My Message to the World Regarding Lance Armstrong: Get a Bloody Grip!
Nov 2012 01
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Warning: This article contains words you wouldn’t use when meeting your new girlfriend’s parents for the first time. If you are easily offended, please leave this page now.

Recently, someone wrote to me on Facebook asking what I thought of the Lance Armstrong scandal. Being pressed for time, I quickly tapped out a brief response, then went about my business. Lo and behold, the comment appeared on my Facebook page without my realizing it (I’m not exactly the most FB-savvy person), which in turn prompted one Karen M to claim I was trying to portray Armstrong as a hero, followed by a long-winded rant attempting to enlighten me as to what a heinous bastard he really was.

Oh boy.

You can read the Facebook comments immediately below, followed by my far more extensive and considered reply:

On October 23 at 12:25pm, Peter writes:
Hi Anthony, what are your thoughts about the whole Lance Armstrong story?

Anthony Colpo replies:
I think the whole story is a sad reflection on just what a pack of tossers people in general are. Guy takes EPO to ride bike faster, gets more public abuse than 99% of murderers, pedophiles and rapists. Pretty fucked up, I reckon.

Peter replies:
Ha, yeah. Pretty amazing that they covered it up for so long. Makes you wonder about all the other winners, though. Do you think the drug problems are still as bad as back then?

Karen M says:
That is the incomplete, edited to make Armstrong look like a hero version. The long version, Guy takes EPO, Growth Hormones, cortisone and Steroids, bribes his competitors to lose, to make it look like he convincingly won races.

He forces, yes forces, his teammates to do the same. Continues to deny he has ever doped. He has books, sponsors and other high profile personalities (eg Oprah, Robin Williams, Larry King among others) buy into the story of a guy beating cancer and winning 7 titles. For over 15 years, almost 20 years, his entire career is a lie. Yet he continues to maintain he is a a legit rider.

Until folks start realising that stuff is just not adding up. A test in 1999 reveals he has doped, but it is unofficial, not performed by the USADA, and so is not considered evidence. Then one day Armstrong fails a test, so a retroactive prescription for cortisone cream is written, to perpetuate the lie. Only thing is, his masseuse is the one who would have been providing the cream, and she has heard nothing about it.

Lance begins to start burning his bridges with his so-called friends. His former masseuse, who was one of the first people to say Armstrong was doping, is challenged by Armstrong. He refers to her as an ‘alcoholic and a prostitute’, and sues her for close to 7 million bucks. A 10 year battle ensues. And she was not the only one.

Then there were the countless millions that went to Armstrongs ‘charity’. Just look at all the people who wear those yellow bands, again, based on a lie.

The reason Armstrong is being treated badly now, is because, for over 15 years, he behaved far worse.

And since when has anyone said LA is worse than a rapist or paedophile? Not me, I can tell you.

Google a presenter named Jimmy Savile, a guy who died last year, yet it as only been recently revealed that he was a serial paedophile. A sexual predator who preyed on young girls (possibly boys also, as one claim emerged) and not only abused his position, but his employer, the BBC, seemingly turned a blind eye to his abuse. He is being treated far worse, and many are in shock at hearing how vile and how long the abuse went on for. This guy had friends in high places, including the Queen and Charles and Diana. Google him, and you will see that Armstrong is being treated pretty darn easily.

He’s not a nice guy, but he is definitely no monster

Anthony replies:

Thanks so much Karen, for taking my statement out of context and ascribing false motives to me that I never in fact had. So nice of you.

For the record, my comment above was made quickly to Peter from my email in what I thought was a private message (thanks a lot Peter lol). But hey, if you want to take my throwaway comment out of context, blow it out of proportion and accuse me of deliberately hiding facts in an attempt to make Armstrong look like a “hero”, then fine…here’s my reply:

First of all, your claim that I was trying to make Armstrong look like a hero is so absurd as to be laughable. I may not have posted it online (until now), but anyone who knows me personally is well aware I really don’t think much of Lance Armstrong as a person. His behaviour towards Italian cyclist Filippo Simeoni before, during and after the 2004 Tour De France was a disgrace. His alleged penchant for ringing journalists at home while they were having Sunday lunch with their families and abusing them for writing something he disliked – if true – also indicates a guy with major issues. His demeanour towards other cyclists, from all accounts, was often one of an intimidating bully. That’s but one reason why I am so saddened by Marco Pantani’s death. Not only was he a great talent, but I believe he was the only cyclist with both the requisite talent and the classic Italian va funculo attitude to seriously threaten Armstrong. I firmly believe if Marco kept his shit together and stayed away from the coke there’s a good chance Lance Armstrong would never have won seven straight TDFs.

