August 30, 2017 § 30 Comments
When USADA issued the official death certificate for the profamateur racing career of Kayle LeoGrande, it listed the seven banned substances found in his pee-pee. They were: Raloxifene, ostarine, ibutamoren, GW1516 sulfone, RAD140, LGD4033, and andarine.
The news came down about the same time I was lying in bed wondering how I would ever win my first Telo World Fake Profamateur Training Crit Championship. I had a host of fourths, a couple of thirds, but victory proved elusive, even with Frexit out of the picture.
It was 3:00 AM. The phone rang. “Hello?”
“Hello,” said a heavily accented voice, which I instantly recognized as Stanley O’Grande, the infamous doping Chihuahua. “You wanna win the Telo?” he said.
“Yeah,” I admitted quietly. “I do.”
“It’s gonna cost you.”
“I’ll pay anything.”
“You test positive I don’t know you, okay?”
“All right,” he growled. “Get ready for the dark side.”
An hour later I was in a dark alley behind the PVE faux estate of palm frond manager Robert Lewis McButtchaps, Jr. It was silent except for the babysitting service which had come over to McButtchaps’s home to burp him and change his didy. I spied Stanley O’Grande next to a bush.
“You got the stuff?” I asked.
“Here,” he said gruffly, thrusting out his paw. I took the large plastic sack, tucked it under my arm and dashed away.
The next day was Telo. Before rolling up to the start I opened the plastic bag. Inside was the miracle tunic! One of Kayle LeoGrande’s old jerseys! I quickly shucked off my Team Lizard Collectors kit and squirmed into Kayle’s jersey, which was strangely damp.
At the bottom of the sack was a note, written by Stan: “This is the only miracle tunic left from the batch we custom fitted Kayle with. Straight from Shanghai. Zip that baby up and let the ointments in the fabric do their thing. Chapeau. Or sombrero, as we Chihuahuans say.”
As the form fitting garment clung to my skin I could feel the magical elixirs begin to soak in. In seconds I went from meek, compliant, fearful Wanky McWankster to Kayle Jr., a/k/a Cabbage. As the chemicals from the soaked jersey coursed through my veins, I knew it was indeed my day to win Telo.
Destroyer sidled up to me. “We’re on the same team now,” he said. “Me and Smasher will get you the win today. With that tunic, everything is possible.”
“Even for me? I thought you can’t turn a donkey into a racehorse, even with drugs.”
“A donkey, no. But a Wanky? Maybe!”
The race was off. Destroyer, Buckwheat, and G3 rolled and opened a massive gap. I sat easily on Smasher’s wheel, knowing that my new teammate would do anything to help me win. Eventually the break disappeared, but I never worried. Why?
Because the 1st reason to love Kayle was taking effect, i.e. Mr. Raloxifene. It immediately began selectively blocking estrogen uptake receptors, resulting in immediate flows of extra testosterone that would have otherwise been converted to estrogen. My legs were pistons of steel.
Once the break was reeled in, a series of counter-attacks took place. In kicked Reason to Love Kayle #2, Mr. Ostarine. I easily went with the counter as my ostarine, which research has shown to have fewer androgenic properties, exerted less influence on the development and balance of my male hormones, including testosterone. While not yet approved for human use, ostarine did away with the negative side effects of steroids and effectively helped me avoid muscle wasting diseases such as osteoporosis, cancer, and hypogonadism. The peloton had greatly thinned. Thanks, Mr. Ostarine!
Now we were halfway through the race and there were a flurry of unsuccessful attacks. It was my time to launch, and thankfully I had Mr. Ibutamorin at my disposal. Reason #3!!! This non-peptidic, potent, long-acting, orally-active, and selective agonist of the ghrelin receptor and a growth hormone secretagogue, mimicked the growth hormone (GH)-stimulating action of the endogenous hormone ghrelin. By sustaining activation of GH-IGF-1 Axis and increase in lean body mass but no change in total fat mass or visceral fat, it allowed me to attack so hard that none could follow.
Soon I was brought back and would have been decimated were it not for Reason to Love Kayle #4, GW1516 sulfone, or Endurabol. This PPARδ receptor agonist, although abandoned in 2007 because animal testing showed that the drug caused cancer in several organs, brought my dead legs back to life much as the 2007 research showing that high doses of GW501516 given to mice dramatically improved their physical performance. Endurabol might cause cancer in lab rats, but Kayle and I were no lab rats, we were sewer rats, and I hung tough.
