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Timing of EPO in early 90's that doesn't add up..

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Re: Timing of EPO in early 90's that doesn't add up..

31 Jul 2018 16:20

Aragon wrote:
Aragon wrote:...and if I am not mistaken, Frankie Andreu mentioned somewhere 1996 as the "watershed" year.

Even when the story is suspicious, my recollection was sound, that Andreu had mentioned the year 1996 somewhere, and the source is an old article by Michael Shermer which has the following paragraph (the article is quoted now-and-then in forums and books etc.):
"For years I had no trouble doing my job to help the team leader," said Frankie Andreu, who was the superdomestique, or lead pacer, supporting Lance Armstrong throughout much of the 1990s. "Then, around 1996, the speeds of the races shifted dramatically upward. Something happened, and it wasn’t just training." Andreu resisted the temptation as long as he could, but by 1999 he could no longer do his job: "It became apparent to me that enough of the peloton [the main group of riders in a cycling race] was on the juice that I had to do something." He began injecting himself with r-EPO two to three times a week. "It’s not like Red Bull, which gives you instant energy," he explained. "But it does allow you to dig a little deeper, to hang on to the group a little longer, to go maybe 31.5 miles per hour instead of 30 mph."

At least a part of his recollection is suspicious, because he has later testified having started to use rHuEPO already in 1996.
There is a clear danger in relying too much on single anecdotes from or about individual riders, particularly when it looks like anecdotes are being cherry-picked to disprove something. Andreu, for one, we know is not the most reliable witness on this. In his USADA testimony, Andreu's story shifts forward at least three years:
While I was competing on Motorola the use of erythropoietin (EPO) became prevalent in the peloton. As the use of EPO increased it became apparent that it was going to be difficult to have professional success as a cyclist without using EPO. Over time, a general consensus arose on the Motorola team that it would be necessary for us to use EPO to help in racing because there were so many riders against whom we were competing, who were using EPO. At the time, I recall LA saying he was getting his *** kicked and was in favour of doing something about it. All of us were saying that we have to do something. In 1996 Kevin Livingston and I drove together to Switzerland to purchase EPO. We went to a pharmacy in Switzerland and each purchased EPO for our own use.
The simple fact is there is a large body of testimony which is clear that EPO swept over the peloton over a period of years: that there were, as to be expected, early adopters, an early majority, a late majority, laggards and so on.

One issue that seems striking in many of the replies here is that few seem all that bothered with the timeline of EPO in an abstract, big picture sense, and are only interested in it as a way of naming individual riders, blaming individual riders. It shouldn't be about that.
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31 Jul 2018 16:41

Speaking for myself it's not at all blame. I couldn't care less about assigning blame. It's entirely about curiosity.
I want to know who were the first and when for 2 reasons:

- I want to know how it "spread". Was it a few isolated riders, or was there a geographical component
- Because IMO nothing can give a better picture of how large the performance effect is, than to be able to point at a before and after of this or that rider. I have no negative feelings toward the rider, I'm just curious.
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Re: Timing of EPO in early 90's that doesn't add up..

31 Jul 2018 17:24

The Andreu-quote was just to close my earlier statement where I mentioned him adding still another year to the timeline, so it is more a mea culpa-moment from my part than any evidence about the 1996 as another "watershed" year, because his recollection isn't reliable.

Even when rHuEPO obviously spread gradually roughly between 1989 and 1996, the boost that each individual cyclist/team got didn't increase gradually but was more an on/off-situation. So this gradual adaptation doesn't fully address the issue why some individual participants noticed the performance increase of their opponents up to a several years earlier than the others did if the boost in "unspecified performance"/Vo2Max was indeed 10-15 % (CIRC report), 20 % (David Walsh, Hein Verbruggen) or even 30 % (Bengt Saltin). Still all the people I quote maintain that there was a year when "everything was different".

There might've been various reasons explaining this of which one unpopular one is that the effect of rHuEPO is overstated and the other "noise" and variations in performance can mask the improvement that some people/teams get from it at least for some time. I think you would agree that if rHuEPO gave 100 % boost in performance, everyone would notice easier when speeds of their opponents would've increased. And perhaps the opposite is true that it actually gives less boost than has been estimated and that is why the diverging views happen to all be sincere.

