Explaining Doping Rants by a Doping Rant

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Okay, the crumudgeon Velo interview, and a few other observations related to it, got me thinking about why all this doping has rubbed me so wrong.  And why I go off on rants because I’m sick of all these guys just “rubbing salt” into wounds that all the dopers opened themselves.

Lance is right, doping in cycling has been going on forever.  Probably since the start of the sport.  For sure during 6 days racing days, and nearly always on the road.  My whole “career” for sure.  So, when he says that I should just accept it, he has a point.  I readily joined this sport, not knowing full well, but cognizant that I would be competing against athletes that cheat.  And that is what doping is, cheating.

When I first started racing, it wasn’t such a big deal doping.  At least to the organizations that govern the sport and to the other riders.  I think the first offense penalty was 2 weeks, maybe it was 4 weeks.  And you could test positive a zillion times and it wasn’t a problem.  And I guess that didn’t change much.  The riders kept doping and the powers turned a blind eye.

The problem was the drugs got better and better.  They made the rider so much better that it made it obvious.  At least to a rider that wasn’t doping.  It wasn’t so obvious before EPO, blood, HGH and/or a mixture.  Guys like Fignon and such, just taking steroids, were okay good, but not amazing.

I’ve raced against a ton of, what the cycling public, considers world class bike riders.  I’m not even sure how many Tour winners I’ve competed with, alot.  Okay, I just looked it up.  Zoetemelk, Fignon, Hinault, LeMond, Thevenet, Lance, Floyd, Roche, Delgado, and  Cadel. And I’m not sure about Riis or Indurain.  They could have been in some races I did in Europe, before they started beating up on everyone.   So, that is at least 10 guys, maybe up to a dozen guys that won the race.  And nearly every guy that has won the MTB World Championships and Olympics.

So, I’ve got to witness what a cyclist has to be able to do to win the most important bike races in the world.  And most of these guys, were just guys.  Good riders, for sure, but not one in a billion.  (Excluding LeMond, he was the chosen one.)

Anyway, sometime in the early 90’s, that all started changing.  Luckily for me, the money on our side of the ocean, had switched from road racing to MTB racing.  So, I was racing MTB full-time and only racing on the road about 50% of the time.  But when I did do a big road race, here and in Europe, it was just silly.  Guys climbing off their seats for minutes at a time.  The same guys attacking in their big rings, straight  up a wall.  The new drugs, made these guys into supermen.  It made competing nearly impossible.

This switched to MTB racing soon after.  Whole teams of guys from Europe, all of a sudden, would finish five guys in the top 10 of a World Cup.  Then the Canadians started doing the same, back here in North America.  It was such an insult to us, the US MTB riders.  MTB racing was a homegrown sport, one where integrity was nearly written into the rule book.  You had to carry all your equipment and fix your bike.  But all of a sudden American riders were just shit.  And being shit makes it so no one will pay you to travel around the world to race.

One of my worse experiences for me in cycling was sitting in a doping control after winning a stage of Nature Valley, soaking wet and cold, and have Nathan O’Neil and his Healthnet team director, Jeff Corbett come in, late, 2 hours after the race was over, and start giving me shit about how I was racing a night criterium in a crazy thunderstorm.  Here is O’neil, who I am positive is taking drugs, telling me how I should be racing bikes.  And Corbett, the first thing he says as he walks in is “Race of you life, huh Tilford?”  It was so dismissive.

It really didn’t bother me so much as it was happening.  And I don’t dwell on it when I’m training and normally at races.  As I make observations, I don’t call guys out then and there.   I wait until they eventually get popped or are outed.  This confirms the observations and then it starts making you mad. Disappointed is probably a better description.    Disappointed in myself for not being more vocal the whole time.

Ryder Hesjedal and all his Canadian buddies fucked up MTB racing here in the US.  Nearly all the European guys that came over then were doping too.  Michael Rasmussen, Jerome Chiotti, and tons of others came here and took our sponorship money and won our races.

