"The Bare Minimum" by Robert Millar

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Sep 29, 2012
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pmcg76 said:
The 50% rule was introduced in 1997 under the watch of Verbruggen but ironically it was the cyclists themselves who demanded a limit to be introduced. UCI were reactive rather than proactive on that one.
Really? The AIS were saying 50% was too low. I fail to see how riders can ask for a limit when it's the riders themselves injecting themselves. The limit just stopped you racing for 2 weeks - it didn't stop you injecting.

Sorry but I just think if the riders wanted a limit they should have implemented it themselves. Blaming the UCI is like Homer blaming Marge for not limiting his donut intake. Just don't buy them, Homer, sheesh. :eek:
 
Dear Wiggo said:
Really? The AIS were saying 50% was too low. I fail to see how riders can ask for a limit when it's the riders themselves injecting themselves. The limit just stopped you racing for 2 weeks - it didn't stop you injecting.

Sorry but I just think if the riders wanted a limit they should have implemented it themselves. Blaming the UCI is like Homer blaming Marge for not limiting his donut intake. Just don't buy them, Homer, sheesh. :eek:
That argument / analogy doesn't make sense: (not a first for Dear Wiggo, I admit)
if donuts make you cycle faster, why would an individual cyclist NOT eat them?
(Apart from Jan U, who hasn't got space after all the pies he's scoffed):D
 
Sep 29, 2012
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coinneach said:
That argument / analogy doesn't make sense: (not a first for Dear Wiggo, I admit)
if donuts make you cycle faster, why would an individual cyclist NOT eat them?
(Apart from Jan U, who hasn't got space after all the pies he's scoffed):D
The analogy works fine. Getting personal is weak. Do you even know what an analogy is?

Take some personal responsibility for your actions, and stop whinging like a little child that Daddy Verbruggen (or Marge) didn't put in a limit.

Good grief.
 
Dear Wiggo said:
Really? The AIS were saying 50% was too low. I fail to see how riders can ask for a limit when it's the riders themselves injecting themselves. The limit just stopped you racing for 2 weeks - it didn't stop you injecting.

Sorry but I just think if the riders wanted a limit they should have implemented it themselves. Blaming the UCI is like Homer blaming Marge for not limiting his donut intake. Just don't buy them, Homer, sheesh. :eek:
You dont have to believe it but it is clear that you were not following cycling around that time.

"On 8 November on the eve of the presentation of the route of the Giro d'Italia, a delegation of Italian professionals which included former World champions Bugno and Fondriest demanded that blood tests be introduced for everyone from the start of 1997"
Rough Ride by Paul Kimmage

http://autobus.cyclingnews.com/results/archives/nov96/10_11.html
Italian cyclists have called for the introduction of blood tests to crack down on the use of banned substances and eliminate the cloud of suspicion hanging over the sport, newspapers reported on Saturday.
Hein Verbruggen, head of the World Cycling Union (UCI), applauded the riders' initiative and said the UCI was ready to meet their request.

La Gazzetta dello Sport, Italy's leading sports daily, said the Italian riders' association ACCPI met in Milan on Friday to discuss doping.

This from an interview with French rider Nicolas Aubier in L'Equipe, January 97:
What do you think of the Italians and their recent demand for blood tests to be introduced? Aubier: It makes me laugh. They were the people who introduced it in the first place. And now they want to wipe it all out? Well if they do its obviously because they have found something more sophisticated already.

And you were the poster who claimed I didn't even know who Stephen Hodge was elsewhere. I think its becoming clear that you might not know as much as you try to potray.
 
Tinman said:
I suspect that if your "normal Hct is 36% and you push it to 50% that you are much more likely to run into problems than if your normal is 45 and you push to 50. If you make the blood a significant amount stickier (assume some 35% if going from 36-50) then surely that must be a bigger health risk than say 10% stickier.

