Thursday Shorts

Thomas Voeckler, la langue francaise, has announced he’ll retire at the end of the Tour de France next year. He’s not got the force he used to enjoy and the peloton are wise to his breakaway antics.

Spanish riders have called him “Hollywood” for his theatrical faking of cramp or excessive displays of fatigue only to see him recover and zip off for the win. A show but he was someone trying to tilt the odds with tactics. His team mates called him Francis after character from the Trainspotting novel/film, a fuller explainer here from July 2012.

From Voeckler to allegations of cortisone abuse. Several people have asked where’s the piece on Wiggins and the leaked TUE. Having been away for a couple of days there are good pieces online already from others (here, here, here among others) and there’s not much more to add. However two small points:

  • First is the case of Tramadol use at Team Sky after Michael Barry said he and others used it; Sky came back saying “current” riders did not use it but didn’t deny it had been used in the past. It was legal as it’s still not banned but is it right to use a powerful opiate to help you pedal? You can argue both ways but the purpose is illustrative and leads us to ask whether it’s right or not to use a powerful anti-inflammatory corticosteroid
  • The MPCC group isn’t fashionable but their cortisol testing program is a good guard against cortisone abuse and if the UCI can’t act then more teams ought to be supporting the MPCC rather than leaving it. The group is only as strong as its members and many have walked out but riders ought to be asking why their team won’t sign up; if all do then the incentive to abuse cortisone drops away, think of it as a classic Game Theory move where all can cooperate to enhance their health

Shy but not retiring: Wiggins  had announced his road cycling retirement after concluding the Tour of Britain only this came as news to the Abu Dhabi Tour who have booked him and presumably paid plenty of Dirhams for the privilege so he’ll do this.

Staying in the Middle-East the World Tour team boycott of the Worlds is over. Or rather partially as some have decided to go to Doha but others will stay behind. So the event goes ahead but the real issues behind this are not settled, namely the frustration with the sudden expansion of the calendar for 2017.

A last mention of the Middle-East as it’s currently 39°C (102°F for US readers) in Doha and the temperature needs to fall in order to stage the World Championships with their long distance events. Things will cool into October but the events are only weeks away.

2017 Tour de France: the route will be announced in a month’s time. We know the start is in Düsseldorf with a 13km time trial. This week the Belgian media is saying the race will head to Liège soon after and the Luxembourg press says the race will visit their country too. As ever you can piece together these local sources to sketch much of the route. It seems the eastern Franche Comté region will get an early visit with the Planche des Belles Filles climb meaning a stage in Thibaut Pinot’s back yard and then the first week will end with a air transfer to the Périgord region and then stages heading south to the Pyrenees. If Pinot gets a tribute, after the race leaves the Pyrenees there’ll be a stage heading to Brioude, where Romain Bardet grew up. The papers say the Col du Béal is possible, the scene of the Contador-Froome duel in 2014. Then come the Alps and a mooted summit finish on the Col d’Izoard. All will be revealed on 18 October.

Race director Thierry Gouvenou has lamented the way some try to publish the route ahead of the day but it’s a compliment that people care enough to be curious. This year’s route does seem to be more secret than usual, ASO has asked mayors and hotel owners to try and keep a lid on the leaks and so far it seems to be working.

Nibali Lombardia 2015

The Tour’s route reveal is one of those moments that marks the end of the season. There are still several races left including the underrated Eneco Tour, Paris-Tours and some excellent races in Italy, notably the Giro dell’Emilia this Saturday with its hilltop finish above Bologna. One rider who won’t be thriving on the hilltop is Carlos Betancur, he won this race in 2011 but his switch to Movistar hasn’t seen him racing much more. There’s also Il Lombardia but one rider who won’t be going is last year’s winner Vincenzo Nibali. Sacrilege? Maybe but he could just be off form and preferring an easier race. Above all he rides for Astana and the same weekend has pro races in Kazakhstan so he has to show up.

Lombardia podium 2015

Another rider who won’t be present is Thibaut Pinot who has stopped for the year. He’s making plans for 2017 but like Nibali is being pulled in different directions, he wants to race the Giro because he’s got a good shot at the podium or better, he’ll have less pressure on him, he prefers cooler weather and he’s long enjoyed racing in Italy. Only he’s a Frenchman riding for a team sponsored by the French national lottery so skipping the Tour de France is a big deal but probably the price to pay in order to develop a rider who will still be 26 for the next Giro and constantly improving.