Then all the foreigners, that our domestic teams readily hired on the road.  The Nathan O’Neils and Ivan Stevics.  Plus, all the then, domestic Americans that followed the path. Tom Danielson, Kirk Obee, Phil Zajicek, and the list goes on and on.

And there still are a ton of them riding around now.  Each and every race.  These guys, that are arrogant, and have brought unbelievably dangerous tactics into criteriums, but are doping to control the races.  It’s a joke.

I am nearly embarrassed that I have to admit it has been going on forever.  Alexi admitted he was doping, even when he was a junior with me.  The first international race I did in Europe, on the US National team, was full of a bunch of guys that eventually confessed to doping.  Fignon was one of them.  I was replaced on the Specialized MTB by European riders that doped.  I lost a National Criterium title to Kayle Leo Grande, who doped.  And this has been the case ever since.

Every, and I mean virtually every race I do, still, there is at least one of those guys that is super charged.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a local criterium in Southern California to a NRC race in Iowa or Tulsa.  There are still nearly whole teams of guys that are doping, here in the US.

Then we have the international road and MTB scene.  Do you realize the Festina doping scandal was in 1998.  That was 16 years ago and nothing has changed.  Well, something has changed.  It has been driven underground and the politically correct way for current road pros to deal with it is by saying that we need to believe now, because this is a new generation and that was the old generation.  But, they are full of shit.  Each and every week a new guy get busted for doping.  And these aren’t the guys that are smearing everyone on any level.

Cycling is way too hard of a life endeavor to let these guys get away with making it easy.  And that is what they are doing by doping, they are making the accomplishments of real bike racers seem trivial.  Honestly, it really is trivial.   It is just sport.  But having a bunch of posers  (and that is what these guys are, they aren’t bike racers, they are bike racers wannabes) making the rest of us look silly, is just plain wrong.

These doping guys don’t have the right to make guys like Greg LeMond look like he was just another bike rider.  He wasn’t.  Everyone recognized it.  That is why Bernard Hinault flew over to the United States to recruit him.   That is what makes the whole thing hard to read.  Knowing there are Greg LeMonds out there, makes it hard to say that someone is doping for sure.  But there are 100’s of Greg LeMonds riding around now.  It just isn’t right.

Plus, we just keep loving these guys once they get “caught”.   We go to their Gran Fondos.  We watch them on TV and listen to what they say.   The sponsors stay the course, never seeming to put their mouth and money at the same place.  It is depressing.

I don’t regret much of what I’ve done in the sport.  I’ve really enjoyed the whole experience.  Of course, my experience would have been a whole lot different if this doping plague hadn’t been ongoing.  I just moved from discipline to discipline and enjoyed the lifestyle.  But, I did get to experience cycling before the whole scene got so polluted.  I know a bunch of new, young, good riders.  Friends that I’m trying to help make their way.  And I want them to be able to experience the sport in its puriest sense.   This isn’t an option for them now.

This denial thing by current riders isn’t working.  This disapproving of doping, by the public isn’t working.  This biological passport thing isn’t working.  This all needed to be addressed back in 1998, but it hasn’t.  It’s been business as usual.

When I turn on the Tour de France, I don’t want to be watching WWF fantasy bike racing.  And that is what we’ve been watching for years and years.  You won’t believe how much better the sport of “real bike racing” is.  It is way more exciting.  Way more human and emotional.  We don’t need to watch these doped robots ride up and down mountains.  If it’s not believable, then it’s not exciting, thus not interesting and a waste of my time.

 

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The Curmudgeon

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I’ve been called a lot of things in my life, but never a curmudgeon. That is what the title of an article in the new Velonews about me is titled.  (I can’t seem to call Velo by any other name than Velonews.)   I don’t think it is really a very complimentary word, but I don’t really mind it so much now, I guess.