And yes, Armstrong’s alleged to have bribed competitors – back in 1993, long before he won a TDF title.

But let’s be perfectly clear: Lance Armstrong is not under the spotlight and losing his seven TDF titles for being an asshole. To the best of my knowledge, acting like an obnoxious jerk-off is not against UCI or WADA rules. Nor is all this happening because of alleged race-fixing that occurred back in 1993.

In fact, few people seemed to have a problem with Armstrong’s ‘brash Texan’ attitude when he was winning TDFs and being held up as cycling’s cancer-conquering poster boy.

Hmmm.

The indisputable truth is that Armstrong is being dragged through the wringer for taking performance-enhancing drugs.

That’s it.

He never killed anybody, never raped anybody’s daughter, never molested anyone’s kids, never diddled elderly people out of their retirement funds, never started bullshit wars against other nations on bullshit pretexts, wars that would result in hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women and children being shot and blown to smithereens…yet the fact remains, despite your most unconvincing insistence to the contrary and your citation of a single example that most people outside of the UK are not aware of – he is copping far more hatred and public ridicule than 99.9% of individuals who’ve done all of the above.

Go ahead and name me one person who, since this whole Armstrong thing broke out, has been convicted of murdering an innocent or molesting a child that has copped the same global scorn that Armstrong has? The best you could do was cite an example from the UK that most people do not know about…and ironically, you follow it up with an admonition to “Google him…”.

Um…if he’s copping as much crap as Armstrong, why on Earth would anyone need to Google to find out about him??

So your cherry-picked example only further confirms my point: A serial paedophile in the UK is copping far less global derision than a man who took performance enhancing drugs to win bicycle races!

I will repeat: Guy takes red blood cell-boosting and anabolic drugs to ride his bike faster and longer, and attracts far more hatred and worldwide antagonism than the overwhelming majority of individuals who have done far worse, including people who sexually abuse children.

I don’t care how much you try to avoid this fact or rationalize it away, but that is majorly F-U-C-K-E-D.

It says a lot of things about our society and people in general, and none of them are good.

 

Don’t touch this stuff, or you might just attract more haters than a fucking paedophile!

When you’ve got a quiet moment, and if you can tame your raging sense of piety for long enough, you may want to ponder the following:

–Why do we care so much when a sports person takes performance enhancing drugs? I can take you to a nightclub this very evening where a lot of the attendees will be boozing to excess and using other substances far more harmful than testosterone propionate or micro-dosed EPO. Yet no-one’s getting hysterical about that, and no-one’s about to turn that into a global news story.

So again, why do we care more when a sports star gets caught doping than the fact our own kids are out in the clubs doing far worse?

Since when did sports stars become such presumed paragons of virtue? Who exactly decreed they were to be held up as role models? Why do sports stars attract more adulation, fame and money than scientists who come up with live-saving innovations?

Why is someone who rides a bike fast or can proficiently kick a ball through two upright poles treated like a superstar, while a paramedic who’s out there saving lives on a regular basis receives no such glory whatsoever – and in fact often gets abused by drunken dickheads for their trouble?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a keen MMA and cycling fan, but I feel far more indebted to Louis Pasteur than any pro cyclist or cage fighter. Yes, the latter entertain and impress me greatly, but I may not even be here without the former.

Champion sportspeople are simply people who are good at what they do. Nothing more, nothing less. Yes, some of them apply themselves with truly admirable conscientiousness and show remarkable discipline and perseverance…but this is also true of people in other fields (it should also be pointed out that more than a few champion sportsmen aren’t particularly disciplined individuals and behave like boozing dickwads when away from the prying eyes of media cameras. Natural talent can still take a person a long way…)

Who’s truly more courageous: A guy who can hit more home runs than most other blokes; or the whistle-blowers whose strength of character and sense of duty compels them to call out corruption, despite knowing full well this will make them a target of sustained and vicious hate campaigns, and may cost them their jobs, reputations, friends and – in some instances – maybe even their life?

Sorry, but the ability to profusely hit a ball and run around a pitch suddenly doesn’t seem so heroic to me.

So society blows these sportspeople up into superheroes, then carries on like a frenetic lynch mob when they get caught doping.

Here’s my suggestion: Stop treating these people like fucking Gods. Then maybe when they get caught doing human shit like doping to gain a performance advantage, you jokers won’t be so startled and start carrying on like a bunch of rattlesnakes on speed.

