FanDuel - WFBC

July 24, 2007

Panic in the Peloton: - Team Astana pulls out of the Tour de France following the announcement that Alexandre Vinokourov's A sample has come back positive for blood doping.

posted by apoch to other at 11:58 AM - 58 comments

Combined with the cloud hanging over Rasmussen, the current leader, this is not looking like a good year for Cycling.

posted by apoch at 12:08 PM on July 24

Summed up by David Millar. who served his own ban for using EPO: "Jesus Christ, I'm speechless. It makes me sad. I have the impression the riders will never understand." What's really staggering about this is that it's apparently 1970s-style blood doping: i.e. a transfusion done on the night before a stage. The kind that will be detected if you win. apoch: you mean 'combined with the cloud over Rasmussen, the suspension of Basso, the retirement of Ullrich, the cloud over the rest of T-Mobile, etc.' Cycling's a dirty sport. Always has been, always will be.

posted by etagloh at 12:15 PM on July 24

this is not looking like a good year for Cycling When was the last year Cycling had a good year?

posted by graymatters at 12:26 PM on July 24

What a dope!

posted by Fat Buddha at 12:53 PM on July 24

Football = dogfighting & Pacman Basketball = gambling refs Baseball = Roids & perjury Cycling = Doping I'm depressed. I guess I'll start watching HGTV with my wife.

posted by Bill Lumbergh at 12:55 PM on July 24

I believe that cycling will never completely escape etagloh's assessment. This is unfortunate but deserved,given its history.However, I also believe the sport will emerge in a new light when all the cheaters are tested out.This must occur or the sport may not survive.

posted by sickleguy at 01:06 PM on July 24

Can you ever get rid of all the cheaters? I doubt it. At this point, I would rather have no drug testing than constant effort focused on this one aspect of cycling.

posted by bperk at 01:22 PM on July 24

And Vinokourov, of course, had come under scrutiny for hiring Michele Ferrari, which leaves Lance Armstrong once more having to assert that Ferrari's time with USPS was an aberration from a career entwined with doping.

posted by etagloh at 01:47 PM on July 24

Oh Vino. One imagines Kloeden and Kashechkin will be less than chuffed.

posted by squealy at 02:03 PM on July 24

Vino is an idiot. It was clear before the Tour even started that UCI had their eye on Astana and he would be the prime target as the top favorite to win the Tour. At the pre Tour new conference, he was peppered with question about his relationship with Italian doctor Michele Ferrari. So what's this moron do - blood dope before the first time trial and then smoke the course. Since he won that stage and yesterday's, he automatically get's pulled for doping test twice in three days. Did he think no one would check for blood transfusions? I've lost all hope that cycling can ever clean itself up. The riders are idiots. UCI and WADA are incompetent. And team management take no responsibility whenever one of their riders test positive - they just fire the rider and move on. I fully expect Rasmussen to test positive for some form of doping any day now. Might as well call the whole TdF off.

posted by BikeNut at 02:13 PM on July 24

This sucks. It sucks for this year's Tour riders as it will now be the story of the 2007 Tour no matter what unfolds. Sadly, it's a story we've seen before. And, of course, it sucks for cycling in general. Another hit for a great sport that certainly doesn't need it. That said, it really scares me for what this means about other sports. Cycling is one of the few sports that seems to regularly catch it's high-profile athletes. And I have serious doubts that that is because they're the only ones cheating. You see, the reasons to cheat are the same regardless of the sport being played. A hockey player or a football player sees the same benefits from getting an advantage that a rider might. If anything, it's magnified by the dollars they can make. A baseball player or a soccer player can have an off-day or an injury just like a cyclist might. You can imagine how they might feel the same urge to recover more quickly. If anything, again, it's magnified by the pressure involved. What quickly becomes clear is that the reasons to dope span sports. This isn't a phenomena unique to cycling, so why are they not catching people in football, baseball, basketball, hockey, soccer, or other major sports? The only answer I can come up with is because they are not testing. Cycling tests your blood and they do so regularly. In fact, the only thing that separated a cyclist like Vinokourov from the high-profile athlete in another sport is that Vino knew he would be tested. And he still tried to cheat. Can you imagine what their doing in other sports knowing they'll never be tested?

posted by 86 at 02:52 PM on July 24

When is the last time there was a "clean" Tour in Cycling? Maybe they should go the way of bodybuilding and have two tours- one that is Open (anything allowed) and one that is "Clean" where they are tested. Testing positive in a Clean event would get you barred from all competitions for life.

