Doping in pro cycling ? really ?

Jan 9, 2011
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What am I learning here ? Sky could be doping ? Are you serious ? really ?

Sorry, but I must admit it's kind of funny to see so much people discussing here of Sky's doping as if they were discovering the "unknown truth".

Wake up, guys, doping has always existed in cycling (and in other sports). Why would you think things have changed and that most of teams could be "clean" nowadays, except the "bad guys" from Sky ? Are you joking or are you just really naïve ?

You really think Evans, Nibali, VDB, Voeckler and the others could be clean guys ? You really think a young guy like Pinot, who just learned few days after the start he'll have to do the Tour de France, and who's still fresh at the end of the 3 weeks, better than Nibali and VDB, him who never made any Grand Tour before and beat Froome at La Toussuire, could be a clean guy ? Because he's only 22 ? And Froome is doped because he has never shown great results before 26 ? Well, ask Ullrich if when you show great potential at 20 or 21, it means you must be clean.

I'm a french guy, but I can't stand all the french subjectivity about "bad guys doped of Sky", and the "clean Europcar guys". What a joke ! I mean, I find Europcar (which is just a continental team) much impressive than Sky these 2 last years. If people would have bet, when he was 28 years old, that Voeckler, at 32 years old, could become one of the greatest classic-man of the whole peloton, and a guy able to follow Evans and F. Schleck like he did last year in the Galibier and all mountain stages (him who didn't really prepare himself for the Tour 2011, and who was still one of the fresher guys at the end of the 3 weeks), we would all found it hilarious !

I don't know what Voeckler take... but I'm sure, when we see how he was and how he became, that it's not less than what Sky's guys take ! (and Kern at the Dauphiné 2011 and Turgot, 2nd at Paris-Roubaix, surely tasted it)

You think things could have changed because of the Festina's scandal ? That's so much naïve... in France, we called 1999 "Tour du renouveau" (i don't know how to say it in english... renewal tour ?) Like if things would change. But it wasn't the first "Tour du Renouveau", we had the same words in 1968 ! Tom Simpson died, it really shocked the media and the public, and they tell us at these times that anti-doping controls would be more efficient etc. So what happened ? Doping continue to increase, everybody was still doped, some much better than others, that's always the case in cycling, nothing never changed.

Coppi, Anquetil, Merckx, Hinault, Fignon, all the guys before EPO were using PED, and not just sometime a little pill. All the "legends" of cycling were great dopers. History of cycling is history of dopers beating other dopers.

In France, runners had an expression for doping. They called it "faire le métier" ("To do the job"). That explains it all, there's no "unknown truth". So it's you to decide... hate them all, or respect them all, because even if they're all doped since the first Tour de France, that's a hard and dangerous sport, and what Sky and Europcar have done on this Tour is not just the result of doping. If Sky guys were "machines", they would have lead the peloton the first week for Cavendish, but they didn't, they had to keep all their strength for the strategic moments to win the Tour, they didn't run like "machines", when they had to lead the chase and control, they never rejoin the groups ahead, except at La Planche des Belles Filles, and we never saw, like it was the case during US Postal's years, 4 guys leading with the leader in their wheel in the last climb of stages. When we saw Knees climbing the Tourmalet 4 minutes slower than Voeckler, sorry, I haven't see "doped machines" annihilating all their rivals.

But Sky surely doped, as most of pro cycling runners. No big deal. You wanna see some clean riding ? Turn off the TV and take your bike !
 
Jun 25, 2012
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As you might notice if you read the Sky thread IE. is that people are not debating that only Sky is doping, they are debating if Sky have Team Wide Doping and if they overdid it like back in the USP days.

Nobody is saying Sky is the only bad guys, however alot of British people on this forum, claim Sky is the only clean team however haha ^^
 
Jul 9, 2009
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Cycle Chic said:
Your first post, you just summed up the entire Clinic's topics over many years - dufus !!
His first post and he summed up pro cycling over many years, dufus.
 
Jan 9, 2011
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@Cycle chic : thanks !

Dr.Sahl said:
As you might notice if you read the Sky thread IE. is that people are not debating that only Sky is doping, they are debating if Sky have Team Wide Doping and if they overdid it like back in the USP days.

