By Yokota Fritz
Maybe not too unbelievable, but disappointing none the less: Italian cyclist Riccardo Ricco of Team Saunier Duval tested positive for synthetic EPO and CERA before the start of today's 12th Stage of the Tour de France. Saunier Duval has pulled out of the Tour de France.
Before he was pulled from the race this morning, Ricco was in the top 10 of the GC and points and led in the mountains. His team, Saunier Duval - Scott, was in third place when Stage 11 concluded yesterday.
As I write this, Stage 12 is almost concluded in Narbonne. Watch Velo.kwc.org for complete updates.
EPO is a hormone that stimulates the production of red blood cells. Continuous erythropoiesis receptor activator (CERA) is a new drug still undergoing FDA review that's used to enhance the effect of EPO on red blood cell production.
Trust But Verify plenty of commentary on how this story is breaking. The comments there at TBV are interesting, too. Among the tidbits there:
The disappointment is indescribably immense because of this new betrayal. Here on Sui Pedali I always focus on the sport of cycling and don't emphasize the problem of doping. We don't do this because of disinterest or because I'm convinced the problem doesn't exist, but because there are so many other beautiful stories to tell. Faced with this case, however, I cannot remain vague or leave this as a footnote of another article.
l'Espagnol Manuel Beltran (Liquigas), 37 ans, présente des traces d'EPO dans l'échantillon A de ses urines prélevé à l'issue de la première étape du Tour de France, samedi 5 juillet entre Brest et Plumelec.
Professionnel depuis 1995, Beltran a débuté sa carrière chez Mapei avant de passer par Banesto, Team Coast et de devenir l'un des principaux équipiers en montagne de Lance Armstrong à l'US Postal et chez Discovery Channel.
Beltran fait partie de ceux qui avaient été ciblés par l'Agence Française de lutte contre le dopage (AFLD) lors des prélèvements sanguins effectués les 3 et 4 juillet derniers à Brest avant le départ.
That's French for "37 year old Spaniard Manuel Beltran of Liquigas is SO busted! His A sample from Stage 1 tested positive for EPO." Beltran has been pulled from competition.
Beltran started racing professionally in 1995 with Mapei. From 2003 to 2006, he raced on the USPS Team and Team Discovery, often assisting Lance Armstrong with his wins as his teammate.
By Yokota Fritz
The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has dismissed the appeal filed by Floyd Landis. Landis has also been ordered to pay $100,000 to the US Anti Doping Agency for the costs incurred by his appeals.
The full details are posted everywhere; Trust But Verify is dedicated to tracking Floyd Landis and his doping appeals so it seems like as good a place as any to following the discussion. Moving forward, the Tour de France starts this Saturday! Woo hoo!
By Yokota Fritz
Illinois chemist and former bodybuilder Patrick Arnold testified that he shipped steroids to former Olympic cyclist Tammy Thomas in testimony during Thomas's perjury trial.
Thomas was indicted in December 2006 for lying to the grand jury investigating the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO) in Burlingame, CA. Thomas was banned from competition for life in 2002 after she tested positive for the steroid norbolethone. Norbolethone, first developed in the 60s, was pulled from clinical trials in the 70s because of its toxicity.
In her current photo, I see a slender, attractive woman. Look at the close-up from 2002, at which time Ms. Thomas expressed an anabolic androgen in her urine. The photo looks like an androgenized female. Rugged looks. Male pattern baldness.
Federal prosecutors said Thursday they have "overwhelming" proof that former Olympic cyclist Tammy Thomas lied when she told a grand jury that she never used steroids, including a high-end bicycle they allege she traded for performance-enhancing drugs when she was low on cash.
The prosecutors quote a doctor's report in August 2000 suggesting that Thomas had to shave a full beard, a steroids side effect for women.
According to the government's filing, Dr. Margaret Wierman wrote Thomas that she feared the cyclist was exposing herself to long-term health problems if she continued to ingest steroids.
Also testifying will be Kelcey Dalton, the chemist's live-in girlfriend at the time who said she had several phone conversations with Thomas during a three-month period several years ago. Dalton and Thomas' conversations "consisted of talk about weightlifting and steroids, in particular about steroids side-effects," the government's court filing stated.
According to the filing, Thomas offered Dalton a LeMond racing bicycle in exchange for some of Arnold's designer steroids.
"The deal was made and Dalton still has the bicycle," the filing stated.