Simple really!


Dude, you really shouldn’t have made that comeback…

–And this brings me to a closely related point: People need to stop being such a bunch of spectators and instead become participants – not just in sports, but in life itself. I guess it’s too much to ask of our reality show and soapie-addicted population to get off their fat sloppy asses and take a bit more interest, not just in the world around them but in their own physical condition. But it would do them a bloody world of good if they did.

Everyone’s a sports fan, but how many people are out there exercising on a regular basis and maintaining above average fitness levels themselves? Given that 2/3 of the population nowadays is overweight, it’s clearly a very small proportion of the population.

Do I feel let down by Lance Armstrong and all the other cyclists who’ve been doping?

Are you kidding me? What do I look like to you – some tosser with no life of his own who lives vicariously through sportspeople that he and the rest of society have exalted to hero status? And then feels ‘let down’ when they turn out to be only human like the rest of us?

Get real.

I love cycling, but a groupie I ain’t. To be honest, I knew the winners of only a handful of this years’ Pro Tour races, and now I’ve forgotten them all except for Bradley Wiggins, who won the Tour de France.

Sorry folks, but I’m too busy with my own training and life in general to be hanging on every movement and uttering of a bunch of skinny blokes in Europe. I’m too busy planning and looking forward to my next trip to Bright – where the climbing is second to none – to be losing sleep over a so-called Lance Armstrong ‘scandal’.

Which brings me to my next point:

It’s only a ‘scandal’ because most people have their heads buried up their ass.

Doping in sports has been around for as long as there’s been sports, just as cheating in general is as old as the human species itself.

Politicians and bureaucrats routinely accept ‘donations’ and kickbacks from vested interests, governments lie to their constituents on a daily basis, drug companies publish studies deliberately designed to skew the results in favour of their products, advertisers routinely exaggerate and often downright lie about the benefits endowed by their products, individuals privy to insider information use it to make profitable stock trades, and people have cheated on their partners since time immemorial…I could go on and on.

But when athletes stand to make millions – sometimes tens and even hundreds of millions [too much] – of dollars for their successes on the field, and when their entire livelihood not to mention lavish social status depends on these successes, people act earnestly surprised that these athletes would ever even contemplate seeking an unfair advantage?

Pull your heads out of your culos, for chrissakes.

Is it Cheating When Everyone Else is Doing it too?

Athletes take performance enhancing drugs to gain a performance advantage.

No shit, you say.

But when most of the athletes they compete against are already using the same performance-enhancing agents, it no longer becomes a matter of getting an unfair advantage; it instead becomes a matter of doing what’s necessary to remain competitive.

It’s easy for armchair moralists to deride these athletes for crossing that line, but what would they do if they were in the same position?

What would they do if they had a choice between doping and living the dream, or eschewing doping and getting kicked off their team as a result of their uncompetitiveness?

“Thanks for the offer of EPO, Mr Team Doctor, but I choose to say no to drugs! I’ll just kiss my dreams of being the best cyclist in the world goodbye, forget the women, sponsors and adulation, and instead go back to teaching spin classes to fat housewives at Planet Fitness in Boisie Idaho for $10 an hour!”

You’d honestly say that?

Bullshit.

Even Greg LeMond, the US cycling great whose doping comments created much bad blood between him and Armstrong and cost him his relationship with bicycle manufacturer Trek, admitted in an interview:

“First of all, you have to understand the doping mentality. I don’t think there’s a rider in the peloton that prefers to take drugs. It’s simply what doing to keep up with competition, and if they think everyone’s getting away with it, they feel like they need to use it, too. Half of these guys haven’t finished high school, have a wife and three kids at home, and if they don’t perform, they won’t get paid.”

Former British rider David Millar similarly notes:

“So the riders found themselves in the situation of go to 50% [hemtocrit level] and be a good professional or get blasted every day and at the end of the year it’ll be bye-bye. When it’s your dream job, you aren’t yet mature enough to have a strong moral compass and are surrounded by an unhealthy environment there aren’t many people who are going to stand up and shout that this is wrong. Add to that the ridicule that would be unleashed upon anyone who told the real truth and you have the perfect ingredients for the omertà. These are as much excuses as they are reasons. I doubt any of the riders placed in the 50% dilemma liked the idea of risking dying in their sleep, obliged to have one set of medication to see them through the racing day and then another set to get them through the night in case their blood got too thick or they were dehydrated. They didn’t become bike riders for that reason.”*

News flash: Lance Armstrong did not invent performance-enhancing drugs. Lance Armstrong did not invent EPO, nor did he introduce it to professional cycling (the latter honour, it would seem, goes to Italian doctor Francesco Conconi back in 1993).

