Sassi’s Gold Dust

I’ve sometimes wondered about Aldo Sassi. He’s an Italian sports scientist who today runs the Mapei Sport centre, a training service offered to pros and amateurs alike. He’s hung around with some suspicious types in the past but today he’s seen at the forefront of clean sport. He makes a virtue of coaching riders who are reputed to ride clean, indeed Sassi’s not afraid to make the statements in public. He was at the recent New Pathways conference at Deakin Uni. A genuine militant for clean cycling is hard to find. He’s worth listening to.

Just recently he said he could guarantee all his riders are clean. I’d like to believe that’s true but it’s probably impossible to prove. But he can only do his best. Sassi is an optimist.

Sassi’s Secret Test
One difference though is that the Italian tests his riders using a special protocol: the total haemoglobin test. The test isn’t used for anti-doping authorities. It involves a rider breathing in a tiny quantity of carbon monoxide and for more, read it here. The point here is that regular monitoring could allow Sassi to build up a profile of his athletes to a level way beyond the bio passport. In other words, he’s got information at his fingertips that nobody else does.

Gold dust
Where I am struggling though is the sudden rush to associate with him. It’s not Sassi’s fault of course, indeed it’s to his credit. But Lampre have just announced a deal for 2011 and Katusha already visit the centre. The idea is to test riders in the lab, the usual assortment of effort tests and lactate measurements. Simply paying for a batch of tests is not the same as committing to clean up your team. I fear some teams are trying to capture some of Sassi’s gold dust. But if the riders will be subject to regular monitoring by Sassi then perhaps, just perhaps it will work.

  • Footnote: Aldo Sassi’s currently fighting cancer, specifically a brain tumour. In bocca al lupo…

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