November 19, 2018 § 16 Comments
When you are busted for doping you need to shut up. This is because the more you talk, the worse you sound. The best dopers are Eastern European because they say nothing when they get busted. And when they get through shutting up, you know what they do?
They shut up some more.
Sorry not sorry
I had hoped that posting about Steve Strickler and his sorry, cheating, doping behavior would help him do what he needs to do: Shut up. This is because when you are a lying, doping cheater, nothing you say is going to help your cause except exactly the thing you cannot say, which is this:
I am sorry for lying to and cheating my friends, family, fellow competitors, race promoters, and race sponsors. I am a liar and a cheat and I have tarnished all the people who believed that I was an honest athlete and who raced on my team. I am going to go away now and ride my bike and try to make sense of how I could be such a narcissistic, lying cheat.
Instead, Strickler chose to post this non-apology on Facebook, and yes, I will help break it down. It is pretty fucked up.
What it all means, line by line
- “It has been brought to my attention, that it is important for those connected to bicycle racing to understand the current situation about my recent ban.” Wanky interp: People are calling me out as a liar and a cheat, especially that asshole blogger Seth. I wouldn’t have said anything about this unless publicly pressured. I feel no guilt about this at all but I am going to re-direct you in case you have been paying attention to facts.
- “In November of 2017, I received a full knee replacement. On the direction of my doctor, and with standard testosterone therapy prescription I started to replace my low testosterone in March of 2018 to aid in my recover and for overall well-being.” Wanky interp: My cheating was medically necessary. Because my doctor prescribed me banned drugs for overall well-being, cheating is okay. Don’t you feel sorry for me now?
- “I had absolutely no intentions of racing in 2018.” Wanky interp: I didn’t plan to cheat, it just happened. Like rain.
- “Impulsively at a last moment I decided to go to the Dana Point Grand Pre.” Wanky interp: Doping is okay if it is done at the last moment and misspelled.
- “I knew I would not be competitive, I just wanted to be there to support the event and the cycling community.” Wanky interp: I was doping for YOU.
- “The results of that choice are now public and will forever be such. I can’t alter this bad choice.” Wanky interp: I got caught. FML.
- “This was the one and only race I attended this year.” Wanky interp: Cheating once is okay, and I never ever cheated before this. Really!
- “I was randomly selected in the field and yes, I tested positive for a banned substance.” Wanky interp: It was pretty unfair that I got caught.
- “I accept full responsibility for this choice and the ban that comes with my choice.” Wanky interp: I’m not going to apologize because I did nothing wrong besides getting caught.
- “However, I do not want this choice and set up circumstances to define me or my 30 years of cycling.” Wanky interp: I never cheated before, I promise.
- “I will seek to make something good from this, for me personally and for the sport that I love so much.” Wanky interp: No apologies, no refunds, just a vague promise to be a good boy while I sit in the corner.
- “I am asking nothing in return from anyone. I just feel this needs to be in context, to this situation, and was asked by someone I respect to provide that context.” Wanky interp: I didn’t cheat and my situation is really unique.
- “I am not excusing myself, just explaining.” Wanky interp: I did nothing wrong.
There are really only a couple of issues here that need to be addressed, as the whole thing is so absurdly self-serving as to barely warrant reading with a straight face.
First is Steve’s suggestion that this was a one-off, medically necessary step that he blundered into. He insinuates that the testosterone was medically necessary by juxtaposing it with a knee operation as if testosterone replacement therapy has something to do with knee surgery. Of course it doesn’t, and Steve admits that it’s simply a “well-being” thing.
This is a key part of his plea, the idea that at age 58 he suddenly needed the testosterone. He’s hoping you are stupid enough to think that putting “knee replacement surgery” and “standard testosterone therapy” in the same paragraph makes the two related.
If Steve were telling the truth, all he would have to do is find a neutral third party and authorize that party to get copies of his medical records for the past ten years, redacting them except as they show that he received the doping therapy only in March, 2018. Of course the problem with this approach is that Steve’s story may well be one big fat lie, and his medical records may well show that he has been doping for years. If he’s telling the truth, why not release the records? It would at least prove that he came to doping recently, and not, say, during the years when he dominated and, you know, won that national title. And all those races in 2017. And 2016. And 2015. And etcetera.
Second is Steve’s insinuation that he has never cheated before. As a fellow leaky prostate masters racer, why would anyone believe him? What is more believable, that he has been doping for years, or that this is the only time he doped? If someone gets busted for DUI, by the way, they have typically driven drunk 80 times before they get caught. With cycling, I’d argue that dopers use drugs even more because testing is so rare. People who wind up in the snare are much more likely to be in the Kayle LeoGrande mold than the accidental old fellow who mistakenly took the green pill instead of the white one.
