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Tuesday 29, Jul 2008

  Steroids, performance-enhancing drugs part of pro cycling

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Moises_Duenas_Nevado_steroidsMoises Duenas, Riccardo Ricco, Dmitri Fofonov and Manuel Beltran can be collectively called as the Four Bikemen of Champ-Elysees. However, the four cyclists – unlike their horse-riding counterparts – are not the harbingers of the destruction of cycling. These four riders, who have tested positive for banned compounds in the recently concluded Tour de France, are actually the representatives of the dynamics of the sport.

According to University of Vermont assistant professor Brian Gilley doping and cycling go hand in hand. And you’ve got to believe what this guy is saying since he’s a recreational cyclist and an anthropologist to boot. We just hope that by recreational cyclist he means a rider of bi-pedaled vehicle and not a person who cycles anabolic steroids.

Anyway, Prof. Gilley authoritatively states that the use of performance-enhancing drugs, such as steroids an EPO, has been prevalent in cycling “because the stakes are high and athletes are looking for ways to advance.”

Therefore, cycling fans should not expect squeaky clean pro cycling events not now, and maybe never, as long as there the lure of these twins – fame and fortune.  The sponsors, team owners, and race organizers typically turn a blind eye on athletes who use banned compounds. These athletes, after all, are their sources of bread and butter – and by that we don’t mean your normal breakfast staple.

Here’s the rest of the article by the Burlington Freepress.com

…Gilley has recently begun studying doping in professional road cycling. Thanks to a $10,000 grant from the World Anti-Doping Association, Gilley is examining rider attitudes toward doping with the hope of understanding what role the cycling institution has had in the proliferation of doping.

“You look at the nature of doping not just as acts of moral failure, but you look at how cycling as a culture was working to support doping,” Gilley said.

In all the work that has been produced on the use of performance-enhancing drugs in professional road cycling, there is little critical examination on the motivation behind doping, Gilley said. For the past year, he has been studying elite under-23 cyclists’ openness to doping. He found that of his American participants — he has studied cyclists from France, Italy and Belgium, as well — 20 percent said they would dope if they could be on a ProTour team or win the Tour de France.

In Europe, where road cycling is far more popular and profitable than in the U.S., the pressures to dope are overwhelming, Gilley suggests. While not an apologist for doping, Gilley argues that “in many ways, it makes sense to dope.”

Many of the professional road cyclists on top European teams such as Liquigas, Credit Agricole and Quick Step come from working-class backgrounds, Gilley says. Unlike in the U.S., where professional cyclists typically have college degrees, European pros have limited options beyond cycling and little to fall back on if their careers don’t work out, he said. The pressure to dope comes with the territory.

“Using performance-enhancing drugs has become embedded in pro cycling,” Gilley said. “It’s become an assumed part of the sport.”

Monday 28, Jul 2008

  Tour de France 2008 and Steroids

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Tour_De_France_steroidsTour de France 2008 is described as a doping-scarred race and considering that four riders have been found out to be using steroids that description is no surprise. Kazakhstan’s Dmitri Fofonov was tested positive for a banned substance on his final day of the Tour.

The 31-year-old Fofonov’s now belongs to the infamous roster of those who commit the mortal sin (read: performance-enhancing drug use) of professional sports. He was tested positive for the drug heptaminol after the 18th stage on Thursday. A “very high dose” apparently is what gave away Fofonov. His flimsy excuse of taking the drug to fight cramps was not accepted by his team Credit Agricole – he was given the high kick out.

According to the head of France’s anti-doping agency, Fofonov was arrested at team’s hotel and was later held for questioning. We wonder if he asked for his heptaminol when he suffered cramps sitting on some French interrogation room.

In an ABC News news report, Legeay offered basically the same castigatory statements:

“He has failed to respect our basic team rules,” Credit Agricole manager Roger Legeay said.
“No products can be taken by any riders unless they have prior authorisation from the team doctor.

“He has made a mistake, which can happen, but it’s not good news for us or for him.”

Fofonov is the fourth rider from the Tour to have tested positive for a banned substance.
Italian Riccardo Ricco, and Spanish duo Manuel Beltran and Moises Duenas all tested positive for the banned blood booster EPO (erythropoietin) and were thrown out of the race.

The 31-year-old Fofonov, from Almaty, turned professional in 1998. Since 2000 he has competed with only French teams, picking up just three wins: the national time trial title (2000), a stage on the Tour of Catalonia (2002) and a stage on the Dauphine Libere earlier this year.

If there’s anything positive that has come out of this – other than the doping test, of course – is that Fofonov now is one of the most recognizable names in pro cycling (he even merited a space in Wikipedia). Maybe even overshadowing Spaniard rider Carlos Sastre who wore the symbolic yellow jersey at the conclusion of the Tour.