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September 23, 2017
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  • RomanTheCube

    I am looking forward to seeing the results of the testing. If nothing else, to see just how terrible I can make myself feel about my own abilities…

    I don’t personally believe that this data will ever satisfy the doubters, however. The Lance effect is very strong, and unfortunately dealing with doping suspicions will be part of any pro (or amateur in some circles) riders job for a long, long time to come.

  • Nitro

    At the risk of repeating myself – welcome to the world cycling has created for itself…

    Do I think that this release of data is a good thing? Absolutely.
    Do I think that this will silence all of the critics? Not a hope.

    Bottom line – Its certainly possible to prove that someone IS taking performance enhancing drugs, but its incredibly difficult (impossible) to prove that someone IS NOT taking performance enhancing drugs…

  • jules

    sorry but this is unfair on Froome. people are demanding he release his test data, but are pre-committing to no criteria that would result in his being assessed as ‘clean’. this is like demanding that someone sit a test and telling them you’ll decide whether they passed or failed later, based on criteria you’ll develop, based on the answers given.

    he’s being asked to be transparent by people who have no intention of being transparent with how they will use the data themselves.

    if he comes up with very high test results, people will say he must be doped.
    if he comes up with less than exceptional results, people will say he must have been doped to climb that fast at the Tour.

    the guy can’t win. he may or may not be doped, but I don’t yet see how this will better inform us. I await the results and analysis though – I could be proven wrong.

    • MattF

      I agree, this is a no win situation for Froome and for pro cycling in general. In the absence of all current Grand Tour winners and contenders submitting themselves to the same tests and releasing the same data, Froome’s results will be utterly meaningless. What benchmarks are his results to be measured against, the average fit male?

      • jules

        I’m curious to see the results and reserve final judgment. But if I were Froome, I reckon I’d be thinking “this is probably just going to make things worse.. but here we go again.”

        • Aaron Heaysman

          I agree, he shouldn’t release anything until all data from all rider’s is freely available.

    • Steel

      Worse than that. There are no equivalent calls for Nairo Quintana to release his data, because the narrative goes:

      Nairo is a pure climber who rides on a traditional cycling team who are all about the spirit of competition unlike these Team Sky freaks and their 1 per centers. He’s just a nice guy who’s from columbia and has the best pain face in the business. This narrative conveniently overlooks him ‘dominating’ Froome on the Queen stage of the tour this year and having Valverde as his lead out man.

      Really, for me to believe that this is anything other than what you say – a chance for the pseudo scientists to interpret the data however they choose – then I’d like to see the call for data release leveled at the top 10 from any of the grand tours and some sort of standard put in place to assess when a rider’s data demonstrates some sort of change that is a ‘digital doping marker’.

      But also, like you say, the data will be interesting (at least so I can how my measly 3.1 W/kg stacks up against the Froome dogs)

      • jules

        we know what at least the basic data will roughly say. his W/kg will be somewhere in the region of 6, give or take. he will have a very high VO2max. even if he’s doped, we know you have to still be a very talented athlete to win the Tour – not least because you have to beat other dopers. there is a misconception among non-cycling fans that Lance was a hack athlete who just took drugs that worked like Popeye’s spinach and made him twice as strong. it doesn’t work like that. the aficionados know that – I’m confused at precisely what they hope to glean here. I think just getting the data is an objective in itself for journalists. fair enough I suppose..

        • TPF2

          You are wrong Jules In relation to the benefits of EPO and blood doping. Unlike test. cort. etc, EPO and blood doping can give a benefit of up to 30% (IIRC, Prof Conconi or Dr Ferrari themselves made this point in the late 1990s). Certainly Laurent Fignon expressed that view in his autobiography when he described it as turning donkeys into racehorses. Fignon recalled in 1992 being passed on climbs by 30+ sprinters who were in the autobus the year before.

