Tuesday, August 31, 2010

UPDATED: The Nazi's and Track Cycling

The political aspect to this speech and all the negative connotations that go along with it are not at issue here. Rather, fast-forward to minute 5:10 of the video and look where that big ol' swastika-adorned flag is hung...

Definite accident of history, and posted in follow-up to my discovery last week of a reference to track cycling in Albert Speer's "Inside the Third Reich."

UPDATE: I reformatted the embedded video player because some readers were having difficulty accessing the iframe'd content. For that reason, I'm also including a screen capture below. What was 166m around, made of wood, located in Berlin, and stood in the Sportpalast?

UPDATED: Laurent Fignon is Dead

Laurent Fignon, twice winner of the Tour de France and runner-up in the race's greatest edition in 1989, is dead. He succumbed to cancer at the age of 50 today in Paris, France.

"I don't want to die at 50 but if my cancer is incurable, what can I do?," he lamented to Paris-Match magazine in January.

Fignon, a Parisian known in the peloton as "The Professor" for his bespectacled appearance, won the Tour in 1983 and 1984, the Giro d'Italia in 1989 and Milan-San Remo twice, in 1988 and 1989.

Considered to be one of the best riders of the 80's, Fignon could also count in his palmares victories in two editions of the Critérium International, the GP des Nations, and Flèche Wallonne; he was the 1984 French professional champion.

But 1989 was his most memorable season.

Despite fighting a see-saw battle with Greg LeMond during the '89 Tour, and swapping the race leader's yellow jersey four times, Fignon could not best the American. He started the final stage - a 25km individual time trial - with a 50-second lead, but would be pipped by eight seconds in the end, the closest margin ever.

As Fignon raced down The Avenue des Champs-Élysées and headed towards the finish of the race, British commentator Phil Ligget exclaimed, "Fignon is bouncing off the barriers! He's lost the Tour de France!" (see 4:38 in the video included below) It was a watershed moment in cycling history, and one that clearly marked a transition between old and new.

While he configured a dual-disc set-up for his time trial bike, Fignon chose to race that day without the benefit of an aerodynamic helmet, or the newfangled clip-on handlebars for which his rival LeMond had opted.

And despite only a year's age difference between them, the pony-tailed Fignon seemed older and more fragile after crossing the line - a spent force - while LeMond's post-race joy and wonderment were popping.

In a book published in June 2009, "We Were Young and Carefree," Fignon revealed he had been diagnosed with cancer. He also admitted to having used doping products at various points throughout his career, but said he did not know if they had caused his illness.

"I love life, I love a good laugh, travel, books, good food. I'm a typical Frenchman. I'm not afraid of death, I just don't want to die."

After he retired, Fignon managed races including Paris-Nice before becoming a television consultant. He worked for France 2 television on the last Tour, despite a voice broken by his illness, and said at the end of the race that he would be back in 2011.

As Greg LeMond told me several years ago, "Fignon was a great competitor and he pushed me to push myself to do my best."

Aloof. Aristocratic. Ferocious. Fierce. In retirement - rejuvenated. Fignon may not have feared death, but he is, undoubtedly, gone too soon.

This report includes writing by Jean-Paul Couret and Editing by Clare Fallon (Reuters).

Notes: LeMond's effort was the fastest individual time trial for a distance longer than 10 km ever ridden in the Tour (54.545 km/h average speed). Fignon finished third in the final time trial, averaging 53.59 km/h (33.33 mph). Fignon’s Super-U teammate Thierry Marie took second on the stage, at 33 seconds.

UPDATE: On a day filled with tributes to Fignon, these words by LeMond stand out:

"It's a really sad day. I see him as one of the great riders who was hampered by injuries. He had a very, very big talent, much more than anyone recognized. For me he was one of the greater champions that was not recognized. He was more recognized for his loss in the Tour de France than for his two victories.”

“When he lost the Tour de France in 1989 it was one of the few victories where I felt we both won. The saddest thing for me is that for the rest of his career he said he won two Tours de France, when in reality we both could have won the race."

I apologize to those who thought it was a poor choice to feature video of Fignon actually losing a bike race - rather than winning. It was 1989 when I started cycling, however, and my first - and enduring - memory of Fignon was his epic battle with LeMond. If you have links to video clips of Fignon winning races, please feel free to leave them in the comments, and I'll add them to this main body of the post.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Blazin' Saddles - Eurosport interview - Zen Machine Films Documentary

Thanks to Blazin' Saddles for the chance to speak to his legions of loyal and passionate cycling fans via Yahoo!/Eurosport today. Being interviewed by B.S. ranks right next to being referenced in As the Toto Turns on the personal cool factor, and I genuinely do feel honored to have been featured in the Yahoo!-Eurosport world.

If you're a Twittering-type, you can follow Saddles on www.twitter.com/saddleblaze  as well as me at www.twitter.com/joepabike.

And now is probably as good a time as any for me to let you know that Phil Anderson and I collaborated on a short documentary that can be viewed online through Vimeo. It's been described as "brutal, honest and thought provoking particularly in the wake of landis' admissions and allegations" - but I haven't been able to bring myself to watch it yet! I feel uncomfortable seeing myself on camera for more than a few minutes, but I'll crack some day and will screen it. No need for you to wait, though! Here it is:

Joe Papp Interview from Phil Anderson on Vimeo.