"Every day is the same day," she said in her gravelly voice. "I used to be well respected. I made my parents proud. Now I've embarrassed my family. For the rest of my life, wherever I go and whatever I do, I'm going to be known as a cheater."
Like the RIDE CLEAN people like to say, Ride Clean and the rest will follow. I really really like the positive example that Team Slipstream is setting in this regard and I hope that the rest will indeed follow.
The water bottle in this photo is from Bike N Hike in Longmont, Colorado. They carry Trek, Fisher, LeMond, Haro, Redline, Sun, and Diamonback.
By Yokota Fritz
Brandon Tomlinson works for Genentech in South San Francisco, California. Genentech manufactures Human Growth Hormone (HGH), a performance enhancing drug. HGH increases muscle mass by stimulating protein synthesis, strengthen bones by stimulating bone growth and reduce body fat by stimulating the breakdown of fat cells. HGH is popular among some athletes because it's impossible to test for. Brandon apparently has done presentations at conferences on the problem of undetectable performance enhancing drugs in athletics.
Brandon's brother Lance Tomlinson owns the Max Muscle Sports Nutrition franchise store in San Jose, California. Brandon's Sports Nutrition Store sells supplements for body builders.
DEA agents knew that Lance's Sports Nutrition shop also sold HGH that was stolen from Genentech. It didn't take much effort for them discover that Lance had a brother who worked at Genentech. They connected the dots and made the arrests.
What a couple of geniuses. If you're gonna steal from your employer, don't use your brother as a fence.
By Yokota Fritz
Stephen Dubner asked the question on the Freakonomics Blog: "Is it time, perhaps, to come up with a pre-approved list of performance-enhancing agents and procedures, require the riders to accept full responsibility for whatever long-term physical and emotional damage these agents and procedures may produce, and let everyone ride on a relatively even keel without having to ban the leader every third day?"
I would in no way participate in or watch a sport that permits participants to abuse themselves in that way. Freakanomics published a response from Joe Lindsey of Bicycling magazine. Joe gives his points on why we should not open the doors to "legalized" doping.
By Yokota Fritz
First of all, check out Masi Guy's passionate expression of his love for the sport of cycling:
Why love a dirty sport? Well, because not all riders are dirty and because it's a beautiful sport. The roads of France were still lined today as the Tour rolled through their towns. Sure, many people booed and chided the riders, but they were still there to watch because of the amazing spectacle that is the Tour and cycling.
Tim links to quite a few other commentaries about the whole doping scandal:
Bike Hugger's: "With Interbike coming up, the Fall, and another bike season, I expect many are thinking of “other things” than racing. Like, comfort bikes, SUBs, cargo bikes, and the like."
I also liked Donna's post: "We as the every day bike riders can still make sure that kids find the love of bike riding. It's not all about the pros. It's about all of us bike riders - there are a ton of us out there. Start your own Tour Day Neighborhood today. Don't sit around and stew about the 'state of the sport'. It's only the state of the pro sport that is in shambles. The state of bike riding is as great as it has always been."
The Tour is open. Most of the course is free of barricades. No tickets, no exorbitant parking, no luxury boxes. All it takes to be part of it is whatever effort you want to put into getting there and setting up your folding chairs and your picnic table.
Fans can walk right up to the top-heavy rolling locker rooms called team buses at the finish and plant themselves in a rider's path when he wheels in still lathered in sweat from covering more than 100 grueling miles.
If doping scandals make you doubt that the physical feats you see in a bike race are real, look again. Look at the whole sport. It's convulsing in a very real, human, imperfect way. Things may get worse before they get better, though it's hard to imagine how much worse they could be than they were this week at the Tour de France.
Finally, here's some more troubling news about Rasmussen, who's been accused now of smuggling plums. (Via TdF Blog.)
By Yokota Fritz
Over the years several people have commented that pro cycling needs to get serious about doping and the drug culture that's rampant among the ranks of professional cyclists.
UCI and le Tour organizers finally are cracking down on the problem -- and I believe pro cycling is probably the only organized sport that is serious about a problem that exists across almost every sport and almost every level of competition -- and we're seeing the results. Evidence of drug use is decimating the peloton, with entire teams eliminated from the world's premier cycling race.
While we shouldn't exactly be rejoicing, we should stand behind those who choose to race clean and continue to support them. The news this week has been a hard pill to swallow, but I think cycling has possibly reached a tipping point toward no tolerance to drug use.
