Feel good hit of the summer

Cycling: The sport where Nicotine, Valium, Vicodin, Marijuana, Ecstasy and Alcohol became Cortisones, Albutamol, EPO, Testosterone, and Amphetamines.

The July 2008 issue of Men’s Journal has a good piece on Greg LeMond. The author may or may not read drunkcyclist (he does) and you can view article here: www.mensjournal.com/feature/johnson/lemond.html.

Here’s a taste:

…In 1990 he won a third Tour, staking his place among the greatest athletes ever.

He didn’t know yet that this was the peak, as good as it was ever going to get. The following year he struggled to finish seventh, and each year after that the pace of the pack got faster, especially on the climbs. In one mountain stage of the 1992 Tour, LeMond finished nearly 50 minutes behind the winner. He used to win in the mountains. He quit the race the next day. “It was a very confusing period,” LeMond says. “But it makes sense today.”

At the time, he blamed himself; the winner that day in 1992 was the scrupulously drug-free Andy Hampsten. LeMond trained harder than he ever had in his life and changed his diet, but nothing worked. “My dad tortured himself,” says Geoffrey. Finally he went to see a Belgian doctor named Yvan Van Mol. “?‘There’s nothing wrong with you, Greg,’?” LeMond says the doctor told him. “?‘If you’re going to compete today, you’ve got to go see Ferrari.’?”

Dr. Michele Ferrari was an Italian sports doctor who had become notorious for his glib comments about performance drugs, comparing EPO to orange juice, and declaring that it didn’t bother him if his athletes went to Switzerland to buy blood-boosters. Many top riders had already started seeing Ferrari, and their performances had improved markedly. But LeMond refused: Greg LeMond didn’t need anything the Italian doctor could provide. He had the highest VO2 max, and he could still beat everyone.

Except he couldn’t. In 1994 he struggled to keep up on the flat stages. “We were always in the red — dans la rouge,” he says. When the pack dropped him yet again during the sixth stage, he got off his bike and climbed into the “broom wagon,” which cruises along behind the race to sweep up exhausted riders, the most humiliating way possible to exit a race.

LeMond is not the only man to bury himself to keep up with a doped field. And that is exactly what it was in ’94 – doped to the gills. You either doped, or you did not finish. Never mind winning. You could not even keep on the flat stages without the drugs.

EPO changed cycling entirely.

From a recent NY Times article:

At maximum effort, the men’s performances improved by 9 to 16 percent. But at a slightly lower level of exertion, performance improved by 50 percent, Dr. Lundby said. Athletes taking EPO can go 50 percent longer at that somewhat lower level of effort, which can make a major difference in an endurance event…

I think it was the advent of EPO, the widespread “it’s now mandatory” use, that broke LeMond mind, body, and spirit. He simply could not keep up with a doped field. He should have been amount the strongest, and instead, riders who formerly lacked the class to carry LeMond’s raincoat were now dropping him.

LeMond mentions this in a 1999 acticle by The Independent.

LeMond straddled the era when, he believes, doping progressed from being a matter of individual inclination to systematic programming.

Sounds about right to me.

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About big jonny

The man, the legend. The guy who started it all back in the Year of Our Lord Beer, 2000, with a couple of pages worth of idiotic ranting hardcoded on some random porn site that would host anything you uploaded, a book called HTML for Dummies (which was completely appropriate), a bad attitude (which hasn’t much changed), and a Dell desktop running Win95 with 64 mgs of ram and a six gig hard drive. Those were the days. Then he went to law school. Go figure. Flagstaff, Arizona, USA

19 thoughts on “Feel good hit of the summer

  1. Meh. Price of doing business. An NFL player who refused cortisone injections, muscle relaxers, and pain pills wouldn’t last long in the league either. Would it be better if athletes didn’t take drugs to be competitive? Absolutely. But this is the modern era. And cycling has always been a dopers sport. Amphetamines were big once.

  2. Uhm…there is a difference between drugs used to cope with injuries and those used to improve performance.

    Mike, maybe your comment would have made a tiny bit of sense if you’d said, “An NFL player who refused anabolic steroids, HGH, EPO, stimulants, etc. wouldn’t last long in the league either.”

    Modernity and cheating don’t necessarily go hand in hand.

  3. Greg Lemond has mitochondrial myopathy. I don’t believe that a refusal to take EPO has much to do with it.

  4. You neglected to mention that LeMond has gotten seriously paranoid over the years. Read the entire article and tell me that he doesn’t come across as hateful, spiteful, bitter and paranoid.
    There comes a time when someone just needs to go away quietly. LeMond has reached that time.

  5. I’m sure it was and is the Mitochondrial myopathy that causes Lemond to be in that great shape he is in today, not the lack of or refusal to use PEDs.

    Look at some recent pictures of Indurain, he’s is decent if not good shape and I’m pretty sure he’s not doping in retirement.

    LeMond should do as those who won as many tours before(and after) him, keep his mouth shut. He had his 15 minutes time now to move on.

  6. Is that guy implying that “the scrupulously drug-free Andy Hampsten” was a doper because he beat Lemond?

    Seriously?

