How do you repair a life when vindicated?

July 23, 2013

Red Rover, Red Rover send Ryan over!

Remember that game?  For those who don’t, you form two teams.  each team forms a line facing each other.  You join hands.  Now, you call someone from the other team.  They have to run towards your team to try to break the human chain.  The strategy is to look for the weakest link.  You attack that link with everything you have in the hopes of breaking through.

This can be fun as a child’s game but not so fun in real life.  Take the case of Lance Armstrong.  He attacked the chain lined up against him and tried to obliterate it.  One link was named Emma O’Reilly.  To small to fight, to poor to amass a legal team to fight back, her life was ruined.  What does she do now when vindicated? Will she have to stand in line yet again behind all those legal teams looking to sue Lance?

I thought about Emma who loved her job as a soigneur and happened to be hired by US Postal.  Little did she know that would be her last job in professional cycling.  I thought about her when the Ryan Braun news broke.  Early in 2012, Ryan tested positive for  testosterone/epitestosterone ratio.  The legal limit of baseball is a 4:1 ratio.  Ryan tested at 20:1.  To protect his MVP award, he went after the chain with the same fervor as Lance.  He attacked the weakest link.  The sample collector.  Dino Laurenzi Jr.  Dino did not have the money to stand up for himself.  He took Ryan’s collection and since it was after 5:00 pm, he followed his protocol to store the sealed samples in his house rather than having FedEx keep them in their warehouse.  Ryan went after that link by saying;

“There were a lot of things we heard about the collection process, the collector  and some other people involved in the process that have certainly been concerning to us.”

In fact, he followed that with a sanctimonious;

“I know what it’s like to be wrongly accused of something and for me to  wrongly accuse somebody else of something wouldn’t help anybody. I would bet my life that this substance never entered my body.”

Ryan broke the chain and beat a positive drug test.  He didn’t care if it ruined a man’s life in the process.  What does Dino do now?

 

 


Do I gloat or cry

July 23, 2013

Since 1998, pro cycling has been the dirty sport.  The sport of cheats.  I have endured many an evening of good natured ribbing by my friends.  My retort was to say that just because you don’t look for a problem, does not mean it does not exist.  My logic was always that if people cheat in cycling, wouldn’t they cheat to a greater extent in sports such as baseball and football where the stakes and rewards were much higher?

Today, there is a well written article from Steven Goldman at SB Nation talking about the first in what should be a series of suspensions by Major League baseball.  It seems there is enough evidence in the Biogenesis investigation to possibly make this the MLB version of Operation Puerto.  Ryan Braun who beat a positive test to keep his 2011 National League MVP will not contest the evidence against him this time.

I would suggest you read the article.  I sense an undertone of “not my kid” here.  As a parent, we all know kids do bad things.  When we see a kid get in trouble, we have the urge to look down our nose at their family and say “Well, I always knew Johnny was a bad kid.  His parents must not have raised him right.”  Then when the police call your house, there is a narcissistic feeling about “How could this happen to me?”

Read this column and see if there is that feeling.  See if Mr. Goldman is saying “I get cycling look at them.  But how could this happen to baseball?”

I think I’ll cry with Mr. Goldman and let him know it happens to all families er… sports.


Did you hear?

May 20, 2010

This morning, my inbox was flooded with emails along the lines of “Did you hear?”  Unfortunately, I did.  Again.  Another cyclist coming clean after years of protesting his innocence.  Increasingly, I am getting disenchanted with my  sport. 

I started this blog in July of 2006 and found it fun and cathartic to express my views on professional cycling.  I would scan the news and provide a brief interpretation from my point of view.  Shortly after starting my blog, the Floyd Landis story broke.  I weighed in occasionally, tried to lighten the mood often, and really tried to keep the other news alive.  I did not want my blog to become a doping column.  The problem is that quite often, the only stories were of doping.  Basso, Hamilton, Vinokourov, Heras, Rico, and on and on and on.  Dick Pound got more cycling press than anyone.  His “Q score” in cycling was probably higher than Alberto Contador.

Then cycling acquired an autoimmune disease and started to attack itself.  Pound vs. McQuaid became a bigger draw than MMA.  Over the last year, my writing became sporadic since it was no longer cathartic but maddening.  I’ll still write from time to time but I’m in a cycling low right now.

I still read the news, follow the races, and cheer for riders. And pray they are clean.


