Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Zirbel: What a Waste of a Great Career

VeloResults UK laments the Zirbel Affair, as Ed Hood writes:

Fourth in the Worlds Elite TT, second only to Zabriskie in the US TT champs and with a Garmin contract neatly signed. But scratch all of the above and file under, "Another one bites the dust !" albeit the 'B' sample might just be 'clean.' We asked Paul Coats, who's a lecturer at Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy & Biomedical Sciences, for an expert view.

"Zirbel, Jesus who knows these days!

Seems a strange one though, as I mentioned to you when you asked me about Landis; testosterone or any of the androgens are only useful for recovery.

And you can beat the test if you are smart and most pros are, or at least they have someone keeping them right.

Long gone are the days of using steroids, too easily detected. Only dumb asses get caught on test these days, my gran mother knows that. DHEA is a pro hormone and is metabolised to more active testosterone, produced naturally and can also be taken as supplement.

Its readily available to buy on internet; first Google hit:

The problem with supplements used in body building is that they add DHEA without listing it.

Thus making the customer think the product is great and they buy more.

This was a big problem a couple years ago; in the USA there were a few well documented cases of track athletes testing positive due to protein supplements which were contaminated (so the manufacturer said) with DHEA.

Now all the reputable supplement manufacturers provide test results to show their products are free from substances that may produce positive result.

Zirbel will know what he has taken, he clearly has tested positive and unless there is a total screw up his B sample will be positive.

It would be useful if the numbers were presented; then we could see how much was in his system.

He states on Cycling News he knows nothing and is ignorant of all this kind of thing.

Well, we know all pros know this game inside out and he is seasoned pro.

Diet will be a major factor in his training and I'm sure he knows exactly what supplements and food he has taken, so what's happened?

1) His body produces high DHEA, ok, why not tested high before? So unlikely.

2) Someone spiked his recovery drink, wild claim, possible but unlikely.

3) He took a supplement contaminated with DHEA, possible yes it happened in the past, but nowadays quality supplements come with quality control, also he's probably taking the same supplements as others on his Bissel team - they have not tested positive.

Unless he has his own supplements; but as mentioned he will know what he takes and could provide this to authorities to check for DHEA contamination and, in a way, help explain the situation.

4) He is a dumb ass - applying Occam's razor principle (the simplest explanation or strategy tends to be the best one) 4 seems the most likely.

We will likely never know the truth; but if 4 is correct, what a waste of a great career and potential great 2010 with Garmin.

I cant believe someone at his level can test positive for DHEA, its not like EPO or CERA, it has no big benefits but carries the same penalty

Paul Coats (PhD)Lecturer Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy & Biomedical Sciences."

'waste of a great career' - for sure, Paul.

With thanks to Paul for his time and expertise.  

[Editor's note: And thanks to VeloResults UK for making this information available to the readers of Pappillon. We encourage you to visit both sites regularly.]


  1. If Paul Coates (PhD) is the level of expertise that is typical in the cycling world then it's depressing. A five year old could have come up with his responses and probably have been more scientifically accurate. A waste of bytes. Pez should be ashamed of themselves for running such tabloid drivel.

  2. Fair enough, Anon. I'd like to invite you to explain to our other readers where it is that Coates is most inaccurate in his science. Or is it more a case that he's speculating, is correct in his science, but is making suppositions about what Zirbel may or may not have done?


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