Daid Millar Speaks about drugs

Discussion in 'Doping in Cycling' started by limerickman, Jul 27, 2004.

  1. limerickman

    limerickman Moderator

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    Tuesday 27th July : The Guardian Newspaper

    Millar's tale of woe is made all the sadder by his natural talent

    The Scot is not the first Briton to let drugs ruin his career

    William Fotheringham
    Tuesday July 27, 2004
    The Guardian

    For all the shock and harsh words that have accompanied David Millar's fall from grace, perhaps one bitter fact should be accepted now. British Tour de France cyclists do not have a happy record when it comes to the use of banned drugs. Robert Millar, Malcolm Elliott and the less well-known Derek Harrison all tested positive at various times.

    The best of them all, Tom Simpson, died of using amphetamines on the slopes of Mont Ventoux. The case still makes waves among the head in the sand brigade, as I found when my biography of him, 'Put me back on my bike', drew bitter criticism from Simpson's family.

    The latest of Major Tom's heirs apparent, David Millar, has just ruined his cycling career and thrown his young life upside down because of drugs.
    Millar was threatened by the judge leading the investigation into his Cofidis team, with five separate drug charges. As it is, he may well not eventually go to court, as the charge of possession of 'venomous substances' hardly holds good when the syringes of 'venom' are empty.

    He may be found to have committed no crime, but there were victims. Millar won most of his 24 professional victories without using drugs, but he took a world title last October having "prepared" with erythropoietin. The Australian Michael Rogers will eventually be awarded the rainbow jersey, but it will have little savour for him.

    What is most bitter about the Millar saga is how unnecessary it all was. The Scot had sufficient talent at the age of 23 to beat Lance Armstrong - yes, the six times Tour winner, no less - to win the prologue time-trial of the 2000 Tour. He rose to 16th in the world in 2001 and took most of his wins "clean". He won a stage of the 2002 race on "water".

    Why, then, did he need to dope? He decided to do so, as he now admits, off his own bat. He was offered the drug, and took it against his better instincts. He doped, in essence, because no one gave him any reason not to do so. The reasons against should have been clear. As I said to him, since the Festina scandal in 1998, professional cycling's credibility has been on a knife edge. Clearly, they were not put to him.

    Quite where this leaves British cycling is open to question. How will the decision-makers in London view this as they push for a Tour de France start in 2007? How will British cycling fans see the European big names when they return to this country to ride the Tour of Britain? The Lottery-funded World Class Performance Plan is on the defensive, although they did not know Milllar was using drugs when he won it a world title and it is completely up front in its opposition to drugs.
    Millar said yesterday that he had only realised what proper coaching was when he began working with the World Class Performance Plan this year, because the moral support it provided made him determined to perform without using drugs.

    "The only reason I went 'clean' was because I found Dave Brailsford [the WCPP director] and Peter Keen [his coach]. They have a decent support system, a proper team. They are 10 times more professional than Cofidis will ever be. The ratio of support staff to riders is far higher, they all know their jobs, there is a proper hierarchy."

    I believed Millar when he said he had no reason to use drugs, but when he became more practised at what he now terms "ambiguous" answers similar to those trotted out by known former drug users, my instincts told me he had crossed the line.
    He told me yesterday that he knew how most journalists who have followed cycling's drug scandals would prick up their ears, but it did not stop him.
    He was right, but intuition did not prevent me wanting to believe. As a result, his confession when it was dragged out of him was not a bolt from the blue but a painful reminder of how sports fans - and sports journalists should be among their number - can fly in the face of reality and imbue our heroes with the qualities we want them to have.
     
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  2. Julian Radowsky

    Julian Radowsky New Member

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    Perhaps that statement by Millar alone helps explain why Lance and USP have been unbeatable for the last six years. It is not drugs (as much as you limerickman might believe), but rather the will of the riders to win, and the leadership and support of the non riders surrounding the team.
     
  3. limerickman

    limerickman Moderator

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    Julian,

    I don't think that it explains anything.
    I think that there are valid questions about Lance Armstrong.
    I think that what we have been subjected to by LA and his apologists is
    nothing short of revisionism.

    You chose to believe.
    I chose not to believe.