Nobody is saying Sky is the only bad guys, however alot of British people on this forum, claim Sky is the only clean team however haha ^^
Well, I haven't read everything, but I really read around here a lot of people focusing on Sky as if Sky was the problem, as if they were THE cheaters. And when Basso wast just saying that it was too hard to attack Sky, that they were strongest, we saw on this topic a lot of people sure that Basso suggested Sky's guys were doped, and suddenly finding Basso's a cool guy. And a "clean" guy. Have you see this incredible (and superb) Giro 2010 ? You really think Basso is clean since his suspension ? Well, Basso the first clean guy in cycling history who won the Giro ? Sorry, it's a little bit hard to admit for me.
Just to continue a little bit on this subject : It was not possible to attack Sky who were running too fast ? Did he really even try ? Le Tourmalet was a strategic place to do something, with attacks, or to run at a high pace to distance Wiggins team-mates, leave him alone with Froome earlyer. Who did this ? Nobody even tried. And it's not as if it was too strong, as I said, Knees were climbing 4 minutes slower than Voeckler ! Maybe it's also just because he's a little old, and not in good shape after his Giro.

Porte, Rogers, Hagen, Knees had all done a good job, they were strong and well-prepared, it's clear, but i haven't seen on this tour anything really surprising from them. Except maybe that Hagen reveals himself better climber than we thought, but we already knew he was not bad in mountains.

A team wide doping in Sky ? Well, we could all continue to discuss it on thousands of pages, but there's a simple way to see it : just comparing the results of runners before and after they join the team. And there's nothing so surprising in Sky. Only Froome last year, and Nordhaug this year really were far stronger than they were.
Flecha is one of the best flandrian of the world... did you see him going alone 50 km before the end line, with the big favourites unable to rejoin him ? No, it was Cancellara last years, Boonen this year.
Flecha, each year, is approximatively at the same level.
Lovkvist is not better since he's with Sky than he was with HTC, he's even a little bit disappointing.
Uran was one of the greatest talented young rider before he joined Sky, but he didn't made incredible performance since. His Giro this year was not bad, but not excellent too, and no surprise from him. I also thought before he joined Sky that Uran will be stronger.
You can do it with all Sky's guys, none of them, except just 2, Nordhaug and Froome, are really far better at Sky than they were before. The kind of things which can happen in a team without saying that there's a wide doping team...
 
Aug 18, 2009
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Vvward said:
What am I learning here ? Sky could be doping ? Are you serious ? really ?

Sorry, but I must admit it's kind of funny to see so much people discussing here of Sky's doping as if they were discovering the "unknown truth".

Wake up, guys, doping has always existed in cycling (and in other sports). Why would you think things have changed and that most of teams could be "clean" nowadays, except the "bad guys" from Sky ? Are you joking or are you just really naïve ?

You really think Evans, Nibali, VDB, Voeckler and the others could be clean guys ? You really think a young guy like Pinot, who just learned few days after the start he'll have to do the Tour de France, and who's still fresh at the end of the 3 weeks, better than Nibali and VDB, him who never made any Grand Tour before and beat Froome at La Toussuire, could be a clean guy ? Because he's only 22 ? And Froome is doped because he has never shown great results before 26 ? Well, ask Ullrich if when you show great potential at 20 or 21, it means you must be clean.

I'm a french guy, but I can't stand all the french subjectivity about "bad guys doped of Sky", and the "clean Europcar guys". What a joke ! I mean, I find Europcar (which is just a continental team) much impressive than Sky these 2 last years. If people would have bet, when he was 28 years old, that Voeckler, at 32 years old, could become one of the greatest classic-man of the whole peloton, and a guy able to follow Evans and F. Schleck like he did last year in the Galibier and all mountain stages (him who didn't really prepare himself for the Tour 2011, and who was still one of the fresher guys at the end of the 3 weeks), we would all found it hilarious !

