Ballan and the destructive power of suspicion

May 11, 2009
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http://www.cyclingnews.com/news/ballan-back-to-racing

"Former world champion Alessandro Ballan is no longer withheld from competition by his BMC Racing Team. As the American outfit announced on Friday morning, it has concluded its internal investigation into the alleged doping past of his rider, and "could not find indications that Ballan was involved in any doping in connection with his former team, Lampre."

To review, news of an investigation was leaked to the press, and based on that Ballan and Santambrogio were pulled from racing (and for Balan this happened right at the high point of his season). Now, several months on we find that there appears to be nothing to these rumors and suspicions.

Ballan will not get his season back.

This is the new problem of doping in cycling. the sport has taken massive steps to clean itself up, and, despite these efforts, the rumors persist. The rumors continue to sideline and entangle riders in legal manuevers rather than in bike races. It has reached the level of a high school click were riders can now remove a rival through rumor rather than through performance on a bike.

The sport cannot function this way.

http://www.cyclingnews.com/news/wada-hails-de-bonis-suspension

http://www.cyclingnews.com/news/colom-suspended-for-two-years

The above stories show the fruits of the effort to clean up the sport, with the first biological passport suspension issued this week. There has been a steady stream of riders beving caught, and yet a brief purusal of this forum indicates that it is successful riders that are the most suspected of doping.

A sport where every winner is suspect cannot function.

The system works. And it is time to focus attention on what the system is doing to nail the cheats. It is time to let proof, rather than suspicion alone, determine a riders guilt. No sport places as many controls of their athletes as cycling, and it is time to put some confidence in those controls or to back up doubts with something more than suspicion.
 
Most of the points you make have been refuted repeatedly on this board, yet you still persist in lying.

The idea that the sport has taken massive steps to clean itself up is absolute garbage, and every cycling fan here knows it. McQuaid's comments further proof of the sport's desire to avoid controversy and keep doping hush-hush.
 

MarkGreen0

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gree0232,

you make some good honest points here. But to be fair that was always likely to be the outcome of the team investigation into Ballan. Without hard proof they have nothing to go on and will want to get him back racing anyway. It's another one of these police investigations into the past that will probably drag on for years with no conclusive outcome. But it is a reminder that we should not jump to conclusions based on rumours.

I think you're right that the sport is cleaning up thanks to the biopassport. It's a work in progress and should continue to get better every year. However, if there are strong rumours that doping still persists a few years from now, that might lead to another collapse in confidence. The teams taking a chance on a clean sport - Garmin, Sky, Columbia - might find their own riders are turning to bad ways again if they feel the clean route is a dead end for their careers. But for the moment there is optimism that this system is tightening the space for doping and a lot of the riders seem to be buying into this.

The great thing about the passport is it does not rely on 'trust' or a change in 'culture'.
 
May 11, 2009
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Moose McKnuckles said:
Most of the points you make have been refuted repeatedly on this board, yet you still persist in lying.

The idea that the sport has taken massive steps to clean itself up is absolute garbage, and every cycling fan here knows it. McQuaid's comments further proof of the sport's desire to avoid controversy and keep doping hush-hush.

Really? What is a lie above?

There is no thread on this forum where Ballan being cleared, or the reasons for it, is being discussed. Curious that the militant omerta seems to have passed right over it.

Now let me share with you a story from my hiatus from this forum due to my involvement in a place most of you will never go: Iraq.

Most you have never heard of the Iraqi National Police, and most of you have never heard of its exploits. Those that have probably remember it as a bastigon of Death Squad violence. Few indeed know about the general, a man I was privilidged to work for, who took over the institution and truned it around in less than two years (while in almost daily combat).

One of the biggest problems we faced was that of suspicion and rumors used to discredit rivals. If a Battalion or Brigade Commander was successful, it was because he was being fed information from insurgents or something. Many times, these rumors took on a life of its own anvd very good commanders were removed with a chilling effect across the force.

The new Commanding General changed that. He created an independant agency that reported to him and him alone. When these rumors surfaced, he sent in the organization (think internal affairs), and if real proof was found the guy was removed - and sometimes charged. This had a couple of immediate effects:

1. The numbers of accussations went down. Those that remained proved to have some validity to them, and we were really able to target and remove leadership that either had ties to insurgents or were simply corrupt.

2. It suddenly became easier to evaluate people, and the quality of officers selected for command billets rose steadily. Those that were selected for Division Command were quite literally the cream of the crop.

