Wednesday, July 7, 2010

UCI to adopt doping categories for pro cyclists

Before I discuss the breaking news that the UCI has announced new doping categories for pro cycling, here is an email that a friend and former pro cyclist who has several national or world champion jerseys sent me in response to yesterday’s post:

Personally, I believe most racers want a clean peloton and want a healthy life after their racing careers. If they can be competitive racing clean, they will; however, if other racers are getting an advantage through doping, especially if it's supported or even conveniently "ignored" by their teams, then those who would prefer to be clean "give in" as opposed to leaving.
Although you may not know many people who watch wrestling, I'm guessing it's incredibly popular, especially with the WalMart / NASCAR / Ultimate Fighting crowd. Although I don't hang with this crowd either, I'm guessing many of them would love to see disproportioned, drug-laden riders suffering to their deaths. This crowd may relate to pro cycling more if they saw huge, obese riders banging into each other, leaving huge patches of skin and blood across the pavement as they hooked each other, ala a mix of sumo wrestling and roller derby on wheels.
Basically the idea to legalize drugs is quite naïve in my opinion; it would be a research project in doping and genetic engineering, not a sporting event.

As for the new UCI doping categories, another friend and fellow masters racer, Bruce Bilodeau, wrote a post on this news. This is actually old news as Bruce’s post showed up three years ago. Bruce adds a little more color to my friend’s point (2) above. The post below is an edited version used with Bruce’s permission…

In response to requests for legalized doping in cycling, the UCI has come up with a new rating system within pro cycling based on five levels of doping. Importantly, any athlete may enter any race. Depending on the race, there will be handicaps, as in golf. This results in situations, for example, where the highest category dopers - Cat A's - may start one hour after the non-dopers - Cat D's. Here is a summary of how the new UCI categories will work:
  • Cat A - unlimited doping before, during and after the race, anything goes.
  • Cat B - some consistent doping, but these aren't the fastest guys, so why invest.
  • Cat C - little doping, these are the “has been's” or “never been's” so they get the left over, outdated stuff.
  • Cat D - No doping, new guys who are being evaluated for potential, either won't ever dope (Saints), OR, more likely, will eventually dope (Sinners), these guys can be tested up to 12 times per day at anytime!
  • Cat X (Experimental) - riders may have placebo's or product's that have only been tested on, or from, animals or plants. Cat X will ride with the A group.

Below is a fictitious mountain stage in the Vuelta with Phil Liggett, Paul Sherwin and Bob Roll as commentators.

Before we go to the action on today's 156 km mountain stage of the Vuelta, here are the handicaps. Cat D's will start 1hr in front of the A's; Cat C's - 45 minutes; Cat B's - 20 min's; Cat X’s will start with the A's.

One really ironic thing today is that every racer has a last name starting with the same letter as his category. Hence, Aki is Cat A, and Dorn is Cat D, etc.... now to the commentary with Phil (ph), Paul (pl) and Bob (b).

(ph) the Cat D's are 48 strong and ready to start, we have the “no-doping division” here... with Dorn, Dunff, Deede and Doneti as the UCI division Cat D leaders to date...

BANG! (the starter’s gun)… (b) and they are off…they are setting a fast but reasonable pace…these are savvy and clean riders...I like these guys...

15 mins later at the start of the C's:

(p) this is an entertaining group, you never know who is going to get the good dope today. (b) yeah, sometimes it's outdated or junk or whatever scraps these guys can find to hopefully increase their performance...(pl) with that, there are NO consistent leaders, recently though, the Italians Creti and Cressendo are looking good, and how about Cartez from Spain and Canzeldez from Colombia, I really think each of these guys has found a good source...and they are off... (ph) back to the D's-Dorn is leading the pack.

30 minutes later:

(ph) looks like we missed the start of the B flight but we now have the heavy hitters... the Cat A's... (pl) we have really seen some fantastic riding from these super dopers! (b) yeah that Alpe D'Huez TT stage where the Chinese rider A. Auuan just crushed it in 34 minutes, beating Pantani’s record by 5 minutes...