Cross France off Floyd’s vacation list

February 17, 2010

Mr. Harden, it’s my duty to inform you that the larceny of an equine is a capital offense punishable by death, but you can rest assured that in this court a horse thief always gets a fair trial before he’s hung – The Westerner 1940

As things do, this story is finding its own level.  It seems that AFLD Director, Pierre Bordry over stated his authority.  Shocking that the French anti-doping authority would try to do such a thing.  I guess France is still reeling over their loss of influence over anything outside their borders.  They may see doping investigations for their Tour de France as a way back to relevancy. 

Pierre, now says that if Floyd chooses to return to Fench soil, he may be asked to come to suburban Paris to answer questions to a judge chosen by AFLD. Maybe the CIA can resurrect their New Earth Army program because Floyd has the incredible mind to match his athletic abilities.  He can win the Tour de France and rival Kevin Mitnik in computer “security” circles.


Just when you think it is over

February 15, 2010

Floyd Landis is back in the news. If you remember, back when Floyd was fighting for his professional life, he had copies of multiple files from the Chatenay-Malabry lab.  Those files showed how poorly samples were handled and multiple mistakes made by the lab.  It seems that those files were also stolen.

Four years later, the French want to talk to Floyd about his part in the hacking.  An arrest warrant was issued after Landis ignored a summons sent last November.  An international warrant was also issued for Dr. Arnold Baker.  I have no idea what this means for the rider who just recently left his US based team OUCH (now United Healthcare). Just as he was looking good on the bike again.

Maybe this is in retaliation for Roman Polanski?


UCI Launches Anti-Doping Education Program

September 28, 2009

In 1930, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, in an effort to alleviate the effects of the… Anyone? Anyone?… the Great Depression, passed the… Anyone? Anyone? The tariff bill? The Hawley-Smoot Tariff Act? Which, anyone? Raised or lowered?… raised tariffs, in an effort to collect more revenue for the federal government. Did it work? Anyone? Anyone know the effects? It did not work, and the United States sank deeper into the Great Depression. Today we have a similar debate over this. Anyone know what this is? Class? Anyone? Anyone? Anyone seen this before? The Laffer Curve. Anyone know what this says? It says that at this point on the revenue curve, you will get exactly the same amount of revenue as at this point. This is very controversial. Does anyone know what Vice President Bush called this in 1980? Anyone? Something-d-o-o economics. “Voodoo” economics. – Ferris Bueller’s day Off 1986

Professional cyclists must be feeling that their profession is becoming more like a job every day.  The latest is the mandatory training program on doping.  Riders must complete a DVD or online “training” course by the start of the Tour de France next year or lose their ability to race. 

Was that wrong? Should I not have done that? I tell you, I gotta plead ignorance on this thing, because if anyone had said anything to me at all when I first started here that that sort of thing is frowned upon . . . you know, cause I’ve worked in a lot of offices, and I tell you, people do that all the time. George Costanza Seinfield

I put training in quotes because if you listen to the UCI, the main goal is more CYA than education.  The UCI wants to squash any excuse of “I didn’t know” or the old “Was that wrong?” I have to tell you, I have sat through many of these type of education courses.  When written to cover a rear end, there is no more boring course on the planet. 

I wonder if Ben Stein is the host?

Bueller? ... Bueller? ... Bueller?

Bueller? ... Bueller? ... Bueller?


Will Greg LeMond shut up?

July 24, 2009

Bitter at anyone who shows greatness, Greg LeMond seethes bitterness at his new target, Alberto Contador. Looking at the final climb of Mt. Verbier.

“Never has a rider in the Tour climbed so fast.”

Where does he get his opinion?  LeMond takes some postulations from Antoine Vayer, former Festina Trainer.  The face that Vayer clearly states that he makes a significant number of assumptions in his calculations  did not sway the former Tour Champ.

“Contador would have needed a VO2 max  of 99.5 ml/mn/kg to produce such an effort. To my knowledge this figure has never been achieved by any athlete in any sport. It is a bit like if you took a nice Mercedes out of the car showroom, lined it up on a Formula 1 circuit and won the race. There is something that is wrong. It would be interesting to know what is under the bonnet.”

The Science of Sport outlines these assumptions (including a big assumption of a 490 watt output) and how any conclusions made from watching TV are not worth the paper they are written on.  From article:

  • Last week, we looked at Contador’s climbing rate (VAMs) and using Michele Ferrari’s formula, arrive at a power output of 6.78 W/kg, or 420W.
  • Alex Simmons very kindly provided some calculations for the climb, given the speed and gradient, and he arrived at a value of 422 W. He went on to show that if you assume even a small following wind, this power output drops to 397W.
  • Using the same principles, but making more “aggressive” assumptions, I have calculated the power output at around 440 W - this is an upper end, call it the “worst case scenario”, because I think Alex has pretty much arrived at the accurate figures using his equations (which match the estimation of the Ferrari equations based on VAMs)
  • Given the seriousness of doping allegations, you better be damn sure of your facts Mr. LeMond.  You are the first to sue based on baseless allegations.  You of all people should understand the damage you can do by lobbing these type of grenades.