"Exclusive interview with former professional bike racer, Joe Papp who raced on the international circuit winning many races before testing positive for doping in 2006 and ultimately admitting his guilt. In this interview he talks about his upbringing, getting into racing, and doping, testifying at Floyd Landis hearing, and a stunning revelation about his personal life."

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Return of Manolo Saiz - Venga!

Manolo Saiz is plotting his comeback to professional cycling, according to Cyclingnews.com, and is supposedly organizing a top-level team for 2012. While Twitter and the forums are abuzz with outraged cycling fans who claim the Spaniard should somehow be refused the chance to return to the sport, I say "Venga."

There is so little money in cycling relative to the truly professional sports like the NFL, MLB and NBA - and so much instability and unpredictability - that it's incredibly short-sighted to reject Saiz based on his alleged-involvement in doping via Operación Puerto (remember, he was never convicted of anything - we must be accurate in describing the historical record). If he can secure the backing to fund a team that will employ 20-plus riders and at least that many staff, if not double, then he should be welcomed with open arms and a stern warning - or at least a reminder. Doping has been criminalized in Spain now, so Saiz wouldn't be able to escape sanction were he proved to be involved in systematic doping at the level of the team. And his riders would be controlled by the Biopassport, which adds a layer of dissuasion.

I support clean-cycling, no doubt, but at the same time, I support the right of the riders to earn a living. And unlike Formula 1, professional cycling simply cannot have too many (ProContinental) teams. If the squad offers a stable paycheck to both rider and staff alike, then in the absence of an active sanction or ban enforceable by the UCI, Manolo Saiz should be welcomed back to cycling and the positive economic impact of his efforts should be acknowledged, even while he is warned not to get up to any funny business.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Weekend Update - Jeff Evanshine

Summer is coming to a close here in the Northern Hemisphere, and I'd be lying if I said that didn't leave me a bit melancholy. I consider myself lucky to have had the chance to spend the entire summer back in the saddle, stringing together weeks of consecutive rides after not having ridden more than two days-in-a-row for nearly four years! But as road cyclists, we live for sunny days when we can roll out in short sleeves and the dark Oakley lenses. And soon enough it will be arm warmers and persimmon, before thermal jackets and long-finger gloves. Oh how I dread the winter.

BUT - we're not there yet! Hopefully we'll enjoy the luxury of an Indian Summer, and then it will be off to sunny SoCal (or somewhere warm) for xmas and the new year. Wouldn't that be nice?

Anyone have any experience with Ergon Bike Ergonomics' TP1 Shimano SPD cleat-alignment tool? If so, please leave a comment and let me know what you think.

Mike Creed is feeling unloved. Follow him on Twitter and give the guy a virtual hug, why dontcha?

I love military history, primarily WW2. My father and both of his brothers served in the US Army, and one of my favorite memories from childhood is sneaking up to our attic and discovering my dad's duffel bag. Perhaps I'd never have found cycling if cancer didn't kill him on its third-try, because I'd have chosen national service instead. Probably not, though! One amazing rider who did throw-away a promising career as a top-professional was American Jeff Evanshine, the 1991 Junior World Champion. Had he won worlds in the "Modern Era" (the time in cycling since the widespread-acceptance of the Internet), he might be in a position similar to that of Damiano Cunego, another former Junior WC who just signed a massive contract renewal with Lampre-ISD. Instead, Evanshine joined the Army, only to find that it was not at all what he'd expected. I remember standing with Mike Fraysse in his Victorian mansion in upstate-NY in 1996 when some correspondence or message arrived either directly from Evanshine or on his behalf, asking Fraysse (who was president of USCF and had a seat on the Board of Directors) to try to help the poor kid get out of the service.

Anyway, back to military history: check out this video and tell me if at minute 3:23 you don't think the pilot who's still flying is attempting to murder the downed aviator who's taken to his parachute?! Remember, gun camera only records when the trigger is depressed...

U-Boat, anyone?

Remember the Strock Case?

Friday, August 20, 2010

UPDATED: Mike Creed on Doping and Sport

I believe that pro cyclist Mike Creed is saying something much more profound than what other commentators have attributed to him after his recent interview with Cyclingnews.com. That is, for him, and by extension, many of his colleagues, doping is not something that they view through a moral or ethical lens. And by extension, when someone tests positive, Creed is not interested in excoriating them for supposed moral-failings. Rather, he sees doping primarily as something to be avoided because of a fear of medical complications, and accepts the fact that his decision not to dope came not from any high-minded moral principles, but rather, simply from being scared.

Cyclingnews heavily edited the original interview to create that article, and Mike would have been better off just doing it with NY Velocity again, whereby they transcribe everything that's said.

Anyway, what's most noteworthy to me, and what I thought more people would pick-up on, was the reference to Creed's being benched for two months without explanation by Team Type 1 management. For those of you who follow Pappillon, you also know that Creed was wrongly accused of being a bitter insider leaking embarrassing details of the poor leadership within that organization that saw at least five staff members quit the team in frustration. Despite the fact that it was impossible for Creed to be the leaker, because I was in conversation with him on one line, and effectively receiving messages from the leaker on another, the team's mgmt won't even answer Mike's queries. I'm not entirely surprised by that, however, as my experiences interacting with Phil have seen him reply only when it was convenient and not when the rules of decorum suggested it.

