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James Stout Interview: Part 2

Posted by bikezilla on July 29, 2011


Part 1, Part 2, Parts 3 & 4, Postscript

Part 2

Martin Hardy’s letter to TT1 on behalf of James Stout

James Stout blog entry regarding his issues with Team Type 1

Bz:

Martin Hardy is “A” lawyer, but not your lawyer? He wrote TT1 strictly as a friend and supporter, right?
 
JS:

“Yes, that’s right. Yes.

“Martin isn’t registered as a lawyer in the U.S. and he can’t represent me there. But he’s been a very good friend to me throughout this thing, when I went through some pretty dark times.

“Martin’s always been there for me.”

 
Bz:

Is Martin working with you on the case, now?
 
JS:

“He’s working with me. But, as I said, Martin is not a lawyer in the U.S.

“But I still turn to Martin for a load of advice, with regard to lots of things.

“He advises me in the capacity of someone who I trust.”

 
Bz:

How long were you with TT1, altogether?
 
JS:

“Two years.”

 
Bz:

I remember reading somewhere that the first year was actually pretty good.
 
JS:

“Yeah, it was fantastic! I loved it!

“That’s why this year I was incredibly enthusiastic.

“During any of my interviews from last year you’ll see that I wasn’t just on the team, but I was allllll about the team. It meant a lot to me. The diabetes things meant a lot to me. The team meant a lot to me.

“I was passionate about TT1.”

 
Bz:

Were you performing well, I mean at a high level, at the time?
 
JS:

“Yeah! I mean, we won the Race Across America, I won a criterium last year, I finished a few tough races in Belgium. So, yeah, things were all roses, until January of this year.”

 
Bz:

How did you go from point “A”, happily employed as a professional cyclist, to point “C” unemployed and at odds with your former team? We seem to be missing something important in between.
 
JS:

“I wasn’t really making anything public, because I was told not to by the team. I thought everything would be ok.

“And it turned out that everything wasn’t ok.

“At some point I realized that things weren’t gonna be ok. I had spoken to Martin and Martin gave me advice and we tried our hardest to resolve things amicably and it wasn’t working. So, at some point we had to reveal everything that happened, into the public sphere. We had to, unfortunately publish some things.

“TT1 still means a lot to me. I don’t want to run that name into the ground. But they didn’t act in a manner that was consistent with the image which they portray and at some point you have to be accountable for your actions.

“So, after five months of not receiving a paycheck, when I lived in my car, moved out of my house because I couldn’t pay rent, when for months I didn’t have a visa in the U.S., when I had to return to Europe at my own expense, I realized that the only way I was ever going to salvage anything out of this situation was to publish what I did publish on Martin’s website.”

 
Bz:

At what point, or how, did it begin going from good to bad?
 
JS:

“Well, there was a delay with the visas, a delay with pay. Eventually I never received any pay, from January of 2011.

“From then I tried my best to reach out to the team and I asked what was going on. At first they just told me, it’ll be sorted, it’ll be sorted. And I trusted them because I thought they were my friends . . . well, long story short, I shouldn’t have trusted them, at least in that capacity. Because,  I still haven’t received a penny.

“That got worse and worse. At first it’s one month without pay, then you can’t afford the rent on your house, then you’re sleeping on your friend’s couch, then you’re living in your car, then you’re selling all your shit to buy food.

“Then one day you realize that it’s not happening and you need to go home.”
 

Bz:

In your own writing and even in articles about you, your poltics are front and center. Was that ever a source of conflict between you and the team? Was there a grind between your way of thinking and team owner Phil Southerland’s way of thinking?
 
JS:

“I can’t say that there was, because Phil hasn’t communicated with me for months. And the reason I was dismissed was not officially that.

“But, it’s clear, as you say, that I wear my heart on my sleeve and if I feel something then I say that. Some people might not like that. I don’t know if he’s one of them and I wouldn’t like to presume to speak for him.

“But it’s not beyond the realms of possibility.”

 
Bz:

Whenever you were face to face with Phil, was there any friction? Or did it seem that things were ok?
 
JS:

“No, things seemed ok.

“The day before I left the United States I rode 100 miles with Phil. We chatted. It was ok.

“I mean, Phil was never like my best buddy and I didn’t see him that much. But, yeah, I turned to Phil for advice. I used to turn to Phil for medical advice all the time. There have been times when I’ve rung Phil at two in the morning to ask him what I should do with my insulin.”

 
Bz:

When things started turning, did he confront you? Or did he just kind of disappear out of your life?
 
JS:

“Ummm, he’d occasionally send me a couple of official emails. They were always in official language. And then he just hasn’t really spoken to me.

“When my contract was terminated, etcetera, that never came through Phil.

“So, since things have started really turning, I’ve not heard from Phil.”

 
Bz:

Phil started out as a mentor, almost a friend, and then he just vanished?
 
JS:

“Exactly,  yeah. Yeah. I don’t really hear from him.”

 
Bz:

And you were never really aware of the reasons behind that change?
 
JS:

“No. No, I don’t know what I did to him. I considered him a friend at one point, and I wouldn’t go that far now.

“I don’t know what I did to warrant that.”

 
Bz:

Were you on the team at the same time as Willem Van den Eynde?
 
JS:

“No. No, all I know about Willem is what you’ve read on Cycling News.

“I’m afraid I’ve never even met Willem.

“I’ve raced in Belgium, and I’ve never even seen another diabetic bike racer in Belgium. So, maybe he’s not in the sport any more.

“I’m afraid what I know about Willem is what you know about Willem, or anyone else who’s read the Cycling News.”

 
Bz:

His story is very similar to yours. His medication was withheld, he was forced to sleep on the floor of Southerland’s hotel room. He was denied food, berated by management, and he didn’t really understand what was going on, either.

Were you aware of other similar stories? More than just yours and Willem’s?
 
JS:

“Not of that kind of thing. But obviously when you’re on a team they don’t say, hey, do you know about this guy and this guy and this guy. So, if that had happened I’m sure that I wouldn’t have heard of it.