Catching my breath I attacked and bridged up to Hector Morales thanks to Reasons to Love Kayle Nos. 4-6, i.e., RAD140, LGD4033, and andarine. These three SARMs kept my testosterone hugely massive, better than Obama’s, and the break stuck for twenty minutes. Unfortunately, the race had twenty-one minutes left.
Buckwheat, Smasher, Destroyer, Rudy, and others hunted us down despite my best doped efforts, but proving that drugs are stronger than pan y agua, I miraculously outsprinted everyone but Buckwheat for second place with the help of a massive leadout by Destroyer.
Was it worth it? How did I feel about cheating my friends? What about my incipient ovarian cancer? Would I feel like an idiot when USADA put me on its Most Wanted list?And most importantly, could I keep the miracle tunic?
I don’t know the answers to those things. But I know I’ve learned to love Kayle.
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PS: Don’t forget the Wanky’s. As if you could.
August 22, 2017 § 20 Comments
By now everyone has seen “Icarus,” even people like me who have never been to a Netflix theater. So I broke down and walked over to the PV Mall to watch it but when I got there the lady at the movie theater said they weren’t a Netflix theater.
“Do I have to go to Crossroads at Crenshaw?” I asked.
“You can go wherever you want,” she said, crossly. “Next in line, please.”
So I went to Crossroads where it was a different movie theater and they were about as rude. Finally a guy told me that Netflix wasn’t a movie theater, rather, it was an app for your phone.
“I don’t want a new phone,” I told him. “I just want to watch ‘Icarus.’ It’s a new movie only showing at the Netflix theater.”
“There ain’t no Netflix theater, man. It’s on your phone. It’s an app. Like YouTube. You ain’t never gone to no damn YouTube theater have you, man?”
“Well shit, that’s ’cause there ain’t any. Same with Netflix.”
He explained it and then we downloaded the Netflix theater on my phone and I watched the video movie documentary. Everyone had told me that I had to watch it because it revealed global corruption reaching to the highest levels of government in order to dope the Olympics.
I don’t know about any of that stuff, but here is the story:
- Wanker does a grand fondue. Gets ass kicked.
- Wanker gets pissed at the dopers.
- Wanker decides “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.”
- Wanker does worse on drugs than he did racing clean.
- Wanker stumbles onto Russian doping program that led to the invasion of Crimea and Ukraine.
I can’t really comment on #5, but I can totally comment on numbers 1-4. First, the wanker Bryan Fogel, who is also the film maker, is completely delusional. Which makes him awesome.
He dresses up in off-the-rack Assos clothing, buys an expensive bike, and assumes full Superbikeman Wanker powers, i.e., gets a coach and flies around the world trying to win various grand fondues. So far, pretty normal for a delusional idiot. But his descriptions of the fondues and his competition are truly insightful as to the depths of his illness: “They could be pros!” he says, describing a gaggle of goofballs who look about as pro as the 3rd string baby seals on the NPR.
“It’s as hard as the Tour!” he exclaims as he labors slowly up a climb day after day, alone, unaware that when you are alone on a climb in the Tour for very long you quickly become what is known as “missed the time cut.” Also, they don’t let you in the Tour when your riding style approximates a pig romancing a football.
Most amazing is Bryan’s coaching. One shot shows him hooked up to a breathing tube and nailed to an ergometer while his coach says just the right combination of phrases to humiliate him while simultaneously making him hope there might be improvement, i.e. keep him writing those monthly checks.
The whole crockumentary was pretty sad, for me. I mean here was perhaps the world’s finest baby seal, with a freshly glistening coat no less, and he’d never made it to the NPR, or Flog, or Donut, or Nichols. What’s worse, the guy lives in L.A., on the west side, so the whole time he was drowning in visions of sugarplums he was just a few pedal strokes away from a weekly beating that would have saved him all that airfare. He wouldn’t have had to go to France to get clubbed; we’d gladly have done it here in his own back yard, bought him coffee, made him wear a Team Lizard Collectors kit, and taught him how to go to the front.
