First, Spain declares itself anti-doping
Good on yer spain. How do we show we are not doping? We raid a suspected drug lab and arrest a doctor, rider and an assistant sporting director of a one big spanish team and a big fish team manager of the other one. see Saiz arrested on doping charges.
So here we have police action uncovering some or a whole metric crapload of doping. Reportedly anabolic steroids, hormones (I speculate human growth hormone or some such, and lots and lots of blood packets with transfusion equipment were found. The general idea is that blood is taken from riders, concentrated to high red blood cell counts, frozen and stored, and then reinjected during races to help increase the bloods oxygen carrying capacity. Sort of a self transfused EPO type effect.
Somewhat unsuprisingly this is a doctor who has been accused before, by Jesus Manzano. I think this somewhat vindicates Manzano who was raked over the coals when he accused the Kelme (now comunidad valencia) team of systematic blood doping. Allegedly his allegations were alleged to have been allegedly investigated and then dismissed, but this time same doctor, same clinic and lots of evidence...
I think, as I have said before (links at bottom), that this is the wave of antidoping future, you test as much as you can, but you coordinate testing with criminal investigation and when you catch a rider you go after their doctor, team manager and get them out of the sport for good. Saiz was released today, but arresting a very big team manager is a good way to send a message about no tolerance to doping. Saiz is by no means off the hook, he still will face judicial hearings on the matter. His team's top rider, Roberto Heras, was suspended due to a positive EPO test in the vuelta last september, and perhaps the rider suspension was only the start of the investigation.
Changing tunes a bit, the WADA is thinking of making altitude chambers, or hypoxic tents, illegal as an unfair competitive advantage(see here about halfway down). This technology allows riders to sleep in a lower oxygen environment to mimic high altitude living. This increases the amount of red blood cells in the body, "naturally", without taking EPO or other blood boosting methods. Athletes can then easily follow the sleep high, train low plan that is optimised for performance. Lance Armstrong, Tom Danielson, Alison Dunlap among many many others use this technique to help their training. Some athletes have rooms that are sealed and "altitude" controlled, nike even has an altitude house for one of their elite running teams to use. See the Colorado Altitude Training website for commercial systems and athletes who use this method.
I think outlawing the tents/chambers/rooms etc. is just plain stupid and borderline unenforcable. Teams can do the same thing by having high altitude training camps, but it costs alot more for the team or riders and it pushes people to more sinister doping methods. I would like to see the WADA concentrating on other antidoping methods, rather than ones that are well established, safe and impossible to enforce.
I think this clearly shows that Dick Pound and his WADA are clearly being eclipsed by law enforcement agencies. Work to stave of irrelevance there Dick.
More Doping musings:
Back to the regularly scheduled bicycle moronothon tommorrow with much less psuedojournalism.
Anyone still reading?