“But I’m not aware of any other stories in the same light.

“With the delays in our visas, that didn’t only affect me. But I wasn’t aware of anyone in the exact situation.

Willem Van den Eynde’s story, and here’s a discussion at Cycling News forums that contains a better translation of that article

Bz:

Willem Van den Eynde’s case was resolved successfully through the Belgian cycling federation and UCI. Have you attempted to seek a settlement or arbitration through your own national federation? Have you contacted UCI? If so, what were the results? What’s the status of your claims vs TT1?
 
JS:

“Yes. I was licensed through the USA cycling federation. I’ve been in touch with them and received no help and no response.

“Likewise Pat McQuaid (president of UCI – Bz), likewise UCI.

“That disappoints me, I’m not going to lie.

“There is a mountain of organizations who are designed to catch riders cheating, move bikes around, enforce all the rules.

“There should be an organization which supports the riders. There should be a (formalized – Bz) union of professional cyclists, which will step in on riders’ behalf.

“I really strongly feel that.

“I’m now with the Spanish federation (RFEC — Bz). Previously I went through USA Cycling.

“British cycling, in their wisdom, refused to grant me a license when I wasn’t living in the U.K.

“Which is total bullshit. Hundreds of riders which aren’t resident in the U.K. have British licenses; Mark Cavendish, David Millar, Bradley Wiggins, Geraint Thomas. Those guys don’t live in London or Oxford. Everyone lives in Italy or France or Spain.

“For whatever reason an official in the USA decided to kick up a fuss about me being registered in the U.S. from a British license even though I spent half the year in the United Kingdom.

“So I was forced to federate with the USA Cycling federation, who have not been that helpful in this case.”

 
Bz:

Have you tried to get help from the Spanish federation?
 
JS:

“Because I wasn’t licensed by the Spanish federation at the time, I haven’t. But, they have been entirely supportive in all my interactions with them. As far as processing my license,  helping me find teams, helping me get carpooled to races. I can’t fault the Real Federación Española  for anything.

“I think that, whatever you want to say about Contador, they stick up for their riders. Until they’re proved to be guilty.

“There are enough people who exist, as I say, to persecute the riders. I strongly believe that what they (RFEC – Bz) do is right. They stick up for their riders. I can’t speak highly enough of them.”

NOTE:
Since this interview RFEC has agreed to help James with his case – Bz.
 
Bz:

RFEC is an advocate for its riders?
 
JS:

“Specifically my interactions have been with the Catalan federation. Things have been great

“They supported Contador. I know there are cases where they haven’t supported riders. So I don’t know if this is a change of policy. I know the supported Valverde, as well.

“But even down to the fact that they make you take a physical before they give you a license, because it makes sense to check if you’re healthy before they take your money, not just take your money and watch you drop dead in a race.”

Bz:

Who was your DS at TT1?
 
JS:

“Director with the development team was Jack Seehafer. The year before that, with the elite team, it was Bob Schrank, who I cannot speak highly enough of.

“Bob is one of my best friends in the whole world. Bob is someone who I still turn to even though I’m not with TT1. If I have a problem, he’s someone I call.”

 
Bz:

So up to the DS level you felt pretty supported?
 
JS:

“Yeah, highly. They were good people, reeeeally good people.

“My father suffered some mental health issues in the past twelve months. I knew.

“I was 23, 22. You still need a father figure to look up to, and a lot of those guys on TT1 are people who I did look up to. People who I could turn to for help when I didn’t know what to do because I haven’t been alive long enough.

“Those guys who I met through TT1 were people who filled in for my dad, in a way, when my family was so far away.

“They’re good people and they’re people who have done a lot for me.”

 
Bz:

It’s rumored that treatment of riders was tiered, that those riders who won more, were treated better, given more and better food, medical supplies, shelter. Is there any accuracy to that?
 
JS:

“Ummm,  nope.

“I wasn’t living with the team. I was living by myself in California. But until the medication stopped I was receiving the same medication as everyone else. I followed two medications, the best on the market.

“There were issues with getting bikes out on time, with getting kits out on time. I wouldn’t say that was tiered treatment by any means, but I’d say it was just poor organization.”

 
Bz:

Because of your lack of medication did your own performance suffer?
 
JS:

“Oh yeah! I was creeeeping. If you don’t take your insulin for a week you’re about to go blind. You don’t take your insulin your kidneys will shut down.

“It’s not just about your performance, it’s your ability to stay alive. The insulin is absolutely integral to your survival. Without insulin the diabetic cannot survive.”

 
Bz:

How did it work, did your performance drop after they cut off the insulin? Or did they cut off the insulin when your performance dropped off?
 
JS:

“One day I just received an email saying I wasn’t going to get insulin any more.

“Pretty much I continued to use supplies that I had. I started having problems a couple months after that.

“It wasn’t just the lack of insulin it was also the stress that I was dealing with. I mean, I hadn’t been paid, I was living in my car, I didn’t know where my next meal was going to come from, I hadn’t received any race schedules.

“I think lack of insulin combined with just a ton of lifestyle issues.

“I mean, my performance wasn’t great. But, because I wasn’t racing I wasn’t resting enough. I beat shit into myself training, which was my fault.

“My performance may or may not have decreased. They would never have known, because they never took me to any races.”

“They stopped it (taking him to races – Bz) in 2011 because I never got my visa. You can’t be cycling professionally if you don’t have a visa to be a professional cyclist.”

Bz:

At what point did the insulin stop?
 
JS:

“The insulin stopped in March.”

 
Bz:

How did it work with the visa? Or how was it supposed to work? Do they typically help you get your visa?
 
JS:

“That was their obligation. I have a contract that states that they’re the employer and it’s up to them to get a visa.”

 
Bz:

How did that fall apart?
 
JS:

“I don’t know exactly what happened. But, there was a horrendous delay so that the Visa didn’t come till April.

“I was continually being told, it’ll come in five days, it’ll come in five days, it’ll come in five days.

“So, why that happened, I don’t know.”

