What a Lousy Day

Jul 4 2007

I am not a happy camper. Cyclingnews was sold last night, to an evil publishing conglomerate – an evil publishing conglomerate that already owns, among 150 or so other publications, ProCycling, Cycling Plus, MBUK and What Mountain Bike. Since the Podium Cafe seems to have taken the mature, cautious response to this development, I’ll spend a moment to tell you what’s actually going on.

Future just launched this humpish atrocity called BikeRadar.com, and wants it to become the online source for all things bike. Since ProCycling’s webpage has never been much more than an infomercial for their print publication, and since Cyclingnews is the 500-pound gorilla of the industry, Future decided to kill two birds with one stone – ala Charles Foster Kane buying the editorial staff of the New York Chronicle. “Really, Charles, what will people think…” “What I tell them to think!” Truer words were never spoken, and the loss today for internet-savvy cycling fans is immeasurable.

And as if it weren’t bad enough that cycling’s largest independent news source just got swallowed, cycling’s fastest sprinter, Alessandro Petacchi, looks to have scored a one year mandatory vacation for overusing his asthma inhaler. Yeah, awesome. Way to fight doping. You know why caffeine was removed from the banned list? Because it doesn’t help you win races. And if the cannisters of asthma meds my friends used to drain before the mile run in middle school gym are any indication, neither does salbutamol. No word yet on whether The Man will be forcing Petacchi to give up his 2007 salary or leave the ProTour for an additional two years.

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8 Responses to “What a Lousy Day”

  1. Davide July 4, 2007 at 11:56 pm #

    I think salbutamol can be used as a masking agent for other banned substances, hence it’s inclusion on the banned list.

  2. Roger July 5, 2007 at 7:24 am #

    And honestly I have little sympathy. When you go through getting a therapeutic use exemption, you know exactly what you can and can’t take. You certainly don’t feel as if you have open season to load up on it. This smells of the time Sammy Sosa got busted for hitting with a corked bat and said that he just got the bat he used to hit homeruns during batting practice confused with his regular bat. Give me a break. He is getting paid millions of dollars to hit a baseball. He knows what is in his hands when he hits a ball, he knows what it feels like, he has coaches and trainers and product reps and batboys, and he accidentaly brought up a corked bat?

    I can maybe see the excuse of taking a cough medicine to which you didn’t know the ingredients, even that is stretching it, but if you have a TUE for it and you get busted, you knew what you were doing and how much you could and couldn’t do, admit you cheated and take the punishment. Maybe it isn’t fair, and the population at large would fail drug tests for the same types of slipups all the time, but you know what? The population at large’s livelihood doesn’t depend on a sport whose credibility with its fans is decreasing every time one of its stars tests positive and lies about it. You knew what you were taking as on the banned list, you knew that you had an exemption for lo doses, get it right. If you really just screwed up, you are an idiot, and I still have no sympathy. I just can’t believe that world class endurance athletes don’t know everything that goes into their body.

  3. cosmo July 5, 2007 at 10:13 am #

    Petacchi did know exactly what was going into his body – the same medication he’d always taken. What he didn’t know, and couldn’t possibly have known, was what was going to come out in his urine samples.

    At least one study indicates that simply taking your inhaler as normal can cause you to exceed the limit. So how exactly is Petacchi supposed to keep his levels below 1000 ng/mL? Painstakingly analyze his urine day after day to pinpoint how many sprays of asthma medicine he can take per day? And hope that his liver metabolizes it at exactly the same rate during the varying efforts, dehydration and other stresses of a Grand Tour?

    If he finds his airways tightening toward the end of a stage, is Petacchi supposed to simply not take his medicine, for fear that he might turn in a urine sample above the limit? Not only does that defeat the purpose of a THE in the first place, but it endangers every rider in the race, by severely handicapping Petacchi’s ability to ride his bike.

    It’s not like Petacchi grabbed an inhaler full of meth, vis a vis Sosa’s corked exhibition bat. He used the same medicine he’s always used and has always had a right to use, and this time came out over an imaginary line created by WADA – an organization not exactly known for its deference to reason.

  4. Roger July 5, 2007 at 10:34 am #

    I would say that yes, he should be testing his urine every day. I certainly would be if my job depended on my not testing positive for a banned substance that I had an exemption to take up to a certain level. That might seem ridiculous to the general public, but that is one of his two jobs. The first riding his bike fast, the second not having any illegal substances in his body. Written into the wada rules is that fact that you are responsible for what is in your body, regardless of how it got there.

    I think the line is very fuzzy on where you can get treated for a health problem. Petacchi has athsma? Well my red blood cell count is naturally lower than his, can I take medicine to raise it up? There are hundreds of other athsmatic athletes who go through their daily lives without testing positive.

  5. Chris July 5, 2007 at 5:28 pm #

    Love it. Of course Cosmo, you know that my corporate overlords would never allow me to be openly critical of one of our Fortune 500 brethren like Future. I’m just glad you’re still free to translate my carefully measured concerns.

    So are you doing the prologue challenge? I’ve got too many kids to win this thing.

  6. Liz July 5, 2007 at 5:47 pm #

    Amen, Cosmo. Dito your rebuttal above.

Trackbacks and Pingbacks

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    [...] I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that every cycling fan’s favorite online resource has been, for years, CyclingNews. Well, Cyclingnews has been sold recently, so there’s no telling what’ll happen to them now. [...]

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