Chapeau, Slipstream Sports

Roid Landis going bonkers on a jet-fueled ride.

I for one, would love to have a clean sport, but simply don’t think it’s possible to get there.  That said, it can certainly be cleaner than it is, and I welcome any progress we make in that direction.  All the same, I also can’t bear the thought of the racing being any less exciting or the notion that the Grand Tours be shortened.  In terms of increasing viewing enjoyment, I would suggest they pave the mountains with rough cobblestones, turn on the rain, and double the length of the stages.

That means I am part of the problem; as long as I delight in seeing the kind of racing we’re watching today, I have to admit that I am culpable for placing the kinds of demands on the sponsors, teams, and athletes that make doping seem like a good – if not the only – way to give me what I want.

All that aside, our sport does more to fight doping than any other sport, and I’m proud of that.  I am sickened, however, by the lines fed to us by every cyclist who fails a control: “I am innocent.  I didn’t even know what EPO was until I got my positive test and I looked the substance up on the internet.”

Sure.  My grandmother knows what EPO is, but a professional cyclist does not?

The usual team management response of “Drugs?  In our team?  No!” is not any more palatable. We all know that doping is is the rule, not the exception, so if you’re caught, please show us the respect to admit to it and move on.

To further the complexity of the problem, cyclists who have admitted to doping and have cooperated with investigations have been given very little leniency – both by the authorities and the public.  You only have to look at the matter of Roid’s admissions and accusations and the breadth of the reactions it has caused to see there is a no-win scenario for the riders.  Roid is considered a liar; the accused are assumed guilty.  And, given the state of affairs, none of the cyclists face very attractive choices when it comes to speaking out or admitting to any wrongdoing.

So, I applaud Slipstream Sports for their statements in regards to the ensuing investigations that are being initiated as consequence of Roids accusations:

We created Slipstream Sports because we wanted to create a team where cyclists could compete 100% clean.

It is an organization built on the core values of honesty, fairness and optimism. It is built on the belief in our ability to contribute to changing the sport’s future through a persistent commitment to the present.

Today, we continue to follow these core principles. We are very encouraged to see the incredible strides cycling has taken to clean itself up. Though it is important to acknowledge pride in the fact that cycling has never been cleaner, we find ourselves at a critical moment in cycling’s evolution: confronting its past.

The founding concepts of Slipstream Sports were put in place for riders committed to competing clean during their time at Slipstream Sports. We have total confidence not only in our anti-doping culture but also in our riders and staff. Everyone who works for us came here knowing in advance what we stand for as well as the standards to which they will be held.

We cannot change what happened in the past. But we believe it is time for transparency.

We expect anyone in our organization who is contacted by any cycling, anti-doping, or government authority will be open and honest with that authority. In that context, we expect nothing short of 100% truthfulness – whatever that truth is – to the questions they are asked. As long as they express the truth about the past to the appropriate parties, they will continue to have a place in our organization and we will support them for living up to the promise we gave the world when we founded Slipstream Sports.

I’ve never felt that ultimatums are the way to gain cooperation from people, and have always thought the approach by the UCI, National Federations, and teams to be counter-productive to the fight against drugs.

Slipsream’s statement is the first that I’m aware of that reflects an organization conducting itself rationally with respect to that goal; they are saying that any rider in their employ who cooperates and responds to the investigation transparently and truthfully will have a place in their organization.  That means that admitting to doping prior to joining Slipstream Sports is not grounds for dismissal.  After all, since the organization’s goal is to provide an environment where cyclists can compete 100% clean, they are necessarily admitting that the sport is in it’s majority dirty, and therefor that their riders may have a doping past.

I’m very encouraged by this, but we’ll have to see what happens.  Of course, Slipstream stating they won’t fire the riders doesn’t mean the Federations won’t sanction them, but it’s a first step in the right direction, and I hope that spirit gains momentum.

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26 Replies to “Chapeau, Slipstream Sports”

  1. I’m not naive enough to believe that the sport will ever be totally free of drugs, humans will always cheat. But we must rid it of the worst of them and that includes the seemingly ingrained belief in some countries/parts of the sport that you can’t race without drugs.

    Vaughters is doing a lot to chnage the cycling world from the inside and I think the fans can do a lot to change it from the outside. Those fans @frank included, who still want exciting racing without the drugs, what do think we’re having this year? Ok, so there are still drugs, but use strong barometers (Gilbert, Evans, New-Basso, Pineau) to judge whether you can win clean.

    I think the racing of the last 18 months has been better than anything I saw from 2002-07 and possibly even earlier.

