Timing of EPO in early 90's that doesn't add up..

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Les Earnest, director of the United States Cycling Federation (USCF). January 1989:
A process has recently been developed for making hematopoietic hormones, which can selectively stimulate either erythrocyte (red cell) or leukocyte (white cell) development. A recent article discusses the use of these hormones for treating anemia and other disorders, but the possibility of using them to elevate the red cell count of normal individuals in order to enhance athletic performance has apparently not been tested so far.

There is evidence that having a high red cell count, brought about either through high altitude training or by blood boosting, can improve athletic performance. It seems plausible that the same effect could also be brought about by the use of the new hormones [rhEPO]. If these hormones enhance red cell count in normal individuals and have no nasty side effects, they would appear to be of potential value not only to cyclists but to some other athletes as well.

If this scheme works and is not banned by international athletic bodies, it would have the likely beneficial effect of eliminating traditional blood boosting by providing a better alternative. More research is called for to determine potential benefits and side effects. Assessment projects are underway in the USCF and USOC.
Earnest later added this:
Unfortunately, the final statement above that “Assessment projects are underway in the USCF and USOC”, which was based on assurances from USCF CEO Jerry Lace, turned out to be false. I believe that if the USOC or other national or international sports organizations had investigated EPO in a timely manner and had warned athletes of likely side effects, a number of cyclists and others who used it to boost performance would not have died prematurely.
 
To go back to Italy and 1990. I'm not trying to say the claim is wrong, I'm more interested in finding strong evidence to support the claim. So here's a challenge: name the team doctors.

Argentin - Ariostea
Bugno - Château d'Ax
Ballerini - Del Tongo
Chiappucci - Carrera
Giovanetti - Seur

Correct me on these:
  • Ariostea IIRC was Ferrari, he'd been kicked out of Château d'Ax the previous summer and joined Ariostea at the start of 1990. Luigi Cecchini was also associated with Arisotea, there was a point when he and Ferrari were both there, but that was 1992, wasn't it?
  • Carrera was still Giovanni Grazzi, wasn't it, and with him access to the wider world of Conconi and co in Ferrara?
  • Château d'Ax I'm at a loss on, I don't know who replaced Ferrari
  • Del Tongo I also don't know. They were between Yvan Vanmol's stints, I think he might still have been with ADR in 1990 and didn't return until 1991
  • Seur I've no idea, those smaller Spanish teams totally confuse me
I am sure I cannot add much other than what we know already. Maybe team doctors might not be the one's who were looking after the individual riders. Anyways, this is what I found, some or most of which is already known.

Ariostea had 2 team doctors during 1989 according to an interview with Rolf Sorensen in the winter of 89/90. Doesn't say who the doctors are. Sorensen was associated with Luigi Cecchini of course. Was the Ferrari/Cecchini tandem already in place?

Moreno Argentin also started working with Michele Ferrari that same 89/90 Winter(maybe because he had joined Ariostea) and that coincided with his return to form. This from an interview in Winning magazine in 92 about his return to form in 1990.

" Exactly, that was when I met Dr.Ferrari, who has become my personal coach, he always comes with me when I go to train in the Sun in winter".

Ferrari also went with Rominger on his training trips.

Argentin then says Massimiliano Lelli had also been on his winter training camp in 91/92. Lelli was 3rd at the the Giro in 91 and was of course the guy who introduced David Millar to EPO doping according to Millar's first autobiography. Another early disciple of Ferrari?

Giorgio Furlan who joined Ariostea in 91 started working with Ferrari that season and won Fleche Wallone & Tour of Switzerland in 92, and later Milan-San Remo in 94.
Rolf Jaermann said he discovered EPO when he joined Ariostea which was the 92 season, won a stage Tour stage that year & Amstel Gold in 1993.
Ditto Riis later that same year, which is when his transformation happened. Ferrari left the team in 92 and was with Argentin's Mecair team in 1993 which of course morphed into Gewiss. That whole Ariostea team was crazy in the 90s, part of it was Ferrettis' free for all tactics, but it looks like EPO was a huge part of it as well.

Carrera, I cannot add anything more.

Chateau d'Ax: According to an article in Winning about Bugno's Giro 1990 win, team directeur Claudio Corti had a big role in how Bugno trained, saying that previously Bugno had used a big gear too much. It is also noted he has access to two doctors at the team, one of whom was the infamous psychologist. Both Fignon and Giancarlo Ferretti noted how Bugno's biggest weakness was his head. Even after he dominated that Giro, he was still saying Giovanetti was the best Italian stage racer.