Same holds for "responsiveness" to EPO by the way. If you are a low baseline you will get much more benefit going to 50. Presumably.
Yes. I was thinking the same thing. If a persons physiology indicates a hct of 48-50 or whatever, no problem, that is normal for them. Their are some examples in the peloton. AC and Cunego are two I can think of off hand.
However if normal is 36-39 again, pushing that to 50 could I think be potentially dangerous. This person also has been proven to be a better responder. But anytime you f with your body's natural internal environment too much bad things can happen. Homeostasis.
 
Feb 10, 2011
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Millar's all right by me

ultimobici said:
Millar has forgotten more about racing than you or I could ever hope to know.
+1

Read the book "In Search of Robert Millar" before saying he's not qualified. Gray areas and all.
 
ultimobici said:
Did you actually read the blog piece? If so you certainly missed the point entirely.

Millar is eminently qualified to write what is effectively an opinion piece. He rode as a professional from 1980 to 1995 and saw first hand the transformation of the sport as blood vector doping was introduced. His forum name summed it up "gottheteeshirt".

This paragraph must have escaped you attention. Ive bolded the bits that are especially pertinent.



Millar has forgotten more about racing than you or I could ever hope to know.
Deflection, how predictable. I don't care what he has forgot or knows about cycling, he doesn't know anything about hemotacrit and what the medical community knows as fact, not fiction as his hyped article riddled with blatant inaccuracy and hyperbole.

When someone has some actual proof, as I have provided of what normal human hemotacrit levels are in males 19 yrs and older, or an actual autopsy of some cyclist/ahtlete dying with a 50% or less level, please share with us will you?

This is rhetorical, because there is no such thing and I know you can't produce it.

I posted my last 4 hemotacrit levels, one from 2 weeks ago at 48.5%, which I don't take EPO and live at sea level of all things.

My hemotacrit has been as high as 49.3% and a low of 42% over the last 4yrs. I have the labs to show this. These are basic facts which Millar has providing nothing in regards to. He state the opposite with inflammatory inaccurate statements about bodies all over the place because 50% is some insane number to have as a human being!?!?!



Thus, you deflect it towards some other "point" Millar makes about cycling and doping in general and not deal with the direct facts, which he has entirely wrong.

My post is directly related to his completely inaccurate statements regarding hemotacrit. Othewise, he is entitled to his opinion. But when medical facts state otherwise, people are entitled to "correct" his obviously failure of knowledge.

I'm sure there have been riders with 52-55% levels, surely there were high risks, or may have done themselves harm due to this. That is due to lack of knowledge and testing to keep the levels at/below normal levels. But when 50% is the normal lab levels by the two largest testing labs in the US, one can't just take anecdote from a former pro cyclist as gospel because he has that "tshirt".
 
zigmeister said:
Deflection, how predictable. I don't care what he has forgot or knows about cycling, he doesn't know anything about hemotacrit and what the medical community knows as fact, not fiction as his hyped article riddled with blatant inaccuracy and hyperbole.

When someone has some actual proof, as I have provided of what normal human hemotacrit levels are in males 19 yrs and older, or an actual autopsy of some cyclist/ahtlete dying with a 50% or less level, please share with us will you?

This is rhetorical, because there is no such thing and I know you can't produce it.

I posted my last 4 hemotacrit levels, one from 2 weeks ago at 48.5%, which I don't take EPO and live at sea level of all things.

My hemotacrit has been as high as 49.3% and a low of 42% over the last 4yrs. I have the labs to show this. These are basic facts which Millar has providing nothing in regards to. He state the opposite with inflammatory inaccurate statements about bodies all over the place because 50% is some insane number to have as a human being!?!?!



Thus, you deflect it towards some other "point" Millar makes about cycling and doping in general and not deal with the direct facts, which he has entirely wrong.

My post is directly related to his completely inaccurate statements regarding hemotacrit. Othewise, he is entitled to his opinion. But when medical facts state otherwise, people are entitled to "correct" his obviously failure of knowledge.

