Trolls reunited

Discussion in 'Professional Cycling' started by whiteboytrash, Jan 28, 2007.

  1. whiteboytrash

    whiteboytrash New Member

    Mar 9, 2005
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    Lance Armstrong would probably say that in five years the ‘trolls’ have doubled in number. When in his home town of Laval 2001, the former Festina coach Antoine Vayer hosted a round-table on drug use in pro-cycling, he shared the stage with a quintet who, like him, believed the rampant doping was leading the sport to ruin.

    Now in November 2006, Vayer and his five pals have all reunited in the same northern French town and have been joined by another “dirty half-dozen”. At least that’s what Armstrong would probably call them, as in his eyes the presence of David Walsh is enough to contaminate any gathering.

    Centre stage, Walsh sits alongside fellow troll and LA Confidential co-author Pierre Ballester. As far as Armstrong is concerned, the Axis of Evil looks like this – with a gallery of do-gooders, detractors and born-again ex-dopers fanning out with side.

    There a four survivors of the Festina scandal. We say survivors, but only Vayer still makes a living from cycling. He runs “Alturnativ”, a research and training center for promoting drug-free methods. Willy Voet is now a bus driver in the
    Alps. His old boss ex-Festina director sportif Bruno Roussel is an estate agent. And Christophe “Mr. Clean” Bassons retired from cycling three years after the Festina team-mates Armin Meier and Christophe Moreau at least had the decency to tell the French police that, yes there were riders in the team who didn’t dope and that one of them was Bassons.

    The remaining seven members of the panel include to ex-dopers or “chaudieres” as Vayer jauntily addresses them; Jerome Chiotti is the former mountain bike rider who created history by confessing he used EPO to win the 1996 World Championship and then renounce his title, albeit four years after the event; Larent Roux once wore the polka-dot jersey at the Tour de France but spent much of 2006 in a French prison on a charge of drug trafficking.

    Journalists Walsh and Ballester and LeMonde’s Stephane Mandard and Bernard Hopquin account for four more places, lawyer Thibault de Montbrial and athletics coach Pierre Jean Vazel the final two. That makes 12 names. Or 12 trolls.

    Bruno Roussel is first to speak. “First of all, I’d like to say that we had already legalised doping at Festina by deciding to control it ourselves, and that, at the time, that seemed like least bad solution. Since that time I’ve changed my opinion and now, looking back, I can say that it was a mistake: once the riders had got used to the protocol, they started trying to either get round it or abuse it by taking more and more drugs. Above all, it became unsafe, because the riders could get products from anywhere, sometime it was badly conserved and so on…

    "As regards to the question, ‘Should we legalise doping’, I’d say no, we shouldn’t let the rider partake in a kind of arms race to the detriment of their health”. “Yes” he continues, “I know that people might say that is sport is spectacle acted out by professionals who doctors and that, if want to put their health at risk, its their problem… but I think that’s faulty logic. In my view, even sport is about setting an example and conveying messages, not least respecting the rules. Also how do we continue to promote the health gains of the sport if the men at the top of the pyramid are potentially jeopardising their bodies with drugs ?” Roussel is the first of 12 monologues which consume most of the first half of the debate.

    Stephane Mandard of Le Monde says he not n favour of legalising doping but he says that its already legalised. He cites his conversation with Eufemiano Fuentes since Operation Puerto erupted; “Shouldn’t it actually be top level sport that we are banning if Fuentes says that it makes all of his clients ill and that he brings them the ‘care’ they need to get healthy again in the for form of doping products ?”

    Bassons doesn’t need reminding by anyone that his refusal to accept any kind of medical aid effectively end his career. The Frenchman is also well placed to confirm that professional cycling is a serious health hazard – at least it is when you’re not cooking on the same gas as then men around you. Bassons recalls how he would regaruly finish stage races on the cusp of full-blown anemia, and vents his frustrations at knowing that “if my opponents just rode two or three kilometres more slowly, I wouldn’t have had any trouble following and keeping my form”. “Not only did other people’s cheating stop me winning, it also endangered my health”.

    Bassons presence and contributions are both the highlights and the most poignant moments of the evening. They are poignant because they remind us that, less than a decade ago, an intelligent and principled young man was ruthlessly hounded out of the sport which needed many more like him. For those who don’t remember, Bassons left the 1999 Tour de France after his FDJ manager Marc Madiot, his team-mates, an assortment of other riders and – most significantly Lance Armstrong told hi min no uncertain terms that his outspoken views on doping had no place in the Tour peleton. Bassons toughed it out for two more seasons before retiring from cycling at the end of 2001. He was just 27, an athlete at his physical peak who had once been credited as having the same Vo2Max as Bernard Hinault in his pomp. He sums up his experience with “It never bothered me that there were riders ahead of me or more successful then me. It just upset me that they sometimes didn’t realise or want to mentally process the reason why they were ahead of me. My own philophy held up simply because I never looked for recognition or success – the pleasure I got from riding my bike and competing was enough; I focused entirely on my own performance, rather than success. My only competition was within myself”

    ………. deleted text……

    In closing Bruno Roussel sums up the Landis situation: “Floyd Landis has taken us for idiots, for imbeciles. It’s nothing short of scandalous. We have done all the things he did many times over knowing the results. Although many can’t speak about it, to us who know, know what he did. To us you don’t even need a positive test to tell if someone is using dope.”

  2. meandmybike

    meandmybike New Member

    Feb 7, 2005
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    Vayer co-authored a book, 'Could you win The Tour?', that was published by Polar (the heart rate monitor people) only in French. He put numbers to the climbing performances given by the likes of Pantani, Armstrong, Riis, Indurain and uses David Moncoutie (Cofidis) as an example of what a 'clean' rider can achieve (I've no idea if Moncoutie is clean but from what I've seen/read of him he's a naturally talented under achiever).

    A great read if you can find a copy. You'll get the gist of it from the various tables if you don't read French that well. They used to sell in on Polar's french site.
  3. limerickman

    limerickman Moderator

    Jan 5, 2004
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    Informative stuff - WBT.
    Very interesting read.

    As is M&MYBikes contribution too.

    Good stuff.
  4. matagi

    matagi Well-Known Member

    Mar 12, 2006
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    This is an interesting point .... the side effects of training for, and participating in, top level competition are well documented, so it could be worthwhile approaching the problem of doping from a different perspective, by looking at how the sport itself is run, for example