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Open letter to Froome

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Hi, Chris:

You’ve just completed one of the most remarkable runs in cycling history, winning the three Grand Tours consecutively, and coming fairly close to a fourth. You might expect to be hailed as a hero, but instead, many have reviled you. You were booed throughout the Tour de France, and at least one idiot spectator was caught on film trying to knock you off your bike. Large numbers of cycling fans view you as a fraud. You might be saying to yourself, what can I do, but there are in fact several things you could and I believe you should do:

1) Release to the public the detailed report that cleared you from your salbutamol AAF. All we’ve seen are the general outlines of the logic, which aren’t nearly enough. WADA, apparently making a special exception for you, did not require a CPKS or lab replication proving that your above the limit salbutamol urinary level could have resulted from an allowed maximum dose. To rationalize this, they claimed the conditions of the Vuelta where you exceeded the limit couldn’t be replicated in the laboratory, but they have provided no published evidence supporting this. On the contrary, all published evidence does not support this claim. Also cited were computer simulations allegedly demonstrating that the variability of your dose-urinary level relationship throughout the Vuelta was so high that it could account for your AAF, but no evidence was provided even that you had the required accurate information to set up this program, let alone that the program actually showed what it was claimed to have shown.

Shortly after UCI announced that you had been exonerated, you told the media that the full report would be released within a few days. What happened? Did you change your mind, and if so, why? Perhaps you were willing, but UCI—which made the decision to drop the case rather than let the Tribunal decide—doesn’t want to release its report. If that’s the case, just tell us, so we know who to blame. And while I’m on the subject of transparency by all parties involved, I believe Ulrich Haas, reportedly the judge who would have decided the case, also owes it to the public to state whether he agrees with UCI’s decision.

2) You could also ask WADA to release the reports leading to the exoneration of other salbutamol cases similar to yours. Shortly after you were cleared, WADA stated that in the past five years, eight other athletes who exceeded the salbutamol urinary limit were cleared. On what basis? Given how rare such cases are—Travis Tygart, head of USADA, recently said that not a single one of 75,000 tests by that agency exceeded the limit, and similar statistics were provided by one of the scientific experts testifying in Alessandro Petacchi’s salbutamol case before CAS—wouldn’t it be critical to know just how a value that does exceed the limit is rationalized? Wouldn’t the release of such information strengthen your own case, by showing that you were not treated any differently from other athletes? It’s not necessary to violate the confidentiality of these other athletes; the information could be released without names.

3) You have also not been fully transparent on your use of salbutamol. You have stated that you have been asthmatic at least since you were a teen-ager, but have provided no evidence of this. In your book The Climb you never even mention that you suffer from asthma. The public was not aware of this until you were seen using an inhaler during a race in 2014. Your rationalization has been that you didn’t regard your asthma as particularly important, but surely if you could have won all those Grand Tours without inhaling salbutamol, you would have. I have to believe your use of salbutamol was critical to your success as a pro cyclist—you own statements basically concede you couldn’t have won the Vuelta last year without it—so how is it that something critical to your success is completely omitted from a book about that success?

I’m not going to ask you to provide a doctor’s statement that you suffer from asthma, because frankly, I think any athlete who wants such a statement can procure one fairly easily. Instead, I’m going to ask you to explain something that the media have been curiously silent about. In 2009, when you were riding for Barloworld, a TUE was required for salbutamol. The current rules, that allow athletes to take the drug without a TUE up to a certain amount, were changed in 2010 and 2011. Yet there is no evidence that you had such a TUE. Fancy Bears, the Russian hackers that revealed that many athletes, including you, had made use of TUEs, did not report that you had any in that year. This is not because they didn’t examine these years, because Brad Wiggins, another asthmatic who found Tour success, was reported to have a TUE for salbutamol in that year. So was your own Barloworld teammate, Steve Cummings. Yet there is no record that you had one, and when Fancy Bears did reveal that you had TUEs for another substance in 2013 and 2014, you stated that these were the only TUEs you had ever had for “exacerbated asthma”.

