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Rob W

More Drug Fiends - must be summer

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I go away for a couple of weeks and find those buggers are all up to their old tricks again




The Times May 29, 2006


Cycling: Lack of outrage at drug scandal speaks volumes

By Matthew Syed


NOBODY will be shocked by the latest drugs scandal to engulf cycling. Nobody will be horrified by reports that 1,000 doses of anabolic steroids and hormones together with 100 bags of frozen blood have been discovered in clinics and flats around Madrid or by the fact that Manolo Saiz, the manager of a leading cycling team, spent a night in jail this week as the Spanish Civil Guard continues its investigations.


Nobody will express moral outrage at the allegation that team doctors — men who have taken the Hippocratic oath or its equivalent — have risked the health of their “patients” for the sake of performance-related bonuses. Nobody will bat an eyelid when they see reports claiming that the names of 200 athletes — including Jan Ullrich, the 1998 Tour de France winner — have been found in the files of the clinic at the centre of the investigation.


That is when depravity becomes systemic — it loses its power to shock and fails to provoke the righteous anger that is necessary to put things right. For those on the inside, doping has become the done thing. For the public, exposed to the drip-drip of allegations, cheating is now part of the game. Sociologists call it normalisation. Kafka called it nihilism.


The scandals of recent years are of a magnitude that implies collaboration on a vast scale. The cyclists themselves are merely the guinea pigs, the front men willing to gamble their lives for the short-term glory of the team and the prospect of personal advancement. In the background are the shadowy figures that sustain the deceit by finding the cash, organising the logistics (successful doping is fiendishly complex), mixing the cocktails and wielding the syringes.


Mysterious deaths are commonplace. It is well known that blood-doping significantly increases the risk of heart attack by overloading the blood system. In the past four years, Johan Sermon, 21, Michel Zanoli, 35, José María Jiménez, 32, Marco Rusconi, 24, Fabrice Salanson, 23, Marco Ceriani, 16, and Denis Zanette, 32, have all died of heart attacks. The lack of outrage is testimony to a sport that has comprehensively lost its moral bearings.


The endemic contempt for the truth is even manifested in the excuses dreamt up by cyclists when they are caught red-handed. When blood samples taken from Tyler Hamilton, the Olympic time-trial champion, showed the presence of a “foreign blood population” the American raised the possibility that the cells had been received from a phantom twin during his mother’s pregnancy. Dick Pound, the admirably outspoken head of the World Anti-Doping Agency, replied: “Maybe he should hire an exorcist.”


The ghost of Hamilton has returned with the latest lurid allegations in Spain involving what is medically termed homologous blood-doping. This involves taking blood from a team-mate and then transfusing it into the athlete’s circulation before competition. The benefits are clear. The increase in red blood cells means that oxygen is more efficiently transported to the muscles, boosting stamina and reducing fatigue.


One has to remind oneself that these allegations are being made in 21st-century Spain, not 19th-century Transylvania.


Mired in depravity, riddled with deceit and seemingly oblivious to the consequences, cycling is at the brink of a precipice of its own making. Doctors are playing fast and loose with the lives of athletes. Cyclists are dropping like flies. No race is won without suspicion. How the sport responds to this scandal will determine if it retains the will to escape from this Kafka-esque nightmare.

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It's just cycling at the end of the day. They can all be pilling off their faces for all I care-might make it more interesting.

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Guest alex
It's just cycling at the end of the day. They can all be pilling off their faces for all I care-might make it more interesting.


:nufc: The car at the front of the pelaton in the Tour de France should blast out happy hardcore.

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