Tagged: armstrong

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.

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Lee’s Lowdown on PEZ: The Evils of Ego

The weekly column on PezCycling News went up earlier today, click on the image below to head over there to read it.

Basically it covers how ego is an absolute necessity – to a point, but that it is also the beginning of the end it left unchecked…

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Quite Comprehensive: The Oral History of Lance Armstrong

No, you dirty-minded Fred, not the history of Lance in the back seat of cars… which is kind of a misnomer as he’s always in the driver’s seat. Right, Madame Armstrong?

Here is a thoroughly investigated and lovingly compiled history of Lance’s verbal spewages, some conscious and others less so, about how great and lovely and just darntooting honest he was, til he wasn’t, but who cares anyway? It’s all American Pie, the Apple Dream and cheating/lying athletes/politicians at the end of the day, just smile and keep blinking sideways, no big deal and yee flippin’ haw all the way to the bank.

Well, I care. You might too. And the person that compiled this does also.

Enjoy.

click the image below to head to the article.

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Charlie Hebdo, le dopage & cartoons

Very interesting article in today’s The Guardian by Suze Clemitson about how Charlie Hebdo taught her more about the reality of doping in cycling than she would ever have read in the pages of Pro Cycling or Cycling Snooze.

“I learned more about the murky world of cycling from the cartoonist’s pen than from the editorial team of L’Equipe and their ilk'” she writes. “The cartoons – those precise, puerile, perfect slashes of black pen on white paper – gave the game away by daring to show openly what others could or would only to hint at.”

Clemitson tells of how, after moving to France, it was through Charlie Hebdo and its ‘wiser’ older brother Le Canard Enchaine that she learnt the language and the culture, seeing cartoons such as this, published just after everyone’s favorite GoldenBoy had declared his comeback but before most magazines dared vice their concerns, in 2009.

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With the great champions, it’s their mental attitude that makes the difference” reads the caption, as our Maillot Jaune jumps from one bend to another to get ahead of the pack.

Another reads ‘Legalise doping, for a French win.’

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Both, you will note, are by Cabu, one of the cartoonists killed recently in Paris.

I came across a few other cartoons on my search that also show the power of the form.

And my two personal favorites, the first of which could be LA, Hincapie, Leipheimer, Hamilton, O’Grady, etc:

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And one that isn’t quite a ‘toon, but does show the man not as a chicken but as a cock, which he undoubtedly is:

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“The cartoonists who have stabbed their pencils at the dirty heart of professional cycling have left an indelible visual vocabulary,” writes Clemitson. “It’s cheap humour, but it makes its point with elegant economy. It says the unsayable in a way that, once seen, can never be unseen. Armstrong is right when he says that the history books may no longer record his victories but that nothing can unstop us seeing him in Yellow in Paris year after year. That is the power of the visual image, the power that Cabu and Charb, Tignous and Wolinski exploited with such deadly effect.

“Armstrong reacted to the Charlie Hebdo atrocity by tweeting “PariSTRONG’, a pun as painfully self-referential and egotistical as he could possibly have made under the circumstances. But he is forever a cartoon character with a syringe sticking out of his arse, skewered on his own perfidiousness. And that is why Je Suis Charlie.”

Hincapie’s Gran FRAUDO wanders ever further into The Absurd

Screen Shot 2014-10-23 at 13.39.35 alternate realities? string theory, perhaps, where near-identical universes thrum alongside each other, where other variations of you live out their existence doing the same stuff but with different outcomes? or the confirmation that the world has truly gone bat-shit crazy?

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whatever it is, George Hincapie and his cheery band of fellow travelers have somehow managed – again – to write their own histories. Hincapie IS NOT a drug cheat. he is in fact a good ol’ boy who gave and still gives a whole load of something back to cycling. god bless him and the flea-bitten horse called Hypocrisy he rode in on.

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for his Gran Fraudo this year, a whole raft of guys who know a crapload about hiding needle marks will be attending. Lance will be there, Michael Barry and Tom Danielson too. Dave Zabriskie was supposed to join in but has since said he can’t make it – perhaps he’s realised the absurdity of this thing that is nothing less than a de facto celebration of cheating to win. perhaps not.

