Pietro would have to pay and that GFNY had this anti-doper regulation, Pietro decided not to book a place for the company he works for at the expo. You could say that this is because he did not want any bad publicity for Ale, and that is understandable. However, it amounts to a blacklisting of this event because of the anti-doper rule.

What if Ale had just decide not to employ a former doper? You might think ‘well, he has a right to make a living’ but would a doctor fired from his job for misconduct be an ideal candidate for a company selling medical equipment? And was part of Pietro’s appeal to his employers not his success as a rider?  Successes that, at least for a part of his career, would seem to have been ‘aided’ by illegal substances.

If there were no non-doper rule at GFNY, Uli and his organisation would now be preparing a booth for Ale and would receive payment from Ale for that service. However,  because of this ruling, and Caucchioli’s past, and the fact that Ale employs him, that will no longer happen.

I have spoken with more than a few former dopers and for all intents and purposes they are nice folk, but they cheated in cycling and so should have no role in cycling thereafter. Whether that means no gran fondos in their name, no role in managing or coaching riders, no role in commentating on cycling, nor working with a bike brand, whatever, it should be a no.

It’s time that companies accept their responsibility for their role in this circus, time Specialized stop supporting Levi’s Gran Fondo and Astana (though it might have taken them being kicked out to finally get them off Mike Sinyard’s bikes), time Lake stop giving Hincapie shoes, time Oakley and Nike faced up to supporting Lance all those years (a Lance that many in those companies must have at the very least suspected of being juiced), and time Trek did the same and apologised to Lemond.

Regarding Trek, there was an article recently in SportCal.com that read less as journalism and more as a statement from their marketing department. The writer asked whether the association with Armstrong has tainted the brand, and this was the reply:

“The bicycle, regardless of what is going on with the rider above it is still the bicycle. So we have that experience to be proud of.”

Trek also has ‘declined to comment’ (what a nice, f&ck you phrase that is) on whether Armstrong remained a shareholder in the company.

Doping in our sport, in every facet, in every nook and crannie and under ever slimy stone goes so deep that it is literally off the charts, like a giant, rotting iceberg with only it’s venomous tip above the oily waters.

The past is the present, make no mistake about it, and it was ever thus.

That’s not to say there is no hope though, but we’d be fools to expect change to come from above.

 

 

 

 

 

Jonathan Vaughters graces Twitter with a description of crankpunk as a “talentless wanna-be writing [a] self-promotional blog”… Compliment accepted

A Twitter spat. My first. And with the mighty JV. I am honored.

Some back story…

It’s no secret that I feel that all former dopers – all – should not be welcomed back in any capacity whatsoever into the fabric of cycling, be it as managers, coaches, team owners or administrators.

I also feel that the UCI has to work to foster an environment in which teams are encouraged to and feel perfectly at ease with adopting employment policies which mean former riders and doctors that were/are considered tainted are no longer able to find work within the sport too.

This would mean no Riis, no Vino (well he might be off soon enough), and no Jonathan Vaughters. I’m not the only person to think this way by a long shot, however opinions like this are not often aired on CyclingSnooze nor on any of the other major sites and magazines, because if they were then these media outlets would lose access to quite a few teams and they may lose advertising booty from the team sponsors.

You also have certain former dopers now in management running or on the board of ‘important’ committees and organisations. The oft heard claim is that these former dopers know how to steer the sport along a new course because they have been there, done that.

Or been there, done this, and that, and yeah a bit of that, oh and yes, a shit load of that! And so on.

The problem here, as many can plainly see, is that you have former cheats supplying their own, often-changing narrative, one that justifies their doping in the first place (‘Everyone was doing it’ – not true) – a doping that was uncovered either at the time or years later yet never was confessed to until their pants were already down and their d**ks in hand – that therefore justifies the wealth and status they acquired with it – and finally justifies their position in the sport now (‘I was there, I am sorry, but let me help!’).

It is, as my Gran used to say, a proper bag of bollocks.

If you want to read more on my opinion of Vaughters and these others being in the sport, read here and, if you want to know why I think he should be out of Change Cycling Now, read here. It’s not the first time JV and I have ‘chatted’, previously we were going to have a chat on the phone but it never quite worked out, with, as far as I can recall, nothing but work getting in the way for both of us.

Which brings us to Twitter.

Earlier today I saw a little tweet from Vaughters about how he wished to invite two guys to listen to a talk he was giving in London about something connected to cycling and doping.

I then asked via a tweet if that was after the talk on dopers managing cycling teams.