    I think people need to look at Armstrong's entire statistical career results and to see his contemporaneous statements made pre-cancer and post cancer.
    This is how I have arrived at my position regarding lance Armstrong.
    If this is biased - so be it.
    At least my view is informed by independent statistical data and independent
    contemporaneous recording of Armstrongs words by Samual Abt, David Walsh,
    Alisdair Fotheringham (Cycle Sport 1992-1996) and other journalists.

    I don't accept as fact what he says in his books because his views and opinions contradict a substantial body of information gieaned from
    1992-1996 and outlined above.
    Or perhaps as Bill Fotheringham suggests its to "imbue our heroes with the qualities we want them to have"
     
  4. RedSky

    RedSky New Member

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    "I think that what we have been subjected to by LA and his apologists is
    nothing short of revisionism."

    I think what you have subjected us to is nothing other than grasping at straws. Is that better than revisionism?

    You imply that we somehow don't get it because we're not convinced that LA has doped, yet you are the one willing to convict a man on extraordinarily weak evidence. I mean, according to you only drugs could cause a drastic improvement in performance. I'm glad you're not my trainer! ;)

    Really, though... this is getting old.
     
  5. limerickman

    limerickman Moderator

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    Yeah, sorry, let's keep this to discussing Millar.
    (sorry for the diversion )
     
  6. meehs

    meehs New Member

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    It's a sad stroy about Millar. I have a tough time condemning him too much though, because I'm sure that the pressure on him to use these substances was tremendous. And in the end he did confess. Isn't it still possible that he could come back from this (depending upon the punishment handed down)? I hope to see him back in the peleton. How is this going to effect his career? Is it really over for him? Verenque managed to come back...
     
  7. limerickman

    limerickman Moderator

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    Meehs,
    he says on Eurosport that he is hoping to only get a one year ban.
    Is he being optimistic ? (I think he is to be honest).
    But if they come down with a long ban - he could cite the relatively lenient
    ban given to Virenque.
     
  8. RedSky

    RedSky New Member

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    He's still fairly young... I guess it depends if a team will pick him up or not.

    I think cycling needs stricter drug controls. Make them so strict and frequent that it will be nearly impossible to cheat. That's the only way you can guarantee that the winning cyclists are clean.
     
  9. Bikerman2004

    Bikerman2004 New Member

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    Actually, I think you are the revisionist. It's interesting how you conveniently leave out the affects of cancer and cancer treatment on the body. You seem to think that cancer was a little minor problem. I don't think you have any idea how cancer and recovery can change a human body. Compare stats for 1999-2004 to 1992-1996? If Lance never had cancer I would say you have a point, but cancer is a wild card that you can't and won't acknowledge as a factor. Lance has the heart of a champion something your european cycling heroes seem to lack.....Ullrich, Mayo, etc.
     
  10. meehs

    meehs New Member

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    You might be right that he's being a bit optimistic in hoping for a one year ban. Personally, I think that a one year ban would be appropriate under the circumstances. He did confess and seemed to be sincerely apologetic about his behavior. And if I remember correctly, they pretty much had all the evidence laid out in front of Virenque and he was still denying his guilt (although I think he finally did confess but only under a huge amount of pressure). Even if he was given a two year ban he'd have ample opportunity to come back and do something. I don't think Millar would have too much trouble finding a team willing to pick him up.
     
  11. gntlmn

    gntlmn New Member

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    If drugs are to be removed from pro cycling, allowing these practiced drug cheaters to get back into the peloton is a mistake. They should be banned for life. This would include Virenque, Millar and others. If Pantani were not allowed to return, perhaps he would still be alive today. Once they go down that slippery slope, the urge to dope is even stronger when they make their comeback. Consider Ben Johnson who was allowed to come back to track and field. He didn't amount to much until he began to dope again. He was finally banned for life.

    Why wait? Ban them once and for all.
     
  12. birdman23

    birdman23 New Member

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    I concur wholeheartedly Gntlmn. The only way to rid sports of drug problems is to make the penalty so severe that no one would ever dare use illegal substances. Lifetime ban, period. Once a few people get caught and banned for life I think it would send a serious message to others. This should apply to ALL sports and not just cycling.
     