Del Tongo: again not much, but in a Winning interview with Rolf Sorensen in 93, it is noted that Franco Ballerini and Max Sciandri are also clients of Luigi Cecchini, but does not say when they started working with him. But you have to look at Chiocciolis amazing Giro in 91 at age 31. Did is start with Ballerini and then spread. I remember something in the second edition of Rough Ride, how Joachim Halupczok's soigneur had a reputation for providing EPO. The World Amateur Champion in 89 rode for Del Tongo in 91 and then GB-MG in 92-93 before having to retire due to I think heart problems, he passed away in early 1994.

SEUR: Not a clue, but to pull a classic sniper claim. Mathieu Hermans was also on the SEUR team in 1990, the same Hermans that supposedly once claimed Fuentes had given him EPO in 1989 at a Spanish team. At best it is a weak link.
 
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Les Earnest, director of the United States Cycling Federation (USCF). January 1989:Earnest later added this:
Yes, you found the official response. Good for you.
The questions we posed were directed to coaching staff and the response came from them. The parents of the young riders included several doctors that already had noted issues with the National Team staff pressing the riders to get analyzed for asthma with the specific goal to obtain inhalers. These were young racers that qualified for camp residency in Colorado and their parents, responsibly; wanted specific response. Senior National Team members received very little support but much pressure as well. Some stayed with the National team and turned pro.

Those general circumstances continued to be confusing and several of our most promising World's Road and Track young riders from our team and state quit the sport altogether rather than continue on a path to pro life. It was a very disappointing situation.

Not a rumor, not a misquoted article.
 
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Doping in sport: To the athletes dying young

https://www.nytimes.com/2004/02/21/opinion/doping-in-sport-to-the-athletes-dying-young.html

"In hindsight we can date the clandestine arrival of EPO with grim accuracy. Orienteering is a mixture of cross-country running and walking, popular in Scandinavia.
Between 1989 and 1992, seven young Swedish orienteering enthusiasts died mysteriously. They may well have learned about the magic potion from cyclists. Between
1987 and 1990, no fewer than 20 Belgian and Dutch cyclists died from otherwise inexplicable nocturnal heart attacks.
You don't need to be Sherlock, with or without his syringe, to guess what was going on."
 
Doping in sport: To the athletes dying young
Thanx for posting that. It really does demonstrate how desperate anti-doping was in 2004, how willing it was to engage in fact-free emotional arguments and abandon an evidence-based approach. As a consequence of this there are two challenges we face today: the first is to ensure that those making the rules are taking an evidence-based approach and not just playing to the gallery; the second is to correct the historical record and replace hysteria with facts.
 
Was the Ferrari/Cecchini tandem already in place?
It wasn't quite a tandem, more a crossover. As I understand it, Cecchini was besties with Ferretti and worked regularly with him over the span of several teams. IIRC in Riis's book both Cecco and Ferrari were at Ariostea when he joined in 92, which is how he hooked up with the former. According to Cecchini himself, he was only at Arisotea with Ferrari for one season. However, I think some Clintonian semantics are at play here: he sees a difference between being on the payroll and being a consultant on call, as he was with Riis at CSC. So, long story short, I think Ariostea was the two of them. Bringing this back to that magical year of 1990, Argentin chose Ferrari and - after two fallow seasons in 88 and 89 - got back to the ways that won him three Liège's in the three years before that.

Does that mean that Ferrari was shooting him up with EPO? We don't know. We know Ferrari was doing blood bags at Gis - insofar as we can know these things and based on evidence from one rider - so Ferrari could still have been doing blood bags. We don't know.

When Ariostea started on EPO would be an interesting thing to know, given that there's a sizable number of riders saying that they were introduced to it there in the years after 1992 (none of them seem to say they were introduced to it there in 1990 or 1991).

Carrera I'm pretty sure was still Grazzi and the wider world of Ferrara, that seems to be confirmed by the paperwork/spreadsheet and database files in the Conconi case. Again, we know Carrera were doing blood bags and the question is when they switched up to EPO. The spreadhseet files suggest 1992 and there is the suggestion that Conoconi himself was using it in the summer and autumn of 1991, timing upself up the Stelvio and noting in his diary his times and EPO dosages. Could it have been earlier? It's not impossible.

