Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Low Down On Clenbuterol: Did he or didn't he?

Clenbuterol, the banned substance found in small amounts in the urine of Tour de France champion Alberto Contador is a chemical of many uses and sources.
For one, the substance often referred to as “Clen” is widely used by weight lifters because of its ability to reduce the appetite while also building muscle, specifically by reducing your ratio of Fat Free Mass (FFM) to Fat Mass (FM).

That’s what every cyclist wants, especially for climbing. Clen stimulates your beta-2 receptors, which in turn help you to lose fat by allowing your body to release and burn more stored fat.

And we all know how great a climber Contador was in this year’s Tour when he dueled it out with Schleck on some of the steepest mountains known to cycling competition.

But the effectiveness of the substance for a competitive cyclist could be limited. While it is true that it could make a rider more efficient, lower in weight and better able to sustain hundreds of miles on a given level of food, it also has several drawbacks.

For one, to get maximum results, you need to take the substance for six weeks at a time—no on and off for this drug, because it just peters out, according to

There is also good reason the substance may have come from the meat he ingested, as Contador claimed in a press conference today near Madrid.

Clen has been used for decades in the foreign veterinary world, for increasing the lean yield of livestock. It’s long half life and tendency to stay active in the body for long periods of time mean that vets in the United States aren’t able to use it. Which would explain why European meat could easily have the substance in it, and why Contador could have had some of the substance excreted in his urine.

But more importantly, the fact that an effective dose of Clenbuterol must last six weeks, is the same reason why a cyclist might not be bothered, for one the risk of being caught over that period of time. But there are physiological reasons too. This is what the experts said:

“One of the primary drawbacks of Clenbuterol is that after a couple of weeks, it seems to stop working for most people. This is because it can cause a down regulation of pulmonary, cardiac and central nervous system beta-adrenergic receptors. … To counteract this, you can take some Ketotifen, Benadryl, or Periactim every 3rd or 4th week that you remain on Clenbuterol. These are prescription anti-histimines, [and] they’ll make you drowsy,” said the experts at Isteroids.

The expert goes on to say, “One of the weirdest things about Clenbuterol is that even though it’s an asthma medication, studies have shown reduced exercise (cardiovascular) performance with [it].” However, that being said, the drug is easily available on the Internet even in the United States where it is banned.  An ad for the drug at the "Droid Shop" reads, "discrete billing," and "no prescription required," and takes all credit cards.

Aside from the almost clear detraction of using the drug in cardio sports, there are other downsides to the drug, a perilous road to go down for Contador who has had a history of blood clots in his brain that almost killed him in 2004: it causes enlargement of heart ventricles in studies with animals, specifically cardiac hypertrophy, and dose dependent apoptotic and necrotic myocycte death (death of human cells). It also depletes Taurine, one of the essential amino acids for bodily function. (Though Taurine is not specifically an amino acid because it lacks carboxyl group, it acts like one.)

According to Wikipedia, Taurine crosses the blood-brain barrier and has been implicated in a wide array of physiological phenomena including “adipose tissue regulation and possible prevention of obesity, calcium homeostasis, recovery from osmotic shock, protection against glutamate excitotoxicity, and prevention of epileptic seizures. ….Additionally, supplementation with taurine has been shown to prevent oxidative stress induced by exercise.”

Clenbuterol is also an asthma medication, again not available to asthmatics in the US, but available in Europe. Did Contador take asthma medication? That’s a good question. Albuterol is Clen’s shorter acting cousin, the FDA’s drug of choice here. In the world of athletics though, Clenbuterol has a much longer history of use, according to

In the press conference today Contador said the fact that the anti-doping tests prior and after July 21 did not detect the substance, analyzed by the same laboratory in Cologne, Germany, added credence to his contaminated meat theory. Add his statement to the anatomy of this drug's effectiveness, it seems unlikely that he would have taken the drug purposefully.

On the other hand, Contador's extremely lean and extremely effective body has often led to speculation that he was taking banned substances.  But speculation seems to be the backbone of the cycling industry, especially among cycling amateurs, and in this case, proof is the preferred alternative. How the UCI will come to that outcome is not known.

Contador Blames Test Result on Bad Meat

On Wednesday, the International Union of Cyclists announced that Alberto Contador's urine was tainted by Clenbuterol, a banned substance.

He was provisionally suspended pending an ongoing investigation even though both A and B samples were found positive.

Pic: Contador riding into Paris this year's TDF--the winner 

And today Thursday, Contador announced in a press conference in his hometown near Madrid that the cause was bad meat imported from Spain.

"It is a clear case of food contamination," Contador said. "I am sad and disappointed but hold my head high."

The meat was brought over from Spain to France and was eaten by Contador on July 20 and 21. Clenbuterol is sometimes given to cows, pigs and other animals to increase their growth rate.

"I think this is going to be resolved in a clear way," he added. "With the truth behind you, you can speak loud and clear, and I am confident justice will prevail."

The Spanish thee time Tour de France winner and one time Giro d'Italia champion said the beef was brought at the request of the team's cook by a Spanish cycling organizer, Jose Luis Lopez Cerron, reported Yahoo News.