It’s my opinion that Steve perfectly fits the profile of a career doper. 1) Great results. 2) Old dude. 3) Has the money to pay for the doctor and the drugs. 4) Best buddies with doping hacks like Rich Meeker. 5) Refuses to apologize. 6) Never admits to cheating even though he was caught cheating. 7) Claims it was a one-off deal. 8) Ignores the fact that he tried to cheat every other competitor in the race, and got caught doing it. 9) Claims to love the sport even as he destroys it by cheating. 10) Covers his tracks with a do-gooder foundation of questionable value.
Strickler’s education campaign on Facegag is less an exculpation of him than a Rorschach Test: How narcissistic are YOU, how much of a sucker are YOU, how deeply do YOU want to ignore facts in order to fit a phony narrative from some dude who you personally like and respect? Most importantly, how willing are YOU to admit you were completely wrong about a guy you liked? The #fakerace leaky prostate scene is irredeemable and either you see it or you don’t.
Third and most appalling is the suggestion that Steve is somehow taking responsibility by acknowledging a fact. Lance Armstrong never denied testing positive for testosterone, he simply said it was medically authorized. No athlete denies the positive test unless there was an actual problem with the testing, so saying that “I admit I tested positive” is NOT AN ADMISSION OF ANYTHING. The point is not for Steve to admit that he was busted and banned, it’s for him to apologize for being a drug cheat and all that goes with it. Lance at least finally came to grips with the fact that he cheated others, as did David Millar, Floyd Landis, and a few other notables. The rest, like Strickler, Meeker, LeoGrande, and Brandt-Sorenson, simply dissembled and slunk away.
By throwing in the bit about supporting the cycling community (through doped racing, no less), by emphasizing the random nature of the control (as if doping controls could work otherwise), and by saying that he’s not asking anything from anyone, Strickler has come up with what he thinks is the perfect formula to bring down the cognitive dissonance from its roaring boil.
Unfortunately, he does the exact opposite for anyone with even a shred of critical reasoning, namely: Cheating isn’t supporting the community, random controls work because they root out cheaters, and what kind of sociopath would be asking for something from the very people he had cheated? Isn’t it Steve who should be offering something up, like, say, an apology, a release of his medical records, and an admission of intentional cheating? What about refunding his prize money?
We all know that people who don’t apologize don’t think they’ve done anything wrong. If he was a 3-year-old, he’d have to cough up the words “I’m sorry for cheating” whether he wanted to or not. But that ain’t gonna happen.
So instead of blathering on with all the humbuggery, my personal advice to Steve is to STFU. Silence, baby, is golden.
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July 3, 2018 § 20 Comments
You could see the glimmer of hope, first when Hinault said that the riders should refuse to start with Froome on the line, and then, blossoming into a rather stronger beam, when the Turdy France organizers invoked Article 28 to ban Froome from the race.
Of course the glimmer was plunged into eternal night a few hours later when the UCI, taking a nod from WADA, threw the whole thing into the dumpster. As the protesters howled, WADA shrugged and said that it wasn’t practical to design a test to catch a guy who was doping, even though he’d already been caught, and even though past salbutamol cases had been easily, handily, and quickly processed.
As usual, the dead sport of cycling turned to doper, dope peddler, fraudster, and convicted felon Floyd Landis for insight, with suspected-but-unproven doper Chris Horner chiming in. This, then, is the state of things: The only people who have anything meaningful to say are people who have left the sport in disgrace, or under a dumping tropical storm of suspicion.
Trump and Froome
Everything, of course, comes back to Trump. Not because he is a cause, but because he is a symptom of the disease, just like the horrible tandem of Froome and Brailsford. Facts, truth, rules, and the moral spirit of fairness are completely dispensed with as the juggernaut of entertainment squashes everything in its path.
Politics, with its shouting, ignorant, unread participants on all sides, and cycling, with its shouting, less ignorant but still unread participants on all sides, have been co-opted by the corporatist state whose single-minded goal is returns to the shareholders no matter the social, environmental, or human costs. It isn’t capitalism run wild, it is human greed.
How did we get here?
The baby boom
The Greatest Generation in the U.S. was followed by the baby boom, which has now been followed by the baby bust. It is easy to see the boomers as the most despicable generation in the history of the species. They have taken everything, destroyed everything, given nothing. They have presided over the death of the environment, the veritable melting of the earth itself. And what have we given in return for all that we have taken? Trump, the last lobsterman.
I say lobsterman because many years ago, when the Maine fisheries were on the brink of collapse and regulators were trying to keep it alive, a reporter asked a crusty old lobsterman why he so bitterly opposed the fishing limits even though it would mean that in the long term his occupation would survive. “I’m a lobsterman,” he said. “And if the fishery is gonna die, I’m gonna catch the last damn one.”
That is Trump, that is Frooomesford, that is every local crit that keeps raping its dwindling loyal racers for a dollar a minute, or less, to ride around in circles. “The sport may die, but I’m gonna get the last fucking entry fee from the last damned rider.”
