Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Doping, of course

So the original reason for this blog was to comment on some of the happenings in the cycling scene. Of course a lot of gossip surrounds the doping scandal. There are also discussions on some of the race tactics in the big Tours - but then again, doing a Monday review of a Sunday race has its advantages.

When the NY Times article with Frankie Andreu and the "anonymous" USPS rider came out, it was almost like one of those logic puzzles. The anonymous ex-Postie said he was still in the cycling game so had to stay anonymous. But they gave a couple hints - on the 1999 team, seems english, be somewhat outspoken about things, and must be in touch with Frankie (or at least get along with him) to be willing to be interviewed with him. In the interview, the anonymous rider is quite careful to state facts and not implicate any others - for example, they refused to name names.

This is how the logic puzzle worked out for me:

The Tour team from 1999 (courtesy cyclingnews.com):

US Postal

Manager: Johan Bruyneel (BEL)

181. Lance Armstrong (USA)
182. Frankie Andreu (USA)
183. Pascal Deramé (Fra)
184. Tyler Hamilton (USA)
185. George Hincapie (USA)
186. Kevin Livingston (USA)
187. Peter Meinert-Nielsen (Den)
188. Christian Vandevelde (USA)
189. Jonathan Vaughters (USA)

So who is the anonymous ex-Postie?

Andreu is out (since he's already being interviewed), so is Tyler (he maintains his innocence), Pascal (not in the cycling world), and Peter Meinert-Neilsen (ditto). Leaves:

Hincapie - highly unlikely as he appears to be a Lance person, i.e. FOL (Friend of Lance)

Livingston - likely as he was put on the sh*t list and left the team. Not really involved in cycling though.

Vandevelde - likely as he was put on the sh*t list too. however, not sure if he would speak out as he is on CSC which appears to be a rather unclean team (purely speculative - based on the bleached needles/bags found a couple times as well as just the plain history of some of their racers/directors).

Vaughters - likely as he also was put on sh*t list. I vote for him as he's been critical of Lance in the past and he is the director of TIAA-CREF and they are strongly anti-doping. this would encourage him to stay anonymous.

After the "IM Gossip" came out, it only reinforced my belief that Vaughters was the anonymous ex-Postie. Vaughters is too vulnerable to a campaign by FOLs based on what he does for a living - i.e. direct a team that has to get a license from USA Cycling (run by FOLs), try and get entry into races promoted by people that are FOLs, etc. It would have been nice if he could have said something in such a way that you can tell he wants to tell, but that for legal reasons he just can't. But alas, he says his whole IM chat was simply gossip.

All this "he said" stuff is ridiculous. Without concrete details, names, schedules, things like this simply muddy the waters. It would be better at this point for Andreu to actually name names, methods, locations, maybe open up his training diary or something. Or maybe have Betsy (Andreu) do it. She seems to be good at that.

What is kind of funny is them talking about Moreau - and how Moreau never doped, his hematocrit was 39 (isn't that abnormally low? My hct is 46-49% and God knows I don't dope). If it's true, then it would reveal why he never broke into the top tier of the Tour. I watched a stage of the 2006 Tour last night while sitting on the trainer (first time in 3 weeks!) and saw the first 3 mountains annihilate the field. Moreau was in there, hanging on for dear life, and Bob Roll says "That's a good ride for Moreau". Next shot is one of Moreau coming off. Kind of like a Charlie Mottet who was also allegedly clean (as written by Willy Voets, the infamous Festina soigneur who got caught with a carload of dope). And Mottet, poor guy never had the edge to put him at the top. Okay, he was ranked #1 for a short time, but he never won Worlds, the Tour, or the season long cup (Pernod, Prestige, etc).

Another note on Credite Agricole - I wonder if that's (their cleanliness) one of the reasons Saul Raisin is racing for them? But then again, that was a little while ago that Moreau raced for CA. Moreau, if he is Mr Clean, is racing for A2GR, which is vocally anti doping (they don't want Mancebo back, for example). They seem pretty reasonable too as they keep blowing up here and there and they can't climb with the best of them. To me that's a sign of an honest team - blowups and only a few good days in the mountains. My fiancee brought home a couple French cycling magazines. Moreau and Dessel were prominently featured in one of the magazines. You don't see that here.

Whatever. I'm glad I don't have to worry about that stuff. I think training a little more or losing 20 (or more) pounds would be much more effective than bumping up my hematocrit a few points.

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