posted by urall cloolis at 03:11 PM on July 24

The B sample hasn't been tested and it isn't considered a positive result until the confirmation test comes back positive. LNDD, the same lab who's poor procedures and science should result in Floyd Landis' exoneration, is the lab that ran this test. It, of course, is a different test, for a different doping method, on a different body fluid. Regardless of the B sample results, this does nothing for the credibility of cycling.

posted by apoch at 03:12 PM on July 24

That said, it really scares me for what this means about other sports. What it means is that the pee-sniffers will have a fucking field day. B sample? What B sample? Procedure? Due process? Fuck that shit!

posted by lil_brown_bat at 03:30 PM on July 24

Sadly, I am not surprised by this. It is July, the TDF and another doping/drug scandal. I actually half expect to hear a story like this coming from this event. In a twisted way I think I would be disappointed if this did not happen. True, the B sample has not come back from testing yet. I think the idea of having an "open" class of cycling is not the way to go. I am also opposed to it in weightlifting/bodybuilding. The adverse health affects are the main reason for this stance. It is irresponsible to condone the use of performance enhancing drugs. Cycling has no credibility to speak of. That was lost long ago, the UCI has a lot of work to do to gain any sense of credibility. I love the TDF, but frankly I am sick of this s**t ruining it.

posted by chuck'n'duck at 03:31 PM on July 24

lbb, you're right, of course. Anything relating to Vino should be noted as "alleged". Still, the larger point stands. Cycling is one of the few major sports that regularly catches its high-profile athletes doping. Cycling also happens to be one of the few major sports that regularly and thoroughly tests all of its athletes.

posted by 86 at 03:56 PM on July 24

Bperk: I disagree vehemently. A sport should be shitcanned rather than given over to the cheating shits ruining it. By doing that, you've basically let the cheats win. Bill Lumbergh: You can add motor racing to the list. NASCAR has smacked a bunch of teams this year, and in Formula One we've got a huge corporate espionage shitstorm going on (with Ferrari dragging the sport through the mud as always). And people wonder why I watch professional wrestling... At least you know where you stand with professional wrestling. (Note: Fuck WWE and anything related. I'm talking US indy's and Japan.)

posted by Drood at 04:21 PM on July 24

This is totally not surprising. Vino has been one of the dodgiest characters around for years - just look at the teams he rode for. What is surprising is the method. I mean, how stupid can he get? Tyler Hamilton got busted for the same shit in 2004, and despite offering up approximately 438 different excuses, still didn't clear his name. The test works, so why do it? German news agencies are apparently saying that the blood was from Vino's dad, so maybe he thought if the blood was from the same family he wouldn't be caught. I mean... wtf? What with the whole Rasmussen thing - whoops, I forgot to go to four dope tests - this whole Tour is a write-off already. I wouldn't be displeased if they canned it tomorrow. And got knows what this will do to cycling in the long term. Sponsors are dropping like flies already. T-Mobile are probably gone, Astana are already making noises about quitting, and there are still no replacements from Discovery, Cofidis or Credit Agricole. We should each chip in 50 bucks each and enter a Spofi Clean Team for next year's Tour de France.

posted by afx237vi at 04:27 PM on July 24

I love cycling but I suspect that it's soon going to be relegated to the backwater. It is now almost impossible for anyone other than Phil Liggett to enjoy a race without a cynical suspicion that the top riders are chemically aided. I agree with David Miller. Jesus Christ.

posted by wduchene at 05:21 PM on July 24

Maybe professional cyclists should learn to hit baseballs. Never too late to switch jobs. Seriously, though, if one were a fan of cycling or basketball these days, they would have to wonder how bright and promising the future of their chosen diversion is.

posted by THX-1138 at 05:42 PM on July 24

We should each chip in 50 bucks each and enter a Spofi Clean Team for next year's Tour de France. David Millar was actually going to announce his move to Slipstream, which basically tests its own riders continuously. You might think that strange for someone who'd served a doping suspension, but his confession and co-operation made clear how much he hated himself for being pressed into doping by a team that dumped him after he was caught. As afx237vi says, T-Mobile's got no reason to continue its support; Astana's dead in the water; Landis killed Phonak. But the withdrawal of sponsors and the demolition of the current team structure may actually be what's necessary if there's sufficient will to rebuild the sport as clean.

posted by etagloh at 07:40 PM on July 24

First off, the TDF is one of the greatest tests of mankind. The pressures are tremendous both financially and physically. Vino is an idiot and anyone else doping is the same, but the sport still has a long way to go to placing honor over greed. Second off, be careful comparing this sport to any other professional sport. The sport routinely tests, especially if they win a stage. It is a team sport, but still has individual awards within the competition. What I am referring to in the sport comparision is that imagine if the NFL, MLB or NHL tested certain athletes on a playoff or championship winning team. None of the leagues have the balls to go to that measure. The UCI does, and even though they are far from perfect, they are still in my eyes the only organization making any respecatable effort to cleaning up their sport. Every professional sport is chock full of this crap and it is either time that it is all legal or serious measures are made to completely eliminate the issue and temptaion. Legality or lifetime bans.