So that's Argentin and Chiappucci. For both, there's evidence it could be one thing, there's evidence it could be another thing.

Ferrari leaving Château d'Ax leaves us at bit of a loss for who could have introduced Bugno to EPO in 1990, if he was introduced to EPO in 1990. And as much as we all loathe these explanations, we do have to consider the psychological explanation: for sure, I'd prefer a phial of EPO over a C90 of Mozart any day, but who's to say the Mozart didn't help Bugno in 1990? You have other riders saying he was a fragile little creature, maybe it's not all BS.

For Ballerini and Del Tongo, whatever rep Halupczok's soigneur had for dispensing EPO, the question is when he earned it. The Pole didn't die until 1994. Donati's dossier makes an implicit link between Van Mol and Halupczok's death, and 1990 was part of Van Mol's gap years in Del Tongo, so we still have no one to blame for juicing Ballerini with EPO in 1990, if he was juiced with EPO in 1990.

And so to Seur and Giovanetti: I take my hat off to you, I do. Playing the sniper card and bringing in that bloody Hermans claim. A weak link indeed if we're arguing for EPO usage in 1990. ;o)
 
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One way (and a non-answer) to estimate when rHuEPO found its way into the cycling world is to look at other endurance disciplines that conducted blood testing and this test data.

Here we have data mainly from cross-country skiing (and nordic combined) the only sport that conducted mandatory blood testing from the late 1980s onwards at OGs and WCs. Unfortunately the available data tells us very little, because the mean (highest) values of men from 1989 onwards were the following:

1989: 14.8 g/dl (16.5)
1991: tests were conducted, but the data not available (I heard from somewhere that the samples were frozen, but homologous blood doping tests were negative)
1992: not conducted
1993: not conducted
1994: 15.5 g/dl (17.7)
1995: 15.7 g/dl (19.8)

It looks as if the use of rHuEPO was even in 1994 very limited because the highest value is not strikingly high. It is also interesting that when anti-doping researchers tested 99 (62 men) athletes who were chosen for urine tests (only a fragment of them evidently endurance athletes) at the IAAF competitions in 1993-94, the distribution of blood samples was normal, except there was one male with hemoglobin value of 18.9 g/dl, the second highest value being below 17 g/dl.

Unfortunately there was discussion about introducing blood tests at the biathlon world championships from 1989 onwards, but the autotransfusion tests were so unreliable that the issue never went anywhere.
 
Geoffrey Wheatcroft is hardly "a sports columnist."
Why yes, he's written much more than that--on cycling and other topics--but at the time he wrote that article the author blurb stated he "writes a weekly sports column for The Financial Times," and the article appeared in the opinion section of the paper. I remember reading it at the time, thinking--"at least one news source is not sweeping the issue under the rug." Though reading it now I see some of his underlying assumptions quite off base.

But I forgot that since I haven't paid my annual (or is it monthly) fees to you to participate in this thread, you will be sure to try to cr*p on anything I comment on or ask questions about. I'll try to keep that in mind.
 
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Wheatcroft in his own words:
"Although I’m a political and literary journalist by trade and not a professional sportswriter, for some years I moonlighted covering the Tour for two London papers (Financial Times and Daily Mail, somewhat incongruously). "
He's a gentleman amateur. His one book about sport, about the Tour - in among a list of other books that are in the cultural/political sphere - mostly draws its Tour knowledge from previously published French books, and repeats their mistakes without checking sources. Cause that's the type of cycling fan he is, the sort who doesn't feel a need to check stories before repeating them.

As for the rest: you can take things personally if you want, I really couldn't care. But it's not personal. It's about things said.
 
It wasn't quite a tandem, more a crossover. As I understand it, Cecchini was besties with Ferretti and worked regularly with him over the span of several teams. IIRC in Riis's book both Cecco and Ferrari were at Ariostea when he joined in 92, which is how he hooked up with the former. According to Cecchini himself, he was only at Arisotea with Ferrari for one season. However, I think some Clintonian semantics are at play here: he sees a difference between being on the payroll and being a consultant on call, as he was with Riis at CSC. So, long story short, I think Ariostea was the two of them. Bringing this back to that magical year of 1990, Argentin chose Ferrari and - after two fallow seasons in 88 and 89 - got back to the ways that won him three Liège's in the three years before that.