I don't know what Voeckler take... but I'm sure, when we see how he was and how he became, that it's not less than what Sky's guys take ! (and Kern at the Dauphiné 2011 and Turgot, 2nd at Paris-Roubaix, surely tasted it)

You think things could have changed because of the Festina's scandal ? That's so much naïve... in France, we called 1999 "Tour du renouveau" (i don't know how to say it in english... renewal tour ?) Like if things would change. But it wasn't the first "Tour du Renouveau", we had the same words in 1968 ! Tom Simpson died, it really shocked the media and the public, and they tell us at these times that anti-doping controls would be more efficient etc. So what happened ? Doping continue to increase, everybody was still doped, some much better than others, that's always the case in cycling, nothing never changed.

Coppi, Anquetil, Merckx, Hinault, Fignon, all the guys before EPO were using PED, and not just sometime a little pill. All the "legends" of cycling were great dopers. History of cycling is history of dopers beating other dopers.

In France, runners had an expression for doping. They called it "faire le métier" ("To do the job"). That explains it all, there's no "unknown truth". So it's you to decide... hate them all, or respect them all, because even if they're all doped since the first Tour de France, that's a hard and dangerous sport, and what Sky and Europcar have done on this Tour is not just the result of doping. If Sky guys were "machines", they would have lead the peloton the first week for Cavendish, but they didn't, they had to keep all their strength for the strategic moments to win the Tour, they didn't run like "machines", when they had to lead the chase and control, they never rejoin the groups ahead, except at La Planche des Belles Filles, and we never saw, like it was the case during US Postal's years, 4 guys leading with the leader in their wheel in the last climb of stages. When we saw Knees climbing the Tourmalet 4 minutes slower than Voeckler, sorry, I haven't see "doped machines" annihilating all their rivals.

But Sky surely doped, as most of pro cycling runners. No big deal. You wanna see some clean riding ? Turn off the TV and take your bike !
http://forum.cyclingnews.com/showthread.php?t=17599
 
Apr 16, 2009
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Vvward said:
@Cycle chic : thanks !



Well, I haven't read everything, but I really read around here a lot of people focusing on Sky as if Sky was the problem, as if they were THE cheaters. And when Basso wast just saying that it was too hard to attack Sky, that they were strongest, we saw on this topic a lot of people sure that Basso suggested Sky's guys were doped, and suddenly finding Basso's a cool guy. And a "clean" guy. Have you see this incredible (and superb) Giro 2010 ? You really think Basso is clean since his suspension ? Well, Basso the first clean guy in cycling history who won the Giro ? Sorry, it's a little bit hard to admit for me.
Just to continue a little bit on this subject : It was not possible to attack Sky who were running too fast ? Did he really even try ? Le Tourmalet was a strategic place to do something, with attacks, or to run at a high pace to distance Wiggins team-mates, leave him alone with Froome earlyer. Who did this ? Nobody even tried. And it's not as if it was too strong, as I said, Knees were climbing 4 minutes slower than Voeckler ! Maybe it's also just because he's a little old, and not in good shape after his Giro.

Porte, Rogers, Hagen, Knees had all done a good job, they were strong and well-prepared, it's clear, but i haven't seen on this tour anything really surprising from them. Except maybe that Hagen reveals himself better climber than we thought, but we already knew he was not bad in mountains.

A team wide doping in Sky ? Well, we could all continue to discuss it on thousands of pages, but there's a simple way to see it : just comparing the results of runners before and after they join the team. And there's nothing so surprising in Sky. Only Froome last year, and Nordhaug this year really were far stronger than they were.
Flecha is one of the best flandrian of the world... did you see him going alone 50 km before the end line, with the big favourites unable to rejoin him ? No, it was Cancellara last years, Boonen this year.
Flecha, each year, is approximatively at the same level.
Lovkvist is not better since he's with Sky than he was with HTC, he's even a little bit disappointing.
Uran was one of the greatest talented young rider before he joined Sky, but he didn't made incredible performance since. His Giro this year was not bad, but not excellent too, and no surprise from him. I also thought before he joined Sky that Uran will be stronger.
You can do it with all Sky's guys, none of them, except just 2, Nordhaug and Froome, are really far better at Sky than they were before. The kind of things which can happen in a team without saying that there's a wide doping team...
Rogers said he was putting out his best power numbers in the climbs ever (better than in his previous doping days at Team Mobile) while Porte was losing 4-6 mins in the high mountains in the 2010 Giro and is now dropping the GC guys.
 