Creed's not a doper and never has been, though he's got balls for trying to suggest we drop the fake moral outrage, so to speak. That didn't translate in the article, and he should have gone with a different format that would have allowed us to read Creed's comments Verbatim (he's an engaging interview, for sure, and a funny guy to be around). But regardless, being honest about how the peloton has not - in general - viewed doping as a moral problem and still doesn't (although some PC riders are too scared to admit that right now, so they tow the line and call for the application of the death penalty for cases of doping) shouldn't be reason for him to be shunned by his employer.

UPDATE: Thanks to a different Mike for both the friendly, encouraging comment, and a reminder to highlight Mike Creed's home-made aero helmet! WTF?! Someone ask him (MC) what the heck's up with that!?! Nothing like slummin' it in the ghetto on a team that claims to intend to ride the Giro, but which can't manage staff (or talent) any better than your local Masters/Cat.3/Wednesday-Night-World's team, allegedly.

If you're trying to think of a gift for your favorite future-euro-team-pres., consider getting him and his colleagues copies of "The Etiquette Advantage in Business - Personal Skills for Professional Success" (suggest chapters, "Executive Etiquette" and "The Written Word" - especially the part about communicating electronically, sending email - always respond, keep it short, don't get emotional).

Thursday, August 19, 2010

What Indictment of Clemens Means for Cycling

The New York Times is reporting that Roger Clemens was indicted for perjury in the case of his doping testimony. They explain, "Federal authorities have indicted Roger Clemens on charges of making false statements to Congress about his use of performance-enhancing drugs, according to two people briefed on the matter."

Many of you have asked me what I thought an indictment of Clemens would mean for cycling in general, and people like Lance Armstrong, Pat McQuaid, Levi Leipheimer and George Hincapie in particular. Not to mention Zabriske, Barry, White, Lim, Vandevelde, Hamilton and a host of others. My response: absolutely nothing. Just kidding.

What it means for cycling can be understood by what it symbolizes for those currently under investigation or considered persons of interest in the FDA-led investigations into Lance Armstrong and Rock Racing: almost no one is untouchable should they fail to be truthful when testifying before Congress or while being interrogated by federal agents. Unless leaked by someone who could be held criminally-liable for doing so, Grand Jury testimony is not open for public review, and while it is perhaps embarrassing to do so, anyone connected to cycling being called before the GJ or questioned by the Feds should be absolutely truthful. If you doped, admit it. If you saw others doping, admit it. If you facilitated doping, admit it. Because that way you yourself won't be indicted like Clemens, when you eventually slip-up or are otherwise caught out.

Of course, if you're innocent, keep protesting your innocence - you should be vindicated in the end, right? That might apply to Armstrong, McQuaid, Bottle, and scores of others. Who knows? What's clear, though, is that our Government does not like being lied-to by athletes, and for all its other failings and inadequacies, it probably can match their craftiness and will trip you up if you're guilty.

You don't have to fall on your sword for anyone. But if you've done something that was against the rules, and are given a chance to admit to it - just get it over with and wipe the slate clean. The Country will forgive you if you man-up, but the People will crucify you if you're exposed as a lying hypocrite.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

UPDATED: Can We Drop the Fake Moral Outrage?

I'm all for clean sport b/c I've come to understand from first-hand experience how destructive doping can be...but: are you or is anybody else REALLY surprised that guys like Jan Ullrich and Tyler Hamilton, both of whom were Olympic gold medalists, are reticent and inclined not to publicly admit their doping, even when it's apparently obvious to even the casual fan?

I mean, seriously - how upset or annoyed or frustrated or otherwise negatively impacted can you be by their totally-predictable decisions to deny having doped, or at least refuse to address affirmatively those accusations (even if in the long-run they might be better off b/c of the potential lifting of the mental burden of living lives based on lies)?

The likely outcome of such admissions would be total financial ruin, years of litigation, an exponential increase in harassment and persecution by the media and the loss of all public support, and in some cases possible criminal liability.

It's disingenuous for anyone to act surprised or offended or to be condescending or dismissive b/c Ulle won't admit to allegedly having been a Fuentes client - just like Hamilton won't admit to having allegedly blood doped during the Olympics and so holds onto his Gold Medal.

I have little doubt that the same people who urge Ullrich to come clean for his own well-being and for the long-term health of the sport are the same people who would jump at the chance to crucify the guy after he would make such an admission!

I'm sorry, but unless Ullrich loses "everything" and reaches the level at which Floyd was bobbing when he decided to engage the UCI behind-the-scenes to challenge them for their complicity in doping, it's totally not going to happen that he admits to anything while he still faces civil or criminal liability, and it doesn't take a rocket scientist or a PhD to realize that.

I don't mean to single-out anyone in particular, but can we drop the fake moral outrage and admit that we can, by and large, empathize with former-athletes like Hamilton and Ullrich who are widely suspected of having doped, and who have been sanctioned to one degree or another for doping infractions, but steadfastly refuse to acknowledge their alleged doping? And that we realize that it's unlikely that they would step-up and make such admissions prior to the expiration of any statutes of limitations, or their own arrival at rock-bottom, where they would finally have nothing that they'd consider valuable left to lose?

