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Vino trained in Sicily!? uh oh

Jul 2, 2010
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This is my first post, and yes I created a login just to share this observation so take it as you will...

I'm an American and used to race in UDACE events in Sicily and Italy (as well as a few FCI sanctioned events) and I can tell you that Vino's comments in the recent article set my Spidey senses" tingling: "'But I didn't go to Saint-Moritz or Tenerife, the places that some people don't like me to go to!', he added with a laugh." Followed by, '"I went to Sicily on the Etna volcano this time', he revealed."

I love Sicily and spent 3 seasons of racing based out of there, but I can tell you the temptation to use "special vitamin shots" is overwhelming even at the "little league" level. (And I'll leave the mafia innuendos for you to make.) I'm proud to say I resisted such temptations, even when accompanied with promises that I'd get to ride the baby Giro if I only took 2 "special vitamin shots" each week. Yet even I, a vehement anti-drug self-righteous semi-zealot, found myself seriously thinking about it.

The local club I rode for was the amateur, small town version of a professional team that had the same title sponsor-- the sponsor was relatively local so he would plaster his name on the local amateur team-- and when the professionals (lots of eastern bloc riders-- Konyshev, Jaskula, etc) would do their early season training in Sicily, we would get to train and hang out with them at the local bike shop on the slopes of Etna that was our amateur team's other main sponsor.

But there was a lot of unnatural interaction between this small town bike shop owner, top ranking professional riders, and director sportivos (like Marino Basso!). Phone calls would come in at various times throughout the year, the owner would answer in hushed tones, the conversation would last only a few seconds, and then he'd hang up and look at me (who had nowhere else to hang out since I was a jobless bike racer) and say, "Oh, that was just Konyshev calling to say 'Hi'" or, "Basso is in town and wants to come have a cafe." If someone famous or semi-famous did arrive shortly after a phone call, it inevitably would involve a quick duck into the back bathroom, behind the shop repair area, and then a reemergence from there only a minute later without any further words exchanged.

This is the same bathroom where some of my fellow teammates later revealed they would receive their "B-12" injections. Sometimes multiple "B-12" injections in a single visit... They were told it was just B-12, but sometimes would get a second injection of something they didn't know what it was but were told by the shop owner it was "just some other vitamin" that they needed.

My suspicion is that this shop was just some small link in a distribution chain. Nothing major, but just one of many possible avenues for supplies to get from one place to another. Maybe I'm manufacturing a false reality in my brain and forcing memories that didn't actually exist as clearly as I recall them, but I just find it interesting that Sicily is being touted as a favorable place away from the alleged drug-tainted areas/camps. Sicily is an area that is literally 60 years behind most of the rest of the western world, an oft forgotten area where much happens yet nobody sees a thing.

And I can't help but wonder-- if had I been there when the shop's phone would have rung a month or so ago would the owner would have hung up and said, "That was Vinokorov. He just called to say, 'Hi'".
May 13, 2009
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I would assume the advantage to have Ferrari or Fuentes nearby is that you can run tests to see how your body reacts.

The way you describe it, the time is actually too short to draw blood for tests, to fill up bags or re-infuse them. It sounds like a lower level operation with a pretty standardized (not individualized) program of injections (probably steroids) typical for lower level teams. Not the top program with centrifuges and fridges etc. which Kohl described.

Anyway, it could be entirely possible for Vino to 'prepare' in Sicily.

ETA: and welcome to the forum. Thanks for sharing your experiences.