Does that mean that Ferrari was shooting him up with EPO? We don't know. We know Ferrari was doing blood bags at Gis - insofar as we can know these things and based on evidence from one rider - so Ferrari could still have been doing blood bags. We don't know.

When Ariostea started on EPO would be an interesting thing to know, given that there's a sizable number of riders saying that they were introduced to it there in the years after 1992 (none of them seem to say they were introduced to it there in 1990 or 1991).

Carrera I'm pretty sure was still Grazzi and the wider world of Ferrara, that seems to be confirmed by the paperwork/spreadsheet and database files in the Conconi case. Again, we know Carrera were doing blood bags and the question is when they switched up to EPO. The spreadhseet files suggest 1992 and there is the suggestion that Conoconi himself was using it in the summer and autumn of 1991, timing upself up the Stelvio and noting in his diary his times and EPO dosages. Could it have been earlier? It's not impossible.

So that's Argentin and Chiappucci. For both, there's evidence it could be one thing, there's evidence it could be another thing.

Ferrari leaving Château d'Ax leaves us at bit of a loss for who could have introduced Bugno to EPO in 1990, if he was introduced to EPO in 1990. And as much as we all loathe these explanations, we do have to consider the psychological explanation: for sure, I'd prefer a phial of EPO over a C90 of Mozart any day, but who's to say the Mozart didn't help Bugno in 1990? You have other riders saying he was a fragile little creature, maybe it's not all BS.

For Ballerini and Del Tongo, whatever rep Halupczok's soigneur had for dispensing EPO, the question is when he earned it. The Pole didn't die until 1994. Donati's dossier makes an implicit link between Van Mol and Halupczok's death, and 1990 was part of Van Mol's gap years in Del Tongo, so we still have no one to blame for juicing Ballerini with EPO in 1990, if he was juiced with EPO in 1990.

And so to Seur and Giovanetti: I take my hat off to you, I do. Playing the sniper card and bringing in that bloody Hermans claim. A weak link indeed if we're arguing for EPO usage in 1990. ;o)
I am not following some of your logic here. I don't think we need every minute detail to paint a picture. EPO became common known in sporting circles during 89/90. What Oldermanish mentioned plus there was an article by Dr.Burke in Winning about the potential benefits and risks of EPO in the same issue as the Tour deFrance report 1990. So talking July/August. He mentions how it is already supposedly in use in the peloton. If such an article is appearing in a cycling magazine, you can be sure it has been known about for a while.

At the exact same time, certain Italian riders are undergoing huge improvements, some with the aid of doctors we know off. Now maybe there are other factors like we discussed, and maybe the training methods introduced by these doctors are more effective.

You are touting Blood bags. If you think blood bags played a part in the success of those riders in 1990, the logical question would be why was Italian cycling so poor in 89 and not much better in 88 as blood bags had been around long before then. The teams had doctors so it was not as if they didn't have the possibilities.

Also Bugno went well through most of 1990 as did Chiappucci. Giovanetti won the Vuelta and then finished 3rd at the Giro over a seven week period. These performances would require multiple blood bags. So having not done much performance wise in 88/89, these riders are now resorting to the old method of blood bags rather than the new easier to use EPO? I don't find that very likely.

The weight of probabilities and logic would point to the new wonder drug which will become widespread within a few seasons.

Also on Ariostea, both Jarmann and Riis only joined Ariostea in 1992, so they wouldnt have known before, would they? None of the other Ariostea riders have ever admitted to doping, nevermind EPO.
 
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I am not following some of your logic here.
The logic is quite simple. It's incredible to believe five Italian riders suddenly discovered or rediscovered form in 1990 but it's not that incredbible that we've now got what, at least eight teams on EPO that year (ADR, Ariostea, Carrera, Château d'Ax, Del Tongo, ONCE, PDM, Seur) and if we applied our minds and used the same logic we could probably add another half dozen before the night is out. We've suddenly got so many teams on EPO in 1990 that there is no performance advantage without other explanations.
 