Finally back to Voeckler, sort of: if Pinot’s cut short his season, Voeckler goes on and on. He’s someone who often racks up the most race days a year. He’s currently on 91 and looks set to surpass Alejandro Valverde’s count of 92 given the Frenchman still has an eye on a few more races this season. He must be sick of energy gels and race food given all this so news from Britain of a beer energy gel, made from real ale and it’s 24% beer. Yes this reeks of a marketing stunt but it’s real rather than an April fool’s prank. It works as an attention-grabber because it’s beer and because a lot of energy gels have the same sickly taste so this could work. Some other brands offer sour tasting gels.

81 thoughts on “Thursday Shorts”

  1. Respect to Voeckler for his dogged time in yellow over the years. However his legacy may be the new generation of “face pullers” he leaves behind at Direct Energie. The schtick became the main show in the last few years over shadowing the fact that he was a real racer.

  2. Forgive me for raising the cortisone subject as it’s bound to raise yet more hysteria.
    But isn’t it’s use in many sports old hat; it’s certainly been around in football for instance for decades, albeit primarily as a painkiller?
    It all feels like an anti-Sky / British bandwagon jumper?

    • You could say that IF Sky hadn’t started with all those lofty proclamations about “marginal gains” and other claptrap revolving around how they (while insinuating others were far from) clean and transparent the team would be. I think the critics are on about the HYPOCRISY of it all. SKY’s not all that different from other teams, they just ran their mouths to make people think they were. Thanks for the hackers we now know it’s pretty much “same s__t-different day”.

    • Have a look at the medical opinion on stickybottle linked by inrng above. It’s pretty much a serious thing (speaking of “serious”, football hasn’t any antidoping policy matching this adjective, by the way).
      I’d also like to read explanations about the question of the dates appearing in those TUEs (the authorisation dates look like they *follow* the start date of the permission by days or, in a case, months), but truth is that I’m becoming more and more uninterested.
      It’s not something which hasn’t been self-evident for some time, and I’m presently more worried about the damage to cycling image than about Sky.
      They’ll be allowed anyway to go on doing whatever they’re doing while the present politic power distribution stays set and active, unless ASO gets angry about the TdF TV rights falling to the floor (as they might do if the effect on audience continues for a couple of years or so).

    • We nasty, nasty foreigners! But at least you can find some relief knowing that here you found a place where no critical questions of sky are asked, instead you find nice things about Boardman and Ale.

      • @Gabriele – precisely, old hat. I can take you back to the 1970’s when footballers were having cortisone injections and the passage of time has allowed us now to see some of the longer-term damage it caused.
        @N – just a silly comment. The subject has no national boundaries and is a concern for all.

        The whole series of articles, and particularly the comments that followed, is an argument you could have been having decades ago, The hackers have raised an old skeleton.

        • @Ecky Thump
          But in football everyone is taking their injection, here the problem is that some guys just hang in there with, say, their allergies spoiling their races (and I’m no speaking only of MPCC: more often than not, it’s hard to receive a TUE on time once you feel bad, but they’re not so prone to allow TUEs before you feel ill, *just in case* – at least not with *normal guys*); whereas we see that others readily get heavy prescriptions (bordering nonsense, according to medical opinions – and not only the one reported by stickybottle).
          Ulissi was DSQd for abusing the quantities of a TUE, I think (not sure to remember well), but what if they prescribe you a huge treatment which isn’t proportionated to your trouble and it gets green light by the UCI?
          I don’t know where I read that one of the principles of TUEs was that the substance use shouldn’t grant benefits besides the minimal required to solve the problem. It doesn’t look like this principle was complied with in Sky’s case.
          Moreover, sometimes it looks like – I don’t know if it’s normal – that they got the permission after the allowed period of use has begun. Or even after one month. This doesn’t smell well, esepcially in cycling. In football they don’t even need such *tricks* (nor in tennis).
          Neither the name Zorzoli is particularly appealing to my ear.

          Besides, say, Conconi studied corticosteroid after EPO: their effect on general metabolism and muscular one. This kind of knowledge wasn’t available in the ’70s, even if I’d agree that it was already there in the Golden Age of ’90s and ’00s. The period we supposedly left behind.