The boomers never seriously asked why the fishery has to die, or why the sport had to collapse. Why the hell is that?
The baby bust
The developed world is staring down the maw of its own cultural and human extinction. The replacement rate for a human population is 2.1 live births per woman. The most recent data for the U.S. pegged the 2017 fertility rate at 1.75, far below what is needed to maintain growth, joining Western Europe, Mexico, Brazil, Japan, Korea, and China as nations whose populations are swirling the drain.
Some people think that’s a bad thing because without a stable base of young people, there will be no one to do the work, pay the taxes, and be generally fucked around by the old folks. Other people think that a declining population, at least in the short term, is a good thing. Automation, robot dogs, algorithms that think for you, Viagra, and not having to pay for grandbaby college tuition is pretty much nirvana, they say.
Regardless of who’s right, the baby busters have some ugly facts in their corner. The first is that even countries like Finland, where maternity is supported at all levels by the state, have been no more successful in boosting fertility rates than places like Japan, where women are actively punished for making full natural use of their vaginas. Pregnant? You’re fired.
The numbers aren’t lying, and how could they? Childbearing sucks, even when you get a check from the government, generous maternity leave, free childcare, and you have a husband who really does share the housework.
You may be able to convince a few women to have a kid, a bunch less to have two kids, but it is a dead letter trying to get women to have three. They have birth control, thank you very much, and no matter how illegal you make abortion, the might and main of women on earth have figured out how to keep from getting pregnant in the first place. People point to economic factors, social factors, and factor-factors, but I point to the obvious: Pregnancy and childbirth suck.
Hope is the future, the future is hope
Every morning I listen to Falter Radio, a magnificent broadcast from Vienna that tackles all of the hard questions. Much of its analysis focuses on the upending of liberal social democracy in Europe, and tries to make sense out of why countries that have so profoundly benefited from it are now turning hard right and harvesting radical right wing racism in the process. The shuddering is at its most intense when they talk about America. If America is abandoning its democratic ideals, what hope is there for the rest of the world? China, where there’s a video surveillance camera every 200 feet, and where people are scored on a social reliability index that allows or prohibits access to things like buses and subways?
The folks at Falter can’t figure it out, but I can, and I have.
Our complete reversal away from fairness, law, democracy, and liberty is simply one — maybe the most important — manifestation of our collapsing birth rate. Every country in Europe that has turned hard right has a plunging fertility rate. Poland, 1.32%. Hungary, 1.44%. Austria, 1.47%. Germany, 1.50%. Italy, 1.37%.
World leaders with developed economies who are also in the throes of demographic collapse happen to correlate well with repressive, anti-immigrant, neo-fascist, corporatist states. China, 1.57%, South Korea, 1.24%, Japan, 1.45%, and Russia, 1.75%.
Why should this be, and what does it have to do with Froomesford?
Well, the simplest explanation is that developed countries with a lot of kids have historically found a lot of common ground on social, economic, and political issues because the polity understands the concept of future as something that extends beyond their own lives. When a society is awash in kids, most people take an active stake in the future for the purely selfish reason that they don’t want their children to live in misery.
Even my racist, alcoholic, mean-spirited, tax-hating Republican grandfather believed in public education and health care because he had a kid.
If you think about it, that belief in the future is a big leap. The future is an imaginary construct that never really comes, whereas the present and the past are demonstrable moments in time. When a society comes together to make policy about the future, it is making policy about an imaginary time, and how far out you imagine that point has everything to do with the policies you commit to. People talk about a divided America and about the collapse of dialogue, but that’s horseshit. My grandfather hated liberals in 1963 just as violently as the average white, 60-ish Texas voter does today. The difference is that my grandfather knew that without education and some basic access to rights, his daughter wasn’t going to have much of a life.
What’s changed isn’t the political divide, but the fact that there aren’t enough kids to force people to find common ground. If the only future timeline that matters is my own life, it makes sense to tighten things up and make sure that less wealth is distributed, less opportunities are provided to others, and that more resources and rights are devoted to fewer (and older) people. Fuck the youth, and especially the immigrant ones.
Nowhere is this forfeiture of the future more apparent than in school shootings. Here we have a wholly preventable social phenomenon that preys on children in the most violent way. But on a political level, who cares? Children are not the future, they are a vestigial reminder of our own past and a nagging critique of our impending mortality, but they are not a precious resource to be treasured, grown, loved, educated, valued. Another group of children got shot up in school? Well, I got my problems, too. And what has any kid ever done for me?
You see this phenomenon of hopelessness play out in cycling as well. Even lower than the national fertility rate, few cyclists have 1.75 children, and most have less. Every now and again some cycling nut dad will get his kid into the sport and make a big deal about how the sport is collapsing and about how we have to do more for juniors and where are all the junior races and blah blah blah, but nothing ever happens, and not only because the kid hits puberty and discovers that bike racing is not nearly as much fun as ________ (fill in the blank with pretty much anything).