UPDATE: This post seems to have touched a nerve with a subset of the cycling population, including riders current and retired, other fans, commentators, officials and even some in the anti-doping movement. And while I can't reveal the details, I know that some of these like-minded individuals are themselves considering speaking on-record to the media about their own distaste for the witch-hunt mentality and no-hope-of-redemption mind-set that radical anti-dopers embrace.

We must clearly articulate, identify, highlight and protect a clear pathway back to competition and reintegration in Sport for those convicted of doping. While there are arguments in support of this that can be based on moral, ethical, even philosophical concerns, there is also a significant practical reality: few athletes sanctioned for doping will cooperate meaningfully with anti-doping authorities if the expected response is to be eviscerated by the media, the public, and even the ADA's with whom they're supposedly collaborating (see Bernhard Kohl's Life Ban, which he received AFTER he cooperated to a degree previously not seen in cycling at that level).

If the environment continues to be polluted with extremist anti-doping rhetoric that encourages the blacklisting of even those riders who meet all the terms of their sanction, we can forget the idea that the next doper might "do the right thing" and reveal the "smoking gun" evidence that so many people are crying for, or that he will provide investigators with a detailed explanation of how he and his co-conspirators defeated anti-doping controls.

No, instead you'll just see an endless parade of Ivan Basso's and Dan Staite's - riders who either want to come back and so will admit to only the bare minimum personal transgression (without "naming names" so as not to throw dirt at the sport) or riders who have no intention of ever competing in cycling again, and so basically tell the world to "F*ck Off."

Neither situation is a good one if one desires that the fight against doping in sport be successful. It might be distasteful to say it, but it's obvious that the ADA's need the cooperation of any and every doper they identify.

And while it's of interest to me that there be less radicalism in anti-doping and more opportunity for rehabilitation, there are countless others who don't even care about doping beyond not wanting to see it discussed as the number one topic each week on Cyclingnews.com. As one interlocutor explained to me:

"The more fans of cycling I meet, especially those with no direct experience of racing, the more I am beginning to believe that most spectators don't actually care about the issue of doping. They just enjoy the spectacle. And dope or no dope, that looks like it will continue. That's not to say you or I shouldn't care about it. We should. So as to avoid future instances of innocent athletes being cheated out of making a living, and to avoid guilty ones from being driven from making a living. Both, to me, are tragic. The other potential new fans who do care about doping, I worry will be turn away from a sport that has done more than most sports to ensure "fairness". And i think that if we are not careful, we can contribute to that, by engaging in the debate in a way that leaves the less informed with the impression that cycling is the "dirtiest" sport.

Yes, we should learn from the past, and that means discussing it openly, but like in Salem, witch hunts are pretty unedifying spectacles and are certainly not as entertaining as watching guys race their bikes. And witch hunts certainly aren't high up on potential sponsors lists of targets with which to advertise their wares. Something that is very relevant to our future. What is happening now will not take away man's innate desire to seek advantage, just as a lynching wasn't going to take away the desire of "slaves" to screw their "masters" wives. It might just have made them damn sure that they didn't get caught in future."

Monday, August 16, 2010


Unbelievable that the shooter thought he was in-the-right to kill a dog that was seemingly behaving normally, in an OFF-LEASH DOG PARK.

Prosecutors: Inquiry into dog park shooting may take another week - By Andrea F. Siegel, The Baltimore Sun

"As a group of 20 people demonstrated Monday outside the Anne Arundel County courthouse in Annapolis supporting of the owners of a dog fatally shot Aug. 2 in a Severn park, county prosecutors said it may take another week or more for them to finish their investigation and decide whether to charge the shooter..."


Stefan Schumacher Sets the Terms of Debate

"I know I've made mistakes and that trust in me is now exhausted," he added. "I have nothing to add other than the two years [suspension] were the worst of my life; it’s now about looking forward."

Read more: http://www.velonation.com/News/ID/5292/Stefan-Schumacher-returns-to-racing-this-month-with-Team-Miche.aspx#ixzz0wpV5xebh

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

UPDATED: Vacansoleil Fastman Borut Bozic

The long and the short of it: Borut Bozic, who last year won a stage in the Vuelta for Vacansoleil and finished third in Paris - Tours, once kicked my ass across the length of Cuba (in 2006), including on the last stage where he embarrassed me in front of my wife! Even still, we became fast friends, and BB graciously gave this interview, which appears on Pez. He's a super-interesting character and he speaks frankly...and when given the chance to dis' VINO, he declines! Ugh! That's right - not everyone in the ProTour hates Vino!

Seriously though, check out the interview - it's really good.

UPDATED: VeloResults UK takes an interest in Bozic, and reprints the interview here, with a fresher selection of pictures! And if you like what you read, and want to learn more about Bozic and his Vacansoleil team, visit their Fan Club, here!

Saturday, August 07, 2010

The Most Important $200 You Can Spend on Cycling

Bill Peterson, C.Ped, is the most important name in cycling whose phone number you should have in your address book, but who you've probably never heard of! Rest assured, though, that the guy who beat you to win the State Championship last year knows Bill and has benefited from his expertise!

