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  • Nitro

    Great interview – thanks for sharing.

    Everyone clearly has an opinion, but whatever the commentary, increased transparency can only be a good thing…

    My perspective on this summarised in two words used by Jeroen Swart – “armchair scientists”… There are a lot of them about…

    • velocite

      Some of the ‘armchair scientists’ I think have become contenders (as in ‘I coulda been a ..) by being right about doping in cycling, and they’re loath to let it go – or maybe the media machine is loath to let them go.

    • Belinda Hoare

      There’s also scientists displaying a pretty sneering attitude towards the general public who are asking genuine questions and getting some pretty defensive and abusive answers. I don’t quite get Swart’s attitude that transparency just invites the great unwashed to completely misunderstand and misrepresent everything (therefore best leave it to the learned experts in the field i.e. him). Skepticism is warranted in cycling, which Swart well knows. You don’t have to be a fully qualified scientist to be allowed to pull up a chair to the discussion.

      • Neil

        Depends on why you’re pulling up a chair. If it’s to listen and learn great. If it’s to shoot your mouth off with uninformed nonsense, different story.

      • Chris

        I think “armchair scientists” is code for abusive internet trolls, who look to drag a rider’s name through the mud because they are “looking for evidence of doping rather than really looking at it scientifically” (from above).
        Read cyclingnews.com forums if you’d like examples of people who have decided who they’re going to support and who they’re going to attack long before any specific discussion starts.
        This is a reason riders haven’t released data – to someone who wants to attack you, good performances mean you are cheating. Bad performances mean you were cheating. I say “a” reason for not releasing data. The other reason is the cheating, of course :-)

        • Belinda Hoare

          Read twitter and watch scientists respond in an abusive, dismissive manner to people who are not ‘abusive internet trolls’ in the slightest – merely people on twitter who may or may not be scientifically qualified, asking mere questions. I can’t help but think there are many, many people new to cycling who have no real backstory understanding of the Armstrong days (or earlier), and why the current skepticism in cycling exists.

        • Andrew

          I think your observations would be fair except cycling (along with many other sports) has had a long history of PEDs. Just the last 20 years has so many incidents of doping followed by reassurances from the UCI and riders teams that it is now clean. Sky from the outset set their team apart as clean and transparent new generation team. The difficulty is when your teams tactics and spin seem so similar to US Postal credibility crumbles. They have had 3 tdf wins in 4 years along with a host of other victories this immediately puts them through the history of the sport in suspicion. What is their explanation of domination of the sport ? Marginal gains such as weight loss, various juices, warm ups on trainers, training harder smarter. What remains unexplained is why they hired a dr from Rabobank implicated with doping or how Riders such as froome and wiggo transform from grupetto to GC winner. So many varied stories about bilharzia and weight loss. Cadel remarked ” the skinny guys” are still winning the tts. In 2013. I read similar remarks to yours about contador Armstrong valverde and other to riders the historical lesson is the extraordinary performances are usually accompanied by PEDs . I wish every rider had a fresh start but the current testing process is easily circumvented by micro dosing and smarts so unfortunately it does not take a Phd to be justifiably skeptical. On another topic big thanks to cyclingtips and particularly Shane Stokes for excellent journalism where most journos are sycophants trying to keep a lid on this.

          • Chris

            I literally said the fact they’re cheating could be a reason some riders won’t release their data.

          • disqus_PXe7KEDIaw

            I have to agree with much of what you say, even though I do not want to. I believe it is possible to win without doping now. Chris Froome would not be in the top ten of the full EPO/doping era (1995/20009ish). That’s why I believe he is clean, but I still have doubts.

    • Mikael_L

      My favourite part of the original Esquire article was this section discussing Antoine Vayer, one of the main critics/questioners of Froome’s performances.

      “He admits to Esquire that he has no qualifications in the scientific field; he is a physical education teacher, schooling 12-to-16-year-olds in his native Brittany. “I am not a scientist, but I know about Chris because I am inside the peloton,” he says. “I have worked with enough riders to know the [natural] limits.””


      • Neil

        Yeah, I agree. I’m always a bit suspicious of some of these guys and their public claims, seems there’s a good reason for it.

      • donncha

        Well that’s belittling Vayer unnecessarily. He was a coach for Festina in ’98 but refused to take part in their doping programme, so while he may not have a sports science PhD, he probably knows more about working with doped-up riders than anyone else commenting on Froome (with the exception of Ferrari). He was also coach to Christophe Bassons.

