Thursday, October 07, 2010

Weekly News Roundup: The Spanish Doping Scandal Explodes

Thursday, October 7, 2010
Spanish Doping Scandal Now up to 9th Rider:  Spokes of Hope, and Blasphemy on the Pages of the NY Post
The Spanish anti-doping machine has gone into high drive, announcing that five other cyclists--besides Contador--and three others--are now suspected of doping and are being investigated.

Albert Soler, the Director General of the Spanish Sports Council, said at a conference on doping. that five Spanish cyclists are now facing a higher degree of control than the others because of a "series of unusual parameters."

“We have five Spanish cyclists who we suspect may be in a dangerous situation,” he said.

Soler did not name the five other cyclists but noted that Contador was not among them.

And he did not mention the two Spanish riders who actually were suspended last week, Vuelta a Espana runner up Ezequiel Mosquera, and his teammate David Garcia da Pena, which BBB was one of the first to report last week when all were caught off guard agog about the Contador news blast.

Add to that, a third, Margarita Fullana who was provisionally suspended after testing positive for banned blood-booster erythropoietin (EPO), news that hit on Saturday Oct. 2.

Then of course, add the fourth (actually in this case the first): On Tuesday, a urine sample taken from three-time Tour de France winner Alberto Contador showed abnormally high levels of plastic residues indicating the possibility that he had taken a transfusion of his own blood during this year's Tour de France, a person with knowledge of the test results told The Associated Press.

Notwithstanding the obvious spate of drug findings Lissavetzky Spain’s secretary of state for sports, said his country's doping issues are “not greater or smaller than in the rest of the world”. Umm, now they are.

Pic right: Margarita Fullana

“It is a global problem,” he told the conference. “There is a political will, a real desire to continue the fight against doping (in Spain).” Umm, well, now there is, now that Spanish officials are putting all their PR machines into motion.

So that actually now makes nine (count them, 9) Spanish riders being called out onto the anti-doping carpet in less than 7 days.  That's faster than the beginning of the world, and is likely causing slam-dunk, "I told you so" schmojournalists like David Walsh to slobber at the bit for their next scandnovel about doping in cycling.

It's amazing how some real negative tests can take the news focus away from the witch hunt dogging Lance Armstrong--which so far has not yielded any hard evidence.

Still, that hasn't stopped amateur cyclists who have no real measure of whether doping is rampant, intermittent, or simply a game of catch the mouse from saying that these developments "prove" that Lance was not doping in this year's TDF because he was so behind. Oh okay, he only crashed three times in the beginning of the race, making it impossible to catch up, and he's well, "an old guy," like you! Nothing proves nothing, folks, let's wait for the hard info to come through.

If you didn't catch the full news, Contador was provisionally suspended by the international cycling federation (UCI) last week after a small amount of Clenbuterol was discovered in his A and B samples by a laboratory in Cologne, Germany. The Spaniard had said in a press conference last week that bad meat taken over the border from Spain to France which he ate on Sept. 21 was the cause.

But the lab also found plastic traces that might turn up after a transfusion of blood from a plastic bag, according to the person who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity. A report in the New York Times said that the amount found was 8 times the normal and allowable amount.

The investigation of Contador's possible doping and blood transfusions, both of which are banned under UCI rules and regulations, is ongoing.

Local Goings On: The Ride for Cancer by a Passionate Guy

Spokes of Hope chieftan Kenneth Youner is putting together a big ride this weekend to honor his wife Cecile Youner who died of cancer. Although Younder started planning this ride without the support of Livestrong, it is now connected to the Livestrong anti cancer group started by Lance Armstrong.

Youner's experience watching his wife suffer from the dreadful disease is not unique, but it is very personal. He's brought that personal touch to his passion for cycling and for his wife's memory.

It's also the outgrowth of a greater community that has its origins in on-line support community called “Cyclists Combating Cancer." "Connected through the internet, cycling and cancer," the group was founded in 1999 by Damon Phinney, father of Davis Phinney, Olympian and winner of a road stage of the 1986 Tour de France and his grandson, Taylor Phinney World Champion and
Olympian.

Phinney believed that "cycling greatly extended his life and more importantly his quality of life, after being diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer in 1987," said Youner.

The money he hopes to raise at this bike ride will go to scientists and doctors that Youner deems fit to research the causes and cures for cancer.

Though it is hard to measure how well those scientists match up against let's say, the major organizational heft of Livestrong, Youner's passion makes a compelling argument for showing up. I mean he really makes you feel if you don't come you're slighting your best friend.

The ride is on October 10, and starts at 8:30 am at the Englewood Hospital in Englewood, NJ and is about 40 miles to and from Hackensack. For out of towners who don't know the way, travel from the GWB to the big turn down to Englewood at Palisades Ave., go all the way down the hill, turn right onto Engle St. and ride about one mile to the hospital on the left.

Registration costs $40 but if you want to chow down afterwards for a kosher meal, and get a bike jersey too, that's an additional  $80.

Blasphemy on the pages of the NY Post

And they call themselves a News-paper? Another schnews attempt by the Post, intercepted today merely because I happened to leaf through it at Bunberry's in Piermont.

Headlined "Handle "Bars": Cyclists out of Control," and reported by AMBER SUTHERLAND and TOM NAMAKO, the article says that a study recently completed by NYU's Medical Center concluded that drinking and pedaling were the "reason" that cyclists were hurt while riding in New York City.

NYU researchers examined the victims of 143 bicycle accidents who were brought to Bellevue Hospital's emergency room from December 2008 to December 2009 and found that 76 percent had not been wearing helmets, 13 percent had consumed alcohol and 5 percent had been listening to music.

It is not only outrageous that the Post would therefore conclude that "most" cyclists are therefore "out of control." Though we have not seen the study ourselves yet, it is also a ridiculous sham to conclude that because they weren't wearing helmets they were hurt.

They were hurt because they were hit by cars, 2 and 3 ton vehicles made of steel and other hard elements going much faster than they were, most likely cutting them off, or hitting them from the side or front. To conclude, that since they were "not wearing helmets" they were hit by cars, is ridiculous and shameful.

Add insult to injury, they posted a photo of Critical Mass riders, as if they were the ones doing the helmet-less and drunken riding.  Time for a little slander lawsuit, dear TimesUP!

Let's get our hands on this bull-s-t study and see it for what it is. In the meantime, dear NY Post, I hope some of your reporters ride to work, then you can get the real story. Or should I say get off your fat butts and do some real pedaling!


More News, Some Silly

One rider known to some of us in Bergen County has submitted his dog for the "cutest" pet contest. Among the pics, two rabbits, a bunch of very cute and not so cute dogs, cats, and what looks like a raccoon.

Here is what Jon (owner of no. 31) says: "For anyone who missed the opportunity to vote for Wilson, he is entered in the Bergen Magazine Cutest Pet Contest.  He is #31.  Please vote for him.  The other contestants look like a bunch of dogs........."

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