 
Bz:

In April you finally got the visa?
 
JS:

“I was on a student visa at UCSD and I went to change to a professional athlete visa and that never came. I took a sabbatical to ride full time.

“In April the visa was approved provisionally. I then had to go back to the United Kingdom to conduct an interview and collect the visa.

“Previously TT1 had told me I’d be able to do that in the U.S., but it turned out you can’t do it in the U.S.

“So I returned April 11th, which was the last day I was legally able to remain in the U.S. on my old visa.

“I left the U.S. and came to the UK in order to pick up my visa, thinking I’d be back in a couple of weeks. so I brought one bag of clothes and my bike.

“At that point they terminated my contract.”

 

Bz:

With TT1’s connections to pharmaceutical companies, they would seem to have easier access to doping products through the back door. Were you aware of doping occurring on any level by any rider or with the knowledge or consent of any staff, management or ownership personnel? 
 
JS:

“That’s not something I want to comment on right now. I never saw anyone taking any performance enhancing substances. But I don’t want to talk about doping on TT1 at the moment if that’s ok.”

 
Bz:

I’ve heard that TT1 is being investigated for insurance fraud, were you aware of that? Have you been contacted about it? Do you have any information about it?
 
JS:

“I wasn’t aware that they were being investigated for insurance fraud.

“It upsets me to read shit about TT1, because I get angry so I try not to.

“Because, I’m torn between really resenting what they did to me, and wanting my friends to do well. And it really upsets me.

“There are individuals who I hugely resent the way they treated me. There are other individuals who are some of my best friends.

“It upsets me when I see my friends cooperating with people who I know have done such horrible things to me. So, I try to avoid any type of interactions with TT1. I just try to keep them out of my life as much as I can.”

_________–

You can also find this and future interviews, plus a lot more cycling related content, at Cyclismas.

Cyclismas.

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A Conversation With Bill Strickland: Part 2: Writer / Reader Relationship

Posted by bikezilla on April 29, 2011


Part 1, Emma O’Reilly’s Anger at Bill Strickland, Part 2, Part 3, Bill Strickland’s NPR Interview, Part 4, Part 5, Postscript

Bill objects to making a defense of his writing and thinks that it is good and right that any reader should interpret his writing either in a manner that brings him praise or in a manner that damns him.

And of course, readers who feel either way tend to believe that most or all readers surely feel as they do.

Here’s are some of his thoughts from our conversation, discussing his philosophy regarding the writer / reader relationship.

Bill Strickland:

“I have come to found a big part of my understanding of writing on the belief that the compact between writer and reader is simple: The writer puts the words together, then shows it to the public, and from then on the story belongs to the reader, who individually and without obligation to the writer or to the writer’s intent (or the story’s intent), can think anything about it he wants, can perceive in it what he wants, can absorb or discard the parts of it he wants. To me, anything the reader comes up with is fair enough.

I mean, who’s to say that readers don’t finally know what a story is about better than the writer does? For me, at least, putting a story together is a mysterious and uncertain process, and readers — at least the ones who tell you what the story is about — seem to interpret with much more certainty than I create.

I’m interested in all the various opinions and ideas a story generates in readers (so keep those cards and letters coming, folks — Bikezilla). I like to hear them, and think about their substance, try to figure out what it is in the writing that led to that specific opinion.

I try to understand how, for instance, X in writing generates Y in a reader, and if X is somehow useful to me as a technique or if it was accidental and won’t work that way again. I try to figure out if an opinion was created because the reader reacted to Z or missed Z, and why some readers miss Z while others react to it so strongly that as soon as they read it they cannot fully absorb the rest of the paragraph.

This kind of input is extremely valuable to me from a technical point of view. It makes me better — or at least I use it to try to become a better writer.”

— Here’s an interview that Bill Strickland did with Podium Cafe.

Throughout the remainder of this series I’ll be presenting occasional quotes from that PC interview. But I need to make a confession, first.

That Podium Cafe interview if far more in depth than what I’m doing with this series. Though I quote it several times, some of them long, I’ve only taken the passages or portions of passages that mesh with the discussion that I had with Bill Strickland myself.

If you have serious favorable or unfavorable interest in Bill Strickland and his writing, you should read the full Podium Cafe piece.

I have not intentionally altered the intent or meaning of any quote, but I have not quoted completely.

All emphasis is mine.

On the sport of cycling:

Bill Strickland:

“Maybe I’m romanticizing the sport. I am horribly prone to that as well.”

That particular quote should be kept in mind as you read through later portions of this series.

On why his book with Johan Bruyneel, “We Might as Well Win” barely mentioned doping, and didn’t even touch on the topic of Michele Ferrari and Manolo Saiz.

Bill Strickland:

“Johan’s choice – it’s his book. I mean, that’s rich material for sure but not even close to the point of what he wanted to accomplish with the book.

He took some unfair hits for not addressing that, but the whole idea was to create a collection of the lessons he’d learned through racing and directing. If he’d set out to write a complete biography, or a reputed tell-all, and not even mentioned them, then I think the criticism would be warranted (and I don’t think I’d have stayed on to help him).

As a storyteller, looking at the structure, in that particular book those subjects were not omitted but simply didn’t fit.”

Is that an adequate explanation? Is it a believable explanation? Or is it merely a shield for both Bruyneel and Strickland?

On Lance Armstrong’s peronsality:

You can see from the Podium Cafe interview that there’s a lot more to the Bill Strickland story than just his relationship with Lance Armstrong. But Lance Armstrong and doping are the parts that really irk most cycling fans, whether they worship Lance or loathe him.

Bill has a perspective on this that you will either find to be reasonable and fair, or obstructionist and frustrating. In fact, you’re likely to see most of what I present here, entirely in one light or the other.

From the Podium Cafe interview:

“I’ve concluded that he derives nearly equal energy from the time that, say, his sixth-grade teacher teased him and the time L’Equipe accused him of doping.