Bill is a Board-Certified Pedorthist with over 35 years experience in Patient Care, Orthotic design and manufacturing. In 2001, Bill commenced R&D on the computer production of custom orthotics and pioneered 3D laser scanning, CAD/CAM orthotic design and CNC Milling. He developed five US patents for orthotics molding and alignment systems, and is an expert at extracting maximum athletic performance with minimum discomfort by strengthening and improving the conditions under which our feet and lower limbs function.

In plain-speak though, what Bill does that should be of interest to all competitive cyclists is:

1) Biomechanical Cycle-Fit
2) Scientific Cleat Placement
3) Custom Foot Orthotics

I've never suffered an over-use injury that took me out of competition after I started working with Bill in the early-2000's, and I can use fixed (red, non-rotating) Shimano cleats and ride on a teeny-tiny narrow Selle Italia SLR saddle without fear of injury or chronic pain.

The catalyst for this post was the arrival today of my spare pair of Sidi Ergo2's with newly-aligned cleats, and a set of custom PowerBed Cycle orthotics. Because all of my data is on-file with Bill, we can work remotely and I don't have to meet with him in person in order to utilize his services. I think this is very important, because it's clearly not practical to have to meet face-to-face each time you need a new pair of cleats. I know it's not easy or inexpensive, but I highly recommend investing in a comprehensive fit session with Bill, and a pair of custom orthotics. Because after that initial eval., his experience and expertise is only a phone call away.

I'm not compensated to endorse Foot Fitness, but I believe strongly in Bill's work and your potential to benefit from it. It's almost impossible to find a bike shop or cycling coach with formal training in biomechanics and the ability to scientifically align your cleats and maximize your efficiency while minimizing the risk of injury. I was lucky to be able to see Bill in Rhode Island when I lived in New York. He is in Arizona now, but check out his website and give him a call.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Cynical Holczer Throttles Bottle

Despite what my critics would have you believe, my rejection of doping is all-encompassing, and not contingent upon learning the identity of the rider(s) involved in the scandal du jour. I have no interest in participating in, let alone leading, a "witch hunt" against Lance, and the effort I dedicated to exposing Levi's 1996 positive test was based solely on my disgust with the hypocrisy of those who viciously attacked Vino after his L-B-L win, while blissfully ignoring the former dopers in their own midst.

That Lance and Bottle are in the spotlight right now for all the wrong reasons is their fault - it's not a result of my having some conditional anti-doping agenda.

I hate doping in cycling because of its potential to wreak havoc with the lives of others, like it ultimately did to me. I repeatedly tell my story as a warning - a desperate one - because, as we see now - even the most moneyed athlete isn't immune to doping's destructive forces (even if he still claims to be clean, and thus doesn't even acknowledge how his alleged involvement with doping is destroying his own life).

If someone involved in doping is considering coming clean, I think it's crucial that they unequivocally reject doping, acknowledge the complete magnitude of their involvement, wash their hands of the cheating, the lying, the dishonesty, serve their ban and try to get on with their lives. I don't think that it's absolutely necessary that they prostrate themselves at the altar of public scrutiny and address what they did from a moral perspective, however. That arbitrary demand encourages too much political correctness, and makes it so that an athlete who might have doped in Chile in order to earn more money to support an extended family has to couch his actions in moral terms rather than just admitting that they were influenced by socioeconomic concerns.

Ok, I admit that my argument isn't as well-developed as I'd like it to be, but I don't have limitless time to devote to writing about this stuff. Send your suggestions, complaints and feedback to the usual address.

At the end of the day, right now, I guess I'm in the minority because I don't think that riders should be held to a segment of the public's whims and be made to "confess" to moral failings before they're "welcomed" back to cycling. There is a reason why WADA/UCI don't demand evidence of that kind of behavior when assessing post-sanction compliance. If that's how you genuinely feel, though, by all means - make that clear to your public. But I don't think the public has the right to demand that of the post-sanction athlete. Only a fraction of the world's cycling fans read Cyclingnews.com, VeloNews, Pez, etc...and yet the UCI serves a constituency of nations - all of whom are entitled to expect that their athletes will be treated fairly and uniformly.

But that doesn't mean that you, The Public, can't raise your voices and put forth your own suggestions and demands and requests related to anti-doping. In fact, I'd hope you would do just that in the case of the former Gerolsteiner team manager Hans-Michael Holczer, who this week claimed that Levi Leipheimer's blood values during the 2005 Tour de France “showed a very high probability of manipulation,” according to German press agency SID.

As Cyclingnews.com advises us, "During his time as a team manager, Holczer was outspoken about doping in cycling and insisted on several occasions that he had confidence in his riders. He famously – and naively – claimed several years ago that he knew they were clean and that he simply didn’t need to run internal tests like those performed by other teams at the time; this later came back to haunt him when both Bernhard Kohl and Stefan Schumacher tested positive for CERA during the 2008 Tour de France."

In case the dots aren't jumping out at you and connecting themselves, Holczer actually knew about doping on his team but covered it up, to protect his economic interests. Then, he pretended to the public to not know about doping on his team - to support his PR aims. And when his star riders, including my friend Bernhard Kohl, tested positive, he hung them out to dry but then threw them under a bus - in a desperate ploy to hang onto the sponsor and show himself to be "tough" on doping, but apparently also a rube who was easily fooled by those sophisticated cyclists.