The final upshot of this, when the Iraqi military went into Basarah teh Army collapsed. The National Police did not. In fact, they fough for three days alone, often being attacked by the very Iraqi Army equipment that had been left behind. Eventually, the Iraqi Army re-organized, and came back in with American support, but it was the demonstration of resolve by the National Police that shocked the insurgents and pulled the Army back into the fight.

That could not have happened had we taken solace in conspiracy and suspiciion rather than in facts and evidence.

I love cycling. There is no sport that so pushes the human body to the point that the strongest man wins. None.

So when I see the same corrupting influence that nearly brought an entire nation to its knees infecting our sport, I will stand up to it here just as I did there.

All I have seen on this forum is suspicion. And when confronted there seems to be no qualms about simply extending that suspicion to a poster none of you knows. THAT is a problem.

A doping violation must rest upon something more than, "the rider did not look like he was suffering enough! (Therefore he must be doped)!" None of the riders in the Giro have accussed Basso of doping this year, including those who lost minutes in his latest climb.

The sport cannot function with suspicion infecting everything.
 
May 11, 2009
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MarkGreen0 said:
gree0232,

you make some good honest points here. But to be fair that was always likely to be the outcome of the team investigation into Ballan. Without hard proof they have nothing to go on and will want to get him back racing anyway. It's another one of these police investigations into the past that will probably drag on for years with no conclusive outcome. But it is a reminder that we should not jump to conclusions based on rumours.

I think you're right that the sport is cleaning up thanks to the biopassport. It's a work in progress and should continue to get better every year. However, if there are strong rumours that doping still persists a few years from now, that might lead to another collapse in confidence. The teams taking a chance on a clean sport - Garmin, Sky, Columbia - might find their own riders are turning to bad ways again if they feel the clean route is a dead end for their careers. But for the moment there is optimism that this system is tightening the space for doping and a lot of the riders seem to be buying into this.

The great thing about the passport is it does not rely on 'trust' or a change in 'culture'.

That bolded part is exactly the point that is being made. If there was nothing but suspicion, why was Ballan side lined at all?

He is subsequently cleared, but the stain of doubt will now follow Ballan for years while his accussers remain safely anonymous. It is not only not fair, it is not productive.

I think the Landis accussations might finnally put this process to rest. There are multiple investiagtions being launched on both riders and systems. Despite the fact that Landis, just like in the Ballan case, has said he has no evidence we see the damage that his accussations have done (not the least of which has been to his own team).

If all these investigation conclude there is no evidence will this finally stop the rumor mill? Or will suspicion continue to dog every achievement in the sport?

Pat McQuaid has a very difficult task ahead of him, from restoring confidence, to balancing the very survival of the sport in an environment where suspicion and accussation lurk behind every success.

Good Luck Pat.
 
Jul 27, 2009
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gree0232 said:
...Despite the fact that Landis, just like in the Ballan case, has said he has no evidence ...

Floyd is a liar; he has no credibility. There's no truth to his allegation that he has no evidence, if in fact that is what he said. :confused:
 
MarkGreen0 said:
Landis revelations do not nullify blood passport, anti-doping expert says

http://www.cyclingnews.com/features...ullify-blood-passport-anti-doping-expert-says

"[He and his father] run independent anti-doping programmes for Garmin-Transitions and HTC-Columbia, and Catlin stands by his work." So, his livelihood depends on people believing the anti-doping methods are effective. Is that a bias?

"Catlin thinks his program has enough latitude to catch even this practice since they have the permission of both teams to call at any hour during or out of competition." So Oli, how many times have you actually called at the hour of 1am? It's only a 6 hour window, and even then can be stymied with hydration and saline IV.

Oliver Catlin said:
It’s a little unfortunate that this discussion is coming out. Many people in the sport of cycling were hoping the days had passed when we were constantly discussing doping. To have this microdosing talk come out and raise new questions about the sport is frustrating.
OMG, yet another fox watching the hen house. This is the exact language we hear from doping cyclists adhering to omerta.

I think there’s predictability about the system in the international realm that could potentially make it easier for riders to figure out when they could microdose and expect to have the traces to go away within a certain number of hours.

Out team managers give us the ability to collect beyond the time frames of the international system and I think that gives us an advantage.
...
Every time you have something where you write down the programme and it can be understood by the world, people can create a work-around strategy. That’s the constant challenge that we face in anti-doping.
That make sense, but again he fails to state that they actually test that often and during those critical times. Coupled with the omerta-consistent statements above, I'm more suspect of these supposedly clean teams than I ever have been before.