        • Neil

          For me, I found some of the things that Swart said an interesting contrast to Vayer. Vayer has gone on and on about VO2 Max and that it would provide an absolute with regards to Froome’s capacity. When Swart says that there is more to it and explains why, I fell that it really does show up the limitations in Vayer’s knowledge, and while he had some experience with Festina close to 20 years ago, he is not much more than an armchair expert.

        • Mikael_L

          While all of that is true (and also outlined in the lines directly preceding the portion I selected from the Esquire article), for Vayer to be trying to use scientific analysis to prove Froome’s supposed doping, it’d be much more useful if he was actually qualified to do so.

          Using his experience from 20 years ago when installed within a team atmosphere as a base for accusations would only be useful if he had similar access to Froome & Sky, which he obviously doesn’t.

      • Pete

        Froome is an alien.

        • Matt

          Have a listen to Off The Ball radio. There is an interview with Dr Ross Tucker from SA, one of the pseudo scientists, very interesting listen.

          • James Taylor

            So why has nobody asked him the huge elephant in the room, namely how does he think it’s possible for someone to show nothing at the amateur level, nothing at domestic level to suggest the greatest clean rider of modern times (including beating full on dopers who showed a lot more winning ability than Froome ever has and with the 5-10% from doping on top of that). Instead we have a transformation that took place in less than a month (Poland to Vuelta) and suddenly we are supposed to believe he is clean and transparent?

            Nobody cares what you can do now! Test any doper and they will show a similar ability, instead release your data from before and during the transformation at the vuelta in 2011. The rest is for the birds and the media.

            Ask all the sports scientists in the world if they have ever come across a clean endurance athlete in modern (last 25-30 years) times who managed to make such a transformation and beat those who showed vastly more talent, and then they doped on top? How is it possible? I am genuinely open to any plausible theory.

            • James Taylor

              Wasn’t replying to you in particular Matt, more a general post

            • Dr_Zeek

              Froome’s recovery from a well-documented bilharzia parasite infection, which went undiagnosed for many years?

              • James Taylor

                Except for the fact that it has been thoroughly debunked by the experts, that the timeline does not fit (he was useless before the disease and amazing when he still supposedly had it), that it does not answer all the years of nothing beforehand and that team fround are actually trying themselves to steer away from that narrative as it has been thoroughly debunked. See Ross Tucker and the various experts on the disease. Again the elephant in the room still remains

                • Dr_Zeek

                  OK, I thought the bilharzia was the commonly accepted reason.
                  My personal view is that the peloton are ALL a bit dodgy…it’s just a question of time till the next drug/supplement scandal hits.
                  A sad but valid indictment of our sport.

                  • James Taylor

                    I suspect you are right Dr_Zeek, which is a shame really. There are so many historic dopers still competing and managing within the sport at every level (including the very top), that it will take a huge shift in mindset before anything can change.

                    It is what makes Froome’s transformation all the more startling and obvious; from the very bottom of Dave Brailsford’s potential chart (regarded as pro-continental dom level) to the very top (i.e. full on grand tour winner against the Very Best over three weeks) in less than a summer month in 2011. For anybody who has ever trained or competed at a reasonably high level, just pause and think about that for a moment; a mature pro rider (who turned pro at the same age as Quintana, Contador etc) transformed from a bottom end domestique (and only in there due to injury of Lars Petr) to the very best stage racer in recent times… in less than a month!

                    With the engine he has displayed in every race since then, it would have been virtually impossible to have not cleaned up the amateur ans SA circuit, but he did virtually nothing to suggest this grand tour winning machine.

                    He was going to be dropped from Sky, and that was just as a domestique.

                    Would anybody still think he was clean if he was Russian, Chinese, Spanish even?

                    When Froome wanted to race and his federation would not allow it, he simply hacked into the federation’s computer and forged the application. Didn’t Brailsford say if you’re a cheat, you’re a cheat, you’re not half a cheat. You wouldn’t say ‘I’ll cheat here but I’m not going to cheat over there; I’ll cheat today, but not tomorrow.

                    I think any interview with Froome should ask at least some variations of the following:

                    How did you transform Chris in less than a month in 2011? Can we see all the power/training files and blood data from that year please? When have you ever shown the sort of power displayed in that Vuelta, (and ever since) in a race before? What was the race and can we have the power and blood data from then please? How much weight did you lose from July 2011 to the start of the Vuelta?

                    Well done Shane for asking if his data should be released to Ashenden, good call on that one. At the moment Jeroen Swart is looking a little silly on twitter unfortunately (Swart you appear to not have the first idea whether Froome is doping or not, so do not attack the messenger when critics question, yes), so it has been good to read this interview, where he seems a fair bit more credible, thank you.

                    • Anonymous

                      The test from 2007 showed similar power levels and VO2 Max to his 2015 test.

