Di Luca or Talansky? Who to Believe?

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Danilo Di Luca supposedly did an interview, that is airing today, that says that 90% of riders in the Giro d’Italia were doping and the other 10% weren’t because they were preparing for other events. So, Danilo is saying that 100% of the peleton in the Giro are doping. He went on to say that it is impossible to finish in the top 10 of the Giro without doping.

I was going to try to avoid this subject until Garmin’s Andrew Talansky decided to do his twitter thing and call out Di Luca. I bet Jonathan Vaughters is super stoked that Andrew decided to go public with his view. Talansky tweeted –

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.

Now the question, who to believe? They are pretty far apart on their views, pretty black or white.

I dont’ know Danilo Di Luca, so I have no idea of his intellect. Most guys that are as successful as he has been in cycling aren’t stupid, but a few are. I have to assume that Di Luca has a knowledge of the dirty side of the sport from an inside view. I’d bet he knows a ton about doping and the prevalence of it. But even he admits, a ton of the doping has been driven underground and is now performed more in secrecy.

Now to Andrew. Let’s just start with the premiss that Andrew is clean. I think it is very hard to prove his observation that the rest of the field is clean. It is much easier to know that the rest of the field is doping, if you have personally observed that, as Di Luca says he has.

Andrew has been pretty vocal in the past throwing his views out there. He tweeted – “don’t care what you think of @lancearmstrong, USADA really shouldn’t repeatedly accuse someone of something with ZERO hard evidence.” That was a beauty, when there was already realms of public evidence out there. I’m not sure to know, as Andrew states, that Di Luca’s statement will “hurt the sport”. Maybe it will be the catalyst to really make some dramatic changes, who knows?

During his dramatic rise to a top ten grand Tour GC rider, Talansky has used his team mate, Ryder Hesjedal, as an example how you can win Grand Tour without doping. Oh, then Ryder comes out and admits doping way, way back in his mountain bike days, then stopping to race on the road clean. Bad example Andrew.

Anyway, it would probably be safe to say that both of these guys are off. The sport isn’t close to clean. Andrew must of missed the current positive doping cases the past couple years. So if I had to pick one guy’s side, I’m very sad to say I’d have to go with Di Luca’s view as more accurate than Talansky’s. Hopefully it’s not as bad as Di Luca says.

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23 thoughts on “Di Luca or Talansky? Who to Believe?

  1. Mark

    I want to believe Talansky, but every time I go for the more hopeful view I get burned. Experience has taught me to be extremely skeptical.

    Also, Talansky’s tweet regarding Armstrong was incredibly foolish.

  2. Roberto

    I do know Danilo, and still have family involved in cycling in Italy. According to what i’ve been told, his statement isn’t that far off. But the doping is different than it was. It is now possible to finish top ten, without being on drugs. Because of all the random testing, guys aren’t being as risky as they were in the past. Less risk, means less doping. And less doping means smaller gains. A lot of cyclists believe it’s impossible to physically survive a season, without doing a little something. But the days of constantly being juiced, are over. If Lance Armstrong, or another similarly talented cyclist, decided to enter the sport now, they would have the chance to have a career, without cheating. I personally think that’s about the best we can hope for. Someone will always cheat, no matter what sport it is. But in cycling, I think you can now be clean, and get results. And that’s a change for the better.

  3. Rob

    “I think it is very hard to prove his observation that the rest of the field is clean. It is much easier to know that the rest of the field is doping, if you have personally observed that, as Di Luca says he has.”

    Perhaps, but it is also very difficult/impossible to prove a negative, i.e. “I’m not currently, and have never, been a doper.” If Talansky is clean, and I really, really hope he is, I understand his frustration. He can say over and over again that he’s never cheated, but there is really no way to prove it. Tests can be beaten, sidestepped, avoided. The fact that you’ve never tested positive isn’t good enough any more. I believe that systemic, team-based doping is a thing of the past and the relative few that are being caught today are rogues doing it on their own. Racing certainly looks different to my eyes than it did 10 years ago.

  4. SalRuibal

    Eternal vigilance is the price of purity. More testing, steeper penalties, hold teams as responsible as individuals. Hold national sports organizations responsible and subject to expulsion. Test, test and more tests. Don’t allow dopers, no matter how beloved, to have contact with young racers, even in just social situations. Make winning clean more profitable for both riders and teams.

  5. jza

    Pro bike racers and Wall St bankers have a lot in common. Both want to imagine they succeed purely on their own effort and talent. While a few might, the overwhelming majority take some shortcuts, and the public forms an opinion based on these shortcuts.

    In banking, hardly anyone gets hired off the street and works their way up through the ranks to be an executive, who then goes off on his own to start his own successful business. It is far more likely that the banker comes from elite schools, who is then offered a great position despite relative inexperience and is then introduced to network of information and access to capital that makes future ventures far more likely to succeed.