I will continue to follow the 2007 Tour de France. Velonews writer Jason Sumner wonders if the competition matters anymore. Of course it matters -- I believe the competition is more meaningful now than last week. I'm excited to know that those who compete and win will have done so without the benefit of banned substances.
By Yokota Fritz Hemopure, developed by Biopure (BPUR), is an oxygen-therapeutic based on chemically stabilized bovine (cow) hemoglobin. It has been developed for potential use in humans as a substitute for blood.
Hemopure is stable at room temperature and does not require blood typing. Hemopure has been approved for human use and commercial sale in South Africa since April 10, 2001, a first and only for this product class. Hemopure is banned for human use in the United States where it continues to undergo animal studies. BioPure continues human trials in Europe. A similar product from BioPure -- Oxyglobin -- is sold for veterinary use to treat anemia in dogs.
Whitney Richards told VeloNews that in March of 2002, Rasmussen asked him to transport a box containing cycling shoes. But the shoebox, according to Richards, actually contained bags of an American-made human blood substitute.
In an effort to fit all his belongings in his luggage, Richards opened the box to discard it and just bring the shoes - he said he then discovered the bags.
"I was blown away," Richards told VeloNews. "This wasn't a pair of Sidis ... it was frickin' dog medicine or something."
According to labels, the bags were filled with a hemoglobin-based oxygen carrier (HBOC) known as Hemopure, manufactured by the U.S.-based Biopure Corporation. The product is made from hemoglobin molecules that have been removed from the red cells of cow's blood.
"The nerve of the guy," Richards added. "Not only is he a drug cheat, but he didn't give a damn about anybody else. He was willing to put me out there to carry that crap through customs ... into Italy at a time when they were investigating Dr. [Michele] Ferrari and people were lobbing accusations at Lance Armstrong. Think about what it would have been like for Italian customs to catch an American with a bunch of bike gear and cow's blood at the border."
The German Cycling Federation (BDR) announced on Wednesday that T-Mobile rider Patrik Sinkewitz 's A sample, taken on June 8, had a raised testosterone level. The up and coming rider has been suspended by his team who say that if the B sample confirms the first test then he will be sacked.
That news sent shockwaves through the German media, with national TV networks ARD and ZDF suspending their coverage of the Tour de France.
It has been a bad week for Sinkewitz who collided with a spectator on Sunday immediately after the end of the eighth stage in Tignes suffering a broken nose and a head injury.
But the latest development is more bad new for T-Mobile who have seen several former riders confess to taking banned blood-booster Erythropoietin in the last few months.
Seven former Telekom cyclists, including 1996 Tour de France winner Bjarne Riis and top sprinter Erik Zabel, admitted they took EPO in the 1990s. And Sinkewitz's failed drugs test comes almost exactly one year after T-Mobile sacked 1997 Tour de France winner Jan Ullrich for being linked to a doping scandal in Spain.
Marcello at Velochimp? Espresso fiend. Phil at Spinopsys? Absolutely obsessed with beer. Elden at FatCyclist.com? Let's just say French reporters have found evidence of Red Bull in garbage cans outside his hotel room.
During the 1996 Tour, under pressure from my sponsors, I briefly tried a topical anti-inflammatory that may have been on the World Anti-Doping Agency banned list.
Frank exhorts cycling bloggers to take his blogger's anti-doping pledge. Read it here.
By Yokota Fritz Catching up after the long weekend: Dave Moulton started racing bicycles in 1952. He gives us an excellent first person recollection of doping in competitive cycling.
The drug used was Benzedrine, a brand name for a mixture of amphetamines that had been used by the military since the early 1900s.
It was generally accepted that the pros used it, especially in the Tour and other big stage races. We didn’t look on it as cheating, the entire Tour de France field was on dope, it only becomes cheating if a substance is banned and only a few do it.
My guess is that doping by professional cyclists can be traced back to the beginning of pro racing in the early 1900s; amphetamines became available about the same time. Six Day Track Racing became immensely popular back then, a sport crying out for a “stay-awake” drug.
In related news, the International Olympic Committee opened an investigation for possible doping violations in Olympic cycling today in the aftermath of doping confessions by Bjarne Riis, Erik Zabel, Rolf Aldag and Christian Henn, as well as admissions from doctors that they supplied EPO to Team Telekom cyclists. "The IOC finds the revelations in recent days disappointing ... and is therefore determined to look into the matter and any possible impact it might have had on the Olympic Games," the IOC said.