It’s kind of binary for him: either you’re in his way or you’re not, you harmed him or you didn’t, you believe him or you don’t. He seems not to care much about the nuances, if the barrier in front of him is a single brick or a wall forty bricks high and forty bricks deep: he’s going through it if he can.

(I think of it as the kind of determination or drive that, existing in people with different sorts of skills and gifts, ends up giving us Steve Jobs, or maybe Winston Churchill, or Mother Teresa, or Bernie Madoff or Atilla the Hun.)”

From Tour de Lance, p. 230-231:

“He’s not a naturally funny person. Even his close friends say his humor tends to be corny and repetitive. He’s best described not as clever or smart but as cunning.

And for as moneyed and as cultured as he has become, he is still in essence, as I was told by a person who was employed by one of Armstrong’s sponsoring companies and worked closely on him with several projects, ‘the kind of guy who would be happy putting his car in a ditch every weekend.’ . . . He became exposed to the idea of appreciating art (and architecture) during his first trips to Europe in his pre-cancer era . . .today, he likes to reference artists in his Twitter posts . . . [and] the walls of his home have displayed Michael Gregory, Bettie Ward, Barry McGee, Tony Berlant . . . It’s an impressive collection, yet there’s a dissonantly competitive spirit to Armstrong’s pursuit of it all, as if when he understood that art was something sophisticated people should enjoy, he set out to be the best at enjoying it.

Someone who worked with him on an extended commercial project told me that ‘When Lance found out I was a visual person, he took me around his house to see his art collection, and we had to stand before each one and dutifully appreciate it. And we couldn’t move on until he felt he’d accomplished the appreciation.”

How should those descriptions be taken? As evidence that Strickland in fact has a sober view of what Armstrong is really like? They aren’t flattering, but they aren’t damning, either. Are they too little, too mild, to ho-hum in relation to Strickland’s long delayed admission or realization that Armstrong was (is?) a career doper?

—-

This series will be at least 5 parts long, maybe as long as 7.

Part 3 should be up in 2 – 3 days, again.

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Still More Thoughts on Stuff

Posted by bikezilla on March 15, 2011


UCI is rethinking the radio ban.

They finally acknowledge that safety is a legitimate concern.

But, as I’ve said before, UCI is ASO’s biatch, and they’re only reconsidering exactly the notion put forth by Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme; A radio frequency run by race organizers to convey safety info to the riders.

That’s nice.

First, what about smaller races where organizers don’t have the budget to implement this? Will UCI pick up the tab? I’m thinkin’, “no”.

Next, now that it’s been admitted that safety is a true and honest aspect of radio usage, isn’t it incumbent upon UCI to suspend the ban until a solution is in place? Now that the monkey is loose, aren’t they (UCI) 100% responsible if some tragedy should happen that could have been prevented with proper radio safety related communication?

Finally, it does seem that AIGCP president Jonathan Vaughters has misrepresented the issue, claiming that radio communications of a purely safety based nature would turn cycling from a team sport to an individual sport.

His premise assumes that riders are incapable of communication amongst themselves. The evidence of cooperation between riders in any break should easily dispel that, as should the fact that cycling was a team sport long before the introduction of race radios.

Or should we believe that this year’s slate of radio-free races has been nothing but a free-for-all of individuals and a total abandonment of the team concept?

I didn’t think so.

Clipless pedals aren’t for everyone.

I absolutely believe that most casual and first year riders should be using platform pedals.

But that article isn’t completely accurate.

Aside from anyone who races or who just pushes themselves to go very fast regularly, there are some types or riding that I’ve come to love my clipless pedals for.

1. Bumpy, rutted, washed out trails.

I’m not even talking about singletrack, but just your run of the mill railtrail.

Ever have your foot bumped off the pedal at just the wrong moment and end up, or nearly end up, eating dirt on the side of the trail?

With clipless pedals that’ll never happen again.

2. Riding in wet or muddy weather.

Unless you’re riding slow enough for old people with walkers to pass you, you can bet that your feet are gonna be slipping off your platform pedals a gazillion times during your wet or muddy rides.

Not so with clipless pedals.

3. Snow and ice riding.

See #2

— Rehab for users of performance enhancing drugs?

Jonathan Vaughters, via Twitter, has suggested: “Why not come up with some sort of official rehab program? Blood tests, physical tests, psychological tests. (Riders) Must pass to race.”

And WADA is sponsoring just such a trial program at Lausanne University.

After reading the article it doesn’t sound like the pathetic waste of time I initially thought it was.

But it does seem like it has the potential to become an insincere, even outright phony gimmick that does little other than to help guys who’ve already proven to be dishonest get back on their bikes sooner.

Like the guy in prison who finds religion so that he might have a better shot a parole, only to dump it in the toilette the moment he walks out the prison gates.

It’s an idea with some small potential for genuine usefulness, but huge potential for abuse.

It also does absolutely nothing to address the issues of teams and managers that promote and even insist upon doping within their teams.

Let’s say a guy goes through scumbag-doping-cheater rehab and puts real effort into every aspect of the program, then comes out the other side most sincerely reformed.

Then you push said guy back into the same environment where his team manager only lets the doped guys into the biggest races and the team has a complete doping program and system in place, and holy shiite, now that the guy is clean he just can’t reach that next level.

Then what? He either quits or he falls right back into cycling’s mafioso doping culture.

And is it his fault?

Until teams and managers are held accountable for what happens on and within the team, nothing is going to change.

And what about riders who insist that they’re innocent? Should the time, expense and effort of rehab be wasted on a rider who refused to even confess to his crime? How seriously would the unrepentant take their stay at the Betty Ford Clinic?

UCI suggests tiered doping suspensions and a shortened Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a Espana.

It think that’d lead to more riders using “lesser” substances, but might still lead to a more level playing field, because EPO is the big difference maker (that and autologous blood transfusions).

Is it a good idea? I’m undecided.

As for that other thing:

Destroying the 2nd and 3rd biggest and most prestigious races in the world in order to give some podunk throwdown out in Bumfuckedistan with minimal prize money and no TV coverage a shit-stain’s chance in a bucket of bleach? Yeah, great idea, Pat.