            4.0 Obtaining a TUE
            4.1 An Athlete may be granted a TUE if (and only if) he/she can show that each
            of the following conditions is met:
            a. The Prohibited Substance or Prohibited Method in question is needed to treat an acute or chronic medical condition, such that the Athlete would experience a significant impairment to health if the Prohibited Substance or Prohibited Method were to be withheld
            b. The Therapeutic Use of the Prohibited Substance or Prohibited Method is highly unlikely to produce any additional enhancement of performance beyond what might be anticipated by a return to the Athlete’s normal state of health following the treatment of the acute or chronic medical condition.
            c. There is no reasonable Therapeutic alternative to the Use of the Prohibited Substance or Prohibited Method.
            d. The necessity for the Use of the Prohibited Substance or Prohibited Method is not a consequence, wholly or in part, of the prior Use, (without a TUE,) of a substance or method which was prohibited at the time of such Use.
            The latest I could find:

    • If it’s used for therapeutic use it’s allowed, if the aim is performance enhancement without a genuine therapeutic need then it’s doping and isn’t. The MPCC’s solution is useful as it helps cover the grey areas, ie if you have low cortisol levels – which can come from taking cortisone – and your health is at risk then best to sit out the race.

      • Still old hat Inrng. A Cycling Tips article was based on an ex-cyclist’s tales of 10 years ago.
        Let’s just assume, therefore, that this feeling of “bouncing off walls” after a cortisone injection wasn’t just a sudden revelation even then.
        So my point is why the sudden brew ha-ha?

        • Shame about Bradley –superb athlete but probably without that bit of pharmaceutical aid he could not, on his own, quite make the weight and stay so strong as to turn himself from a champion track endurance sprinter into an unbeatable road race climber; thus he was injected and became very economical with the truth about it. Mods and drugs, eh?

          Actually even as an established top climber Contador became forever linked with Clenbutarol, which -inter alia- has weight reducing outcomes.

          I think it is right if the smell of hypocrisy at the very least means the main Sky men are not allowed to go gently into that good knighthood.

          Just because the drug agent is old and its use has been around for a long time it does not mean it is any less dodgy. As has been noted, for years it has been common practise that footballers are given corticosteroid injections to keep playing through and despite injury already incurred and they are stupid to allow it.

          But rather than being unfit to compete otherwise Bradley Wiggins’ TUEs seem to have been wanted as a means to keep him supremely fit and up to speed in the face of potential, inevitable debilitation through the impending Grand Tours. The idea is that the intra-muscular injections were precautionary for the future, not about actual and existing debilitation and pollen counts at different times of year in France and Italy: they were therapeutic in the sense of continued health-giving and, if effective in this in the face of the attritional rigours of Grand Tours, then performance enhancing.

          It’s not anti-Sky but it is sad. Another “Say it ain’t so” moment, really.

          • “the main Sky men are not allowed to go gently into that good knighthood”

            Too good to just let slip by. Bravo sir, brilliant line – well played!

          • The Wiggins “affair” bothers me but the certainty of some around the case is ludicrous.

            The case certainly highlights the need for UCI or WADA or whomever to dictate that if you need certain medications you are unfit to race.

            The problem I have with the assertion that these injections turned him into superman is that a) He finished 4th (3rd) in ’09 and b) He was an abject failure in the 2013 Giro.

            To re-cap, should we be wagging fingers at Wiggins/Sky? If you want to sure, its justifiable, but why anybody is surprised that someone goes up to the line in cycling is beyond me. IMO responsibility lies with the authorities as they are the ones that legitimize the TUE.

            Screaming bloody murder an calling this the second coming of Armstrong/Bruyneel – I think not.

          • “superb athlete but probably without that bit of pharmaceutical aid he could not, on his own, quite make the weight and stay so strong as to turn himself from a champion track endurance sprinter into an unbeatable road race climber”

            You mean apart from Paris-Nice, Tour de Romandie, 2x Criterium de Dauphine and tours of Britain and California? The rest of your post is also similarly short on fact…

          • DG, but how much was Wiggins using corticosteroids out of competition? That we don’t know because it’s legal.
            And the same goes for every other rider/team.
            This isn’t anti-Wiggins/Sky, it’s a problem that is rife in cycling.