The logic is quite simple. It's incredible to believe five Italian riders suddenly discovered or rediscovered form in 1990 but it's not that incredbible that we've now got what, at least eight teams on EPO that year (ADR, Ariostea, Carrera, Château d'Ax, Del Tongo, ONCE, PDM, Seur) and if we applied our minds and used the same logic we could probably add another half dozen before the night is out. We've suddenly got so many teams on EPO in 1990 that there is no performance advantage without other explanations.
Except we are not talking teams, we are talking individual riders. As I pointed out before in the quote from Fignon. It started with a few team leaders and then spread.
Fignon, Riis and Jarmann all moved to Italy in 92 and found that EPO was already in use so that would put it being used in 91. It is hardly a huge jump to put it a year earlier, is it?

It could be a combination of things, the willingness of Italian teams to compete more outside Italy, more scientific training methods, but EPO is still likely to have been a major factor as well.
 
So let's take the leap: screw all this talk about 1990 and let's go for gold: 1989.
Maybe it was being used in 1989, but perhaps not correctly or in conjunction with tailored programmes. The only real standout in 89 was of course LeMond which I don't believe was EPO related. I guess you could say Fignon was impressive, but nothing above his leve either. There was no real performances you could point to and say EPO.
 
Great information in this thread. Thanks to all who have collaborated. This thread is one of the reason why this forum is great.

To me the real break came in 1991. Chiapucci and Indurain in way to Val Louron changed cycling forever. I won't deny that Rooks and Theunisse annoyed me a little bit in 88 and 89. But Rooks was a good climber already. But the other one was so big. But the detailed information presented here is so nice.
 
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The only real standout in 89 was of course LeMond which I don't believe was EPO related. I guess you could say Fignon was impressive, but nothing above his leve either.
I reckon you're right, there's zip in 1989 that could be compared with 1990.

We can't compare Fignon winning MSR and the Giro in 89 with Bugno winning MSR and the Giro in 90. It would be wrong to even try and we should mock anyone who does.

We can't compare Fignon winning the Giro and finishing on the podium in the Tour a few weeks later in 89 with Giovanetti winning the Vuelta in 90 and finishing on the podium of the Giro a few weeks later. It would be wrong to even try and we should mock anyone who does.

We can't compare LeMond practically being an insurance write-off in 87 and 88 and coming back to form in 89 and winning the Tour with Bugno practically being an insurance write-off in 88 and 89 and coming back to form in 90 and winning the Giro. It would be wrong to even try and we should mock anyone who does.

We can't compare Delgado giving everyone else a headstart in 89 and finishing on the Tour's podium with Chiappucci starting with a headstart and finishing on the Tour's podium in 90. It would be wrong to even try and we should mock anyone who does.

We can't compare LeMond in 1989 being on a team where Van Mol was the doctor with Ballerini being on a team in 90 where Van Mol used to be the doctor and would in time return to. We can't compare Delgado in 89 once having been on a team where Fuentes was the doctor with Giovanetti in 90 once having been on a team with someone else who was once on a team where Fuentes was the doctor. We can't compare Delgado in 89 being on a team that used the services provided by Conconi in Ferrara with Chiappucci in 90 being on a team that used the services provided by Conconi in Ferrara. It would be wrong to even try and we should mock anyone who does.

What's most different between 89 and 90 is that we don't have a Charly Mottet. We don't have a Mottet in 89. We don't have Bugno in 90 clearly - so clear you can see it with the naked eye - juiced up on EPO putting six minutes into a guy most describe as Mr Clean. We don't have Giovanetti in 90 clearly - so clear you can see it with the naked eye - juiced up on EPO losing nearly three minutes to a guy most describe as Mr Clean. If we had anything like that in 89 we'd really be on to something. But we don't so we aren't.

This is what is so brilliant about being able to judge EPO's arrival by looking at performances with the naked eye. It's so goddamned clear we don't need any real evidence supporting it.
 
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I reckon you're right, there's zip in 1989 that could be compared with 1990.

We can't compare Fignon winning MSR and the Giro in 89 with Bugno winning MSR and the Giro in 90. It would be wrong to even try and we should mock anyone who does.

We can't compare Fignon winning the Giro and finishing on the podium in the Tour a few weeks later in 89 with Giovanetti winning the Vuelta in 90 and finishing on the podium of the Giro a few weeks later. It would be wrong to even try and we should mock anyone who does.

We can't compare LeMond practically being an insurance write-off in 87 and 88 and coming back to form in 89 and winning the Tour with Bugno practically being an insurance write-off in 88 and 89 and coming back to form in 90 and winning the Giro. It would be wrong to even try and we should mock anyone who does.

