Archive | November, 2006

The Death of Isaac Galvez and Its Repercussions

28 Nov

If you’d told me last week that there’d be cycling news unrelated to the phantom stories of Operacion Puerto or the race organizer/ProTour schism, I would have told you I’d be psyched to report on it. Then, it turns out to be this. Isaac Galvez, multiple-time World Champion on the track, is now dead, following a crash during the Gent six-day.

Galvez was, by all accounts, a true competitor and a genuinely nice guy, and after a number of high profile podium finishes last year, including several at the Tour de France, the Spaniard seemed poised on the brink of a breakthrough that would eliminate his previous footnote as the man who inadvertantly capped Cipollini’s Giro stage win record at 42.

Though some accounts are critical of an apparent delay in his treatment, it surprises me than no one else has brought up the fact that safety measures exist that could have prevented this tragedy entirely. Though Galvez’ death, the first at a six-day since the 1930’s, is certainly a statistical anomaly, it should also give race organizers pause to re-evaluate and improve upon their safety measures.

The ever-present risk of serious injury and death has long added to the romance of cycling, and the sport seems to cultivate a cavalier nonchalance toward the subject in its adherents. It took the tragic demise of Fabio Casartelli, and later, of Andrei Kivilev, to drive home the necessity of helmet use; to let Galvez’s death pass without similar consideration would dishonor his memory completely.

Leaks, Myopia, Ignorance, and Other Euro Cycling Diseases

14 Nov

Today’s Yahoo! Cycling headline: “Hackers Steal Data at French anti-Doping Lab”. No points for guessing which French anti-doping lab, especially if you’re Paola Pezzo or Lance Armstrong. (By the way, it just so happens the “scientist” who leaked the Armstrong case to L’Equipe participated recently in the super-secret meeting on DNA testing. I sure hope the canary still remembers how to sing…) Anyway, the hacker apparently sent fake emails rife with errors from the lab’s email server. Velonews says the suspect is a “Landis associate”, but as per usual doesn’t cite sources. Fortunately for us, Cyclingnews does; it’s from L’Equipe, which I think puts the odds of it being correct at about 50/50.

All this does nothing to extinguish the hot-burning demand among the AIGCP for DNA testing of riders: there’s even an ongoing conflict about who landed the first rider on a DNA test contract. Of course, anyone who remembers high school bio should know that DNA reveals nothing about whether someone is actually doping (unless they’re gene doping), and basically only functions to determine whether a given bag of blood was extracted from a given rider. And last time I checked, having a bag of your own blood lying in fridge somewhere still doesn’t prove you’re blood doping. Furthermore, since mature red blood cells have no nuclei (and thus no DNA), it seems theoretically possible to render your own blood untraceable immediately following extraction.

But oops! I was being logical again. I keep forgetting how much cycling loves the snake oil solution. Just look at Operacion Puerto, in which riders were banned quick and dirty in the name of image. Now, four months later, Basso’s cleared. Manolo Saiz is cleared. Botero is cleared. Jens Voight is concerned that this makes it look like nothing has happened. Well, Jensi, can you please explain to me exactly what has happened, other than the scapegoating of your country’s favorite son? Zabel’s dead on when he says heads must roll in the administrative bodies that run your sport. But the fans and racers (on your side of the Atlantic, at least) will never muster the sack to do anything about it.

A Return to the News

6 Nov

No rants today, folks, and none for a while, I promise. Just a return to the good old fashioned news updates, primarily because my ethical indignation glands have been going full bore since July 1, and are now completely tapped out. First news item of the day is old: Operacion Puerto has been shelved. No charges, and no penalties. Ok, fine: you can punish Jan Ullrich. But no one else. What? Still not satisfied? Ok, ok, geez. We’ll dig up some two-year old charges on a recently unsuspended rider, and for good measure, kick around some new accusations. Happy?

What? Are you still hollering for blood? F*cking A, where were you in July, when we banned half the freaking peloton (not that it stopped them from doping)? Ok, you want blood – how about some DNA? Oh, don’t worry about the rider’s rights – the CPA can’t do much other than provide DNA samples (if you know what I mean). Quite a strange habit for a group that’s so clealy impotent. Still, perhaps it’s better to be silently flaccid than vocally priapic, as Dick Pound can now add the NBA to the long list (UCI, ASO, NHL, IOC, etc) of three letter acronyms that don’t take him seriously.