Luke Bream, Tour Champion
July 26, 2007 9:02 AM   Subscribe

The races have been great watching this year (until today)..

Reading the guardian article, I was beginning to question whether Mr. Bream was cheating too, but his request for help says he had been riding 40++km per day leading up to his adventure. Awesome!
posted by Chuckles at 9:05 AM on July 26, 2007

the onus has long since shifted to the cyclists to prove that just one drug-free competitor exists.
posted by bruce at 9:07 AM on July 26, 2007

...what I learned from Tour de France 07:

Jam butty good.
posted by WolfDaddy at 9:11 AM on July 26, 2007

This whole fiasco just has me so bummed out. The Bream bit is good, though.
posted by OmieWise at 9:22 AM on July 26, 2007

If you're gonna choose any year to do it, this is the year - no Alpe d'Huez to contend with.

Without this mountain, the difficulty level of this stunt is merely 'Totally Fucking Impossible'. With the Alpe d'Huez, the level is 'Utterly Suicidal I Am Not Kidding You Will Die!!!1!'
posted by suckerpunch at 9:28 AM on July 26, 2007

His mum sounds ace:

"At the beginning we were leaving earlier but we were starting before the race officials put arrows along the route and ended up going the wrong way," she says. "Now we start half an hour before the arrow men. After 15km they overtake us with lots of hooting and waving and cheering and we don't go astray.
posted by handee at 9:31 AM on July 26, 2007

Good post, though sad to hear both Vino and Rasmussen are out. I'm glad the Tour's seems to be taking a tougher stance, finally.

Oh no, Luke doesn't take drugs at the best of times, not even an aspirin if he has a headache. He does take some cod liver oil tablets, but apart from that he's doing this largely on Coca Cola and jam butties.

Now THAT'S a product placement. I'd eat a jam butty right now. I'll bet the Champs-Elysees goes nuts when he rides through...
posted by Pantengliopoli at 9:38 AM on July 26, 2007

Awesome. Tour DIY France.
posted by DU at 9:39 AM on July 26, 2007

(also, this post needs a link to more information)
posted by DU at 9:40 AM on July 26, 2007

Wow - hardcore! He's doing this without teammates or competitors to kick his ass or encourage him - just him and his bike and his body and brain. And his mom, who sounds awesome. Go Luke!
posted by rtha at 9:41 AM on July 26, 2007

nm, iaad--just noticed the last link below the others
posted by DU at 9:42 AM on July 26, 2007

OK, my last comment for reals: Is anyone else thinking of Triplets of Belleville?
posted by DU at 9:43 AM on July 26, 2007

DU - Yep, though Triplets kinda creeped me out...

Can we just send the pros home and give the prize to Bream?
posted by Bearman at 9:46 AM on July 26, 2007

Can we = Can they
posted by Bearman at 9:49 AM on July 26, 2007

Triplets is the first thing that came to my mind. No mention of any dogs though.
posted by glip at 9:50 AM on July 26, 2007

If he succeeds in reaching the final stretch along the cobblestones of the Champs Elysées this Sunday it will be a remarkable feat of physical and mental endurance. His determination and success, so far, is even more remarkable given that he only took up cycling a year ago. ... "I have loads of enthusiasm, plenty of commitment but no great cycling experience. I currently cycle 60-80km per day to and from work but have only completed one long ride of 140 km before."

Good God, that's absolutely amazing. I haven't been following the Tour at all this year, but does any of the tv coverage mention this guy at all?
posted by maudlin at 9:52 AM on July 26, 2007

I'll bet he's in good shape now, anyway.
posted by Mister_A at 9:55 AM on July 26, 2007

And to update my ignominious chart from last year..
Year              place
1 2 3 4 5
2006 X OP AK CS CE
2005 LA X X X X
2004 LA AK X X JA
2003 LA X X X HZ
2002 LA X X SB? X
2001 LA X X X X
2000 LA X X X X
1999 LA X FE X X
My errors from last time (I didn't double check the X's..):
  • Vinokourov was incorrectly included at that time, but..
  • Alex Zulle, Laurent Dufaux, Andrei Kivilev and Christophe Moreau were all with Festina in 1998.
  • Raimondas Rumsas' wife was arrested with performance enhancing drugs the day after the 2002 Tour.
  • Santiago Botero is questionable, he was cleared in Puerto, but there was this previous investigation.
Here is a blog post that has done the same for 1996.

