Thursday, June 14, 2007
I've moved this blog to a different address...come on over
I hope you'll come on over and engage this year's Tour...
John Hay, Jr.
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
OH MY...WHERE DO WE BEGIN...
I got so fed up with allegations and revelations and accusations and misstatements and misrepresentations and fresh admissions and old denials last autumn that I left this blog project alone. I wasn't sure I would return to it this spring, the time when all cycling enthusiasts begin to think about...you know, the Tour de France.
Yeah, I thought about the Tour throughout spring. I read Cyclingnews.com every few days or so. And just kept sighing and wincing and getting disgusted through all the continuing allegations, revelations, etc. I now wonder when, or if, the Tour de France and professional cycling will recover from these past twelve months?
But I recently decided to give my blog and the Tour de France another go. I'm one who would rather see something beautiful that is badly wounded through to healing and hope than dismiss it and walk away. As far gone as professional road racing seems to be right now, there is some hope and there are some clean cyclists and programs (they say!).
(1) I distrust the Tour de France organizers, the anti-doping organizations, the labs who serve at their bidding, and the French press that has its own self-serving agendas. ASO has taken the approach of "guilty until proven innocent" and "guilty by association or suspicion" and has alienated lots of folks. The anti-doping organizations pass questionable methods and imprecise science off as infallible truth. Some labs have acted unethically and bungled simple projects. And the French sports press, well, read it for yourself.
(2) I distrust the riders and their team directors. I don't think all are doping or cheating in other ways, but at this point you have to keep perspective: some of those who've been proclaiming their innocence for years have, in fact, been lying.
So, with this I mind for the sake of keeping reality somewhere on the horizon, I'll reengage the Tour de France. I do so with hope at heart. It may take years for the integrity and luster of the Tour de France and professional cycling to be restored...so let the restoration begin.
Photo: American David Zabriskie rides the time trial at the Dauphine Libre
Thursday, August 03, 2006
DID HE DOPE? WE MAY NEVER KNOW
SEARCH FOR EXPLANATIONS. I guess I've been vacillating between denial and exasperation for two weeks, all the while really hoping a plausible explanation can be found for Landis' high--and apparently at least partially externally introduced--levels of testosterone found in his blood sample taken at the end of Stage 17.
TWO REASONS WHY I THINK HE DIDN'T DOPE. Here's one reason why I don't think Landis doped: It would have been plain crazy for him to have doped and then ridden hard to win Stage 17--his comeback stage--knowing that every stage winner and Yellow Jersey wearer would tested. Would he--or anybody else--actually think they could get away with that? No way. No stealth drug or doping protocol is that good. Another reason: someone who intentionally doped would have had a thought-out justification and prepared plausible response to charges of doping. Landis was as taken aback and befuddled as anyone else.
WHAT ABOUT HIS OTHER BLOOD SAMPLES? Has Landis' blood samples from his days in the Yellow Jersey been tested and revealed to be high for testosterone, too? If they aren't out of bounds, then why was that blood sample different? Or, if they are all high, what is the basis of that consistent high? There are still more questions than answers for conclusive and condemning actions.
IT WILL BE A WHILE. I am not hopeful about the UCI testing on his B sample that will be in the news on Saturday. It is likely to be the same as his A sample. It will take an independent endocrinology test, to be conducted a bit later, to prove beyond reasonable doubt the actual, discernible sources of his elevated testosterone that day.
WHEN THE ACCUSERS AREN'T STRAIGHT. Remember: It took nearly a year for Lance Armstrong to be cleared after last year's annual round of accusations. And that inquiry found WADA's laboratory process to have been not only inaccurate and tainted, but biased and unethical.
NO EASY ANSWERS. So, there are no easy answers...even after the apparent answers are given. Behind the conclusions are questions. Such is the terrain of professional--and some amateur--sports these days. I guess the days of not second-guessing a championship performance may be gone...or at least in serious jeopardy.
Thursday, July 27, 2006
WAS LANDIS JUICED?
A PROCESS FOR GETTING AT THE TRUTH. Landis is denying he used a testosterone patch for recovery. He has requested testing of his B sample. If it proves positive, he can have an endocrinological test performed to see whether or not there is or were natual causes for the high levels of testosterone in the blood sample taken immediately following his Stage 17 win--the day he made up over 8 minutes on his rivals and set up his eventual Tour victory.
