November 23, 2013 § 145 Comments
Lokalmotor Richard Meeker tested positive for steroids at the 2012 national masters championships and was sanctioned this week with a 2-year ban. Rich claims that he’s never intentionally doped and that the positive result came from a tainted supplement. He does this through a press release. A press release? From a 50+ masters bicycle racer?
I don’t believe him.
Can we please stop saying “shocked”
Rich’s press release says he was “shocked” to find out that he’d tested positive. I’m not sure it shocked anyone who regularly races masters cycling in SoCal, unless, like me, they were shocked that USAC finally nailed a masters racer who’s a pretty big deal. To the contrary, the positive simply confirms rumors that have swirled around Rich for a long time: that he wins races in part due to banned drugs.
The sad thing is now watching people who like Rich personally — I’m one of them — as they try to distance themselves. Folks, you don’t have to distance yourselves. He cheated, he doped, he got caught, he hired a lawyer, he fought it for fourteen months, and now he’s issued a non-apology proclaiming his innocence using one of the oldest, silliest, least credible, most embarrassing excuses possible. It’s the excuse that comes with the pre-printed “How to Dope” drugs from China, I’m sure.
“If to find doping caught violation, please to excusify on official protocol testing about mix product bad tea contamination and to a herbal remedy vanishing twin,” or something like that.
The “tainted beef” excuse, Rich, has been used by better, more famous, and more credible racers than you. Still, it’s okay to insult our intelligence. We’re bike racers after all.
What I want to know isn’t how his friends will react. I know what they will say because they’re already saying it. “Let’s wait until all the facts are out.” [Hint: they are out. He doped, got caught, and has been sanctioned.] “Those drugs don’t even make you go faster!” [Hint: they are still illegal, so you're still a doper if you use them.] “Rich would never do that.” [Hint: he did.]
What I want to hear is something from his team, “Breakaway from Cancer,” which is sponsored by Amgen, which was founded by Thom Wiesel, who has a long and sordid history of turning the company into the major player of doping in cycling in the “Armstrong Era,” as if doping in cycling was limited to some tiny sliver of time when bad ol’ Lance ruined everything.
This may come as a nasty “shock,” but until Breakaway from Cancer and its team management make a strong statement about this, they’re going to be tarred with the amateur wanker doper brush, too — and so will their entire team. That’s a shame because it’s now reflecting on guys who truly are beyond reproach, guys who, if they tested positive, I would quite literally shake my head in disbelief.
That’s the press release I want to read, the one that says, “Amgen’s Breakaway from Cancer masters cycling team condemns doping in sport. Richard Meeker’s positive test is proof that the system is being applied fairly to catch drug cheats on all levels. He will not be riding for our team in 2014, when his ban ends.” And then, in furtherance of the clean sport that Rich talks about in his press release, I’d like to see the test results he claims he carried out, along with the name of the supplement.
Indeed, now’s the time for his team to demand the release of that data in order to protect all cyclists out there who are buying unicorn powder in the hope that it will fill in the gaping cracks left by age, inability, genetic slowness, lousy strategy, weak legs, too much beer, insufficient training, and general sloth.
Just the facts
Rich has long been one of the top masters racers in the country, and although I’ve raced with him, it’s not exactly true to say I ever raced “against” him except for a couple of times, because he was so much better that I could never follow his wheel.
Throughout 2012 he was virtually unbeatable. He won time trials, sprints, crits, road races … in one race he went off from the gun, raced in a two-up breakaway in a hard, hilly road race, got caught, then destroyed everyone in the sprint. After the race no one would have been surprised if he’d done 10,000 push-ups, dragged a 747 down a runway by his teeth, and bench pressed a small ox.
The only time I was in contention for a finish against him was at the end of 2012 in a ten-man break at a CBR race. Sitting behind him and looking at his legs was enough to make me want to quit. He looked like a professional road racer with 0% body fat combined with a track racer combined with a weight lifter combined with the Six Million Dollar Man combined with Bo Jackson.
My stolen youth, stolen by dopers
Unlike Lance, who is responsible for everything bad that ever happened to me, Rich is in a different category. You see, Lance stole my dreams. He forced me to become a lawyer. He made me fail my algebra tests and ruined my career as a pro cyclist (I would have won the Tour and the Nobel Prize in physics if he hadn’t doped).
But Rich Meeker?
