Readers of the old blog on WordPress will recall that I enlisted BikeMonkey to cover the sports-doping beat a time or two on the old blog. Today’s news pried him away from his political ranting commenting for a guest appearance. -DM

Dave Stoller: “Everybody cheats. I just didn’t know”.

BikeMonkey GuestPost

Professional cyclist Floyd Landis has lost his final appeal of his conviction for testosterone doping during the 2006 Tour de France. Most readers will be familiar with the backstory. If not, click the two prior links and then head on over to the trust but verify blog for the pro-Landis perspective.
I’m motivated to discuss this stuff not just because I follow professional cycling now and again; it has a lot of parallels with science misconduct.

Read the rest of this entry »

From we have the news that the organization which runs the Tour de France will not be inviting professional team Astana to compete this year.

The Astana team was given a resounding vote of no confidence on Wednesday when the Tour de France organiser, Amaury Sport Organisation, announced that the team would not be invited to any of the ASO’s events. This means its star, Alberto Contador, will not be able to defend his titles in either the Tour or the upcoming Paris-Nice.

Only three days until the start of the Epogen Amgen Tour of California and already 2008 is shaping up to be another Year O’ Doping Scandal in pro peloton. Big. Sigh.

Read the rest of this entry »

From we have the news that the organization which runs the Tour de France will not be inviting professional team Astana to compete this year.

The Astana team was given a resounding vote of no confidence on Wednesday when the Tour de France organiser, Amaury Sport Organisation, announced that the team would not be invited to any of the ASO’s events. This means its star, Alberto Contador, will not be able to defend his titles in either the Tour or the upcoming Paris-Nice.

Only three days until the start of the Epogen Amgen Tour of California and already 2008 is shaping up to be another Year O’ Doping Scandal in pro peloton. Big. Sigh.

Read the rest of this entry »

Wiener Blut

January 16, 2008

You just knew if it was such a profitable business, then the lab in Operación Puerto couldn’t be the only one didn’t you? Cyclingnews has the call: Read the rest of this entry »

Rock (of crack) Racing

January 10, 2008

okay that was a bit uncalled for. But US domestic pro cycling outfit “Rock Racing” has hired Tyler Hamilton and wants Floyd Landis for an “advisor”. And this team is coming to play, people:

With the addition of three-time national champion Freddie Rodriguez, 2002 world time trial champion Santiago Botero and former U.S. Postal Service domestique Victor Hugo Peña, as well as domestic standouts Doug Ollerenshaw, Mike Creed and Cesar Grajales, Ball has quickly built a team that has shaped up to be one of the strongest on the North America scene.

Plus Tyler? Damn.

Wait a minnit, Rock Racing the team is a sponsor of the Amgen “We make EPO” Tour of California? And they are going to come gunning with Tyler Hamilton who should be a top-5 favorite if he hits the start line? So they are sponsoring their own rider’s win? Oh, my head hurts…


Update 1/11/08: And now an interview with Floyd Landis.  Conditioned on the journalist obtaining answers to Floyd’s questions of USA Cycling CEO Steve Johnson:

“I want short and direct answers, no spin or political bullshit,” he told me. “I made them yes/no questions and those are the answers that I want to hear. [Get those answers] and I’ll answer any questions you ask.”

Of course the science-y part comes up, as usual:

FL: Should strict liability be applied to the athletes and not the labs?

SJ: I think the labs have every obligation to manage these cases at the highest level. I think it’s fair to challenge the labs’ procedures and handling of samples. They should be able to produce documentation that they have followed their own rules in managing and testing doping samples. Frankly that gets right back to this balancing act between protecting the rights of the athletes and catching cheaters. You have to do it correctly, and the labs should be held to the highest of international standards.

FL: For example, is it reasonable that the panel admitted in the Scott Moninger case that he was not intending to cheat but convicted him, while the panel in the Landis case admitted to substandard lab practices and convicted him?

SJ: I don’t know enough information to make that comparison, frankly. I would assume in Floyd’s case that arbitrators determined that any substandard lab practices had no impact on the outcome of the test for exogenous testosterone, but I don’t know for certain.

FL (2): Here’s another way to ask it: Should the athletes be responsible and punished when they make a mistake and when the lab makes mistakes? Scott Moninger was banned as a cheater when there was no intent to cheat. In my case the lab followed none of its own rules, causing the result, and I am held responsible to explain what happened. What I’m trying to understand is why the athlete is judged as the only party who can be dishonest.