And then there's Lance..
posted by Chuckles at 10:01 AM on July 26, 2007 [4 favorites]

Wait, is this the skinny guy with short hair, angular features and a big nose? Or the other skinny guy with short hair, angular features and a big nose? I can never tell them apart.
posted by yhbc at 10:02 AM on July 26, 2007

I currently cycle 60-80km per day

D'oh! I originally read that as 40-80km, hence the 40km++ in my earlier comment..

does any of the tv coverage mention this guy at all?

Not that I've noticed. I tend to miss the pre-race stuff though, most of the time.
posted by Chuckles at 10:05 AM on July 26, 2007 [1 favorite]

I was a bit too invested in this year's tour to write up a FPP on it although I considered doing so after Vinokourov was ousted from the race.

One gets the sense that even among the péléton, Vinokourov's exit was more shocking, and more of a blow to riders' psyches, than Rasmussen's. David Millar, a reformed doper himself, was giving a press conference when the news broke, and he nearly broke down in tears upon hearing the news.

I wrote this two days for my 'blog, not thinking for a moment that my hypothesis would be proven the very next day:
I'm composing part of this journal entry in the middle of the day to register my shock and dismay at Astana rider Alexandre Vinokourov's positive result for a donor blood transfusion following his stage win in the first time trial of this year's Tour de France.

My initial impression of Vino came during the last few stages of the 2005 Tour. It was Lance Armstrong's seventh, and the first I followed live via the cyclingnews website. I watched with growing admiration as, finding himself stymied by T-Mobile's single-minded focus on fulfilling Jan Ullrich's aspirations in Paris, Vinokourov shopped himself to potential teams by ascending the leader board largely through his own strength, ingenuity, and explosive speed. He capped this astonishing performance with an unlikely stage win on the Champs-Élysées, beating the world's top sprinters at their own game and simultaneously climbing a final place in the overall standings to finish just above the hapless Levi Leipheimer.

For me, his tour performance epitomized the traits I have found most admirable in tour riders; the same traits that Floyd Landis displayed on Mt. Morzine (diminished afterwards by his own doping drama) and Armstrong displayed seemingly on demand.

Vinokourov seemed ready to top the tenacity of his previous performance this year, winning two late stages after suffering an early crash that would have ended the tour of many riders. This is why revelations of his doping have so affected me, more so than if tour leader Rasmussen were proven to have cheated his way to the yellow jersey. Contador would fulfill Rasmussen's role as race leader just as well in his absence, but Vinokourov served as this tour's heart; not an official position, but crucial nonetheless, and far more difficult to replace.
posted by The Confessor at 10:12 AM on July 26, 2007

Awesome story. Thanks.
posted by chinston at 10:38 AM on July 26, 2007

This is pretty hard on the international cycling community and on young riders like myself, who watched the tour for the first time in 1999, when I was in junior high. I remember saying to my Mom that summer, "An American might be able to win the Tour de France this year! This is so exciting!"

Eight years on, if it weren't for the core community of racers and peers I've found, I don't know where I'd be - from Operation Puerto to the one-two-three-four-five punches of Floyd and this whole Tour, it's been exhausting and terribly disheartening.

Wholeheartedly agree with Bearman - let's give the jersey to Bream and call it a day.
posted by coolhappysteve at 10:55 AM on July 26, 2007

440 miles, in 8 days...
Who's in?
posted by Chuckles at 11:04 AM on July 26, 2007

As one of those fans who felt that Vinokourov's determination and perseverance after the horrific crash that left him with almost 60 stitches was endearing and inspiring, I am crushed at what has happened during these last few days of the Tour. That doping is so prevalent even when the contenders know that the testing in France is more rigorous that in any other race and that their sport is already being viewed with a jaundiced eye by their former fans is just astounding.

I hope Luke Bream succeeds, and that others follow in his wake. Cycling is a brutal sport that demands so much of its participants it's a wonder anyone can finish this nearly suicidal Tour route, but I for one would welcome more men of his character taking over the sport and recovering the glory it had under Lance Armstrong.