Maybe there’s a simple solution for this. Maybe Fancy Bears, for some reason, missed your TUE. Maybe when you said “exacerbated asthma”, you weren’t referring to a condition that could be treated with only salbutamol, though apparently you did so during the Vuelta last year. But in any case, if you could actually prove that you had a TUE for salbutamol in 2009, this would lay this matter to rest.

4) Finally, there is the matter of your remarkable transformation. In the summer of 2011, you were regarded so poorly by your team, Sky, that they were reportedly trying to unload you to some other team. In the Tour of Poland that year, your performance did nothing to change their mind. Then, literally just weeks later, you nearly won the Vuelta, and would have if you hadn’t ridden most of it in support of Brad Wiggins. Ever since then, of course, you have pretty much been the dominant GC rider in the world, though in the 2012 Tour you again had to play second fiddle to Wiggins.

How did this transformation—more or less unprecedented in cycling history—come about? I’m not interested in hearing that schistosomiasis (bilharzia) held you back. There are so many flaws, inconsistencies and inaccuracies in that story that I’m not even going to try to address them. What I—and I think most other skeptics—really want to see is your power data from the years right before that Vuelta. Why have you not released them? In 2013, you provided power files to Frederic Grappe, who concluded they were consistent with your performance, but you only allowed him to look at data beginning with the Vuelta in 2011. In 2015, you did a lab test under the direction of Jeroen Swart, which again concluded that your physiology was consistent with your performance, but other than a very old FAX of questionable authenticity with limited information, there was nothing that provided insight into the transformation.

There is no logical reason not to provide this information. The excuse that it might help competitors is obviously negated by the fact that you have provided much more recent information. Indeed, following the Giro, Sky released details about not only your power but your preparation for a critical stage in that race.

The FAX cited by Swart indicates you always had the engine, the power. In Swart’s perhaps regrettable words, you “just lost the fat”. This also seems consistent with an interview you did with Paul Kimmage several years ago, in which you referred to a Dr. Mantovani, who said he had power data from Barloworld that basically seemed to support what Swart would later record.

Let’s suppose you always did have this engine. That doesn’t explain why Sky never noticed, nor why you never performed particularly well in time trials, where excess weight is less detrimental than for climbing, until that 2011 Vuelta. But if we make this assumption, the major explanation for the transformation could only be sudden weight loss, and indeed, in that Kimmage interview, your wife and agent Michelle says you “starved yourself” for that Vuelta. There was also a recent report in Le monde claiming that you might have lost as much as 4.5 kg for that race, plus another 2 kg the following year.

Overlooking the question of how you could lose so much weight in so little time with no apparent loss of power, this story, too, suffers from inconsistencies. In that same Kimmage interview, you state that your weight at Barloworld was 70-71 kg, or at another point, 72 kg. Grappe said your weight during the two years he tracked it—from the Vuelta in 2011 to the Tour in 2013—was constant at 68 kg, +/- about 1 kg. So based on your own statements, it seems that the maximum amount of weight you lost from Barloworld to 2013 was four kg, and probably some of that was before the summer of 2011, given that you have also referred to losing a little weight going from Barloworld to Sky in 2010.

The bottom line is that the records for this exist. Could you please provide them? What was your power and weight in early 2011, or whatever is the latest period prior to the 2011 Vuelta? What were these values in 2010, your first year at Sky, and in 2009, at Barloworld? Surely these records could help us assess how much of the transformation resulted from weight loss, and how much, if any, from power gain.

If you actually read this letter, you will probably think, why should I do any of this? It won’t change anyone’s mind, haters are gonna hate. There are a lot of minds that probably won’t be changed, given how unprecedented your transformation was. But the facts of these matters aren’t just important to evaluating your performances, but those of others, too. Is it really possible to exceed the urinary limit for salbutamol without taking more than the allowed amount? How? Your uncorrected value has, as far as I know, been exceeded by only one or two athletes in history. Maybe there are actually more, but given WADA’s secrecy, we have no way of knowing.