And of course it was sad to think that he had fallen into the bubbling vat of profama-soup and didn’t even know that you can’t really do the delusion thing right without a fake team kit and tramp-stamp butt sponsors. Off the rack Assos? Sigh. Sigh. Sigh.
But anyway, on to the real moral of the story, which is NOT that doping is bad. At least that’s not what I got out of it, even though in the film one guy was murdered, another given a new identity and spirited off to Utah or Manitoba, and a small country was invaded all in the name of better Olympiads through state-sponsored drugs.
No, for me the motto was that doping is horrible, awful, unmentionable in the extreme because unless you actually have talent and a team and bike racing skills and know how to train, doping will make you worse. It’s not the old saw of “You can’t make a donkey into a racehorse,” no, it’s more terrible: Unless done right it will make a donkey into a newt.
Which is what Brian became, at least in the world of profamateur grand fondue doping, a newt. A glistening, small, crawling, mostly brainless salamander in the subfamily Pleurodelinae. A fate worse than Kayle’s … by far. Sad.
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August 5, 2017 § 46 Comments
Doping is twisted. And I’ve never understood why I’ve been so conflicted about it. On the one hand, I don’t care what you do, what you put in your body, or how you live your life. Drugs are great and pound through our veins from the minute we get up until the minute we sleep, and then after we sleep, too.
Everyone dopes, and they dope to gain an advantage, they dope to fix shit, they dope to get high, they dope to get through the mid-day lunchtime food coma. They coffee dope, alcohol dope, etc. etc. and etc.
Bike racer doping has been near and dear to my heart for decades. I’ve known so many dopers. Raced so many dopers. Been friends with so many dopers. Inspired by them, learned from them, respected them.
But at the same time, the notion of doping to beat someone in a bike race has always turned my stomach. Dopers are lame. Like I said, it’s a twisted topic.
There aren’t many things that can make me give up a fun day of bicycling, especially a Saturday like today, when the roads are littered with so many glistening baby seal pelts begging to be clubbed. Especially, I wouldn’t give up a ride for a book. I don’t think I’ve ever forgone a ride for a read, although I’ve dropped countless books onto the floor in order to hustle out the door and pedal. I love to read but I love to bike more.
I can’t remember the exact chronology of all this, so I’ll make it up. There I was, blogging about doping or something and some dude I’d never heard of named Mark Johnson asked me if I wanted a free copy of his book on doping. “Sure,” I emailed back, knowing that after a couple of pages, if that much, I’d toss it in the Shitty Book Pile and move on. How did I know I’d toss it in the Shitty Book Pile?
Because it was a book about cycling called “Spitting in the Soup,” and books about cycling are always terrible. Cyclist enthusiasts can’t write, and this blog is rededicated to that proposition on a daily basis. Cyclists can’t write for the simple reason that people in general can’t write. It is hard, takes talent, practice, and a brain. Once in a rare while someone will drop down from heaven and write well, but the rest of us basically suck.
When Mark’s book arrived I noted that it had a very nice inscription. Free book + nice inscription + cool postcard of Sean Kelly = I won’t trash your book immediately, maybe. I shoved it atop the Unread Pile and kept plowing through Yasunari Kawabata’s “Yuki Guni,” a very boring re-read about some old dude and a geisha somewhere up in the Tohoku. The great thing about reading Japanese Nobel laureates is that even though I had to look up every third word, I got huge mileage flashing it in airports as people nudged each other and muttered under their breath.
But back to Mark’s Unread-But-Destined-For-The-Shitty-Pile book. I picked it up and started reading. It was pretty disappointing. For starters, he had a degree in English literature. I hate English lit majors because they actually know about writing. The only thing worse than reading a shitty book about cycling (which is all of them) is reading a really good book about cycling, because it makes me feel even more inferior and inept than I already do.
A few pages in and I couldn’t believe my good fortune, or was it my bad fortune? Good fortune at a stunningly well written book, bad fortune at realizing how much better it was than my own daily fare of verbal gruel. Then it got even better or even worse. Mark’s a fine writer, so yeah, fuck that dude. But he’s also someone who has thought deeply about doping, then poured an incredible amount of time and effort into researching this complex and twisted subject.
Unlike the Paul Kimmage method of writing, where the author takes a gentle and refined tool such as a sledgehammer and pounds the shit out of everything nearby until the finished product is ground up into fine meal, Mark started with the intellectual concepts that underlay the Olympic movement, amateurism, and the concept that underlies sport, competitive performance.