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Thoughts on Stuff: Doping Edition

Posted by bikezilla on March 12, 2011


This article might alternately be titled: Fuck You, Lance Armstrong

Except that such a title is not very family friendly, and so not in keeping with Bikezilla’s policies and guidelines regarding good taste and objectivity.

— Floyd Landis has openly and repeatedly (and belatedly) admitted that he was a serial doper.

Yet he insists that he did not use testosterone during or immediately prior to the 2006 Tour de France.

Oddly, that’s the substance that he was nailed for using.

Another confessed doper, Gert-Jan Theunisse, was “caught” when he failed a doping control for testosterone. Theunisse also insists that he had not used testosterone.

What are the possibilities for this?

Is the test inaccurate?

Are doping results manipulated by WADA and AFLD at UCI’s request?

This would make sense in the Landis case, especially (or “expecially” as C2 and fav sister say) if an individual in that mafiaesque culture, say someone like Made-Man Lance Armstrong, had a grudge vs Landis and maybe slipped a godfather type figure at UCI a lil cashola and made such a request.

But does that fly with Theunisse?

Did UCI go after him because his conscience had him making uncomfortable statements about the wrongness of doping to PDM management? Uncomfortable statements that were passed on to the-godfather Hein Verbruggen and that made Theunisse a liability within the mafioso hierarchy of the sport and its growing culture of doping?

Here again is the quote of Verbruggen after Theunisse and others came forward to admit to doping and to condemn the practice of doping.

They “cannot bring any good and it makes those riding clean feel guilty. They are giving the impression that doping practices were structured in their teams.”.

And

“A rider is the first one responsible of his doping. They could have said: no to doping. About these three riders, another Dutch rider told me that if they were ethical they would return the prizes they won thanks to doping”.

From these it’s clear that Verbruggen strove to protect the guilty and to promote the use of performance enhancing drugs. And he did it all at the expense of the innocent and of those wishing only for redemption.

But how far would he go to protect and promote?

That brings us, complete with our tinfoil hats, to . . .

— Riccardo Ricco.

Ricco, never accused of being the smartest of guys, recently poisoned himself while transfusing his own spoiled blood.

Oopsy.

He then confessed to the transfusion.

Only to recant that confession.

Now, whether Ricco quits on his own or not is irrelevant. The boy won’t be riding professionally ever again.

Regardless of how dim he may be, he’s got to understand this.

So what could be his motivation for continuing to not only deny his doping history, but to escalate those denials?

Might it be something along the lines of a very personal, very intimate phone call from UCI Pat “Dick” McQuaid, followed by calls from Dick’s lawyers, explaining how opening up this whole, big ole can of worms about doping and who is and isn’t doping, what assistance is given by teams, which doctors and their staffs perform the procedures, really doesn’t benefit anyone and certainly doesn’t benefit the sport in any way? A lil cash across his palm couldn’t hurt, either.

Hmmmmmmmmm. Nah. Couldn’t be that.

— And since none of you can go a single minute without some discussion or another of Lance Armstrong, I’ll talk about him, too.

Mind you, I don’t do this because I want to, but only as a public service. You’re welcome.

Velonews just put out an article about Georgia Congressman Jack Kingston and his crusade to get the FDA investigation into Lance Armstrong’s illegal drug activities shutdown.

Reading Kingston’s comments I can only assume that Hein Verbruggen writes the good Congressman’s copy.

His accusations on Armstrong’s behalf include:

“But it almost appears to me that there’s a little adventurism going on here; that Mr. Novitsky is operating on his own.” — Because Novitksy hasn’t made a name for himself yet. Errrrrrr, or something like that.

And

” . . . because it’s a celebrity, and one great way to make a name for yourself in this town and in politics is to bring down a celebrity.” — Because nobody noticed him after the whole Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire thing.

Kingston even gave a Vergruggenesque rationale for why Lance Armstrong totally deserves a free pass for any wrongdoing:

“This is an icon who revolutionized bike riding and brought it home to so many Americans, this is a huge icon that your agency is trying to take down . . .”

“But you’re really going after somebody whose name is synonymous with health.”

Let me see if I follow, Congressman.

Lance Armstrong is above the law because:

1. He’s an icon.

2. He’s a HUGE icon.

3. He “revolutionized bike riding”.

4. He “brought it home to so many Americans” — Considering the Congressman’s enthusiastic promotion of the sport in Armstrong’s defense, I’m sure we will soon see many pro-bicycle bills with his name in their titles.

5. His “name is synonymous with health” — All I can say to this one is, “Wha . . .?”

I think it’d be interesting to find out how much Lance Armstrong, along with any organization or company that Lance Armstrong has any connection with, “donated” to Congressman Kingston.

I mean, how much exactly does it cost to buy a Congressman these days?

The VeloNews article, after much bullying by Lance Armstrong and his lawyers, has gone through several post-publication changes.

But here’s a quote from the original that you’ll no longer find on the site:

“Sources close to the case told VeloNews that Armstrong’s attorneys have met with Department of Justice officials in Washington in recent months in an effort to stop Novitzky’s investigation. Despite the lobbying effort, the department has increased the number of U.S. attorneys developing a potential indictment against those currently under investigation.”

For now you can find that in an archived copy of the article, HERE. You’ll have to scroll most of the way down the page.

— Remember, girls and boys, your tinfoil hats only work if they’re made of TINfoil. Aluminum foil will actually increase the potency of alien and governmental mind-control rays.

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More, More Thoughts On Stuff

Posted by bikezilla on March 10, 2011


Another collection of links, but no time to write full articles.

— If you ride your bike in New York City, don’t be surprised if your harassed by police. This guy was sexually assaulted.

That’s what they’d call it if any non-police person grabbed hold of your junk and squeezed it with intent of causing pain and humiliation.

— Random Thought #1:

If beloved riders near the ends of their careers, guys like George Hincapie and Jens Voigt, had doped over the courses of those careers, what would you like to happen?