posted by keydet93 at 09:14 PM on July 24

the TDF is one of the greatest tests of mankind. That is so not true. It may be a tough athletic event, but hardly one of the toughest tests of mankind. These are coddled professional athletes. Tough tests of mankind include surviving famine, flood, war, and disease. A little perspective please.

posted by tommytrump at 09:53 PM on July 24

Everyone knows you will be tested upon winning a stage. So why do it? Because 99% of the time, your doctor has it right and you won’t get caught. The long list of those caught point to mistakes made by the “lab”. I say the doctors are human and they make mistakes too. Doctor mistake = positive test.

posted by rollfastbyu at 11:15 PM on July 24

VeloNews also has a 2004 Article that explains blood doping that they originally published following the Tyler Hamilton debacle.

posted by apoch at 04:15 AM on July 25

with Ferrari dragging the sport through the mud as always
Uh, whatwhat? I loathe Ferrari and the preferential treatment Mosely etc seem determined to give them, but c'mon. How is someone stealing Ferrari's secrets Ferrari's fault?

posted by rodgerd at 04:26 AM on July 25

First off, the TDF is one of the greatest tests of mankind. Second off, hyperbole is your friend. True, it's an extremely grueling bike race, but "one of the greatest tests of mankind?" That's a bit much.

posted by The_Black_Hand at 06:56 AM on July 25

I am referring to the "greatest test" in the professional sports sense. Obviously, I am not referring to natural and man made disasters. As TT put it, "A little perspective please." This is a sports forum, lets keep it that way. My post was strictly in defense of a great sport and the clean athletes competing. No major professional sport tests the way this one does.

posted by keydet93 at 07:15 AM on July 25

Well, you're a newer member, and nobody's familiar with your style yet. Statements like that are made, completely straight-faced, around here all the time, usually by people who actually mean it as it's written.

posted by The_Black_Hand at 07:56 AM on July 25

Never mind the Vino bombshell - during today's stage, there were some actual bombs. Also, news coming over the wire is that someone failed a testosterone test after stage 11. Rider to be named at the end of today's stage. (If your French isn't up to it, the Guardian's newswire offered: "Another Tour de France rider has failed a doping test, this time for testosterone, a senior French doping official has said. The official said he did not know the identity of the rider. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to discuss the case with reporters. French sports newspaper L'Equipe, which broke the story on Tuesday that Alexandre Vinoukourov had tested positive for a banned blood transfusion, said on its website on Wednesday that the latest case resulted from a test conducted on stage 11 of the Tour last Thursday. L'Equipe did not name the rider. It said the UCI, cycling's governing body, would announce the latest test result shortly.")

posted by JJ at 08:28 AM on July 25

So, is anyone seriously raising the question of where L'Equipe keep getting these test results, which (correct me if I'm wrong) it's not supposed to have? And whether the French doping officials, senior or otherwise, should be examining their own ranks for malfeasance?

posted by lil_brown_bat at 09:22 AM on July 25

lbb, you are absolutely correct that L'Equipe shouldn't have these results. A rider isn't considered to have failed a test until after the B Sample comes back positive. The A results aren't supposed to be released until confirmed by the B results because of the damage to a rider's reputation that could be caused by a false positive. If Vino's A results hadn't been leaked and his B came back negative, he could still be racing. Now if it comes back negative, he's already out of the race. It also ruined the race for his teammates, two of which were in the top ten. LNDD has a nasty history of leaking results. They shouldn't even know the rider's name that they are testing. The Tour should keep the name of who the samples are for secret from the lab, and the lab shouldn't report on the results of the tests to the Tour until the A and B results are in.

posted by apoch at 09:52 AM on July 25

Was there any leak in this case? Astana decided pull out of the Tour more or less by themselves. This automatically made Vino's positive A sample public. Riders from eight teams led a protest at the start of today's stage. Mostly French riders, who are all having a dismal Tour. It's easy to think there are some sour grapes in Christophe Moreau's suggestion that Rasmussen should quit "for the good of the Tour". For those of you who read French, La Presse's columnist Pierre Foglia really knows his stuff: Sunday July 22nd, after the Time Trial - The chicken with the brown jersey, in which he argues that Rasmussen winning this Tour is an even bigger scandal than Landis winning on testosterone or Armstrong on EPO, because Landis and Armstrong were the best riders nevertheless, whereas Rasmussen clearly isn't. He puts a lot of the blame on the Tour organizers, who are more interested in their event's mythology than the good of the sports as a whole, and who do not practice what they preach. Monday July 23rd, after the first Pyrenean stage - I love Denmark, where he praises Rasmussen for a great victory on his turf, the mountains. He adds:

Today, I love Rasmussen, but I will hate it if he wins the Tour. Last year, Floyd Landis acomplished one of the greatest feats in the history of cycling, and he was destituted for traces of testosterone. Rasmussen is home free, but to do what he did in the Albi time trial, he must have taken 4 tons and a half of magic powder. Rasmussen's 11th place in Albi is an insult to the intelligence of all cycling fans. Rasmussen is not a Tour winner. He would never win a Tour where every rider was clean. Landis and Armstrong, yes. I wrote a little quickly yesterday that when everyone cheats, then nobody cheats. In fact, some cheat better than others.

posted by qbert72 at 12:23 PM on July 25

I believe that L'Equipe announced that Vino's A sample was positive and then Astana was asked to leave the tour. I can't find a specific timeline to relate what order events occured in, but most of the press found out when a wire story came across and not any announcement by the Tour.

posted by apoch at 01:33 PM on July 25

Latest news is that Cristian Moreni has tested positive for synthetic testosterone and Cofidis have been "asked" to leave the Tour. This is the same Cofidis team that staged a sit-in protest at the start of this morning's stage and announced that they were forming a "movement for credible cycling" with the other French and German teams.

posted by afx237vi at 01:43 PM on July 25

Yeah, looking good, Cofidis! This is really dreadful for the sport

posted by qbert72 at 02:10 PM on July 25

I think the Moreni result is particularly bad, even worse than the Vino one, because the French teams are the ones who everyone thought were clean. Sure Cofidis have had some past form with David Millar and Philippe Gaumont in 2004, but those cases prompted a (supposed) clean up in the team with Eric Boyer brought in to replace the old guard. Didn't work, did it? This Tour could be rivaling the infamous '98 Tour by Sunday...

posted by afx237vi at 02:21 PM on July 25

Which is really sad, because if you forget about the doping allegations one minute, it's a fierce competition so far. Contador is a revalation, and if only Evans had lost a little less time two days ago, the final time trial would have been a three-man race for the overall victory.

posted by qbert72 at 02:25 PM on July 25

There might only be 3 men left in it to race for overall victory by the time they get to Paris!

posted by Fat Buddha at 02:33 PM on July 25

For the second year in a row, the Tour has sucked me in, chewed me up and is now spitting me out. I love it, but I'm wondering how many times it can Ben Johnson me before I stop watching.

posted by JJ at 02:36 PM on July 25

Hell, Fat Buddha, if you get on your bicycle now you might win it yourself.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 02:36 PM on July 25

I think the Moreni result is particularly bad, even worse than the Vino one, because the French teams are the ones who everyone thought were clean. When the gendarmerie paid a rather comprehensive visit to team buses near Toulouse, the French teams were apparently let through. It's easy to think there are some sour grapes in Christophe Moreau's suggestion that Rasmussen should quit "for the good of the Tour". Ah, but if Moreau weren't French, and the de facto darling of the French press and supporters, no one would give a flying fuck what he thinks or suggests. In other news, the NYT notes that Richard Virenque, another French darling and major doper, is part of the Champion polka-dot travelling roadshow. Thanks to qbert72 for the Foglia links. Bradley Wiggins was interviewed by the Grauniad and said that he couldn't work out where Vino got his extra 2 minutes for the time-trial. Chris Boardman said the same. Both are time-trial specialists. Rasmussen's performance was way beyond expectations, too. Arse. Albi's one of my favourite places in France, too. So, what now? Like I said, I think the mass exodus of sponsors presents a window for reform, because it disempowers the teams. If I ran the UCI, I'd suspend competitions, offer up a one-time amnesty for confessions. and try to rebuild from there. But it's tough. The sport twists your moral fibre. I still want to ride up Mont Ventoux and pay homage to Tom Simpson, knowing well that he consciously chose to take the drugs that helped kill him.

posted by etagloh at 03:23 PM on July 25

Rasmussen is out of the Tour. Pro cycling is in meltdown. News at 11.

posted by afx237vi at 04:44 PM on July 25

Holy crap. Le nouvelliste was just a few days early.