    I don’t think it was ever in doubt that Slipstream/Garmin were taking on riders who wanted a clean sport irrespective of their past (DZ@CSC, VDV@USPS, Millar).

    But fuck me, what a twatwaffle Millar was the other day. I’d finally thought he’d redeemed himself, riding really well, talking about cycling like a true Velominati, but then as soon as some of his mates are fingered he lashes out at the one person you’d think he’d be at one with. Millar just set his cause back a couple of years the fucking prick (to use his turn of phrase).

    I imagine that both DZ and VDV will be getting a lot of questions from Feds, Journos and fans alike until all this is resolved. What Slipstream can’t now be seen to do is nothing. They[ve set their marker down.

  2. Nice post Frank. I agree completely and do admire Vaughters for backing his riders despite their past transgressions. JV has intimated he “used” back in his USPS days so he understands the pressures and possible temptations every pro had to deal with. And DZ and VVD rode for US Postal and CSC so who know what sort of shiet they had to deal with, having Mr 60%(Bjarne) as your boss can’t be fun.

    Jarvis- I didn’t read Millar’s twatwaffle transgressions but I’m guessing he defended his Garmin teammates and M. Barry and badmouthed Landis? Hmmmmm, as I was pedaling along the other day I was pondering Landis ratting out all his old teammates, the ethics of that act versus coming completely clean to ease his burden.

    This is a great topic for pints and a long evening: as usual I see both sides of it and can’t see this as a black and white issue. But here are some thoughts-

    1) Landis is dick, not for doping as much as actively bullshitting everyone on the globe that he never doped. Seven year old kids in Mongolia sit by the fire in their yurts, shake their heads,”Landis, what a dick”.

    2) If Barry, DZ and VDV all lose their jobs because the UCI issues two year bans despite these guys have been racing and promoting clean racing, I’d venture to say Landis is still a dick.

    3) Is Cycling better off banning clean ex-dopers? argggggghhhhhh! Fucking Lance? How is this supposed to be resolved. Statute of limitations? I hope Geof is passed out under the table by now…a drunk lawyer? We are all doomed.

    4) Deep into the evening with empty pint glasses strewn all over the table, after Brett has called me nasty things for being such a soft cunt, Marko has been unsuccessful picking up the barmaid by showing off his tattoo, maybe I’ll be convinced of something but I need a good pub session to go over the whole confusing subject ad infinitum.

  3. Nice one Frank. There is no adding to the debate on the dick and twatwaffle points Jarvis and John make so well but I do want to chime in about something you said.

    “That means I am part of the problem; as long as I delight in seeing the kind of racing we’re watching today, I have to admit that I am culpable for placing the kinds of demands on the sponsors, teams, and athletes that make doping seem like a good – if not the only – way to give me what I want.”

    Does this mean that pre-fueled racing was, what, boring? Anquetil, Coppi, Merckx! Or were they on the juice too? You know I don’t mean this but a real race does not depend on substances but on the (natural) highs and lows of the mind and body.

    What I am saying badly is that a race is just as exciting weather its being done at 42kph average or a juiced 48kph. I mean it’s still mano-a-mano and that is what makes it so cool. So lets get back to a level playing field and enjoy the battles

  4. @john
    link to Millar’s comments:

    VDV hasn’t been implicated yet, but Vaughters has already said that no-one will lose their jobs at Garmin (or at least that is what I understand)

    One idea is that Barry’s statement suggested that he might have been mistaken for someone else.

    I still thank Landis, like Hamilton was a dick for running his endless defence. I think he is a bit of a hero for this confession though.

  5. I think what Millar is saying is that Landis is a wanker for not doing the right thing much earlier – because everything he’s said and done in the interim has so damaged his credibility that even if some/all of what he claims is true it is easy to discredit him and his claims. Millar also seems to be reacting against Landis’s motives – which do seem to be much more about a final spiteful launching of toys out of the cot than about a sudden road to Damascus moral awakening (notwithstanding that extraordinary bullshit about “I need to get this off my conscience before the statute of limitations expires in, er, a month). I’ve got a lot of sympathy for Millar on both these points. I certainly can’t see Landis as heroic. He remains a total COTHO in my book, for all the lies and the fighting fund. I just hope some good comes from it all when the dust has settled a little (such as the potential for the technical details of how he combined micro-dosing with autologous tranfusions to make the anti-dopers able to catch even more cheats).

    As to what to do about reformed dopers who get caught AFTER they’ve renounced doping. That’s a tough one. My tentative view is ban ’em – but if it is clear that they have fully co-operated and that they stopped doping a while ago, take that into consideration when it comes to the penalty. But I do need to drink a lot more beer to really feel like I’ve thought it through properly.