But Lance Armstrong, like every other contender in the peleton, knew damn well what he had to do in order to have any real chance of being a world-beater.

Pull Your Head Out of Your Butt: Everything Will Seem So Much Clearer!

Some people will no doubt construe this article as pro-doping, because humans are absolute champions at misconstruing stuff.

For the record, I’m not pro-anabolic/performance enhancing drugs, nor am I anti-anabolic/performance enhancing drugs. I’m pro-whatever is the most rational, productive and healthful strategy for the individual involved.

When it comes to organized sports, if you sign on to compete in a sport whose governing body has compiled a list of drugs whose use is forbidden by competitors, and you ignore the prohibition and use one or more of these drugs, then you are breaking the rules. If you get caught, you then face whatever punitive action that governing body imposes. You agree to this, of your own volition, when you sign up to compete in events sanctioned by that governing body.

That’s the simplistic black-and-white version that of course doesn’t take into account the pressures and influences discussed above, but at the end of the day it’s the overriding reality. Rules are rules, and if you agree to abide by them of your own volition, then ultimately that’s what you should do.

In contrast, when you’re born, you enter this world as a human being with no moral obligation to any governing body. You absolutely do not sign any contracts stating that, even though you may suffer declines in various important hormones during the game of life due to acute or chronic illness, aging or pure misfortune, you nonetheless agree to never use exogenous sources of these hormones simply because scandal-seeking journalists and opportunistic politicians have decreed it a naughty thing to do.

The truth is, EPO, the various testosterone esters, and anabolic steroids have legitimate medical uses. That’s how they came to exist in the first place. And when used judiciously under medical supervision, anabolic steroids and especially testosterone have very low side effect rates. Unlike cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, which have been uncritically and enthusiastically embraced by the medical profession and prescribed like candy despite the fact that they treat a non-existent condition (having naturally occurring cholesterol levels above the arbitrary targets recommended by researchers sponsored by statin-manufacturers is not a disease) and routinely cause unwanted side effects, the most common of which is muscle damage. This, despite being used at the recommended dosages.

Some time ago – well before the recent Armstrong-EPO blow-up – I was watching an interview posted online in which Floyd Landis discussed not only his past drug use but also his relationship with Lance Armstrong. Out of curiosity, I scrolled down and started reading the comments below the video. Predictably, it didn’t take long for some of the commenters to get a Lance Hate-fest going. I’ll never forget one of the comments, which went something like this:

“Yeah, I knew Armstrong was a fraudulent good-for-nothing doping scumbag cheat! I recovered from cancer a few years ago and to this day I still suffer fatigue and lethargy, yet this guy’s out there winning seven Tour De Frances???!!!”

The idiocy of such a comment almost leaves me speechless.

Hel-bloody-lo!!

You’re a recovering cancer patient struggling to get your energy levels back to normal, then observe a guy who was on death’s doorstep with testicular, lung and brain cancer but who spectacularly conquered not only these cancers but also the world’s biggest and most gruelling bike race seven years in a row – and all you can do is piss and moan about his good fortune?

Holy cow.

Here’s what I would be thinking:

“Here we go, another day of dragging my ass around feeling like death warmed up. Ever since my cancer treatment I’ve been feeling like shit, I can’t work out why, and my doctors have given me bugger all help on this. Hey, what’s that on the telly…hmmm…’Lance Armstrong, seven-time Tour De France winner, accused of EPO and anabolic steroid use’? Wow, there’s a guy who not only came back from near fatal cancer but also beat the best cyclists on the planet seven years’ running. If EPO and the gear was doing him any harm, I’d like to know how, because the guy remains cancer-free, maintains a gruelling training schedule, is stupidly fit and has a resting heart rate in the low 30s! I should be so lucky! Maybe EPO and steroids, which he no doubt received under medical supervision – I’m guessing the hundreds of thousands he paid to Dr Michele Ferrari wasn’t for advice on improving his pedalling cadence – actually helped him make a quicker and more robust comeback from cancer? I’m going to start researching EPO and anabolic steroid use, see if anyone has used them on recovering cancer patients, or on patients with severe anemia or wasting conditions, or if there’s any other research suggesting they could help me out. And if there is, I’m going show it to my doctor, and if he fobs me off, I’ll keep looking until a find a more sympathetic, enlightened doctor. However, if he agrees judicious use of these agents could indeed be of possible benefit but he can’t prescribe them to me because of legal restrictions, then I’m going to start campaigning for the laws to be changed, because it is grossly unfair that people with a legitimate medical need are being unfairly penalized because of a bunch of hysteria about drug use in sports.”

