Paris - Nice 2015 Stage - 7 ITT
  • Whippet

    Not a knock on Bennett, but there is some irony in talking about ‘grey areas’ while on the way to an altitude tent for a kip. In Italy, altitude tents are banned as an artificial manipulation of blood values. Again, no disrespect to Bennett. Just pointing out that there are many ‘grey areas’.

    • scottmanning

      It’s not grey under the WADA or MPCC code.

      • Whippet

        I didn’t imply anything about WADA. The point was that there is no purity. Everyone is ‘pushing the limits’ to increase performance. Because of this, there will continue to be grey areas.

        • jules

          the rules are clear. gaining an exemption for using cortisone on false premises is an anti-doping violation, whether or not you have the certificate of exemption, or are caught and penalised.

          sleeping in an oxygen tent (not in Italy, apparently), is – I’m assuming, without checking – perfectly OK. there is no limit to push here.

          • Derek Maher

            I guess Jules,That when we see more riders from countries like Kenya and Ethiopia joining the international racing scene an Oxygen Tent is going to be essential for the average European rider.

        • scottmanning

          Yes, but you insinuate that Bennett is operating within one of these grey areas with his altitude tent. Using a TUE is a grey area – it’s using a banned substance, with permission on grounds that may or may not be substantiated. Using an altitude tent is permitted with no restrictions and therefore not grey. Bennett is not operating within a grey area when it comes to his tent.

        • Whippet

          I stated (twice), that I was pointing out a bigger issue than Bennett. Perhaps you are inferring something that I did not imply. “Boundaries are sometimes ambiguous-especially when it comes to performance enhancing.” (https://cyclingtips.com.au/2011/01/the-grey-area/). In a strict sense, a TUE for corticoids or insulin, when used in a manner not prescribed (weight loss) are banned. Ozone therapy, xenon, tramadol, new designer drugs and even altitude tents can be considered grey areas because they are not universally banned or accepted. Even caffeine use was controlled a few years ago.

          My point is simply that a grey area exists between the black and the white, and that area is not fixed. I didn’t mean to pick on Bennett. Focus on the shining moon, not the finger pointing at it.

  • Tour de force Todd

    Why they don’t they start publishing all the TUE’s at the start of each days stage. I think this would go some way to letting people know who is on what and for what reason.

    • Ronan O’Connor

      It seems like a good idea, but at the end of the day these guys are just doing their job, and if they’re getting prescribed medication to treat a medical condition that is between them and their team/doctor. It may also give an advantage to other teams, knowing who has a chest infection etc,

      • Tour de force Todd

        I agree but their job relies on physical prowess. I cycled the Tour Course last year for charity and i know that on one day i had badly swollen feet and had a pain killer to continue. That was only 1 day but 1 day is all you need to make significant gains in a stage to put your rivals on the back foot.

        I would be interested to know if Contador was prescribed painkillers for his shoulder as not feeling the pain can have a massive difference about how your approach your riding. The body follows the mind.

        • Ronan O’Connor

          Yes, but it’s really a matter for the UCI, race doctors and commissaries, not titillation for internet bike fans. I would imagine that Contador did have some level of pain relief for his shoulder, as did Porte for his knee/hip. So what? In those cases it’s definitely justified, if there’s a medical diagnosis to back it up.
          As a fan, I have to recognise that TUE provision is none of my business, but a private matter for riders and race organisers.

          • Tour de force Todd

            Ok. We will have to agree to disagree. I for one know how important pain relief medicine can be in distorting the influence of mind over the body. In my opinion if you can’t race without TUE’s then you shouldn’t be racing at all.

            • Ronan O’Connor

              What about private ad very personal medical issues that a rider may have that are in no way related to their performance but need a TUE for ongoing treatment? Thinking a rider should not ride with a drug that requires a TUE is one thing, asking for the list of riders getting TUEs and information about their treatment is a different issue.
              I agree that some riders getting a TUE should not race (Froome in Romandy 2014?) but asking them to publish private information is an unrelated matter.

      • Paul Jakma

        Well, I have a medical condition that means my haematocrit causes me problems competing at elite levels. I should get EPO as a TUE so I can do my dream job. In the future we’ll have gene treatments to do the same thing.

        If you think it is acceptable to let them take TUEs for conditions that affect their ability to race, then why can’t I have TUEs to try my “conditions”?

  • Larry @CycleItalia

    “I have always been vocal about anti-doping in our sport” Except for ” my 100% legal, declared and prescribed allergy/asthma medication.” And to boost his credibility even further, his agent is Andrew McQuaid, the brother of the now-disgraced former UCI president?