Cerron said earlier Thursday on Spanish radio that he was a friend of the team chef, who had complained of poor quality meat at the hotel where the team was staying.

Lopez Cerron said he bought filet mignon for the team in the Spanish border town of Irun on his way to Pau, France, to watch a few stages of the tour.

Contador called the UCI's suspension of him "a true mistake."

Contador and two others Spanish riders test positive for banned substance

The International Union of Cyclists issued a statement today that Alberto Contador, Tour de France winner in 2010 and 2009, has tested positive for banned substances.

Pic left: Contador and Schleck battle it out in this year's TDF 

In their statement they confirmed that they had found an "adverse analytical finding for clenbuterol following the analysis of urine sample taken during an in competition test on 21st July 2010 on the second rest day of the Tour de France."

Also announced this morning by the UCI, Spanish riders David Garcia Da Peña and Ezequiel Mosquera also had "Adverse Analytical Findings (presence of Hydroxyethyl starch based on reports from the WADA accredited laboratory in Köln) in the urine samples collected from them at an in-competition test at the Vuelta a España on 16 September 2010."

Both athletes rode for the team Xacobeo Galicia in this year's Vuelta a España  with Mosquera coming in second overall, behind Vicente Niballi.

"Mr. David Garcia Da Peña and Ezequiel Mosquera have the right to request and attend the analyses of their B samples," continued the UCI statement.

Contador's result was reported by the WADA accredited laboratory in Cologne to UCI and WADA simultaneously, and the concentration found by the laboratory was estimated at 50 picograms (or 0,000 000 000 05 grams per ml).

According to the UCI, this amount was very small, though a "B" test confirmed the first A" sample test results.

Pic: Contador on the Champs Elysees at this year's TDF 

Although it is true under UCI regulations that Contador is now banned from competition pending the outcome of the investigation, the media jumped all over the news and declared in bold titles that the Spaniard could "lose his Tour title," leading one to conclude perhaps that it is already a foregone conclusion.

But in a statement from the organization that runs the Tour de France, the Amaury Sports Organization, this morning they said they were not so quick to jump to the same conclusion:  "The UCI indicates that this requires complementary scientific investigations under the care of the World Antidoping Agency "before any conclusions can be drawn."

They went on to say that the "directors of the Tour de France thus awaits the results of the complementary analyses and the definitive decision of the UCI."

It is no joke for a rider to be tested positively for any substance.  But the UCI's conclusion that the amount was so small in concentration, any further analysis will take some time they said, and did not want to draw any conclusions before the investigation is completed.

The other two Spaniards with positive test results announced this morning don't have the same high profile as three time Tour de France winner Alberto Contador.

But the 34-year-old Mosquera (pictured left) recently signed a contract with the Vacansoleil team after his second place finish at the Vuelta.

Garcia (pictured right), finished eleventh overall in the Vuelta, and took top ten placings on the stages to Peña Cabarga and Alto de Cotobello, according to Velonation.

Spaniard Oscar Sevilla also recently tested positive for Hydroxyethyl starch, a blood plasma volume expander that can be used to disguise the increase in hematocrit that occurs with the use of EPO.

The Xacobeo Galicia team has been looking for new financial backing for next season, with a deadline of October 1 to secure the necessary funding reported Velonation.

But with today's news, that effort will almost certainly come to a standstill.  If the test results are confirmed, Mosquera faces a two year ban and at the age of 35, and could be also be facing the end of his cycling career.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Interbike's New Date and Destination Frets Retailers

InterbikSept. 27, 2010.  First report on Interbike
This year's Interbike did not disappoint in terms of new product, but the show organizer's plan to move the event to Anaheim in the second week of August next year had retailers all in a tizzy.

"I will not come," said one retailer based in Canada, who preferred to remain off the record. She already had plans for the week of August 8 through 12, 2010, and neither she nor her partner will be able to get away. "It would kill our busiiness," she said.

Pic: Contador's Specialized Tarmac Bike (Benepe (c))

Another retailer from the northeast U.S. said they won't be able to make it either. "It's crazy, right in the middle of our biggest season," he noted.

"You know what? It's going to be a west coast show only," said another. These were the words of every single retailer I spoke to. Not one said they planned to make it, and none could arrange to get away from their businesses--at least for now.

One vendor support specialist who works the Outdoor Demo and the Cross Vegas race predicted the show won't even make it to Anaheim before the organizers change their minds and bring it back. He noted that the lack of adequate entertainment and infrastructure in Anaheim would make it a very dull locale.

"Traffic will be a killer--can you imagine competing with Disneyland in the middle of August?" said another retailer. He is not planning on attending either because August is his biggest month of the year.

Attendance Down?  

The move to Anaheim, CA is sure to bring numbers down at a time when the bicycle industry is still reeling from a difficult U.S. and worldwide recession at the same time that prices from primary supplier countries like China continue to increase.

Photo: Mavic shoe: "The lightest shoe in the market." (Benepe, (c))

Show management said that Interbike attendance by both vendors and retailers was about level with last year. But they offered no details as to how that information was collected.