I can't lay all the blame at the sponsors' feet, either; though cyclists have a rough time gaining and maintaining sponsorship, sponsors aren't turning a blind eye to the doping to win races. By all accounts, Michael Rasmussen would willingly sacrifice his friends to jail time if he could convince them to smuggle syringes for him, and when his team found out he had lied to them, they pulled him even though he was winning the Tour. Vinokourov's team, Astana, pulled the entire team without waiting for the B test results to come through once they heard about the transfusion because of their zero-tolerance doping policy.
posted by misha at 11:35 AM on July 26, 2007 [1 favorite]

At this rate, I am half-expecting Wim Vansevenant to win the whole thing. And I don't mean the Lanterne Rouge!
posted by needled at 12:19 PM on July 26, 2007

My summer of cycling came to it's own tragic end the other day when I tore the meniscus in my knee, so I've been watching every minute of every Tour stage while reclining on the couch. Like misha, I felt crushed to hear that Vino doped before the time trial. I think the announcers on Versus felt even more crushed, as they talked him up for three days and then had to swallow their words. He was becoming my favorite rider of the Tour (besides Boonen).

I'm glad that Rasmussen got thrown off-- it should have happened at the beginning of the Tour. It still came as a shock to me last night when I read the report on (killer Tour coverage!), but I always had a hunch about that skinny little bastard. It's disappointing that the news had to break this late in the Tour. He must be just as upset with himself as the rest of the cycling community is.

I'm curious to see if the UCI undergoes some major changes in the way they conduct blood testing. I'm really falling in love with the sport; no amount of cheating will turn me away from riding or watching, but it still hurts me as a fan. It's time the UCI makes some changes.

p.s. nice chart, Chuckles!
posted by jstef at 1:45 PM on July 26, 2007 [1 favorite]

Sorry to be a big idiot, but can someone remind me what the terrible thing about performance enhancing drugs is exactly? Where does the line get drawn?

What if, for example, a certain brand of sausage or kind of tomato was found to improve your performance as a cyclist? Would it be wrong to analyse the essence of the sausage's or the tomato's performance enhancing power and take that directly as a supplement? At what point in the process does it shade over from nutrition to doping, and what's so bad about it when it does?

Doesn't the performance still have to come (or not) from the performer, regardless of how they have prepared? Aren't all high level sports all about wars between preparation teams as well as on the pitch / track or whatever? Isn't this all this 'oh noes doping!' pretty much the most socially acceptable form of Luddism outside of IT?
posted by motty at 2:11 PM on July 26, 2007

Thanks, jstef, for the link -- that's lightyears better than other Tour coverage I've read.

The "doping" issue in athletics is certainly a complicated one. At its heart are two issues -- safety and "fairness" -- and "fairness" is by far the trickier of the two. Is it "fair" that some Kenyans seem to have a genetic advantage that allows them to run marathons so successfully?
posted by Slothrup at 2:46 PM on July 26, 2007

Motty, the idea is that the performance-enhancing drugs are just that ... drugs. Those that take them develop essentially a physical and psychological dependence. Physical because noone can win the Tour without the dope and psychological because once you take them, you don't even think for yourself that you can be any good without them.

The cyclists on the Tour are basically all junkies. That's fine, as long as it is all kept a secret and noone knows what's going on. But when the media find out and make a stink about it, the sponsors are pissed. Because they don't want to be associated with junkies. So they pull the plug. And the general public is pissed because they want to idolize heroes, not some junkie with no hair and a big nose who looks like he's been through chemo therapy.
posted by sour cream at 2:52 PM on July 26, 2007

OK, here's how it should be done -- given the enormous amount of scrutiny already in place looking for drugs and blood doping, and given the fact that it doesn't work, just take the next step. All Tour racers are quarantined for the six months leading up to the events in dormitory-like facilities (maybe some of the old Soviet ones that were turned into youth hostels in places like Prague, but spruced up). They have access to weights, bikes, trainers, and a cafeteria, but everything (especially the potties) are put under video surveillance. In the kitchen, full-time inspectors are put on duty to make sure that only organic food sources are allowed into the compound, but not drugs or blood doping equipment.

The only problem might be when the guys go on long rides -- obviously, we'd need video surveillance full time on them as well.

In addition, to bring more attention to the great sport of cycling, you could turn the whole thing into a "Big Brother" type of reality show. No "voting" people off, obviously, but dramatic bootings when a given biker is shown to have had syringes or pills smuggled into him.