Jul 16, 2011
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Vvward said:
What am I learning here ? Sky could be doping ? Are you serious ? really ?

Sorry, but I must admit it's kind of funny to see so much people discussing here of Sky's doping as if they were discovering the "unknown truth".

Wake up, guys, doping has always existed in cycling (and in other sports). Why would you think things have changed and that most of teams could be "clean" nowadays, except the "bad guys" from Sky ? Are you joking or are you just really naïve ?

You really think Evans, Nibali, VDB, Voeckler and the others could be clean guys ? You really think a young guy like Pinot, who just learned few days after the start he'll have to do the Tour de France, and who's still fresh at the end of the 3 weeks, better than Nibali and VDB, him who never made any Grand Tour before and beat Froome at La Toussuire, could be a clean guy ? Because he's only 22 ? And Froome is doped because he has never shown great results before 26 ? Well, ask Ullrich if when you show great potential at 20 or 21, it means you must be clean.

I'm a french guy, but I can't stand all the french subjectivity about "bad guys doped of Sky", and the "clean Europcar guys". What a joke ! I mean, I find Europcar (which is just a continental team) much impressive than Sky these 2 last years. If people would have bet, when he was 28 years old, that Voeckler, at 32 years old, could become one of the greatest classic-man of the whole peloton, and a guy able to follow Evans and F. Schleck like he did last year in the Galibier and all mountain stages (him who didn't really prepare himself for the Tour 2011, and who was still one of the fresher guys at the end of the 3 weeks), we would all found it hilarious !

I don't know what Voeckler take... but I'm sure, when we see how he was and how he became, that it's not less than what Sky's guys take ! (and Kern at the Dauphiné 2011 and Turgot, 2nd at Paris-Roubaix, surely tasted it)

You think things could have changed because of the Festina's scandal ? That's so much naïve... in France, we called 1999 "Tour du renouveau" (i don't know how to say it in english... renewal tour ?) Like if things would change. But it wasn't the first "Tour du Renouveau", we had the same words in 1968 ! Tom Simpson died, it really shocked the media and the public, and they tell us at these times that anti-doping controls would be more efficient etc. So what happened ? Doping continue to increase, everybody was still doped, some much better than others, that's always the case in cycling, nothing never changed.

Coppi, Anquetil, Merckx, Hinault, Fignon, all the guys before EPO were using PED, and not just sometime a little pill. All the "legends" of cycling were great dopers. History of cycling is history of dopers beating other dopers.

In France, runners had an expression for doping. They called it "faire le métier" ("To do the job"). That explains it all, there's no "unknown truth". So it's you to decide... hate them all, or respect them all, because even if they're all doped since the first Tour de France, that's a hard and dangerous sport, and what Sky and Europcar have done on this Tour is not just the result of doping. If Sky guys were "machines", they would have lead the peloton the first week for Cavendish, but they didn't, they had to keep all their strength for the strategic moments to win the Tour, they didn't run like "machines", when they had to lead the chase and control, they never rejoin the groups ahead, except at La Planche des Belles Filles, and we never saw, like it was the case during US Postal's years, 4 guys leading with the leader in their wheel in the last climb of stages. When we saw Knees climbing the Tourmalet 4 minutes slower than Voeckler, sorry, I haven't see "doped machines" annihilating all their rivals.

But Sky surely doped, as most of pro cycling runners. No big deal. You wanna see some clean riding ? Turn off the TV and take your bike !
For the most part, I do believe I agree :)
 
May 14, 2010
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I think a big part of the problem people have with, say, USPS and Sky, is the complicity of UCI in these team's respective domination. In the case of USPS, UCI complicity is established fact, while with Sky it's only implicit but still obvious.

Last year, we had arguably the most enjoyable and authentic Tour in many years. Why? Because the rider who was very likely designated winner, Wigans, fell down and went bump bump, knocking himself out of the race. Wiggins' absence left a peloton where no one rode like they were outrageously doped, and everyone looked human. It was a rare treat, watching riders who sometimes looked like they were being crucified. And the ultimate winner, Evans, was actually believable.

