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Wastrel

  • joined Feb 26, 2010
  • last login Jul 11, 2014
  • posts 13
  • comments 4632
User Blog

Tenerife back in the news...

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Remember how Froome, Nibali, and Contador are all training at the same hotel? Well, apparently there has been some chatter, between teams if not between the bigs themselves, and Froome has spotted something: you don't get tested if you train in Tenerife. He claims he's only been tested once in all the time he's spent there, and that he hasn't been tested at all in his Tour prep there. What's more, he says that neither Nibali nor Contador has been tested either. He seems quite pissed off about this. So, you're a drug tester. The three top contenders for the largest annual sporting event in the world are all training in exactly the same place at the same time, in the immediate run-up to the competition. What's more, they're training in a place that has (rightly or wrongly) gained a bad reputation as a hideaway for dopers, because apparently testers never go there. Do you a) send a tester on a pleasant spring vacation to Tenerife, making it harder to accuse the winner (whichever of the three he ends up being) and helping to quash rumours that the Tenerife training camps are for more than just altitude, or b) sit at home in the rain and assume that top cyclists couldn't possibly be doping if they're not in continental europe? The UCI now say they're 'looking into' the issue, but pass the buck to the 'Cycling Anti Doping Foundation', which is apparently the body in charge of this stuff and not the UCI honestly. (the CADF, iiuic, is a quango of the UCI that a recent audit found needed 'urgent' improvement, including to stop the UCI from interfering in its operation)

The biggest cycling news story of the week!

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...Mark Cavendish will NOT, repeat WILL NOT be at the Grand Prix de l'Escaut, which had been intended to be one of the most important races of his year. This is very important. We know this, because it's the only cycling story to hit the front page of the BBC website this week, and is also the #1 story on the 'cycling' subpage. [#2 is Porte not going to the Giro. Then at #3 for some reason there's a story about some european guy winning a race in belgium, don't know what that's about]

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UCI Anti-Doping Commission Names Announced: And They're Impressive Names!

I didn't see a thing about this here, so I thought I'd add one.The UCI have given us three names for their commission to investigate doping, including the UCI's role in it. And... I'm impressed. T...

Finally somebody standing up for dopers!

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Convicted doper Shelley-Ann Fraser-Pryce (who came back from suspension to win Olympic gold) says what I'm sure everybody in the world is thinking: stop trying to catch dopers! In recent weeks, some negative attention has been placed on Kenya and Jamaica, two countries enjoying athletic booms, and, coincidentally, having among the worst anti-doping records in the world. There's been a spate of positives, rumours from inside the camps, revelations about how little testing is being done (more or less none, out of competition), and noise from WADA about maybe even banning the two countries from the olympics if they don't get their act together and clamp down on cheats. Fraser-Pryce agrees that things must change... in the opposite direction. Jamaicans who argue for more drug testing, or admit that some Jamaicans might be cheating, are unpatriotic and downright mean. Also, she's not rich enough yet: "We believe we deserve to have good things, not to have our name tarnished at a time when we are doing so well. It is so important that our federation stands by our athletes, not says the kind of things they say about our athletes. We are doing very well for our country internationally but when we are in Jamaica our athletes are not being looked after. We are selling our country and marketing our country to the word and not being paid for it. Why aren't we getting the support we deserve? If you are Jamaican and make a statement like that [saying that there may be more doping cases to come] then those things are hurtful. We need a voice to be able to stand up and say 'you can't say these things without having proof'. We don't have a doping issue... there is no one in Jamaica saying 'let's dope up to run fast'." Oh, well then I guess you don't need any anti-doping, if you tell us that there's no doping ever at all anyway. Anyway, in order to stand up for athletes' rights not to have people talk about doping in athletics without cast-iron proof (note that she wasn't talking there about accusations against individuals, just accusations agains the sport as a whole), she's apparently endeavouring to start up an athletes' union, to stand up for athletes against the anti-doping authorities. She'll also be considering going on strike personally. The known cheater may apparently refuse to race until fewer steps are being taken to prevent known cheaters from racing. This is unlikely to deter WADA, I should have thought, though the loss of her prestige may encourage Jamaican authorities to continue looking the other way. [Fraser-Pryce, at the time almost unknown, won Olympic gold in 2008, after training with known doper Asafa Powell. She was banned in 2010, but got away with only six months suspension, after explaining that because she had had a toothache she had been taking someone else's kidney-stone medication, as you do, and then, as you do, accidentally neglected to mention it when asked whether she was taking any medication. Fortunately, as usual, giving up PEDs and taking six months out of the sport allowed her to improve her performance, beating her own national record, and taking world and olympic titles. She is thus one of the golden girls of jamaican sprinting, alongside relay teammates veronica campbell-brown (caught doping), Sherone Simpson (caught doping) and Sheri-Ann Brooks (caught doping). Fraser-Pryce is the third woman to retain an olympic 100m gold; she's also, despite her famously abysmal technique, the fourth-fastest female sprinter of all time, behind only Marion Jones (doper), Carmelita Jeter (she's american, so would never do anything like that) and floJo (do I need to say anything?). Unrelatedly, Fraser-Pryce and Jeter staged a walk-out at a press conference in the spring, in protest at press discussion of the doping positives of Powell, Gay, Simpson and others. Fraser-Pryce later issued a statement expressing sympathy with the dopers for having gotten caught] Well thank heavens somebody's standing up and showing sport the right direction to follow!