                      2007 Peak: 540 watts
                      2007 Sustained: 420 watts
                      2015 Peak: 525 watts
                      2015 Sustained: 419 watts

                      2007 VO2 Max: 80.2
                      2015 Tour VO2 Max: 88.2 (The difference can be almost entirely chalked up to his lost weight)

                    • jon

                      Finishing 9th in the final ITT in the TDF 2008, his first world tour race as a first year pro, five weeks after his mother passed away, yeah showing no talent. Also in the yellow jersey group (18 riders) left on the Croix de Fer climb in TDF 2008 after CSC put the hammer down to put Sastre in position to launch final attack on Alpe D’Huez, Froome bonked on the Alpe D’Huez (the final climb in the stage) as a result of not eating enough. He has always had the engine but was pretty clueless in terms of riding in the pro peloton and also probably wasn’t at peak due to his ill health and being overweight. So to say he never showed any potential is rubbish, plus the UCI trainer/physiologist in 2007 who said he was like Hinault in terms of physiological potential when he trained there, thats where the 2007 data comes from.

                    • James Taylor

                      Fantastic Jon, I’m happy if you think that is multiple grand tour winning potential.

                      By that age Quintana had a tour podium, had won multiple stages including queen stages, not to mention already winning stage races including Tour de l’Avenir at 20 years old. Alberto, alongside being under 23 Spanish time-trial champion, had won multiple stages at pro tour level (including time-trials) and this even includes the time off from the collapse and subsequent surgery from cerebral cavernoma. Valverde had a vuelta podium, multiple stages in grand tours, stage race wins, a world championship podium. Nibali had already won one day classics and stage races by that age. Cadel was a world cup winning mountain biker. Andy Shleck had multiple tour podiums, young riders award, stage race wins. Sastre turned pro in the middle of the wild west years and yet had still won mountain classification by then while serving as a domestique. Sheet even wonderboy was a world champion and multiple stage and one day race winner.

                      I could keep going for hours back through history but the showing of potential doesn’t change for multiple winners, or winners period. Not in some offhand comment from a guy who was a trainer/physiologist after the transformation. Speaking of Hinault, he had already won a grand tour, multiple stages and the Dauphine, plus he was national champion. I’m not really seeing any comparison whatsoever.

                      That’s not to mention the hundreds of other pros in recent times showing more potential than one top ten in a stage race time trial and managing to survive one mountain before the final showdown of a tour stage. But no problem, you clearly think that does show potential for a multiple grand tour winner, and I am not going to try and dissuade you.

                    • disqus_PXe7KEDIaw

                      Valverde doped. Contador doped. Quintana is special…..unless he dopes.
                      You do accept that they doped? They were caught! Froome has not been caught so is innocent until proof arrives. When Quintana hits 27 he will dominate. Unless something goes wrong.
                      Contador doped young and got the benefits you all about!
                      Froome is believable but the cycling history makes it very hard to accept face value. I accept that being believable does not make someone clean, but LA had many signs, Froome does not.

                    • disqus_PXe7KEDIaw

                      Thank you!!

                      To say he had no talent is silly. If he had no talent and everyone is doping how could he win against talented dopers?

                      He caught the disease bilharzia later I think.

                    • James Taylor

                      Now the answer to that is easy. Doping 101, the less talented (at elite level) generally get the greatest gains from doping. Being a super responder to PEDs is it’s own form of talent.

                      When I speak of talent it is relative to his peers. In that arena he was a nobody.

                    • disqus_PXe7KEDIaw

                      I hear you, but comparing Froome to Contadir would only work if Froome was doping from the start! It is clear Contador was doping from the start. His strange steak also had evidence of blood doping, as Ashenden pointed out.
                      I am intrigued to know if Froome dopes, but want evidence. With La the evidence was clearly there. With Contsdor it is there. With Froome and Wiggins it has never been there…..yet, or have I missed something.
                      Anyone who tells me Wighins did not have the ability to win the Tour in the way he did has to come up with something real. He was a one pace wonder. In keeping with his history and he was light. LA was not light, very hard to find his true racing weight for good reason.

                      Whether diet pills were taken by Sky riders I find more plausible. Blood doping, EPO? No one caught with either or the stuff that is used to cover the tracks. Nearly all the other teams have at least one caught, nearly all but not all. Either Sky are so much better at cheating than all the other teams, or they are clean….on most if not all things.

                      I recommend the docu about Shimano Argos.

                    • James Taylor

                      All of the riders I mentioned showed far more at junior and amateur level (pre dope hopefully) than Froome ever could consider. They are the talented ones, and then they dope on top of that. So how does a clean rider, who’s amateur record is frankly crap in comparison to any of the top pros manage to beat them all clean? Now if he doped it becomes feasible, but clean?

