Testing, testing, One, Two, Wee. (and blood)

by gandberg   June 7, 2010  

The recent doping outburst by 'Roid Landis got me thinking about doping, and its not something I really know that much about, so I'm hoping some of you older hands in here can enlighten me.

So Sir Lance-alot has never failed a doping test, which clearly isnt the same as saying he never doped. But For someone who has built an empire out of being such a remarkable rider, surely he has been as academic in his private studies as physical as he was in his training in researching and experimenting with what substances can both enhance his performance whilst not yet being detected?

If he afforded to give the UCI a £100k testing machine whats to say he didnt buy one for himself to run his own tests on, in private?

I hope Lance didnt dope, for the sakes of sporting fairness, but looking at most of the other top riders of the peleton, combined with various reports I've read makes it seem likely his wings are somewhat dirtied.

Here are some links to articles I've read during the writing of this forum topic (its better than watching glee) and its really interesting. Kind of depressing as cycling is a sport I adore but interesting all the same. Sometimes I think it'd be better to legalise doping just so riders were all on a level.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/16226502/Lance-Armstrong-Doping-History

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/more_sport/cycling/article7133884...

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5508

That'll do, as a sample, so to speak...

5 user comments

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Unless he did dope and admits it or gets caught you will never know what actually happend over his career. Look at the riders getting caught now, you only they are doping right now and until they admit they have been doing it for years (in an autobiography, natch) then you have no idea.

If you assume they are putting all their effort into doping then i think your missing the point, how many confirmed dopers in the peleton won all the time? i dont think it gives you as massive an advantage as has been played out in the press otherwise youd see someone rocket off the front every time (hmm, just remembered Landis). I think there is a lot of effort expended in teams to get every advantage possible, this will mean riders do almost anything not outlawed. ie. Altitude tents, UCI legal supplements (sports drinks/foods) and of course the common things like Aero testing, Soigneurs to make sure they do everything right to maintain their bodies for the next day. There is a lot involved to get a rider to the front, and just doping wont do it so why do we assume they have to dope to get there.

Just my bumbling thoughts,
Rich.

STATO's picture

posted by STATO [409 posts]
8th June 2010 - 11:32

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This is a bit long, so apologies before I begin.

When the Landis scandal erupted - as half-expected by anyone who watched his Lazarus-like performance on Stage 17 of the 2006 Tour - my BS alarm went into overdrive. When he announced during his defence that the controls would probably also show abnormally high levels of thyroxine as well as testosterone, it blew off the wall.
At the time, I was in the middle of a life-threatening thyroid disorder and naturally (for me, anyway) spent months trying to figure out what the doctors weren't telling me, hoping to find a way to help put things right and trying to understand exactly what was going wrong with me and where I was headed.

I'm no endocrinologist, but I'm no idiot either, and I knew what Landis was saying (with regard to thyroxine levels and his hip complaint) just didn't add up. So a few months later, I mentioned this on another forum where the main protagonists of the Believe Floyd campaign gathered. Within minutes of me posting my concerns over the validity of the Landis statements, someone signed up to the forum anonymously, claimed to be a doctor with personal knowledge of Landis and went about rubbishing everything I said, without really explaining why he considered me to be talking out my arse.

Fast-forward a year, and still in treatment, my endocrinologist switched my medication to another form of the thyroid hormone replacement drug I was/am on. When I got back from the chemist, I decided a quick search on the name of my new meds might be a wise move, just in case there might be something I should know like if it clashed with any of the other meds I was on.

That's when the bombshell hit. One link came up on Google that led to a closed forum which looked from the outside to be a DIY dopers forum. So I signed up to see what was going on and what I saw, you wouldn't believe. There was the usual body-builders nonsense, but there was also a section for endurance 'athletes', populated mostly by 3rd and 4th Cat bike riders looking for the magic pill or jab that would be their means to winning the burn-up to the coffee stop or whatever it was they wanted to achieve.
At the same time, there were elite riders discussing the upcoming US Nats; swapping methods on what to take, when to take it and how not to get caught. It was like Weight Weenies, but instead of the latest go-faster Ti widgets being the hot topic, the things they were all eager to get their hands on was the drugs I was being prescribed - the same drugs that had led me to question the legitimacy of Landis's claims in the first place!

Truth is - and what I read on that forum substantiates this - the 'war on drugs' should be starting much further down the pecking order.
There are losers out there who think because the pros do it, they'll somehow be transformed into winners by popping some pills or banging up some juice. The fact that doping automatically makes them even more of a loser seems lost on them; nevertheless they're prepared to risk their long-term health in order to get into a top 20 placing in their local Tuesday night crit.