And let's not let me off the hook. The material is scarce and the essay is more prerentiously revisionist than 100 % accurate and the "problem" exists only assuming that the recollections I quote are sincere and even roughly accurate.
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31 Jul 2018 18:06

I think the effect of EPO boost is also masked by natural variation. When we put EPO with supreme talent you get the Alpe D'Huez ascent times of Pantani in the sub 37 minute range. Today they are riding up that mountain about 3 to 4 minutes slower even with Sky holding a high pace to nullify attacks. Geraint Thomas would have finished over 1 km behind Marco's best effort in 1995 which was despite taking a wrong turn at the finish. So despite all this clinic hype that the peloton is as dirty as ever the stopwatch suggests otherwise.
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31 Jul 2018 18:54

This **** again?

Just follow the sudden carreer path of Tony Rominger, the teams he was on, the MD they had.

Or just read this:

https://www.zeit.de/2005/27/Tour_27
il Mito wrote:“I’m in pension, I don’t give a **** about training,” Ferrari said. “They are all strong without me. Did you see the Tour de France?”
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Re:

31 Jul 2018 19:38

Cookster15 wrote:So despite all this clinic hype that the peloton is as dirty as ever the stopwatch suggests otherwise.

Who says this?

You might be confused by people using definitions of "dirt" other than "how much of a performance boost a doper on a top program can get away with at a given time", but no one is arguing what you claim.
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Re:

31 Jul 2018 20:35

Fearless Greg Lemond wrote:This **** again?

Just follow the sudden carreer path of Tony Rominger, the teams he was on, the MD they had.


What exactly are you saying?
That EPO appeared when Rominger started working with Ferrari and nearly won the Giro as a 2nd year pro in 1987?
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Re: Re:

31 Jul 2018 21:03

GuyIncognito wrote:
Fearless Greg Lemond wrote:This **** again?

Just follow the sudden carreer path of Tony Rominger, the teams he was on, the MD they had.


What exactly are you saying?
That EPO appeared when Rominger started working with Ferrari and nearly won the Giro as a 2nd year pro in 1987?
No, Rominger was his lab rat. EPO was there, especially in Switserland. No one knew how to work with it correspondenly.

Rominger was willing to do everything. Like Gianetti. Monsieur Perfluorcarbon.

Took them a while to perfect though, when he got over his 'hayfever' [look that up in the archives, its funny] he suddenly became a GT champ at the minor age of 31.

Gianni Bugno is still laughing now how he won that Giro 1990 from Mottet.

Stolen victory.
il Mito wrote:“I’m in pension, I don’t give a **** about training,” Ferrari said. “They are all strong without me. Did you see the Tour de France?”
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Re:

31 Jul 2018 21:21

GuyIncognito wrote:...- I want to know how it "spread". Was it a few isolated riders, or was there a geographical component....

Surely you jest. Despite a US government criminal investigation, the FLandis exposé and his government-aided Qui Tam suit, and Pharmstrong's "Come to Oprah" confession, we still don't have that level of detail about the doping in the the most thoroughly scrutinised cycling team in the sport's history. Which speaks volumes, not just about the health of pro cycling's omertà but also the level of its dedication to a doped future.

If you want to know the timeline of the impact of EPO, look no further than the climb times for l'Alpe d'Huez. It's somewhat of a corrolary to the opinion of French cycling journalist (and former Festina trainer) Antoine Vayer who wrote, “Forget ‘I never tested positive.’ It needs to be replaced by ‘I was never clocked by a radar doing 430 watts standard in the final col of a long mountain stage.’"

The fastest pre-1991 climb of l'Alpe was Luis Herrera in 1987 at 41:44. You might well consider that the benchmark for a "pane e aqua" time. It also is (only) the 154th fastest ascent of the Alpe to date (during a TdF). Anything quicker is suspicious. Quicker than 41 minutes is "not normal." Quicker than 40 is a certifiable space alien.