          For example, a rider with a natural haematocrit level of 47% derived a much smaller benefit from EPO than one with a natural level of 40%. One of the myths still perpetrated by Lance’s fanboys is that he was just competing on a level playing field. The reality is that he was a talented one-day rider who used EPO and other doping methods to turn himself into a grand tour champion, gaining a far greater benefit that more naturally-suited stage racers who also doped. From one of those afficionados ;)

          • jules

            it’s misguided to talk about the benefits of doping in homogeneous terms. it’s like training – you can do a lot or a little. I accept that the benefits were higher in the early to mid-90s when it was a free-for-all and riders were supercharged on crazy doses of EPO, up to and beyond 60% haematocrit.

            from what I can tell, the Lance era and 50% limit still allowed a fair degree of doping, so I take your point. but by my reading (this is conjecture, I’m not a bio-scientist), no one has a natural 47% haematocrit in the 3rd week of the Tour. so they all benefit, more or less, from EPO abuse.

            lastly, in 2015 the bio-passport has narrowed the window for doping even further. let’s not kid ourselves that you can’t dope, but from what I can tell – the intensity of doping (and therefore benefit gained) has been reduced again since the 50% rule. it’s this context – in which Froome competes – that I was referring to. although my reference to Lance certainly didn’t help make that clear.

        • Neil

          There you go, you mentioned the L word. Watch the crazies come out now

          • Vlaamse Dunny Bowl

            Lance crazies have gone home

        • Timiji

          W/kg as a single number is not much help. Kinda like VO2 without the max, it’s just a number. That’s my issue with most of this – data, without context, are just numbers. More useful… VO2max, full critical power curve (W/kg vs time)… I’m sure there’s others, but also – if this does indicate the start of a trend – comparable numbers from competitors. Kinda like the stats of stock car racing, or even F1… even when you know the numbers, it’s still a race. First one to cross the finish line wins.

        • IndependentThinker

          Armstrong’s VO2 max was 82, LeMonds 95 but as LeMond said in the now famous conversation where Armstrong threatened him, Armstrong rode faster. So for me, I think EPO can make donkeys into race horses

      • Shane Stokes

        Hi Steel, please see the conclusion of the article. The release of data from Chris Froome could and should be followed by pressure on others to do the same.

    • Shane Stokes

      Hi Jules – note the quotes from the team saying that they would prove it was possible to win the Tour clean. That was a goal from the start, but one they didn’t follow through on. We’ll have a follow up piece based on what data those who have been analysing his performances would like to see.

    • Kieran Degan

      I agree. Also, Quintana lost 1:28 in the cross wind stage in the tour this year. Since he came second by 1:12, he actually outclimbed Froome, putting 16 seconds into him. If it is warranted for Froome, its warranted for Quintana. In the end it would make sense to include all testing in the bio passport from day 1 in a pro’s career.

  • Esquire is publishing lab data? Froome and Sky have just skewered themselves… Or they’re making a mockery of the whole issue.

    • I thought the same thing. Why is this exclusive to Esquire of all places? Just for the cash? Or did Sky choose this?

      • Richard Bruton

        The company that owns/publishes Esquire (Hearst) also publishes the Oprah magazine….

        But really I think it was chosen because it is not in the Murdoch empire (as far as I can tell)

        • NSW

          I hear Dan Martin is publishing his data in Trout and Fly next month.

    • Steve

      the author of the piece picked esquire, Froome and Sky didnt have a say. The author is a well known and respected cycling journalist.

  • Paolo

    Never done a Vo2max test…i always stop reading at this sentence.

  • ceedee

    This is just ego exercise from Froome, right? I hope he doesn’t think he going to salvage pro cycling reputation after decades of doping. He not that dumb is he?

  • velocite

    On Froome: the issue here is being generated by the commentators, including Shane, of course. If the rider is winning clean he’ll never get pinged and presumably will keep on winning untill he gets too old – regardless of what’s said in the press. And Jules makes a terrific point in relation to the transparency of the commentators: Froome will release his data and they will be free to tailor analytical methods to generate more questions and more sensational copy.

    But here’s my question: what if all power data was released after every race? Put up on a website? Would there be a downside? Would a competitor gain anything from having Froome’s Ventoux et al data routinely? Would it tell them anything they didn’t know from watching him ride up the hill? My riding buddy’s ftp is mine + 20%. Not useful to me – I already knew that!

    Far from satisfying the critics, full transparency may well just provide them with fuel – but as a general principle I’m in favour of it.

    In relation to VO2Max, I’m not aware of any formula which establishes a corresponding ftp.

    • jules

      I’m also in favour of disclosing rider data. why not publish everyone’s data? I think the arguments against it are unconvincing. it’s a sport that exists ultimately for the fans, not the competitors. as long as it’s a level playing field (in terms of publishing data, not doping).

      my concern was more around how Froome is being bullied.

      • Richard Bruton

        Yep, I agree, race data should be public and training data should be private(unless they decide to share to make us mere mortals feel inadequate!) Plenty of pro riders already post all of their race data on strava including power and weight.