The main reason that nothing ever happens is because cycling, like Trumpist America, is dominated by aging, greedy, white men who do not give two broken fucks about junior racing. What they want is a prize list, a 45-minute crit, and a safe, unchallenging race that ends in time for them to prop up and watch the Big Game. And they don’t even represent the majority: The sport as a whole doesn’t even want racing on that pitiful level, it wants no racing at all.
As a whole, cycling is comprised of old white men who don’t want to race, unless you consider the Donut Ride, Strava, grand fondues, and grumpy grinders “racing.”
Without kids in the mix, there’s no reason to care about anything. That’s why even the angriest liberals look at what’s happening today and mostly shrug. By the time the true devastation of Trumpism blossoms, we will be dead or so close to it that it will have been worth it, or so we think. This is the only thing that explains the casual acceptance of the Froomesford scandal. Let ’em cheat. They’re only cheating themselves, I can choose not to watch it, and anyway, my kid’s not trying to make it in pro cycling, so what do I care?
I hate to break the news to you. You may not care. You may think that it’s okay to whore off the future to the slothful, insatiable, rapine greed of the present. But inside, the only thing that can ever make anyone feel good about life is the conviction that there is a future, and the knowledge that you’re doing something positive for it.
Froomesford is wrong. Trump is wrong. Xi is wrong. Kurz is wrong. Orban is wrong. Abe is wrong.
The little kids in the morgue are right.
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April 15, 2018 § 6 Comments
So, imagine this: A USAC licensed racer on Team Lizard Collectors comes up to an unlicensed rider and says, “Here, put this in your water bottle. You’ll go faster.”
Freddie says, “What is it?”
Doper McDopefuck says, “It’s like 5-hour Energy. It will speed you up.”
McDopefuck stuffs a handful of small packets into Freddie’s trusting hand and moseys off. Freddie mixes the powder with water and the next day takes off on a ride with a friend. Freddie notices unusual speed and power and extreme stimulation. After an hour Freddie’s heart feels like it’s about to rip out of the ribcage.
Freddie, who has high blood pressure, gets off the bike and lies down. Freddie can’t breathe and thinks a cardiac event is about to kick off. “What’s wrong?” Friend asks Freddie.
Freddie tells Friend about the powder and after recovering enough to make it home, goes online and checks the label on the packet. Surprise! It’s a legal supplement that contains a relative of DMAA that is on the WADA list.
Shit just got real.
Dopers in the mist
The first part of the problem is simple: What to do about Doper McDopefuck and any other buddies who are loading up on DMAA and its banned cousins?
Answer: Report them to USAC’s clean cycling program and get on with your life. They will hopefully be surprised one day with a pee-pee test and get run out of the sport.
And don’t tell me it’s the board’s job to out people. Only USADA/WADA/national anti-doping bodies get to sanction dopers. That’s why Chris Froome is still racing and about to enjoy a big win in the Giro and another in the Tour.
For those dopers who don’t race and who dope to win group rides or Strava, well, they are fucked up, but as Thorfinn-Sasquatch taught us, recreational doping is a very real thing. Pity the cycling club that starts to weed out its non-racing members who are taking drugs, because the vast majority of cyclists take some kind of drug at some point that is on the WADA list.
Inhalers, pot, ecstasy, amphetamines, viagra, testosterone, and a plethora of legal drugs are regularly consumed by members of your cycling club. So what? They may be using it to get an edge on the group ride, or they may be using it for the purposes that it was prescribed. The first purpose is hardly illegal, and the second may well be medically necessary.
Anyone who joins a cycling board and wants to play narc is going to find himself in a full-time Inquisition, resulting in a club roster of 1.
The problem I have is with the Doper McDopefuck who pushes the drug onto the unknowing recreational rider. Those riders can suffer serious health consequences. The licensed racer taking a banned substance and passing it off to another rider deserves to be invited to go away and never come back.
I’ve never heard of a club that has a drug education policy. We need one, and your club does, too. In the same way that we advocate for safety, for nutrition, for good training techniques, and for fair play, we need to advocate for drug health. That means talking with our members about doping, about why it sucks, and about why it doesn’t comport with the goals of our club.
The next time an unsuspecting rider takes a drug pushed off on him by someone who is doping, and that unsuspecting rider dies or gets horribly hurt, it won’t be enough to say, “We didn’t want to harm the reputation of our club.” To the contrary, doping is everywhere in cycling and in life, and we have a duty to educate so that people can make informed decisions.
For those who think that the reputation of their entire club has been harmed because they admit to having a doping problem, well, your reputation is going to be harmed a whole lot worse when someone dies or winds up with a USADA sanction like Meeker or LeoGrande. Tackle the problem head-on, don’t sweep it under the rug. It’s easy to be smug when someone on another team gets caught cheating, less so when it’s your own group of friends and riding pals.
