Any Reason For Optimism?

Mar 12, 2009
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This time last year I felt very optimistic about the future of bike racing. There was a sense that the sport had turned a corner in the fight against doping. More believable racing, more riders speaking out, even the positive tests were a sign that the cheaters were starting to lose the war. Even David Walsh and Lemond were feeling optimistic. One year on and I can't put into words how disappointed and pessimistic I feel. Let me just run down some reasons:
The return of Lance Armstrong. Seeing him back racing is bad enough. Watching him prep for his political career with this whole nice guy, man of the people act is making me sick.
A tiny skinny climber winning time trials over the most powerful specialists in the sport. Then in the press conference after, he doesn't even pretend to care about the doping issue or peoples concerns.
ASO, who last year looked like leaders in the anti-doping crusade now seem like 'one of the boys'.
More and more rumours of payoffs, quashed positive tests, team-wide doping programs and god knows what else.
Racing that gets more defensive and cautious every year.
Fans who accept all this while the cycling establishment basically laughs in their faces.
These reasons and more have me seriously questioning whether I should bother watching and just stick to riding my bike. Am I wrong? Is there any reason for optimism?
I hope you'll all believe me that I'm not trying to start a war here, this really is how I feel and I want to know what people think.
 
No, your concerns are shared by many. But why deny yourself the pleasure of watching the races? Sure, I suppose that if we all decided to take a stance against the corruption, the sponsorship base would dry up and with it the sport, or else it would have to change. But it is utopistic to think everyone would do this, so it is pointless to resist and you would only be flogging yourself.

In many ways, cycling (sport in general) is a metaphor of life, with all its follies and excesses, but also beautiful moments. And therein lies the attraction. Lots of bad things exist in life, but that doesn't (should't) prevent us from living it, nor experiencing some of the rare pleasures it offers us simply because the world is often corrupt.
 
A

Anonymous

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Then you should stop watching all sports because doping isn't just in cycling.

Or you can enjoy it for what it is. If you are that involved that you are this upset about the state of cycling maybe you need some time away on your own bike and just fall in love again with the sport because of how it makes you feel while riding free on your own roads.

Then if the urge to come back and watch hits you then there are many outlets you can come to and watch. But until then, take a break from watching anything but the scenery around you as you roll along the roads on your favorite bike.

Otherwise be optimistic there hasn't been a positive in the Tour by one of the contenders.
 
marinoni said:
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The return of Lance Armstrong. Seeing him back racing is bad enough...
Certainly that did not help.

I feel like I went back in time to 1999. It feels like the teams are re-organizing the networks all over again. They just seem more cautious and smarter about how to do it.

I still watch the sport. It is a great spectacle. And I am always hopeful about the future.
 
Jul 3, 2009
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marinoni said:
A tiny skinny climber winning time trials over the most powerful specialists in the sport. Then in the press conference after, he doesn't even pretend to care about the doping issue or peoples concerns.
Why should he care about the doping concerns? If he is not doping the best thing (for himself and for cycling) to do is just move past them.
As for his dominant performance being attributable only to doping, that is a load of crap. Let's look at the facts: 1. You are talking about a guy who just won his national time trial championship (he can time trial a little). 2. He finished second in the initial time trial, beating all but one of the guys he beat yesterday. 3. His recovery has always been a little better than those powerful specialists at the end of a 3 week tour. ( Fabian is a machine when it comes to TTs; but he does not possess the recovery ability of other riders especially after nearly 20 days of racing.) 4. Those skinny climber types have always been able to put in good performances at the closing TT of the tour -- Sastre in 2008, Contador in 2007, Pantani in 1998, and everyone's favorite bastion of anti-doping, Greg Lemond in 1989 (58 seconds in 19K?!? -- I will NEVER understand why he continually believes that HE is the only one capable of superhuman performances without that performance being called into question.)
 
This forum has a lot of threads that revolve around drugs (not surprising given the title!). As this forum, or at least sub-forum, has only started recently maybe you end up reading more negative stories? I know that is true for me.
 
Mar 10, 2009
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In the end, it requires a (gradual) cultural change, from within the peloton I think (how that can be realized is something I have no answer to). Compared to previous years, I don't think I have ever seen more cyclists coming out of the closet and openly denounce doping, for what it is worth. Have we ever seen such an 'open' discussion about doping?

People who talk seem to be less easy dismissed, they can't be ignored as easily anymore. More resources are being devoted to anti-doping efforts. Laws are changed to criminalize doping, traficking and use. More people seem to be caught, and more and more is revealed about what is/was going on...

Maybe the attitude of more (young) riders is changing a little, step by step, obvioulsy with notable exceptions, like Dekker, Ricco, Kohl. As evidenced by this story on the rabobank website.

Sinkewitz took the leaders jersey in the Tour of Saksen, and according to RAB DS Adri van Houwelingen:

klinkt er weerstand vanuit het peloton tegen de Duitse etappewinnaar. “Vooral de jonge generatie renners is niet blij met de aanwezigheid van Sinkewitz. Hij is geschorst geweest en de renners vinden eigenlijk dat hij nooit meer had mogen terugkeren in het peloton.”
the peloton resents the German stage winner [Sinkewitz] being in the lead. "Especially the younger generation isn't happy with his presence. He was banned and riders actually think he should never ever have been allowed to return to the peloton"
furthermore it is speculated that

De komende dagen staan volgens de ploegleider in het teken van een bundeling van krachten in het peloton. Een groep renners hoopt de nieuwe leider in het klassement alsnog van zijn troon te stoten. "Het wordt moeilijk omdat hij een grote voorsprong heeft, maar ik denk dat er een gezamenlijke actie vanuit het peloton komt om hem uit zijn trui te rijden. En de Raboploeg zal dan zeker meedoen.
the next couple of days will probably foresee a joining of forces within the peloton. A group of riders is hoping to dethrone the new leader. "It will be difficult, because he commands a large lead, but I think that there will be a concerted effort from the peloton to bump him from #1. In that case, the Rabobank team will certainly participate.
 