We can't compare Delgado giving everyone else a headstart in 89 and finishing on the Tour's podium with Chiappucci starting with a headstart and finishing on the Tour's podium in 90. It would be wrong to even try and we should mock anyone who does.

We can't compare LeMond in 1989 being on a team where Van Mol was the doctor with Ballerini being on a team in 90 where Van Mol used to be the doctor and would in time return to. We can't compare Delgado in 89 once having been on a team where Fuentes was the doctor with Giovanetti in 90 once having been on a team with someone else who was once on a team where Fuentes was the doctor. We can't compare Delgado in 89 being on a team that used the services provided by Conconi in Ferrara with Chiappucci in 90 being on a team that used the services provided by Conconi in Ferrara. It would be wrong to even try and we should mock anyone who does.

What's most different between 89 and 90 is that we don't have a Charly Mottet. We don't have a Mottet in 89. We don't have Bugno in 90 clearly - so clear you can see it with the naked eye - juiced up on EPO putting six minutes into a guy most describe as Mr Clean. We don't have Giovanetti in 90 clearly - so clear you can see it with the naked eye - juiced up on EPO losing nearly three minutes to a guy most describe as Mr Clean. If we had anything like that in 89 we'd really be on to something. But we don't so we aren't.

This is what is so brilliant about being able to judge EPO's arrival by looking at performances with the naked eye. It's so goddamned clear we don't need any real evidence supporting it.
You are actually starting to make less and less sense. You are comparing a 2 Time Tour Champion(Fignon) to a rider who had not even cracked the Top 10 of any GT(Bugno), and a rider who at best was a solid bet for a 5th-10th placing at the Giro(Giovanetti)

Delgado. one of the best GT riders of the 80s, defending Tour Champion and favourite for the 89 Tour, versus a rider who would have barely been considered a Top 20 contender and was relatively unknown outside of Italy. The issue is not what they achieved, but who it was that achieved those feats.

Fignon, LeMond, Delgado, Mottet were all riders who had performed before EPO even existed. Fignon and LeMond might have been returning from illness/injury, but they did not achieve anything that would not have been expected of them when in form. By contrast, the likes of Bugno, Chiappucci, Giovanetti all went up a few levels at the exact time EPO was entering the peloton. Nobody expected Bugno to crush the Giro, nobody expected Chiappucci to come anywhere near a Tour podium and nobody expected Giovanetti to win a Vuelta and then finish 3rd at the Giro.

I fail to see what is outlandish about that hypothesis of the Italian's potentially using EPO in 1990. There is no definitive proof that Indurain was using EPO for all his Tour win's but it is logical to assume he was for most of them. The same can be applied for any number of riders who suddenly improved during the EPO years, but never tested positive or admitted to doping.

What about Choiccioli and Mauri in 91, is it incorrect to also believe that their big improvements might have been due to EPO?
 
I fail to see what is outlandish about that hypothesis of the Italian's potentially using EPO in 1990.
I've already said I think EPO was probably being used in 1990, was likely to have been being used in 1989 and could even have been being used in 1988.

Is it outlandish that five different Italians suddenly came into form in 1990? Clearly.

Is it outlandish that four Italian teams and a Spanish team brought those five Italians into form with EPO when at least as many other teams were logically on the magic juice that same year and weren't achieving the same results? Clearly not.

If we're using logic to prove the use of EPO then let's do it right. It's logically acceptable for LeMond - and Fignon - to come back from injuries but it's not logically acceptable for Bugno and Chiappucci to do the same? You have to have been a champion before you can play that card? The 1980s is full of riders coming back from practically being insurance write-offs but in 1990 it's suddenly a logical impossibility?
 
I've already said I think EPO was probably being used in 1990, was likely to have been being used in 1989 and could even have been being used in 1988.

Is it outlandish that five different Italians suddenly came into form in 1990? Clearly.

Is it outlandish that four Italian teams and a Spanish team brought those five Italians into form with EPO when at least as many other teams were logically on the magic juice that same year and weren't achieving the same results? Clearly not.

If we're using logic to prove the use of EPO then let's do it right. It's logically acceptable for LeMond - and Fignon - to come back from injuries but it's not logically acceptable for Bugno and Chiappucci to do the same? You have to have been a champion before you can play that card? The 1980s is full of riders coming back from practically being insurance write-offs but in 1990 it's suddenly a logical impossibility?
But Bugno, Chiappucci, Giovanetti & Ballerini were not comebacks, they had simply never performed at those levels. They are not comparable at all.