For one, some companies took double booths this year, like Champion Systems, who had a long rack of custom clothing--all of it the same but done in 4 color ways, stationed themselves directly across from Castelli; and Sheila Moon took a bigger booth with a marketing story that was a mix between a Target-driven California Hillbilly and Free People, (the iconoclastic brand that reaps millions from its imagery of statuesque blonde fraulein imports in tabacco road type settings).  Nutcase, that zany helmet designer had also doubled its booth size.

However, anecdotally, BBB spoke to a number of vendors who elected not to have booths this year. Descente, Panache,  and Vicious Cycles took the Trek route of not coming to the show with a booth, some for economical reasons, others because no business was being written so late in the season.

We also spoke to retailers --scores of them--who did not attend this year or worse, sent their junior level managers who only have input, but not decision-making power. Smaller retailers from all over the country--Florida, New York, Connecticut to name some states-- elected not to come at all. Those same retailers are the only ones that would write any meaningful business so late in the season.

Which is why Interbike is moving to the second week in August.  However, some lamented that even that earlier date is already too late.

Pic: A Pearizumi jersey that has iterations of a previous 2007 Hotvelociti design

"It's become a consumer show," said one vendor. "That's why we aren't really interested in coming anymore."

Some vendors also complained that the show had become more and more of an opportunity for their competition to come and scope out their product, then run back to HQ to duplicate it.

One apparel maker said they found two executives from a major competitor in their booth this year carefully examining the fabric and finishes on their bike shorts. "Last year they copied our product, so this year we aren't showing anything outside. Our legitimate customers can come to our suite and see it," he noted. All of their product was displayed behind glass encasements. He said it would have been different if they had come up and introduced themselves.

Another fear was copying by Asian factories. One vendor said he does not allow photographs anymore because the photogs represent large factories that have in the past immediately put their design into production--but only the front part of the jersey because they didn't have a photo of its back.

For those reasons, many suppliers had adopted private, walled-in compounds to ward off would be imitators, including Specialized, Terry Bikes, Luna, and Hincapie. Specialized took the unusual step of not allowing people in without a retailer pass. One apparel rep complained that he could not get into the booth to see the bikes because he was shopping for one himself.

It's not unusual for competitors to rip one another off: BBB saw an iteration of Hotvelociti's design from two years ago, prominently displayed in the Pearlizumi booth this year.

Some booths were wide open for all to enter either because they had a confident brand and marketing placement, or the opposite--followers with sad imitations and poor workmanship. Mavic, Chrome, Camelbak, and Nutcase were examples of leaders who did not close their doors to attendees.  The logic was not consistent however--some followers had walled off compounds for product that clearly represented nothing new, interesting or even noteworthy.  Maybe they just didn't want their competition to see how much their lines had deteriorated.

Owner of Segway Company Dies on Own Unit

The owner of the company that makes Segway's, those two-wheeled contraptions that hold you upright, has died riding his own Segway.

James Helseden was riding his Segway around his property in West Yorkshire,  when he drove off a cliff, into the River Wharfe and died, said Bloomberg News. 

The death was reported by the West Yorkshire police, who recovered the Segway from the water.

“Our family has been left devastated by the sudden and tragic loss of a much loved father and husband,” Heselden’s family said in an e-mailed statement to Bloomberg News. “There is absolutely nothing to suggest it was anything other than a tragic accident.”

Police confirmed that the death was not suspicious.

Heselden, who founded Leeds-based Hesco Bastion Ltd., bought the Segway operation this year. He is reported to have had an estimated personal fortune of 166 million pounds ($263.2 million).

Paula Hargadon, a spokeswoman for Hesco Bastion Ltd.,  confirmed the deadly accident.

In 2006 Segway voluntarily recalled 23,500 of  the self-balancing scooters because they could suddenly reverse and cause accidents. The wheels unexpectedly switched direction when the rider leaned the transporter back to slow down, got off and got on again over a short period of time.

Former U.S. President George W. Bush made the news nationwide when he was pictured jumping from one of the two wheeled scooters after he lost control while vacationing in Maine in 2003.

That year, Segway recalled all 6,000 of its human transporters after a safety report found operators risk falling as the scooter’s batteries depleted.

The cost of a basic i2 Segway model is 4,795 pounds (about $7,599) and has a maximum speed of 12.5 miles (20 kilometers) per hour, according to the company’s U.K. website. The most expensive option is its x2 adventure package at 5,294 pounds,  (about $8,340) while the i2 police package costs 5,045 pounds (about $7,995).

BBB cannot help but add commentary to this one. We always thought it was dangerous, and this news kind of cinches it. Hopefully, you dear reader, do not hold any stock in this company.

Check out this photo of the Chinese police anti-terror unit: they look terrifying themselves. Good riddance.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Fashion Week Proves Bicycles Are the Pinnacle Of

Sept. 15, 2010
It's fashion week in New York, and bicycles are proving to be more fashionable than ever before.

In a Saks Fifth Avenue series of print ads that feature models in high end designs by Giorgio Armani and the like, women pose with bicycles, skateboards, hockey sticks and skis among other things.

But it's not just the fact that they are posing with bikes, but the models of bikes they chose, and the fantastic incongruity of the clothing they are presumably wearing on the bikes.

One ad shows a model wearing a partially see-through, wrapped gauze Batista Valli dress, and high heeled booties, standing next to a turn of the (previous) century high bike.