          • I’m pretty much with CM on this. You all know that I’m a supporter of Team Sky and I’ll be honest with you and say this bothers me. Wiggins, especially, now gets a virtual asterisk in my mind for his road achievements. Its all just to convenient and even as what many of you would describe as a Sky “fanboy” I’m not so blind that I can’t see that what’s going on here looks dodgy. Wiggins was always at the limit of his capabilities as a grand tour rider. It took a flat time trial course and a weaker field (no Contador, Froome shackled as his domestique, Nibali having one of his off races) for him to win it. Now it seems he may have been fortuitously aided by some convenient (legal!) medicine (as he would call it). I think it all stinks. I think that if you are so sick you couldn’t race without drugs that will also help keep your weight down and give a performance enhancement then you shouldn’t race. Simple. No ifs and buts. No exclusions. If that means riders I like then so be it. You can’t pick and choose. So, yes, Froome should have been pulled from Romandie in 2014 when he needed a TUE to race on. People who cannot race without assistance shouldn’t race. Some have said that this kind of possible TUE abuse is a grey area. But its easy to fix. If the drug you request permission to take is performance enhancing at all then its not allowed. You can still take it but you must sit out the race.

            I see that today its been announced that Wiggins will appear on national UK TV this Sunday to be interview by a political interviewer (so a non-expert). I wonder why this is when Wiggins’ first comment on this was “There no problem. There’s nothing new here.” No? Then why are you going on TV Brad?

      • Exactly. CM, Gabriele and Larry T have summed it up above for me.
        To believe those three injections – with those timings – were purely therapeutic is to ignore all medical evidence and to be utterly credulous.
        A lot of British cycling fans’ attitudes seem to have changed (in the space of a fortnight) from ‘Drugs are bad’ to ‘This isn’t that good a PED anyway’, ‘Everyone does whatever they can’, ‘He’d still have won’, etc.
        Wiggins said he had no injections and we’ve been listening to Sky preach for years. That hypocrisy is why people have ‘leapt on the bandwagon’.
        The fact is that regardless of why he took it and what therapeutic effect it was having that drug still had its performance-enhancing effect on Wiggins when he won the Tour.

          • No sport/performance medicine specialist here… they’re *surprised* by the therapeutic option, but they fail to fully explain *why* the doctors at Sky decided so; must we infer that the latter are not competent at all? Marginal gains everywhere, yet as a team you work with ill-informed doctors who prefer a scientifically-very-doubtful plus potentially-performance-hindering therapeutic line? And, imagine the bad luck, it typically happens on the verge of the core of your season.
            Come on. Ecky, you look like to be on a bandwagon, here.

            Note that, as I said above, the doctors who work with cyclists (and other sportsmen) know pretty well that corticosteroids are hugely effective as PEDs, and for several intertwined reasons.It’s not pure chance that they’ve been on the wishlist of every doper (legal or not) in every sport for decades.

            One of the trouble we face is that it’s uncommon for researchers to publicly share the results of their work on performance enhancement – people might think you’re planning something which is not exactly fair. Add to that the nationalistic factor (most research is in collaboration with armed forces, besides sportsmen… like the British one about ketones): you don’t want to sell away on an international review your competitive/military advantage.
            Moreover, the ethic itself of researching on human beings, risking unknown side-effects, for performance’s sake and not in order to, say, restore health, might be seen as problematic.
            In fact, several doctors I know are partly favourable to doping legalisation in order to have the knowledge gathered in that field shared among the scientific community. However, the general consequence is that you can’t expect a professional who isn’t specifically interested in the relation between pharma & sport to know much on the subject.

          • Gabriele, what I object to is yet another trial by internet, mostly by the same forum users who criticise Sky for all manner of things.
            I know jack about cortisone, as do 99% of us, but it doesn’t prevent the hysteria.
            Just publicise every rider’s TUE’s or none of them.

          • Ecky Thump I’m with you on that. TUEs should be reported whenever they are given in an official press release. Personally, I’d say if you need one for something with clear performance enhancement properties then you sit out the race you are in or the next one. It is, as has been said, a legalised form of cheating.

            As to “trial by Internet”, this will always happen. In the case of Wiggins this doesn’t surprise me as the story he told does not now fit the facts. I’d like him to do an interview with someone who knows their stuff so we can see his answers. But knowing his character I’m sure he’d take offence at even being asked by someone who knows their onions. It all leaves a nasty taste.