  6. Come on, Millar is a hypocrite of the highest order. He denied denied denied and took everyone for fools until there was no way he could deny anymore. Only when he was caught red-handed did he get on his moralistic high horse and claim he was doing some good for the sport. For him to attack Landis in the way he has done, with personal slander and comments defending his own doping only further enforces that he is still doing absolutely nothing to help in the fight against doping, and is protecting the omerta. He’s a good mate of the Testicle too, so is probably too scared to piss him off. Fuck Millar. COTHO.

    And fuck Basso too. How anyone can vilify Veino yet vindicate Basso is beyond me. “Attempted doping” my arse. He may as well have just said “I don’t give a fuck that I dope but I’m gonna take my lies to the grave with me too. I’ll make up a fairy tale, you the public will just have to swallow it, and I’ll come back and you’ll all be so gullible that you’ll praise me when I juice up again and win the Giro.” Fuck Basso. COTHO.

  7. @Geof
    the issue I have with Millar is that Landis has done anti-doping a service. He has provided info as to how athletes are cheating the passport

    At least Millar confessed straight away. A bit different to most of the others and also he was back in ’04. I have a lot less time for anyone caught after Puerto.
    Apparently Armstrong doesn’t speak to Millar anymore. There was a good interview with Millar in Cycle Sport a couple of months ago. Millar was saying that Armstrong puts everyone in boxes and Millar is in the box with Vaughters.

    Basso is coached by Sassi, who also coaches Evans. So if Basso is doping then you might as well extend that to include Evans.

  8. good thoughts Frank.

    I agree that our sport is proudly one of the leaders in trying to clean up the ranks, but how to is another story.

    I can see where blame for this goes around, but lets not forget organizers and team managers either. Sure, we the people can accept a little for expecting the super-natural heroic rides day…after day..after day. But, the Tour organizers have done a fair job in it too, and Desgrange himself years ago led out stages well over 300-400k/day in conditions much harder. And managers, must justify to a corporate over-head dick of sometype that the 20-30million dollar investment in a team is a spectacular idea. So, not only ‘us’ but they share in fault as well.

    What to do. Significant collaboration in multiple discplines within doping. This means ‘no pissing contests’. I am sorry but just because you own a race (ASO) does not give you complete and unobliterating jurisdiction. I am sorry too, the UCI is impotent in this. Let ASO own it, their races. Let UCI coordinate the calendar since that is barely what that feable McQuaid can even do, the little man. Have WADA and an international task force come together in collaboration and start a comprehensive doping plan/surveillance/tracking/passport/punitive task force. For now, perhaps give a moritorium for a time, and after the implementation it is like pre-post times. Start it, and don’t look back. Then implement Rule #5, grow some beans between the legs and do it. Thats brief, but in a nutshell of what could work.

    +1 Brett: right on

  9. Sure, we can commend Twaughters on his “transparency” and “rider support” but what choice does he really have? If what Roid is saying is true and Twaughters took a harsher stance, he’d have no team left after this all shakes out. I agree, now is the time for cycling to address the past but don’t think for a minute that Johann is saying this simply for altruistic reasons. He’s calculated the risks and benefits to himself, his team, and his sponsors.

    (how’s that Brett?)

  10. @all
    Seems like Brett is the only person on the planet who is perfectly clear on this whole doping thing.

    For the rest of us, I think you only need to skim over these posts to see how complicated this is. Add to that the conversation about motors that the Rules has going on, and I feel like monkey in a spacesuit.

    @Jarvis, @brett
    Yeah, Amrstrong put Millar on the B-List. He’s out.

    You’re dead on with others having (more) responsibility in the matter. I’m just saying, I don’t think we can really sit on the couch watching Basso motor up the Zoncolan after a bitch of a stage and then watch them do it again the next day, and the next and the next, and act all betrayed and shocked that they’re doping.

    They weren’t on the Donkeys-Into-Thoroughbred drugs of today, but absolutely Coppi and Anquetil were on the sauce. They so much as admitted to it. And Tommy Simpson. Even Merckx failed a control.

    What I’d like to know, is: Was it Vaughters or his turtleneck sweater that made these statements? It’s always hard to tell which is which.

  11. @frank

    It was the sideburns. They’re the shifty ones in this equation. Though the turtleneck does scream hipster, doesn’t it?

  12. frank :
    They weren’t on the Donkeys-Into-Thoroughbred drugs of today, but absolutely Coppi and Anquetil were on the sauce. They so much as admitted to it. And Tommy Simpson. Even Merckx failed a control.

