July 27, 2007
Walsh: Contador "definitely cheating"
In a new interview with Macleans.ca, David Walsh, author of From Lance to Landis: Inside the American Doping Controversy at the Tour de France and chief sportswriter for The Sunday Times, says he's been following the Tour, and isn't sad to see Vinokourov and Rasmussen shown the door.
DW: Why is it sad? They’re cheating. It’s sad that they cheat, but it’s good news when they get caught. What is sad is that the guy who’s wearing the yellow jersey now, Alberto Contador, is definitely cheating.
Walsh says he's sure that even the riders still in the race are cheating because they climbed the Col d'Aubisque “faster than Lance Armstrong ever went up it.”
Walsh, an outspoken critic of Armstrong, believes the teams that are trying to compete clean are “getting screwed, as they have been for the last 15 years.” He briefly discusses how riders get around positives by carefully scheduling drug use, transfusions, and hormones to minimize the chance of being caught.
Details how Contador was initially lumped into the Operación Puerto names, but eventually cleared because his name appeared only in non-doping contexts.
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And Lemond did a time trial faster than anyone--following Walsh's logic, that must 'prove' Lemond was a cheat.
I don't think his logic holds.
Posted by: Doug at Jul 27, 2007 4:42:21 PM
what a joke. How someone can speak out and get printed saying something as damning as that is beyond me. As much as I would like a clean sport, letting someone talk like is just as bad as letting doping continue.
Posted by: jason at Jul 27, 2007 4:50:18 PM
the 'he is faster than the guy i said was cheating' logic doesn't really hold much water.
not to say he's clean, but that argument is bunk
Posted by: reggie at Jul 27, 2007 4:51:45 PM
And since they climbed the Col d'Aubisque faster than Lance Armstrong, is Walsh saying that Armstrong didn't dope or these guys have better drugs?
Posted by: Biking Bis at Jul 27, 2007 4:56:33 PM
Walsh loves to lump himself in with controversy. It helps him sell books - and keeps him going with new material as he is finding his niche as the writer of doping.
The problem with his and Lemonds logic is that due to the parcours this years Tour de France has been driven by PURE climbers. Lance Armstrong for all his strengths was not a pure climber. The proof is in the fact that we are talking about can Contador take the TT with 1:50 whereas if it were Armstrong (who was a great all-arounder) would be well set (barring accident) with 1:50.
Too bad its much more equitable to talk about the downside and speculate doping rather than the upside and the great spectacule that the Tour de France is.
Shame on David Walsh once again.....
Posted by: Jason at Jul 27, 2007 5:32:30 PM
These guys (Walsh and LeMond) show a lot of the same characteristics as the witch hunt folks. Not speaking to whether they happen to be right about Contador, or any of the other folks, but in their zeal to catch and persec--err, prosecute dopers and would-be dopers, they are going to hurt a lot of innocent people. All in the name of integrity, of course. What offends me is that they adopt such a self-righteous attitude about it. Of course they can afford to do so--what do they have to lose?
Posted by: Brian Tung at Jul 27, 2007 7:32:50 PM
The thing to remember about Lance is that he was beaten to the tops of climbs, but what made Lance unique was his ability to ride consistantly day in and day out. Contador can't. He proved that when Rasmussen who is a doper beat him on stage 16.
Posted by: Garrett at Jul 27, 2007 11:08:19 PM
i haven't had as much time to follow the tour this year than in years past. but one thing has really been bothering me lately, and that is the kind of attacks that the athletes have been required to endure if they are at the top of the GC list.
at first, it seemed to me that the only way to win the tour, and not have anyone question it was to win by not winning a single stage.
but now, it seems that the only way to win the yellow jersey is to actually not only not win a single stage, but have 3-5 riders in front of you pulled from the tour.
i honestly, don't know much about the testing process, but it seems rediculous to me that someone, anyone, can make an allegation of you doing something wrong, and you immediately get pulled from the tour, and if you're lucky, you'll actually still stay on a team until some investigations are done.
but the whole idea of guilty until proven innocent is getting just a bit absurd.
it's as if the athletes have no recourse or any way to defend themselves.
the organization can always go back and take away the prize, if they won and were found to have cheated, but what about the riders?
what if they were pulled from the race, and later found to not have cheated? or even if no conculsive evidence was ever produced to determine that they cheated? does the rider then get re-compensated for what they MIGHT have done (i.e. won the race)? i don't think so.
i'm all for a clean sport, and fair competition, but this competition between media and athlete is getting sickening. it's not a fair fight at all.
it kind of makes me less interested in the tour. it doesn't feel much like i'm watching a bike race. it makes me feel like everyone else is watching so that they can see who is the next person to get ejected from the race.
i'm actually getting a little sick of all of this pre-judging and not giving the athletes a chance.
i'd like to see that they have just as fair a chance to defend themselves.
and until it seems like they can, i think that with each subsequent year, at this current trend, the tour will become a less and less attractive event to watch.
and that's a shame, because it's had such great growth, and been such a bonding event for those in the cycling community for the last couple of decades.
cycling should continue to grow, as i think it is one of the greatest tools against the fattening of the world, and overall health of people.
but this shakeup is not happening in a fair manner, and i think if it is not even handed (it is clearly firm), then it can be just as bad for the sport as having doped up riders.