    • It was a double fracture of the same side?
      I’ve had a crash at speed that shattered the clavicle into tiny pieces.. at least 6-8 months to feel comfortable again on the bike. Back on it after a few weeks, but that gingerness stays for a lot longer.

  3. Good to see the Eneco Tour get a mention, the past few years have delivered some great racing and the last two days’stage finishes have been really good too. Worth mentioning today there was an incredibly near moto miss in the final few KMs for the breakaway that looked lethal from the helicopter shot. A split second away from another serious incident that could have wiped out three riders. Hope the motorcycle rider is OK.

  4. A few brief thoughts,

    I would really like to see Pinot racing the Giro. I think he could really win it as it has the cooler weather, the lack of overwhelming French press coverage, and he has made a lot of improvements in his abilities to race on non standard GC days.

    Is it just me or does this seem as Wiggins has supposedly retired a bunch of times. I won’t believe that he is actually retired until I see him show up at some media appearance looking like he isn’t nearly in good enough shape to make a comeback.

    I will miss Voeckler. Even though his attacks haven’t been as successful, he’s always willing to give it a go, which is quality that I think a lot of riders are lacking.

  5. Sad to hear of Tommy V’s retirement, the end of an era of sorts. My god I have seen his whole pre career! Best of luck to him and hope he enjoys a great retirement.

  6. Nibali is riding again, judging by his Strava. Did the Nibali Grand Fondo the other week in the Dolomites (I think). Maybe not up to race pace yet though.

    • Nibali is presently riding, the accident hindered is fitness but he could well prepare for Lombardia. He’s just being forced to race in Kazakhstan – again. It’s his turn, like last year it was Aru’s, and the previous one it was again Nibali’s.
      I’m utterly disappointed and worried by the fact that the team has got so much power on the rider albeit he’s moving.
      We’re seeing – in some teams, and not only at Astana – much less “power playing” (as some other reader said about Cav; Sagan is another rider who looks to be taking interesting decisions, too) by the riders than what could be expected, and that’s not a good news, IMHO.
      I’d love, for example, to see Pinot and Bardet at the Giro…

        • As I recalled before on this blog, truth is that Italian cycling fans easily and often support foreign champions. Presently, Contador’s probably got more fans than Nibali among Italian cycling lovers (and rightly so, perhaps: personally, I prefer to cheer both). The general public might be a different story, even if the way it usually splits might surprise you. The yearn to criticise a compatriot often (not always) goes well beyond the supposed pleasure people would feel supporting him or through sort of an identification. The most famous Italian sports’ figures are often less recognised in Italy than elsewhere…
          Bugno’s fans didn’t like Chiappucci (to say the least), and the other way around, but everyone respected Indurain.

          All that said, you might be totally right when you say that a Frenchman might constitute a problem, ah ah ah! ^__^

          Yet, if I think better, Jalabert was pretty much appreciated (the national TV is *currently* broadcasting every now and then some of his victories in Italian semi-classics), as it was Virenque, who found more support in Italy than in France after his doping woes. Which maybe says something about Italian’s attitude on the subject, but at the same time proves that there was no utmost national prejudice against the French cyclist. Fignon was hugely loved in Italy by lots of fans, even if he for sure didn’t perceive much of that love, quite the contrary I’d say, because of the organisers’ attitude. Perhaps it was because a sort of “the-enemy-of-my-enemy” thing, but I think that also the champions’ personality and riding style helped in making him beloved.
          Duclos-Lassalle was a case of pretty much detested Frenchman. I don’t know much of how people felt about Hinault.

  7. If WADA won’t ban glucocorticoids out of competition (and tr4mad0l in competition), amongst others, the UCI should ban them themselves.
    If that would be legally difficult to uphold at CAS, all the UCI have to do is say ‘We are banning these drugs in cycling. If you take it and you’re caught we will make that public and ask you to take a voluntary ban’. Teams won’t stomach that – because sponsors won’t.
    Of course, that would only apply if the UCI actually wanted to deal with this problem, rather than just have the good PR of complaining that WADA won’t do it, whilst refusing to open that can and then seeing the huge number of worms that come out.
    It’s time the legal drug culture in cycling was dealt with – we all know about ‘finishing bottles’ containing painkillers – and it would be extremely naive to assume that riders/teams are not using glucocorticoids out of competition.
    As for TUE’s, they should be public knowledge.
    (Some will cite medical privacy, but cycling is a voluntary practice and if you don’t like the rules, you don’t play the game.)