posted by qbert72 at 05:09 PM on July 25

Right....and with Gary Player pulling drugs into the golf picture, I am officially tuning any mention of drugs, in association with athletics, out. The whole "drugs and athletics" scare is being blown way the heck out of proportion. Isn't this something that has been done since the times of the ancient olympics? People need to get a grip and stop vilifying athletes for trying to succeed. From what I've seen, the "science" of drug detection is more of a PR (or political) tool than an exacting discipline. Ok....tuning out.

posted by slackerman at 05:23 PM on July 25

From what I've seen, the "science" of drug detection is more of a PR (or political) tool than an exacting discipline. You're obviously not looking in the right direction. Man alive I feel a column coming on just as soon as I can calm the hell down.

posted by JJ at 05:29 PM on July 25

Wow. This is one seriously messed up Tour. Apparently being on my fantasy tour is bad luck. (Vino and the Chicken.)

posted by apoch at 05:32 PM on July 25

No big surprise here. I predicted Rasmussen would get kicked out before end of Tour at start of this thread. His story about missing 4 doping controls just didn't hold water. And his performance in the first time trial set off alarm bells with anyone who follows the sport - the guy has never time trialed worth a damn before and suddenly he's in the top 10. Sure looked highly suspicious to me. Although I think he's full of it, Lemond is right - cycling has got to burn itself to the ground before it can start to rebuild. I hope it can. It is a great sport.

posted by BikeNut at 05:36 PM on July 25

This now makes 1998 look like a minor kerfuffle.

posted by etagloh at 06:21 PM on July 25

The whole "drugs and athletics" scare is being blown way the heck out of proportion. Isn't this something that has been done since the times of the ancient olympics? You have got to be kidding me. How was it done in ancient times Mr. Historian? Go back 50 years and let me know what was being done then. So are you saying that people that aren't willing to do drugs in order to compete at a high level should be the outcasts? I say get rid of any cheaters that you can prove in all sports and let those willing to do the work and preperation the hard way, the honest way play the games. Soccer has always been my preferred sport and I bet it is looking better and better to others. The only decent soccer players that I know that use drugs are marijuana users. Which makes you lethargic and lazy, not very good for endurance and speed, although it can make you very creative.

posted by urall cloolis at 06:32 PM on July 25

Last man standing (or in this case riding) wins.

posted by graymatters at 07:23 PM on July 25

Trust But Verify has a pretty interesting report about some hidden cameras that caught officials scurrying around in the dark.

posted by apoch at 02:17 AM on July 26

cloolis: So are you saying that people that aren't willing to do drugs in order to compete at a high level should be the outcasts? I'd say that you win today's prize for stuffing a ridiculous misstatement in someone else's mouth, but the day is still relatively young in my time zone. apoch, your link is broke -- fixed it here. Blucher!

posted by lil_brown_bat at 09:36 AM on July 26

LBB- Go back and read the post that I was referring to. I never stuck a statement or misstatement in anyone else's mouth. I asked a question, notice the question mark at the end. The question mark usually means a question being asked. So does that mean you win todays prize? (Question- not a statement, notice the question mark) In case you can't find the statements I was referring to here they are: The whole "drugs and athletics" scare is being blown way the heck out of proportion. Isn't this something that has been done since the times of the ancient olympics? People need to get a grip and stop vilifying athletes for trying to succeed. From what I've seen, the "science" of drug detection is more of a PR (or political) tool than an exacting discipline.

posted by urall cloolis at 12:12 PM on July 26

LBB- Go back and read the post that I was referring to. I never stuck a statement or misstatement in anyone else's mouth. I asked a question, notice the question mark at the end. The question mark usually means a question being asked. So does that mean you win todays prize? (Question- not a statement, notice the question mark) urall, what you asked is a rhetorical question. That may be a new term to you, but it's the very technique that you were employing with your "question". There is nothing in the post that you refer to that suggests making "outcasts" of non-dopers. So, in response to your more recent rhetorical question, it seems I do win today's prize.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 01:57 PM on July 26

LBB, You don't even know me, so do not tell me what I was trying to say or whether my question was rhetorical or not. As you quite frequently state- STICK TO THE RULES AND GUIDELINES- so stop making personal attacks on me and trying to stir things up. I do not care at all whether you respect or agree with my opinions or posts. You do, however, seem a bit obsessed with me. You seem a bit too eager to point out every misspelling I make, every word I use out of context, every grammatical mistake and point out rules violations every opportunity you get. You are also the first to jump on the bandwagon anytime anyone else criticizes me. Now you can even read my mind and know what I am thinking. That sure does seem like obsessive behavior to me.

posted by urall cloolis at 02:52 PM on July 26

You do, however, seem a bit obsessed with me. You have got to be joking.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 03:05 PM on July 26

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