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a whopping 27 sponsors are lining up for the ride, that costs $215 to enter on the line. a gran fondo in Europe will cost somewhere in the region from $30 to $100. and it’s not a difference in scale – La Marmotte in France draws up to 7000 people and the cost is 50 euro. not quite sure why Georde’s Fraudiolo is so expensive – maybe you’re paying per doper?

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cos you sure get your money’s worth if that is the case.

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some are going to say ‘but hey, this is for CHARITY.’ well whoop-de-doo. let’s rewind. the reason these guys are drawing crowds is because they are famous, successful ex-professional bike riders. the reason these guys are famous, successful ex-professional riders is because they doped so very well and had the cash to get away with it. the message here is that doping pays. and the ‘it’s for charity’ stuff – only the truly naiive would fail to see that this can be used as a cloak to deflect criticism. it also means a nice little tax-break at the same time – double ker-ching.

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there are countless other ex-pros out there who NEVER doped who would be happy to do a ride for charity who are not raging sociopaths, but for whom nowhere near enough people would turn out. why? because people are just plain f*cking stupid. if you are going to this event then yes, you also, are firmly tucked away in that category. and a quick note on Alex Howes (Garmin-Sharp, and why is Vaughters letting you go?) and Matthew Busche (Trek Factory Racing), Brent Brookwalter, Tejay Van Garderen and Larry Warbasse (all BMC) – sort your shit out, fellas. you can read their reasons for doing this here at VeloNews – but be warned, cos it MAKES NO SENSE. it will hurt your head.

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George has this to say on the whole Fraud thing:

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“The Fondo is not supposed to have an intended or implied message; at least that’s not what we are shooting for,” he bleated. “It’s just a celebration of cycling with friends [italics mine] and fans that also supports what we feel are important causes.”
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a celebration of cyclists who doped.
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let’s get that straight.
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“The Fondo also helps promote what a great region this is for cycling, and brings people here to ride. It even gets people who may have never thought about getting on a bike to challenge themselves and try it out. I have a few personal friends that are now totally into cycling as a result of the event, and it has changed their life.”
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[hand slaps forehead].
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George, the crap you and your buddies got up to changed many lives too – it forced countless riders from pursuing a career in a peloton they knew was dirty, it robbed clean riders of victories and contracts, and it worked the dirty great stain that is doping in cycling ever deeper into the fabric.
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enjoy that alternate reality lads. looks like you’re having a blast.
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Hushovd comments reflect deep-seated contradictions in cycling culture

I met Thor Hushovd once. I was racing in the 2012 Tour of Qatar as a member of the RTS Racing Team, previously known as the Giant Racing Team. We’d been invited by virtue of being the third best team in Asia in 2011, after two Iranian teams.

So, there I was, sat at the back of the peloton and getting a daily pummeling. One day I ended up riding in with none other than Mr. Hushovd, who had punctured with about 10km to go. I caught up with him and we rode in together.

“I like your kit,” he said.

“Really? I don’t!” I replied. The black and bright yellow kit wasn’t my cup of tea at all.

“I like yours though,” I said.

“Meh,” was his response.

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I’d always liked Hushovd as a rider. There seemed to be an honesty about his riding, a sense of graft to the effort he put in. Then there was his brilliant win in the Points Classification in the 2009 Tour de France when he rode solo on Stage 17 to scoop up points, which, much to my amusement (and no doubt many others), left Mark Cavendish markedly nonplussed.

“You’ve won the green jersey now but that’s always going to have a stain on it,” Cav said he told Hushovd at the time, ever the gent.

So it was nice to meet the man himself and to find that he was a decent bloke too.

He was one of those riders I always really wanted to believe was clean. Perhaps those of you reading this will know what I mean. Some of you may have felt that way about Armstrong. Or O’Grady. Or Basso. Or… the list goes on.