If this sounds like a pie-in-the-sky scenario, keep in mind that the anabolic steroid oxandrolone (a.k.a Anavar, Oxandrin) -  a “mild” steroid with an excellent safety record – was approved by the FDA in 1995 to treat HIV-related wasting and even granted “orphan drug” status (offering seven-year exclusive marketing rights and tax breaks to companies selling drugs for limited-market diseases).

Of course, the gay lobby is a very aggressive, vocal and influential one. It has the full and formidable force of political correctness on its side, can quickly generate effective media campaigns and has no qualms about angrily shouting down both Republican (most notably Reagan) and Democrat (more recently, Obama) Presidents at live appearances to attract attention to its cause. Which is no doubt a big part of why funding for AIDS research continues to dwarf that of breast cancer, despite the fact that the former kills only a fraction of the latter (breast cancer research, meanwhile, attracts far more funding than prostate cancer research. Heterosexual men are both on the wrong side of the PC fence and nowhere near as vocal in campaigning for their health causes).

But I digress…the point is the oxandrolone example shows that with enough pressure, unemotional medical reality can be made to triumph over popular hysteria to the point where an anabolic steroid can be approved for a new and beneficial purpose.

Earlier this year, I talked to a Melbourne doctor who specializes in anti-aging treatments. He runs a popular clinic where the majority of patients are folks in their 40s and beyond whose idea of growing old gracefully doesn’t include poor health, diminishing energy levels, poor sleep, low libido, bone and muscle loss, and skin that wrinkles up like an old prune.

Part of his treatment included the use of small dosages of recombinant growth hormone when he deemed it necessary (we’re talking less than 0.5 IU, daily). And no, he wasn’t that kind of doctor – if you were a twenty-something bodybuilder trying to score some GH to amplify the effects of whatever else you were taking, you’d be politely but promptly shown the door.

This doctor is a knowledgeable, conscientious practitioner who runs full blood work on his patients, both at the beginning and then subsequent to initiation of treatment. Despite this, he can no longer prescribe growth hormone to his aging patients, no matter how much he thinks it will benefit them.

Is this because the medical board discovered that hGH was hurting rather than helping his patients?

Nope.

They instead pressured doctors like him to stop prescribing hGH, due to the use and abuse of hGH by athletes and especially bodybuilders.

But why should aging non-athletes who couldn’t give a rat’s ass about the sport of bodybuilding be prevented from using hGH if their doctor, after having consulted carefully with them and conducting the necessary tests, decrees it beneficial?

Hysteria triumphs over commonsense yet again.

Lancemania: Symptom of a Society Without a Clue

Seriously, people really need to get a grip. I remember a few years ago when Lance Armstrong announced his comeback, and that South Australia’s Tour Down Under race would be the first of his comeback races. The place went nuts. When he arrived, it was like Adelaide had turned into one big shameless Lance whore. Everywhere he went, he got mobbed and pestered for autographs. The Premier of SA at the time, Mike Rann, followed Armstrong around like a little puppy dog, as did the journalists and TV cameras. Gossip columnists urged readers to email or SMS with any Lance sightings, which then made their way into print and onto the TV news with such world-stopping newsbytes as: “’Lance ordered chicken and pasta’ said Tracy Slimshag, waitress at the Gumeracha Doo Drop Inn. ‘He was very nice!’”

The real cracker was when SA’s newspaper, The Advertiser, featured a massive two-page lift-out spread starring – wait for it – Lance’s bike. Just in case the people of SA were too dumb to know what that big carbon thing between his legs was, I suppose…

And then there was the massive group ride that occurred the Saturday morning on the day before the TDU officially got underway. Armstrong tweeted the day prior for everyone to come join him at Glenelg for a quick ride along the Esplanade. Over five thousand people showed up on their bikes for the short ride! Five thousand people, drawn to one spot by one man at such short notice. It was amazing. And not necessarily in a good way.