I'm sure there have been riders with 52-55% levels, surely there were high risks, or may have done themselves harm due to this. That is due to lack of knowledge and testing to keep the levels at/below normal levels. But when 50% is the normal lab levels by the two largest testing labs in the US, one can't just take anecdote from a former pro cyclist as gospel because he has that "tshirt".
ok...so why was 50% by UCI chosen when it is so close, in fact equal to a normal Hct level? And why, did Pantani, amongst many others, not then get the lawyers in to challenge said 50% rule when they were given their health 'rest'..

money speaks louder than you and the money (prize money, reputation, contracts etc) didn't challenge it......

there is of course a proviso in any event for those with a 'naturally' high Hct level...cough cough!!
 
Oct 23, 2012
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coinneach said:
No, this is wrong. GO mentions "medical backup" in his book...no mention of EPO at all.
That's true - he mentions "medical backup" in quotes, just like that. I'm interpreting that as the centralised EPO/drugs fund that all the teams ran at the time (see Festina scandal). If it was an innocent situation, I doubt he would have used the quotation marks.

I know Obree was quite flakey, but I think his book was honest, and I see this as evidence that Millar was at least prepared to be involved in a centralised doping program.
 
Jul 8, 2009
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I thought it was a good article. It's almost always valuable to hear comments from people who "were there." whether or not one chooses to believe everything as gospel.

I agree with zig about HcT, though, that one point by Millar was unnecessarily inflammatory. Mine is sometimes over 45 as well, and if I'm a doper, I must be the least effective doper in history :)
 
May 29, 2012
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I thought the article was good.

Some good sources on the 50% level:

Tough On Doping, Tough On The Causes Of Doping – Francesco Conconi and the Introduction of the H-test (fmk)

From Lance to Landis (David Walsh)*

*This isn't a link to the whole book - just a free preview, with sections missing, by the publisher
 
Oct 24, 2012
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Zigmeister you need to read some research on how exercise effets hematocrit .

From Australia Institue research on road riders , 2.8% of them had a value over the fifty .

http://www.sportsci.org/news/news9703/AISblood.html

From Runningtimes an explication of how training lowers blood values ........

Regular exercise causes an increase in the number of RBCs in the blood. As an adaptation to training, there's also an increase in plasma volume in the resting state. This volume expansion causes the hematocrit (the percentage of RBCs in blood) and hemoglobin levels to be lower than in non-athletes. The expansion in plasma volume will be reflected as lower hematocrit and hemoglobin levels on a complete blood count (CBC). For most runners, hemoglobin will be approximately 0.5g/dl lower than normal, while it can be 1g/dl lower in highly trained runners. This lower level is a pseudoanemia and doesn't require medications. The dilutional effect of training will resolve after several days off from training.

From cyclingscience explaining blood plasma expansion .........

http://www.cyclingscience.org/hematocrit.htm

From Wiki explaining that the average sedentary person has a level of 45% They can't all be at the top of the range which you quote and what most people have is somewhere in the middle . Sure there will be people at each extreme but given the amount of training and racing involved it's highly unlikely that the endurance athlete will have above the average as the AIS findings confirm , somewhere around the 3% mark .

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hematocrit

That would mean perhaps 6 riders at the TdF with more than fifty percent but as has been reported whole teams have had the maximium allowed . That is statistically very very unlikely . For the whole peloton to have the maximum would need a miracle
 
Oct 24, 2012
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zigmeister said:
Great, another idiotic cyclist trying to stay relevant and make some money authoring articles and providing ridiculous and completely inaccurate information.

"What the UCI have done during the EPO era has been far from enough, they have let down a generation of fans, riders, sponsors and supporters. They and the people behind the 50% farce have been lucky that there weren't deaths."


Mr. Millar, 50% Hemotacrit is not "dangerous" that will cause death in normal healthy athletes.

Quest Diagnostics has the testing range of 38.5-50%
LabCorp has the testing range of 36-50%.

Thus, 50% is the normal high level found amongst the average population. These ranges are determined and widely accepted in the medical and testing world.

Making an inflammatory statement that the UCI is lucky nobody "died" from allowing 50% hemotacrit is irresponsible and stupid. The chances of that in healthy athletes is slim to none.