‘course we never called it that. We were just trying to jump our bikes as far as we could. For those of us who’s formative bike riding years were the 70’s, well, Evel Knievel has passed. See Dave Moulton’s post for the reminiscing about the BMX years…

Geneviève Jeanson has confessed to EPO use (scroll down). I’m flabbergasted. Remember when she was the cat’s meow of women’s bike racing? A teenaged wunderkind kicking the pants of all of those women with lengthy performance records? Practically lapping the field in Montreal? Please. Everybody knew at the time. Couldn’t prove it. Then she was busted for hematocrit or something a couple of times. Denied, denied, denied. Now, confession.

Just like Bjarne Riis. All the hoopla this summer over his confession seemed to completely overlook that back in ’96 everybody “knew” he was juiced. Look on Usenet if you don’t recall the conventional wisdom and available public evidence. He “vehemently denied” drug use for a decade.

Screw it. I’m off the Pollyanna bandwagon. If your effort was “superhuman” on one goo day, you changed from domestique to superstud in one season or you  dominated the competition (which has confessed to doping) for years, well I think you were a doper. The whole bunch of ya. Indurain, Ulrich, Armstrong, Basso, Vinokourov… the list goes on. Dopers. We’ll get confessions eventually.

Now the bandwagon I share with DM and am most certainly not off is the stupid ticky-tack, not ready for an Acta journal analysis that passes for doping science. What a freaking joke. Landis’ appeal was turned back. It shouldn’t have been. He probably doped with something sure. Maybe the reason he’s so pissed is that it wasn’t with exogenous testosterone! Who the fuck could know what with the dumb ass procedures that were in place to analyze the samples, blind the analysis and replicate with the “B” sample.

Nature has an editorial on an upcoming surge in cheap EPO due to a European Commission approval of “generic” EPO to compete with Amgen’s product (Epogen) and the one J&J licenses from Amgen (Aranesp). Read the rest of this entry »

Stuey has a little thought for you.

and Vande Velde has me ROFL with this one:

if I was French I would’ve been the top Frenchman in the Tour de France this year and my salary would probably be doubled, all this while working for the captains of my team. I am clean, so can I apply for a French passport? I only live 63k away from the French border.

Slowly extend middle finger

September 14, 2007

Unsurprisingly, you can make your life better in sports by learning new skills. It’s one of those fun little benefits that you can set out objectively to get better at something and within a short time have obvious results. Cool. How many aspects of your life offer this? Read the rest of this entry »

Don’t Crack

September 13, 2007

“I was hanging with the leaders until the second climb when I cracked about halfway up.”

“I just kept to my pace on the climb and passed three guys who cracked trying to ride with the front group.”

The use of “to crack” in cycling is different from “blowing up” in that it implies, to me at least, a psychological component. “Blowing up” just means you rode yourself beyond your sustainable level of effort, roughly speaking over into the anaerobic side of the power station. In contrast “cracking” is applied to situations in which the going is tough  (generally climbing) and a racer (or rider) just stops maintaining the pace which is otherwise sustainable. There is a slowdown in speed, of course. A loss of cadence and of pedaling smooth circles. A dropoff of HR from the max sustainable threshold for aerobic activity. The rider drops a gear and just plods on at a survival pace. In other words, quits. It’s subtle because after all you are still technically riding up the hill or finishing the race; the difference is that you aren’t really trying anymore. You aren’t at maximal (or targeted) sustainable effort. Read the rest of this entry »

Motivation to Commute on Bike

September 12, 2007

Dave Moulton (I’ll say it again, yeah, that Dave Moulton!) has the call. He found a blog called Copenhagen Girls on Bikes which exists to:

 inspire people in other countries to commute by bicycle or lobby for better bike conditions in their cities by providing a portrait of a city that lives and breathes bikes.

by, of course, putting up pics of attractive women riding their bikes around Copenhagen.

I’m envisioning my local version which would be the Notoriously Wasted and Tattoo Infested Chix Wobbling Dangerously on Figure-8 Wheeled Rusty Beach Cruisers blog. I gotta get me one of them helmet cams.


August 30, 2007

Scientists love them some data and love them some log books. Which came first? Chicken or egg?