The nice thing now is that there is also a strong deterrent coming from within the teams. Garmin and Columbia - it’s the team and the riders who are paying for the additional testing and that shows an amazing cultural shift.
If this guys really believes his own words then Florida swamp land salesman are missing out on a real opportunity here.

We’ve done late night collections perhaps 5-10 times per year, it is all about varying the predictability.
I stand corrected, if you want to count this lame response. 5-10? He's not sure how many by a factor of 100%, and he has to qualify even that with "perhaps"?

And he cleverly leaves the impression that they do night collections in competition, but doesn't actually say that they have done it.

There is a difference between an anti-doping program and an anti-doping marketing program. The goal of the latter is to give the impression that an strict anti-doping program is in place, and that seems to be the goal here.

From talking to the teams we’ve worked with there’s been a great response from the sponsors. Sponsors were running from the sport years ago and now they’re coming back in good order and it’s because of the stance that the teams and the sport has taken on the issue. The recovery has been wonderful to see.
Cha-ching.

It's a good read, but you do have to read it carefully. I suppose you can come away with a more positive impression than I did. Just remember who pays his bills and what's most important to all those involved: that the dopers are actually caught by the program or the impression is created that if there were any dopers on the team they would be caught by the program.
 
May 11, 2009
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Parbar said:
Floyd is a liar; he has no credibility. There's no truth to his allegation that he has no evidence, if in fact that is what he said. :confused:


"The question is what evidence can be uncovered at this point? In writing and in words, Landis has accused several men of cheating, but there is — as Landis concedes — no concrete evidence. There are no pictures, no drugs, no fingerprints. There is no smoking gun.


We cannot magically go back in time to revisit the periods discussed, like Harry Potter or Ebenezer Scrooge, and snoop on riders in their homes and private lives. It is the words of the accuser against the words of the accused.

This is where the authorities must step in. These claims must be investigated, with one of two outcomes — penalties must be leveled, or names must be cleared.

Otherwise, all we are left with is a war of words. And in that war, no one wins."

http://velonews.competitor.com/2010...s-and-the-impossibility-of-time-travel_117723

" Because Landis has acknowledged that he has no evidence to support his accusations ..."

http://www.wbur.org/2010/05/21/landis

http://sports.espn.go.com/oly/cycling/news/story?id=5207240
 

MarkGreen0

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Ninety5rpm, well I suppose it depends on whether you believe the Catlins would cover up a positive. Personally i don't think they would.
 
May 11, 2009
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Ninety5rpm said:
"[He and his father] run independent anti-doping programmes for Garmin-Transitions and HTC-Columbia, and Catlin stands by his work." So, his livelihood depends on people believing the anti-doping methods are effective. Is that a bias?

"Catlin thinks his program has enough latitude to catch even this practice since they have the permission of both teams to call at any hour during or out of competition." So Oli, how many times have you actually called at the hour of 1am? It's only a 6 hour window, and even then can be stymied with hydration and saline IV.


OMG, yet another fox watching the hen house. This is the exact language we hear from doping cyclists adhering to omerta.


That make sense, but again he fails to state that they actually test that often and during those critical times. Coupled with the omerta-consistent statements above, I'm more suspect of these supposedly clean teams than I ever have been before.


If this guys really believes his own words then Florida swamp land salesman are missing out on a real opportunity here.


I stand corrected, if you want to count this lame response. 5-10? He's not sure how many by a factor of 100%, and he has to qualify even that with "perhaps"?

And he cleverly leaves the impression that they do night collections in competition, but doesn't actually say that they have done it.

There is a difference between an anti-doping program and an anti-doping marketing program. The goal of the latter is to give the impression that an strict anti-doping program is in place, and that seems to be the goal here.


Cha-ching.

It's a good read, but you do have to read it carefully. I suppose you can come away with a more positive impression than I did. Just remember who pays his bills and what's most important to all those involved: that the dopers are actually caught by the program or the impression is created that if there were any dopers on the team they would be caught by the program.

This is more of the same. How do those actually involved in policing the sport make a statement with having their statements dismissed as self serving and biased? Yet the accussers and their agenda remain .... off limits and impartial?

You can nver be exonerated in such a stacked presentation. "Everything you say is biased," then how do you address accussations?

What is wrong with Caitlin's statements? Particularly as the biological passport is now nailing guys and has passed the legal hurdle to sanction?

Finally, if you put in such a tiny amount of EPO that is flushes from your system in less than 24 hours is that going to equate to a measureable boost?

