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Why testing can't eliminate or even reduce doping

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Why testing can't eliminate or even reduce doping

Old 08-08-06, 10:33 AM
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Why testing can't eliminate or even reduce doping

No anti-doping bureaucracy can fix the doping situation in cycling or in other sports for three big reasons:
  1. The cyclists and other athletes and their doctors are always going to stay ahead of the anti-doping testers. Even when the technology exists, the means do not. In the Tour, they only test the yellow jersey, the stage winner, and one random guy. And, do they test for synthetic testosterone, for example? No. Not unless the T/E ratio is higher than 4:1, which the cyclists and their doctors know how to stay below (for the most part, with one notable recent exception). Perhaps they limit how much testosterone they use, perhaps they boost their epitestosterone levels to "fix" the T/E ratio after boosting the numerator, but, either way, they know how to do it.
  2. The testers and their management are human. Their livelihood depends on the existence of doping in cycling and sports in general. It would be career suicide to create a system that actually eliminated doping. It's like cops and speeding. They want to catch the extreme abusers once in a while just to keep everyone in check. That keeps everyone in business.
  3. It's a mutually beneficial system. The cyclists dope, continuing to try to push the envelope. The testers keep testing, catching one once in a while. I mean, one guy in this year's Tour? Look how many of the leaders from last year are implicated in Operación Puerto, yet they all passed all their tests in last year's Tour and this years races (include Basso in the Giro and Ullrich in the Tour de Suisse) with no problems. How do you explain that? The effectivity of the testing is a joke in terms of actually making a dent in the elimination of doping. All they can do is keep it "in check", if you consider the programs that were outlined for Hamilton, Ullrich and others to be "in check".
For the above reasons, the system is at a basic steady state, again, much like speeding on freeways. There is pervasive cheating/speeding going on, some extreme cheating/speeding going on, and every now and then one of the extreme cheaters/speeders gets caught. But, for the most part, even most of the extreme cheaters/speeders gets away with it.

The difference between freeway speeding and doping in cycling is that on the freeway those who don't speed still can reach their destination. But a clean cyclist competing against a peloton full of the greatest cyclists in the world who have a doped-fueled edge has no chance, no matter how good he is.

I see no way out of this mess. Do you?

Agree? Disagree?

Last edited by Helmet Head; 08-08-06 at 10:58 AM.
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Old 08-08-06, 11:12 AM
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1. The means and many tests do exist. Given the amount of money involved in the tour the number and variety of tests could be dramatically increased. Same goes for all the upper level tours and races. Your example of the T/E test perfectly illustrates this. There is no reason why the isotope test could not be performed in the first place on a certain number of riders. That is a fault of the current procedure not an inherent flaw in any anti-doping campaign.

2+3 are basically the same and ridiculous. The testers will always be needed unless they catch and suspend every cyclist there will always be tests to do. New doping techniques will be created and therefore new tests will be needed as well. Doping isn't like smallpox where you can eliminate it once and then not really worry about it anymore. Elimination if possible would be an ongoing process.

None of these even touch on why you couldn't reduce doping. Some doping will probably always occur. Strict measures could substantially limit it though. Even stuff like autologous blood transfusions that can't be tested for now could still be detected though other means if stricter rules where enforced.
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Old 08-08-06, 12:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Helmet Head
No anti-doping bureaucracy can fix the doping situation in cycling or in other sports for three big reasons:
  1. The cyclists and other athletes and their doctors are always going to stay ahead of the anti-doping testers. Even when the technology exists, the means do not. In the Tour, they only test the yellow jersey, the stage winner, and one random guy. And, do they test for synthetic testosterone, for example? No. Not unless the T/E ratio is higher than 4:1, which the cyclists and their doctors know how to stay below (for the most part, with one notable recent exception). Perhaps they limit how much testosterone they use, perhaps they boost their epitestosterone levels to "fix" the T/E ratio after boosting the numerator, but, either way, they know how to do it.
  2. The testers and their management are human. Their livelihood depends on the existence of doping in cycling and sports in general. It would be career suicide to create a system that actually eliminated doping. It's like cops and speeding. They want to catch the extreme abusers once in a while just to keep everyone in check. That keeps everyone in business.
  3. It's a mutually beneficial system. The cyclists dope, continuing to try to push the envelope. The testers keep testing, catching one once in a while. I mean, one guy in this year's Tour? Look how many of the leaders from last year are implicated in Operación Puerto, yet they all passed all their tests in last year's Tour and this years races (include Basso in the Giro and Ullrich in the Tour de Suisse) with no problems. How do you explain that? The effectivity of the testing is a joke in terms of actually making a dent in the elimination of doping. All they can do is keep it "in check", if you consider the programs that were outlined for Hamilton, Ullrich and others to be "in check".
For the above reasons, the system is at a basic steady state, again, much like speeding on freeways. There is pervasive cheating/speeding going on, some extreme cheating/speeding going on, and every now and then one of the extreme cheaters/speeders gets caught. But, for the most part, even most of the extreme cheaters/speeders gets away with it.

The difference between freeway speeding and doping in cycling is that on the freeway those who don't speed still can reach their destination. But a clean cyclist competing against a peloton full of the greatest cyclists in the world who have a doped-fueled edge has no chance, no matter how good he is.

I see no way out of this mess. Do you?

Agree? Disagree?

The crux of the matter is some humans are driven to achieve maximal performance no matter the cost. Everything else hinges on this basic need. Doping will not stop because we are human.
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Old 08-08-06, 01:05 PM
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There's only one way to stop doping. Drastic punishments that really hurts all involved.
Ban for life for athletes. One year ban from all competitions to teams/countries on first offense, 5 year ban on second offense.
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Old 08-08-06, 01:56 PM
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Originally Posted by gpelpel
There's only one way to stop doping. Drastic punishments that really hurts all involved.
Ban for life for athletes. One year ban from all competitions to teams/countries on first offense, 5 year ban on second offense.