Me? I was in Adelaide for the TDU, but I stayed in bed that morning with the girl I was seeing at the time. I won’t go into details, but I’m quite confident I had a lot more fun than any of the poor sods who got up early to go riding with Armstrong LOL

Heck, according to The Advertiser, one bloke and his wife read Lance’s tweet, dropped everything they were doing, threw their bikes in their car and immediately drove to Adelaide – from Melbourne! For all you non-Aussies, that’s a 730km drive…a long, boring-ass 9-hour drive where the scenic highlights include flat, dry fields of wheat and the ass ends of semi-trailers that you can’t overtake for the next 5km because most of the damn highway is a Third World-standard one lane each way deal.

Five thousand South Australians wait expectantly for the almighty Lance Armstrong to feed them with a single loaf of bread.

Yep, when grown men start acting like a bunch of starstruck teenage girls, you know hero worship has gotten way out of control.

But now that Armstrong’s been convincingly implicated as a doper by his former teammates, everyone’s suddenly carrying on like a pack of spurned little sheilas:

“That bastard! I really believed in him! I fell for his story! Cheat! Doper! Scumbag!!”

Here’s the deal, folks: You jokers need to stop being angry at Lance Armstrong. Instead, you need to start being angry at yourselves, for being such a pathetic bunch of gushing groupies.

Did you ever ask the doctor who saved your life for his autograph? When was the last time you fawned over an emergency worker, or cheered and waved banners as a bunch of volunteers boarded a plane to go help starving kids in Africa?

And what about the last time your mum/partner/kids asked you to do something, and you took forever to do it? Yet you got up first thing in the morning, frantically put your multi-coloured kit on, and then furiously pedalled your Lycra-clad ass down Anzac Highway at the tweeted behest of a millionaire Texan athlete??

WTF?!

What’s really scandalous about this whole Armstrong thing is not his doping, but the dopiness of the human species. What really makes me shake my head is the sheer scale of idiotic sheepishness and blind adulation that one man can generate. Not to mention the bizarre lack of perspective and absurdly disordered priorities that modern society holds.

Wake up, sheeple.

Oh, and regardless of what you or I think of Lance Armstrong, the fact remains that he did conquer cancer and he did win seven Tour De France races against competitors who were taking the same gear he was. Those achievements deserve respect, even if the guy who attained them often acted like an arrogant dickwad. If you earnestly think all there is to winning an epic stage race like the TDF is to squirt a bit of EPO and testosterone into your ass cheeks, you really are an idiot.

Also an incurable tool is anyone who claims the Lance Armstrong affair constitutes “the greatest doping fraud in the history of sport”. For chrissakes…ever heard of a little thing called the EASTERN BLOC? Do you know a major reason why the USSR consistently wiped the Olympic floor with the rest of the world every four years, until the fall of the Iron Curtain?

Clue: It wasn’t buckwheat and vodka!

The Eastern Bloc countries had massive, state-run and -funded doping programs, the world-beating efficacy of which is now enshrined in history. If you want an insight into just what went on all those years, check out this paper dealing with the East German program published in 1997:

Hormonal doping and androgenization of athletes: a secret program of the German Democratic Republic government.

To claim that Lance Armstrong’s personal doping strategy was “bigger” than that of the entire Eastern Bloc, the latter encompassing some three decades and hundreds of Oympic medals, is beyond ridiculous.

Unfortunately, the media is good at ridiculous…real good.

*The “50%” that Millar is referring to is the 50% haematocrit cut-off level that the UCI introduced in 1997. In the absence of a direct test for EPO, the UCI introduced the rule as an indirect indicator of EPO use (which raises haematocrit levels). If cyclists returned a haematocrit reading above 50, they would not be banned for doping but simply ruled unfit to ride and suspended temporarily until such time as their level returned to ‘normal’.

The UCI ruling has attracted much criticism, with critics claiming it constitutes an implicit green light to EPO users so long as they don’t test above 50%. However, it is widely acknowledged that the introduction of the 50% level ushered in the era of “micro-dosing”, meaning athletes took smaller amounts of EPO more frequently. In other words, they began using EPO more intelligently. Not surprising then, that deaths from suspected EPO use have dropped markedly since the rule’s introduction.

Interestingly, no-one seems to raise an eyelid at the ridiculously high serum ferritin counts routinely seen in pro cyclists. There is simply no reason a healthy, hard-training cyclist not using EPO should be returning four-digit[!] serum ferritin readings.

Anthony Colpo is an independent researcher, physical conditioning specialist, and author of The Fat Loss Bible and The Great Cholesterol Con. For more information, visit TheFatLossBible.net or TheGreatCholesterolCon.com

Copyright © Anthony Colpo.

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