I think the first computer program I ever wrote was a log program to keep track of rides as a teenager.  It was rudimentary and I never kept up with it; I switched to paper logs in the racing years. I’ve used The Athlete’s Diary for some time now, even though my workouts come in long-interrupted waves. Thirteen rides in the past 17 days though, thank you for asking.
At this point it isn’t really about the motivational obsession although there is a role for that. As in, “Oh no, I can’t have a week with zero hours graphed!” is not to be dismissed for those of us who have a hard time fitting working-out into our job/home/kids schedules. The thing is that with all of the aforementioned busyness, I just can’t remember a damn thing and workouts come way down the list. So how to know if you’ve been overdoing it? How long *has* that knee been throbbing after rides? Why do I feel so dead on the bike? Ahh, when was the last time I did a genuine “just spinning for 30 min” ride? etc. So logging for me tends to motivate *not* working out just as much as it does doing another ride.

A prior post was all about training intensity. This one is to remind that there is great value in rest, backing off and very light workouts on a regular basis.

EPO? Remember EPO?

August 29, 2007

Sevilla defender Antonio Puerta died Tuesday. He was 22.”

Anyone remember how EPO first reared it’s most ugly head in bike racing? Mysterious heart attacks in otherwise young and highly cardiac-fit athletes. EPO (erythropoietin) is a naturally occurring substance that promotes the development of red blood cell precursors. More red blood cells, more oxygen carrying capacity and you get improved performance in aerobic sporting activities. You also, apparently, run the risk of turning your blood into sludge (that’s a technical term) and causing your heart to stop working in the middle of the night if you overdo it.

The obvious inconsistency with the soccer player (footballer for non’Muricans) is that he died on the pitch, not in his sleep.

Nevertheless, remember how cyclists and fans started complaining that other professional sportsmen were involved in Operation Puerto? (Leading to an official denial.) It doesn’t take much to see that EPO would be a nice little help for a soccer player. In fact of the “team” sports this is probably the top suspect for EPO-dopers.

This could be a mysterious virus or congenital defect. Could be.

Update 09/10/07: One conclusion from the ME is a congenital defect, an article on reviews the issue.

A most-confirmedly ex-competitive athlete,  I. The formative years, athletically, were the overall formative years and I had the benefit of some formal coaching here and there. One might debate the quality but it was certainly coaching.

I run across the later-life convert to running or cycling, now and again, and there is a common theme. The person who “gets serious” about what-have-you. Marathons, USCF type bike racin’, etc. Being smart and dedicated people they go out and train a whole bunch and usually get pretty decent. Then, there is the plateau. “I want to qualify for Boston, my times are consistent but I can’t get faster”. “I want to do group rides but I’m not fast enough”.  “I got dropped from the Cat 5s”.


Everyone has trouble with this idea, the first obvious thing for distance sports is just to go out as hard as you can for most workouts. This is wrong.  Once a certain level of competency/fitness has been reached (you completed a marathon? okay, you are there) little benefit is obtained by “doing more long runs” or “training more consistently” or the like. You need to run faster to improve. Speedwork, intervals, etc are the only way.

The cycling plateau is usually the group-ride threshold because being able to stay with the group of riders is a pretty necessary calling card. I can’t tell you how many people focus on average speed. “Well I can hold 18mph for my rides but I hear the local group ride is 24mph so I have to ride more so that I can hang”. Wrongo. Once you get up to the approx 18mph average on mixed terrain you are ready for the next step. Group rides and yes, you will get dropped at times  ( So know your roads). The first reason is , of course, the benefit of drafting. Otherwise known as not having to bash through the wind all by yourself. People know this intellectually, of course, but nothing like a 50 miler in a group ride to really generate understanding. The other reason is subtler. You just can’t ride that hard by yourself. Call it motivation, nod to intermittent effort, whatever. There is some weird physiology at work. You’d think all effort would be the same, right? Put out X watts because of a hill, increased wind resistance, or drag brake and it should all be the same training, no? Dunno why but it doesn’t seem to work this way. There is no substitute for sustained big gear riding that you can only maintain because of the pack.  So you have to suck it up and go on those local group rides. You’ll get dropped at first, perhaps frequently. Eventually, you’ll develop the skills and power and notice you are a much better rider. You won’t get there by yourself no matter how many hours you put in.

This has something to do with science careers.