Gilbert stamps his foot

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Philippe Gilbert’s long been a vocal critic of doping. From the early days with FDJ to the present, when he fronts a video campaign for the Walloon regional government’s anti-doping campaign.

If you’re wondering what he’s saying, it’s “Hello, I’m Philippe Gilbert. Cycling is my whole life. I’ve been passionate about it for 15 years and a pro for nine… Be strong, respect the rules and your win is without doping“.

Nice countryside
The images are not of the Belgian countryside. Rather they are filmed on the roads behind Nice and Monaco, the training ground for Gilbert in the winter. As you can see, the roads are hilly with many bends. Frequent accelerations and short efforts are required, even for a recovery ride. You can see where Gilbert does his famous hill reps and works on his infamous tolerance for lactic acid. It’s also nice to see him express intolerance on the subject of doping.

beev April 26, 2011 at 12:27 pm

Big fan of Gilbert, but frankly saying “the words” is the easy bit – everyone, clean and dirty, says the words. The difficult bit would be stating what he has seen and naming names over his nine pro years. That would be a different class!

The Inner Ring April 26, 2011 at 12:32 pm

Perhaps but many don’t say the words. Some just clam right up or resort to the “I’ve never tested positive” refrain.

It’s good to see a more, err, positive, message here with a top rider saying it out loud. Of course though it’s just a youtube clip, hardly a stone tablet engraved with the words. I don’t want to kick off a inquest into his innocence or guilt, perhaps that’s best done in some other forum.

beev April 26, 2011 at 12:52 pm

Sure – not wanting to kick off a rumour filled thread here – no interest. however, my point stands – what has changed in the last six years that allowed him to express more direct views on doping to paul kimmage then (as a neo pro) to now (as arguably world #1)? the answer is in the brackets, and its this self/vested interests that see to it that doping is never fully tackled by the ones that arguably have the greatest sporting interest to do so….

Nick April 26, 2011 at 2:02 pm

beev, so he was even more candid to Kimmage?

Jeremy April 26, 2011 at 4:24 pm
Martin W April 26, 2011 at 4:30 pm

INRNG, I agree – it’s why I’ve always given Wiggins the benefit of the doubt when people questioned his 4th place in the Tour. If either of them were doping, they would have to be enormously stupid to publicly rail against it at every opportunity, when they could just keep quiet without raising any particular suspicion – and I don’t believe either of them is really that dumb.

Speaking out doesn’t prove anything, but it does very publicly raise the stakes for the rider doing it and so by a roundabout route enhances their credibility. For me, anyway.

Starr April 26, 2011 at 5:13 pm

You guys see Gilbert calling out his teammates in the press after Liege.
All about them leaving him isolated at key moments, especially when that dangerous ten man move formed?

jza April 26, 2011 at 5:52 pm

Winning a classic clean?…..ehhh, Maybe?

Absolutely dominating the last 40k of four consecutive races with top-tier fields clean? ummmmm…no.

ColoradoGoat April 26, 2011 at 6:13 pm

jza..

I agree, that it is tough to suspend all disbelief. However, I think in today’s day and age, with the Biological Passport, more refined testing, that even those doping are micro-doping and otherwise likely doping in the off-season or during training).

I think a case can be made that the efficacy of doping has been reduced such that a true genetically gifted athlete who trains hard may finally, after about 20 years, be able to overcome those on a regime of chemicals and hormones.

Not saying that you are wrong for questioning results. But I think we have to ask whether we are finally at the point where we have returned to the pre-1991 era that as Andy Hampsten described it, where doping was available, but the efficacy of such offerings were really not there to overcome the risk/reward.

Another thought however, is whether Gilbert could potentially be someone who, through cognitive dissonance, be able to separate certain kinds of doping (i.e. – EPO/HGH) as doping, and then completely ignore blood transfusions as doping (afterall, it is your own blood). In other words, it would allow him the gravitas and confidence to take a position on doping if his actions in his mind were in his opinion not doping at all.

ColoradoGoat April 26, 2011 at 6:14 pm

But regardless…it beats Mr. “I am the most tested athlete in history”, which is a fallacy in its own right.

Kathy April 26, 2011 at 6:31 pm

I know that this is my own naivety speaking, but I very much want to believe in the greater good and that the majority of these top athletes are racing clean.