    • De Mac

      Unless you suffer from Asthma, you are hardly positioned to comment are you? It is an affliction that has a marked effect upon a person’s ability to breathe at all times, not just whilst exerting themselves. Also, given the fact that Pro-cyclists enjoy an almost year-long Spring-Summer, there are many allergens out there which directly impact an asthmatic’s lung function. If his medication is prescribed and approved inline with all relevant protocols, then what is the problem.

      • Larry @CycleItalia

        I guess the irony in those two quotes was lost on you, sorry. Asthma may well be everything you say it is so perhaps being a professional cyclist is not a good choice for those afflicted? Damiano Cunego supposedly has a natural hematocrit of more than 50. Should TUE’s be handed out so those “afflicted” with lower natural levels (“approved inline with all relevant protocols”) can raise theirs? I would say no. Finally, I don’t think I’m the only one who finds it odd that so many pro cyclists are “afflicted” with asthma. Seems much higher than the percentage in the general population.

        • Matt DeMaere

          Well, I used to trip over inhalers on the pool deck. Endurance sport tends to draw asthmatics as a means of overcoming the condition. The alternative when I was a child was a prescribed trip to the hospital pool to do tedious exercises.

          • Sean Doyle

            I guess the only real way to stem the abuse is that if you need a TUE then you don’t compete. No TUEs handed out so if caught with any substance then see you later. I know the usual comment is that why should an athlete be stopped from competing from asthma (or what ever other cond. TUEs are doled out for). My counter point is that I have a low lung volume so can I have something to make up for my deficit so I can have a chance a being a pro? No? Didn’t think so.

            • peteonbike

              I don’t know why so many pro athletes supposedly have asthma and I fail to see how using asthma medication simply boosts your lung capacity, at least from my experiences.
              The medication is meant to reduce inflammation and to get your lungs back to “normal” by reducing restriction. It doesn’t give you magic lungs. Maybe there is some other stimulant effect of a boost when combined with another drug but I haven’t heard that one. I have had to take some massive doses at times and I certainly didn’t feel stimulated. It’s more a fight to breathe. When it’s bad prendisone really helps but the effect just feels like your breathing muscles are relaxing and the fight to breathe has reduced. (Maybe this is what breathing is like for somebody without asthma- I’ve never had that luxury)

              I know I’d test positive any time if I was to take a test but having a lung capacity of 60% of expected (when I’m healthy) means there really isn’t any choice. I do compete (badly) so I guess I’m lucky I’m not very good at cycling.

              I wonder how many athletes would have to quit if they had to stop taking their medication?
              I wonder how many ride in the peloton with their medication in their back pockets?

              • Sean Doyle

                I wasn’t saying asthma medication boosts lung capacity mearly pointing out that a condition or deficiency in the bodies capacity to function at a high aethletic performance should not be propped up by medicine. Asthma sufferers are allowed to use an inhaler why can’t low capacity lung sufferers use EPO to function at a normal level.

                • H20

                  So where do you draw the line when it comes to the use of medicine? What about those whose body’s capacity to function at a high athletic performance is temporarily hindered by

                  • Paul Jakma

                    Well, indeed. So why not EPO on TUE for those hindered by lower haematocrit levels? If it’s acceptable to take medication for one chronic condition, then why not another?

                    • H20

                      Because asthma is a disease; it affects the normal functioning of the body, sometimes seriously enough to kill.
                      Having what you call “low” haematocrit levels (which wouldn’t be “low” at all compared to the normal human range) is not a disease and does not affect the normal functioning of the body.
                      Alleviating a disease is different from enhancing the norm.

                    • peteonbike

                      Well put H20.
                      I wonder how people feel about diabetic athletes that require insulin?

                    • Sean Doyle

                      I don’t know much about asthma, but is it a disease or a genetic abnormality. Not trying to split hairs but I guess my point was (and expanded earlier below) if they wanted to avoid the whole TUE debacle they’d just have to ban any medicine what so ever. It’s a tough one to reconcile. Cheers.

                    • peteonbike

                      If you really do have asthma it isn’t simply a matter of functioning at a normal level by using medication, it can be the difference between living and dying.

                      I guess my haematocrit could be considered low (37) by some standards, but it isn’t going to kill me.

                      Exercising without asthma medication will. I’d estimate it would only take a month.

                    • Paul Jakma

                      These elite athletes aren’t at risk of dying from exercise, I would hope. If they *are* then is it right to give them TUEs to compete at elite level?

                  • Sean Doyle

                    You have a valid point and it high lights the difficulty of it all. I can’t say I have an answer to be honest………..I suppose if it was repair of injury then ok but if you went in and improved the joint then no……… but how do you measure that.