    Oops I did it again

    April 19, 2009

    Well, it looks like our Boy Scout has gotten himself into trouble again.  Tyler Hamilton has retired after testing positive for the steroid DHEA.  My first thought was confirmation that the Boy Scout image I believed for so many years was actually a ruse.  Then I read his reason for the mishap.

    Mr. Hamilton says he took an over the counter herbal supplement that contained the banned substance.  Then he let us know about his family history, his grandmother’s suicide.  Take the family history combined with the way his life has gone sideways since his 2004 Olympic gold medal and you have a good story.  I actually found myself nodding in belief.  Then I thought.

    “Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me.”

    I waited to post until I read a post from Dan over at Rant Your Head Off.  Dan has forgotten more about doping than I’ll ever know.  Dan quite literally wrote the book on doping in sports. What I do know is DHEA is pretty fay up the steroid cascade.  A building block that can be used if you are not on the straight and narrow.  If you are not a Boy Scout.  

    So for now, I will not buy into the Hamilton saga.  I find it hard to Believe.  If true, I find it disgraceful to use family tragedy to build sympathy for cheating.  So to avoid the downward spiral that thinking about Tyler can cause, I’ll take a pass and focus on today’s Amstel Gold race.


    Summer Book Review

    August 11, 2008

    Summer is generally a time for escape. For confirmation, look at the typical line-up for movie goers. Action/Adventure films are generally released in the summer while serious Oscar contenders are released towards year-end. Barnes and Noble will greet you with shelves full of brain candy moving the more serious works of literature towards the back.

    I can’t say I wasn’t a little concerned when my copy of Dope: A History of Performance Enhancement in Sports from the Nineteenth Century to Today arrived. I am a big fan of the author, Dan Rosen and his blog so I knew it would be well researched and well written. Would my brain be ready? Would it come off like a medical textbook?

    I put the book aside until the Tour was over. Not for any of the above concerns but I was enjoying the Tour and did not want to be reminded of the darker side of the sport. So it waited until the Monday after Carlos Sastre crossed the line in Paris.

    What I found was an engaging story that took me through the history of doping in sports. All sports, not just cycling. Some of the stories, I knew some I didn’t. Throughout, Dan told me enough science to allow me to understand the story. Never more.

    Dan shows us how doping was originally encouraged by governments and governing bodies. Even as testing came into play, official counter measures were put into place to circumvent the tests. As the war raged on, governing entities turned a blind eye to any practices in the ultimate “Don’t ask Don’t Tell” policy. Finally, most organizations have taken up the fight. What is more astonishing is how recently we have come from empty platitudes against doping to where we sit today.

    Dan tells us all this in a non-judgmental manner that allows us to form our own opinions. Heck, even Dick Pound has his good points. The story is well told and well documented.

    Forgetting what I said at the beginning of this post, I actually feel the timing is great as the Summer Olympics are upon us and we are already seeing reports of altered passports of gymnasts and other formalized slights of hand that tells me we still have a long way to go.

    This book is a must read for any sports fan, not just cyclists. If you enjoy professional sports, Olympic sports, or just fair play, you will not be disappointed in the time spent reading Dope. My only negative is Dan used a photo of my pecs for the cover of his book without my permission.


    After a little reflection, I will give this year’s Tour a B+

    July 29, 2008

    This was tough.  There were plenty of “A” moments but on the whole, I think I’ll stick to the B+.  Here is my quick breakdown.

    Course. This year showed some inspiration on behalf of the ASO. Flat stages were never really flat, mountains were challenging and given the exhausted state of the peloton, I think the course tested everyone from sprinters to climbers. Grade A

    Competitiveness.  At a late stage, having six riders within a minute of the lead was very exciting.  The only improvement I could wish for is to have the final time trial go to the wire.  Picky, Picky.  Grade A- 

    Doping. This was handled appropriately.  Cases were handled in a way that demonstrated the importance of a clean race without overwhelming the race itself.  The withdrawal of two sponsors (BarloWorld, Saunier Duval) created some distraction however. Grade C-

    I am encouraged by the next generation of cyclists who are poised to take this sport into the future.  Looking at the list of White Jersey contenders in addition to Alberto Contador leaves me with a good feeling regarding the future.


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