Martin W April 26, 2011 at 6:43 pm

@jza: “Absolutely dominating the last 40k of four consecutive races”? Hmmmmm… no.

– L-B-L – Schlecks attacked with about 20k to go, Gilbert followed and then countered once.
– Fleche-Wallone – Gilbert sat in except for the odd pull to help get the break back, then made his winning move inside the last kilometre.
– Amstel Gold – decisive selection at about 20k, A. Schleck goes alone with about 10k left, Gilbert hits the front with about 5k to go. Rodriguez attacks at the death and Gilbert responds.
– Brabantse Pijl – Gilbert followed Leukemans’ attack at about 17k from the finish then outsprinted him.

hamncheeze April 26, 2011 at 7:13 pm

I have always been a fan of Phil Gil since his early days with with FdJ, he has always ridden with style and raced hard for the win. In his early days he was perhaps a little less tactically astute, but his attacking style made for great entertainment. Given his recent performances and the fact that the last man to do the Ardennes triple was Rebellin (who was also thought to be a “clean” rider), it is easy to see why people will start questioning Gilbert’s performances.

At this point, I am a believer in Philippe. Here is why: He has had a career based on progression, his quantity and quality of victories have steadily climbed over the years. He has not had a meteoric rise to stardom followed by a dip in performance, followed by another meteoric rise, etc. I could argue that his stellar perfomances of He started out in a French team in post-Festina times and if one believes all that is written teams like FdJ, Credit Agricole, and Bonjour/Brioche/Bbox/Europcar have been operating clean since the turn of the century. Cofidis is the exception but their hiring policies got the better of them.

jza April 26, 2011 at 7:14 pm

Freddy Viaene

Crommy April 26, 2011 at 9:28 pm

Philippe Gilbert’s breakout year was 2009. Yes, he changed teams, but that also coincided with the introduction of the biological passport. He’s all but said this was a key reason for his breakout year.
Now I’m not naive enough to say he’s 100% clean, but he’s certainly cleaner than riders several years ago.
Also, his honesty in speaking out is refreshing, and inclines me more to believe him. Riders have historically had the opinion they had a right to dope, and used to protest (successful) police raids – not because of what was found, but that the police were raiding.
So it’s refreshing to hear and hopefully a full-peloton change in attitude.

Raouligan April 26, 2011 at 10:35 pm

If I had to put money on a clean team I’d have put my money on FDJ as far back as Bassons Madiot has seen everything and certainly isn’t a fool. I think FDJ have been clean since Festina and have been denied a World Tour place pretty much unjustly especially when you see Vacansoleil in the mix.

Gilbert seems to be on an upward progression which I hope continues because he’s awesome to watch on and anyone who doubts this Spring’s campaign needs to look back to last years performances pure class.

Beth April 26, 2011 at 11:03 pm

Well, we’ve all gotten very cynical haven’t we? And with good reason, of course. And I won’t say that I haven’t “wondered” about him myself. But the most depressing thing here is that so many of us have become incapable of “believing” in such an awesome performance. It seems to take away much of the joy of watching these races, if we cannot just sit back and feel a thrill at watching such great racing as we have seen this spring in the classics. This is the worst part of the doping scourge and perhaps the biggest long-term threat to the future of the sport: our own loss of belief.
I am not a Pollyanna at all, but I want to just sit back and be impressed by what Gilbert has done. And I choose to give him the benefit of the doubt. If I can’t do that, I might as well quit paying any attention at all.

Jonathan Vaughters' Sideburns April 27, 2011 at 3:57 am

Beev: You are a tool. Gilbert is a bonafide baller. By the way have you realized that the more hair I lose the darker my glasses get?

Jarvis April 27, 2011 at 9:09 am

hamncheeze: Rebellin was thought to be a clean rider? Hardly.

With the sports recent history I can understand why people will now question his performances. But anyone who has followed the sport, and especially Gilbert, should be able to see the changes in performances over the last few years and realise that not everything is due to doping.

The one thing I don’t understand is those people who point fingers at those in the sport who are the most outspoken against doping and will always find even a tenuous angle to link such people to probable doping. Most who have been caught doping, and many recent “champions”, speak out against doping, especially if they haven’t been specifically asked about the subject, let alone if they are caught.

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