  • Push Bike Writer

    Sorry Shane, I still think this a mistake for the same reasons I outlined here earlier in the year: https://cyclingtips.com.au/2015/07/the-curious-case-of-chris-froome-why-he-and-cycling-deserve-better/
    It will do little to assuage the suspicion.

  • RPrior

    The only issue is a clean drug test.

    The cycling fraternity are demonstrating their intolerance of the normal.

    • Joel

      To be fair the testing is far from foolproof

    • Timiji

      It’s blatantly obvious that a clean drug test is neither the only nor the central issue. “Never been caught” is not the same as racing clean. Which group(s) bear the responsibility for the gaping hole between drug testing and catching dopers remains a great issue of debate, and sure, the gap is narrowing. But don’t fool yourself… mind the gap.

  • brucegray

    It would have been more appropriate for Froome to say he’d post his results along with those of the top 10 riders from the last 3 years.
    Compared to theirs, I am sure he’d not be unusual.

    Why is everyone attacking Froome when Astana and Katusha have not been suspended?

  • JoshLyons

    If CF is not doping then his career turnaround (donkey to race horse) is one of the greatest I’ve seen (along with LA). Just compare the careers of someone like Wiggo with that of Froome and it’s very clear that Wiggo was always a race horse, but CF was a mediocre donkey up until joining Sky in 2010. Then suddenly, out of nowhere, he’s a super-domestique (even beating his captain???) and then a Grand Tour Champion? Laughs!

    • brucegray

      Read up on the careers of Nibali, Contador, Aru, Chaves, Betancur, Quintana.

      • JoshLyons

        I have and they were all winners from an early age. Proves my point – you should read them yourself. They are all race horses – thoroughbred. After that compare them with CF.

        • Joel

          Maybe read up a little on Froome’s rise from Africa as a youngster Josh. I’m pretty sure Brailsford wouldn’t have signed him unless he’d had some evidence that he could be a bit special. In fact he was touted many years before it actually happened as being the next big thing from inside Sky. I also don’t think you can discount Bilharzia but choose to if you wish.

          • JoshLyons

            That is the thing, there’s no “rise from Africa as a youngster”. He never won anything in Africa. Go check – some minor charity events only.

            Bilharzia is a cool convenient excuse.

            • Joel

              Alas Josh, he was a standout rider which is why Sky signed him. They only have a certain number allowed on their roster, and lots of money so why would they plump for someone if they didn’t think he was special?

              • JoshLyons

                He was never ever “a stand-out rider”. That is my whole point. How did he become one after 2010? Dope.

                • Joel

                  He was mentioned way before then by Sky as being a star in the making. He also performed way above his contempories at a young age, albeit without having the requisite bike handling skills at that time for the pro peloton. Have you seen/read anything about his early years? Or are you simply following the crowd of sceptics who also know nothing about him? On another note what do you think of Contador? Or Quintana? My guess is he has a massive heart (physically). Don’t you ever stop to think that you may give someone a chance until there is an inkling of wrongdoing? I’m not saying he isn’t a doper, simply show me something rather than unfounded conjecture before you accuse.

                  • JoshLyons

                    I have read everything about CF’s career and I’m never one to follow anything/one blindly. CF’s best performance in his early days was only 17th place in the (TT) 2006 Commonwealth Games. The Commonwealth Games is against AUS, CAN, RSA, India, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Tanzania, etc, etc…not exactly stellar competition and still only 17th.

                    Contador? Well they nicknamed him Pantani when he was just 17yo and was a thoroughbred from very early on. Quintana is also the same. They certainly didn’t come from nowhere. NQ has been winning from day one and won the Tour de l’Avenir in 2010 in his very first season in Europe.

                    There’s only one thing that can account for turning a mediocre plough horse into a thoroughbred race horse. Seriously, as a sportsman yourself, have a good clear think about it.

                  • Johnson

                    No Joel, he wasn’t. He was on the verge of being moved on and was never rated as anything more than a domestique by Sky. Yes he was on the roster, a cycling team however cannot afford to have a roster full of potential GT winners. Interesting that you are telling Josh to “read up” when it’s clear you’ve done anything but.

                  • Sean parker

                    A star in the making who had never done a VO2Max test….

                    I’n not disagreeing with you but the language that the team uses is contradictory. I wonder why they would employ him and tout him as a potential star without adequate physiological testing. Particularly based on the results that JoshLyons mentions.

                    might well be be clean and Brailsford could be snow white but they aren’t doing anything to convince me with their obfuscation.