Posted by: Eddie at Jul 28, 2007 1:37:10 AM
We live in an age of medical advances. Pro athletes are looking for even the tiniest time reductions. This is a sport with rules that should not be broken. But at the same time the rules should follow the latest tech break thrus. Why don't they just stockpile their own blood? How would that be cheating? As long as they don't have robotic parts.....
Posted by: AlliWalli at Jul 28, 2007 8:28:45 AM
Uh, stockpiling your own blood and re-injecting it is blood doping. C.f. Lasse Viren, Jan Ullrich, Ivan Basso.
Posted by: Nancy Toby of Lanterne Rouge Blog at Jul 28, 2007 8:48:40 AM
Well, there are two kinds. First with your own blood, then later in the 80's with EPO, increasing the red blood cell production. In anycase, sounds better to me than steriods, although still a health risk. Its a bit like saving your own hair to make yourself a wig later... I still thinks rules need to be revised and the witch hunts need to end. Just imaging the tour a hundred years from now, blood doping will seem a primitive advantage I'm sure, kind of like cigarettes!
Posted by: AlliWalli at Jul 28, 2007 10:24:20 AM
The UCI should shut down the pro tour for a set period - say, 1 year, to clean up the teams and revamp the organization's testing standards. I think if we went a year without a TdF, Giro d'Italia, etc., and came back with a program of higher integrity, more people would watch.
Also - they should require that EVERY pro team adopt the same proactive baseline testing methods that Slipstream (U.S. team) is using. I'll bet the TdF organizers are sorry they didn't invite Slipstream instead of Astana or Rabobank this year!
Posted by: Jan Cox at Jul 28, 2007 12:43:09 PM
Walsh has lost what little journalistic credibility he had. if he ever had any. we can only hope that people will take him for what he is a discredited opertunist.
Posted by: mark gilson at Jul 28, 2007 3:15:36 PM
Attacking Walsh is just attacking the messenger. The sport of professional cycling is dirty to the core and has been for 15 years. Show me someone who has won a professional race in Europe in the last 15 years and I'll show you a doper.
Fans who continue to defend the sport and its cheaters are simply enabling the cheating to continue. Fan support keeps the sponsorship and media attention coming and the money flowing. Hit the cheating riders in their pocketbook and you'll see the riders clean up the sport themselves faster than you can say "inject me"!
Posted by: fred at Jul 28, 2007 7:01:21 PM
Apart from all this hubris - how about improving the Tour overall? Getting better lab's and organizers on the doping side - clearly needed.
Next up though - how about adding a Silver Jersey competition?! This would be for the unsung heroes. Guys who have ridden 5 tours and not finished in top 10. I think this would add interest to folks like Merck and more - who have done a ton of tough riding and deserve more recognition. Also would be nice to have interest that is not just at the top end of the GC.
Posted by: David Webber at Jul 28, 2007 10:58:23 PM
In Spanish we have a saying that "some people think that everything smells bad in a poor´s house". So since Soler is winning he must be in illegal drugs ah? Shame on you, the guys who really want to liquidate professional competition!
Posted by: osias vivaz montero at Jul 29, 2007 4:49:01 AM
This is my first tour de france...and my last. I am not interested in a dirty sport. "Every sport is dirty" is your rebuttal... yes and thats why my TV remains off.
Posted by: Togradh at Jul 29, 2007 11:19:25 AM
How can the fans and riders really trust the lab drug testing when the labs don't even know what percentage of false positives exist in the testing? The riders risk losing their careers merely from guilt by association - Don't the fans and the riders have the same right to expect unquestionable ethics, procedures and transparency from the testing labs? The testing labs need to come under the same tough scrutiny as the riders, otherwise the testing will always be questionable.
Posted by: Christopher Smith at Jul 29, 2007 3:59:12 PM
I like David Webber's suggestion of a "best supporting actor"-style jersey. I always thought this kind of thing would be a great way to honor the domestiques.
So who would you say was the most valuable domestique this year? Prior to Rasmussen's getting booted several of his teammates - Boogerd, Dekker, Menchov - would've been high on my list, but now my vote goes solidly to Popovych. [I suppose Leipheimer could be considered an u"berdomestique, but since he got a podium place, I say that's reward enough in itself.] Hincapie a close second, but since this tour was dominated by the climbers and keeping close to Rasmussen was The Game, Popo was more valuable to Discovery in that respect.
Posted by: ewmayer at Jul 30, 2007 1:30:37 PM
@fred: Attacking Walsh is most certainly NOT just attacking the messenger. The problem is that Walsh isn't just saying cycling is dirty in general; many other folks are saying that, too. He's picking out several cyclists based on little more than rumor and innuendo and result merchanting. He knows nothing specific about Contador, but because he has the media's ear, he can insinuate anything at all about the Spaniard, from a position of relative impunity (I'm sure our comments here really sting). If Walsh were actually correct, there would be no great cycling performances anymore, because any great cycling performance would ipso facto be a result of blood tampering.
Posted by: Brian Tung at Jul 30, 2007 2:16:16 PM