Chris Case, managing editor of Velo,  called me about a month ago and talked to me for a little while.  I’ve done a ton of interviews in my lifetime and I can usually tell what the article is going to be like, but in this instance, I didn’t have a clue.  His questions were all over the place, as were my answers, which isn’t abnormal for me.

There is a reason that Chris is the managing editor of a magazine.  It’s because he is very good at what he does.  I’ve never been very good at writing, or any subjective subject really, and it always amazes me when I run into someone that it must come easy to.  Plus, the guy is a very good bike rider, which I didn’t realize.  He finished 14th, in the KOM Challenge, a grueling hillclimb in Taiwan, back in November.

A few people had sent me the title of the article and I had thought it might not be so complimentary.  It was very complimentary, nearly embarrassingly so.

They talked to Ned (Overend) and like usual, he just said a bunch of stuff which he thought sounded good.  No really, Ned is one of my best friends, even though he probably doesn’t realize it.   I enjoy talking to Ned about as much as anyone I know.  The guy is funnier than shit, a super dry sense of humor.  Plus, he is very observant of a lot of the same stuff as me, but he’s just “a tad” more politically correct to vocalize it publicly.   Ned is as in tune with his body as anyone I’ve ever met.  (Not that he’s conscious of it though.) He tends to do things that allow him to be successful athletically, as he’s aging.  He surprises me in this regard, because from observing him, you’d think he was a little lazy and uninterested in training, thus racing.  It is exactly opposite the case.  He’s very passionate about cycling and just doesn’t have enough time in the day, or his life, to do all that he wants.

Another surprising observation, at least for me, from the article, is that I never really imagine people talking about reading this website.  And the reason for the article was mainly the blog.  That is what it was initially all about.  Phil Gaimon is doing a little private editorial on each article in the issue and he said he gets links sent to him from friends.  He is mainly talking about posts I write about doping, I assume, and probably one I rant about something or another.  I can’t really imagine a bunch of guys riding along ,talking about something I wrote here.

I don’t know Phil, hardly at all, but he’s one of the good guys in the sport.  He’s just one degree of separation from me, in so many ways.  It is so strange that the guy can have such a phenomenal season and end up losing his Pro Tour contract.  The sport will be better off, and  Phil will be too, riding for Optum this season and not for Garmin.

The last surprise was the magazine itself.  I actually haven’t read a Velonews in a long time.  I haven’t even had one in my hand for the last few years.  It is so weird, because I have 100’s, probably close to a 1000, in my basement.  All the way back to the mid-70’s.  It used to be that every guy in town, that raced, subscribed.  I’m not sure I know someone that does now.  Anyway, I haven’t had a chance to read the whole magazine, but I’m looking forward to it.  What I have read, it is great.  Not the same stuff that’s on the Internet.  Way more in depth and interesting.   I was sort of surprised about how thin it was, only 64 pages.  I hope they are making enough ad money to be viable.  It is really America’s cyclings voice, in print.  I’m going to subscribe again.

I’m going to keep doing this until I don’t like it anymore, which is sort of the way I do all things that I have a choice upon doing.  I get a lot of personal interaction with people that I wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to encounter, which is great.  Sometimes it is a pain, but not usually.    Anyway, it is what it is.  Through this article, I learned a little what it means to others too.

 

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How to Prove You are NOT Doping

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I got a message a couple weeks ago from Eric Marcotte, current US Pro Road Champion, expressing his frustration with not being able to prove that he is riding clean.

He sent me a link to a NBC SPorts article that says he was the most tested athlete, here in the US, of all athletes.  He had 12 drug tests in the third quarter, 4 more than Michael Phelps, the swimmer.

He wanted to know what he could do if the testing isn’t proof he is not doping.  He has a good question, but there isn’t an answer he wants to hear.