    • To continue:
      TUE’s should also be decided upon by neutral doctors – i.e. doctors completely outside of cycling.
      Then, you have some simple rules:
      If a rider has an acute illness that requires a PED to ride then they are too sick to ride.
      If it’s chronic, e.g. allergy/asthma (there are so many asthmatics that it seems implausible that all are genuine) this ailment should be confirmed by the same neutral doctors.
      They – and not team doctors – can then prescribe the appropriate treatment.
      Some drugs should be considered too performance-enhancing to be allowed. The likes of s4lbutamol inhalers would be OK (doses decided by doctor), glucocorticoids would not.
      It might be unfortunate for a tiny number of riders, but if your medical problems are so severe that you require a drug that gives that level of performance-enhancement you either don’t ride or don’t take it.
      The point that cannot be ignored in all of this is that these drugs, regardless of the motives behind taking them, always enhance the performance (outside of
      As Conor McGrane says in that article, the way these drugs are being used is not normal medical practice.

    • Can the UCI ban things unilaterally? In theory maybe but its all tied up in international sports regulation. The UCI want to be locked in with WADA (safety in numbers) and then there is CAS which seems to be the overall arbiter. They need to be all on the same page or the whole thing becomes a farce (which, yes, it is anyway).

      You are right that the UCI could just go their own way but that risks them putting several noses out of joint and I’m sure they’d say their life is hard enough without rubbing people up the wrong way. The “name and shame” policy you propose would turn the sport into the wild west.

      Most of your practical rules I’m in broad agreement with though.

      • I don’t know how that works, legally speaking, but altitude tent are sort of doping (thus forbidden) in Italy, while they’re allowed in other countries. Nobody ever challenged that, I guess. However, I fully agree with the need to have a common policy across sports and countries, even if one of the risks, ironically, is that you enter the swamps of international politics (the Meld0n1um vs., say, Tr4m4dol farce).

        • And it is precisely this need to have a common policy across sports and countries which leads to the huge grey areas, the room for wiggling, and the raised right hand with the fingers of your left crossed firmly behind your back exemplified here by cycling’s, sport’s, WADA’s policy on TUEs and other PED use which will not result in a doping ban.

      • But you’re missing JEvans’ point, RonDe.

        The whole purpose of being an outraged keyboard warrior is that you know the answer to all problems, can tell other people precisely what to do in every circumstance, and have absolutely no accountability whatsoever for the implementation of anything.

        Power without responsibility. Simples!

  8. I think there is one thing each one of us should add about the TUEs: thank you, Fancybears, for exposing this underworld of medicalised advantage. I’ve always said that those TUEs should be public, and I believe journos should be able to confront riders about their necessity. Eventually, we will probably see an end to TUEs, because TUEs are philosophically wrong, from the very beginning. Either you are healthy to compete, and you don’t need medication, either you are not, and you take your medication, and stay home. It really is this simple.

    • The only problem is seeing a few athletes pilloried for a couple of TUE’s whilst 10’s of thousands have not had their details released. If this was really about making an anti doping point they would have just released all the info they’ve stolen.

      • I suppose they hacked what they could (that is, only from Rio participants) and they release what they want (a lot of athletes from many sports and nationalities have been exposed anyway, and there are probably more to come). But what matters is that the information is relevant and eloquent, and should prompt a change in the whole TUE system, if not its complete elimination.
        I’ve found it strange that most media have put their focus on the hackers and not on the fact that there is a pandemic of medal-winning ill people.

      • I agree that this shouldn’t be the reason to single out some riders, yet we know for certain that several teams and riders *do not* benefit of the same treatment.
        No doubt that Sky isn’t the only team being allowed certain practices, but truth is that they aren’t *presently* shared by all the competitors.
        The problem here, is partly about the TUEs in themselves (if doping is bad because you put at risk the athlete’s health, so you’re doing with a sub-optimal, to say the least, therapeutical approach), but another significant question to be tackled is that this *making-legal-what’s-perhaps-not-legal* isn’t available in the same way to every team – possible retrospective granting included.
        The whole concept of respecting the rules fails to make sense when collusion with the rule-makers may come to be envisioned.
        I’d stress that I’m pretty sure that this is not only about Sky. At least as long as other powerful figures were on board (the scenario changed a bit when Russia started to be under attack in global sporting terms), it was more of an oligarchy.