  13. ric_stern/RST

    ric_stern/RST New Member

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    in a similar vein, certain states in the USA (amongst other places) hand out the death penalty for certain crimes. Obviously this is a severe deterrent and people can't reoffend, but it doesn't stop them from doing it in the first place. Just a thought.

    And, yes i'm vehemently anti-drugs

    ric
     
  14. Ted B

    Ted B New Member

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    Good point. Capital punishment is relatively ineffective in the U.S. is primarily because it is not imposed quickly...sometimes 15-20 years pass before the defendant's legal options are exhausted. This hardly sets an example pursuant to deterrence.

    If the UCI made quick, decisive work of permanently banning any pro cyclist from competition upon testing positive for certain ergogenic substances, it just may prove to be effective.
     
  15. meehs

    meehs New Member

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    Good points. Maybe lifetime bans for offenders would be the most effective.

    I'm not sure I agree with the one strike and you're out policy in this case though. Maybe it's fine in the case of sex offenders or murderers because they're bringing physical harm to people other than themselves. But in the case of doping to attempt to increase one's performance, I think it might be a bit severe.

    These athletes are probably under tremendous pressure to perform and to use whatever means possible in order to acheive results. Many of these athletes are young and impressionable and I'm guessing that doping is very prevalent in some circles. I'm not saying that it's okay to use doping products but people do screw-up sometimes, we all do. And in cases like this I think that people deserve a second chance. I would certainly say that a rider who has been found guilty of a previous doping violation and is found to be doping a second time should be out for good. Just my opinion.
     
  16. pobserver03

    pobserver03 New Member

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    Not an entirely correct summation of Mr. Limerickman's argument and the evidence he provides. The evidence Mr. Limerickman cites is true, yet meaninless suspect conjecture. However he does mention a comtemperaneous tie to the cycling world and the peloton specifically. To date he has not produced any evidence to corroborate his claim. If he has been sworn to silence as if belonging to some kind of secret boys club that would explain his omittal of evidence he puportedley possesses.

    I for one buy into the idea that LA's performance is a result of training. Yet my opinion is just that, my opinion. You have yours, Mr. Limerickman has his. As it stands none of us are right.

    Most of these posts suggest Millar's career is all but over. Depends on how he recovers and markets himself. Two words.....Richard Virenque.
     
  17. birdman23

    birdman23 New Member

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    Two strikes would be a good idea. But there still needs to be a serious penalty for the first strike. Like maybe a mandatory 5 year suspension or something. Just ideas.
     
  18. wheresullrich?

    wheresullrich? New Member

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    See although this is effective it's unfair

    Virenque was found out to have doped yet he is still winning the king of the mountains jersey today.

    I think just because Millar is english and not french he should have a life time ban

    if they give him a good few years then he will probably be to old to do any well again so it will teach a lesson without being unduely harsh
     
  19. Julian Radowsky

    Julian Radowsky New Member

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    lim, it's not a matter of believing or not believing, it is a matter of making a judgement based on EVIDENCE, the fact that LA has won 6 T'sDF in a row is neither evidence that he is or is not taking drugs.

    My point is that here is NO EVIDENCE EITHER WAY, the fact that you refuse to accept that, and would like to BELIEVE that LA takes drugs, does not make it so. Your constant harping on your beliefs, without actual evidence, actually reduces the strengh of any argument you might put forward.

    We might as well be discussing our beliefs about the Kennedy assassination, or the 1969 moon landings.

    The fact that you have chosen to believe that LA is on drugs purely on a balance of probability (the model for which you yourself have created), rather than on established facts and evidence, says more about you than it will ever say about LA.

    If he is on drugs, the evidence will eventually be there.
    Until then, give it a rest.
     
  20. Julian Radowsky

    Julian Radowsky New Member

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    Won't make an iota of difference, Ben Johnson got a lifetime ban, this has not changed a thing in athletics.

    What will make a difference is combined lifetime banning of the athletes with jail terms for any trainer and 'assistant' closely associated with the athlete (after all, drug dealers get jail time).

    The culture has to be stopped along the entire length of the chain, not just at the end.
     
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