Floyd Landis's much-anticipated ten day hearing to appeal his positive drug test results begins tomorrow in Malibu, California. While preparing for his appeal, Landis also continues his aggressive campaign against World Anti Doping Agency chair Dick Pound by asking the International Olympic Committee to strip Pound of his members and remove him from his duties as chief of the WADA, according to the San Jose Mercury News.
The complaint charges that Pound violated the basic principles of the Olympic Charter by making derogatory remarks about Landis in the media; and that Pound has threatened to interfere in Landis's appeal hearing.
Pound remarked once on Landis's 11 to 1 testosterone to epitestosterone level by saying, "You'd think he'd be violating every virgin within 100 miles. How does he even get on his bicycle?" The International Olympic Committee ethics commission rebuked Pound, telling Pound he had "the obligation to exercise greater prudence consistent with the Olympic spirit when making public pronouncements that may affect the reputation of others."
By Yokota FritzThis New York Times article highlights Team Slipstream, an American pro cycling team that pledges to compete drug free, with weekly blood tests to prove their purity.
“It’s an absolute severe pain for us to do, but I’ll do anything to keep from being lumped with the guys accused of cheating,” said Danny Pate, 27, a former under-23 world champion and one of Slipstream’s top riders. “I’ll give DNA. I’ll post all of my information on the Internet. I’ll do anything to help save the sport.”
Some interesting tidbits from the article:
The team is having problems finding a title sponsor because sponsors are apparently skittish about being associated with doping in sports.
Regardging team director and formrer Postie Jonathan Vaughter: Throughout his career, he said, riders battled the ethical question of whether to use performance-enhancing drugs. In the 1990s, he said, the use of the blood-boosting drug EPO was rampant and teams felt pressured by sponsors to win at any cost. “I don’t have a halo over my head; I made some mistakes when I was a rider,” said Vaughters, who would not directly say whether he had used performance-enhancing drugs. Nudge nudge wink wink.
Team Slipstream was previously the TIAA-CREF development team. This year, they were established as a UCI Professional Continental Team. Slipstream is sponsored by Chipotle Mexican Grill.
When friends ask me how I can like cycling with all of the doping, at least I can say that cycling at least tests their athletes.
Of course, people don't use the term "doping" for football players. For instance, when I used the search term "NFL steroids", I got over 1.3 million hits.
@Peter - for the past 7 days?
"NFL steroids" - 319 hits for the same period Feb 1 - 7.
...that is just so wrong...funny man...
..& oh ya, kohl's actions too ...
well put :)
Schumi dope fallout
per a thread on weight weenies there are rumors flying regarding...
Sastre Cancellara O'Grady Kohl Kirchen Hincapie and more...
Internet Explorer cannot display the webpage
There's no whois entry for stuartogrady.com.au
I'd certainly be happier if they didn't test for doping. Screw it.
..."germam tv" are the biggest drama queens in all of europe...
...if there was serious drug testing in their favored "bundesliga", those big tv contracts would go straight out the window because there would be no sponsors & there wouldn't be anybody watching "german tv"...
...yet they constantly threaten to hold german cycling fans hostage...i hope those viewers have a way to say "screw you, guys" w/ their euros...
TdF: Another one bites the dust
The regulators are really taking their responsibility seriously... they know that this valuable product needs protecting.
In European courts, Tiffany wins a lawsuit against eBay but in the USA, eBay wins. The value of property, particularly brand names, are highly valued and protected there... and now the TdF too. Jack
"MA: Well, you see synthetic EPO in urine in the form of bars on an electrophoregram. If a rider's taken Micera, the bars are located in a different place to those you see in a sample containing synthetic EPO."
There may not be a simple "test" for CERA, but the expert himself indicates that it is recognizable if you're looking for it. If it was used in the Giro as indicated they are probable checking all the samples for it specifically now.
@Jack: For some reason my brain flashed back to that 80s teen pop star.
@Joel: Good point.
Is not a good thing Riccardo Riccò is a liar ...
Manuel Beltran - EPO
Just talked with Bob Roll about this. His comments are over on our blog. My comments. C'MON GUYS! Did he NOT think he'd get caught? Why...because he's special or something? Oy!
This is actually a good thing.
If a non-significant rider like Beltran can be nabbed and tossed out, it sends a message to contenders, up-and-comers, and any of the veteran riders who may think that they can extend their career for another year or two by using the "better life by chemistry" technique.
That's too bad about Triki Beltran. I always thought highly of him as the tireless Postal/Discovery rider. Not anymore.