Most of us knew these riders were probably doping in some way. But whatever they were doing was more like maintenance doping, rather than something that left them looking ridiculous and us, the fans, looking like drooling fools. Too bad we can't say the same about this year. Or the one coming up, probably.
 
Jul 16, 2009
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Maxiton said:
I think a big part of the problem people have with, say, USPS and Sky, is the complicity of UCI in these team's respective domination. In the case of USPS, UCI complicity is established fact, while with Sky it's only implicit but still obvious.

Last year, we had arguably the most enjoyable and authentic Tour in many years. Why? Because the rider who was very likely designated winner, Wigans, fell down and went bump bump, knocking himself out of the race. Wiggins' absence left a peloton where no one rode like they were outrageously doped, and everyone looked human. It was a rare treat, watching riders who sometimes looked like they were being crucified. And the ultimate winner, Evans, was actually believable.

Most of us knew these riders were probably doping in some way. But whatever they were doing was more like maintenance doping, rather than something that left them looking ridiculous and us, the fans, looking like drooling fools. Too bad we can't say the same about this year. Or the one coming up, probably.

Re "maintenance doping"

is there a thread of discussion I wonder on polling how we feel about this, and doping simply to stay alive and get through the mountains, being a domestique for instance, vs getting better juice and being a contender?

i dont know if i really object to those using help to recover from injury, or augmenting their off season training. i dont know. a lot of variables, but if i think about it simplistically (if it is possible to do this in the context of this discussion) i dont know if i am bothered by rehab doping, or general doping, vs winning doping
 
Jan 9, 2011
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biker jk said:
Rogers said he was putting out his best power numbers in the climbs ever (better than in his previous doping days at Team Mobile) while Porte was losing 4-6 mins in the high mountains in the 2010 Giro and is now dropping the GC guys.
So what ? We see this kind of things every year ! Remember what Navarro did for Contador. And it was much more impressive than Rogers or Porte, cause he did it in some last climbs of stages, at such a high pace that nobody can attack. People said at this time "Navarro could be a leader and make top 5 in Grand Tours", but he didn't. Every year, we saw team-mates able to maintain a high pace for their leader, and the next year, when they don't have to work, and even sometimes when they can be leader, they can't follow the pace.
Is it a proof of doping ? Well, I think that running the Tour de France IS a proof of doping...
(ok, it's a little bit excessive, but we know that even a lot of runners who never made anything great, who never have won anything are real big dopers, so...)

Katusha is a world tour big team, with a "bad" reputation on doping, Europcar is just a continental team... and when we look at the Tour de france 2011 and 2012, Europcar did really much better than Katusha, whe saw every day the green guys of Europcar in front of the race, and the red and white Katusha runners lost in the back. So what, do we have to claim that Europcar is really a wide doping team, and called them "Euraicar", and Katusha maybe a clean team ?

What is the point ? Trying to find who's more doped than the others ? That's only speculation (and diffamation, some could say), we can't know cause we have no idea of the "true"' power of all these guys. Most of them are doped since they were on junior's race, and we don't know how strong or "light" was their doping in their early years. I remember a runner who's been caught and said "the main problem with doping is that I never knew what was my real potential, my real strength, cause I've always been doped".

A lot of people consider Froome is a big doper cause he never done anything great before 26 years old, and that Evans is a clean guy because he's regular (and seems to be sympathic)... but who knows ? Isn't it strange to see a guy like Evans following the thin climbers ? Maybe Evans is one of the biggest doped runner of the peloton (well, not this year, but he's getting old), nobody really knows...
 
Jan 9, 2011
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Maxiton said:
Last year, we had arguably the most enjoyable and authentic Tour in many years. Why? Because the rider who was very likely designated winner, Wigans, fell down and went bump bump, knocking himself out of the race. Wiggins' absence left a peloton where no one rode like they were outrageously doped, and everyone looked human. It was a rare treat, watching riders who sometimes looked like they were being crucified. And the ultimate winner, Evans, was actually believable.

Most of us knew these riders were probably doping in some way. But whatever they were doing was more like maintenance doping, rather than something that left them looking ridiculous and us, the fans, looking like drooling fools. Too bad we can't say the same about this year. Or the one coming up, probably.
So, if I clearly understand, it's like if you were saying to runners "ok, guys, you can keep on doping as you want, but please, just try to make it look believable, try to look exhausted, and everything will be fine". Sorry, but it sounds too much hypocrit for me.