                    • Timiji

                      Never done a VO2max test. That might be my new favourite line, along with Paolo’s comment that he’s never done one either. I’m no diamond in the rough, nor even a reasonable masters rider as I coast downhill from my mediocre peak. I have done one or two VO2max tests, though. Still not a superstar rider! Sky was misinformed, or outright taking creative license with that claim. And I find it hard to believe that a team wouldn’t do due diligence in testing a rider at this level, though maybe that’s my next business venture into the world of sport. Not just a verifiable biological passport for doping control, but a physiological passport to match up (in my dreams) with performance. Once more, patent pending.

  • Joel

    Wonder whether Valverde, Contador, Purito, Nibali and Quintana would be able to release any data. What I don’t understand is that Sky have never had anyone test positive (JTL excepted on a passport pre-Sky), they are pretty much the only team to have clearly stated they intend to ride clean, they have highlighted their own rider (Henao) when their internal tests looked odd, Brailsford has his whole career/reputation to lose in the event that Sky are shown to be doping, they have only one member of staff who has question marks against his name as far as I’m aware (Knaven)…and yet because they have money and success they get far more abuse than teams run by Vino, Ekimov, Lefevere et al, some of that i.e. at The Tour which is full of utter bile. Now I’m not naive enough to think that the testing/passport still has a long way to go before it is foolproof, if ever, but surely they appear to be a step in the right direction, even if they are probably not fully ethical when it comes to methods not on the banned list at present.

    • Shane Stokes

      Joel, they get asked for data because a) they promised to prove everything was done clean, and b) because they have won three Tours in four years. By far the most successful team in the sport’s biggest race.

      • Joel

        I appreciate that Shane, but is there another team in the current peloton who is less dirty than Sky? From what we know of staff, of failing tests, of mission et al? If you look at my own history on some forums you will see that I fully appreciate there is still lots of doping going on in cycling, but as yet Sky are lagging. They are either incredibly intelligent and ingenious or they are one of the better teams.

  • Joel

    And no, I’m not a Sky fanboi before you ask.

  • Marcin DNS

    Data from GPX editor? :)

  • david__g

    Well, I guess if they silence the doubters they’ll have managed to do what hardly anyone else can – prove a negative. Next, Dave Brailsford will prove that god doesn’t exist.

    • Joel

      Not sure he needs to prove god doesn’t exist. Anyone with a brain knows that.

      • david__g

        Yeah, that wasn’t the point. If you get into an argument/discussion with someone who believes god does exist, they will ask you to *prove* he doesn’t. But you can’t because you can’t prove a negative. Hence Brailsford’s next challenge will…oh why am I bothering?

        • Joel

          The difference is doping may or may not be happening. But god definitely isn’t happening, and if anyone asks you to prove he doesn’t then simply take pity and walk away.

          • Joel

            Apologies david, I know what you mean. You just caught one of my pet hates. i.e god exists. No one with any logical thought could possibly think that. Fools.

            • Nath

              People who have a different opinion then your own are fools? Not what I would call a logical approach, but hey, each to their own eh? In the mean time, everyone else is just talking cycling.

  • mike irving

    I expect this will be the largest amount of data disclosed by a cyclist. Unfortunately I don’t expect it will satisfy the press. My view is that no one should consider themselves qualified to pronounce judgement on the data unless the have released an equivalent amount of data themselves: ‘lab rats’ included !

    • donncha

      Excellent! I’m happy to release my last year’s worth of power data ;-)

  • VO2min

    Shane, thanks once again for cutting through the fog, and for reminding us of the indisputable history of this matter that has lead up to all of this. And thanks for doing so in such a concise and easy-to-read manner. It is likely to be a messy aftermath (with endless debates from all corners) but I look forward to your always-enjoyable efforts at sorting fact from fiction.

  • IndependentThinker

    There are a number of things wrong with this article.

    First off, the suggestion that Froome was massively dominant – it’s just not true. In 2015, he put the hammer down on the first day in the mountains and gained a relatively small time advantage. He spent the rest of the race defending that lead – and losing a lot of it – against Quintana. For me, the 2015 TdF looked like a competition between two outstanding athletes who are separated by the narrowest of margins, not that Froome was hugely dominant in the way that Armstrong was.