Pecular, because Sinkewitz should be considered one of the good guys IMO, as he broke the omerta, and cooperated with authorities to help clean up the sport. And with Rabobank chasing him down, it's...hmmmm.

Bala wrote:

People who talk seem to be less easy dismissed, they can't be ignored as easily anymore. More resources are being devoted to anti-doping efforts. Laws are changed to criminalize doping, trafficking and use. More people seem to be caught, and more and more is revealed about what is/was going on...
I would have to agree, and this is why I am more against Armstrong than ever before. To me he represents the past. Not just the historical past, but a time when the omerta was very powerful and fully enforced, and heavy doping very widespread. He has shown no interest what so ever to promote what you wrote about anti-doping. If anything, he's done the opposite, complaining about doping controls, and help mock, or even ignore testing.

And I say this to Lance fans: It seems we were coming along so well, why in the world would anyone want to take us back? Then again, I don't think they see what I am seeing, and their admiration for the man justifies his actions, or lack there of, regarding stopping doping.

So yes, to me, we need to flush out the riders from the EPO era, especially those who wish to uphold the omerta, and aren't interesting in curbing doping, and place a heavy concentration on getting riders from this new era to promote clean cycling.

I don't know that we'll ever see a 100% clean peloton, or any sport, really, but I do feel like we had been turning the corner until this year, but there is hope in the years to come.
 
Jul 13, 2009
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Alpe d'Huez said:
Pecular, because Sinkewitz should be considered one of the good guys IMO, as he broke the omerta, and cooperated with authorities to help clean up the sport. And with Rabobank chasing him down, it's...hmmmm.
It sound suspicious to me as well. I'm sorry to say that, but the behaviour of "young Rabobank riders" described by Bala Verde appears to be the exact opposite of what it pretends to be. I'm afraid it is not a fight against doping, but rather punishining the rider who has broken omerta, showing him: "we don't want you here". Did the "young riders" give the same treatment to Basso or any other caught rider? . Not at all, they were welcomed back with open arms, because they took the blame on themselves and protected the omerta. And I'm certain that "young riders - dopers" - Ricco and Sella will also be greeted warmly.
It seems to be even more ugly, because protecting omerta is shrouded in the cloud of righteousness, in the disguise of fighting doping, and young, supposedly clean and innocent riders are used here, but i doubt it is solely their own initiative.
 

Dr. Maserati

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Jun 19, 2009
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To the original poster 'Marinoni' I agree 100% and share your skepticism.

Gee333 said:
Then you should stop watching all sports because doping isn't just in cycling.

Or you can enjoy it for what it is. If you are that involved that you are this upset about the state of cycling maybe you need some time away on your own bike and just fall in love again with the sport because of how it makes you feel while riding free on your own roads.

Then if the urge to come back and watch hits you then there are many outlets you can come to and watch. But until then, take a break from watching anything but the scenery around you as you roll along the roads on your favorite bike.

Otherwise be optimistic there hasn't been a positive in the Tour by one of the contenders.
I think the distinction here should be Pro Cycling.
I love cycling and when I want to see it at its best I choose following the local Juniors, always fantastic eyeball out racing.

Like the original poster I was feeling optimistic after last year however that soon went with the agreement between the UCI and the Amaury family, (ASO EPA). Indeed the UCI had an opportunity to retest for CERA during last years Giro - they probably would have caught Di Luca then.

I believe pro cycling will be forced to change its ways soon - the next few years- as I believe it is only a matter of time before another Police lead scandal is exposed.
 
Mar 10, 2009
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Some other, and more disheartening words, from the ever so rational Germans. They'll knock some sense in us, and really know how to take away any hope that might have remained ;)

Contador schlägt das Misstrauen entgegen. Es muss ihm ja entgegenschlagen. Der bloße Anschein all der Wunderknaben hat doch zuletzt nie mehr getrogen. Landis, Rasmussen, Kohl, Schumacher, diese Woche der Italiener Danilo Di Luca, der beim Giro im Mai als Gesamtzweiter Wettrennen im Berg fuhr und mit 33 Jahren plötzlich auch schnell gegen die Uhr - Epo-gedopt. Gegen Michael Rasmussen fuhr Contador 2007 bei der Tour Bergsprints, es war nicht schön anzusehen. Rasmussen wurde suspendiert vor Paris, Contador siegte. Er, Kunde des Blutdoktors Fuentes, in dessen Kartei er unter A.C. an Nummer 31 geführt war; auch ein Blutbeutel mit dem Kürzel wurde bei der Razzia 2006 gefunden.
and

Nach seinem Sieg 2007 fragte man ihn, ob er das richtig fände, dort oben zu sitzen, man zeigte ihm die Dokumente der Guardia Civil. "Mein Name war erst in den Akten, aber die UCI hat den Fehler korrigiert?, sagte er. Der Weltverband und die spanische Politik decken ihn, in vielerlei Hinsicht, das ist allzu offensichtlich. Bei Teamchef Manolo Saiz, neben Fuentes die Schlüsselfigur in der Puerto-Affäre ist, begann Contador 2002 seine Karriere, ehe er zu Armstrong-Mentor Johan Bruyneel ging. Contador, 26, ist jung und sehr talentiert. Aber es ist auch das jugendliche Gesicht der Vergangenheit.
 

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