With an astounding array masterful brushstrokes that tie in the Industrial Revolution, British public schools, the Franco-Prussian War, the rise of the proletariat, and the metamorphosis of sport from leisure activity of the rich to spectator event for the poor, Mark sets up the conflict inherent in doping that perfectly reflects the conflict, until now unidentified in me, between an activity — bike racing — that is based on the contradictory notions of fair play and on doing anything it takes to win.
As the book progresses, Mark unleashes the full brunt of his amazingly catholic reading diet, cruising through Hitler’s impact on sports marketing to the pharmacology of amphetamines and steroids to the global politics of Cold War conflict to the Nixon-Ehrlichman War on Drugs to Reagan and the Contras to Peter Ueberroth and the Salt Lake City fraudsters to Orrin Hatch and the FDA to Amgen and EPO and the social context of drugs themselves, from Viagra in the bedroom to Adderall in the classroom to Mark McGwire to the arch-doping villain Lance himself.
If any book could make you pump both fists in the air and praise doping, this book would be it, although that’s hardly its premise or its moral. Rather, “Spitting in the Soup” is a trip down Introspection Lane. Why do we compete? Why do we have rules? How can we have spectacle in sport without extremity? How can we expect athletes to attack the system that creates, enriches, then sustains them?
And of all the introspective alleys that Mark takes you down, none is narrower or richer than reflecting on how we demonize the dopers even as we demand that they dope. Because this is what Lance and Jonathan and David and Floyd said all along–“We only gave you what you wanted.”
Whether that is what any one individual wanted is open to dispute. But “Spitting in the Soup” makes clear that from legislation to global politics to the nature of competition in general and cycling in particular, society as a whole really does want its athletes to dope. And as Mark makes brutally clear, doping is what we want for ourselves as well, higher, faster, stronger lives that let us set world records in our own heads and on Strava, and that let us perform better at work, in school, and between the sheets.
Thankfully, the book doesn’t end by giving up on the notion that life can be wonderful with fewer drugs rather than more. To the contrary, even if we can’t achieve moral purity, even if we have to doctor up our shit to get through the day, even if we can’t be like Mike or Usain or Greg or Chris without boatloads of drugs, that doesn’t mean that an endless injection of substances is a good substitute for effort, rules, and the journey involved in getting the best out of the meatbag we were born in.
Although I would have never thought that a book about doping could make a person as genuinely horrible as Lance Armstrong look sympathetic, “Spitting in the Soup” helps transform him from monster into an ordinary jerk who, in a world that demanded spectacle, gave it to us in spades. And it makes much more sympathetic people like Floyd Landis, Ben Johnson, Barry Bonds, and any number of other athletes hung out to dry as doping pariahs. Devoid of Lance’s shithead personality, they were nothing more or less than people who played by the rules, or rather by The Rule: Do what it takes to win, and don’t get caught.
Even as the fair play notion, the don’t cheat notion, the don’t use chemicals notion balances on a knife edge, Mark kicks it over the side by making the point that we have already entered a world where performance enhancement may one day be decided before you were born, when your parents and doctor carefully scripted your genes to ensure that you were better endowed than the fetus next door. Did you dope because you inherited a big VO2 max through a gene splice? Did you? Nor will these questions be subject to much ethical hemming and hawing by countries like China, which are on the cutting edge of gene doping research. Like their East German forebears, if the name of the game is winning, don’t talk to me about playing nice.
In a few short months Lance will get tried in federal court under the False Claims Act. A verdict for the government will ruin him financially, and if that happens many a doping crusader will rejoice. As “Spitting in the Soup” makes clear, the narrative of the superstar athlete is only complete when he falls from grace, because without fallen angels we’d have no need for saviors to take their place. Yet no matter how unappealing Lance is as a human being, and no matter how egregiously he flouted the rules and The Rule, this book makes an almost airtight case that the cheater, the faker, the liar, the hypocrite, and the doper … is you.
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July 13, 2017 § 41 Comments
I just finished watching a documentary on the 1982 Tour de France called “Tour de Pharmacy.” It’s an HBO production that explores the issue of doping in one of the most controversial tours ever, the year in which an American, Slim Robinson, first wore the yellow jersey in Paris.