(pl) that's just simply a commitment to excellence from the Chinese, these rising stars have powerful government backing, not only getting the riders the most potent stuff, but to dose it spot on when they need it...(ph) yeah and you can't forget the resurgence of the East Germans with Audmilsch and Aurlicht, as well as the super strong Soviet team represented by none other than a Mr. H. Aupslkv... (b) what? East Germany? since when... (pl) since doping came back... it's now 43% of the country’s GDP... (b) wow! (pl) and don't forget the X'ers esp. Xavier and Xene we have the special scoop on these guys, we know what they are on... and they are off...

15 minutes later:

(pl) The Cat A's are flying... they are already only a few minutes behind the B's...and hold on, there is a crash...there is a pile up...(b) no it's a brawl... Audmilsch, Aurlicht and about 10 other's are pummeling the chase group of Cat D riders... blood is everywhere... (ph) that's a nasty side effect of the stimulants and steroids mixed together...those Cat D riders must have gotten in the way or slowed the peloton down a bit too much...(b) yeah Phil, road rage to the max... we sure have seen a lot of that this year... but I think the fans really liked it during the Giro... then again only nine guys finished...

12 minutes later:

(ph) the A's are back at pace and have passed the B's, only one B remains in with the A's, it's number 341, Keith Best the American from Wyoming...he looks good... (b) the rest of the B's are not looking good at all, at this point in the season, it appears as if the big teams are putting all of their doping money on the big boy's and nothing is left for the B's.

(pl) It looks like the D's have regrouped and are in a group 10 minutes behind the A's, and 5 minutes behind the B's. But Dorn is still pulling the group, I think he has pulled the whole time...(b) he is tough!
(ph) let's talk about the X's for a minute. The teams were nice enough to give us some insight as to what they are on... Xavier doesn't know it, but he has been injected with Northern Atlantic fish isotopes... the Argian Fish, these fish can live out of water for 3 days… they mate with Ferrets to produce the unique Gymnate Aqua Bats of Prince Edward Island... (b) no kidding! (ph) so the hope is that the injection will not only increase his VO2 max by almost a whooping 100% to between 140-150, but also his skin will become oily and repel water and heat... unfortunately, the side effects are nasty... hallucinations and a sardine scent (b) that can't be good...

(ph) and Xene is taking an oral supplement from the root of a Zabwee tree, found only in the Uganda hills, that is supposed to make someone so alert mentally, that he can overcome physical demands like a hard bike race, day after day... no side effects to note so far.

(pl) Oh, they stopped the D's, they are all getting drug tested by WADA... this is not good, it has just killed the D's results all year, sometimes getting tested three times in a race. (ph) but look at the savvy Dorn, he is having a well placed natural break at the same time... and getting some fluids on board...(ph) he is the consummate professional always multi tasking!

25 minutes later:

(ph) Dorn has gone!... he is TTing at a blistering pace, what lovely form... he has separated from the D's and has passed some of the C's... and Best is attacking the B's solo too, what a race!...(b) I think Best, the American is going to catch the A's, and that Dorn is something special, clean and is all hard climbs for the next 55km, and some of these hit 22%... hold it, another crash, 25 people are down...

(pl) no Bob it looks like Xavier, the fish man is in a brawl with three Russians A riders... let's get some audio with our man Davis Phinney, who is at the action, (dp)-Dingle and Aupslev the Russian are pounding on Xavier who is crying, no...its an oily substance coming out of his eyes... he really smells... I think they can't stand it anymore, these three will be kicked out of the race on this one, especially with the red flag being flown with the earlier fight... yeah the officials are handcuffing them, they are DQ'ed... too bad, that Dingle was a stud and I wanted to see what Xavier could do... hold it! Xavier who is jointly sponsored by Bob’s Bail Bonds and WalMart has slithered out of the cuffs…he is off chasing the group... a renegade rider, his placing will not count but it sure is fun to watch…our fan base has changed to the Worldwide Wrestling crowd but the numbers in the American market have never been better.