Lemond's fastest Alpe (he of the 93 VO2max) is 42-something, not even in the top 200.

In 1988, Indurain did 58 minutes. In 1991 he did 40:31. In 1994, 39:30. In 1995, 38:14.

1995 also was the year of Pantani's legendary 37:35. After that year's Giro, Pantani's Hct was 58. After the Tour it was 57.4. So it stands to reason his Hct was (at least) high 50s when he did 37:35. Yet Indurain, a TT specialist who was heavier than Pantani by two full stone (12.7kg), was only 39 seconds off Pantani's pace. Pantani, two stone lighter and with an Hct >55.

Indurain's reversal for GC against Lemond from 1990 to 1991 was 26 minutes. 1990 was Big Mig's 6th appearance in the TdF and his first top-10 finish. He took GC on the following season.

Lemond came third in his first appearance in the TdF (1985). He probably could have contended for GC with a stronger team. He did win in 1986. He bore all the earmarks of a borned GC contender (except for the 'American" thing). And in 1991 he was only 30 years and a couple of weeks of age.

Indurain's time on l'Alpe in the 1991 TdF was under 41 minutes. From 1990 to 1991, he made the classic "pack horse to race horse" transformation. And just as obviously, by 1995 his PEDs program was well-optimised.
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Re: Re:

31 Jul 2018 21:22

Fearless Greg Lemond wrote:
GuyIncognito wrote:
Fearless Greg Lemond wrote:This **** again?

Just follow the sudden carreer path of Tony Rominger, the teams he was on, the MD they had.


What exactly are you saying?
That EPO appeared when Rominger started working with Ferrari and nearly won the Giro as a 2nd year pro in 1987?
No, Rominger was his lab rat. EPO was there, especially in Switserland. No one knew how to work with it correspondenly.

Rominger was willing to do everything. Like Gianetti. Monsieur Perfluorcarbon.

Took them a while to perfect though, when he got over his 'hayfever' [look that up in the archives, its funny] he suddenly became a GT champ at the minor age of 31.

Gianni Bugno is still laughing now how he won that Giro 1990 from Mottet.

Stolen victory.


If "no", then what do you mean? When are you saying EPO appeared?
You're dancing around whatever your point is, and it's still not clear what that point is.

We're trying to establish the early timeline of EPO. You suggested it was easy and we "just" had to look at Rominger's career (which had already been discussed in here). What is it that we "just" need to see?

It can't be 1992 because you're saying that's not when it started - and it's well established it was around before that - yet you're saying it's not 1987 when Rominger first showed top results. So when is it?

To put it bluntly, what exactly are you trying to say?

StyrbjornSterki wrote:
GuyIncognito wrote:...- I want to know how it "spread". Was it a few isolated riders, or was there a geographical component....

Surely you jest. Despite a US government criminal investigation, the FLandis exposé and his government-aided Qui Tam suit, and Pharmstrong's "Come to Oprah" confession, we still don't have that level of detail about the doping in the the most thoroughly scrutinised cycling team in the sport's history. Which speaks volumes, not just about the health of pro cycling's omertà but also the level of its dedication to a doped future.

If you want to know the timeline of the impact of EPO, look no further than the climb times for l'Alpe d'Huez.


That doesn't help much. It only tells us when the majority of the frontrunners were on it.
If back of the pack guys were first on it and it moved them up to midpack, the top times don't budge.

StyrbjornSterki wrote:The fastest pre-1991 climb of l'Alpe was Luis Herrera in 1987 at 41:44. You might well consider that the benchmark for a "pane e aqua" time. It also is (only) the 154th fastest ascent of the Alpe to date (during a TdF). Anything quicker is suspicious. Quicker than 41 minutes is "not normal." Quicker than 40 is a certifiable space alien.


The idea that Herrera was on nothing is a bit too far fetched to believe. Not EPO sure, but not clean.
And technology and training evolve. We can't compare 1984 times to now and say anything faster is guaranteed EPO use.

StyrbjornSterki wrote:Lemond came third in his first appearance in the TdF (1985). He probably could have contended for GC with a stronger team.