Hushovd recently gave a press conference to publicise his new autobiography. In it, he talks about both Christophe Bassons and Lance Armstrong. Bassons is widely regarded to have been a clean rider during his career, with Armstrong of course having been exposed, since his retirement, as the perpetrator of what has been termed as ‘the greatest sporting fraud of all time.’

Curiously however, in the press conference Hushovd had stronger things to say about Bassons than he did about the American, which is particularly strange as Hushovd claims that in 2011 Armstrong told him that he, and everyone else, had been at the dope.

Speaking of Bassons, Hushovd said that the Frenchman’s claim that it was impossible to win clean during the EPO heyday was false and more indicative of Bassons’ lack of talent or preparation than anything else.

Bassons

Bassons

“He [Bassons] probably had a rough time when riding, but he should also have the guts to look at himself,” said Hushovd. “Because, he has said it was impossible to compete at top level without using doping. Then he has to look at himself: Did he do a good enough job? Was his talent big enough? Did he eat the right food? He must look himself in the mirror. I’ve never seen anyone ask him those questions. Because it is possible. I did it.”

It does seem to me nothing short of ridiculous that a rider of Hushovd’s experience would basically dismiss Bassons’ claims without considering that EPO is widely accepted amongst athletes to give an endurance athlete a boost of 15-20% (though one study claimed that EPO increases performance levels by 54%) and without balancing what is nothing short of an attack on Bassons (history repeating itself?) without also considering how widespread the use of EPO and other drugs and methods such as blood doping were amongst the peloton at that time.

Are we to accept that, if Hushovd is indeed telling the truth, that he was over 20% better than those in the peloton who were using EPO when he claimed his many victories?

Speaking to a friend the other day, we posited this: what if, at that time, the peloton had its fair share of what would otherwise be average riders who were vying for wins thanks to illegal aids? What if, if that were true, a very talented rider was at the peak of his game on a given day? In that case, we wondered, could the truly clean and truly gifted athlete then beat the not very gifted and not at all clean athlete?

‘Maybe’ was the only (unscientific) conclusion we could agree on. It might be the case with Hushovd’s career, if he was indeed clean. Who’s to say either way. Some will say no one could have been clean then, others will say some were, and others still will admit to being nothing other than completely unable to say one way or another.

And then Hushovd moves on to Armstrong and the criticism he received from the Norwegian cycling authorities for not passing on the contents of what amounted to an admission of doping by the Texan in 2011.

Hushovd says that Armstrong said to him “Thor, let’s face it. Everybody did it.”

‘It’ of course being doping.

“Maybe I could’ve told the anti-doping bodies,” he said at the press conference. “But I don’t think it is my job to. And they were already working a lot on this issue at the time. If this would’ve happened again, I would probably have done the same thing. I’ve chosen to handle doping related issues in my own way during my career.

“If I had said that Lance did this, there wouldn’t have been a lot left of me. I was supposed to ride a bike. That’s my job. And I’ve done it pretty well now and then. Others will have to discover who doped or not. That issue I raise in my book as well. Why doesn’t the anti-doping government catch those who cheat? I think that’s worth raising questions about.”

‘There probably wouldn’t have been a lot left of me’ is a fascinating line, which could refer to the media and the frenzy that would have kicked off, or to the reaction by the peloton to a rider breaking the Omerta.

For me, Hushovd words on Bassons at the press conference amount to the Omerta rearing its head once again. Any rider who said that many doped and that it is either very hard or ’impossible’ to win, as Bassons did, was ostracized and, if we consider Hushovd’s words when he says it is not a rider’s job to call out dopers, isn’t he saying that the Omerta has its uses?

This method of calling riders who complained about doping inferior or weak (Paul Kimmage springs to mind) was the favoured technique, tried, tested and trusted, of Hein Verbruggen and Pat McQuaid.

I’d also ask, when exactly is it a rider’s job to expose another rider who admits to doping? When the sport is half-standing, punch drunk from allegations and denials, as it was 15 years ago? Or when it is actually kneeling in the dirt, its reputation in tatters, as it has been these past few years?