I'm dead serious, btw.
posted by bardic at 2:52 PM on July 26, 2007

At the rate this is going, I give myself - totally out of shape and unprepared - fairly good odds at winning this thing on a Big Wheel.
posted by nevercalm at 2:54 PM on July 26, 2007

Oh, and one of the biggest problem of the sport is that those who are not junkies themselves are ex-junkies, like Bjarne Riis. Coaching the junkies, and trying to get them clean from the good stuff.
That's right. The ex-junkies are responsible for getting the junkies clean. Because in the perverted logic of this sport, they have the street cred and are admired by the younger riders.
posted by sour cream at 2:56 PM on July 26, 2007

What is going on with the Tour? Just when I get interested in somebody, he gets booted out. To top it off, Commerce Department says home sales down sharply in June. It’s been a bad year, with my home value going down faster than I can pay it off.
posted by rtaylor111 at 3:09 PM on July 26, 2007

Give a nod to the folks who complete Race Across America each year, too. The elite solo riders in RAAM are completing over 3000 miles in under 10 days compared to the tour's 2200 miles over 20 stages; teams, in 5 or 6 days. (It's a totally different style of race, of course, and direct comparison isn't terribly meaningful.) I think Bream's got more in common with RAAM's wildly admirable lunatics than the peloton he's following around Europe.
posted by Wolfdog at 3:10 PM on July 26, 2007

So it really is all about omgdrugsarebadmmkay!!!11

How pathetic.

Everyone at the top international level of any competitive sport needs to totally regulate and structure their lives in a certain way in order to maintain their competitive edge - whether it's boxing, football, running or whatever. Otherwise they'll be trounced by someone else who does. That's pretty much a junkie lifestyle anyway, it's just that the obsessive compulsive aim here is about maintaining competitive edge as opposed to staying high. Training six hours a day at something is not normal. Why not ban training?

After all, it's not fair, is it. Someone who's been training is always going to trounce me at cycling.
posted by motty at 3:15 PM on July 26, 2007

That's pretty much a junkie lifestyle anyway

Sure, it's exactly the same thing. Without, ya know, the taking drugs part.
posted by bardic at 3:16 PM on July 26, 2007


Your back-door justification for doping is akin to using a poppy-seed bagel to argue for the legalization of opiates.

But the very fact that these certain substances and practices are banned in pro cycling should be sufficient reason in itself for riders to refuse to use them, if not out of respect for the rules of the game, than certainly out of respect for their teammates and opponents.

This guy makes the argument more eloquently than I could, but I'll add a couple of practical examples which occurred after he composed it.

The second-place finisher under Floyd Landis in the 2006 TdF was Oscar Pereiro Sio. Oscar is a very good rider, but he had never before finished higher than 10th in the overall race standings, and had only a single stage win to his credit. Even if the competition suffered somewhat from the loss of Vinokourov, Basso, and Ullrich due to that year's pre-tour doping scandal, Oscar still rode the tour of his life to place as high as he did...

But he could have ridden into Paris wearing yellow; might have if Floyd Landis had not spiked his crucial performance on stage 17 using a banned testosterone patch. Would he have performed as well without it? Or would he have cracked while soloing the steep climbs? Absent Landis's cheating, would Oscar's ride of a lifetime taken him to glory on the Champs-Elysées? Now we will never know.

Or consider Mauricio Soler and Alberto Contador, both of whom were stymied in their respective quests for the polka-dot climber's and yellow leader's jerseys by Michael Rasmussen.

I cannot definitively say that Rasmussen doped, although the circumstantial evidence, including four missed drug tests and at least one clandestine visit to Italy, strongly indicates that he might have.

But if he did, consider the disrespect implied toward Soler, who finally gained his jersey on the last mountain stage by scavenging for points Rasmussen did not care to snatch away. Or toward Contador, who wrestled with him over every climb in the Pyrenees, finally breaking from the strain on the final mountaintop finish.
posted by The Confessor at 3:37 PM on July 26, 2007

The current top rider in the tour Contador
had a massive blood clot in his brain in the tour down under a few years ago. For a super fit man in his early twenties this is a very odd thing to have happened. This may be indicative of taking something like EPO?
Indeed, there is evidence of an increased risk
of a stroke from this type of performance enhancing substance.