1984. And his team was the strongest in the race. And his teammate won by a country mile.

StyrbjornSterki wrote:Indurain's time on l'Alpe in the 1991 TdF was under 41 minutes. From 1990 to 1991, he made the classic "pack horse to race horse" transformation. And just as obviously, by 1995 his PEDs program was well-optimised.


I'm not going to bother discussing this. It's well established he did EPO and it's well established he was anything but a "pack horse" in 1990. He was arguably the strongest rider in the race. I'm not discussing this for the trillionth time, end of.
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Re: Re:

31 Jul 2018 21:47

GuyIncognito wrote:
To put it bluntly, what exactly are you trying to say?
Did you read Romingers Qualen?

Rominger, the lab rat of Michele, who got fired from Chateau by Stanga, did good in small races. After that Bugno from the same team got a GT canon all of a sudden, so, my timeline for EpO:

1988-1989 thus

1990 it was good: Bugno a GT winner :D

1991 it was much better: Indurain a GT winner :D

1992 it was even better

1993 it was unstoppable

1994 - 1996 it was free idiots for everyone, up to 65%

1997 - 2000 it was take as many baxters you can in the morning to dillute the blood

after that it were the old blood bags again

To conclude: 1988 - 1989 it began.

The perfection however came to a conclusion in 1993.
il Mito wrote:“I’m in pension, I don’t give a **** about training,” Ferrari said. “They are all strong without me. Did you see the Tour de France?”
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Re: Timing of EPO in early 90's that doesn't add up..

01 Aug 2018 11:44

Aragon wrote:The material is scarce and the essay is more prerentiously revisionist than 100 % accurate and the "problem" exists only assuming that the recollections I quote are sincere and even roughly accurate.
Provocative revisionism I'm all in favour of and any attempt to question whether doping can be seen in big-picture performance levels - that step-changes in performance exist and can be credited to particular doping periods - I will applaud. (There's a paper that looked at the average speeds of all three GTs over a reasonably long period and questioned whether doping could be blamed on the change, are you familiar with it? I'll look it out if not.)

However. The question here is about EPO's early years. Evidence about people only starting to use EPO in 1998, 1996, 1994, 1993, that's not really relevant. You yourself are pretty clear that 1988-89 is Year One, is probly where we should be looking for the early adopters.

WRT the later adopters: even from people who chose not to use EPO we know that, psychologically, they could survive, for a period of time. Even from later parts of Gen-EPO, we know that they could survive without EPO, for a while. When someone like Hamilton says he couldn't survive after whatever year it was, 1995, 1996, he is as much talking about something that changed in him as he is talking about something that changed in the peloton, possibly even more so.
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Re:

01 Aug 2018 11:47

GuyIncognito wrote:Speaking for myself it's not at all blame. I couldn't care less about assigning blame. It's entirely about curiosity.
I want to know who were the first and when for 2 reasons:

- I want to know how it "spread". Was it a few isolated riders, or was there a geographical component
- Because IMO nothing can give a better picture of how large the performance effect is, than to be able to point at a before and after of this or that rider. I have no negative feelings toward the rider, I'm just curious.
If you want to know who was first, we need to focus the conversation in 1988-89 +/-.

How it spread: look at blood transfusions and look at PDM re-inventing the wheel. The social structures you are looking for are not as strong as some think they are.

I really would suggest you park the performance effect for an entirely different debate and focus on dates.
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Re: Re:

01 Aug 2018 11:52

StyrbjornSterki wrote:If you want to know the timeline of the impact of EPO, look no further than the climb times for l'Alpe d'Huez. It's somewhat of a corrolary to the opinion of French cycling journalist (and former Festina trainer) Antoine Vayer who wrote, “Forget ‘I never tested positive.’ It needs to be replaced by ‘I was never clocked by a radar doing 430 watts standard in the final col of a long mountain stage.’"