Vaughters then replied with this:

Jonathan Vaughters (@Vaughters) tweeted at 10:03 pm on Mon, Mar 02, 2015:
@crankpunk101 It was going to be right after the talk on talentless wanna-bes writing self promotional blogs.
(https://twitter.com/Vaughters/status/572396774544969729?s=03)

The original I either can’t find or has been deleted, but here is an image of the tweet in Q:

1425311801655

Let’s take a look at this, a little more closely… Well, we don’t have to get too close do we.

It’s the Omerta again. ‘Shut up please, your opinion does not coincide with the reality I have constructed so please go away.’

Self-promotional? I can take that, there is an element to that in all we do, and yes there is that here in crankpunk, ego is as ego does, but the points I am making – we are making, meaning a large chunk of cyclists – remain to be answered.

As for the comment on Twitter – thanks. Compliment accepted.

___________________________________________

Postscript

Jonathan Vaughters apologised for his original tweet on Twitter which I read after I posted this and asked to talk. I stand by the article above though, and will be arranging an interview shortly, watch http://www.crankpunk.com for that.

The story of American doping in the 80s: The Olympics, Eddie B, and his “product”, our old friend Lance

This documentary looks at doping in the 80s in the USA, it isn’t cycling-specific, though it is cycling-related as it deals with doping on a systematic and institutionalised scale, nothing most of you won’t have known already but that may be enlightening for some.

Almost comical is the recounting of how many athletes suddenly started wearing braces as a result of taking growth hormone, which makes the jaw grow.

Yeah, growth hormone is a wonderful drug…

std-metal_braces

Check out the athlete at 22.52 saying how “people had the impression that we were all on drugs at the Olympics, but no! They were all gone, we hadn’t done them in months – it was just training.”

And remember the guy earlier in the film saying that an athlete on steroids could allow and athlete to lift their max twice a day whilst they are on the drugs, whereas normally it’d be once every three days. Hmm, ‘just training’ huh?

This all brings us to the shady Edward ‘Eddie B’ Borysewicz, the USA team cycling coach under whose direction the US team won 9 medals in the ’84 Olympics. You will hear in the doc reference being made to ‘keeping up with the Eastern Europeans’, well, Eddie B brought the ‘knowledge’ of how to do that with him when he left Poland to work with the budding US Olympic riders in ’78.

Interestingly, Eddie B claims Lance Armstrong as his discovery, not Chris Carmichael’s.

From Wikipedia:

 Eddie Borysewicz resigned as coach of the American national team in 1987  partly because of disagreements with members of his squad. He started his own amateur team in 1988. Sponsorship by Sunkyong, a Korean electronics firm, ended after a year and Borysewicz sought a replacement in Montgomery Securities. Its chief executive, Thomas Weisel, agreed to a team of 15 that included Lance Armstrong. That team, after several sponsorship changes, became the US Postal Service and Discovery Channel teams for which Armstrong won the Tour de France seven times before those victories were vacated in 2012 after the USADA ruled that Armstrong doped during each of those victories.

Borysewicz claimed Lance Armstrong as his discovery and not that of Armstrong’s later coach, Chris Carmichael When Carmichael said of his work at the US federation that he wished he had “five Lances,” Borysewicz replied,

“Why doesn’t he (Chris Carmichael) produce Lances? That’s his job. And anyway, Lance is not his product. Lance is my product.”

Ouch!

Enjoy.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ohT_zoodqfU&spfreload=10

Where does Froome vs Contador rank in the list of cycling rivalries?

if you’re coming to find the original version of this article you are out of luck. it’s disappeared. here is the article as best as i can remember it.

_____________________

Coppi and Bartali, Anquetil and Poulidor, Anquetil and the lock on his stepdaughter’s bedroom door, Hinault and Lemond, Lemond and Lance, Cipollini and Soul Glo, Lance and The Truth, Verbruggen & MacQuaid raging against common decency as ‘up to 100’ (Phil Liggett’s words) riders died in the first decade of EPO, cycling has seen some cracking rivalries over the years, epic battles that remain threaded through the tattered, grubby tapestry that is professional cycling and all its dystopian ‘glory’.

soul-glo

versus

Mario-Cipollini-thumb

As I was sat not riveted to the telly last week as Chris Froome and Alberto Contador smashed ten bells out of each other in the hills of Andalucia, I listened to the commentators gushing bukkake-like all over ‘this enthralling rivalry’ and I wondered if it was really that enthralling and even if it was a rivalry at all, and then concluded that I don’t care that much anymore anyway.

Contador has 6 Grand Tours under his belt and is hailed as the finest climber of his generation and one of the finest in the history of the sport. He took that natural climbing ability and then added to it a truckload of TT work to become one of the foremost riders against the clock in multi-day races, and he showed in the 2009 Tour that he has some serious mettle, as he withstood the barrage from the twin barrels of Bruyneel and Armstrong.