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The 2014 Tour and the slow death of the TT

(Time trial distance as percentage of total Tour de France distance, 1977-2013, with parabolic trendline) OK, so it's a provocative title, but not entirely unjustified. Anyway, in a...

Wiggins retires (even more than before but not entirely)

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(why do the BBC categorise this as 'tennis'? Who knows!) So, Wiggins has decided to quit professional road racing, in order to concentrate on what really matters: the olympic team pursuit (though he admits that it'll be hard for him to even make the team). Makes sense that in his position and at his age he'd want to concentrate on one particular goal - but I'm a little disappointed that it's getting yet another medal on the track. I'd really hoped he might try the classics, and particularly Roubaix. As a bonus, there are some comments in the article about the Tour. He clarifies his reasoning behind abandoning GTs (he's not as good as Froome, plus Froome is young and has no kids, so Froome would be the leader, so to even compete at the Tour for himself he'd have to join a rival team, and he loves Sky too much to ever ride for another team), and explains that his not having congratulated Froome for the Tour victory yet isn't out of anger or hatred, but just because he wanted to do it in person - and besides, he doesn't have Froome's phone number.

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Sastre on the Alpe - An Unfriendly Graph

Well, today I concluded something. I'd thought it for quite a while, but now I think - until I see more evidence pointing the other way - the case is more or less closed. Here's why. Probably a...

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An Overlooked Tour Record About To Be Broken

Lots has been said about the 2012 Tour de France. Lots. Lots has been said about the domination of Sky, about the design of the course, about the incredible season of Bradley Wiggins, and of how...

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The Big One - Hincapie First Stone, Sound of Avalanche Approaches

Today's the day. USADA release their file - not a normal little complaint about one athlete, but a detailed account of, they say, the most extensive drugs ring sport has ever seen. It's 1,000...

Why Lance's biopassport didn't raise red flags - the UCI discovers a loophole.