And if we reinject our own blood into our system and our blood profle stays remarkabley consistant despite hard training and racing might that que additional tests as a minimum to confirm or deny the suspicion?
 
MarkGreen0 said:
Ninety5rpm, well I suppose it depends on whether you believe the Catlins would cover up a positive. Personally i don't think they would.

What??

Catlin doesn't do postive / negative testing. They don't have to release any information. They are not compelled to.

The important distinction to make between Catlin programs & anti-doping tests is that the Catlin program monitors levels and parameters that may indicate doping. It does not test for the use of doping products.

If they something irregular they will handle it as they see fit. They do not need to inform anti-doping authorties of anything.

So yes a cover-up if you will.
 

MarkGreen0

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thehog said:
What??

Catlin doesn't do postive / negative testing. They don't have to release any information. They are not compelled to.

I know, but I think he would report it to the team and the team would do something about it.

Anyway I don't believe Columbia and Garmin riders are under the same pressure to dope as the teams that dominate the mountains, which is probably why they are happy for the Catlin family to do extensive testing.
 
gree0232 said:
This is more of the same. How do those actually involved in policing the sport make a statement with having their statements dismissed as self serving and biased? Yet the accussers and their agenda remain .... off limits and impartial?
They can't, that's the problem. It's foxes guarding the hen house. That why a federal investigation will be so interesting.

That said, it's not inconceivable for someone to set up a business that provides truly independent anti-doping programs whose goal is actual anti-doping rather than just giving that impression, but I don't know that there is any demand for such a business. Caitlin's statements indicate more concern with the marketing of the program and its supposed effectivity than actual policing.

If they were serious about policing they would post the records of all the tests they've done on a website.

Finally, if you put in such a tiny amount of EPO that is flushes from your system in less than 24 hours is that going to equate to a measureable boost?
In a sport where seconds count, it might not be measurable, but it can make a difference in outcome.

It takes a lot of equipment and supplies to do all this. Why are they not searching the luggage and garbage of the riders? They're not serious. It's a ruse.

And if we reinject our own blood into our system and our blood profle stays remarkabley consistant despite hard training and racing might that que additional tests as a minimum to confirm or deny the suspicion?
After a few hours no additional tests will confirm anything.

The unnatural consistency should be evidence in and of itself.
 
Aug 13, 2009
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I would encourage you not to feed the trolls. Posting lies and inaccuracy is their specialty. Talking to them only feeds their insanity
 
Feb 14, 2010
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This is utter nonsense. There's no test for own blood infusions, and according to Landis plus scientists involed in the sport, it's being done. You've got the Lithuanian U-23 riders who knew how to use a protocol of products to avoid a positive test (they were busted for possession). Frei would be riding today micro dosed on EPO if he had drunk a liter of water before a test. One expert said during the Tour last year that he thought a few new drugs for which no tests exist were being used, as well as own blood transfusions. Riders are passing tests because of saline drip bags and other methods.

If Ballan, and even Pellizotti are innocent, then yes, they had a rough few months for nothing. If Pellizotti did, the system obviously doesn't work. Ballan wasn't harmed by cycling exactly, as it was a legal investigation that caused his problem. It was a team decision to put him on the bench.
 
May 11, 2009
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Ninety5rpm said:
They can't, that's the problem. It's foxes guarding the hen house. That why a federal investigation will be so interesting.

That said, it's not inconceivable for someone to set up a business that provides truly independent anti-doping programs whose goal is actual anti-doping rather than just giving that impression, but I don't know that there is any demand for such a business. Caitlin's statements indicate more concern with the marketing of the program and its supposed effectivity than actual policing.

If they were serious about policing they would post the records of all the tests they've done on a website.


In a sport where seconds count, it might not be measurable, but it can make a difference in outcome.

It takes a lot of equipment and supplies to do all this. Why are they not searching the luggage and garbage of the riders? They're not serious. It's a ruse.


After a few hours no additional tests will confirm anything.

The unnatural consistency should be evidence in and of itself.

It will always be foxes guarding the hen house.

The question is, how do you make a system that polices doping that is transparent and accountable enough that people can have cnfidence in it?

It is very easy to point and say that a system is BS and biased, and far more difficult to make a system that actively catches dopers in an accountable and transparent manner.

This is not an easy task. If you go to far in one direction, you basically create a witch hunt where rights and real accountability are lost in a system of vendetta and accussation. Too far in the other direction and you accomplish nothing at all and dopers do as they want. Either extreme undermines the sport.