IT MAKES NO SENSE. It makes no sense for Landis to have flagrantly used testosterone as a recovery after his Stage 16 debacle. Every rider knows he will be blood tested if he wins a stage and that the Yellow Jersey wearer is always tested. According to the www.cyclingnews.com stories, there are a range of possible valid explanations for elevated levels of testosterone.
THE WAY IT MUST BE. I'm hopeful Landis will eventually be cleared through good medical testing and analysis, and through a rigorous process. Given the present environment of professional and amateur sports, that's the way it must be. For all the indignities and second-guessing it causes, it is critical that a level playing field be secured. When we herald a new champion, we want to be sure we have an authentic champion, not a dope-hyped cheater on our hands. Landis is to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. If he is ultimately proven innocent, let us celebrate the triumph. If he is ultimately proven beyond reasonable doubt to have cheated, then let the exposure runs its course and instruct us all.
Sunday, July 23, 2006
THE NEW AMERICAN IN PARIS
It's been a long, hard-fought battle out on the roads--across the fields, over the mountains, in the time trials, through 23 days and over 2,000 miles. Out of 189 entered into the greatest race, one achieves the best overall time. And this year, this time, it's an American from San Diego. Congratulations, Floyd. Well done.
I'm not sure how many people in America or around the world thought the next winner of the Tour de France would be an American. When Lance Armstrong retired, the crown was up for grabs. It was anyone's dream. Landis had faith in himself and, even after falling overwhelmingly behind in Stage 16, willed himself back into the lead and on to the top of the podium.
Saturday, July 22, 2006
STAGE 19: LANDIS RETAKES YELLOW JERSEY
THIRD TIME'S A CHARM? He'd worn the Yellow Jersey twice earlier in the race. He'd given it up voluntarily the first time to Oscar Pereiro, considered a non-contender who rode himself into contention on a long breakaway. Landis had regained the race leadership on the fabled L'Alpe d'Huez. But the next day he lost it again--most thought permanently--when he fell behind eight minutes to his rivals on the last mountain climb. The next day, the last day in the Alps, Landis went for broke, pulled out all the stops, astounded the critics, confounded his rivals, broke away and rode himself to within 30 seconds of Pereiro's race-leading time.
TIME TRIAL DRAMA. It all came down to this second to last stage--the pentultimate stage--and his ability to finish the 57 kilometer individual time trial far enough ahead of Oscar Pereiro, Carlos Sastre, and Andreas Kloden to overcome a 30-second deficit to Pereiro. Sastre rode poorly. Pereiro did extremely well, finishing the stage in fourth place. But Landis rode faster than Pereiro; he finished one-minute, 29-seconds ahead of Pereiro. Landis' third-place finish in this stage put him into the race lead, with a 59-second lead over Pereiro and a one-minute, 29-second lead over Andreas Kloden. Congratulations to Landis for an incredible comeback!
ALL BUT OVER. Unless riders and teams break all the rules for the final stage--Stage 20--tomorrow, Landis should be the next American to win the Tour de France. I wouldn't put it past some rider or team to, like Landis did, go for broke in Stage 20, but it is not likely. What is likely is that Floyd Landis will roll onto the Champs Elysees as only the fourth American in over 90 years of this storied international competition to win the Tour de France. It will be the first time Americans have won it back to back. It will be quite a celebration in Paris tomorrow!
Friday, July 21, 2006
SIMPLICITY AND ACHIEVEMENT
ARLENE LANDIS WATCHES HER SON. This photo by Carolyn Kaster (AP) is, to me, the most incredible image related to this year's Tour de France.
SIMPLICITY AND TECHNOLOGY. The Landis family of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania is conservative Mennonite. Living in simplicity and community, they choose not to possess or routinely use an automobile or TV. Arlene Landis, mother of Tour de France contender Floyd Landis, walks to a neighbor's house to watch her son ride the greatest cycling race in the world (below).
ENDEARING BONDS. In this photo (above) she not only watches OLN's coverage of the Tour de France, but holds up a phone to the TV, perhaps for a friend or relative to hear of her son's internationally-respected effort. I just love this contrast of cultures and endearing bonds of family!
FREE TO LEAVE. News sources report that Floyd Landis left his cloistered community after graduation from high school. Leaving such communities is always a free and considered choice for Mennonite and Amish youth, not an act of rebellion (as some in the news media are trying to cast Landis' departure). Landis loved riding throughout his youth. After leaving his community, Landis has made San Diego his home. From that base he become a nationally-prominant mountain bike competitor before switching to road racing and becoming part of Lance Armstrong's Tour de France-winning team.