The Insider #3

Wed, 02/16/2011 - 12:00pm by Anthony Tan

A new year may be upon us but I’ve still got a bunch of questions about events in years past and idle thoughts about the present.

About why certain girls didn’t like me as much as I liked them at school or university these curiosities may never be answered but concerning the sport of professional road cycling, I’m sure by year’s end, I’ll be able to reach some sort of closure on a few outstanding issues:

ONE: During Riccardo Riccò’s time away from the sport and while he was still training, at what point did he decide that going clean wasn’t the way forward, and that blood transfusions were?

By the way, I asked the UCI president whether Riccò continued to be monitored while suspended, to which spokesperson Enrico Carpani replied: “Riccardo Ricco has always been part of our protocol of monitoring [through] the 20 months of [his] suspension (as well as it is the case currently with Valverde).

“All ‘major’ riders are submitted to the same treatment,” Carpani said. “In other cases we restart following and checking them during the last 6-12 months [of their suspension].”

TWO: Will we, by the end of this year, learn exactly who was subpoenaed by the federal grand jury into the investigation sparked by Floyd Landis’ claims of systematic doping at the U.S. Postal Service cycling team, and, like the BALCO scandal, come to read exactly what they said? (And while we’re at it, I’d like the full transcripts, please.)

THREE: Concerning TWO, will prosecutors be able to indict any member of the team; that is, prove any member/s defrauded their sponsors by acquiring PEDs, using U.S. Postal funds (remembering this is the ONLY way they’ll get ‘em)? 

FOUR: Concerning THREE, will Lance Armstrong walk away from the sport a free man? And will it be at the Tour of California, or is it all getting a bit too hard and too boring for the grand old man of 39 years?

FIVE: What will become of Landis and Riccò – will the latter become someone’s beatch in prison, as Mark Cavendish hopes?

SIX: Regarding the mysterious case of Contador And His Beef With The Butcher, will the UCI/WADA appeal the Spanish cycling federation (RFEC) decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, and if so, how will they rule, and will they rule before the Tour de France starts on July 2?

SEVEN: Can and will Contador explain the presence of placticizers in his urine, uncovered in a New York Times report last October that showed levels eight times higher than the minimum that indicates blood doping?

EIGHT: Will the test for placticizers be validated by WADA and implemented by the UCI by the eve of the Giro d’Italia or, if not the Giro, the Tour de France?

NINE: Will we see a WADA-validated test for autologous (same species, same donor) blood doping by year’s end?

TEN: Off the doping beat and following on from the tours of Down Under and Qatar, will HTC-High Road and Garmin-Cervélo continue to be the dominant teams in 2011 and resume their ding-dong battle all the way through the Spring Classics – or will the leap of scarf-friendly Lay-oh-pards show they’re more than pretty boys with pretty toys?

ELEVEN: Given the difficulty of this year’ Giro parcours has ratcheted up a notch to the ‘Don’t do this if you’re going to try and win the Tour’ setting, will anyone other than an Italian win the most romanticized Grand Tour in the world?

TWELVE: Assuming Contador doesn’t race the Tour (a fair assumption, I reckon), are we about to witness another five-time era, this time dominated by the goofy but very likeable Andy Schleck – or can the likes of Ivan Basso and Cadel Evans, both 33 and who have only have one or two chances left, steal the show – and send the Andy that got pandied at the Vuelta for boozing back to the bar?

THIRTEEN: What will become of the online cycling milieu by the close of 2011? Who will come and who will go? And will sycophantic sludge continue to be as pervasive as it was in 2010?

Funny, that... I’ve run out at Unlucky Thirteen. Apologies to those suffering from Triskaidekaphobia.

Let me know if I’ve forgotten anything.

The Insider is a new feature on NYVelocity by cycling journalist Anthony Tan. In what will be a regular on NYVC, Anthony will contribute by way of podcasts with various industry folk, canvassing topics others are reluctant to discuss – as well as talking plenty of crap – and from time to time, he’ll also write a column about what really goes on behind the scenes in cycling’s major league, keeping the teams and those within on their tippy toes. Follow him on Twitter: @anthony_tan


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Maybe it's because we called
By: Andy Shen
Thu, 02/17/2011 - 7:43pm

Maybe it's because we called Graham Watson 'Mantits Watson'?

...i'm gonna simplify...
By: Matteo Dropout
Thu, 02/17/2011 - 6:42am

...don't get your hopes up regarding any of your points, ya ???...

...personally, every time in the last 5 years as i was starting to think something was gonna cast some positive light on the sport, something bigger came along to piss all over it again...

...eternal optimist here but damn, hopes in short supply...

...with fingers crossed, bgw...

By: West Coast Reader
Thu, 02/17/2011 - 2:16am

Well test away on plasticizers, right about now someone is coming up with a way of getting rid of them in their stored blood or some kind of filter/process pre-injection. Maybe a test for the filter/process instead? WADA need to think/test ahead of the curve not at the trailing edge, where they only catch the slow riders.

triscadecaphobia - good grief
By: Wet Lube
Wed, 02/16/2011 - 10:26pm

Well, since the penultimate issue now appears to be based on a false assumption, it appears we are back to a douze.

By: Barrus
Wed, 02/16/2011 - 9:11pm

One thing of this article which annoys me and which I read all to often on English websites is the notion that the NYT found out about the plasticizer test, while in reality it was the ARD.

Other than that, good questions, most of which I'd like to see answered as well

By: Mathias Tubie
Wed, 02/16/2011 - 9:03pm

Is a gateway to other ways of detection. It is VERY tough to detect doping and if this paves the way, then it should be used. What is really needed is adequate funding for development of tests.

By: Wheelacabra
Wed, 02/16/2011 - 8:22pm

I suffer from Dozenaphobia so, thank you, thank you, thank you for topping it off at 13.

By: Chamois
Wed, 02/16/2011 - 6:23pm


UCI/Wada really needs to get
By: mikeweb
Wed, 02/16/2011 - 5:22pm

UCI/Wada really needs to get to a plasticizer test ASAP. The bio passport has been shown to be a complete failure. Obviously auto tranfusing is still rampant, as the Contador case clearly shows.

Questions on the plasticizer test though:

Won't this cause auto tranfusing riders simply to switch to glass blood containers?

If so, plastic tubing will still be involved in the extraction and reinjection processes, but will this briefer exposure between blood and plastic be enough to cause a positive test, given other benign explanations for the presence of these substances in the blood?

Or am I completely not understanding what the presence of plasticizers actually means.

My questions too and I hope
Wed, 02/16/2011 - 2:04pm

My questions too and I hope they get answered. It struck me when reading this that I wish it were a simpler time, back when I was discovering pro racing and I hadn't a clue of all this mess. Oh for it just to be pretty again - filled with colors, a different kind of drama and the perseverance of spirit.

By: miss anthrope
Wed, 02/16/2011 - 1:35pm

Will we be able to ride contiguous loops in Central Park again?

All the leaves are brown
By: Bill Rupy
Wed, 02/16/2011 - 1:22pm

Kind of formulaic, this piece - like trying to make a hit song by simply naming names and scandals and historic events.

That aside, there is one major thing I think you've forgotten (and this touches on #1 Ricco'): What about the Biological Passport, and will this be the year that the UCI and WADA finally give up the charade? It's been shown to be of questionable utility, questionable validity, and questionable enforceability.

Cycling-wise, is this going to be a bright year with some shitty spots, or a shitty year with some bright spots, or neither? Time will tell. But I am recalibrating my inner cynic, that's for damn sure.

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