Sunday, January 21, 2007

Doping - Asthma, Actovegin, Acqua & Sapone

Boy does cycling irritate my asthma! I think I'll go use an illegal substance proven to boost performance to fix it. I just have to ask my doctor for a "doctor's note" to get off any positives in the doping tests. Kind of like Perreiro in the Tour.

It's a ridiculous rule, especially when someone like Vaughters, when he got stung by a bee, really did need medication - and he couldn't get it because the cortisone necessary was banned under racing rules. What happened to that "
TUE list" - the Therapeutic Use Exemption list, i.e. the list of things for which a rider could test positive but because it's for Therapeutic Use, it's allowed?. You know, like Perreiro's asthma medicine.

Don't tell me they couldn't bend a rule or two. The Tour organizers regularly extend the cutoff time to allow racers outside the limit to stay in the race - 2006 would have been a joke after Rasmussen's solo win as only 60-odd racers made the cutoff. So with the only bee-sting in the last 20 or so years, it would seem reasonable to let the guy get a shot to allow him to continue.

Whatever. After Vaughters withdrew and got the cortisone shot, the swelling went down instantly. And it's not like he went looking for the bee to sting him to cover up some cortisone use, right?

Now you take someone like Perreiro - a perfectly healthy young man who has "mild asthma", takes a performance enhancing drug to "relieve" it, and that's okay? There's something wrong with this picture.

Actually even WADA agrees. For 2007 they are doing away with some of these doping loopholes.

In the bootlegged LA Confidential I got off the net, there is a mention of the USPS's TUE list.

In 2000, USPS listed, on their TUE medication list, 684 boxes of product containing 7,422 capsules, pills, injectables, vials, and tubes. In 2001, it was 8,334 units. If everyone on the team (directors, soigneurs, mechanics, etc.) partook equally, they'd have been taking about 12 medications per day in 2000; over 13 per day in 2001. If it was just the 9 cyclists, the number would jump to 39 medications per day in 2000, and an incredible 44 medications per day in 2001. Although you might expect this to be normal, USPS listed about twice as many medicines as the next highest team, and about four times most of the other teams.

One of the drugs not listed was Actovegin.

However, a team doctor in 2000 listed Actovegin (at that time not specifically banned) on an import/customs type form dated May 8, 2000. He was bringing in 40 doses of it as well as 125 other products. Armstrong stated that neither he nor his doctors had ever heard of "activo-whatever-it's-called" on December, 13, 2000, about 7 months after the doctor submitted the forms. The calf blood extract used to decrease hematocrit, increase the amount of glucose, and is typically used in conjunction with EPO to boost the oxygen carrying capacity of a rider's blood without drastically increasing the hematocrit level. It is normally used instead of aspirin to thin out blood and prevent potentially fatal blood clots.

It was banned shortly thereafter.

In 2001, the French government turned down the USPS team's request to import Actovegin.

Eventually, USPS admitted that, yes, they did bring in Actovegin. The reason USPS carried it? Their mechanic Julien De Vriese's "diabetes". He was present only for the three time trials. This means he took 40 doses in 3 to 6 day. Does this make sense?

Curiously enough Actovegin is not used to treat diabetes.

In other news, Acqua & Sapone is vying for the honor of being the team signing the most well-known dopers next to Tinkov. A&S has the distinction of signing a disgrace to racing, Freddy Maertens, who undid years of incredible riding by taking money and staging a waste of a "comeback" in the 80's. It was a total joke - he rode poorly and climbed off the bike about as quickly as Cipo in the mountains - but Maertens did it every time he raced. The journalists made fun of his synthetic tan - and it appeared he did indeed spend more time tanning than cycling. His fall from grace was reminiscent of the one by Nigel Mansell, also a spectacular star (in Formula 1) that didn't know when to stop - the fact he no longer fit inside the 1995 McLarens should have been a big hint.

Anyway, A&S have racer Stephan Garzelli, the guy who got booted from the Giro for testing positive for masking agents.

They also signed the first guy ever to help his dog dope, the guy with a pitiful capacity for life's hardships, the shotgun waving Tom Boonen impersonator. I mean, what the heck was he thinking? Oh, I forgot, he doesn't think. The one and only Frank Vandenbrouke.

Let's see how many races he doesn't show up for before he has some crisis. If I ever saw a guy who needed to join the military to toughen up a bit, this is the one. A stint in the dark green uniforms (sorry the English version isn't up) and he'd think nothing of actually getting out of bed and driving to a race with his bike and gear.


Anonymous said...

I don't know how I found your blog, I think I was searching for some cycling related stuff, but you are a great writer. The topics are very interesting, and I like your style. Well done and keep it up!

I was also a LeMond fan (still am) and hope that cycling cleans it's act up. It looks like the first ones to attempt to do so are Team Slipstream and Jonathan Vaughters. I hope they make it to the Tour this year, then no one will want to compete with them for the fear of defeating a "clean" team and the cloud it would cast over them. Hey, perhaps they might even let them win!

Anonymous said...

Actually Actovegin can be used to treat diabetes. Components of Actovegin have an effect similar to insulin, stimulating glucose transporters so glucose in the blood can be taken up by cells.