Another ad shows a model with a black wrap jacket, a lace skirt, and four-inch heels pushing a fold up bike.

The ads appear in Vogue and W magazine.
In another photographic series that appears in W Magazine, photos of residents of the East End of London show two characters with their bicycles.

One man has his bike hanging around his neck, as if it were a piece of jewelry.

The other is sporting a small bike of a brand and type I never knew existed (maybe someone who reads this blog can write in and tell us what it is.)

On his back is an old-fashioned wicker basket like the kind you might normally see on the front of the bike, attached to the handlebars. But clearly no one in this spread is doing what normal people normally do.

In an fashion spread in Marie Claire magazine this month, a woman stands holding a gorgeous white lifestyle bike (again, can any of you aficionados tell me the brand,) holding her daughter's hand.  In the background is a bike store in New York City.

She is wearing knee high boots, a long suede skirt and a white knit hat to match her white sweater. Her daughter is inexplicably looking like she is in a very bad mood, probably the result of a long photo shoot gone awry.

An ad for Michael, Michael Kors, the secondary line from the  designer, shows a model sitting on a lifestyle bike kissing a man who is leaning over with his hand on her knee. It's as if she just rode up to him and he's greeting her. She wears a knit hat, jeans, and knee high boots.

The lighting of the print ad is in warm red and orange tones, suggesting a lovely fall afternoon bike ride.

The ad is a real departure for Kors. Though he does often combine a sporty image with his ads, usually it's a blond woman wearing sunglasses on a speed boat or a yacht, with a shirtless man in aviators.

Or she is shown walking on his arm presumably on their way to an Bridgehampton charity event wearing a cascading lavender dress with spiky heels.

But to show that cycling is now at the apex of fashion, the August issue of Vogue magazine ran a Beauty feature on Evelyn Stevens, the female racing phenom whose roots are in New York.

Stevens started her young adult life as an investment banker at Lehman Brothers, but was derailed from the straight and narrow career track by her sister who suggested she enter a cyclocross race in California where she was visiting. Then a friend suggested she begin training and racing on a bike in New York's Central Park, "and the 27-year-old was, to borrow a term from her former occupation, sold," wrote Robert Sullivan.

Lo and behold, she began to win one race after another. Soon thereafter she was drafted by none other than the HTC Columbia pro cycling team. It's the same team that includes in its roster such greats as Mark Cavendish, sprinter and multiple stage winner of this year's Tour de France, as well as Mark Renshaw, notable for his head-butting in this year's Tour.

We had many, many other examples to show you including this shameless pitch for the Hotvelociti dresses (full disclosure, BBB has an interest in the company), that were made to go from the bike to the cafe, and were introduced this year for spring and fall, 2010.  Left is pictured Elizabeth wearing the Purple Passion dress with matching purple thermal jacket with multiple reflector strips for safe riding on city streets--and knee high boots.

Another line is coming in 2011, with sleeveless and backless styles for summer with matching jackets, and long sleeved versions for fall 2011, also with matching thermal jackets.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Bike Events Here and out of Town

If you haven't got anything to do but hammer along the same old route this weekend, we have some other alternatives.

BFF Bicycle Bash Street Party, San Diego, Sept. 11.
For one, you could fly your butt out to San Diego tonight and take part in the BFF Bicycle Bash Street Party, an all day affair being held tomorrow, Sept. 11.

Well BBB is so jealous! These lucky people will spend the whole day doing BMX tricks and battling it out in bike polo, racing their wheels off, watching bike movies, and dressing up in bike outfits. Here are some pics from last year's event thanks to Thomas Bike Shop with photos by Jinna of TBS.

More than 22 vendors including bike shops and clubs will be there hobbing it up with San Diego cyclists. The Major Taylor bike club will be there, as well as one that really caught my eye, "The Cretins Bike Group."

Obviously there will be something for everyone at this BFF bash. There will be a 3-hour barbeque and the best dressed "townie" outfit will win a new bike. At 1 pm there are races, at 2 pm bike "games" for prizes, and at 3 pm the movies start. The whole thing ends with a group ride "downtown," followed by "Clean up." The community that rides together, sticks together, and obviously, cleans up together.

Note for all you Fixie Freaks: San Diego has its own strong group of fixies, who appear to be big participants in this event.

The New York City Century, New York, Sunday Sept. 12.
We would be remiss if we did not mention again the NYC Century being held this Sunday. Registration is possible at the start line. If you have never cycled around New York, now is the time to do it, in the company of many like-minded individuals.

The streets will be closed in phases (reminder, don't drive in the city on Sunday if you can help it,) and cyclists will be able to tour the city in a way they should always be able to--without the pressing, smelling, obnoxious noise-making, scary automobiles and trucks all around them.

Billed as the only "all urban" 100-mile bike tour, indeed, the NYC Century takes you all around the outers, including places some of you snobs have never gone, like Queens (except on the way to JFK for your flight to Paris).

But you can also elect to ride a shorter distance, on the 75-, 55-, 35-, or 15-mile routes.  "All routes feature amazing views of New York City with fully stocked rest stops and safety marshals along the course...and links NYC's breathtaking bridges and beautiful parks to its incomparable neighborhoods and famous waterfronts," said the organizers, Transportation Alternatives.