For those who dope to cheat others in sanctioned races, rat them out and send them packing. There’s no shame in having lying, cheating, sonsofbitches in your midst. The shame is not doing anything about them.
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October 2, 2017 § 15 Comments
When I put on my headphones yesterday to listen to the news while I was frying up a pan of green coffee beans, I got a surprise: “Blah blah blah,” the announcer said in French, “cycliste blah blah blah” he continued, my ears perking up at hearing one of the only six works I know in that language. Then I got really excited when he said the other five, “velo équipé d’un moteur.”
I tried to pay attention to the rest of the blah blah blah but it didn’t work. The beans were starting to smoke, my grandson had landed and was scuttling the ship, and it was hard to concentrate and stir and block him from pulling out the carving knife from the drawer and jabbing it into my thigh.
Fortunately, a friend sent me a link to the TV interview, which allowed me to listen to it slowly and carefully, and after seven hours of review and Google translate I was able to pick up a couple more key words: “Cat 3.” Basically, a Cat 3 wanker (redundant) got popped for using a moteur electrique in a local bike race. And it made the national news. And the news guy asked, all in earnest, “If some wanker is moteur doping to win a local Fred fest, one must ask the question whether or not moteur doping is also occurring at higher levels du sport?”
To which I can confidently reply, “Non, non.”
The person accused of moteur doping, Henri Percival-Escargot d’Chatenay, was immediately available for a telephone interview with CitSB. I reached him at his chateau in Dordogne, a hellish little dump on the outskirts of Bordeaux known for some of the finest wine and cuisine on earth.
CitSB: So, did you really moteur dopage?
HP-EdC: Non, non, mais bien sur, non.
CitSB: So what was the deal with the moteur electronique in votre Cervelo?
HP-EdC: Eet was mistaken consumption.
CitSB: Beg pardon?
HP-EdC: Eet was mistaken consumption. I drink by mistake, pas d’idee que zere was moteur electrique in my water bottle.
CitSB: No, no, you didn’t drink the moteur electrique. They found it underneath your boteille d’eau.
HP-EdC: Ah, oui, oui, le bidon, En francais on dit “bidon.” Masculin avec “le.” But someone puts le moteur electrique zere and I don’t know it, comme avec le tainted beef de Alberto Contador, vous savez?
CitSB: So you’re saying someone stuck it there on le Cervelo beneath le bidon and you had no idea you were doing the ol’ dopage mechanique?
HP-EdC: Oui, oui, comme ca. Et aussi I was, comme dit-on, un vanishing twin, exactement comme Tyler Hamilton.
HP-EdC: C’est tres rare, mais j’avais un vanishing twin and zeez ees pourquoi they have found le moteur. C’est definitivement le moteur de mon vanishing twin. N’est-ce pas mine. Imposible et sacre bleu et etcetera.
CitSB: Okay, so it was your vanishing twin’s motor, not yours. That seems un peu incroyable, as they say in France.
HP-EdC: And I must tell you, I have passe les testing dopage 500 fois. Neffer positive, vous comprenez? 500 foix ils ont pris mon pee-pee, et neffer, neffer un positive. Je deteste telle tricherie. Je suis un sporstman très, très honnête.
CitSB: I’m not sure what the passed testing dopage has to do with anything. This a moteur electrique we’re talking about, Henri.
HP-EdC: Et je vous dirai anozzer sing. I would neffer do ze dopage electronique par ce’que on ne sais pas que serais les effets a mon santé. In fife ou six years, peut-etre le cancer, n’est-ce pas? Ou, how you say en englais? Le acne.
CitSB: I haven’t ever heard of motorized doping causing cancer or acne. That’s a stretch.
HP-EdC: Anyways, je n’ai aucune motif pour cette tricherie. Je suis tres fort. Je fait le training tous les jours. Vous voulez savoir what I am on? Je suis on my velo, zat is what I am on.
CitSB: We know that you were on the velo, the problem is that there was also a moteur electrique on the velo. So you + velo + moteur electrique equals cheating masters d-bag.
[Noise in background.]
CitSB: You okay?
HP-EdC: Oui, oui, deux visitors ont arrivée. I must go now. Merci pour le entrevue.
CitSB: Hey, what’s that clicking sound? Is someone cuffing you, Henri? Henri?
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PS: Don’t forget the Wanky’s. As if you could. And I may have forgotten to mention that there is free food and beer for the first 300 guests, so get there early.
June 9, 2017 § 97 Comments
I wish I didn’t care about all the doping in SoCal masters racing, but I do. With regard to races that I actually enter, I can put it out of my mind thanks to the advice of a fellow leaky prostate masters profamateur, who wisely said this: “If you can’t race your bike without wondering who’s on drugs, this isn’t the sport for you.”