Nobody has even been shown to have died with their hemotacrit being at 50% that didn't have some other underlying health issue.

"And it's still a 50% limit today despite the evidence that it isn't normal?"

Normal ranges for men 19yrs and older are 36-50% hemotacrit.

No idea where this idiot gets his information from that 50% is so insanely high?

My last three blood tests this year show 47.1%, 45.6% and 44%. No, I don't do EPO and I live at sea level. Edit, oh wait, just got some labs back today, hemotacrit 48.3%..rofl....oh dear, I'm doomed!

Guess I'm close to dying in my sleep according to this misinformed fool.
I'm not going to say Robert Millar is fully correct but I think you yourself have forgotten a couple of things.

1. Although the range of HCT in the population is indeed between 36% and 50%, most of us are in the 40-46% range.

2. It would appear that riders did indeed die in their sleep in the late 80's or early 90's when EPO experimentation first began to take place. Granted, these were probably beyond 50% but we'll never actually know. Bert Oosterbosch is a probable victim.

3. Don't forget that plenty of riders were doping beyond the 50% limit then beating the test with a saline drip to temporarily bring their level back down. The body would soon absorb the saline, and they would be back up to whatever level it was they had doped up to. Marco Pantani was caught because he failed to do this properly.

4. Professional athletes are much fitter than the rest of us, which means they have a slower resting and sleeping heart rate than we do. Blood thickened by extra red cells would slow it even further, perhaps to a dangerous level, especially if combined with some other factor caused by the hardships of a grand tour. There is anecdotal evidence that at least one rider (probably Pantani) nearly died this way during a race.

5. As Millar says, when you add factors such as dehydration into the mix, you've got a recipe for tragedy.

What Robert is saying, is that these are high risk practices and I think he is correct in saying that the UCI were lucky not to have (more?) deaths. How many would be too many for you I wonder? One death would be too much as far as I'm concerned.

Finally, I think you should speak more respectfully about a rider whose shoes you're not fit to clean, frankly.
 
Mar 17, 2009
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zigmeister said:
Deflection, how predictable. I don't care what he has forgot or knows about cycling, he doesn't know anything about hemotacrit and what the medical community knows as fact, not fiction as his hyped article riddled with blatant inaccuracy and hyperbole.

When someone has some actual proof, as I have provided of what normal human hemotacrit levels are in males 19 yrs and older, or an actual autopsy of some cyclist/ahtlete dying with a 50% or less level, please share with us will you?

This is rhetorical, because there is no such thing and I know you can't produce it.

I posted my last 4 hemotacrit levels, one from 2 weeks ago at 48.5%, which I don't take EPO and live at sea level of all things.

My hemotacrit has been as high as 49.3% and a low of 42% over the last 4yrs. I have the labs to show this. These are basic facts which Millar has providing nothing in regards to. He state the opposite with inflammatory inaccurate statements about bodies all over the place because 50% is some insane number to have as a human being!?!?!



Thus, you deflect it towards some other "point" Millar makes about cycling and doping in general and not deal with the direct facts, which he has entirely wrong.

My post is directly related to his completely inaccurate statements regarding hemotacrit. Othewise, he is entitled to his opinion. But when medical facts state otherwise, people are entitled to "correct" his obviously failure of knowledge.

I'm sure there have been riders with 52-55% levels, surely there were high risks, or may have done themselves harm due to this. That is due to lack of knowledge and testing to keep the levels at/below normal levels. But when 50% is the normal lab levels by the two largest testing labs in the US, one can't just take anecdote from a former pro cyclist as gospel because he has that "tshirt".
OK, I went away and reread Millar's piece and then took the time to look up Hct levels in men.

Looking at this chart, it appears that approximately 40% fall into the 37-42% band. About half that number are between 32 and 37, with just over half between 42 and 47. Barely 5% are over the 47%. Millar isn't writing a scientific paper, just a website blog. I think we can cut him some slack, don't you?