The NYC Century started this ride in 1990 with only 200 riders, but now has on average 6,000 riders from all over the country and the world.

Be ready at 5:30 am if you want to start in Manhattan and ride 100 miles. Registration and ride start is in Central Park on 110th St. and Adam Clayton Powell Jr.  or you can meet with others at Prospect Park in Brooklyn at the Willink Drive near the carousel (enter through the park or at Flatbush and Willink Drive,) at 6 am--with another half hour for sleep!  See the group's FAQs section for start times for the different distances being offered (start later, ride less).

We also told you a couple of weeks ago about two other events being held on Sept. 12th:  The Hole in The Wall Camp rides (there are two, one in Connecticut and the other in upstate New York,) which is a very worthy fundraiser for the organization that hosts children who are medically in a tough spot and need a place to laugh and have fun and feel alive again.

The other is the city-wide Bike Tour of Philadelphia. Too bad it is being held on the same day as New York's Century. I guess the coincidence will really test your faithfulness meter, or your pocketbook. Besides, it's hard to take a bike on Amtrak--it's got to be boxed. Amtrak, get your act together! No wonder you have trouble staying afloat financially, you are out of touch with your constituency! Those with patience can take the cheaper, longer going New Jersey Transit, stop, after stop, after stop.

You'll have to register by tomorrow if you plan on going, but at least the start time of 8 am is a little more doable. Here's their description of the ride:
Bike Philly is a morning of relaxed biking on certified car-free Philadelphia streets. Bring friends to celebrate with thousands of bicyclists of all ages. This once a year event is family-friendly, featuring a car-free 10 and 20 mile loop and a challenging 35 mile option on shared roads. Enjoy the historic beauty of Philadelphia on two wheels and support the Bicycle Coalition's efforts to make the city more livable and sustainable. Make it a weekend of bicycling with the Scenic Schuylkill Century on September 11, an event of the Bicycle Club of Philadelphia.
Yes, you missed it, the Naked Bike Ride In Philly on Sept. 5.  See all the photos from the 2010 and 2009 rides on Flickr.

Photo by Amon Bryn Kilmon

Why couldn't they just combine the two events? Yeah, maybe it is because of all the little kids coming on Sept. 12th. We will be posting pics, with thanks to the picture takers who gave us permission to use them. You can't go anymore, and I am sorry BBB did not let you know sooner, not that you would have taken work off to go down there.

But again, BBB is jealous. Why can't we have a naked bike ride in New York? I mean, are we so concerned about how we look here? I can just imagine, if there was a naked bike ride in New York everyone would be wearing fancy lingerie, including the men.

Next: Bikes as the new fashion accessory, special for Fashion Week in NYC.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Doctor Releases Cutting Edge Nutritional Advice for American Cyclists

Sept. 9, 2010. We can thank Jed Weaver for his reporting on this article.
Happy Rosh Hashanah everyone Even if you aren't Jewish you can relish the two days off from parking regulations in New York City.
Based on an interview with a world reknowned "doctor," new findings show that cycling, and being a triathlete might actually be bad for your health. Below is a copy of the interview, word for word.
Q: Doctor,  I've heard that cardiovascular exercise can prolong life.  Is this true?  
A: Your heart only good for so many beats, and that it...don't waste on exercise.  Everything wear out eventually.  Speeding up heart not make you live longer; it like saying you extend life of car by driving faster.  Want to live longer?  Take nap.

Q: Should I cut down on meat and eat more fruits and vegetables?  
A: You must grasp logistical efficiency.  What does cow eat?   Hay and corn.  And what are these?   Vegetables.  So steak is nothing more than efficient mechanism of delivering vegetables to your system.  Need grain?  Eat chicken.  Beef also good source of field grass (green leafy vegetable).  And pork chop can give you 100% of recommended daily allowance of vegetable product.

Q: Should I reduce my alcohol intake?  
A:  No, not at all.  Wine made from fruit.  Brandy is distilled wine, that mean they take water out of fruity bit so you get even more of goodness that way.  Beer also made of grain.  Bottom up!

Q: How can I calculate my body/fat ratio?
A: Well, if you have body and you have fat, your ratio one to one.  If you have two bodies, your ratio two to one, etc.

Q: What  are some of  the advantages of participating in a regular exercise program?
A: Can't think of single one, sorry.  My philosophy is: No pain...good!
Q:  Aren't fried foods bad for you?  
A:  YOU NOT LISTENING!  Food are fried these day in vegetable oil.  In fact, they permeated by it.  How could getting more vegetable be bad for you?!?  

Q:  Will  sit-ups help prevent me from getting a little soft around the middle?
A: Definitely not!  When you exercise muscle, it get bigger.  You should only be doing sit-up if you want bigger stomach.

Q:  Is chocolate bad for me?  
A:  Are you crazy?!?  HEL-LO-O!!  Cocoa bean!  Another vegetable!  It best feel-good food around!

Q:  Is swimming good for your figure?  
A:  If swimming good for your figure, explain whale to me..