The team of Kayle LeoGrande, the guy whose doping shenanigans arguably opened the door for the fall of the House of Lance by going after immortal badass Suzanne Sonye, Kayle LeoGrande, the freakshop who “won” a national crit title from Steve Tilford in 2012 and later zoomed to a masters crit title amid shouts of “Boo!” and “Doper!”, announced yesterday that Kayle was leaving the team due to [insert surprisey-face emoticon] a USADA doping test result.
Kayle got busted again? Hard to say for sure because shortly after their Facebag page blew up, the team deleted all the comments and even the team page. A quick check of USADA’s sanctions page shows no positive test results for the esteemed Mr. LeoGrande. Hopefully it was all just a mistake and he’s been reinstated with his national champion’s clothing, pro bike & wheels, and his customary cheering section.
But if it’s true, well, too bad, so sad.
When Kayle joined up with Team Surf City Cyclery there was a lot of outcry, but not from me, as the team voted to “give him a second chance” and added him to the roster. I thought then and still do that after you’ve served your time you should be allowed to race. That’s what the rules provide for, and masters doping isn’t first degree murder. Whether I’d want this unrepentant cheater on my team is another story. But if those guys on Team Surf City wanted to throw in their lot with a doper thug, that was on them. Now every single rider in that outfit gets to explain how they’re clean and it was only Kayle and no one had any idea and blah, blah, blah. As my grandpa used to say, if you lie down with pigs you’re going to smell like shit.
My problem is that I really do want to support bike racing and see it thrive, but at the same time I’m repulsed by the cheats. Whether it’s Thorfinn Sassquatch or Richard Meeker or now Kayle LeoGrande, these clowns make it such an uphill battle. Ironically, they don’t make it difficult for me; I’ve known about doping in the amateur ranks since I was offered my first syringe in 1986. But they make it so hard for me to recommend the sport, to encourage others to participate in it, and to back it financially.
And can anyone really be surprised that there is doping among — gasp — SoCal masters racers? After all, Kayle wasn’t simply busted for doping back in 2008. The arbitration panel’s careful legal language suggested that they found him to be a thoroughly unconvincing, pathetic liar. Check out these choice bits from the ruling in 2008:
- He [Leogrande] misrepresented his use of an inhaler by initially calling it a puffer. When realizing the inconsistency with the doping control forms, he then went on to claim he had no idea of the contents of the inhaler, but trusted the doctor who had prescribed it.
- Respondent [Leogrande] had numerous communications with Joe Papp during the one year period from July 2006 to July 2007. Respondent testified that Papp stored EPO at his home, thus it is very certain that he was in a position to have knowledge of EPO and the ability to obtain it. This close relationship with Papp, combined with the UPS note card, which does appear to be a receipt for E. (EPO) and G. (Human Growth Hormone) addressed to “Joe”, and which was signed by “Kayle”, which Leogrande denies was his signature, calls his credibility into question. For Respondent to disavow any knowledge of this card is unconvincing. The signature, in addition to being that of his unusual first name, looks to this Panel, to include the same script features as Respondent’s distinctive signature on the doping control forms.
- Respondent’s [Leogrande’s] lack of denial or outrage when he spoke to Andreu, under either Respondent’s or Andreu’s version of the telephone call, is persuasive of his having used the Prohibited Substances (EPO, albuterol and testosterone) he was being punished for/accused of taking in that conversation.
- Respondent [Leogrande] did not recall important events and conversations when it would have been very helpful for him to do so. Thus, he had no credible explanation for the conversations recalled clearly by Sonye and Andreu.
Whatever you pretend to be, don’t pretend to be surprised that a lying doper who was busted in 2008 might have returned to the sport and continued to lie and dope, and don’t be surprised as you read through the 2008 decision that the same ill thought processes might still be alive and well in the mind of this truly disturbed dude. This is a guy who lied, cheated, admitted to using banned drugs, and then had the nerve to sue for defamation the very person to whom he’d made the confession.
This isn’t some poor slob who was choking down tainted meat, or some up-and-coming kid who chose the needle over an unemployment line, it was a deliberate, calculating, corrupt liar whose first line of defense was to wreck the lives of those who dared tell the truth. On the bright side, it’s awesome to note in the arbitration decision against Kayle in 2008, that in Paragraph 65 it says that despite the fact that Suzanne Sonye had everything to lose by going against this doping doper who dopes, “nevertheless she persisted.”
Hahahahahaha! Warren & Sonye in ’20!
And of course those who doubted that it was a new, improved, Kleen Kayle needed to look no farther than the famous Visalia punch-em-up, where Kayle exhibited violent behavior that looked less like a mature man and more like someone mentally overcooked on the fumes of ‘roid rage. With an apology and a bit of contrition his team let bygones be bygones. “Let Kayle be Kayle” they said, or some other such flibberflabber which everyone else interpreted as teamspeak for “STFU, dude wins races so IDGAF.”