The point I was trying to get across to you is that he wasn't saying that 50% was unnatural, he was getting at the ridiculous situation where a rider could maintain their Hct at 50% the whole way through the race instead of having it decline as the race went on. The other issue it didn't address was the differences in all human beings. If two riders are evenly matched on the bike without EPO, but one is naturally blessed with a high Hct, whereas the other has a plodding 42%, the 50% limit gives a significant advantage to the latter. The problem with that is that his system may not be able to cope with an 8% higher Hct. All the 50% Hct did was skew the playing field to assist the 75kg "climber"
 
Sep 29, 2012
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pmcg76 said:
You dont have to believe it but it is clear that you were not following cycling around that time.
No, I probably wan't following. Happy to admit that. Not embarassed either. Kinda missing the point. Although I will admit - yes ok, the riders did ask for it. I got that wrong. From a logic point of view it even more strongly makes me wonder, WTF?

The very article you just cited would reinforce the very point I am trying to make:

take personal responsibility for your actions.

Seriously?

You get all uppity at me because I don't know the exact date and time of when cyclists asked someone else to stop them from doping? Or measure their Hct? Or do blood tests?

How is who or when they did it even relevant?

They are holding the UCI responsible for their actions. They are adults. They should act like them.

Hein called it a health test. Maybe the Italians agreed. Maybe they had something else. Maybe the test allows more corruption, more "policing" via currency. But to whinge that it was no good - which is what we are discussing - is ludicrous.

Here's what I am really weirded out about: Robert Millar, and what he says:
"What the UCI have done during the EPO era has been far from enough, they have let down a generation of fans, riders, sponsors and supporters. They and the people behind the 50% farce have been lucky that there weren't deaths."
1. There were EPO deaths pre-50% "farce"
2. The deaths post-50% "farce" were more to do with blood doping, not EPO per se (see upthread)

So it was the UCI, and "the people behind it" were the Italians. And it was a farce. Really? What's farcical about it? Are the UCI expected to develop blood tests to detect EPO as well?

Please explain how it's a farce.
Please explain how the UCI let anyone down by introducing the 50% Hct rule.
Please explain why people who are dying from injecting themselves with something need someone else to introduce rules and blood tests to stop them from doing it.
Please explain just what it is UCI were meant to do more? Does Robert Millar suggest anything? Or just kick the dead lion?

I don't know Robert MIllar from a bar of soap. So far it's all glitter and unicorns coz he was there and never doped. But I look at what he's writing and it makes no sense to me. I'd like someone to edumacate me on this one 50% rule point, please.

Anyone?
 
Mar 17, 2009
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The 50% rule, while preventing riders overdoing EPO & other blood manipulation methods, didn't really address the situation. It merely capped the situation without dealing with the underlying problem. They knew the effects of fatigue on riders' Hct levels, so could have devised a testing system to highlight riders who were not experiencing that drop in Hct.

The UCI's doping initiatives have been geared towards management of the problem rather than eradication. Instead of cleaning up properly they have tried to cover it up or make it look like they're doing something. Doping is like a cancerous tumour. Rather than operating to remove it, the UCI administers painkillers!
 
50%? I'm no scientist but have had my own level measured in the high 40s.

On reading the article, I don't think Millar is necessarily saying that a level of 49.9% is hazardous to health in itself but the fact that its there encourages riders to dope to it, or beyond it (with a self administered correction pre-test) with all the safety and health problems that implies. Remember Manzano for example?

For anyone interested in finding out more about Millar, try reading Richard Moore's book. This fella is one of the best sports authors out there in my opinion and he does a great job of getting under the skin of one of the most interesting characters in the sport in the last 30 years without even having the luxury of meeting him.
 
Sep 29, 2012
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simoni said:
For anyone interested in finding out more about Millar, try reading Richard Moore's book. This fella is one of the best sports authors out there in my opinion and he does a great job of getting under the skin of one of the most interesting characters in the sport in the last 30 years without even having the luxury of meeting him.
Richard Moore of Sky Sport and Team Sky devotee?
 

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