Q:  Is getting in shape important for my lifestyle?  
A:  Hey!  'Round' a shape!

Well, I hope this has cleared up any misconceptions you may have had about food and diets.

And  remember:
Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways - Chardonnay in one hand - chocolate in the other - body thoroughly used up,  totally worn out and screaming "WOO-HOO, what a ride!!"

For  those of you who watch what you eat, here's the final word on nutrition and health.  It's a relief to know the truth after all those conflicting nutritional  studies.

1. The Japanese eat very little fat
     and suffer fewer heart attacks than us.

2. The Mexicans eat a lot of fat
     and suffer fewer heart attacks than us.

3. The Chinese drink very little red wine
     and suffer fewer heart attacks than us.

4. The Italians drink a lot of red wine
     and suffer fewer heart attacks than us.

5. The Germans drink a lot of beer and eat lots of sausages and fats
     and suffer fewer heart attacks than us.


Eat and drink what you like.
Speaking English is apparently what kills you.

Disclaimer: BBB takes no responsibility for the contents of the above article in quotations, implied or otherwise, for the health of the athlete. If you believe the contents is of your creation and can authenticate your claim, please email me at with proof and I will happily credit you for your sage advice, and give you the appropriate hotlink. Please also supply your email so that when our athletes try your diet, they can email you directly with comments about the results.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Another Shocker at the Vuelta, Schleck and O'Grady out for Boozing

It's true BBB has not been covering the Vuelta de Espana. It's not that we don't like the Spaniards, but come on, they didn't invite RadioShack to the race.

Not that we really care about RadioShack, honestly, it's just a bunch of guys dressed in coral and gray spandex.

But what is relevant, RadioShack is "the" American team that mainstream Americans are watching. Without them, who the hell cares about the Vuelta a Espana?

Yes, we do care, but you, the audience cares less.

At the start of the big race across Spain, Javier Guillén, race director said he was optimistic the 2010 edition grand tour would be “spectacular,” even though one of the possible reasons he snubbed RadioShack was to assuage Spain's biggest star and planned participant in the race, Alberto Contador of Team Astana.

But then Contador decided not to come either, and that left the 21-stage Vuelta and the Spanish equivalent of France's Tour de France now without most Spaniards watching the race.

Now the Vuelta is losing more riders, with the Saxo Bank team sending Luxembourg star Andy Schleck home for drinking last night, since drinking is apparently against their rules. Saxo Bank teammate Stuart O'Grady will also be going home, which means possibly now the Australians aren't going to be watching either just because they feel nationally snubbed. Although Schleck is not in first place --he's currently running 13th,  his position in the cycling world, his performance in the Tour de France as second two years in a row, has made him a big star in his home country and elsewhere

Schleck said he was "responsible for my actions," though he added that he thought the decision by Team Saxo Bank boss Bjarne Riis was "too harsh."

Now that we are talking Vuelta--honestly, it's just a race we didn't have time to cover, despite all of our bravado that you wouldn't read it, dear reader--check out their official jersey. It really is one of the best designs I have seen in the jersey market since Cervelo came out with their eponymous "e" jersey (which might be the best selling jersey in the world in 2009/ 2010). We love the simple but modern design, and noticed the hangtag, "Custo Barcelona," the name of a really snappy design company out of Spain. Available for 69.90 Euros on the official Vuelta de Espana website.

But, for men only.

Full disclosure, BBB also has a continued interest in, but we have no problem calling out good design from other companies. Happens that the Custo model uses some of the exact same elements that Hotvelociti will be unveiling in 2011--all by coincidence, though the HV designs of this kind will be for women only.

And thanks dear Anonymous for the edit....That's what I get for being on the phone while I write.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Landis Aiming for Pot of Gold--or Apogee of the Swizzle?

If you missed it, Floyd Landis has filed a whistle-blower lawsuit against the U.S. Postal team, a story first broken by the Wall St. Journal.

The move adds further interest to our story in July questioning whether Landis's actions demonstrate socipathic tendencies, on a path to destroy all his friends. Now he's acting like the sociopath on a desperate tear to self preservation.

Landis in his last big race, the Catskills Race in August (Photo (c) Benepe) 

The Justice Department is mulling over whether to join Landis in his complaint against the team, which at the time was run by Tailwind Sports. The Postal Service paid $30.6 million to Tailwind to sponsor the team from 2001 through 2004, according to a sponsorship agreement reviewed by the WSJ.

It would be really funny if after all of these government agencies run themselves into a frenzy searching for their Big Doping Scandal to illuminate their boring careers as pencil-pushing bureaucrats, they find nothing but a broken man on a desperate course to destroy all the people who rejected him since the positive doping finding toppled him from his 2006 title in the Tour de France.

Could one person make a laughing stock all of these federal agencies? Well, he certainly has done so with one of the biggest names in cycling and cancer history, plus the hundreds if not thousands of people who gave him money to help support his "cause" of innocence way back when he was still claiming to be drug free and telling the unvarnished truth. Government 'crats--watch out, you could be well on your way to experiencing the biggest swizzle --a swindle that leads to the fizzling out of the investigation--of your lifetimes.

