Turning good news into bad

Friday, 24 June 2011

This should be the positive story of the day. The UCI and AFLD working together, the sport’s governing body and the French anti-doping authorities have a deal to help ensure doping controls in the upcoming Tour de France are effective and thorough. Just what we needed to hear.

Zorzoli

Careless talk can cost jobs

Only a little bit of careless talk by the UCI’s chief doctor Michele Zorzoli has undone this and this morning’s headlines scream “More doping scandals to come“. It’s pretty unfair according to Reuters’s Julien Pretot as Zorzoli was making some general comment about the bio passport. Indeed with the CAS upholding the ruling against Italian cheat Francesco de Bonis there’s further evidence that the bio passport scheme is working. On one side suspect riders are “forced” to dope within the limits, no longer can they manipulate their blood outrageously and on the other, the principle of the passport and its statistical methodology is being upheld. It’s all good.

So it’s a shame to see the story reported as something negative. But all the same, cycling officials need to know that you can’t be a little bit pregnant, that clumsy talk can turn awkward. Enough damage has already been done this year when the suspicion index got leaked.

Once again, with the sport struggling for credibility, you really want the UCI’s top people to make announcements that don’t spark controversy. But this isn’t Zorzoli’s fault, it’s the cumulative result of years of bungling, the media just don’t seem ready to look on the bright side or recognise a positive story. Don’t get me wrong, nothing’s rosy in the sport but the bio-passport is miles ahead and if not wholly perfect, still a genuine good news story.

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{ 6 comments }

Ard Jan June 24, 2011 at 1:16 pm

I saw this week a documentary on the Dutch tv (as an ‘appetizer’ for the tour) about doping. A certain Berend Nikkels (Dutch sports doctor) stated that if you want compete with the 20 best of the tour one has to use EPO. This is because after 10 stages the rider will endure hemolyse and the only way to solve this problem is to use EPO. Is this common knowledge? Are there more supporting messages from medical experts?
Regards ard jan

asb June 24, 2011 at 1:49 pm

@ Ard Jan:
I think that might be a little reactionary; yes haemolysis is caused by endurance sport, such as cycling, but the athletes are able to produce more RBCs to make up for ones that are lost, and you don’t need exogenous EPO for that. Another consideration is that if you were to supplement a rider with EPO it would likely result in a reduction of naturally occurring EPO, due to the effect of increasing the levels of oxygenated blood (homeostasis), so Idont think there would be a benfit.

Given the fact that medicinal EPO is also much less effective (although, I believe, humanised, glycosylated EPO is now becoming a reality) it would need to be taken in relativity large amounts, and therefore be pretty detectable.

However, this is only EPO….theres plenty of other drugs, hormones etc etc that riders could be taking to help them stay on form for 3 weeks of racing…..

Guadzilla June 24, 2011 at 2:18 pm

So what does the bio passport have to say about Contador?

Bundle June 24, 2011 at 2:43 pm

Guadzilla: BINGO.

Martin W June 24, 2011 at 4:30 pm

Ard Jan…

“This is because after 10 stages the rider will endure hemolyse and the only way to solve this problem is to use EPO. ”

Surely it can’t be the *only* way to solve this problem as the Tour had more than 10 stages long before synthetic EPO was available. As you’ve presented it the Dr’s argument seems to be basically “the Tour de France is impossible”.

Beth June 25, 2011 at 1:11 am

Pardon my ignorance here, but I can’t figure out what the loose talk was. I have googled his name and gone to several cycling news sites, but can’t find any mention of him. Was it the story about several riders’ names being flagged for extra monitoring during the tour? Or whatever it was, something like that? That scarcely seems like news these days, what with that nice little suspicion list that came out a few weeks ago. By the way, did anyone notice that one of the grounds for suspicion was having been previously suspicious? It was worded very much like that. That’s what I learned to call circular logic.
I accept that some riders are still doping; I get it. But this is descending into farce. Except it’s not funny.

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