Is it really possible to lose several kg in a few weeks, without any loss of power? How, and why did it take you so long to realize this? Though your critics rarely if ever put it so clearly, what really bothers them is that if you achieved this transformation clean, then all the old rules that allowed one to judge riders based on performances early in their careers no longer hold. Given how often doping is not detected, these performances—the career trajectory of a rider--are all most cycling fans have to go on. If they’re now irrelevant, then any performance, no matter how improbable—and Sky has more examples of these, of course--has to be accepted. Before fans accept this—before they throw away the book, and decide that nothing a rider does early in his career is particularly predictive of his ultimate potential--they need much greater reason to believe it.
 
Is it open season on open letters now? Does everyone have to write one?

Here's my Open Letter to the People of the Clinic:

Please don't make these open letters a thing. It's not big (well, the letters are, in length) and it's not clever.
A nineteen-hundred word "open letter" to a man who blocks people on Twitter just for commenting on his hair does seem rather self indulgent...
 
Dec 13, 2010
49
0
0
Merckx index said:
Hi, Chris:

You’ve just completed one of the most remarkable runs in cycling history, winning the three Grand Tours consecutively, and coming fairly close to a fourth. You might expect to be hailed as a hero, but instead, many have reviled you. You were booed throughout the Tour de France, and at least one idiot spectator was caught on film trying to knock you off your bike. Large numbers of cycling fans view you as a fraud. You might be saying to yourself, what can I do, but there are in fact several things you could and I believe you should do:

1) Release to the public the detailed report that cleared you from your salbutamol AAF. All we’ve seen are the general outlines of the logic, which aren’t nearly enough. WADA, apparently making a special exception for you, did not require a CPKS or lab replication proving that your above the limit salbutamol urinary level could have resulted from an allowed maximum dose. To rationalize this, they claimed the conditions of the Vuelta where you exceeded the limit couldn’t be replicated in the laboratory, but they have provided no published evidence supporting this. On the contrary, all published evidence does not support this claim. Also cited were computer simulations allegedly demonstrating that the variability of your dose-urinary level relationship throughout the Vuelta was so high that it could account for your AAF, but no evidence was provided even that you had the required accurate information to set up this program, let alone that the program actually showed what it was claimed to have shown.

Shortly after UCI announced that you had been exonerated, you told the media that the full report would be released within a few days. What happened? Did you change your mind, and if so, why? Perhaps you were willing, but UCI—which made the decision to drop the case rather than let the Tribunal decide—doesn’t want to release its report. If that’s the case, just tell us, so we know who to blame. And while I’m on the subject of transparency by all parties involved, I believe Ulrich Haas, reportedly the judge who would have decided the case, also owes it to the public to state whether he agrees with UCI’s decision.

2) You could also ask WADA to release the reports leading to the exoneration of other salbutamol cases similar to yours. Shortly after you were cleared, WADA stated that in the past five years, eight other athletes who exceeded the salbutamol urinary limit were cleared. On what basis? Given how rare such cases are—Travis Tygart, head of USADA, recently said that not a single one of 75,000 tests by that agency exceeded the limit, and similar statistics were provided by one of the scientific experts testifying in Alessandro Petacchi’s salbutamol case before CAS—wouldn’t it be critical to know just how a value that does exceed the limit is rationalized? Wouldn’t the release of such information strengthen your own case, by showing that you were not treated any differently from other athletes? It’s not necessary to violate the confidentiality of these other athletes; the information could be released without names.

3) You have also not been fully transparent on your use of salbutamol. You have stated that you have been asthmatic at least since you were a teen-ager, but have provided no evidence of this. In your book The Climb you never even mention that you suffer from asthma. The public was not aware of this until you were seen using an inhaler during a race in 2014. Your rationalization has been that you didn’t regard your asthma as particularly important, but surely if you could have won all those Grand Tours without inhaling salbutamol, you would have. I have to believe your use of salbutamol was critical to your success as a pro cyclist—you own statements basically concede you couldn’t have won the Vuelta last year without it—so how is it that something critical to your success is completely omitted from a book about that success?