I replied to him -

Eric-There is nothing you can do to “prove” that you are racing bicycles clean. This whole situation is just a by-product of the times. And it not only in cycling. You do have to understand that the testing is total bullshit. Lance probably is most to blame for this. He was tested somewhere between 300-500 times and, in theory, was never positive. None of the guys that testified to USADA ever had a positive test, other than Levi, when he was an amateur and Tyler, of course. If I were you I wouldn’t worry about it at all. People on the internet are making accusations about me all the time and I don’t think a thing about it. I know I”m not taking drugs, so why would it bother me. I suggest you just keep doing what you’re doing and let the guys making the accusations just do their thing. It ain’t gonna change.

That was pretty short, but pretty accurate.  There isn’t a way to prove that you’re racing clean.  At least, not that I know of.  All of us, nearly any bike racer that has any results, gets accused of doping.  It’s not anybody’s fault, but we are in a sport that opened that Pandora’s Box.   Our sport opened, or at least exposed ourselves to this by trying to eradicate doping.  We had good intentions,  but in reality, we showed the world that most of the ways we try to police  doping hasn’t really worked.

I personally think that only draconian sanctions will make a dent into the problem.  I don’t think a 4 year ban, that WADA recently enacted, is enough.  It was a good move, but not enough.  Just making it impossible to compete isn’t enough to stop it.  There has to be huge monetary fines.  Because, in reality, most the guys doping, on a professional level, are doing it for the money.  Then the trickle down effect happened, and it spreads to other segments of the sport.

The fines in cycling need to be levied to the riders personally, and the teams.  That way, the teams will pay much closer attention to who they initially hire.

But all this, doesn’t really help guys like Eric much.  Our sport is polluted, still, and it isn’t going to change over night.  He is going to have to try to just to dismiss his frustration and go about his life and career.   Hopefully, the rest will only get better for all of us.

Here are a couple photos from Eric’s Garmin before the World Road Championships a few months ago.  Pretty crazy.  He was obviously ready to race.

Check out the power here.  That is average for 6 and 1/2 hours.  Pretty nuts.

Check out the power here. That is average for 6 and 1/2 hours.

And the speed on this ride.  This is training.  He said he rode 4 1/2 alone, 40 minutes with a group, then motorpaced the rest.  Whatever, it's still nearly 25 mph for 150 miles.

And the speed on this ride. This is training. He said he rode 4 1/2 alone, 40 minutes with a group, then motor paced the rest. Whatever, it’s still nearly 25 mph for 150 miles.

My ride yesterday.  At the end, my Garmin said I had a 266 watt average.  I am not in shape, but there is no way, in any shape, I could ride 6 + hours training, with a 285 watt average.

My ride yesterday. At the end, my Garmin said I had a 266 watt average. I am not in shape, but there is no way, in any shape, I could ride 6 + hours training, with a 285 watt average.

 

 

 

 

 

Doing Planks

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Bill has told me he has been doing planks on and off the past few months.  I’ve never done a plank, or had never done a plank before, but I do need to start doing some other stuff, core stuff, and I was a little interested about these plank things.

I heard that maybe they are good for the rotator cuff and mine is pitiful, so I thought I’d try it.  I’ve done it now, maybe 4 times.  I am very unfamiliar with what it is supposed to be doing or what gives out.  So, I did a little research trying to figure out what muscles it isolates.

Before looking, I really couldn’t figure out what would eventually fail.  After a couple minutes, my upper arms start shaking a little, but I can get that under control.  It seems like my lower back is the next weak point, but it doesn’t feel like it is just going to give, like when you’re doing pull-ups and you get to 13, then the 14th is impossible.

According to wiki, here are the muscle you are isolating.

Yesterday I did a plank for 5 minutes.  I had done it for 3 1/2 minutes the first couple times and stopped because I didn’t want to be really sore the next day.  I haven’t gotten sore at all yet.  I was going to stop at 4 minutes, it seemed like it was enough, but at 5 minutes, it didn’t seem any worse than at 4.  I’m not sure how long I could go, but it seems like a while longer.