But anyway, here’s what I know about watching Kayle race as a “reformed” ex-doper masters racer who was “given a second chance”: He was really good and one of the fastest in a crit but he wasn’t all that great. Because so many people dope now, there aren’t enough drugs in China for a saggy old fart like Kayle such that it will put him orders of magnitude above the drug-addled grandpa peloton. He won, but so did others. The Pollyannas pointed to that as evidence of a Kleen Kayle and a level playing field, but there’s a much worse explanation, which is that doping is now the norm because it has dripped down through the I.V. to the very lowest, contemptible, and delusional level of the sport: Middling masters racers.
How do I know? Because I’ve sat in a field as recently as this year and watched Kayle singe the nuthairs off of a 60-strong peloton, only to get brought back again and again and again. In the last race we did together I wound up off the front late in the race with him and it was like sitting behind a Ducati. “Just hold on,” he said as I bent over the bars trying to get small and looking like a giraffe on a barstool while he generated some impossible wattage, but not impossible enough that the peloton didn’t peg him back.
I slunk to the back, charred to the bone by my three-minute effort of sitting on, while Kayle took a breath, attacked again with two laps to go, and soloed for the win. Just another SoCal Sunday crit, dude.
And how doped was the peloton at Dana Point Grand Prix, where Kayle won his (hopefully) last race ever? According to one friend, it was the fastest race he’d done his entire life. To me this was just more evidence of what I’ve maintained for years: Doping in masters racing isn’t necessarily predominant at the top, but it’s absolutely predominant in the middle.
Nor is this bizarre level of speed and strength limited to the “young” masters racers. I’ve personally witnessed one old hack go from backass straggler to on-the-point hammerhead in a single season with no visible change at all to his physiognomy. I guess he just woke up in January and decided he would pedal harder than he had been for the last five years.
It’s the mid-level hacker with a zero percentage risk of getting caught who turns these mass-crit fields into NASCAR, because so many guys now are good for at least one 1200-watt effort, and where even if you’re doing drugs for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, it’s still not enough to reliably seal the deal as Meeker used to do almost every single time regardless of whether it was a hilly road race, a crit, a time trail, a sprunt … a whatever. USADA and USAC, far from having frightened masters racers into clean racing, have to reckon instead with the tidal wave reality that every year the dopers increase even as the number of racers evaporates.
And who’s quitting? The clean ones. There is a handful of also-rans on the SoCal masters circuit, guys who do everything right and who have all the right physiology, who can’t seem to close the deal on the big day because no matter how hard they train, you can’t out-train chemistry. And what about the ones who have no chance of winning and, more and more, who no longer have a faint chance of even finishing? Who remains under conditions like that? I’ll tell you who: The pathetic old meatbags like Dopey McDopester who are willing to pay good money to chase a tainted result, and the pack fodder frauds who lie to themselves that their testosterone and anti-aging supplements aren’t for bike racing but for their personal health needs.
Like Richard Meeker, this reprehensible SoCal crit cheat will go away and discover hiking, open a juice bar, devote more time to his family, find some part of his glory hole that hasn’t been inked, or *MAYBE* become a USAC-licensed coach for the seven juniors left in the state of California. Maybe he’ll even man up like Levi and start a famous grand fondue, or really serve the public like Jonathan Vaughters and start his own professional race team. But what he will not have left in his wake is destruction, ruined dreams, or shattered lives.
Because at this late stage in the autopsy if you still think it’s a clean sport with only the occasional random cheat, you’re almost as deluded as the cheaters.
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May 15, 2017 § 30 Comments
Last year I rode with a guy who was, uh, fast. He was in his mid-50s and when we hooked up he had already been going crazy hard for a month, thirty days of back-to-back riding that included unbelievable mileage and intensity.
We only rode together a couple of times. He was unbelievable. A big dude who climbed like George Hincapie when he was in his “mountain climbing” doper phase. You’d be sitting on this giant dude’s wheel and thinking, “Physics.” And then he’d toss the physics book into the ditch and climb like Quintana.
At the time I didn’t think he was doping. Don’t laugh when I say this, but it never occurred to me because I’m not really that suspicious or cynical when it comes to cycling and drugs.
Instead of chalking up his performance to drugs, I chalked it up to the fact that he was getting back on the bike after a long winter, he had stayed fit in the gym and on the trainer, and after all of the big miles and intensity he’d crash and crumple like any other normal old dude who pushed too much, too far, too hard, for too long.
This year our paths crossed again, and although I didn’t ride with him, I did see him briefly. His upper body was unbelievable. According to one of the guys who did ride with him, he claimed to have put on fifteen pounds of muscle over the last year. And he looked it.
That’s when my eyes rolled so far back in my head that if they’d had numbers they would have looked like a slot machine. There are a lot of things you don’t gain when you get old and creaky, and one of them is lean muscle mass. Maybe you firm up what you’ve got, and maybe if you eat perfectly and diet perfectly and do all the other hard things that no one in their 50s can possibly do, you gain a couple of pounds of muscle. But fifteen-plus pounds of lean upper body muscle in twelve months?