I’m not going to ask you to provide a doctor’s statement that you suffer from asthma, because frankly, I think any athlete who wants such a statement can procure one fairly easily. Instead, I’m going to ask you to explain something that the media have been curiously silent about. In 2009, when you were riding for Barloworld, a TUE was required for salbutamol. The current rules, that allow athletes to take the drug without a TUE up to a certain amount, were changed in 2010 and 2011. Yet there is no evidence that you had such a TUE. Fancy Bears, the Russian hackers that revealed that many athletes, including you, had made use of TUEs, did not report that you had any in that year. This is not because they didn’t examine these years, because Brad Wiggins, another asthmatic who found Tour success, was reported to have a TUE for salbutamol in that year. So was your own Barloworld teammate, Steve Cummings. Yet there is no record that you had one, and when Fancy Bears did reveal that you had TUEs for another substance in 2013 and 2014, you stated that these were the only TUEs you had ever had for “exacerbated asthma”.

Maybe there’s a simple solution for this. Maybe Fancy Bears, for some reason, missed your TUE. Maybe when you said “exacerbated asthma”, you weren’t referring to a condition that could be treated with only salbutamol, though apparently you did so during the Vuelta last year. But in any case, if you could actually prove that you had a TUE for salbutamol in 2009, this would lay this matter to rest.

4) Finally, there is the matter of your remarkable transformation. In the summer of 2011, you were regarded so poorly by your team, Sky, that they were reportedly trying to unload you to some other team. In the Tour of Poland that year, your performance did nothing to change their mind. Then, literally just weeks later, you nearly won the Vuelta, and would have if you hadn’t ridden most of it in support of Brad Wiggins. Ever since then, of course, you have pretty much been the dominant GC rider in the world, though in the 2012 Tour you again had to play second fiddle to Wiggins.

How did this transformation—more or less unprecedented in cycling history—come about? I’m not interested in hearing that schistosomiasis (bilharzia) held you back. There are so many flaws, inconsistencies and inaccuracies in that story that I’m not even going to try to address them. What I—and I think most other skeptics—really want to see is your power data from the years right before that Vuelta. Why have you not released them? In 2013, you provided power files to Frederic Grappe, who concluded they were consistent with your performance, but you only allowed him to look at data beginning with the Vuelta in 2011. In 2015, you did a lab test under the direction of Jeroen Swart, which again concluded that your physiology was consistent with your performance, but other than a very old FAX of questionable authenticity with limited information, there was nothing that provided insight into the transformation.

There is no logical reason not to provide this information. The excuse that it might help competitors is obviously negated by the fact that you have provided much more recent information. Indeed, following the Giro, Sky released details about not only your power but your preparation for a critical stage in that race.

The FAX cited by Swart indicates you always had the engine, the power. In Swart’s perhaps regrettable words, you “just lost the fat”. This also seems consistent with an interview you did with Paul Kimmage several years ago, in which you referred to a Dr. Mantovani, who said he had power data from Barloworld that basically seemed to support what Swart would later record.

Let’s suppose you always did have this engine. That doesn’t explain why Sky never noticed, nor why you never performed particularly well in time trials, where excess weight is less detrimental than for climbing, until that 2011 Vuelta. But if we make this assumption, the major explanation for the transformation could only be sudden weight loss, and indeed, in that Kimmage interview, your wife and agent Michelle says you “starved yourself” for that Vuelta. There was also a recent report in Le monde claiming that you might have lost as much as 4.5 kg for that race, plus another 2 kg the following year.

Overlooking the question of how you could lose so much weight in so little time with no apparent loss of power, this story, too, suffers from inconsistencies. In that same Kimmage interview, you state that your weight at Barloworld was 70-71 kg, or at another point, 72 kg. Grappe said your weight during the two years he tracked it—from the Vuelta in 2011 to the Tour in 2013—was constant at 68 kg, +/- about 1 kg. So based on your own statements, it seems that the maximum amount of weight you lost from Barloworld to 2013 was four kg, and probably some of that was before the summer of 2011, given that you have also referred to losing a little weight going from Barloworld to Sky in 2010.