Which leads me to whether or not we will ever get a Landis-style confession out of LA.
That's open to speculation, but I can't see it happening, given the goals he hopes to achieve in later life (the 'yes ... but I didn't inhale' defence won't cut it when questions over EPO use start firing in Armstrong-the-budding-politician's direction).
Then there's the fact that LA is just too important in the scheme of things; think in terms of his role in the worldwide image and marketability of the sport as well as the part he plays in generating bike sales, club and gym memberships and cable-TV subscriptions in the US. Then there's the enormity of the whole cancer-surviving, world-beating, rags-to-riches, Made-For-Hollywood tale that is Brand Armstrong.
It's not going to happen - the Armstrong marketing machine is just too bloody big. Too many are making a living from it, pinning their future on it and too many have bought the bike, worn the wristband, bought the t-shirt to let it grind to a halt. So, my belief is the tarnishing of this particular all-American sporting hero's image will not be allowed to happen. America loves its heroes and Americans (and others) will refuse point-blank to allow this particular bubble to be burst - by any means.

Conspiracy theory? Nope.
Conspiracy possibility? Without doubt.
Just look at the Believe Tyler/Floyd campaigns and where they would have led if they had been funded by Armstrong-level marketing, influence, riches and power.
Most likely, Landis and Hamilton would still be riding today at Pro-Tour level, still be heroes to millions. They'd have continued chucking dollars at multi-million defence lawyers, until eventually 'proving' themselves 'clean'; the 'phantom twin' and the 'few beers and a chaser the night before' excuses finally being accepted by a morally and financially bankrupt governing body desperate to get out of the fight, despite the glaringly obvious truth staring them (and us)in the face.

But the really sad part is, (almost)everyone would be glad of their 'vindication' and welcome them back into the fold with open arms.
Why? Because we love our heroes too much - we need them. A particularly sad - but true - fact of life.

neilwheel's picture

posted by neilwheel [130 posts]
8th June 2010 - 16:47

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nice article neilwheel, are you all better now?

think your spot on with the Armstrong business, i.e did he/didnt he. we'll never know as like you say too much riding on it ('scuse the pun).

for what its worth i also think the UCI has a lot to answer for, and in some respect if they didnt spend so much time proclaiming what size wheels/bike tubing diameters/etc etc then maybe the TdF may look a lot like a version of 'whacky races' with some folks on Moultons or other small wheeled bikes, others on recumbents but no one on drugs as they would all be getting their advantages/minimal gains with the use of engineering technology, or maybe not eh..who knows.

Fringe's picture

posted by Fringe [1081 posts]
8th June 2010 - 21:48

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I think Stato had it about right regarding drugs at the top end of the sport, where I think they are/were regarded as just another small incremental advantage, part of the system. I also think you've got a point Fringe about the UCI having something to answer for regarding all the pointless regulations regarding bike design - I'd also have to say that if their anti-doping programme is run as inconsistently and ineptly as the scrutineering at races and their interpretation of their own (dumb) design rules it is little wonder that so many people reckon that the war on doping will never be won.

The bottom line for me is that professional cycling has always been a dirty sport, think someone was on here making the point a few weeks back, there has never been a time when doping wasn't part of the pro scene - I've always taken the view certainly when it comes to cycling's legends that they all doped - it doesn't necessarily make me think any less of them. My guess is that even without drugs the same people would have won - except in those cases where you see someone do something superhuman out of the blue, like Landis or Ricco.

The only thing that makes me hesitate about saying we should just let them get on with it and have assisted and unassisted categories is that as neilwheel points out loads of people would be taking them - right through the amateur ranks too and probably including kids who didn't want to, but felt they had to.

One last point about Armstrong, I remember years ago meeting a guy who'd been involved with the US Olympic Association which has tested America's top young athletes including Armstrong who at the time was a triathlete, and he said that Armstrong's physiological results were off the scale even for an world class athlete. Maybe, he is just one of those super rare examples of someone with an extreme genetic gift getting into to a field of endeavour in which they will naturally excel and cleaning up as a result.

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4130 posts]
8th June 2010 - 22:43

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I think what happens is a lot of people make excuses rather than have their perception of their heroes and icons tainted.
In this case however, its not just a blinkered fan base standing in the way of reality, it's a huge moneymaking machine too. There's a vested interested in maintaining a clean Armstrong image, stretching all the way from your LBS to the boardrooms of global corporations.

Their cause is aided by a locker-room full of received knowledge that's all too easy to buy into; for instance, similar claims about natural ability and test stats were made about Ulrich. But if Ulrich was charged up, just how much of a natural advantage must LA have needed to overcome this? This was rightly pointed out by one scientist a few years back, only to have the numbers he put forward rubbished by the LA PR machine. Then there's the 'LA is most tested cyclist in the history of the sport' claims.
Take a look at the numbers of tests actually conducted on Armstrong, and you'll see the claims bear little resemblance to the truth. This was pointed out recently in a reply to the 'Landis is a acoholic nutjob' press statement on the official Team Radio Shack website.
As you'd expect, the post was truth-skimmed by the legions of Lance-believers making their obligatory 'Landis you suck' 'Landis is a moran' and 'gunna git you sucka' jibes.
The irony of it all is the uncanny resemblance their reaction bears to the wholesale denial of the truth when life finally caught up with Hamilton and Landis. Remember all the 'Let's all hate the French' chants, the 'Believe' campaigns and defence funds?

neilwheel's picture

posted by neilwheel [130 posts]
9th June 2010 - 11:05

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