        • Yeah, I think that’s what he’s saying – I have no idea how he gets to this conclusion though. Assuming that corticoids are being abused by Team Sky (I’m not saying this is the case, but just using it for argument’s sake) – all teams are allowed to use corticoids out of competition and all teams can apply for a TUE during competition if the TUE is filed and there are conditions that indicate it is required. This isn’t an option only available to Team Sky…

          Anyways, Gabriele please explain what you’re talking about, it’s really confusing.

          • Read again what UHJ posted above, and ask yourself if the Sky’s TUEs complied with those norms.
            Then, think about how many times have you heard riders complaining about allergies which hindered this or that race. Well, Wiggo’s cure would have killed more or less *any* of those. People weren’t apparently being allowed to recur to that option.

            I imagine that, except in case of MPCC teams who self-excluded from that chance, the team doctors of all those allergic riders just didn’t think about the possibility of asking for a similar TUE, silly of them… unprofessional! Maybe they didn’t study that cortico-thing.

            Some riders struggle with asthma and limited allowed dosis of s4lbut4mol in *their* TUE… when they could just go for a super-predn1s0lon-TUE which, as a side-effect, would also allow them to take a PED.

            But, yeah, with this scenario the most probable thing is that everyone has it as easy as Sky to get a TUE for improbable therapies.

            Note that MPCC teams self-exclude themselves from this practice (well, it’s their choice). However, let’s read again what Sky said on the subject:
            “But it is understood that Team Sky feel the MPCC does not go far enough in some areas, for instance in its attitude towards recruitment” (The Telegraph).
            For sure, those guys didn’t go far enough…

          • And, as I said above, I don’t find the focus on the doping that interesting, hence I’ll try to stop here my (written) participation. I myself along with several other had already hinted at the fact that Sky might be doing, at least, several *things* technically legal but quite borderline (corticosteroids aren’t the only one). Now we get dates, substances, quantities, and so on. That’s no “old news”, it shows the extent of the matter: but it simply confirms old intuitions or thoughts. I don’t think they’re the only ones, but for sure there are also others who don’t have that possibility (their riders wouldn’t have some specific health or doping problems they actually had).
            This whole story shows more than everything how limited the *cheating* approach is speaking of doping. What about meta-cheating, that is, acting at norms/deciders level in order to stay in the rules while flying over or around them?
            I’m more worried about riders’ health – even if neither that is an easy or simple approach.
            However, enough for me. Let’s enjoy some last good races.

          • Lars Boom, of Astana, was found to have low cortisol levels on the eve of last year’s TdF.
            Astana subsequently withdrew from the MPCC.
            Katusha quit over doping allegations.
            Bardiani-CSF had an unnamed rider with low cortisol before the Giro and (they) walked out on the MPCC to avoid resting the rider.
            Lotto-Jumbo’s George Bennett had low cortisol levels before the Giro and..they quit the MPCC after a spat.
            Southeast quit, Lampre-Merida quit, and Orica.

            All this stuff is from Inning’s archive by the way, and none of the cases (as I understand) involved a TUE. But seemingly the use of cortisone is widespread.
            So you’re incorrect on this occasion Gabriele.

          • Sure Inrng,
            It can be naturally-occurring, a sign of illness, or cortisone abuse.
            But it illustrates several things –
            * riders can get ill on the eve of races (even GT’s)
            * some riders rested, others did not. Those that raced, did they need a TUE to continue?
            * the disconnect between WADA and MPCC
            * how the MPCC was used as a convenient vehicle for favourable PR by some teams

            One could go on; the whole thing is a mess and I suspect that one can pick the bones out of every season and build a skeleton in your cupboard if you wish.

  9. Word is now that Voeckler will be Hinault’s replacement at ASO. Evidently we have not seen the last of his grimaces.

    Also, if riders are wise to his tactics, how did he pull of this win in the 2016 TdY…?
    – but that doesn’t top this classic from the 2013 Dauphine into Grenoble!