                    The other side of it is we police the hard stuff have the TUEs and live with the fact that humans will always cheat.

                    • H20

                      Cheers. It IS incredibly difficult, and there are many fuzzy areas where we have to draw lines in the sand. That’s OK, IMHO, because sport is all about artificial boundaries and restrictions.
                      It’s interesting to see how little (IMHO) good sports philosophy there is about this issue – they waffle and rant for volumes but all they do is show that you shouldn’t try to be a sports philosopher if you just sit and watch from the sidelines. There are people who propose unrestricted drug use but the way they justify it indicates that they have no idea of the connection between pros and amateurs, and pros and youth, or even the logistics of running sports events.
                      I’ve read people propose the use of gene therapy and (I think) gene therapy to make 13′ tall basketballers, or something like that – but how, as a practical measure, could a pro competition succeed with players who couldn’t use commercial hotels, couldn’t fit in commercial stadium dressing rooms, couldn’t fly normal flights?
                      There are also those who say that we have to allow EPO etc because of the thrill of watching Lance charge up Alpe d Huez – but how many people can actually see the difference between an EPO-fuelled rider at (say) 21kmh and a bread and water top pro riding at 19kmh?
                      So yep, we have to keep policing and keep getting the occasional cheat. Enforcement could be increased, perhaps – for example if you are going to turn pro, why not accept that your room and bus may be searched at any moment?

                    • Sean Doyle

                      As you pointed out we can never have it unrestricted. Can you imagine how many people are going to be dropping dead? I suppose more the fool but when kids start emulating the sport stars then we have issues. That’s not being naive to the fact that some of our kids are already taking PEDs in junior sports.

                      I’d much rather know an athlete dug deep into his mental strength to over come his peers than have them setting speed records on the big hills etc. I’d rather watch them grovelling at 9kph than smiling at 20kph. That’s the real part of sport.

                  • PEDsIScheating

                    well, I guess I understand the point you are trying to make, still, I think there is a difference if you put chemical PEDs into your body (for whatever ‘reason’, haha), or repairing bones and ligaments. I sure don’t want to have a bionic rider, do you have any examples where surgery improved – and I mean really improved, not just put back in workable condition – a cyclist’s performance? All the scientists agree that it’s the blood (and the weight and the fitness, yes, but the blood decides in the end) that determines your performance.

                    • H20

                      But there’s been dozens of studies that show that asthma medication is NOT a PED. It doesn’t fit the normal definition, because it doesn’t enhance the performance of the normal healthy individual.

                      The high prevelance of top athletes with asthma doesn’t seem unusual given that for many people, it only arises during extreme effort and sometimes only in conjunction with other issues. Most people don’t work their bodies as hard as a pro athlete, and even amateurs can normally take time off without big problems – if a pro took the TdF off it’s a lot more significant than a hack like me missing the Masters nationals.

      • Herman Hanson

        I won’t comment on the reasons for statistically so many athletes having asthma and permission to use inhalers but I did develop asthma during a chilly morning ride after not having had it for years. I had no inhaler and besides it bringing me to an absolute crawl I started feeling a bit panicky from not being able to get oxygen, gasping wheezing, coughing, spitting; you get the picture. Finally made it to a medic and was a “new man” after a few puffs. Not better than before the asthma struck and I toiled for 100km still but that inhaler was a lifesaver, or at least it felt like it.

        • Sean Doyle

          I wouldn’t want to wish that on anybody. Must be a scary experience.

      • PEDsIScheating

        ‘Unless you suffer from Asthma, you are hardly positioned to comment are you?’

        ??? What nonsense is this?
        Suffer from asthma or allergies, untreatable without medicines containing PEDs? Well, then, bye bye pro sports. Life’s unfair.

  • Derek Maher

    I wish George the best of luck for the future and I have no doubt that pro racers sometimes need medical aid at times of health problems.
    Side effects of medications can throw up unforseen problems with the anti doping industry.
    Cortisone is often used by the medical profession for joint problems.Under supervised use by a surgeon it can help with pain from joint wear.
    Un supervised use is dodgy as heavy use can suppress the immune system plus mask injuries which develop into cronic problems,Both of which can lead to serious health issues in later life.

  • PEDsIScheating

    and of course doctors giving out made-up COEs or even made-up conditions would be inconceivable…;-)
    Cortisone is a PED. If you have a condition where you need to take that medicine, because there is no PED-free alternative, then professional sport is not for you. Tough? Well, yeah, of course. What is this, inclusion cycling/pro-sports? Sorry, not sympathetic to the whiner – though I agree on the cortisol and haematocrit-levels issue. My solution is simple, as Sean Doyle mentioned – TUE? Okay, then take a sickie, or 14…

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