                      Wiggins is not Froome, and I have not mentioned Wiggins. This is about Froome.

                    • James Taylor

                      And I am not talking about Sky, just Froome.

                      He was going to be dropped by Sky, received no special training from Sky and was the very bottom of Dave Brailsford’s own potential meter.

                      This is about a domestique who was about to be ditched by his own team, this is not about Sky in any way.

                      A doper does not need a team to dope.

                    • disqus_PXe7KEDIaw

                      you comment about would he be seen as clean if he was Russian, etc. good point. Have to agree!

                    • disqus_PXe7KEDIaw

                      As for cheating, I think the set up in Kenya was a bit different to most.

                      Brailsford himself said he did not see Froome coming as they knew he had the engine ( they would never of signed him) and were frustrated with him.

                • brucegray

                  It hasn’t been thoroughly debunked at all. The story is that he had Bilharzia for years, possibly since adolescence.

                  Further, his rapid improvement around 2011 was heavily dependent on weight loss, which netted a 10% gain in power to weight alone, which is enormous. Essentially no pro riders match Froome’s low level of lean tissue on trunk and upper limbs.

                  Add to this a change to more efficient power based training at Sky under two of the best physiologists in the world, and his gains are no mystery. The only unusual thing about Froome is how he lost and maintains his lean tissue at a % a lot lower than the average pro, without losing significant power. From my insights into pro cycling, few comprehend energy expenditure and intake deeply, or have an understanding on how to preserve lean tissue in the off and on season.

                  • James Taylor

                    He has not had Bilharzia since adolescence, that’s just rubbish. Read what Ross Tucker and all the tropical disease experts say about this timeline. Did he have it at the time of the 2007 test? Did he have it at the Vuelta 2011, Tour 2008? Tour 2012 and 2013?

                    His training didn’t change under the best physiologists in the world, and his training did not become more efficient with sky. Read his own words in the Kimmage interview. He did not even go into a wind tunnel, nor work with Kerrison until 2013.

                    You say it was heavily dependent on weight loss in 2011, where is your evidence for that?. From when in 2011? What month? What was the starting and finish weight? That’s a big claim to make based solely on weight loss.

                    His body fat percentage is not that low at all at 9% (possibly is for a cyclist but not certain other sports) I train (every week) and compete with top level professionals in my own chosen sport and the group is tested every 24 weeks by our S+C coaches including full body composition (accurate by DEXA). The group in general maintain a BFP of between 6-9% (including lower at specific times, and higher at others), so save the argument by authority. I am more than aware of how to maintain lean tissue for both times of the season. In the next year a phd study of our group will be released on sub-maximal training within my main sport which should provide some genuinely interesting insights (especially on lean muscle and specific strength gains from different intensities within specific time frames).

                    • brucegray
                    • James Taylor

                      He turned pro at the same time as many other grand tour winners, not later as you seem to be suggesting.

                      Veloclinic do not agree with the weight loss idea at all, so I suggest you provide some sort of evidence to suggest that 3kg (or 5kg-6kg, or more) would turn him into the complete dog that he was before the vuelta 2011. I have already written enough about the weight issue so perhaps reread.

                      So Bruce did his riding skills change at the time of the Vuelta 2011?

                      Women are not men and the pool is different. Your extrapolation in that area is worthless. His critics are more than aware and that is why they call bs.

                      If you are saying that you could find a 100 dopers like Froome then I agree.

                      The rest of it is just words but no evidence… I am open to some sort of reasonable evidence

                    • brucegray

                      Like I said, you are misrepresenting Ross Tucker. And according to your logic, Froome, who has never tested positive, is, 4 years later, still benefiting from doping he did in 2011. Hey if there’s a drug out there that gives a massive advantage for 4 years straight, I haven’t heard about it.

                    • Belinda Hoare

                      There’s plenty of debate in the scientific world about whether or not prior exposure to performance enhancing drugs has a permanent affect on physiology, after the drug use has stopped. Just an example: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1113/jphysiol.2013.264457/full

                    • brucegray

                      Yeah I’m aware, but if it gave Froome a 10% performance gain, then every cyclist would take a short time out and do it, and never have to risk being caught for doping again. If the best the critics have got is ‘prior exposure’ then they are pushing the proverbial uphill. It’s a ridiculous basis for suspicion, of one rider….and reveals how neurotic and small minded the cynics are.

                    • Paul Jakma


                      Froome was a mountain biker for a lot of his formative cycling days, which tends to instil good handling skills. He also descends very well on the twisties – often able to move past others, if needs be. I don’t understand what reason there is to think Froome had poor handling skills?