One rider he chose not to flick was Levi Leipheimer - because the scandal that followed supposedly would have bankrupted Holczer personally, and it would have been a voluntary descent into hell. While the UCI asked Holczer to remove Levi from the team, Leipheimer was technically not (+) for doping, and so free to compete. Yanking Levi from the Tour team and firing him from the squad would have seen the American respond with the legal equivalent of the "Nuclear Option."

Yet now in 2010, Holczer has no problem whatsoever with crucifying Levi and publicly accusing him of the same blood doping he tried to cover-up in 2005. Where was Holczer then?!?

Are you surprised that Holczer is "telling the truth" now because he's promoting his new book, "Garantiert Positiv” (“Guaranteed Positive”) - and presumably has an interest in selling as many as he can?

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Team Type 1 - Managing Dissent

Pappillon welcomes comments from our readership, and encourages their participation in discussions on topics of interest. Our comments policy is straightforward, with only three basic tenets, and there is no up-front moderation on posts originating within the last 10 days. If you want to comment on a post that's older than 10 days, you should still do so - it will just be delayed momentarily while its relevancy is reviewed.

This policy serves us well, and only on very rare occasions have we had to delete comments, usually because some anonymous poster is trying to impersonate someone else. Unfortunately, last week we had to delete a comment that was defamatory to Mike Creed, one of the nicest guys still racing in the pro peloton - despite his having lived with my former roommate, Igor Pugaci!

Unfortunately we didn't catch the comment quickly enough - it followed the post which revealed some level of internal dissent at Team Type 1. The spineless and cowardly anonymous commentator snarkily claimed that Mike Creed was behind the Twitter account, "Otis Crakenberry (Otisdecrack)," who is the source of the very unflattering material on Team Type 1. This person is not Mike Creed.

Leaving aside the fact that "Otis Crakenberry" is on-record stating that they are not Mike Creed, it should be apparent after even a cursory examination that there are such fundamental differences in style, vocabulary, cadence and tone between "Crakenberry" and Creed (whose Twitter account is simply "Michael_Creed") that no right-thinking individual could mistake the two.

Furthermore, it's not in Mike Creed's character to hide behind anonymity and throw stones at his employer. I've known Creed for more than a decade, and he's always been the kind of guy you'd want as a teammate: someone who knows what's "going on" and has the presence of mind to organize a group of riders on the road, unite them around a common purpose, and - if things aren't going well - publicly defend his teammates and himself. If he had a problem with you, he'd come to you directly to try to resolve it. He wouldn't set-up shop on the Internet and start a bitter campaign of anonymous carping. And anyone who thinks he would doesn't really know him half as well as they imagine.

It's actually quite difficult to believe that anyone within the Team Type 1 management could be fooled into thinking one of their most experienced, valuable riders would orchestrate an anonymous attempt to embarrass them via Twitter. But just for the record, the final reason why I'm convinced that Otis Crakenberry cannot be Mike Creed, is that I received a DM on Twitter from Crakenberry at the same time I was on the phone with Mike Creed, who himself was driving a car at the time - not sitting at Starbucks in front of a laptop banging away in anger on Twitter...

Alberto Contador's Stage 18 Special Specialized

Alexandre Gordeyev, the world's preeminent authority on photographing the Astana team at the Tour de France, snapped an amazing series of images detailing the "special" Specialized bicycle that Alberto Contador abortively piloted through some of the 18th stage of this year's Tour de France. Gordeyev contribute the photos to the thriving Astanafans.com website, which celebrates the eponymous professional cycling team.

Hopefully Gordeyev doesn't mind if we reproduce some of the images here - they are simply spectacular:

But strangely for a manufacturer as adept at PR as Specialized, their "Signature" edition hardly merited discussion in the coverage of that day's race, perhaps owing to the fact that Contador abandoned it midway through the day, and reverted back to his primary machine. Cyclingnews.com hosts the only picture I could find of the actual bike change: 

Given the lack of copy, we'll revert to Gordeyev's own notes from that day, and his reference to Specialized's "War-Horse"!!!

"Wakening and breakfast was as usual according to the schedule.

Technicians woke up earlier this morning. Specialized requested Alberto to use new frame bike on this stage. War-horse is seldom changed during the race , only Frenchmen could afford themselves to change frames, but Astana had serious task , and horses are not to be changed during the race. The request of bikes’ suppliers couldn’t be ignored so thus the technicians prepared the bike.

The frame was unusual with its painting. There were names of people who paid 30 Euro for placing of their names on the frame. This is what I’ve got from my conversation with a technician. The conversation was “with fingers” as we spoke different languages."

Bravo, Alexandre!

Photos (c) 2010 Alexandre Gordeyev 

Nevertheless, for as "different" a bike as the Signature edition was, we must not lose sight of the fact that it was a mere curiosity compared to a truly majestic steed: Vino's Golden Eagle (pictured above).

While Vino races aboard a bicycle adorned with a solitary bird of prey, the quiet Kazakh is a fiercely loyal teammate, dedicated to maintaining the unity and focus of his squad. So perhaps its fitting that the final image that Gordeyev would shoot that night was an after-dinner portrait of Vino at the head of a round table (lol), surrounded by his teammates, minus Contador, who was conspicuous by his absence.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Garmin's Steven Cozza Calls for Death Penalty for Doping

Being an active racing cyclist and supporting the anti-doping movement apparently jumped the shark in late-July, when Garmin-Transitions rider Steven Cozza advised the Twittering-world that, were he "in charge," (of what, Pappillon can only wonder) he would summarily execute "Dopers" by firing squad.