We need riders who will stand up, riders who will find a voice. Hushovd is right in a sense in that, technically, exposing drug cheats is not a rider’s job, but in this era, being what it is, someone within the peloton has to make that breakthrough.

When asked at the press conference if he believed Armstrong had had a negative impact on cycling, Hushovd’s words, once again, were open to interpretation.

“Yes [Armstrong did damage cycling]. But he has contributed to building of the sport. I don’t defend what he did, I’m one of those riders who cried while climbing mountains because of Lance and the other dopers.”

And yet there is that line, ‘he has contributed to the building of the sport.’

Well, that depends on whether you fully accept that the reason he was in a position to do that was because he was the best doper in the peloton or not. Some say that Armstrong would never have won a Tour without doping, some feel that his ‘positive’ influence, which did drive bike sales up considerably, was still overshadowed by his doping and all that that entiled.

I still think Hushovd is a decent guy, but I also think that these comments from him, which are naiive at best, show how ingrained certain destructive attitudes are and how deep the culture of the Omerta lies.

the curious case of George Hincapie

I do not know where to start when it comes to George Hincapie. Ex-Lance Armstrong teammate, ongoing Lance apologist, ex-doper, supergrass, writer, hotelier, clothing entrepreneur, and team sponsor.

George wears so many hats that we really shouldn’t be surprised that even he gets confused from time to time as to which one he’s wearing.

Let’s start then with the facts. George was a pro rider from 1994 to 2012. He rode for Motorola, US Postal, Team High Road and BMC Racing.

His didn’t win a great deal apart from Gent-Wevelgem and came close in a big Classic or two, though he was national road race champion of the USA three times over his 18 year career. He also finished 17 Tours de France.

He is most famous as being, for much of his career, Lance Armstrong’s faithful domestique and for being a fully committed doper for (according to him) at least a decent chunk of his career.

He was doped good too, by the best. The very best.

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The Outer Line: The Forgive Me Roadshow

by crankpunk

i’ve written this before but it’s worth noting again i think. when i started crankpunk i was between journalism jobs and seeking an outlet to write about what is one of the driving passions of my life, the bike, and all things cycling. as a rider and a racer who dropped out of the sport at 18 largely because of a disenchantment brought on by a growing awareness of doping at the top level, i was aware, as i returned to the sport after an almost two decade hiatus, that pro cycling was probably dirtier than ever (this was 2008), but had my love rekindled by rediscovering the simple joy of riding, and soon after, racing once again.

that the beginning of crankpunk coincided with the breaking of the investigation by USADA was a coincidence, but one that had and continues to have a profound effect on the content of this site. i believe that it’s impossible to separate that love for this sport and the curse of illegal substance abuse in cycling, and though it is a scandal in itself and an indictment of the severe failings of Verbruggen’s and MacQuaid’s UCI presidencies that it has fallen to ordinary fans to drive for the change so needed in the sport, this is where we are.

the bureaucrats failed cycling, many of the pros failed cycling, the team managers, doctors and organisers of races too, for so many years, that the onus is on us to make some f*&%ing noise. don’t listen to anyone who says it doesn’t matter anymore. it matters more than ever, with a certain Texan trying again to write his own script and squirm back into something resembling respectability – and not just him, others are at it too, some do it in their own passive aggressive manner, a la Leipheimer, others do it whilst polishing their own home-spun halos, like Hamilton, whilst countless others just go away for 2 years then resurrect careers and watch their bank accounts grow once again.

the web offers us an opportunity to make a little noise here and there, and though it is difficult to quantify how much, it does get noticed. whether these voices will ever influence policy is another matter, one that yet remains to be seen. but with people like Steve Tilford out there, and sites like Bike Pure amongst others, and with others coming along here and there, the clamour is growing.

one other that i’ve mentioned here is The Outer Line, whose authors have just posted an article very much worth a read, entitled The Forgive Me Roadshow, offering another reminder (and yes, it seems it is required, judging from some of the comments people post on cp and in other places) that nothing has changed for LA – his ‘Tour of Redemption’ (as termed by Betsy Andreu) sees him pulling out all the old tricks and carrying on business as usual.

a recommended read.

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