The bottom line is that the records for this exist. Could you please provide them? What was your power and weight in early 2011, or whatever is the latest period prior to the 2011 Vuelta? What were these values in 2010, your first year at Sky, and in 2009, at Barloworld? Surely these records could help us assess how much of the transformation resulted from weight loss, and how much, if any, from power gain.

If you actually read this letter, you will probably think, why should I do any of this? It won’t change anyone’s mind, haters are gonna hate. There are a lot of minds that probably won’t be changed, given how unprecedented your transformation was. But the facts of these matters aren’t just important to evaluating your performances, but those of others, too. Is it really possible to exceed the urinary limit for salbutamol without taking more than the allowed amount? How? Your uncorrected value has, as far as I know, been exceeded by only one or two athletes in history. Maybe there are actually more, but given WADA’s secrecy, we have no way of knowing.

Is it really possible to lose several kg in a few weeks, without any loss of power? How, and why did it take you so long to realize this? Though your critics rarely if ever put it so clearly, what really bothers them is that if you achieved this transformation clean, then all the old rules that allowed one to judge riders based on performances early in their careers no longer hold. Given how often doping is not detected, these performances—the career trajectory of a rider--are all most cycling fans have to go on. If they’re now irrelevant, then any performance, no matter how improbable—and Sky has more examples of these, of course--has to be accepted. Before fans accept this—before they throw away the book, and decide that nothing a rider does early in his career is particularly predictive of his ultimate potential--they need much greater reason to believe it.
Seems fair enough to me and a letter that could also be addressed to a few tennis and athletes that also get mentioned on here at times
 
Re:

fmk_RoI said:
Is it open season on open letters now? Does everyone have to write one?

Here's my Open Letter to the People of the Clinic:

Please don't make these open letters a thing. It's not big (well, the letters are, in length) and it's not clever.
A nineteen-hundred word "open letter" to a man who blocks people on Twitter just for commenting on his hair does seem rather self indulgent...
I think this will go over well, here. :lol:
 
Mod hat on:

I'm not sure this is really the place to be writing open letters. We're not going to have another Froome/Sky thread which this will almost inevitably turn into so, to be honest, I'm tempted to lock this. I don't really see why you couldn't have posted this in the Froome thread?

Cheers,

KB.
 
Re:

King Boonen said:
Mod hat on:

I'm not sure this is really the place to be writing open letters. We're not going to have another Froome/Sky thread which this will almost inevitably turn into so, to be honest, I'm tempted to lock this. I don't really see why you couldn't have posted this in the Froome thread?

Cheers,

KB.
Move it there if you wish. It seems it's too late for me to delete it.
 
Jul 4, 2016
228
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3,045
Of course I'm too disillusioned to come up with my own open letter but if I ever get my spark back it's nice to know there's a thread dedicated to open letters. I'm looking forward to the open letters from fmk and king boonen.
 
Re: Re:

Merckx index said:
King Boonen said:
Mod hat on:

I'm not sure this is really the place to be writing open letters. We're not going to have another Froome/Sky thread which this will almost inevitably turn into so, to be honest, I'm tempted to lock this. I don't really see why you couldn't have posted this in the Froome thread?

Cheers,

KB.
Move it there if you wish. It seems it's too late for me to delete it.
If you or others can think of a legitimate reason to keep the thread that's fine, I just think the obvious is going to happen. I'll leave it open for a while so others can chip in.
 
Feb 21, 2017
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I wonder how much research teams do on public opinion on forums like this? Despite their sometimes bad clinical decisions, they surely must be savvy enough to occasionally take the temperature of enthusiasts if only for PR value.
 
Re:

GraftPunk said:
I wonder how much research teams do on public opinion on forums like this? Despite their sometimes bad clinical decisions, they surely must be savvy enough to occasionally take the temperature of enthusiasts if only for PR value.
Michelle Cound has apparently posted here before, so there's a chance this gets read directly by her and/or Froome himself.

JV and a bunch of minor cyclists like the late Chase Pinkham have also posted here, so we know this forum reaches the pro ranks every now and then.
 
