Alpe d'Huez said:
I actually do find it strange. For several reasons.
First, most of these riders are in their 20's and 30's. Next, while they exercise a lot, the air outside is actually cleaner than the air outside. This is true almost everywhere in the world, with exceptions to cities like Mexico City, Sao Paolo, Lima, etc. Most of their time is spent riding in the country and mountains, where the air is at it's cleanest. Chris also lives outside of Bend Oregon, where the air is some of the cleanest in the world.
Asthma also affects about 7% of the population. Less than 1/4 of those need medical help daily. Most asthma suffers get attacks that happen once in a while. This is when they need the inhaler or medical assistance. Most asthma sufferers are also not fully fit, super healthy individuals.
As a result, something that afflicts probably less than 1% of the population, and maybe .1% of healthy, fit, young men, somehow affects a much higher percentage of cyclists because they "exercise outside a lot".
Our sport is riddled with doping. Only a fool would deny such a thing. Athletes will do every last thing they can to get an edge, and many would jack themselves up to hct's near 60 if they could get a TUE to do so.
And finally, Chris rides for a team that is highly suspect of having a systematic doping program in place, with a leader (JB) and lead rider (LA) who view doping as a non-issue in our sport, and one that doesn't need to be dealt with as a problem.
Some interesting thoughts on the subject espoused here, and while I don't disagree with any facts, I will take issue with a few points of opinion.
Regarding the percentages of exercised induced asthma among elite athletes, I too used to find the statistics to be suspicious. Like many here, I raced in my youth and was reasonably competitive cyclist, rower, and Nordic skier, but ultimately was confronted with the reality of my talent and my physical limitations. The interesting thing to me is that the differences in my physiology and that of the people who could consistently ride me off their wheel did not seem overtly apparent. It boiled down to either an ability on their part to process oxygen that much better than I, or a will to suffer that much more in pursuit of their goal.
In the course of a thirty year career in product development and sports marketing that has brought me into contact with many hundreds of world class athletes in track and field, cycling, professional team, and Olympic sports, I have come to the conclusion that in a higher percentage of these athletes, the key difference in their success is exactly that force of will, and ability to endure more pain to achieve their goal. The mere fact that these competitors are willing to go that much further, and tax their systems that much more on a regular basis, is a matter of psychological make up that transcends physical talent if only by the most fractional amount. It remains a consistent reason why many of them have attained a World Champion, or world record holder status
These days, as a Masters athlete in several different sports those same elements are even more obvious among us old guys with real jobs. There are still those individuals whose will to endure will take them farther than logic would dictate. My significant other is a former Collegiate National Champion, and Olympic rower, and consistent current Masters Regional and National Champion. She also has exercise induced asthma, as do many of the friends, team mates, and competitors I interact with on a regular basis. I find it hard to believe that these people's need to win, compromises their judgment to the point of using an inhaler as a means to do so, but rather as a means to an end, just to be able to compete.
For me it is not a huge leap to understand that athletes who demand more from their systems and physical abilities than the rest of us have damaged those systems in the process. The terms exercise induced asthma does not represent the oxymoron to me, that it does to those more predisposed to doping conspiracy theory.
The other comment that I would take issue with is that Chris Horner rides for a team that is widely suspected of maintaining a systematic doping program. Without getting into the matter of that being fact or not, the opinion that it is an established fact, or even a widely held suspicion, is actually only held by a smaller percentage of fans than athletes with TUE's for asthma. The fact that a small and vocal minority of the 6500 members of this site agree that it is so, does not constitute "widely held suspicion" on a global basis. In point of fact the widely held opinion globally among cycling "fans" is supportive of the fact that Lance Armstrong is the most tested athlete in the world and consistently is found to be clean. This is also held as a ringing endorsement of his team and their internal testing program.
This may fly in the face of what you believe, and indeed what is actual reality. But the international fan base for cycling includes countless millions who cannot identify all three podium finishers of the TDF, or name a single classic other than Paris Roubaix. It is worth remembering that the number of fans for whom these issues are even relevant is far fewer than the number of baseball fans who can quote the current batting averages for the entire NY Yankees starting lineup.