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When USADA announced its case against Lance Armstrong, one thing puzzled many people - myself included. Witness testimony? Well, that's one thing. But what about this claim that there was something fishy in Lance's 2009 blood values? People saw Lance's values back in 2009, we thought. Nothing was said then. So what are USADA doing using them as evidence? Were they claiming the biopassport experts had missed something? That would have thrown the whole system into doubt. Or were USADA admitting that the biopassport values were 'fine', in terms of not per se raising red flags, but were still, on a broader level, 'suspicious', in the sense of contributing to the doubt already raised by the witness testimonies? That would seem questionable from a legal and ethical point of view - surely clean should be clean, and individual federations shouldn't be allowed to argue "well we know he's dirty so, now that we know that, these passport numbers become evidence that he's guilty"? Well, it turns out it's a different problem. Maybe everyone else has learnt this already, but I've only just become aware of it, so maybe some of you don't know either. Seems there's a damn simple reason why Lance's passport didn't raise any red flags: the UCI didn't buy any flags. See, it seems that at least two of the nine experts on the biopassport panel raised concern about Lance's published values - not only now, but at the time. They wanted to raise red flags. They couldn't. Why not? Because the UCI never gave them the official values. Now, I'm a naive sort, so I had assumed that the biopassport people would take the values, look at them, and then give an opinion. You know, like proper drug testers. But it turns out that isn't the system. Instead, they only look at SOME passports. Well, that's fair enough, I suppose, it would be a lot of work to look at the passport of every rider in the world. So the ones they look at are chosen randomly? Well no. Oh, so they look at the passports of the riders who win things? Well, no. No. Turns out the guy who decides whether the experts should examine a particular passport is... Pat McQuaid. [Who is not no different from Muammar Gaddaffi] Yep. You read that correctly. The experts cannot evaluate a biopassport unless the UCI (who are not full of shit) ask them to. Riders submit their test results, and then if the UCI (who are not clowns) don't like the rider, they submit the passport to the experts. If the UCI (whose words are not worthless) do like the rider, the passport goes nowhere. So it doesn't matter that Lance's values were published publically, and that at least two of the experts were jumping up and down holding their banhammers begging to be let loose on Mr Armstrong's riding license... because it was up to the UCI (who are not corrupt, let me be clear) whether or not they felt like passing the file along. Now, we should be clear that we don't know what happened yet. Only three experts need to be sent each passport (and who selects those three? Well that's another question...), and seven experts haven't commented yet. So maybe they were sent it and maybe they OKed it. But if anyone but me was wondering "how can USADA use it as evidence when it's already been cleared?", this seems a pretty likely answer - the UCI just felt that the hugely controversial ex-seven-time-winner of the Tour de France, who made the podium of the Tour that year, and whose values had several experts screaming, well, his passport just wasn't worth handing along the the guys whose job it is to look at passports. I mean, they're only the experts, what do they know? P.S. It is important to make clear that the UCI are not, repeat NOT, to my knowledge, terrorists.

What we shouldn't say if we don't want to get sued by the UCI...

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You don't want to get sued by the UCI, do you? I don't. I'm sure none of us do. So we shouldn't say certain things. Fair enough. But what things shouldn't we say? Well, I have a list. I probably can't say any of these things, or else the UCI will sue me, but I can tell you what the things are that I can't say. Specifically, this is the list of things that Floyd Landis has been banned from saying - moving, with elegant escalation, from the specific to the general. Landis is banned from: "stating that the UCI, McQuaid and/or Verbruggen have concealed cases of doping, received money for doing so, have accepted money from Lance Armstrong to conceal a doping case, have protected certain racing cyclists, concealed cases of doping, have engaged in manipulation, particularly of tests and races, have hesitated and delayed publishing the results of a positive test on Alberto Contador, have accepted bribes, are corrupt, are terrorists, have no regard for the rules, load the dice, are fools, do not have a genuine desire to restore discipline to cycling, are full of shit, are clowns, their words are worthless, are liars, are no different to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, or to make any similar other allegations of that kind." I don't know about you, but next time people are angry with the UCI, I intend to remind them quite specifically NOT to say that the UCI are liars, clowns and corrupt terrorists who have no regard for the rules, whose words are full of shit, who are fools, who have no desire to restore discipline to cycling, and who are no better than Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. And boy am I grateful to Judge Piguet for providing a succinct list, all in one place, of the things we might be tempted to say but oughtn't to. Let's all spread the word! This is what we should remember not to say...

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The Time Trial and the Tour de France: An Inconstant Love Affair, in Graphs

How has the proportion of time trialing in the Tour de France varied over time, and what has that meant for its winners?

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Breaking the Lock: What's Wrong with the Tour

OK, I know that that's a tendentious title. And I also know that I know nothing: I'm a relative novice when it comes to watching this sport. I can't even ride a bicycle. And so I'm sure many people...

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