According to the internet -The longest time in an abdominal plank position is 4 hours 26 minutes and was achieved by Mao Weidong (China) in Beijing, China on 26 September 2014.

I’m a little surprised that is so short.  It seems like if you could get to the point of doing the plank for an hour, then you could do it indefinitely.  I guess that isn’t the case.

The plank is just another spin on doing exercise.  I saw another article on the internet listing 5 exercises that are a waste of your time.  Of course, included on this list, sit-ups and push-ups.  I very much doubt that doing these are a “waste of your time”.

Any exercise, virtually every exercise in today’s society, isn’t a waste of time.  Hopefully it helps a rotator cuff, so I don’t have to pull out the Campbell soup cans or 2 lb weights.

These are the muscles it uses.

These are the muscles it uses.

 

I've done this before.  It is very unrewarding.

I’ve done this before. It is very unrewarding.

F#%€ the UCI

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It’s time for the honest riders in the sport of cycling to just say fuck you to the UCI.  It is a joke that they issued the Astana team a UCI Pro Tour license, a day after it was reported that the majority of their team participated in a systematic doping program.

We just don’t get it.  The powers at be in the sport really don’t give a shit about the health of the sport or the riders or really even the fans.  All they care about is the money.  Even Bernard Hinault says it’s all about the money.  And the Astana team brings in a ton of money to the sport.

Here is a doctor that has been banned from the sport receiving, reportedly, 30 million Euros for currently doping cyclists.  And no one seems to really care.  At least the people that seem to have the power to do something about it.

The current Tour de France winner, Vincenzo Nibali says he’s good with the finding.  Actually, to quote him -

“The problems in this team are also in many others. I don’t think our team is the worst because in other teams there are worse people than there are here, I won’t name names.  There’s Mafia in Sicily, as in the rest of the world, but that doesn’t mean we’re all gangsters. As cyclists we’re always trying to show transparency. I’ve always practiced clean cycling and I will continue to do so.”

Wow, I’m not even sure what to make of that.  A report came out that said 17 riders on his current team are associated with a banned doping doctor and he says that.  So, he is implying, by his personal observations,  that “many other” teams are worse than his.  This is without a police investigation into these other teams, just Vincenzo’s personal views from his observations and interactions.

It is unbelievable that the current Tour winner could be so dismissive of something as important as this at this time.  The sport is in horrible shape, using Nibali’s beliefs.

The UCI licensing commission stated - “[The team] has initiated a reorganization of all the support personnel of its riders in order to strengthen its fight against doping within the team to ensure greater prevention and repression,” the commission wrote.  “In view of the heavy and repeated doping cases, which occurred within the Team, it is therefore essential to monitor the implementation of such measures on the ground.”

So, here’s a team that has been shown to have a systematic doping program set up and that the UCI is granting their license because Astana has agreed to “strengthen its fight against doping”.  What fight against doping?  It is contributing to the ongoing process of doping.   I don’t really think there is a fight going on anywhere at this point.

On another note, it’s so nice to see that United Healthcare just signed  Janez Brajkovic to race for them.  Janez has ridden the past three seasons for Astana, and the previous 6 seasons for Johan Bruyneel’s Discovery and RadioShack teams.  Maybe UHC can get a few more of Bruyneel’s guys or Astana’s rejects to come mess up our racing over here?

When Janez was asked about the Astana situation, a team he has ridden for the past 3 seasons, he said, “I’m not going to really think about it a lot. I think there are people in cycling that are deciding what to do, what not to do, how to sanction them. My job here is to deliver for this team now. I’m going to focus on this.”  Pretty profound.

I’ve been getting a few emails and messages from friends.  Friends that ride for UCI Professional teams here in the US.

Here are a couple-

“Steve, What the fuck?  Can you believe they gave Astana a license?  Who is paying these guys to govern our sport?  The whole thing is a joke.”