I dislike documentaries in general and cycling documentaries in particular, but this one did a pretty good job of pointing out the prevalence of doping in the sport before it was commonly known or acknowledged in the U.S. by general audiences. In addition to some fairly decent commentary by Lance Armstrong, there are a few interesting interviews with the head of USADA, who lists the banned substances commonly in use at the time. It’s a pretty amazing pharmacopia, and highlights how entrenched doping was even in 1982.
Tour de Pharmacy looks at the world’s biggest sporting event through the experiences of five riders, including one French rider who actually died during the race from a drug overdose. The transformation of an Austrian rider in a single year from pack fill to buffed-out “all rounder” who climbed faster than most sprinters closed the final 200m, was particularly impressive … and scary. Less interesting were some of the side stories, including a love interest, as well as the story of a rider who ultimately served jail time over a collision during the race that killed a sports commentator. These stories have merit in that they show how multifaceted the Tour is, but they detract from the focus of the narrative, which is about the normalization of drug use in the pro peloton more than fifteen years before Lance’s first Tour win in 1999.
As a cyclist you won’t help but notice the changes in equipment that have taken place in the last thirty-five years. Brake cables that come out of the hoods, downtube shifters, toe clips, and of course steel frames and no helmets dominate the visual effects. As the documentary shows, riders were more colorful then, used saltier language, and took things just a bit less seriously.
Tour de Pharmacy does an acceptable job of investigating how drugs operate beneath the surface to turn athletes into freaks, all for the vicarious pleasure of spectators and for profit. Another interesting aspect is the spotlight that the filmmakers shone on corruption at the UCI, and how collusion, fraud, and conspiracy at the top were what enabled such large-scale doping. Back in 1982, the UCI’s credibility was nil.
Sad to say, not much has changed.
July 9, 2017 § 10 Comments
July 6, 2017 § 25 Comments
That’s what I want to tell Lance Armstrong after listening to his podcast covering Stage 3 of the Turdy France.
Several people told me I should “check it out” because “it was really insightful” and they admonished me “to listen with an open mind.”
Obviously, these were people who didn’t know me at all. The day I listen to anything with an open mind it will be due to a gunshot wound to the head.
That said, I did tune in and I was impressed. Impressed with what an impossibly lazy person Lance Armstrong is. Here is a guy with nothing to do. No job. No cancer to cure. No bike to race. Not even any poopy diapers left to change. At least he could put some effort into the podcast because, you know, if there’s one guy who knows how to race and win a Turdy France, IT’S LANCE FUGGIN’ ARMSTRONG.
Hello, ex-seven times consecutive Tour champion!! This is your turf!!
Here’s what I expected: A beginning-to-end breakdown of how the race unfolded, why it was significant (or not), in-depth looks at the protagonists and wankers alike, detailed analysis of the course, and detailed analysis of what was going on and why.
Why did I expect that? Because Lance knows this stuff. He is a bike racing computer. I don’t care about his drugscapades in that regard, he still had to know how to race and he had to understand what to do when. He was a savvy, smart guy on the bike.
But no. What Lance delivered was fluff, puff, and one particularly awful piece of near-slanderous misinformation. The fluff was about “why the yellow jersey was yellow.” Yawning, stream-of-unconsciousness observations about Tour history and stuff. Yo, Lance! We already have one babbling idiot in the commentator’s seat, and his name is Phil Liggett. You will never be as stupid or boring as Phil, so please quit trying.
The near-slander was egregious. At one point he talked about “trading favors” and insinuated that, for example, Team Sky gets on the horn and advises another team that it will “let” them win the stage, with the implication being that a favor will be returned later down the road … you know, “politics,” wink wink nudge nudge, otherwise known as collusion and sporting fraud.
Somewhat astounded, the other guy in the trailer pressed Lance for the physical mechanics of how that works. Phone call? Face to face? And Lance backpedaled like crazy. Doesn’t really know anymore, isn’t in the mix these days, can’t say, etc. etc. And then he finished off this rather explosive allegation by saying that it probably doesn’t really even happen much anymore.