Ok, using modern riders, imagine Tiejs Benoot winning Milan-San Remo & the Giro next season , ranked No 1 in the World, imagine Guillame Martin finishing on the podium at the Tour, imagine Warren Barguill winning La Vuelta & podium the Giro and Fausto Masnada turning into a top Classics rider. All in one season. I think people would rightfully be scratching their heads. That is the kind of transformations we are talking about. BTW I took examples who were similar in age/rankings and history to make the comparisons.

Other teams may have had access to EPO(PDM aside, who else?), but did they have the know how. That is the pertinent questions and Italian cycling with it's history in medical science may have had the lead on that,
 
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But Bugno, Chiappucci, Giovanetti & Ballerini were not comebacks, they had simply never performed at those levels. They are not comparable at all.
Bugno was a comebaack, surely? And Chiappucci considered himself to be a comeback kid having lost - in his opinion - a couple of seasons through a crash in the Tour de Suisse?

Using modern riders: I'm pretty sure VeloNews would be writing it up as a generational change. I'm pretty sure they've trotted that article out every other year for the last five or six years. ;D)
Other teams may have had access to EPO(PDM aside, who else?), but did they have the know how.
That was the point in trying to establish what doctors were where, as EPO's introduction seems more likely to require a doc than a swannie or a DS reading the latest scientific journals.

So to that end we've got the teams of the five Italian riders you've identified - Ariostea, Château d'Ax, Carrera, Del Tongo, Seur - although I think we've only really established the medical connection for two of them (Arisotea and Carrera).

Beyond them we've got ADR (Van Mol), Banesto (the Conconi connection), ONCE (Fuentes), and PDM (Sanders).

We can rule out a few teams, I think: 7-Eleven (they didn't get there 'til what was it, 94 or 95?), Helvetia (Köchli), Panasonic (Janssen said he took his blood bags there), RMO (Voet doesn't come across it until Festina in 93).

That still leaves us a dozen or so teams that we haven't really looked at who the doctors were and how they connect into the Gen-EPO years.

Is it worth looking at those dozen other teams? Honestly, I think we've probably taken this as far as we can for now. We've dug out some valuable facts - and I for one thank you for playing along the way you have, I do think this has been a productive exercise - and they're out there for people to make their own minds up about.

We're down now to identifying questions that need answering to take this to the next level. While still leaving it open for people who want to believe there's a performance tell in 1990 that's not visible in 1989 and, at the same time, leaving it open for those who want to be sceptical about such a tell to retain their scepticism.

I'm happy to pause it there and see what new data trickles to surface.
 
Bugno was a comebaack, surely? And Chiappucci considered himself to be a comeback kid having lost - in his opinion - a couple of seasons through a crash in the Tour de Suisse?

Using modern riders: I'm pretty sure VeloNews would be writing it up as a generational change. I'm pretty sure they've trotted that article out every other year for the last five or six years. ;D)That was the point in trying to establish what doctors were where, as EPO's introduction seems more likely to require a doc than a swannie or a DS reading the latest scientific journals.

So to that end we've got the teams of the five Italian riders you've identified - Ariostea, Château d'Ax, Carrera, Del Tongo, Seur - although I think we've only really established the medical connection for two of them (Arisotea and Carrera).

Beyond them we've got ADR (Van Mol), Banesto (the Conconi connection), ONCE (Fuentes), and PDM (Sanders).

We can rule out a few teams, I think: 7-Eleven (they didn't get there 'til what was it, 94 or 95?), Helvetia (Köchli), Panasonic (Janssen said he took his blood bags there), RMO (Voet doesn't come across it until Festina in 93).

That still leaves us a dozen or so teams that we haven't really looked at who the doctors were and how they connect into the Gen-EPO years.

Is it worth looking at those dozen other teams? Honestly, I think we've probably taken this as far as we can for now. We've dug out some valuable facts - and I for one thank you for playing along the way you have, I do think this has been a productive exercise - and they're out there for people to make their own minds up about.

We're down now to identifying questions that need answering to take this to the next level. While still leaving it open for people who want to believe there's a performance tell in 1990 that's not visible in 1989 and, at the same time, leaving it open for those who want to be sceptical about such a tell to retain their scepticism.