The fastest pre-1991 climb of l'Alpe was Luis Herrera in 1987 at 41:44. You might well consider that the benchmark for a "pane e aqua" time. It also is (only) the 154th fastest ascent of the Alpe to date (during a TdF). Anything quicker is suspicious. Quicker than 41 minutes is "not normal." Quicker than 40 is a certifiable space alien.

Lemond's fastest Alpe (he of the 93 VO2max) is 42-something, not even in the top 200.

In 1988, Indurain did 58 minutes. In 1991 he did 40:31. In 1994, 39:30. In 1995, 38:14.
The problems with using this idea as a way of dating the arrival of EPO are many:

1) It assumes all other things are equal, from the parcours to the weather to the road surface to the equipement to the race tactics and on and on and on
2) The same performance gains we assume to be visible from EPO we assume to be visible from blood bags and since we know blood bags were in use in the 1980s we cannot say which performances used a blood bag and which an ampoule of EPO
3) It assumes that EPO was initially used in Grand Tours that incorporated stages to Alpe d'Huez and not in other Grand Tours or one day races
4) It assumes that the first people to use EPO targeted the Alp d'Huez stage for a performance

I could go on, but why bother?
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01 Aug 2018 14:34

<1990: EPO in the market and understanding the use and effects.
1990:Testing and being perfected. Bugno
1991: Tested and improving effects. Bugno, Chipucci and Indurain. The new Champion is born. I remember this year being an odd one as a fan.
1992-1996> improving and wide spreading.
1996: The worst has happened. We have created a monster and we need to set limits even for doping. Indurain couldn't even compete.

Who cares about the early adopters in 88 or 89. The proper use wasn't really known. Maybe some of the Doctors will write about it in some book.
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01 Aug 2018 14:45

Mathieu Hermans is one of the true EPO pioneers. Erik Breukink remains a big mystery. Bugno, Chiappucci & Co were the first true EPO professionals. By the time Riis risked his life to win the Tour de France and Marco Pantani flew up the Alps, cyclists had become modern gladiator willing to win or die!

That's all we know for sure!

Those were the days, those were the drugs, those were the heroes!
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01 Aug 2018 14:59

I've heard 1987 as the magic year anecdotally (though it had obviously been around long before), but as has been mentioned before, no one really had a very keen grasp of individual response (ie. donkey to racehorse) to it until the early 90's. Quick question though: with the discussion of transfusion to EPO back to transfusion, what ever happened to the plasticizer test that seemed to be on the brink of making waves a few years back? I checked online, but there didn't seem to be a lot of info and I'm wondering if I'm missing something that is right in front of my face.
The poster formerly known as yespatterns.
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Re:

01 Aug 2018 15:10

GraftPunk wrote: what ever happened to the plasticizer test that seemed to be on the brink of making waves a few years back? I checked online, but there didn't seem to be a lot of info and I'm wondering if I'm missing something that is right in front of my face.
Funnily, this came up elsewhere not so long ago: viewtopic.php?p=2255240#p2255240
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Re: Re:

01 Aug 2018 15:18

StyrbjornSterki wrote:...Lemond came third in his first appearance in the TdF (1985). He probably could have contended for GC with a stronger team. He did win in 1986. He bore all the earmarks of a borned GC contender (except for the 'American" thing). And in 1991 he was only 30 years and a couple of weeks of age....

Obviously I goofed. Lemond's first Tdf was 1984, but he did come 3rd, despite an almost nonexistent team . In 1985 he came 2nd to injured team captain Bernie Hinault, but only because he was sportsman enough to acquiesce to team orders that he sacrifice his own almost certain GC victory by doing so. And he did win GC in 1986, with no real competition apart his own teammate, the Badger. Third place finished almost 11 minutes back.
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01 Aug 2018 15:22

A lot of the testing with athletes and the pioneer work was done in cross-country skiing as well, and the games in 1991 in Val di Fiemme (Italy) were probably a bit turning point especially with the Italian scene being at the forefront of EPO. But I never seem to find anything believable about athletes using EPO properly and with correct methods and actual results in the 80s. There's all the stuff about EPO certainly being around and being passed on from the big pharma companies, but the first proper early adopters in the late 80s seem bit of a mystery.
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