  7. Indurain is HUGE now. I mean he was always a large racer, but now?!!?! He’s GARGANTUAN.

    And he still logs a few miles and could still school the most of us here i believe.

    And as for dopers… they suck. Period.

  8. …watch the vs retro coverage of lemond & hinault “back in the day” & if you’re from that era, you remember just how fucking glorious lemond was…

    …a lot of young north americans went to europe & carved a path but no one adapted & then conquered like lemond at his peak…i still get a thrill watching those tapes…

    …but while greg seems to be surrounded by loving family & friends, his headstrong attitude doesn’t appear to be tempered by any friendly advice…that propensity for constantly miring his well established image has created a negative portrait for future generations…

  9. KidWonder—NFL athletes are pumped full of pain killers and muscle relaxants to allow them to play through injury, not to cope with injury. They use drugs to the detriment of their bodies, achieving performances they would not otherwise be able to. I don’t see much of a difference between an athlete who’s willing to risk his future mobility by taking a lidocaine shot in a damaged ankle and one who will risk health problems by taking a “performance enhancing drug”, because the drugs in both cases are “performance enhancers”. Try telling a trainer you won’t take addictive painkillers and see how long the NFL career lasts.

    And the NFL is full of guys who use steroids.

  10. I had the privilege of being humbled by Greg when he was racing as a junior with us in the senior 1-2 cat. I was and am a fan. I wish he would relax, bask in the glory of the trails he blazed for US cycling and change his outlook. Bad deal sure, maybe, who knows. But the negativism and, well, whining is not going to change it. If he would change his candor, he could do alot for the sport if he still cares and many fans will welcome him back. Most of us would like to have one of his glory days in our book. Man he was a wily critter on that bike back in the day. NOTHING is gonna change that.

  11. Is there a whistler blower law in the peloton, so many people have been sucking lances one nut nob for so long, and now they all jump on top off Lemond and call him bitter, because he says the sport is dirty.

    You are killing one of the messengers.Who cares how the message comes across, the likelihood of it being true is way to high as are the stakes.

    Trek is all over Lances nob, american cyclists, generally are as well. the king is dead.

  12. Bob I agree with you about Greg. I guess My point was poorly put across. Greg is getting out the word and has made great strides in helping expose the soul suckers of our sport. I just think more people would listen if he just tweaked his manner and candor a bit. We need guys like this out there slugging for the sport. I am hoping to have a grandchild in the peleton some day. I hope he finds it clean. Enough crap from me. Beer and a ride coming up.

  13. Here is a picture of Big Mig about a year and a half ago, picture number 11, I dont think he looks to bad. He may be a large dude but dosent seem to have that plump jolliness that LeMond grew into.

    http://www.lasprovincias.es/galerias/deportes/premios-laureus-entrega_200704022053.html

    I think he seems to be a bit more fit then LeMond. Granted Greg has the bad fortune of being ill but it does show that once you retire as a pro(or stop doping, however you want to see it) your body dosent go to shit.

    Let’s see how LeMond gets into the headlines next…….

  14. I call bullshit. Lemond continues to hold the record for the fasted individual time trial in tour history. That was on a bike in 1989 before half of this aero shit was invented.

    If these drugs had that much of a performance effect on the riders in the tour someone would have broken his 1989 record. But they haven’t.

    He simply got older, less fit and slower. It happens to everyone.

  15. LeMond barely gave me 12 hours.

    http://sports.yahoo.com/sc/news?slug=reu-tourlemond&prov=reuters&type=lgns

    My favorite part is……

    Asked about LeMond’s comments, McQuaid told Reuters the American did not know what he was talking about.

    “Once again, he’s talking about something he doesn’t know anything about. What is his qualification to talk about it?” said McQuaid.

    LeMond is a jaded old man who is upset his sport left him behind.

  16. Agree with you Iron Donut.

    Le Mond just sounds like he’s hiding something.

    He acts like EPO came out when he started getting slow and that’s his excuse. But riders were using of EPO much earlier than LeMond’s revised history. The drug was first unveiled in the New England Journal of Medicine in January 1987. By ’89 everyone was talking about how big the drug was in Europe and the mysterious deaths of many Dutch riders who’d die in their sleep or wake up and have a stroke.

    Bert Oosterbosch, one of the greatest time trialest ever, was dead from alleged EPO use in August of 1989. A little over a month after LeMond’s record win. This sort of blows a big hole in his cover story that he never used EPO since it wasn’t around ranking it right up there with Landis’ “I’ll have to say no.” defense. It’s as credible as grandpa saying he didn’t do acid in the sixties because it wasn’t available.

    Even if he didn’t use EPO as claimed, there was always a strong rumor that he indulged in the blood doping (old school EPO), which was popularized in the US by his Junior mentor Eddy B.

    Lemond was a great rider, unfortunately not a great sportsman. Tis a shame, with his authority he could really make a difference. Instead, he wastes his pulpit on tantrums that do little to promote the sport, better sportsmanship or a cleaner peloton.