I would thus challenge the critics to come up with solutions that close the gap between doubt and accountability. If the answer is, "there is no solution here," then we should perhaps bear in mind that cycling is doing far more to clean up doping than any other sport.

By all accounts it appears to be working. By all accounts the peloton seems cleaner, and those that are doping and pedalling dope (no pun intended) are being caught.

Ergo, if that system is flawed and hopelessly biased, how do we close the gap?
 
Feb 14, 2010
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Race Radio said:
I would encourage you not to feed the trolls. Posting lies and inaccuracy is their specialty. Talking to them only feeds their insanity

Thanks for the reminder. I'm so used to the Armstrong ones that the UCI ones threw me.
 
May 11, 2009
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theswordsman said:
This is utter nonsense. There's no test for own blood infusions, and according to Landis plus scientists involed in the sport, it's being done. You've got the Lithuanian U-23 riders who knew how to use a protocol of products to avoid a positive test (they were busted for possession). Frei would be riding today micro dosed on EPO if he had drunk a liter of water before a test. One expert said during the Tour last year that he thought a few new drugs for which no tests exist were being used, as well as own blood transfusions. Riders are passing tests because of saline drip bags and other methods.

If Ballan, and even Pellizotti are innocent, then yes, they had a rough few months for nothing. If Pellizotti did, the system obviously doesn't work. Ballan wasn't harmed by cycling exactly, as it was a legal investigation that caused his problem. It was a team decision to put him on the bench.

Except that this is exactly what the biological passport is set up to catch. If profil indicates a suspicious level of stability despite hard training or racing that is suspicious. Is it proof of doping? Well, we are working our way through the courts right now to determine whether or not it meets that threshold.

It should also be mentioned that a rider would find it very difficult to do his own blood transfusions. There is money, systems, doctors, storage, etc. that can be found and used for prosecution. So if the passport raises suspicion, do you think that maybe we can look into these things?

If suspicion is raised and we cannot find any of these things does that equate to exoneration? Right now, it certainly doesn't seem to be that way.
 
May 11, 2009
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Race Radio said:
I would encourage you not to feed the trolls. Posting lies and inaccuracy is their specialty. Talking to them only feeds their insanity

Find a lie.

Make a case.

Do something other than attempt to spread malicious rumors and condemnation.

If anyone is looking for an example of trolling, RR just did it.
 
Aug 13, 2009
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Mrs John Murphy said:
MarkGreen0 being the nom de guerre of a notorious troll/wummer on another site.

Which other site?

This must be close to 60 banned usernames for this guy. The desperation for attention is impressive.

The strategy for him and his lover is always the same, post a bunch of garbage that has been disproved many times then pretend to be persecuted when then are called on it.

Maybe we should take up a donation drive to get them the help that they need? Surely there is some kind of medication that can help with this?
 
I don't find it surprising that these trolls persist here. A lot of people could lose a lot of money if Lance goes down and testing protocols are called into question. I think it stands to reason that those with a vested interest in the status quo are going to send out their minions to fight the PR wars.

The deeper the scandal, the more trolls it brings. I think the feverish pace at which some posters gain user names is just an indication that what we're seeing here is a very serious issue.
 
May 3, 2010
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Race Radio said:
Which other site?

This must be close to 60 banned usernames for this guy. The desperation for attention is impressive.

The strategy for him and his lover is always the same, post a bunch of garbage that has been disproved many times then pretend to be persecuted when then are called on it.

Maybe we should take up a donation drive to get them the help that they need? Surely there is some kind of medication that can help with this?

The Guardian as I recall. They banned him a while back. So either it is the same troll-boy come to a new forum, or it is an homage to a troll.

I am assuming that an IP ban doesn't work?
 

MarkGreen0

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Moose McKnuckles said:
I don't find it surprising that these trolls persist here. A lot of people could lose a lot of money if Lance goes down and testing protocols are called into question. I think it stands to reason that those with a vested interest in the status quo are going to send out their minions to fight the PR wars.

The deeper the scandal, the more trolls it brings. I think the feverish pace at which some posters gain user names is just an indication that what we're seeing here is a very serious issue.

I don't think gree0232 is trolling. I think he genuinely believes what he is saying, and he makes some good points that a lot of people would agree with.

I don't think it was trolling for me to post the CN interview with Oliver Catlin either. Catlin is not a troll.

Personally I think this should be an open forum for all different types of fans, and threads should not be disrupted with talk of trolls from people that have nothing to contribute on the subject.