  10. Will miss Voeckler and his gurning face, was great to be right at finish line in Tour de Yorkshire this year seeing him outfox Roche in the final sprint.

    I also remember going to Grand Depart just outside Leeds city centre where during the neutralised section of the first stage peloton passed by where I was stood with my family and hanging about 10 yards behind the peloton was Tommy V feigning exhaustion with jersey unzipped and wide open – haha!

    Regarding TUEs, my view is they probably have their place but if it comes down to the fact you have to take extremely strong medication/pain killers to compete – should you be competing at all? Those with potential performance enhancing side effect should be considered very carefully.
    My other issue with those granted retrospectively. That just doesn’t sit right with me.

  11. On the matter of doping and sorry if this has been commented before in here. Have your heard about the latest Spanish Supreme Court judgment that has ruled against the obligation of athletes to be available everyday for doping tests? It seems the case was brought by the Spanish Pro Cyclists Association and now the the SC has ruled that such obligation is against the individual right to privacy (imposing certain restrictions as that athletes may be absent for three-day periods without giving notice). Any idea on how this will work with international bodies’ anti-doping rules on this matter? I guess we are going to be -once again- famous for our “strict” anti-doping legislation.

  12. This whole TUE/corticoids saga with Team Sky feels more and more like Lance’s Postal story. But, let’s give Sky the benefit of the doubt and believe them at their word that they never doped, nor did they take banned substances. At best it appears they found loop-holes in WADA’s banned substances program and used products that weren’t technically doping in the manner they were using them, however in reality they clearly represent doping.

    And because they have the biggest budget they can do the work to prevent doping problems from becoming violations of the rules.

    In my opinion, it’s doping because an honest rider wouldn’t touch the stuff they’ve used.

    • I agree with the last sentence, but it contradicts the first paragraph a bit… SKY should not be seen as innocent, if they have intentionally deceived the public, by making very sweeping (if general) statements about their anti-doping policy and comparatively uber-clean image… if it’s OK to abuse the TUE system like this, it also justifies the other measurements being tested e.g. if you were able to float just under the 50% level, would EPO also be seen as “OK” ?

    • I agree that it was doping, but I disagree that sky should be given the benefit of the doubt. He took it as an intramuscular injection, said in his book that he never took injections, then their pr hack said some nonsense about it being intermuscular or something like that.
      If this was Astana, Katuska (sp?), maybe some other teams like Cofidis, people would be attacking like rabid dogs, showing no mercy. Why is there so much hypocrasy?

    • Is Chris Froome then, in your estimation, “an honest rider”? We know that has has applied for two TUEs in his career to treat exercise-induced asthma. He himself gave out these details which the leak has confirmed. The last was in 2014 during a race he subsequently won (Romandie). However, at the 2015 Tour Team Sky wanted him to apply for another as his condition arose again in the final week. Froome, however, refused to entertain the idea because, so it is said, he did not want people to say he had won because of the TUE.

      Question: is Froome in your view a “doper”?

  13. If your that crook you shouldn’t be racing! However, a TUE takes the guilt from being dosed by something thats going to make you feel good. teams will continue to push the boundary of what is legal and what is not. It’s a big bad big world and this shit just goes on and on. Wiggo should not have thrown stones Lizzie’s way especially from inside his glass house! Kinda makes him look an arsehole in my book.

  14. It’s clear that micro-dosing is rampant, being abused in today’s pelotón, a TUE is just a safety net for teams (with the $$ resources) to skirt the ethics of it all. Solution you ask? If a cyclist requests a TUE, granted, have cyclist “rest n recover” for two weeks minimum, retest (glowing effect gone) and let’s go!

    In retrospect, Sky’s blue strip shoulda been grey.

    It’s another sunny day in paradise, time for a spin 🙂

  15. I will be sad to see Tommy V retire, even if I can understand other cyclists being a bit nose-out-of-joint by his tactics. Still, he animated (as the commenters love to say) races and made the most–and maybe more–of his abilities. Also, he was loyal to his teammates when he had the opportunity to leave for Cofidis when Europcar made its sponsorship continent on TV staying.

  16. Daly Thomson was asked if he would miss the world of competitive sport when he retired. He said he was looking forward to taking an aspirin when he had a headache and a Lemsip when he had a cold, such was the level of drug testing. Isn’t this the same?

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