And another – “So when do we get to say, “fuck the UCI”?  We won’t start a race with dirty cheats in it.  If the other Pro team are really racing clean, Why would they ever start a Pro tour race with Astana in it?”

Anyway, I’m thinking the whole thing is a shame and that we, once again, are just nothing.  And by “we”, I mean all the bike racers that aren’t riding on UCI Pro Tour Teams, plus all the fans of the sport.  Maybe we can rely some on the sponsors to police this?  How about Specialized?  They’re are still probably patting themselves on their backs for Vino winning the London Olympics on their bike to pay much attention to this.

It’s time that there is a whole house cleaning here.  No, it’s time to burn it down.   The whole thing is so polluted that it seems pretty impossible to clean.

 

PS- Vino personally responded to the media reports on his team today.  He said he had no plans on taking any legal action just now.  He said -

“That has never been our goal – of course it’s unpleasant, but we can talk to our lawyers to see what our options are. It used to be we fought back by racing hard on the road, so yesterday I talked with the team by Skype – everyone was really happy, and the last three days have been a deep team building experience – this whole experience has deepened our resolve.

“I told the trainers, Fofonov, Shefer, the riders, that they have to use this helpless anger to prove that the team has won before and will win again without doping – this whole thing has left a deep impression on the team and will motivate us all season, and that is going to help us a lot.”

So, on the bright side, at least this whole deal is giving the Astana Team extra motivation for next season!

 

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It’s Wednesday Astana/UCI

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You know when all the best, new generation riders of American riders, say how clean the sport is, and how we need to believe, and then a current, systematic doping program is exposed within the Astana program, then it is all bullshit.

It’s not such a surprise that there are still full teams of riders doping, it is distressing that guys like BMC’s Tejay Van Garderen and Garmin’s Andrew Talanski say that the peleton is clean and we just need to believe.  They are experiencing the results of the doping first hand and they go and say it is all normal.

Tejay says – “I think the sport has turned a corner.” When asked about doping within the peloton.

And here are a couple tweets from Andrew after Danilo Di Luca, who contributed greatly  to the Padova investigation, made some public statements about doping within the pro peleton. –

I feel genuine hatred towards Di Luca. He’s a worthless lying scumbag making false statements that hurt the sport I love.

Thankfully his statements are delusional. I wouldn’t be in this sport if it was not possible to succeed at the highest level and do it clean.

I guess Andrew, you were wrong and Danilo was right.

Here is a link to today’s Cyclingnews article about the results of the Padova police investigation released in Italy.   It says that Vino and his guys are still doping and dealing with Dr. Ferrari and his son, Stephano.   17 guys on the Astana team are using their services.   And yes, Tenerife is one of their favorite locations for blood transfusions etc.

Here’s a full list of the guys that are named in the investigation.  Vino is last, but not least.

Full list of riders:

Leonardo Bertagnolli, Simone Boifava, Diego Caccia, Enrico Franzoi, Marco Frapporti, Omar Lombardi, Fabrizio Macchi, Marco Marcato, Andrea Masciarelli, Francesco Masciarelli, Simone Masciarelli, Daniele Pietropolli, Morris Possoni, Filippo Pozzato, Alessandro Proni, Michele Scarponi, Francesco Tizza, Giovanni Visconti, Ricardo Pichetta, Andrea Vaccher, Mauricio Ardila, Volodymyr Bileka, Borut Bozic, Maxim Gourov, Vladimir Gusev, Valentin Iglinskiy, Sergei Ivanov, Vladimir Karpets, Aleksander Kolobnev, Dimitri Kozontchuk, Roman Kreuziger, Denis Menchov (Rus), Evgeni Petrov, Yaroslav Popovych, José Joaquin Rojas (Spa), Ivan Rovny, Egor Silin, Alexandre Vinokourov

So, UCI, it’s Wednesday.  Let’s hear what you have to say about all this shit.

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