Feb 21, 2017
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Weird, I didn't realize Michelle posted, but JV's insights were interesting and at times funny when he showed up a few years back.
 
Re:

GraftPunk said:
JV's insights were interesting and at times funny when he showed up a few years back.
Time was when there was some small value talking to JV but then I can't remember when, three, four years back, he began to get really touchy at even the hint of criticism and took to just doing his bantz and snark routines.
 
Re:

rick james said:
is this a joke?... I'm starting to think people are only posting in here to see who can make the craziest post
You label posts as crazy or bullsh*t but at no point have I seen you actually make an intelligent argument against those posts. It's always just a one line ad hominem attack directed towards a Sky-critical poster.

rick james said:
it really is amazing how some people believe they have right to know every single bit of detail about Froome...
It's not a "right". MI is saying that Froome, a member of the self-proclaimed paragons of transparency, can save himself a lot of the abuse he suffers roadside by simply living up to the so-called team mantra of being clean and transparent.

While we're on the subject of rights,.. Froome himself has no right to ask "what more can I do?" until he actually answers the questions in this letter with cold, hard facts. He has never come close to doing so.
 
Jul 11, 2013
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Re:

rick james said:
so in general what you've done is write a letter on a faceless forum to a cyclist you don't know asking him question that you will never get the answer to...I suppose it makes you look good to the few
So in general, all you do is take a swing at the person behind the post. With you, it is beyond fandom. You are obsessed with this regular practice on a faceless forum. Oh, the irony...
 
Feb 21, 2017
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Re: Re:

fmk_RoI said:
GraftPunk said:
JV's insights were interesting and at times funny when he showed up a few years back.
Time was when there was some small value talking to JV but then I can't remember when, three, four years back, he began to get really touchy at even the hint of criticism and took to just doing his bantz and snark routines.
I think he'd get into his cups on occasion leading to various emotions. Overall it was entertaining though, especially when some were asking the hard questions. :p
 
Re:

fmk_RoI said:
Is it open season on open letters now? Does everyone have to write one?

Here's my Open Letter to the People of the Clinic:

Please don't make these open letters a thing. It's not big (well, the letters are, in length) and it's not clever.
A nineteen-hundred word "open letter" to a man who blocks people on Twitter just for commenting on his hair does seem rather self indulgent...
The only way not to make them a thing is by not responding.
 
Aug 2, 2012
4,219
1
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King Boonen said:
Merckx index said:
King Boonen said:
Mod hat on:

I'm not sure this is really the place to be writing open letters. We're not going to have another Froome/Sky thread which this will almost inevitably turn into so, to be honest, I'm tempted to lock this. I don't really see why you couldn't have posted this in the Froome thread?

Cheers,

KB.
Move it there if you wish. It seems it's too late for me to delete it.
If you or others can think of a legitimate reason to keep the thread that's fine, I just think the obvious is going to happen. I'll leave it open for a while so others can chip in.
why not do the OP a favour ...print and send to team sky/da dawg

then ya can close the thread....that post is just too long................

Mark L
 
Maybe he had something more important to do, like riding the Tour, than come up with answers to some keyboard warriors questions. Give the man some time and maybe, just maybe he will provide the answers. Just don't hold your breath.
 
Re:

Saint Unix said:
Michelle Cound has apparently posted here before, so there's a chance this gets read directly by her and/or Froome himself.
rick james said:
it really is amazing how some people believe they have right to know every single bit of detail about Froome...
Putting 2 and 2 together here.
I wouldn't know why anyone would defend Froome so vehemently unless they had a personal stake. Also, Cound is known for using ad hominems. It all makes sense now.
 
Re: Re:

MartinGT said:
fmk_RoI said:
Is it open season on open letters now? Does everyone have to write one?

Here's my Open Letter to the People of the Clinic:

Please don't make these open letters a thing. It's not big (well, the letters are, in length) and it's not clever.
A nineteen-hundred word "open letter" to a man who blocks people on Twitter just for commenting on his hair does seem rather self indulgent...
The only way not to make them a thing is by not responding.
Right, yeah, cause omertà and its code of silence has been such a swell success...
 
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