15 minutes later:

(ph) Dorn who caught the group is now off the front with a two minute lead... for a clean guy...he is really digging deep into the closet of courage with this one...oh no, another drug test! They have stopped him, he is mad this time... they are flying his sample to a lab in a copter... this can't be good, and he is off again, that was quick, and he still has a minute lead!...(b) hold on Xavier has attacked off the front also, the peloton seems to be slowing...his VO2 max must be really kicking in... that experimental stuff is probably good to go.... and the Chinese are now attacking, all of them pacing Auaan, and here comes the Chinese team car, they are hooking an IV into Auaan's left arm... trying desperately to get more electrolytes in him... (b) that is legal...but he can't hold onto the car when doing so... in fact the Chinese have perfected this using doctors who are former Olympic gymnasts to inject on the fly...mad skills...

5 minutes later:

(pl) they are placing another IV in Auaan's arm... hope it doesn't get caught in his spokes... (ph) there goes Best the yank, hard off of the back of the Chinese pace line, he doesn't see Auaan's IV... man it is tangled between both of them, Auaan went down hard... his teammates are beside themselves trying to untangle him...

(b) the East German Audmilsch is down, it looks like a heart attack, they are placing electrical pads on him...this happened at the Tour de Swiss, and he ended up winning... third shocks a charm, he's back on the bike... they will give him a morphine drip then steady slow doses of amphetamines to get him back to speed... pretty standard these days...should not pose a problem.

(ph) another A, the Spanish rider Adzolez is really bad off, green stuff is coming out of his ears... that's got to be a bad reaction...the coaches are kicking him to no avail, yelling venga, venga, venga... Adzolez' day is over...I’m sure his sponsors at Amgen and NASCAR will not be happy with this performance.

(b) Xene is back, he just took Adzolez' bike!... remember he is the one on the root toddy to keep him alert, it looks good for him now, with only Xavier, Dorn and Best in front, and the peloton not within whiff range of Xavier...(pl) look at the Heli, it's back, a gent is hanging from a rope...yelling "you're out doper!" at Dorn... Dorn keeps on going... they just threw a net spot on... got him...they are pulling Dorn and his bike high in the air...and out of sight into the mountains... that is the first time a tested clean rider has had a positive test all season, mark him BS for Big Sinner, he's out...what a scandal for Dorn…the WADA is not going to be kind to him...being that he is an anti-doper poser and all...

(pl) 5k to go and it is steep. Best is leading Xavier with Xene the alert one 7 seconds behind....hold it, Xene is taking the steepest part of the switch back into the wind... (b) smart move from a cagy rider to get out of the scent stream of Xavier... (pl) Xene passed Xavier, hold it, he is saying something to Xavier... audio please "hey it's just a bad trip man" "look at the pretty color" "is it fire" ... and Xene just took a red powder packet out of his pocket... and threw it in the air in front of Xavier...

(b) Xavier is going crazy... I think he is getting that bad hallucinogenic side effect from his test drug, he turned around!... Xavier just turned around with 2k to go!... and I think he is singing old Beatles hits... man o' man!...

(ph) man that Xene is really alert and riding sharp, he really is focused ... and now he's taken over the lead, who knew!... Best is sweating a lot now, and Xene just poached his water bottle and is drinking it... Best is inconsolable... with 1/2k to go... it looks like Best will be second best on the day, Xene has taken it...(pl) first win for the Cat X's all year!...

(b) what a race (pl) what a gem that's for sure with an X winning a stage for the first time this year and a Cat B placing second, the sun was shining on those two today... (ph)...whatever!

(pl) Now we turn to a post-race interview where Davis Phinney (dp) is meeting with Best's Sportsbooky Team Director, Jimmy Sledgedriver (js) - (dp) that was a great showing by Best, Sportsbooky's best finish by a rider this year. (js) yeah, I think now you are seeing that if we put our resources together, than we can compete with the best of the Chinese, Russian, and East German teams. Those countries really have doping down to a science... 

(js) We really had some good stuff today, I am proud of our doc's for coming up with a potent batch... we need to build on it to be competitive day in and out... just look at how Xene and Xavier came out of nowhere with completely innovative chemical enhancers... of course that smelly side effect really did it in for Xavier being used as a human punching bag... but it’s something that could be tweeked with... (dp) aahh, yeah, um good to hear!

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