Also, check out the standings in the tour this year, half the top 10 riders are Spanish. Isn't that a little odd? Or could it be that Spain has a lax testing regime.

It's hard to believe anyone in the top 20 is not taking drugs.
posted by sien at 3:40 PM on July 26, 2007

Taking drugs being self-evidently bad, of course. Riiight.

Are cyclists allowed to eat oranges? That contains the drug (R)-3,4-dihydroxy-5-((S)- 1,2-dihydroxyethyl)furan-2(5H)-one. I've seen that particular baby sold in pill form under its street name of "vitamin C". Oranges should be right out for cyclists, no? I'm pretty sure you cycle better with vitamin C in you than without, so it's definitely performance enhancing. I'm an addict myself, I'll admit. Take some every day, and I miss it if I don't.

More seriously, where does the line get drawn? And why? Looks to me that the asinine 'War on Drugs' is now being allowed to destroy a whole sport. Why is that ok?

On preview, cheers The Confessor, for an actual answer, but I'm still not convinced. The circumstantial evidence indicates to me that all top cyclists are doing whatever it takes to get the best performance - including in terms of nutrition and practise - and are doing so in a way that attempts to keep one step ahead of the attempts to arbitrarily ban certain specific substances.

I'm agreed about not breaking the rules bit but how do you know what Oscar Pereiro Sio had or hadn't done that year in preparation, including taking newfangled 'supplements' that will not be magically turned into 'banned drugs' until next year? The tour of his life, was it? Hmmm...
posted by motty at 3:48 PM on July 26, 2007

motty, believe me, if all the cyclists were allowed access to the top drugs and blood-doping techniques, even though it meant they'd all die of heart-attacks in their late 30's, it wouldn't bother me that much. I mean, it'd be a little strange, but if an athlete wants to make that kind of sacrifice, that's their prerogative.

The problem is this, however -- as it stands now, the top teams and the top riders have the resources and connections to "hide" the drugging and doping they're doing more effectively than the others. So banning drugs and doping, as it stands, really just penalizes the teams with less cash on hand to grease to appropriate palms. It's pretty naive to think that professional cycling is still all about some lone dude hopping on his bike and popping a few pills to get a little faster. It's a racket, like anything else, and IMO professional cycling has two options -- just let everything go, and drop testing all together, or do what I suggested somewhat ironically above -- put some real, actual monitoring in place, as opposed to what goes on now, where the rich teams get a "free ride" until they piss off the wrong doctor, or fail to bribe the right tester.

So you're welcome to turn this into a screed on how The War on Drugs has ruined everything, but you'll have missed the point about athletic competition, and how you always need some standards, however rudimentary, because without them it's simply not fun to watch and pay attention to, and then it makes nobody any money.
posted by bardic at 3:59 PM on July 26, 2007

I'm not into cycling or even sports at all, but I fail to see any legitimate connection between the War on Drugs and doping in sports.

If all the drugs and doping and performance enhancers were allowed, it would be as much a competition for who has the best dealers, doctors and chemists, no?
posted by nevercalm at 4:32 PM on July 26, 2007

I think the line should be drawn just where it is-- no unfair performance enhancers like EPO or transfusions. Sure, its hard to say what's unfair and what isn't, but I think most agree where that line falls, and all that's lacking is enforcement of the rules.

The people who care most about cycling are those who ride. The use of EPO and blood transfusions are not within the grasp of the average weekend warrior or the kids racing Cat III with a dream of one day making it to the ProTour; nor would real cyclists ever dream of resorting to the use of these things to get ahead. But most riders take their vitamins and drinks a protein shake after a long ride, just like the pros do. Those things are within most every cyclist's reach, so nobody looks at them as immoral.

I like to think that the only things separating me from Ivan Basso are hours on the saddle and discipline. If I could train harder and maintain a strict dietary regimen and training schedule, then I could be a great cyclist, too. But if you could become just as good as me, with less time in the saddle, with less training, and a needle in your arm, it just seems wrong, even if it were legal.
posted by jstef at 4:46 PM on July 26, 2007

A comment in the (well written) article The Confessor linked to makes a similar point to Motty:

"So while it's reasonable to ask people to respect the rules, I think the philosophically more interesting question here is whether the rules themselves are uniquely justified. And that isn't so clear to me at all. Anti-drug arguments based on the importance of "hard work" neglect the close analogy between drugs and good nutrition. Presumably in neither case is consumption alone sufficient for good results. But they can enhance the benefits one gets from further practice. And it's hard to see how either of these is less "earnest" than the other.