Floyd Landis loses CAS appeal
That is a bummer, but not a surprise. Oh well, I'm still excited about the Tour too.
the only bummer about it was it didnt carry a death penalty.
He should have kept Lance's doctor.
...it doesn't really matter what the decision is, the whole fricking ball of wax is as screwed up as possible...all parties & all actions concerned, whether "guilty or not guilty" have left an ugly scar on the sport of cycling...
Tuesday testimony: Tammy Thomas took tonic
It's a man, baby!
...aerospokes "dude looks like a lady"...
...oh, really, yer telling me it's 'smith' not 'spokes' & that IS a picture of a woman...my, my, my...
...fun to joke about but this really is both sad & sick as a human interest story...a woman who would trade her bike & her soul away to become a "winner & a "name" & to be "respected"... ...certainly garnering the attention now...
Wow, the after picture is really striking. She was scary looking when she was on the juice.
Tammy Thomas? You mean Tranny Thomas.
Have to say I'm curious about the "enlarged genitalia". Would it be considered umm, prurient to want to have a peek?
Sock Guy socks du jour: Ride Clean
Two brothers: the thief and the fence
Freakonomics on doping
Tour de France: Stages of grief
Thanks for the mention.
It's been such a heartbreaking Tour and though I have continued to read the results and am still interested in who wins, my "love" for the race is destroyed for this year. It'll be back, I know it will. I look forward to seeing the sport getting cleaner and better- I know it will. My passion is still intact. I hope everybody else's is too.
Maybe we'll get a clean Vuelta now... I hope.
Tour de France good news
Great comments, Fritz. I'd like to see the percentage of the people who are abandoning the Tour but are still watching the steroid-ridden Barry Bonds chase the Hank Aaron home run record without batting an eyelash. I bet it's pretty high.
I agree with you Fritz and I am continuing to follow the tour.
Jamie, good point. I have heard several people point out that Barry Bonds has never tested positive for anything. Maybe that is because MLB is not serious about addressing the problem. As long as they choose to just look away, steroid use will never be a "problem" in baseball as it is in cycling. I am just glad that our sport is making an attempt to clean itself up.
Agree and this Sunday I will be sad when it ends again. Although disappointed with the revelations, I think it has been a fantastic TdF.
Well said, Fritz. I really appreciate your positive feelings and comments. More than ever now is the time to support cycling.
Thanks for the comments, all. If you haven't seen it yet you should check out what MasiGuy has to write after some reflection.
Drugs in sports
Doping pledge.... for bloggers
I admit it I've been doping. In fact all during the 2006 Tour I was taking in at least a double shot of espresso every few minutes.
As for that asthma inhaler, I have medical pass honest.
Coffee? Um... I have a medical waiver. I swear.
A history of doping in cycling
Landis: Dick Pound must go
Ivan Basso confesses to doping
GASP....EEEK....this is just not good....
Actually, I think it is one of the best things to happen to cycling. A cheat is actually confessing to his dirty deeds. I understand the pressures to perform and all that. It still does not make cheating right. My respect for Basso has actually increased because of his admission. Removing the doubt of allegations whether guilty or innocent is better than allowing speculation to continue.
I don't understand what he has to gain by fessin' up. Help me out, people.
Paul Tay - Clear conscience? There are some people in the world who do like to have one - even among cyclists. It could be he is also looking to avoid the possible financial ruin that Floyd Landis is looking at.
Right. I can understand the cutting yer losses part. But, would you give up seven TdF's for a clear conscience?
He didn't admit to doping...he admitted to trying to dope. He claims his Giro win was clean, and he wanted to dope for the Tour.
Umm, yeah, ok.
He wants a lighter sentence, so why not confess to a lighter crime?
yeah, "attempted" doping. Sheesh. If the guy can win a world class bike race by nine minutes clean, why would he even consider banking blood for a future race?
In case he crashes and needs blood transfusion.
"Attempted doping" -- my respectometer just took a dive.
Team Slipstream: Dope-free pro cycling
On a really windy day last autumn on the Schuylkill River Trail, I got to pull for TIAA-CREF for a few miles. I am a Clydesdale of magnitude but I can pound along pretty good on the flats, so they were happy to take shelter behind the barn I suppose. Anyway, I pulled off to wait for a friend who couldn't catch our train. The team took off, and I continued on with my friend. Later on, they were heading back east and I was still going west. The lead rider recognized me and gave me a wave. It totally made my day.
Quite the sad commentary on the sport, eh?