He didn’t ruin shit. To the contrary, the only times I’ve ever talked with him he’s been an exceedingly kind guy. Unlike certain steroid-crazed, punch-throwing drugheads on the SoCal masters circuit, Rich is as nice as they come. It just so happens that he doped.
So? Our ranks are quietly filling with ex-pros who’ve been sanctioned for drugs, not to mention ex-pros who raced higher than kites and never got busted.
If you race masters in SoCal and you don’t understand that drugs are rampant here, you are an imbecile. Too many riders turn in unbelievable performances not to understand that the sport is rife with drugs. However, unlike pro racing, which actually matters in some weird alternative universe, masters racing is like vanity book publishing.
No one gives a flipfuck. Even if you’re the greatest masters racer in the history of Planet Earth, YOU’RE STILL A FUCKING MASTERS BIKE RACER. In other words, you are over the hill at best, one foot in the grave at worst.
It was a pretty good year
Rich is a national masters champion whose USA Cycling results for 2012 make you want to burn your bicycle and your racing license. National crit champion, national road silver medalist, SoCal Cup 1st, Ladera Ranch 1st, Paramount Crit 1st, Manhattan Beach GP 1st, Rosena Ranch 1st, Jail Circuit Race 1st, District road champion, Barry Wolfe GP 1st, Arco Crit 1st, Dana Point GP 1st, Avenue of the Flags 1st, Redlands 1st, Ontario Series 1st … you get the picture. If you were racing 45+ in 2012, you were racing for second.
This is different from catching some 65-year-old wanker in a Florida time trial who placed fifth out of five entrants. SoCal masters racing is a national benchmark, and the guys who sit atop the leaderboards here are the best of the best when it comes to elderly, delusional wankers whose lives revolve around bicycle racing.
Rich insists that he took a tainted supplement, but he has refused to name the supplement. He’s long been one of the top masters racers in SoCal, and it’s possible he’s telling the truth, just like it’s possible that Tyler had a vanishing twin, that Alexi drank tainted herbal tea, or that every other tawdry and poorly conceived and cheap-ass lie coughed up by every drug cheat ever was true.
Whether he is or isn’t, though, it doesn’t affect me much, because I’ve been beaten by guys on drugs and I’ve been beaten by guys who are clean as a whistle. My enjoyment of the sport has a little to do with how I place and a lot to do with the friends I make and the experiences I have.
At the professional level, where careers and sponsor dollars and prestigious victories are at stake, it makes a big difference whether people dope. At the masters level, it’s more sad than it is outrageous, although if I were a sponsor of an amateur bike team, pumping money into bikes, clothes, entry fees, and clean supplements, I’d be flat fucking livid. There are a lot of businesses out there who sponsor small time masters racing because they like bicycling, not because they’re expecting a big payday.
Life, and cycling, have a lot more to offer if you take them head on and accept your race results for what they are: nothing more than how you did on a certain day in a certain race against certain people.
My guess is that when Rich’s ban is over, he’ll be the same affable guy he’s always been, and he’ll still be kicking my ass, supplements or not. I just hope he drops the facade and takes his beating like a man. Silly as we are, even bike racers don’t believe what’s written in a press release.
September 15, 2013 § 22 Comments
Copied and pasted this awesome interview from Gazetta dello Sport (with the help of Google translate).
Interviewer: How does it feel to be the oldest ever winner of a Grand Tour?
Chris Horner: Old. Very old.
Int: Many say you achieved it through doping.
CH: Fuck them. People want to know what I was on? I was on my bike.
Int: You must admit that age 57 is quite old to be dominating athletes in their 20′s and 30′s in the prime of life.
CH: Yeah, it is. (Chuckles).
Int: And you must admit that having spent the majority of your career during the “Golden Era” of blood manipulation makes your victory more than a little suspect.
CH: Yep. Sure does. But you know what?
CH: I’ve never tested positive. And I’m the second most-tested athlete in the history of sport.
Int: You raced alongside Lance Drugstrong while the team was being run by “Chuckles” Bruyneel, who is now being investigated by the Belgian Cycling Federation for violating the first rule in the charter of that nation’s cycling bylaws.
CH: What rule is that?
Int: Don’t get caught.
Int: So what do you have to say about the estimated VAM of 2034 and a power-to-weight ratio of 6.83 watts/kg on the climb to the finish at Peña Cabarga?