Jeff Notvitsky (pictured left), the biggest 'crat of them all is playing a high stakes game. He's an ex-basketball player who couldn't make the team at Lute Oslon’s Arizona University Basketball team, and is leading the investigation for the Food and Drug Administration. As Steroid Sources tells it, Novitzky has had his own Landisism to spur him on, as he fell short and returned home to play back up forward and teammate to his brother at San Jose.

Novitsky was making $145,000 as an I.R.S. employee when he broke the BALCO case that took down Barry Bonds. His salary as lead investigator at the FDA no doubt is bigger (we looked for a number but the Office of Personnel Management figures are not surprisingly difficult to crack), and without a doubt his high profile attacks on drug cheating in sports have had a hand in his progressively improving career.

If you are cheering Novitsky and the rest of the investigators on, you'd better hope that those riders that purportedly are offering corroboration of the doping were actually present, and don't have the last names of Landis or LeMond, two guys with axes to grind with the seven-time Tour winner Armstrong.

Technically a filing under the False Claims Act (31 U.S.C. § 3729–3733, will allow Landis, who is not affiliated with the government to file actions against the US Postal Team--in this case a federal contractor he is accusing of committing claims fraud against the government.

The act of filing such actions is informally called "whistleblowing", and the blower--in this case Landis--stands to receive about 15 to 25 percent of any recovered damages.

The exact details of the suit are not available because the filing has not become public yet.

How would the US Postal Team have committed such fraud? Among the possibilities are "knowingly making, using, or causing to be made or used, a false record or statement material to a false or fraudulent claim."  Previously the law has served to protect the U.S. government from billing fraud by defense contractors, and more recently from health care fraud such as Medicaid and Medicare.

It's application in this case is shaky. In this case one can only imagine that Landis's claim is that the riders broke their contracts which stated explicitly that no rider could win using banned substances (possible), and/ or that they paid a doctor who administered banned substances (possible) and/ or the team charged the government among its expenses for the drugs that would enhance the riders' performances (not likely).

A complaint must be filed in U.S. District Court under seal. After an investigation by the Department of Justice within 60 days (or with an extension, longer), the Department of Justice decides whether it will pursue the case with the complainant.

However, this move by Landis is risky.

For one, the Justice Department may choose not to join in the suit, which would leave Landis--a man who is known by his own admission to have lied-- out in the wind taking the action himself. Such a move by the Justice Department would mean a much smaller settlement, and possibly a loss for the disgraced cyclist.

Why would the Department of Justice decline to join the suit?  For one, the claims have been trumpeted all over the press, which could prejudice the lawsuit.  Not only has Landis made his claims public--contrary to the whole intent of the whistle blower law--but a previous action between Lance Armstrong and SCA Promotions have been laid bare-- and public. Those deposition documents lay at the base of this case.

Those documents are currently being requested by the government entities--the Justice Department, the Food and Drug Administration, and the U.S. District Attorney's office in Los Angeles, who are engaged in the fraud investigation.  But they needed look any further than the Internet, where those documents have been available for months, if not years.

What's more, the investigators will need proof of the fraud against the US Post Office. They'll need proof that banned substances were used or that blood was reused; they'll need proof that the government was charged for something years ago. And so far the only proof they have is that Landis himself committed fraud when he signed his contract and took dope to compete.

Armstrong recently hired criminal lawyer Mark Fabiani of LaJolla, CA., and Hincapie has hired the firm Wachtel, Lipton, Rosen and Katz, of New York. Those counselors could finger Landis as the only doper on the team. That would make Landis the subject of the fraud investigation by Jeff Notvitsky at the Food and Drug Administration, but could also make him a target in his own False Claims suit.

But if the Justice Dept. does indeed follow suit, and they  reclaim funds from Tailwinds Sports (another hurdle) Landis could take home some change.

Landis' money motive made more of a public play recently: Last week it was detailed in Newsweek that Landis was frustrated last September 2009 when he tried to join the new team RadioShack formed with Armstrong,  and was rebuffed by team manager Johan Bruyneel. Bruyneel said he turned Landis away because of his reputation as a doper. “I told him it would be a bad PR move” that could damage the new team’s efforts to win entry into the 2010 Tour, Bruyneel told Newsweek.

Pic: Armstrong, 2009 TDF, (c) Benepe 

Here's more of the revelations from Newsweek:
In April, a few weeks before Landis went public with his revelations, organizers of the Tour of California, a major U.S. race, denied entry to a team Landis had joined (it said the team didn’t have enough of a track record). Tour director Andrew Messick says that two days before the news was announced, Landis unexpectedly asked him to lunch. Landis, says Messick, said he planned to confess to doping and talked about other cyclists’ drug use, including Armstrong’s. ...[A] few weeks later Landis and a friend began e-mailing Messick and others, pleading that his team be allowed into the race—and hinting that damaging revelations about doping by Armstrong and others might be forthcoming. In late May, Landis publicly confirmed that he also e-mailed cycling and anti-doping authorities, confessing his own drug abuse and outlining allegations about Armstrong and other cyclists.
A lawyer for Armstrong, Tim Herman told Newsweek that “ ‘shakedown’ would be an appropriate description” for Landis’s actions. “It all had to do with his effort to secure a place on the Radio Shack team ... It doesn’t take a Nostradamus to figure out that if we had simply hired him, none of this would have happened.”