So my challenge is this: when you get right down to it, what relevant difference is there between steroids and bananas?

nevercalm: how is a competition for who has the best dealers, doctors and chemists different from the current situation where the competition is just for different highly paid professionals be they video analysts to review an athlete's technique or engineers or nutritionists or whatever?
posted by patricio at 4:48 PM on July 26, 2007

"So my challenge is this: when you get right down to it, what relevant difference is there between steroids and bananas?"

Yes -- steroids will kill you. (And make your balls shrivel up. And possibly give you boobs.)

Again, I guess I'm coming off like Nancy Reagan in this thread, when in fact I'm fairly libertarian about performance-enhancers as long as all atheletes do or don't have access to the same ones. That's the thing, as mentioned -- let the drugs in, and it's no longer an athletic competition as much as it's a doctor/scientist/trainer competition.

I'm not a huge cycling fan, but it's a cool sport. I don't think this is the direction most die-hard fans would want it to go either. Then again, the system as it stands now is all about who has the most money for the right drugs and bribes. Morally, I don't care. As a sports fan though, it's boring as hell.
posted by bardic at 5:00 PM on July 26, 2007

when you get right down to it, what relevant difference is there between steroids and bananas?

One difference that comes to mind, much like the difference between some small improvement to the aerodynamics of the bicycle and adding a small electric motor, is that one of those things is allowed under the rules and the other isn't.

Some of the equipment rules are just as arbitrary as any rules about drugs: "No technical innovation regarding anything used, worn or carried by any rider or other license holder during a race may be used until approved by the UCI Executive Committee."

In motor racing, if they didn't have rules about what kind of engine you could use, the team with the most money would win. In cycling, if they didn't have rules about what drugs you could use, the riders with the most willingness to kill themselves would win. Neither of those situations seem all that desirable. This is not love or war, it's a game with complicated rules to match the complicated technology of bicycles and human bodies.

So, to those that cheated: You lose.
posted by sfenders at 5:55 PM on July 26, 2007

nevercalm, I'll be more blunt than patricio: it is a 'competition for who has the best dealers, doctors and chemists', as well as the best trainers and the best training regime, as well as, and not instead of, in the end, whoever wins at the sport.

bardic, you're making the argument that performance enhancing drugs are banned because they are harmful, and at this point I must confess my ignorance on the specifics: are all the banned drugs harmful? Or are they banned just because they are performance enhancing?

Seems like the latter: this article explains that the blood tranfusion thing is not, as I had rather dumbly thought, a way of avoiding failed blood tests by getting drugs via blood transfusion, but in fact that any blood transfusion - whether of your own blood or someone else's - increases the blood's oxygen carrying capacity for a while and, presumably therefore, your ability to perform at high endurance things like cycling.

A weird thing to do maybe but if you are devoting your entire life to being the best possible cyclist you can be, surely that's up there with the rest of the abnormal training regime and special diet, especially as one form of it - having a transfusion of your own blood - is not yet detectable, and at the top level it's likely that everyone else is also doing it.

I can see that it's not cricket. But then again, these days, nor's cricket.
posted by motty at 5:56 PM on July 26, 2007

motty writes you're making the argument that performance enhancing drugs are banned because they are harmful

Actually, that's pretty much the opposite of the argument I'm trying to make. Although it's a fact -- these drugs will kill you. Maybe not as quickly as others, but pretty darn quick.

The problem, as somebody who enjoys sports and competition, is pretty much laid out by sfenders. If you allow them in, it's really no longer about who bikes fastest but about who has the best doctors and bribers.

As for blood doping, that might not kill you, but it's an unfair advantage. Again, the logical step is to a) not allow it, and therefore test for it or b) make it mandatory that every participant has their blood oxygen-doped under controlled measures.