Would you want them exposed? Or would you prefer a cover up?

Would you want them caught? Or would you prefer that they get away with it until they retire?

Would you prefer the unshattered illusion? Or truth?

— Random Thought #2:

The doping test for plasticizer is not approved.

The test detects the plasticizer used in transfusion bags, which also happens to be the plasticizer in water bottles.

You can see the potential for false positives, or rather, real positives but with causes by innocent means.

However, this test is the only way currently known to detect autolougous blood transfusions, that is, transfusions of one’s own blood.

So, should it be used, at risk of punishing innocent riders who merely drank bottled water? Is that risk worth the lone opportunity to begin catching riders and teams who use autologous transfusions?

— MPCC, another of Jonathan Vaughters’ endeavors (I believe he’s also president of the organization) wants teams held responsible when one or more of their riders tests positive.

UCI will never go for this, unless they can water it down so that they can get around it when it suits their need and utilize it when THAT suits their need. Their history shows that they adamantly deny any connection between individual riders doping and any systemic or systematic contributions from the teams, regardless of the evidence.

Hein Verbruggen, in fact, became quite angry when several Dutch riders (or former riders) confessed to doping, saying they:

“cannot bring any good and it makes those riding clean feel guilty. They are giving the impression that doping practices were structured in their teams.”.

And

“A rider is the first one responsible of his doping. They could have said: no to doping. About these three riders, another Dutch rider told me that if they were ethical they would return the prizes they won thanks to doping”.

UCI, in its complicity in the doping culture, will and in fact must continue to shield teams from any culpability or repercussions greater than the lose of suspended riders.

— It’s glossed over here, but Trent Lowe DID record a hematocrit level higher than 50%.

The only explanation given is that it was a “lab error”, with no evidence to prove that.

The thing that bothers me, especially with both Love and Jonathan Vaughters proclaiming Garmin as Team Clean, is why the heck was the failed hematocrit test never reported to UCI AND why was Lowe NEVER retested on it?

Toss the del Moral connection into things and how can you view this as anything but fishy?

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Did Greg LeMond Ride Clean?

Posted by bikezilla on March 3, 2011


Greg LeMond: The first American to win the Tour de France and he did it three times.

He’s generally considered the only “sure thing” as far as winners of the Tour de France winning clean.

But back on August 1st of 2007 a very angry Lance Armstrong fanboy, calling himself “Chapeau!” asked some very angry, very pointed questions of Greg Lemond via a cycling forum.

If you’ll take the time to go read, you’ll see that he clearly misrepresents a few things. But, overall, if you strip away the hysteria and the misrepresentations, he manages to get in a few very fair questions.

Some of those questions were answered during a July 1st, 2007 interview with Paul Kimmage (sorry, but the article seems to have vanished from The Sunday Times, so I’ve linked to a copied and pasted version on the same forum as the previous rant).

One thing I noticed in that article is that Kimmage, Mr Righteous Anti-Doping Crusader, removes the name of the Dr that Lemond was referred to for doping and replaced it with “[Dr X]”.

Isn’t it odd that Kimmage himself plays the enabling protector?

But onward.

Here’s a Radio Open Source Pod Cast that includes about a ten minute interview with Lemond. You’ll find him at around 25:23 minutes.

The story that made me wonder some deeper thoughts came from Greg’s official site, GregLeMond.com, from an article about a teammate dying as a result of doping.

Greg claims to have no knowledge of the problem existing either on the team or with his friend, until after the death.

But doping isn’t a one man show. Lots of people have to be involved. So I’d like to add that to the list of questions asked by “Chapeau!” on that forum. How could you, Greg, as the team’s top rider, be ignorant of such nefarious ongoings?

Then, LeMond questioned Alberto Contador’s performance up Verbier, calculating Alberto’s VO2 Max at 99.5.

Later, Alberto refused to answer questions about this, or about his actual VO2 Max. He would only say, “Next question”. To me that’s damned suspicious.

Beyond that, Greg is a damned intelligent guy who now does this stuff for a living. So if he says that Alberto’s VO2 Max was beyond what’s possible without doping, I believe it.

But, what I want to get at is this; LeMond tested at a VO2 Max of 92.5.

Did he test that high consistently? Is that achievable without the aid of transfusions or EPO? Is it in a grey area that might be considered possible but could also indicate EPO usage or transfusions?

I’m not accusing Greg LeMond of doping. I’m not even suggesting that he doped.

But, it’d be really nice to get a chance to ask him the questions raised by Lance fanboy “Chapeau!” and those others that I’ve been musing over.

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Is AFLD Playing Obstructionist in Lance Armstrong Case?

Posted by bikezilla on February 25, 2011


In a recent LeMonde interview with Bruno Genevois, President of AFLD (That’s “LeMonde” as in the magazine, not “Lemond” as in the first American to ever win the Tour de France. A mistake yours truly made. DOH!), you’ll find the following:

LeMonde: “Another current case concerns a former Tour winner Lance Armstrong . End of 2010, the U.S. court has met with your predecessor. He pledged that the AFLD to produce to the urine samples of Tour 1999 to investigate the effect if they contained traces of erythropoietin (EPO). Did you?”

Genevois: “Every citizen must answer to justice when approached by her. I promise that in time the AFLD comply with the Convention on Mutual Assistance Franco-American. But for now, the procedure of international rogatory commission has only just begun.”

Is that an indication that AFLD is playing the role of obstructionist in the U.S. government’s case against Lance Armstrong?

Already it’s been months and still, according to Genevois, the process is “only just begun”.

Why does he say that “in time the AFLD (will) comply”?, rather than that the ARE complying, but that the process is lengthy, detailed and difficult (or some such)?

It almost seems like a typical case of the French going out of their way to stick a thumb in America’s eye for no reason other than spite.

Almost, and that may be an element, but what other reason might AFLD, not known for it’s integrity, have for stalling in giving Lance Armstrong’s 1999 samples over to the USFDA and Jeff Novitzky?