Read related articles here:
Roots of a Rift (Newsweek)
Velonation--Justice Dept mulling over suit
US Postal doctor denies claims of doping
Hincapie, Armstrong broaden legal teams
The WSJ examines if UCI is really pursuing riders who take drugs
Landis said to file whistle blower claim (NYT)

On the False Claims Act

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Laurent Fignon Dies at 50

Were Drugs A Factor in Cancer Growth?
Sept. 1, 2010. Pic courtesy of free share at Wikipedia.
A cycling great passed to the other side yesterday at the age of 50, Laurent Fignon of France. The man who was known for his ever present ponytail was a two-time Tour de France winner in 1983 and 1984. The cause was cancer which had spread from his lungs to other parts of his body.

Seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong said in a statement. "He was a special man to me, to cycling, and to all of France." Fignon is survived by his ex-wife, two children and his second wife Valerie whom he married in 2008.

"He was a great champion who used a combination of talent and will to win the Tour de France twice," said French Cycling Federation president David Lappartient in a statement to the Associated Press.  "He had an iron will, and was also a very intelligent man."

In 1989 Fignon lost the great French stage race to Greg LeMond by 8 seconds. That was the last time that he came close to winning the Tour, even though that year he overtook Sean Kelly as leader of UCI World rankings. That same year Fignon won a stage at Milan-San Remo and the Giro D'Italia. 

Below a blow-by-blow of the close loss to LeMond in 1989, thanks to Wikipedia. The back and forth exchange of deficits is reminiscent of the close race between Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck in this year's 2010 Tour de France:
LeMond won a minute in the time trial in stage five, using aerobars (handlebars which enabled a new and more aerodynamic riding position, also known as tri-bars as they had previously only been used in triathlons), a new type of teardrop-shaped aerodynamic helmet in the time trials and a rear disc wheel. Fignon used normal road handlebars, wore no helmet with his ponytail also creating additional drag and a bicycle with both front and rear disc wheels, which left him more affected by cross winds. LeMond lead the general classification after that stage by 5 seconds. In the tenth stage, Fignon beat LeMond by 12 seconds, and became the new leader, 7 seconds ahead of LeMond. Before the final stage, a short time trial of 24.5 km, the time difference betwen LeMond and Fignon was still 50 seconds, which seemed enough for the victory. French newspapers had prepared special editions with Fignon on the front page, preparing for his victory. Although it was considered unlikely that LeMond would be able to win back 50 seconds on the 24.5 km, LeMond gave his best, and rode the fastest time trial to date. Fignon had developed saddle sores in stage 19, which gave him pain and made it impossible to sleep in the night before the time trial. Fignon, who rode after LeMond, lost 58 seconds during the stage, and although he became third in the stage, he lost the lead to LeMond. It was calculated afterwards that if Fignon would have cut off his ponytail, he would have reduced his drag that much that he would have won the Tour.
After his loss in 1989, Fignon continued to compete. In 1992, he had a bad Giro d'Italia, and then in  the 1992 Tour de France, he came in 23rd.  Fignon's last victory was in the early-season Ruta Mexico in 1993, after a fight with Francisco Villalobos and after surviving a massive collision when the group was hit by a tow truck driven by a drunken man.  Fignon retired in late 1993.

Fignon admitted using banned drugs, notably Amphetamines and Cortisone, the same types of drugs that had been allegedly used by his biggest competitor, Greg LeMond. LeMond's alleged use of those drugs was documented in a history of doping in sports by Alessandro Donati, according to testimony by Lance Armstrong in his deposition in a case with SCA Promotions in which Armstrong won the case against the company.

However, BBB was unable to corroborate any specific references to LeMond in the Donati report.

Fignon was diagnosed with cancer in April 2009. At that time it was in his digestive system, but in January of this year doctors discovered that the disease had originated in his lungs.

It is not clear if his use of banned substances which have been linked in laboratory tests to cancer, particularly among immuno-suppressed people, were the cause, or part of the cause of his disease. A 2006 study by Ingrid Herr and clinicians of Heidelberg University Hospital has shown that persons with lung cancer who take steroids respond less well to cancer treatments, and in others, such as breast cancer, cortisone was found to be the cause of cancer growth.

After retiring in 1993, Fignon went on to organize bike racing in France, including the classic Paris-Nice which may be the second most vaulted race for French riders after the Tour de France. That race was eventually taken over by the Amaury Sports Organization (ASO) in 2002 who among other competitions also runs the Tour de France. More recently he was a sports commentator for cycling for the French media, including coverage of this year's Tour.

Fignon wrote an autobiography Nous étions jeunes et insouciants ("We were young and carefree"). "In this forthright and unflinching account the former champion spares neither friends nor opponents, nor even his own image. In doing so he gives cycling fans a tantalizing glimpse of what really went on behind the scenes of this epic sport,  the friendships, the rivalries, the betrayals, the scheming, the parties, the girls, and, of course, the performance-enhancing drug," writes a review of the book by Google.

Fignon died at 12.30 pm local time on August 31, 2010 at the Pitie-Salpetriere Hospital in Paris.