Cozza's boss, former USPS rider Jonathan Vaughters, must be thankful then that Cozza isn't in charge of anything - including, apparently, his own mental faculties. Vaughters, a teammate of Lance Armstrong's during the Texan's first Tour de France victory in 1999, is considered by Pappillon to have admitted to doping during an instant message conversation with another ex-USPS rider, Frankie Andreu, where he quipped: "...It's not like i never played with hotsauce, eh?" An excerpt from the infamous IM exchange follows:

"Cyclevaughters: anyhow, i never can quite figure out why i don't just play along with the lance crowd - i mean shit it would make my life easier, eh? it's not like i never played with hotsauce, eh?
FDREU: I know, but in the end i don't think it comes back to bite you
FDREU: I play along, my wife does not, and Lance hates us both
FDREU: it's a no win situation, you know how he is. Once you leave the team or do soemthing wrong you forever banned
Cyclevaughters: i suppose - you know he tried to hire me back in 2001... he was nice to me... i just couldn't deal with that whole world
FDREU: I did not know that
FDREU: look at why everyone leaves, it's way to controlling
Cyclevaughters: once I went to CA and saw that now all the teams got 25 injections every day
Cyclevaughters: hell, CA was ZERO
FDREU: you mean all the riders
Cyclevaughters: Credit Agricole
FDREU: it's crazy
Cyclevaughters: So, I realized lance [Armstrong] was full of shit when he'd say everyone was doing it..."

But back to Cozza, whose pro-firing squad Tweet read:

"# If I was in charge I'd give the Death penalty to Dopers. I'd line up in line with the firing squad. Dopers can (cont) http://tl.gd/2nh1t6 Saturday, July 24, 2010 12:13:06 PM via UberTwitter"

Just yesterday Pappillon exchanged updates with another elite cyclist, who lamented that the climate surrounding the anti-doping movement in cycling seems to be racing towards the same hysteria that made possible the Salem Witchcraft Trials of the late-1600's. Unfortunately, he has a point.

Twitter is now considered a legitimate source of information and quotable statements from celebrities, politicians, average-Joe's, and even athletes (witness Lance Armstrong's refusal to interact directly with the media during the 2009 Giro d'Italia, and his exclusive use of Twitter to comment on the race). Thus, when a member of one of only three UCI ProTour cycling teams in the United States suggests to his thousands of followers that he himself would take-up a position in a firing squad assembled to murder athletes accused of using performance enhancing drugs (despite explicitly rejecting the validity of the death penalty as a tool of the criminal justice system), he must be considered to be serious, if mad, - and addressed accordingly.

Cozza's irresponsible and downright frightening statements represent a form of uncritical thinking and garbage-in/garbage-out public commentary that do immeasurable damage to the credibility of the anti-doping movement, and which call into question the wisdom of Garmin-Transitions' decision to employ him. A professional cyclist who expresses a willingness to mete out capital punishment against athletes accused of enhancing performance through the use of licensed pharmaceuticals is just as lamentable a figure as the misguided sportsman who injects himself with EPO, or rubs testosterone gel on his shoulders. In fact, he's probably more of a danger, because while the doper risks only his own life, someone like Cozza argues for a public policy that impacts an entire body of people.

Perhaps Cozza is just a comedic rube, unaware of the damage he's doing to the fight against doping in sport. It's conceivable that his critical thinking skills have atrophied with each passing kilometer spent perched upon his bicycle saddle - and he didn't stop to think that his tweets would provide accused-dopers like Lance Armstrong with defensive PR ammo and evidence that there is an element of a "witch hunt" to the federal criminal investigation targeting them.

Regardless, it's unfathomable how an organization like Slipstream Sports, which manages the Garmin-Transitions program, could leave a loose-cannon like Cozza unmuzzled. Attention Dave Zabriske: you'd be wise to drop Cozza from your friend's list, and along with Vaughters and Matt White, remind your teammates that otherwise "good" people have made the mistake of involving themselves in doping, but that they don't deserve to be shot as a result...

Monday, August 02, 2010

No Such Thing as a Sweetheart Deal from USADA

According to the AP, "Lance Armstrong's attorneys say the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency is offering cyclists a ''sweetheart deal'' if they testify or provide evidence that the seven-time Tour de France winner cheated by doping.

If those riders have been caught doping, the deal from USADA could result in a reduced ban from competition and other incentives, attorney Tim Herman told The Associated Press on Monday."

What Herman is desperately attempting to characterize as something inappropriate, is actually a very forward-thinking, progressive provision in the WADA code.

There's nothing that prevents USADA from inviting athletes suspected of doping to reveal not just their own story, but the details of others' doping that they observed or were aware of, in hopes of earning a reduction of their (possible) sanction.

Just as Dan Staite was apparently targeted for testing by UKAD as a result of 3rd party information, former teammates of Lance Armstrong might choose to provide evidence against him to USADA, or to a government agency - in this case with the hope of seeing their own potential liability reduced.