After that race, Contador said that “Armstrong is a great rider and did a great Tour, but on a personal level I have never admired him and never will”, with Armstrong responding that “a champion is also measured on how much he respects his teammates and opponents.”

So, Conty knows a thing or two about reading  folk (though to be fair Armstrong is not exactly a book, more an ingredients list on the back of a packet of Fruit Loops – brief, uninspiring and full of chemicals), and Armstrong’s quote?

Well, another classic from the non-winner of 7 Tours.

But I’m wandering. Froome is not exactly a pushover, has to be said. He’s won one Tour and just about every other race he entered in 2013 and many feel he should have claimed the 2012 Tour also, had it not been for team orders and a certain Sir Wiggins being team leader.

Froome’s miraculous upturn in fortune seems to have coincided with the surgery to remove his biceps. I guess the loss of .00257 grams can make all the difference.

Pins he can manage, shoelaces are another matter, but since he got rid of the biceps Froome is .0000000012784 watts better off. Win!

Pins he can manage, shoelaces are another matter, but since he got rid of the biceps Froome is .0000000012784 watts better off. Win!

If you’d heard the commentators gushing and frothing all over their mics as Conty dropped Froomey and then the reverse happened that day after, you’d have thought that all the bad things that have happened in our sport just never did.

Now, I’m not saying Froome is not clean, nor that Conty isn’t either. Anything, as they say, is possible.

However as I sit there non-entranced to the screen listening to the gooiness oozing from these guys mouths, I’m reminded that we’ve heard it all before. Liggett was all over Lance back in the day, we heard it with Landis, Hamilton, Valverde, Basso, on and on and on.
Here we have a guy that was busted for Clenbuterol who carried on riding and bringing the sport into disrepute (a la Kreuziger) when he should have done the right thing and stepped away until his case was cleared being led out by a guy (Basso) who was himself suspended for dodginess on a team started by a confessed doper (Riis) and now run by one of the seediest guys in the sport (and that is saying something) and staffed by an LA apologist (Yates) and riding bikes supplied by a brand with a healthy record of sponsoring dopers competing against a guy from a team that empolyed Leinders even though the word was out that he was about as clean as a poodle’s arse hair and had a teammate (JTL) that half the world and my Gran suspected of doping way before Sky signed him, and STILL you ask me to stand and holler and whoop and get excited?

I feel sorry for the genuinely clean riders, I really do, because they have a crap time of it, but they have to take responsibility and stop letting riders like Mark Cavendish reinvigorate the Omerta once again. I’ve been saying this for years, they have got to unite and to find a voice to make the work of the authorities that really do want to beat back the dopers easier, to find a way to demand true transparency and to accept that yes, crap as it may be, the son bears the guilt of the father.

No longer can the excuse that they may lose their jobs for speaking out be valid as there are plenty of companies that would like to sponsor a truly clean team – and I don’t mean a Jonathan Vaughters-style clean team, a hey-we’re-clean-well-if-you’re-gonna-threaten-us-with-perjury-and-prison-then-ok-we’re-not-really-clean-but-we’re-sorry-we-had-to-cheat-our-way-to-wins-medals-cash-and-fame kind of clean, but seriously clean.

And not like a Sky ‘clean’ either, not with questionable staff and suddenly improved new signings and the like, with TUE kerfuffles and rumors of ‘special’ bidons containing opiates.

Magazines and websites continue to run endless articles on Armstrong, giving voice to his defenders, Astana continue to churn out a doper a month, the old boy network  of former dopers still reigns, the guys commenting on TV continue to overflow with sycophantic adulation that spews out like bilge from a busted sceptic tank, and the fans, a huge chunk of them, still remain rapt.

Last week I heard someone saying how awesome the action was when EPO use was truly rampant in the peloton, and I just sighed.

Here’s an article from Outside Magazine about doping, featuring the former head of WADA, Dick Pound, and an epidemiologist and expert in sports doping from Penn State, Charles Yesalis:

It may be impossible to ever know the true pervasiveness of the problem, or the guilt or innocence of riders. Further, gene doping, a science that would render current tests irrelevant, looms on the horizon. Throw in an event like the Tour de France—and the dollars at stake—and an immensely challenging picture emerges.

“It’s an elephant,” sighs Dick Pound, president of WADA. “There are very heavily entrenched entities in this, and a lot of economics involved.”

The two realities of the Tour—its enormous popularity and the specter of corruption—persist side by side. “If there was a large boycott—no one watching on TV, no one cheering along the side of the road—then maybe things would change,” says Yesalis. “But I don’t think the fans really care.”

This is from an article from 2004.

Some things, it seems, never change.