    You’ve just blown the last illusion I had held dear to me since the Tooth Fairy and Santa Clause.

    It still seems to me that things like amphetamines do not “give” you anything extra they only make you feel like that and they tear you down (a la Tommy Simpson). Not that I think it is fair to take anything.

    But back to my original point which is will all here care if the sport is cleaned up and the racing gets slower and less dramatic or can it still have all the drama but with out the juice?

  13. @frank: interesting point on how far back dope goes. True they do, but so the culture has changed in it as well. Back then, they didn’t do it for the same reasons they do it today. Today, its explicitly cheating and only cheating. Back then, they did it (in all seriousness) thinking it was healthy. That was the rudimentary nature of the ride, and they took amphetamines and cocaine thinking it was good for them; plus they didn’t think they could ride without it. The classy Charly Gaul did it, realizing the conundrum he was in, and reportedly was telling fellow riders ‘today I will die’.

    No one in the peloton does this today for any reason other than boutique dope and to cheat.

  14. @All

    We could go on forever about doping, and probably will. We don’t want to turn this into cyclingnews forum though.

    So, with this I’m out. Everyone dopes. Yes, even Cadel. They’re all shifty characters, but that’s the way they have been indoctrinated into the sport, even if they had good intentions at the start of their careers. It’s sad but true, I don’t care if they dope, I just hate the holier-than-thou attitudes and hero worship of certain individuals.

    Hopefully everyone will man up and back Roid and we can get rid of the Testicle from the record books and publicly expose him for the harm he’s done to the sport and everyone who has sucked his dick for so long will see what a COTHO he really is. Then I’ll be satisfied. And then the new generation of riders can take their new generation of drugs and provide us with a new generation of racing and a new generation of scandals and we can all discuss it ad nauseum until we get sick of that too.

    Over and out.

  15. Forget about the drugs, what about the way Cuddles let down his country by once again returning to his whining ways? After riding with more than a modicum of panache in this year’s Giro, he spoils it by saying he was a bit sicky-wicky during:

    And Millar is and always will be a COTHO. In fact his laughable self-righteousness created a new order above the previous highest order of COTHOs.

  16. @brett
    you have a valid point about that discussion. So I’m out without any qualitification.

    But does anyone actually use the cyclingnews forum? Weird.

  17. @Marcus
    I was thinking the same thing! And what about that timing? I admire that he stayed in the race, for it added to the race to have him there, but why say anything at all? Why note wait a few days? So, basically, just as Basso is picking up his trophy, Cuddles starts yelling, “Yeah, but I was sick! I was sick!”

    He just doesn’t seem so bright to me. Sure, maybe he was sick, but his complaint that he wasn’t as strong as before getting sick sounds like a pretty clear case of “peaking too early”. I think it’s hard to win a classic and the Giro; you can’t hold a peak that long. Basso timed his form perfectly, coming into the race a little behind and riding into it as the race entered the last week.

  18. @frank It’s worse than that – now Cuddles has played the sickness card, Carlos feels he has licence to play the “I had a sore back” card. Am starting to have more respect for Vino – at least he hasn’t blamed his performance on dodgy vodka (yet).

  19. @frank
    Cuddles definitely peaked to early – but think it is less a case of too little brains and more a case of being “too open” and “too honest” with the media. Maybe Cadel could have his own new addition to the Lexicon, STFU?
    Now with formal UCI approval of the Piti Principle, Cadel has a definite right to feel aggrieved about what might have been. It is not drawing too long a bow to say that without Piti in 2009, Cadel would have the Dauphine (definitely) and possibly the Vuelta (Dirty Sanchez would have had a different race without Piti)added to his palmares.
    But now we have a new Cadel, Richie Porte – and when he sheds a bit of puppy fat, he could be the business.

  20. Racers should have one day a year that they can go to the UCI confession booth, and lay all of their sins down on the table in full detail and only receive a small fine/prohibition to some big race(tour), and get it over with. If local governments and the ATF are willing to do amnesty days for unregistered guns and drugs, I don’t see why PRO bike racers shouldn’t have the same opportunity.

    This way, if they do not confess on this day, they should be banned from all cycling events indefinitely; no questions asked. They would have their chance, and if they still want to fuck around, let them be fucked.

  21. @wvcycling Padraing @ redkiteprayer proposed this in an article in, I think, the New York Times after the 2007 debacle and I think he then offered the suggestion to the UCI after they took interest in the article.

  22. I prefer to live in a glass house. I know that it’s likely that everyone is using something to enhance ones performance. However I compartmentalise this aspect and just enjoy the show. At the end of the day where does one start or stop performance gains?

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