The WADA Code provides:

10.5.3 Substantial Assistance in Discovering or Establishing Anti-Doping Rule Violations

An Anti-Doping Organization with results management responsibility for an anti-doping rule violation may, prior to a final appellate decision under Article 13 or the expiration of the time to appeal, suspend a part of the period of Ineligibility imposed in an individual case where the Athlete or other Person has provided Substantial Assistance to an Anti-Doping Organization, criminal authority or professional disciplinary body which results in the Anti-Doping Organization discovering or establishing an anti-doping rule violation by another Person or which results in a criminal or disciplinary body discovering or establishing a criminal offense or the breach of professional rules by another Person.

After a final appellate decision under Article 13 or the expiration of time to appeal, an Anti-Doping Organization may only suspend a part of the otherwise applicable period of Ineligibility with the approval of WADA and the applicable International Federation. The extent to which the otherwise applicable period of Ineligibility may be suspended shall be based on the seriousness of the anti-doping rule violation committed by the Athlete or other Person and the significance of the Substantial Assistance provided by the Athlete or other Person to the effort to eliminate doping in sport. No more than three-quarters of the otherwise applicable period of Ineligibility may be suspended. If the otherwise applicable period of Ineligibility is a lifetime, the non-suspended period under this section must be no less than eight (8) years.

If the Anti-Doping Organization suspends any part of the otherwise applicable period of Ineligibility under this Article, the Anti-Doping Organization shall promptly provide a written justification for its decision to each Anti-Doping Organization having a right to appeal the decision. If the Anti-Doping Organization subsequently reinstates any part of Article 2.8 is involved and whether the violation involved a substance or method which is not readily detectible [sic] in Testing. The maximum suspension of the Ineligibility period shall only be applied in very exceptional cases.

An additional factor to be considered in connection with the seriousness of the anti-doping rule violation is any performance-enhancing benefit which the Person providing Substantial Assistance may be likely to still enjoy. As a general matter, the earlier in the results management process the Substantial Assistance is provided, the greater the percentage of the otherwise applicable period of Ineligibility may be suspended. If the Athlete or other Person who is asserted to have committed an anti-doping rule violation claims the suspended period of Ineligibility because the Athlete or other Person has failed to provide the Substantial Assistance which was anticipated, the Athlete or other Person may appeal the reinstatement pursuant to Article 13.2.

Barredo vs. Costa

As I mentioned previously in response to The Fixed Factor's excellent blog post, "A Fine Bromance," homoerotic face-patting has no place in the Tour de France, let alone between the Yellow and White Jerseys. I'm an AC fan (tho much less so after he flicked VINO), but the love-in with Schleck should have earned them both a fine! And in retrospect, Renshaw vs. Dean and Barredo vs. Costa (see below) should have earned those riders BONUSES for the displays of fighting spirit.

A Fine Bromance: Schleck and Contador on the Col du Tourmalet

"Jacques Anquetil was the first cyclist to win five Tours de France; in 1961, he held the Yellow jersey from first stage to last. Anquetil was the first to win all three grand tours. He held the hour record. In 1965 he won the gruelling 557km Bordeaux-Paris, the day after taking victory in the week-long Dauphine Libere, an amazing achievement. His generally defensive racing style meant he was less successful in one day races, but even so he won Liege-Bastogne-Liege, considered by many to be the toughest of the Classics. Anquetil was imperious, uncoubtedly the strongest rider of his era. Yet he was never world champion, despite finishing in the top ten on six occasions. Why?

In Master Jacques, Richard Yates argues that it was spite that ensured Anquetil would never win the world title. His rivalry with Raymond Poulidor was so intense that he spent more time preventing Poulidor from winning the world title than trying to win it himself. In other words, it was more important to Anquetil to stop his rival from being world champion than to be world champion himself.

It’s incredible that a great athlete would pass up the opportunity of winning one of the most prestigious titles the sport has to offer for the sake of personal animosity. Yet there it is. Anquetil hated Poulidor; he couldn’t bear it that the French public loved Poulidor, the loser, more than he, the imperious winner. It was jealous, small-minded and magnificently petty. One of the great cycling images is of the two men riding elbow to elbow up the Puy de Dome in the 1964 Tour, neither giving an inch, neither allowing the other to have even half a wheel. Riding like that was to neither man’s advantage. Yet it’s as compelling a moment as the sport has to offer; it is the essence of sport.

Schleck and Contador climbing for almost certain victory on the Tourmalet in this year’s Tour could – and should – have been as compelling. But there was – there is – something missing from this rivalry: spite. We came close, in stage 15 when Contador powered on as Schleck dropped his chain and seized the yellow jersey. Many argued that this critical counter breached a basic convention of the sport – you don’t attack the yellow jersey when he suffers an accident or a mechanical. Schleck was furious, Contador at first indifferent as he celebrated taking the race lead at the end of the stage. For a few gossip-filled hours, the rivalry seemd to light up. Then Contador apologised, Schleck accepted and we were back to the fine bromance that reached its pinnacle with the stomach-turning spectacle of Contador patting Schleck’s face for just a little too long after gifting him the Tourmalet stage..."

Read more of "A Fine Bromance: Schleck and Contador on the Col du Tourmalet," at The Fixed Factor, here.