With UCI’s long suspected internal corruption at risk of being exposed as fact should Lance Armstrong go down in flames, is UCI applying pressure to AFLD to stall in the transfer of evidence, and maybe even “lose” some of it?

Has there already been another payment by Lance Armstrong to UCI as thanks for their support in this matter? Or would the danger of exposure be enough for Pat “Dick” McQuaid to approach AFLD to make a deal?

AFLD has been marginalized by UCI and ASO, and they were not allowed to test riders during last year’s Tour de France. Now AFLD struggles to regain UCI’s good graces so that they might no longer be marginalized, and regain the esteem and wealth associated with being responsible for running (or at least participating in) the doping controls at the world’s most prestigious cycling event.

Their hatred of America plus the manipulation by UCI is powerful motivation to obstruct the transfer of evidence.

I asked my Twitter followers their opinion on this:

SFC750 aka aka Massimo Jaboffo said:

” Not sure (yet)… might be too early to tell & all sorts of international law type ‘o stuff about evidence-procedure involved…”

I think the wording of Genevois’ statement makes that unlikely, but it’s a great point and still plausible.

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Jonathan Vaughters: Connecting the Dots

Posted by bikezilla on February 21, 2011


The Short:

Jonathan “The Poet” Vaughters feels wrongly and unfairly judged by “new media”. He also feels that they, and the average Joe on the streets, are unqualified to make such judgments.

This digs at The Poet’s emotions, often leaving him “infuriated, saddened and hurt”.

He believes that people who are not in-the-know improperly “connect the dots” regarding his history and his current situations and actions.

The Long:

I can believe all of that. As I’ve mentioned before, The Poet is a guy who is personally connected to his riders as human beings. He truly cares about them. A guy who can invest himself that way, and do it so openly, isn’t gonna be the kind of guy who has criticisms roll off of his back as if it were the protective shell of a tortoise. Criticisms, especially personal criticisms, cut a guy like that, they draw blood, they hurt. Sometimes they hurt a lot.

But Jonathan kind of buys some of that pain, kind of earns it via past and present actions and inactions, and through his refusal to openly address some crucial issues, issues that the “real journalists” of cycling lack the professionalism and courage to properly investigate.

For instance, very recently JV tweeted that he doesn’t ever read forums, save for one thread about a “leak” from Garmin.

So pointing that out as a source of pain comes across as disingenuous, at a minimum.

See, that’s the kind of thing that it’s reasonable to connect some dots on. It’s reasonable to look at those two bits of information and say, “Hmmmmm, they just don’t seem to add up”.

And there are lots of things, lots of times, when it’s reasonable to do that.

It’s reasonable to know that JV laughed about an improperly passed on story concerning Johan Bruyneel dumping a bag of Floyd Landis’ blood down a toilette as punishment for riding a time trial “too hard” and think, “Ok, JV is intimately aware that there IS doping in the peloton, and of specific individuals involved in that doping.”

It’s reasonable to say, “Ok, JV was on Lance Armstrong’s team in 1999, the same year as Lance Armstrong’s retested samples show EPO use.” and then think “It’s likely that JV was fully aware of the US Postal’s doping practices and that he continues to protect Lance, Johan Bruyneel, the UCI and the entire corrupt system from that time with his silence.”

It’s reasonable to note, though JV resents it, that the infamous Dr Luis Garcia del Moral served U.S. Postal during the 1999 season and then wonder, “Did the good Dr work his doping magic on Vaughters during that time?”

It’s reasonable to then say, “It’s possible that JV continues to protect Lance, Johan, Dr del Moral, UCI, etc, for any of several reasons: He’s still personally connected with the doping lifestyle; He’s unwilling to risk being exposed himself: He’s afraid of Lance Armstrong, like so many other people seem to be; . . .”

It’s reasonable to know that JV counseled Floyd Landis to “tell them it’s none of their business” should anyone ask him for names, dates, times and places where doping occurred, and then think, “Yes, it’s very possible that JV is covering things up himself.”

You might look at JV’s occasional excellence as a climber: He held the record for ascending Mount Ventoux until it was broken by Iban Mayo; Iban Mayo is a confirmed doper, failing a doping control for EPO.

Then it would be reasonable to think, “If only a guy pumped full of juice could touch JV’s record, then it seems reasonable that JV was likewise a consumer of EPO and maybe autologous blood transfusions.”

That becomes more reasonable when you take Vaughter’s confession into account.

It’s reasonable to say, “If JV knew about U.S. Postal’s doping, if he’s always protected Lance and continues to do so, if his own sporadically exceptional climbing performances indicate that he himself was likely guilty of doping, too, then maybe his whole “Team Clean” schtick is just that, a schtick, empty words, an attempt to pull the wool over our eyes.”

Continue to put your trust in “real journalists” Jonathan. They’re your best hope for keeping the past buried.

Or maybe you’d like to join in being reasonable with us, JV?

Why not just lay it all out on the table? Make a public statement regarding all of that, and do it without prevaricating and without ambiguity.

Shoot, write a book and get rich off of it if you want to.

I’ll give you a starter list of questions to address, since “real journalists” are too busy kissing your ass to present them:

— Were you aware of any U.S. Postal rider doping, at any time, for any reason, while you were a member of U.S. Postal or afterward?

— Did you ever witness, or were you ever aware of Lance Armstrong using performance enhancing drugs?

— Were you ever aware of Dr del Moral or any person or persons associated with him, helping any rider to dope, regardless of the extent of that aid?

— How were doping supplies obtained? From who? At what cost? How were they disposed of? Again, by who? How was all this paid for?? These apply not only on U.S. Postal, but to any team you were a part of on any level and while fulling any function, duty or office?

— What was Johan Bruyneel’s involvement with U.S. Postal’s doping program?

— Were you ever aware of UCI turning a blind eye to U.S. Postal’s doping, or to doping within the peloton in general?

— Were you ever aware of any rider on any team you rode for doping?

— Did you ever use performance enhancing drugs (I know you’ve admitted this, but you did it in a kind of left-handed way and only in the foreign press).