Jeez, what a load of crap. Of course racers remember the outcome of one day, or who did what in a prior break, and of course they sometimes use it to trade horses during a subsequent race if and when advantageous. But the idea that Brailsford is on the phone with Madiot saying, “Okay, today you get the win, but in the mountains you owe me the GC,” is absurd. Even Lance recognized how dumb his premise sounded because he maladroitly transitioned into the history of the yellow jersey, thank you Wikipedia.
Armstrong could be a fantastic commentator. He knows a bunch. He’s done a bunch. He sees things we don’t. He has a very good commentating voice. He understands dynamics that are not immediately apparent.
But he doesn’t have a crystal ball, and in order to commentate he would have to do what first-class commentators like Craig Hummer do: Watch, re-watch, re-watch, and re-watch again. He would have to study, analyze, compare, interview, and bust his ass — all in a very short time frame because he’s doing same-day coverage. Instead of doing those things, which require hard work, dedication to a craft, and tons of practice, he picked up a mic and blabbered for forty minutes because hey, he’s Lance. Compare his shoddy, make-it-up-as-he-goes along podcast with Sean Kelly or Perico, and you’ll understand my rating for this horribly lazy fellow:
Ten thumbs down.
June 10, 2017 § 42 Comments
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.
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.”
October 19, 2016 § 7 Comments
Cycling in the South Bay sat down with Bradley Wiggins to discuss his use of performance enhancing drugs prior to his 2012 Tour de France win.
CitSB: So you got a TUE for steroids to treat your asthma right before the Tour?
CitSB: And you went on to win?
CitSB: Your asthma must have been really bad.
BW: Bad? Mate, it was killing me. It was so bad I had these little coughs in bed at night. Me throat got a little raw even. It was the most terrible pain I’ve ever felt.
CitSB: And as a result you took a year-long prescription for steroids?
BW: Oh, yeah. Them things work, mate.
CitSB: And you don’t consider that cheating?
CitSB: Why not?
BW: I had to level the playing field, mate.
CitSB: Could you elaborate?
BW: The playing field was all tilted and crooked and whomperjawed. Because of me asthma and I couldn’t breathe so we had to put a jack under the edge of the playing field and level it out.
CitSB: So you think that all racers should be equal?
BW: Oh, sure, mate. Gotta be fair and square or it’s not racing, it’s rigged like the US elections. It’s letting one guy beat another guy because of unfair advantages. That’s why we have the TUE system, mate. Man gets a bit of a breathing problem and he’s suddenly got the table tilted against him, then he takes a bit of the good stuff and *bam* he’s back equal with the other blokes.
CitSB: What are some of the other unfair advantages that a rider would need to use a TUE to “level out the playing field”?
BW: Oh, all kinds of shit, mate. All kinds of shit.
CitSB: Like what?
BW: VO2 max, mate. There’s guys out there with super high VO2 max and some other bloke only has, like, you know, maybe a 45. That’s bone idle wanker unfair.
CitSB: What else?
BW: List is endless, mate. Some guy’s been training extra hard, for example, while another bloke’s been drinking beer and boinking his GF. Super un-level playing field. Or diet. Dieting really tilts the hell out of the playing field.
BW: Is there an echo in here? Yeah, mate. One guy eats really good and stays lean and comes into the Tour at race weight, and the other bloke is 25 pounds overweight, butt cheeks sagging over the saddle wings.
CitSB: You mean Cavendish?
BW: Don’t wanna name names, mate, but you get me drift. Them’s unfair advantages. That’s why we have the TUE system.
CitSB: Some have said that if you have chronic breathing problems so severe that they require regular steroid prescriptions, maybe you shouldn’t be in an elite endurance sport.
BW: Yeah, well you know what? Sick people should get a shot at the yellow jersey same as healthy ones. That’s discrimination, mate. Pure and simple discrimination.
CitSB: Can you tell us about the secret package delivery just before the Tour?
BW: Oh, sure. That was nothing, mate.
CitSB: What was in the package?
BW: Just some orange juice and a couple of aspirin.
CitSB: Why was it shipped in from Italy by private courier?
BW: Italian oranges, mate, them’s the best.
CitSB: I see. Any suggestions for how the TUE system might be reformed?
BW: Yeah. I have this genetic low red blood cell count problem. I’m hoping to get a TUE to reform that. You know, to raise it up a bit. Untilt the playing field, so to speak.
CitSB: So to speak.
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