                    • brucegray

                      Paul, it’s a common belief CF’s bike and race craft were underdeveloped when he started racing in Europe. He also had a reputation for crashing. Some put it down to him being so determined. Others put it down to poor skills. I don’t have time to go and find examples to change your mind.

                • disqus_PXe7KEDIaw

                  Who debunked it?, plus if doping was effective when Froome was clean and ‘rub bush’ that would to be expected.

                  • James Taylor

                    Begin with Ross Tucker, then read pretty much any tropical disease expert’s view and tally that with Froome’s ever changing story. I will bring some specific links for you when I have time that reference his case in particular. Basically it doesn’t properly add up at all.

                    Doping is always effective, not was, is.

                    • disqus_PXe7KEDIaw

                      I hear you, but there are some problems with your position.
                      Contadir you would say ( I think) is a much better talent from the start as compared with Froome. You could see Contador coming, whereas Froome appeared from nowhere. Correct?
                      However you also say that doping always works. Contador doped for sure. but Froome beats him! How can a better talent who dopes be beaten but a lesser talent?

                      I know that some people respond better to epo than others, but Contador clearly responded well to epo and blood doping ( well the evidence of bllod doping is certain ).
                      Steroids help women more then men. How can Froome beat the superior Contador?

                      If a talent has to compete against dopers he will take time to make an impression. Contador took no time. Froome did. Froome may be doping, but his history fits a clean rider better than Contador’s, plus no evidence against Froome. Froome could be doping but if he is he still must be a talent, because he would not be alone in doping.

                      Also, micro doping is nowhere near as effective as full on epo programme that LA ran. Even blood doing does not match it.

            • disqus_PXe7KEDIaw

              Micro dosing is nowhere near as good as the doses used in 1999 by LA etc. Therefore benefit is limited and puts them in the range of someone very talented and clean. That clean athlete would not reach (possibly) the peak until later, especially if they came via Kenya, S. Africa then Sky. It is possible with the red blood eating disease Froome had that once it was cleaned up/ put into remission, he would/ could fly. Racing is a mix of talent, hard work good rest good food and the right mental attitude.
              The 10% of EPO era is gone. Contador is not on the same level he used to be prior to the blood passport. Froome is not on the same level as LA in his prime.
              I am hopeful but cautious. I am sure time will tell. It has in cycling in the past. It’s history has always cleared these things up.

              • James Taylor

                The difference between top pros is around 1%. Micro dosing will still bring around 5% at least (read the studies) and that’s not to mention AICAR and all the lovely little modern peptides. That’s not to mention the rapidly shortened glow time and balanced bp from microdosing. If the top stage race pros who showed massively more potential (read my post further down) and still doped on top of that! If it was possible to beat that clean it would take the potential of a modern day Lemond and then some, not a domestic pro at the very bottom of his own team bosses’s potential ladder, about to lose his place having shown precisely nothing remarkable whatsoever. We are not talking about the Yates boys, or someone with real potential.

                Would anyone at all, anyone, have thought in the beginning of August 2011, that Chris Froome would be a multiple tour winning.

                BTW Froome smashed Armstrong’s Madone time that Armstrong specifically bagged up for (full not marginal gains). His times are very comparable.

                I appreciate the hopefulness though, and I would like to hope you are correct.

                • disqus_PXe7KEDIaw

                  Chris Froome v Lance Armstrong needs to be like for like. LA was much faster on the Tour. Period.
                  Comparing training climb times is possible on the same day in the same team, but they were years apart and on different training programmes so not comparable. The time comparison climbing Ventoux looks very suspicious when CF is within seconds of LA. But they were years apart. CF climbed on a perfect day, LA on a less than perfect day. If the same LA had been on that climb with CF in the same conditions he would have smashed CF. CF lifted nothing on that climb.
                  Froome had the potential in 2007 tests. Such a loss of weight and no loss of power is the holy grail. Totally reasonable.

            • Mikael_L

              How many people who’ve shown nothing at amateur & domestic level get a contract with Sky?

              The Esquire article I linked above talks about the testing Froome had done in ’07 (during his “nothing” period) that shows near identical VO2 max figures, but an a body that’s 10kg heavier. I have a sneaking suspicion that those kilos (or lack thereof) could have some impact on his performance levels.

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  • RomanTheCube

    “we don’t know with absolute certainty whether Chris’ data is entirely 100 percent credible. There is no way to prove whether or not he has used any performance-enhancing substance. It is just not possible.” That says it all, really. I didn’t really need test results to know that Froome was a weapon on the bike.


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