— Why have you not been as honorable and courageous in exposing doping within the peloton to the appropriate authorities as Xavier Tondo has been?

That’s an ok first round.

These are things that “real journalists” should be asking you, but won’t. Which is the reason for your adoration for cycling’s “real journalists”.

I don’t believe for a heartbeat that you posses the courage or principles to answer even these questions openly, truthfully and in a simple, straight-forward manner.

NOTE: But we’ll see. In a 23 Feb 11 Twitter discussion JV invited me to contact him formally for an interview. I submitted that request Saturday, 26 Feb 11. Now we’ll wait to see if I’ll be required to eat crow, or if I’m proven correct. I’m hoping to be proven wrong, and I’ve bought a large supply of condiments to make the crow more palatable. END NOTE

But I do believe it to be the only way that you’ll ever be rid of the horrible unfairness and injustice of “new media’s” poisonous and unfounded speculations.

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Alberto Contador and Riccardo Ricco: Two Peas in a Pod

Posted by bikezilla on February 15, 2011


Riccardo Ricco is still in the ICU, suffering heart and lung problems as a result of his botched transfusion, using blood that had sat in his fridge for nearly a month (per Floyd Landis’ instructions).

Alberto Contador thinks that he’s been saved from a ban from professional cycling and the loss of his ’10 Tour de France title, after the Royal Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC -his national federation) cleared him of any wrong doing.

We all know that the Alberto Contador soap opera isn’t over. In the end WADA will appeal the decision and CAS will toss him for 2 yrs and strip him of his title. No “maybes”.

If there is a Witch Hunter in cycling, it is WADA. WADA does not care about its own integrity. It cares only to exercise its power and to punish. It will stoop to any means at its disposal, honest or dishonest, to nail even an accidental offender to the cross (except in the case of UCI cover ups, which WADA must be complicit in).

CAS has a history of two things: utterly unqualified judges, and allowing no leniency or reprieve (regardless of facts or UCI and WADA errors) for those brought before it.

Add to that the fact that Alberto Contador has no exonerating evidence, only conjecture that he couldn’t possibly have doped intentionally, and there is no hope for our wee pistolero. Though it would seem that he has an excellent chance of riding the entire ’11 season prior to the hammer coming down.

The rules say zero tolerance for clenbuterol, and there will be none. There’s no wiggle room, short of a blatant show of superstar favoritism by UCI. They’d have to prove to the world that they’re every bit as corrupt, deviant, self-serving, untrustworthy and conflicted as we already believe they are.

Alberto had a shot at a one year suspension, but he walked away from it. WADA won’t be seeking a one year ban when they take Alberto before CAS, because there really is no evidence beyond his own word and speculation that his ingestion of clenbuterol was accidental.

Without that evidence, CAS has no grounds for reducing the ban to one year.

If you dope you know the possible risks, including the risk of serious organ damage and even death, and the potential to be caught and suspended along with the loss of certain of your victories. Knowing those odds, you go forward and you make an informed and active choice to gamble. If you lose your wager, then you shouldn’t be surprised that you have to honor your debt.

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Response to Reader: Doping Witch Hunts

Posted by bikezilla on February 11, 2011


After reading Riccardo Riccò, Floyd Landis, and Auto-Tranfusions, The Biking Chick, aka Leiann Samuell asked via Twitter:

“What about steroid use / doping use in other sport? Is it just out there in cycling? Have other sports ended it?”

And:

“Are we going to see a cycling witch hunt a la the MLB?”

As I’ve said before, the subject of doping is a non-cycling cycling story. I generally avoid it, so I’m no expert. When you go outside of cycling I know even less.

I’m not gonna touch the “cycling vs every other sport” thing.

But MLB and the related “witch hunt”? That’s some sweet shiite.

That witch hunt was necessary and just maybe something similar is needed in cycling.

MLB had no desire to eliminate or even curb doping. Doping was berry berry good to baseball.

Baseball was a dying sport. Doping added excitement that was impossible to introduce in any other way.

Dude, a 50 year old, untouchable home run record was broken, rebroken, rerebroken, then Hank Aaron’s record fell. All to dopers, all because of doping.

MLB neeeeeeeeeeeeded doping in a big, big way and doping totally delivered the goods, bringing fans back by the bandwagon load.

So MLB pretended to hate doping while being complicit in it.

Complicit? Like, um, UCI?

Does cycling need doping like MLB did?

Is it more exciting to see an impossible, yet emotional and inspirational ascent up a savage mountain face?

On one hand, sure. But on the other hand, cycling fans are more savvy to doping, more adept at recognizing that a truly unbelievable performance is just that, truly unbelievable.

For instance, during the ’10 Vuelta, Ezequiel Mosquera’s performance.

His riding, his climbing, his performance, my God, magnificent.

But after his Stage 17 time trial performance, where he improved (if I remember correctly) 40 or so places over his average TT finish of 63rd to 20th (and conveniently enough, took over 2nd place in the GC), I and others quietly wondered if he could have doped.

I was more crushed over finding out that Mosquera had doped than that Alberto Contador had, but both really hurt. A lot of other fans, people who passionately love the sport, felt just as hurt and let down.

MLB, it’s management, team owners and players, escalated their lies and cover-ups until trying to end doping the nice way, the calm way, the reasonable way, was a stupidly fruitless endeavor.

They forced the course of events to run the “witch hunt” route. It became the only sane and sensible course of action.

MLB represented one extreme. The Witch Hunters represented the other.

UCI and guys like Lance Armstrong and Johan Bruyneel are pushing cycling in the same direction.

They’ll keep treating fans and media as if we’re all too stupid to figure out what’s what, until finally someone with some kind of serious power shouts, “ENOUGH!” and the witch hunt is on.

Was MLB any cleaner after it’s witch hunt? I can only say that, with the exception of Barry Bonds, it seems so.

The witch hunt seemed to force MLB to outgrow its dope induced sensationalism far sooner than any other motivation would have.

MLB needed one extreme to blast full speed into another.

Does cycling need the same?

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