I'm happy to pause it there and see what new data trickles to surface.
I would agree with most of what you say.

On comebacks, Bugno broke his shoulder at Giro 88, but was back in time to win a Tour stage that year, but had a poor 89 season. The Italian press were starting to give up on him. Chiappucci had his injury back in 86 I think, so plenty of time to have done something before 1990; he was a domestique at the Giro in 87 as he is mentioned by Stephen Roche for siding with Visentini, but then asking Roche for a Maglia Rosa late in the race.

I think I did a run through of teams before and statements from riders. I agree on 7-Eleven, Helvetia, Panasonic, RMO

Castorama: Fignon says he did not discover EPO until Gatorade, likewise Riis and I think Philipe Gaumont said he did not come across EPO until later either. There was De Las Cuevas who joined in 93, but he was likely to be a lone wolf. Luc LeBlanc?? Nothing amazing until Festina. Was good 91-92, but fell apart at Tour in 92.

Z/GAN: Claims that Eric Boyer discovered all when joining Polti 94. Nicolas Aubier says there was doping at GAN, but not EPO. He joined 92/93

Lotto: Lotto infamously had no doctor and there seems to be not much knowledge there apart from Andrei Tchmile who joined 1994.

TVM: Jesper Skibby said he started with EPO in 1993. Again seem's late compared to some teams. No outstanding riders at that time.

Buckler: Not sure, Edwig Van Hooydonck and Frans Massen blamed their decline on others taking EPO.

Telekom: Uwe Ampler alleged to be the first to try EPO in 1992 according to team-mates. Ampler was at PDM in 1990.

Weinmann/Tulip/Histor: Teams all folded 91/92. Jarmann went from Weinmann to Ariostea where he was introduced to EPO. No evidence for the other teams.


Spanish teams: Much more complicated.
 
But Bugno, Chiappucci, Giovanetti & Ballerini were not comebacks, they had simply never performed at those levels. They are not comparable at all.

Ok, using modern riders, imagine Tiejs Benoot winning Milan-San Remo & the Giro next season , ranked No 1 in the World, imagine Guillame Martin finishing on the podium at the Tour, imagine Warren Barguill winning La Vuelta & podium the Giro and Fausto Masnada turning into a top Classics rider. All in one season. I think people would rightfully be scratching their heads. That is the kind of transformations we are talking about. BTW I took examples who were similar in age/rankings and history to make the comparisons.

Other teams may have had access to EPO(PDM aside, who else?), but did they have the know how. That is the pertinent questions and Italian cycling with it's history in medical science may have had the lead on that,
Spot on, great post. Actually great series of posts. Thanks for seeing the forest between all the trees on this thread.
 
nobody expected Giovanetti to win a Vuelta and then finish 3rd at the Giro.
I do really want to park this convo for now, I think we've made our points and we're not going to get much further without fresh data. However, I'd be gratfeul if you'd indulge me with this and talk about Giovanetti, the odd one out in the 1990 Italian renaissance given he rode for a Spanish team. Over on another thread you said this about his Vuelta victory:
If Spanish teams were blood doping, surely they would have been miles in front of everyone else. Clearly it was not being done effectively if it were indeed being used. Caja Rural(Herman's team) hardly set the world alight in 1989.

On Marco Giovanetti, I think the other teams screwed up more than anything, he had plenty of Top 10s in the Giro prior to the Vuelta in 90 but the main contenders let him get away in a big break which gained a substantial lead. Banesto had Julian Gorospe in the same break but as usual, Gorospe floundered once given responsibility.

That's not to say he didn't get on the EPO train, just that I believe his Vuelta win was more down to the errors of other teams(Banesto and ONCE primarily). You wouldn't give someone like Pozzovivo a handy lead in a GT nowadays.
Fortunately, among the few cycling books that made the house move with me before lockdown was the Fallon/Bell Vuelta book. Their version of the story of that year's race is consistent with what you said. They say there was little foreign competiton and the Spanish teams managed to screw it up by keeping their aces and kings in reserve and just playing their jacks, even as the race slipped away from them. They played a cautious game and lost.

Given that he is the odd one out and that you suggest his performance can be rationalised and doesn't need EPO - and that he never really added to that one magical spring - would you be happy with removing Seur from our little list of possible pioneering teams should we return to it in the future if new info arises?
 
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