They looked like they were crucified ? And you think it's a kind of proof ? Funny, it reminds me Bernard Kohl a few years later. The Guy who arrived totally exhausted at the finish line on a high mountain stage, lying on the road, really suffering, and on french TV, they were saying "look how exhausted he's, that's real suffering, that's the proof cycling changed, doping is behind us, we now can see runners really suffering like before". You know the end of the story for "the brave clean" Kohl. Was he only on maintenance doping ? Surely not.
Some said that Armstrong was big doper, cause he climbs with the mouth shut, showing no sign of suffering, and not Ullrich, who really seemed to suffer in his wheel. You think Ullrich was just on "maintenance doping" ?

And for the Tour 2011, sorry again, but no, I never found he was truly more "believable" than the others. Voeckler was the hero of this tour, but he was absolutely not "believable". It began at te end of 2010, you know, when Bouygues was trying to find a new sponsor with a lot of difficulty... and Voeckler wins in Canada, which was really surprising. And in 2012, at the age of 32, we saw him stronger than ever. In top shape since february, at a high level. He said himself he didn't prepare specifically for the Tour, he was in front on the first week, attacking and running in groups ahead while GC guys were in the peloton. Did he suffer on 3rd week and finished exhausted after all these efforts ? No ! He was one of the fresher guys of the peloton, able to stay with the bests in big climb, kind of things nobody could imagine few years before, and even did a not bad TT, where he's normally weak. His team worked all days for his yellow jacket, even Rolland, and during the last mountain stage, after all these efforts, Europcar was the most represented in front, and Rolland beat Contador and Sanchez at the top of this last climb.
 
Maxiton said:
I think a big part of the problem people have with, say, USPS and Sky, is the complicity of UCI in these team's respective domination. In the case of USPS, UCI complicity is established fact, while with Sky it's only implicit but still obvious.

Last year, we had arguably the most enjoyable and authentic Tour in many years. Why? Because the rider who was very likely designated winner, Wigans, fell down and went bump bump, knocking himself out of the race. Wiggins' absence left a peloton where no one rode like they were outrageously doped, and everyone looked human. It was a rare treat, watching riders who sometimes looked like they were being crucified. And the ultimate winner, Evans, was actually believable.

Most of us knew these riders were probably doping in some way. But whatever they were doing was more like maintenance doping, rather than something that left them looking ridiculous and us, the fans, looking like drooling fools. Too bad we can't say the same about this year. Or the one coming up, probably.
Good post Maxiton - well put.
 
Mar 13, 2009
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Vvward said:
What am I learning here ? Sky could be doping ? Are you serious ? really ?

Sorry, but I must admit it's kind of funny to see so much people discussing here of Sky's doping as if they were discovering the "unknown truth".

Wake up, guys, doping has always existed in cycling (and in other sports). Why would you think things have changed and that most of teams could be "clean" nowadays, except the "bad guys" from Sky ? Are you joking or are you just really naïve ?

You really think Evans, Nibali, VDB, Voeckler and the others could be clean guys ?

good post eh
 
Mar 13, 2009
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El Pistolero said:
I stopped reading after you called Voeckler a great classic man.
he qualified "in july".

this IS their classics. Apart from roubaix, there are no ardennes classics for puncheurs like Titi.

So this is his 3 weeks of "classics". Comprehension dude
 
Aug 3, 2010
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El Pistolero said:
I stopped reading after you called Voeckler a great classic man.
+1
Come one now, don't put words in his mouth. He called Voeckler "one of the greatest classics riders of the whole peleton". :eek:
 
Jan 9, 2011
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El Pistolero said:
I stopped reading after you called Voeckler a great classic man.
?

He really became one of the best classic-man of the peloton, so strong this year in april, at a level we've never seen him before, top 10 in tour of Flanders, winner at "la Flèche brabançonne", and fighting with the best riders in Ardennes's classics, top 5 at the Amstel and Liège. We would never have imagined that from Voeckler few years ago.
 
