Sunday, March 22, 2009

Velocity Nation and The Prospect Before Us

Velocity Nation is fast becoming one of the only sources for critical analysis of what is going on in Cycling. Not afraid to laugh, the velocity-team also have an eye on, and are not afraid to delve into, the subterranean movements occurring as cycling grasps the possibilities of its globalisation.

The two most recent interviews with Jonathan Vaughters and with Paul Kimmage Fighting the Good Fight both contain a wealth of information and analysis of the processes and opportunities (lost and continuing) for pro cycling in its search for a new pathway.

In the context of my doctorate work on globalisation and pro cycling the Kimmage analysis of doping pre EPO and post EPO is too say the least valuable.

Both interviews also remind me of the words of John Dos Passos in his book The Prospect Before Us that "The creation of a world view is the work of a generation rather than an individual, but we each of us, for better or worse, add our brick to the edifice ... Every one of us has to go as far forward as we can. Before a man can plot his course between the red buoys and the black he has to look around him and, having wiped all the deceiving ideologies off the slate, to try accurately to observe in what direction social currents are moving the society he lives in."

Congratulations VN.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

A bad hair day for Lance Armstrong

PARIS: Lance Armstrong literally had a bad hair day.

A French anti-doping inspector armed with a pair of scissors this week took six clumps of the former Tour de France champion's hair that now will be tested for signs of drug use. Armstrong says his hair was so "butchered" by the test that he had to get a buzz-cut to hide the mess.


Friday, March 13, 2009

THe Sport Scientists: An interesting read to continue a debate

as always just putting the different views ..... we don't take sides just search for an explanation as to why the red neon sign is more persuasive than truth .... is it because it glows red but because of the pool of colour lying reflected in the wet asphalt?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A chat with Graham Watson

From Bob Gosford's The Northern Myth

TNM: What does cycling need more of now - more law or a better sense of ethics among the riders?

GW: I would think it needs more clarity in the law and the rules - and the ethics - they will come together. They won’t come without each other.

The laws, you know, they are pretty ambiguous and all over the place - they are not yet controlled by Governments - it is more controlled by the UCI [Union Cycliste Internationale] and they don’t have to powers they need.

The laws should be made world-wide and very clear - the ethics will fit into that. You can’t have one without the other.

TNM: Are there any particular issues that stand out?

GW: As a photographer I don’t really study the ins and out of it. I got tired of all the politics since 2005, when the drugs issue really started being highlighted by the media. In a perfect world all the sports would be getting a closer examination, and I think that is starting to happen now.

TNM: Speaking of other sports, in cricket for example, top cricketers can have cortisone injections and all manner of other medical treatments while they are playing a match, and nobody blinks an eye. But in cycling, and in other sports there seems to be a different set of rules that apply.

GW: It’s not just the rules but also a different set of opinions as well. I think that it goes back all the way to the death of Tommy Simpson [an English pro-cyclist who died on the Mont Ventoux stage of the Tour de France in 1967] , and I think that from then on cycling became the most scrutinised sport and (in many people’s minds) will be forever associated with drugs. And it has never lost that image.

And, because where there is money involved, and where there is money there is corruption, and there is a profit to be made. But, cycling will forever be associated with the death of Tommy Simpson, because there were drugs and a bit of alcohol involved. And we’ve never shaken that image off.

I ride a bike for two hours every other day…whenever I ride a bike for four or five hours I’m buggered for two or three days and I’m in my early fifties. But even allowing for half of my age I don’t know how they do it. I can’t say that it is too extreme but if you take the extremity away from cycling…then there is no more sport. But it is the sort of sport where you are always going to have people looking for…not just the edge but just to be able to ride the next day. I don’t know the answers.

There are people in the marketing side of the sport who say that “We should never let it come out in the public”, because other sports hide their indiscretions. They are trying to protect the business side of the sport, which is what cycling is, a business. The only way to go is to clean up the sport as much as we possibly can, and to be the example to other sports to show that we are doing the best possible.

Monday, March 2, 2009

15 Reasons why Valverde should be able to ride in peace

1. Valverde was in Kelme directed by Vicente Belda.

2. Kelme had a team program (Puerto docs, Manzano etc).

3. Belda is on trial for his part in the Fuentes operation.

4. Valverde left Kelme in 2004 and from that point on had no contact with Fuentes.

5. Fuentes conserved a bag of blood (no. 18) which is alleged to be that of Valverde's.

6. There is a note on folio 106 of the Puerto summary made by Fuentes to the effect that bag no. 18 was kept in case the relationship with “Bala”* recommenced *(Valverde’s nick name – why didn’t he use Piti? see point 8 below).

7. There is no evidence that the relationship which existed under the direction of Belda was recommenced after Valverde left Kelme.

8. Valverde has a dog born in May 2005, the year after he left Kelme.

9. When arrested Fuentes went out of his way to implicate Valverde by asking the Guardia if “had they found everything about Valverde”.

10. The decision of Judge Serrano to not allow the use of evidence in the trial against Fuentes, Saiz, Belda et al, is completely consistent with ordinary legal principles governing a fair trial and with the Spanish legislation governing this.

11. The manner in which the RFEC has dealt with the Spanish riders implicated in Puerto is in no way different to the manner in which ASADA dealt with Allan Davis. The question has to be asked as to why Australia is deemed to be a part of the new cycling culture and Spain a part of the old culture and the problem. What forces are really at play here?

12. CONI's best argument against this (as set out in their appeal documents in Spain) is that the law is not clear, but they do not provide any legal support for this proposition.

13. CONI only has power to prosecute foreigners for events that occurred outside of Italy after 2007. Even if this law covered the relevant events (i.e. from 2004) the retrospective extra territorial application of criminal laws is on general principles problematic constitutionally.

14. In Bareclona on or about 27 February 2009 WADA’s John Fahey told Spanish Sport’s Minister Lissavetzky that the ‘Valverde’ issue was not a matter for WADA but for Spain.

15. On the basis of all of this it is very difficult to see how CONI or the UCI can actually win a case conducted on the basis of law (as opposed to a media lynching).

Where are we going with all this. Maybe someone should ask Hein?

New York Times and the Biological passport

'Interesting' article in the New York Times over the weekend about the biological passport.

"... Mr. Ashenden said, the biological passport is not perfect. Riders who transfuse their own blood may not be caught because the swings in their blood values are not as dramatic as they can be with EPO use. He also said that the passport system would be successful for “about a year or so” until riders figure a way around it."

The question has to be asked ... how much has been spent on this passport and is it worthwhile to spend this money when it will only be effective for a year. Surely there are other ways?

The comments are even more interesting when you consider the comments of Giuseppe Lippi, Massimo Franchini and Gian Cesare Guidi in their article Tour de Crisis published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine 2007;41:625-626. There the authors note that the US spends as much as it does on anti blood doping as it does curing blood diseases.

They conclude: "Therefore, in practice, healthcare systems and national governments worldwide are expected to devote to the fight against doping the same resources that the US government dedicates to prevention and treatment of diseases that cause great morbidity, mortality and economic burden for individuals, families and the entire population. Is this really necessary and morally acceptable?"

You really have to wonder if there isn't a better way? Or even what is this all about really?