CH: What’s a VAM?
Int: It stands for “Vaglia Antimorto Muscatini.” In English, it means “Analysis of power and output vectors normalized by the number of completely doped and dropped Italians and Spaniards.”
CH: Never heard of it.
Int: Your power-to-weight ratio at at Peña Cabarga and on the Angliru was roughly equivalent to that of a 2-stroke motorcycle. How is that possible?
CH: Training and proper diet.
Int: But you are famous for eating McDonalds …
CH: Like I said.
Int: Given your age, your close affiliation with Drugstrong, and your dominance in a clearly juiced field, how can the fans have any confidence in this outcome?
CH: The fans are people. And people are stupid.
Int: But you can’t expect to fool them forever, can you?
CH: I don’t have to. There’s an entire industry of cycling publications that are standing in line to trumpet my success. They could give a shit about my drug usage as long as I sell copy and pimp product.
Int: The “fanboys with typewriters”?
CH: No. They use Word now.
Int: This makes you only the third American, behind LeMond and Hampsten, to win a Grand Tour. How does that feel?
CH: Uh, aren’t you forgetting someone?
CH: Lance. Lance won the Tour seven times.
Int: All of those wins were stripped by the World Anti Doping Agency Hypocrisy Council.
CH: Look, Lance won those Tours. He might have been juiced to the gills, but it was an even playing field. Like Hitler.
Int: Excuse me?
CH: Hitler killed millions. But so did Stalin. And Pol Pot. And Idi Amin. See? It was a level playing field. Their records stand.
Int: The next-oldest winner of any Grand Tour was 36, and the oldest victor of the Vuelta was Tony Rominger at 33, during the “anything goes” days of unlimited EPO. You’re almost 300 years older than Tony. How do you explain it?
CH: What is there to explain? I’ve never tested positive.
Int: On today’s stage up the Angliru you were formidable and repelled each of the attacks by Nibali, who won the Giro on more drugs than a horse farm. How do you explain it?
CH: Two words. Marginal gains and volcano doping.
Int: That’s four words.
CH: What do you assholes want? Extreme athletic performances or parking lot crits? Throw me into a 21-day concentration camp with climbs that make the Dolomites look like a pasture and I’m gonna do what it takes to win. Throw me into a CBR crit and …
CH: (Grins) I’m STILL gonna do what it takes to win.
July 23, 2013 § 55 Comments
Does anyone know Lance’s cell phone? ‘Cause we need him bad.
This Wiggins-Froome thing has gotten totally out of hand. One day we were watching a doped up superman who boinked models and actresses and rock stars, who owned ranches and mansions and private jets, who was devilishly good looking, whose ego was bigger than Dallas and twice as gnarly, who ground people up into hamburger meat on and off the bike, who beat cancer, cured cancer, sued enemies into oblivion, had an entourage of global financiers, Italian dope doctors, starlets, drug mules, presidents and scientists and who, with only one nut still had bigger balls than the entire pro peloton, and then, BAM!
We were watching Chris fucking Froome, a human insect who can’t even pedal properly, a craven little wussmeister whose doping program is “marginal gains” instead of “ram the whole 12,000 cc up my ass,” an awkward, unappetizing robot who confirms what every motorist instinctively knows: Cyclists are contemptible arthropods deserving nothing so much as the heel of a boot.
Sure, I used to bag on Dopestrong…until I saw the last two years of Dopeweak. What happened to the drug-crazed cannibals of yore, handsome, muttonchopped, steel-willed manly men who ate raw meat with their fists and swallowed their cocaine-heroin-strychnine cocktails in one-pint tumblers? How could we have banished the lying, cheating, brash and big-balled Texan who rode a chrome Harley, threw massive charity balls, charged 100k to jocksniffing millionaires for a group ride appearance, won triathlons, raced marathons, conquered Leadville, and ruled the entire UCI with the iron grip of a drug kingpin, which he was, and traded him in for the sniveling, milquetoast, dainty British softmen who drink tea, slurp warm beer, and race like simpering weenies or, what’s infinitely worse, like British people?
Where is the wrath, the insane bloodlust fueled by too many drugs in the wrong combination, the tortured beastly exhibitions of athletic porn, the Texas gunslinger who rode over the bones of his challengers and fell as mightily as he rose, in full color on a giant screen surrounded by a frothing media scrum and presided over by the queen of daytime TV? I’ll tell you where: He’s been replaced by “champions” who are no cleaner but a thousand times less entertaining to watch, the insect class, the automaton class, the zombies of the road.