May 14, 2010
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Vvward said:
So, if I clearly understand, it's like if you were saying to runners "ok, guys, you can keep on doping as you want, but please, just try to make it look believable, try to look exhausted, and everything will be fine". Sorry, but it sounds too much hypocrit for me.

They looked like they were crucified ? And you think it's a kind of proof ? Funny, it reminds me Bernard Kohl a few years later. The Guy who arrived totally exhausted at the finish line on a high mountain stage, lying on the road, really suffering, and on french TV, they were saying "look how exhausted he's, that's real suffering, that's the proof cycling changed, doping is behind us, we now can see runners really suffering like before". You know the end of the story for "the brave clean" Kohl. Was he only on maintenance doping ? Surely not.
Some said that Armstrong was big doper, cause he climbs with the mouth shut, showing no sign of suffering, and not Ullrich, who really seemed to suffer in his wheel. You think Ullrich was just on "maintenance doping" ?

And for the Tour 2011, sorry again, but no, I never found he was truly more "believable" than the others. Voeckler was the hero of this tour, but he was absolutely not "believable". It began at te end of 2010, you know, when Bouygues was trying to find a new sponsor with a lot of difficulty... and Voeckler wins in Canada, which was really surprising. And in 2012, at the age of 32, we saw him stronger than ever. In top shape since february, at a high level. He said himself he didn't prepare specifically for the Tour, he was in front on the first week, attacking and running in groups ahead while GC guys were in the peloton. Did he suffer on 3rd week and finished exhausted after all these efforts ? No ! He was one of the fresher guys of the peloton, able to stay with the bests in big climb, kind of things nobody could imagine few years before, and even did a not bad TT, where he's normally weak. His team worked all days for his yellow jacket, even Rolland, and during the last mountain stage, after all these efforts, Europcar was the most represented in front, and Rolland beat Contador and Sanchez at the top of this last climb.
I'm not the morality police. I'm not inside the riders' bloodstreams in a nano-submarine with Raquel Welch, watching the platelets fly by. My concern is the racing. That is, with how doping affects it.

People (such as Armstrong) who advocate doping in racing do so on the basis that it makes the sport more exciting. That's what they claim, anyway. They think, to paraphrase Libertine Seguros, that watching someone wear out his brake pads on the way up the switchbacks is what makes this sport sizzle. But anyone who really knows cycling, if they're being honest, knows that's all wrong.

What makes this sport dynamic and exciting is its scale: the massive mountain that dominates all life locally and the puny humans who dare to climb it in competition with each other, each of them crucifying himself on his own ambition, his face wracked in pain and even agony. Perhaps his determination and desire are the only things that allow him to reach the top ahead of the rest; or, better still, despite all the desire in the world his body falters and he is left to claw himself up from behind. (If he is among those who just aren't contenders in this realm, on the other hand, he is in the group who laugh because they can, their ambitions being found elsewhere.)

Velocity comes into play only on the way down, where the bravest, the craziest, and the most desperate take terrible chances, careening around corners so quickly that there is only one possible line to follow and no time to find it. These are the moments that sometimes put our hearts thumping in our throats and leave us in awe of the deadly daring and mad skills of some riders.

Like a kind of serious circus, cycling is a metaphor for life. We see in it our own struggles and our own lot. The magic mountain is up ahead and we must climb it, whether we want to or not. Often we have helpers, sometimes we're alone. Sometimes we overcome, sometimes we are crushed.



Excessive doping diminishes the scale. It makes the mountain smaller and the rider larger; it diminishes his suffering, so that he races up the mountain not with great apparent effort, but glibly. In diminishing the scale doping lessens the drama even as it distorts the competition and destroys the metaphor. When the riders are doped beyond their own humanity, there is no longer any correlation between what they're doing and my own life. The metaphor is dead, shot in the head by the local drug addict.

The scale and the suffering and the humanity are what give cycling its poetry and drama, its connection to us and our own struggles; its viability as sport. If riders can dope somehow without robbing the sport of its essential nature - without ruining it, in other words - then as far as I'm concerned, by all means, bring out the needles and have at it! So far, though, its as though the people involved with these drugs don't understand the sport, or just can't help themselves. And that's why they must be stopped.
 

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