Any sport has rules, many of which are entirely arbitrary. If you break those rules, you're out, not because you're a morally bad drug abuser, but because you broke the rules (although plenty of folks will probably think of you as a morally bad drug abuser). Personally, I like a good match/race/quarter, what have you. As it stands now, sports are much less interesting when some people with the right connections can beat the system. So, either open the flood-gates and let them dope/roid up, or put some serious effort into backing up the anti-doping/roiding rhetoric, because at it stands, the Tour de France is, frankly, a complete joke.
posted by bardic at 6:14 PM on July 26, 2007

Thinking it over, it's hard to disagree with the 'because it is considered cheating and that's that' argument, and reading back I probably should have stopped typing at 'sorry to be a big idiot'.
posted by motty at 6:25 PM on July 26, 2007

bardic: let the drugs in, and it's no longer an athletic competition as much as it's a doctor/scientist/trainer competition

Like pro sports isn't already a doctor/scientist/trainer competition?

motty: I probably should have stopped typing at 'sorry to be a big idiot'

No, motty, your comments have been good sparks for thoughtful discussion; this has been a nice thread. Me, at times I feel a twinge of regret I'll probably die before we get to super-injected techno-boosted pro cyborg-athletes, but I'm sure we'll get there if the culture lasts another 60 years or so.
posted by mediareport at 6:52 PM on July 26, 2007

Like pro sports isn't already a doctor/scientist/trainer competition?

Well, I agree it has a lot to do with money, and that Barry Bonds hasn't exactly helped the game of baseball, but there are some big differences between the pure athleticism of cycling and the talent required in a team sport. So I'd argue there's a qualitative difference. I think roids and doping can make a mediocre biker into a great one out of sheer athleticism. I don't think it'd be that easy to do in the NFL or NBA.
posted by bardic at 9:03 PM on July 26, 2007

I'm agreed about not breaking the rules bit but how do you know what Oscar Pereiro Sio had or hadn't done that year in preparation, including taking newfangled 'supplements' that will not be magically turned into 'banned drugs' until next year? The tour of his life, was it? Hmmm...

Pereiro was only at the pointy end because the peleton let him take 30 minutes in one stage early in the tour, figuring he would lose more than that come the mountains. There was talk at the time when they let him get the 30 minutes because he's not that bad in the mountains (unlike the other riders who were in the break with him on the day who also got 30 minutes).

And if you want someone to follow for the rest of the tour, listen to Tom Boonen: "I have given up my belief in most of the rest," he confessed. "It is possible to ride the Tour without doping. And to ride and win, too. And Cadel Evans proves in my eyes that you could win it without doping."

A small note on what I'll call "the motty discussion" one question is what is the alternative? Open slather? If you do that the winner is whoever is willing to risk the most. When EPO and blood doping were taking off (and undetectable) there were riders dying with blood so thick their heart couldn't pump it. The next step was to limit the riders' hematocrit (since that was measurable) to 50%. Essentially saying "We know you are blood doping, but we can't detect it, so only do it this much". In that time there were a lot of riders getting around with 49.9% readings (typical is 38-52).

Now that they can detect more forms of doping they test for those. Although I believe the hematocrit limit is still in place.
posted by markr at 9:45 PM on July 26, 2007

Uhh, I thought this was supposed to be a thread about Luke Bream, no? That devil-may-care, I-don't-need-any-recognition-I'm-just-out-havin-fun-pedalin-in-th-sun Londoner guy, hangin' in the van with his Mom, havin a jam butty.

Luke's the Man, for doing what he wants to do, without sponsorship and without thought to how others may think he appears. His story is the most empowering and uplifting thing I've heard all year, bike-wise.

Competing in a sport professionally is a priviledge, however much sacrifice is involved. If some people can't play by the rules, there are lots of others waiting who would be willing to step up.
posted by newdaddy at 6:15 AM on July 27, 2007

While browsing the latest reader mailbag at, I stumbled across another compelling reason why doping is bad.
posted by The Confessor at 6:59 AM on July 27, 2007

That's a good letter.
posted by OmieWise at 7:15 AM on July 27, 2007

That letter hits on what is most disheartening about all of this for me, but I'm curious how he chose Pantani in 1998 as his exemplar of achievable greatness. Times really are tough.
posted by coolhappysteve at 9:47 AM on July 29, 2007

Just as a follow-up, he did in fact make it. Sky News caught up with him after his race.
posted by howling fantods at 8:12 AM on July 31, 2007

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