That, my friends, only happens with a lot of time in the gym and a shit-ton of steroids.
I was discussing this with a friend who is very young. He seemed to think that if you were young and doing steroids to get buff, you were not very smart because the risk of side effects is so huge. But, according to him, if you’re in your 50s and juicing, the risks are much smaller. You’re already old and bald and sexless anyway, and the side effects take way longer to kick in. Plus, in Dick Doper’s case, there was no crime other than the illegal possession of the drugs.
“Look at it like this,” my friend said. “He’s not racing so it’s not like he’s cheating. He’s not ever going to get tested so he won’t ‘ruin’ his reputation. He does it to feel good about himself, maintain the delusion that he’s exempt from the grinding passage of time, and he’s not hurting anyone else. What’s wrong with that? Do you hold it against people for standing in the mirror and counting their new veins?”
“Yeah, but that asshole crushes you on the bike. Thanks to the drugs, on informal, competitive rides he always wins. He’s practically unbeatable.”
“So? Don’t ride with him.”
“I don’t. Not after last year.”
“Then what’s your complaint? He’s taking your Strava KOMs?”
“I don’t play Strava.”
“So you’re simply jealous that another old bald impotent guy is faster than you are? You want to be the fastest old bald impotent guy?”
“Didn’t the Rolling Stones have a song about that? Something about not always getting what you want?”
I resisted the urge to smack him, which urge was made easier by the fact that he was 6’4″, a martial arts specialist, and a cop. “It seems lame for some reason.”
“Is there a law or some kind of ethical rule against being lame?”
“No, but …”
“How is it different from buying faster equipment? You can buy mechanical speed just like you can buy the chemical kind. Is it lame when you can afford electronic shifting and light wheels, and some young kid is pedaling on a heavier, slower bike?”
“Of course it is. The difference is that you buy mechanical speed so it’s okay, but Dick Doper buys chemical speed on top of the mechanical kind. And that pisses you off because it makes him faster than you.”
“There’s a huge difference. I’d think he was lame no matter how fast he rode.”
“What is the difference, then?”
“Mechanical advantages are obvious. You can’t lie about them. And except in a few circumstances, the advantage they give is small and can often be compensated for by smart riding, drafting, or even by playing head games with your opponent. It’s a lot harder to hide your disk wheel. But chemical speed is secret, and its effects are different for every rider. For some guys, it turns donkeys into racehorses. For others, its effects are much less pronounced. Any given aero wheel will reduce drag the same amount no matter who’s riding it.”
“Piffle paffle,” he laughed. “You’re butthurt. That’s all.”
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August 10, 2016 § 10 Comments
The IOC announced this morning that after conducting a total of over 15,000 doping tests leading up to and during the first week of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, the first athlete to fail a doping test was a woman track cyclist from Team USA, whose name is being withheld pending confirmation of her B sample.
“It’s incredibly disappointing,” said Slovic Bracentz, IOC spokesman for doping protocols, the official liaison between the game’s organizers and the World Anti-Doping Agency, which conducts the tests. “We’ve tested thousands and thousands of samples, and for us even one failed test is a black mark. We hope it’s the last one.”
The athlete spoke on condition of anonymity pending testing of the B sample. “I can’t believe it,” she said. “I did everything right. There’s no way I failed that test. The B sample will absolutely vindicate me and I can put this nightmare behind me.”
According to confidential sources who contacted CitSB via email late last night, the athlete who failed the test was seen shopping in a pharmacy nearby the Olympic village the night before the test. “She knew she was in trouble,” said the source, “and was trying to find doping products that would allow her to pass the test. She’d obviously been tipped off that she was going to be tested and was terrified that they wouldn’t find anything. Whatever she took, it was too late to show up in her urine. When they analyzed her sample she was clean as a whistle. Her only hope now is the B sample.”
IOC President Thomas Bach immediately took to Twitter to defend the integrity of the Games. “One failed test does not a clean Olympics make,” he tweeted, adding “IOC testing will always catch the cheats.”
Given the thorough testing before and during the Games, analysts are scratching their heads how the clean athlete made it through, especially in a drug-riddled event such as track cycling. “We don’t know how she could have failed the test. Clean athletes never make it out of regional competitions. We’re that rigorous.”
The athlete agreed. “The B sample will vindicate me. I’ve taken every drug offered by the team, the coaches, even that bald guy in the gym with the ball-bearing testicles. There’s no way my sample was drug-free. No way.”
Movement for Credible Cycling immediately applauded the IOC’s announcement in a press release. “People have said for years that you can’t catch the clean riders, but this shows you can. Each one of these cheats takes away from the hard-purchased results of young men and women who dedicate their entire lives to finding the right pharmacological enhancements that will allow them to compete with Russia. We support lifetime bans for athletes caught competing clean.”
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