    The second thing in this article I take issue with is the statement that Sky have done little to answer the detractors. Anyone who wants to express an opinion in print on this subject MUST read David Walsh’s book Inside Team Sky. Brailsford gave the most single-minded journalist involved with the demise of Armstrong unprecedented access to the team (I’m not going to bother with the muppets who claim Walsh was bought as they are plain idiotic).

    I’ve read the book and for me, it provides a very substantial case against the idea that Sky dope. It also shows the complete idiocy of the notion that Ross Tucker has who reckons it’s possible to compare performances just on the basis of what is seen on TV. It’s a ridiculous idea whose only value is that it’s gained him a lot of publicity. It has no place whatsoever in the debate as it’s just fluff.

    So, having let Walsh go where he wanted and speak to anyone he wanted for an entire year, Brailsford is still accused in this article of doing little to answer the detractors. To reiterate what has been said many times before: it’s impossible to prove that Froome is clean.

    • Shane Stokes

      Might be worth giving this a read. Who suggested to Ross Tucker to analyse climbing performances and to make conclusions? http://sportsscientists.com/2014/07/the-2014-tour-performance-implications-a-reflection-on-the-origins/

      • IndependentThinker

        I agree with Ross Tucker that a healthy dose of cynicism is required, especially when reading any of his pronouncements. This specific document really boils down to this: that there was something like a nine year gap following his initial conversation with David Walsh before Walsh expressed in print a coherent argument why Ross Tucker-style analytics are essentially Garbage In-Garbage Out. David Walsh is not a scientist – he’s a journalist – and as such his opinions are likely to change as he becomes better informed. The likely scenario is that in 2005, it seemed like a good idea – but since then, as the obvious flaws with RT GIGO as I call it were made known to him, he’s changed his mind.

        And I also don’t miss the weasley Ross Tucker justification of his method because David Walsh – I repeat, I journalist, not a scientist – suggested it was a good idea way back when.

        Mr. Tucker continues to perpetuate his cottage industry by saying that even though Nibali’s performance on the Hautacam was the 27th fastest of all time (i.e. considerably slower than the confessed dopers), that’s still not necessarily within the bounds of undoped human physiology. Well, as that’s essentially unprovable, Tucker can carry on his publicity seeking GIGO analysis that calls into question any winning performance.

        And let’s not forget that Froome cannot prove he’s not doping anymore than Tucker can prove that he is.

        And finally, I’d like to know, as the author of this article, have you read “Inside Team Sky”?

        • Shane Stokes

          Actually, try again. There wasn’t a nine year gap. It wasn’t 2005. Ross’ point is that David was happy to make judgement calls on Armstrong, Michael Rasmussen and Alberto Contador based on climbing speeds, but then dismissed the very same logic when Froome went as quick. Have I read Inside Team Sky? I tried, but the book was not a good one.

          • IndependentThinker

            Sorry, I missed the 2009 date – I assumed that it was 2005. So there was a five year gap. Does that alter my point? No, not at all. Walsh knew that Armstrong was doping because he’d ridden the tour three times before his first win and showed himself to be indifferent – I think his best place was 36th. He comes back from cancer, and suddenly wins the tour despite having a relatively modest VO2 max of 82. Armstrong’s performances were so much faster than previous tour winners, including LeMond who has a VO2 max of 95.

            By Tucker’s own admission, tour winners are now considerably slower than Armstrong, but that’s not enough for him. If there is a non-sequitur here, it’s Tucker’s, not Walsh’s. And if you’d read anything that David Walsh has written, including his book about Lance, you’d know that his opinion was predicated on a very large number of things. He had suspicious performances, associations with Ferrari, testimony from a lot of people, the ’99 EPO positive test, the donation to the UCI with Lance. With Froome/Sky – nothing. His conclusions are entirely reasonable.

            Persevere with the books – you will learn a lot. As a journalist, I would think it essential that you do your utmost to be informed before expressing opinions in print. I’m not a journalist, but have read as widely and deeply as I can on this subject.

            I am, however, an engineer. I would probably agree that it is fair to state that the RT approach isn’t absolutely pseudoscience in that it should produce repeatable outcomes. But that’s as far as it goes.

            Where it tips into the realms of fantasy is that his assumptions are not even that – they’re guesses. Also, the model he is feeding the guesses into is a huge oversimplification of a complex biological, mechanical and environmental system. So even if he had absolute data, the model is too simple to be meaningful.

            No self respecting scientist or engineer would put ANY value on the results of this nonsense. I certainly don’t.


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