Please, if you have his number, call Lance for me and beg him to either come back or to give these pasty-faced cab drivers a few lessons in how to race like the future of the galaxy depended on it. I’ll take les forcats de la route over the zombies of the road any day.
July 17, 2013 § 24 Comments
Lost in the press reports of rest day haircuts and predictions for the remaining stages, it took almost twenty-four hours in the news cycle for the World Anti Doping Agency to act on Tour de France leader Chris Froome’s shocking admission during a media interview.
When asked about the credibility of his ride up Mt. Ventoux, Froome said “My team-mates and I, we’ve slept on volcanoes to get ready for this.”
WADA officers immediately charged Froome with a “non-analytical” positive, a scenario in which a rider can be accused of doping based on circumstantial evidence, written or spoken admissions, or convincing evidence other than standard urine or blood analyses.
Jean-Paul Smails, Chief Inquistor for WADA, laid out the charges. “He’s admitted to volcano doping, which is a violation of Rule 2.281(a), Subsection 12, which states that ‘No athlete may sleep on or otherwise utilize volcanoes to enhance performance.’”
Team Sky boss David Brailsford reacted angrily. “You’re kidding me, right? There’s no way he volcano doped. He misspoke. They slept on a mountain, perhaps, but no one knew it was a volcano. We thought it was a large mountain. We checked it out with the Mallorcan authorities and they assured us it was a mountain, not a volcano.”
Froome also rejected the charge. “I’ll wait for the B sample to come back. There’s no way that was a real volcano, and if it was, it’s because someone slipped it into my meat. It was tainted Mallorcan meat.”
When pressed as to why he’d referred to it as a volcano if it really wasn’t one, Froome shot back. “‘Volcano’ is slang for ‘boner’ in the UK, maybe you Yanks don’t know that, eh? I was sleeping on my mate’s boner, which is like a mini-volcano, get it? Stupid Yank reporters, go learn y’self some English.”
The Mallorcan Meat Cooperative, a national meat marketing collective, angrily rejected Froome’s claims that its meat was tainted. “We handle our meat carefully, regularly, religiously almost. When our meat leaves our hands it’s guaranteed to be fresh, firm, and free from additives such as clenbuterol or volcano. Our legal counsel is looking into filing defamation charges against Mr. Froome for claiming that we mishandle our meat.”
WADA investigation gathers steam
Officials for the French AFLD and WADA insisted that they would pursue the investigation, but the UCI remained skeptical. “We don’t believe he volcano doped,” said UCI chief Paddy McQuaid. “Although his team did buy us a new volcano testing machine to catch other lava cheats, that has had no influence on our posture in the matter. We don’t treat the stars any differently from the routiniers.”
Francois Vichy de Foiegras of the AFLD disagreed. “Ee eez vocano doping, n’cest pas? Why else he sleeping on ze volcano? Le Mt. Venoux est un volcano aussi, et we believe zat he gets un avantage avec zees volcano doping.” Later that evening the Team Sky bus was searched by the forensic unit of the French National Anti Doping SWAT Team, but no magma was found, although investigators were seen carrying large plastic bags of rocks off the “Froome Wagon” along with what appeared to be most of the team’s Hello Kitty collection.
Links to Italy?
Froome has worked with notorious volcano doping physician Michele Ferrari, although both deny that the connection involves volcanoes. “I use him for his training plans,” said Froome. “He is a good man. He’s taught me so much about how not to blow, but nothing that involved a volcano, I can assure you.”
Ferrari also denied helping athletes such as Froome volcano dope. “I don’t do such a thing, but if I did, so what? A bit of volcano is no more dangerous than a liter of orange juice. Except for when Pompeii was obliterated by Vesuvius or Krakatoa. But that is completely different.”
At press time, Froome’s team physician, Bugsy Malone, provided Tour de France officials with a prescription for volcano enemas, although it had apparently been backdated to precede Froome’s mountaintop trip to Mallorca. “Chris had terrible saddle sores and a bloody anus. I prescribed the volcano cleanse for him in order to stop the drip and reduce the swelling.”
Team Sky has scheduled a press conference for 6:00 AM tomorrow to explain its official position regarding these allegations.