    In cycling, few can cleanly go out and smash races and move up through the ranks. It is more likely that one is identified as a talent early on and put in a development system that provides access to extraordinary training methods, elite level race entry and places on top teams. These development systems have been run by a very small pool of people over the past several decades, most of whom were implicit in doping.

    While Talansky may be clean, his success owes a lot to those who were not. Having guys like Leipheimer as a mentor, teammates like Hesjedal, Danielson, a manager like Vaughters. All of these have helped Talansky become the rider he is.

    While Talansky might not live in a glass house, he certainly at least has a lot of windows.

  6. Dennis C

    If Andy Talansky is so anti performance enhancing drugs, why does he empower the convicted drug user Levi Leipheimer by participating in Leipheimer’s Gran Fondo ?

  7. donkybhoy

    Sadly the Di Luca’s have been proven to be correct while the Talansky’s have been either delusional at best or liars.

    Talansky calls Di Luca a scumbag, but has no problem with Hesjedal, Millar, Dekker, Danielson, Wegelius or Vaughters, never mind being a buddy of Leipheimer?

  8. River

    The Waters are completely cloudy now…who to believe? Unfortunately it (cycling) will never be the same for me again. I raced on the National circuit in the ’80’s…even lined up against our website master Steve a few times. I can tell you the most I ever did was a caffeine tab on my handlebars with 40 miles to go…all it did was give me diarrhea and insomnia that night. I don’t know how much PED’s help and if someone had taken me aside and told me I would win if I did such and such and maybe even ride the TDF, I would have been sorely tempted. I am just being honest because I was a fierce competitor albeit without the genes of Lemond. Even Steve if he is really honest might admit to some wavering within his own soul. It is difficult place for a person to be. But now that I am older I can see the futility and devastation that these decisions leave in their wake. The blame is upon teams and managers/coaches. They make it all possible. They know what is going on. If we want to be serious about this….life time bans for all involved. That is the only way to make it really easy to ”just say no”

  9. channel_zero

    I have heard this same kind of optimism for decades now and for decades, oxygen vector doping has made the sport into a joke.

    GrandPappy Horner’s Vuelta result and bio-passport does not support optimism that the sport at the elite level is clean(er) Talansky’s personal attack on Di Luca is pitiful and, again, suggests little has changed in elite cycling.

    Meanwhile, Gaimon’s stage win was encouraging, but very far off the more popular times/events of the year for competitive cycling events.

  10. channel_zero

    Hold national sports organizations responsible and subject to expulsion.


    Thom Wiesel and Steve Johnson at minimum should have lifetime bans from the sport based on their enabling doping at USPS. That’s not mentioning Thom’s hiring team doctors prior to USPS.

  11. Scott

    Agreed – I actually feel bad for someone who is actually clean (I assume there are some out there) who gets accused – because what can you even say at this point that hasn’t been said, word-for-word, by a known cheater.

    Heck, Armstrong’s years of denials alone cross off so many otherwise useable responses.

  12. Johnnyo

    As long as folks support these guilty, ex-dopers by riding their Fondo’s, buying their products and attending their training camps and bike shop talks , the cancer will continue to thrive.

    Let’s name a few for starters: 90% of the old Garmin and BMC guard, Leipheimer, Lance, Hincapie, Capt America, Danielson, Vaughters, Och. All a bunch of loser not worth the time of day.

    Anymore I just race for my own enjoyment. Its tough going against the 50+ Masters out here in So. Cal when we have proof, the ones scoring big are all juiced.

  13. Patrick

    Oddly enough, Talansky’s reaction sounds a lot like the “I’m so offended that you’d even hint at it” rhetoric that Armstrong used to use. He’s so strong in his rebuff that one must question his authenticity. And again, oddly enough, one of the first traits that a cop is trained to look for in a subject who lies to them, is the sheer intensity of their denial. I think that the doping culture is so entwined and entrenched in their practice of lying, that we pretty much can’t believe most of the peloton right now. It will take years of none-to-few incidents for things to heal.

  14. Larry T.

    Why does anyone care what DiLuca thinks or says? OF COURSE he’s going to say everyone else is doped, isn’t that what EVERY doper believes or says? “The Killer” is not only a doper, but he’s an idiot..how many times has he been caught? He needs to be ignored, except for perhaps handing back the prize monies he stole by cheating. He’s right up there with the “Cobra Modenese” in my opinion…a dumbass who would probably be wielding a paint-brush or digging a ditch if it weren’t for his “talent” at pedaling a bicycle.

  15. Patrick

    Amen Sal. When I first read that Davis & Connie steered their talented son towards Och, my final bubble of hope was popped. A (very) well-known busted doper once confided to me how it was a well-known U.S. Olympic coach that used to place doping products in the back of the van (post-olympics) for his riders to “find”. That way he could honestly claim (in his mind only) that he did not push the drugs onto the riders. They had to pick them up themselves. I asked this guy why he never went public about what he saw and experienced. He said that he couldn’t tell the story honestly without mentioning who “found” the stuff. So he holds his tongue.


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