I don't think punishments should be that drastic, but they should be consistent and carried out with a minimum of fuss. All of the legal wrangling tarnishes the sport at least as much as doping does IMO.

There needs to be greater cooperation between teams and the governing bodies to allow regular testing, and teams should be held accountable if their riders test positive.
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Old 08-08-06, 02:00 PM
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Going after the athletes aint gonna work. For every one you ban there are 3 ready to take his place, willing to do "whatever it takes" to be a Pro bike racer.
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Old 08-09-06, 07:29 AM
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I'd like to see a surprise test were everyone in the peloton (finish or not) is tested and all the potential tests are run done some time with no warning that it would occur. It would be interesting to see the results of such a test to say the least.
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Old 08-09-06, 07:37 AM
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In Olympic sports, for example, tests are conducted during the training season as well, not just during the competitions. And the athletes are required to make themselves available for testing. Is this the case with pro cycling or other pro sports (not to say that Olympic athletes are not pros)?

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Old 08-09-06, 09:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Voodoo76
Going after the athletes aint gonna work. For every one you ban there are 3 ready to take his place, willing to do "whatever it takes" to be a Pro bike racer.
I believe there is a lot of truth in that. The whole system seems to be set up to reward the "whatever it takes (including cheating)" attitude. The sponsors want their guy to be first across the line (with his jersey zipped up!) for advertising. The riders want the money for the win/place (and, in the case of larger races, endorsements). The doctors and trainers have to support that. There's almost no disincentive to cheating, except possibly to the rider, but he's got to ride the race in order for it all to happen. Maybe punish the entire team, doctors and sponsors included, when a rider is found guilty of a doping violation? I dunno, but I do know that it sure smells pretty rotten the way it is now.
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Old 08-09-06, 09:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Helmet Head
. It's like cops and speeding. They want to catch the extreme abusers once in a while just to keep everyone in check. That keeps everyone in business.
There's actually a pretty easy way to stop speeding. Set speed limits at 85% of the speed that drivers would drive anyway without any speed limit. And then enforce above that for clear violations. That's the Highway Traffic Engineering principle for setting speed limits. Unfortunately we set speed limits artificially low for non traffic engineering, and then wonder why everyone speeds.
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Old 08-09-06, 01:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Juha
In Olympic sports, for example, tests are conducted during the training season as well, not just during the competitions. And the athletes are required to make themselves available for testing. Is this the case with pro cycling or other pro sports (not to say that Olympic athletes are not pros)?
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Yes, it is. That's how Jan Ullrich got busted a few years back for amphetimines - there was a random off-season drug test the morning after he had been up late clubbing. Still had some Ex in his blood.
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Old 08-10-06, 05:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Helmet Head
No anti-doping bureaucracy can fix the doping situation in cycling or in other sports for three big reasons:
  1. The cyclists and other athletes and their doctors are always going to stay ahead of the anti-doping testers. Even when the technology exists, the means do not. In the Tour, they only test the yellow jersey, the stage winner, and one random guy. And, do they test for synthetic testosterone, for example? No. Not unless the T/E ratio is higher than 4:1, which the cyclists and their doctors know how to stay below (for the most part, with one notable recent exception). Perhaps they limit how much testosterone they use, perhaps they boost their epitestosterone levels to "fix" the T/E ratio after boosting the numerator, but, either way, they know how to do it.
  2. The testers and their management are human. Their livelihood depends on the existence of doping in cycling and sports in general. It would be career suicide to create a system that actually eliminated doping. It's like cops and speeding. They want to catch the extreme abusers once in a while just to keep everyone in check. That keeps everyone in business.
  3. It's a mutually beneficial system. The cyclists dope, continuing to try to push the envelope. The testers keep testing, catching one once in a while. I mean, one guy in this year's Tour? Look how many of the leaders from last year are implicated in Operación Puerto, yet they all passed all their tests in last year's Tour and this years races (include Basso in the Giro and Ullrich in the Tour de Suisse) with no problems. How do you explain that? The effectivity of the testing is a joke in terms of actually making a dent in the elimination of doping. All they can do is keep it "in check", if you consider the programs that were outlined for Hamilton, Ullrich and others to be "in check".
For the above reasons, the system is at a basic steady state, again, much like speeding on freeways. There is pervasive cheating/speeding going on, some extreme cheating/speeding going on, and every now and then one of the extreme cheaters/speeders gets caught. But, for the most part, even most of the extreme cheaters/speeders gets away with it.

The difference between freeway speeding and doping in cycling is that on the freeway those who don't speed still can reach their destination. But a clean cyclist competing against a peloton full of the greatest cyclists in the world who have a doped-fueled edge has no chance, no matter how good he is.

I see no way out of this mess. Do you?

Agree? Disagree?

Totally agree. Great post.
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Old 08-10-06, 07:09 AM
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That's a pretty cynical point of view. What it may not take into account is that some in the anti-doping and testing camp are zelots, idealists.

IMO it's more escalation of technology. If you want to use the speeding analogy, Radar led to Radar Detectors led to changes in Frequency on radar led to multi channel detectors led to laser led to laser detectors, ect ect.

Oh, and for the cynics there are $$$ to be made.
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Old 08-10-06, 07:31 AM
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Originally Posted by DogBoy
I'd like to see a surprise test were everyone in the peloton (finish or not) is tested and all the potential tests are run done some time with no warning that it would occur. It would be interesting to see the results of such a test to say the least.
Now THAT would be interesting.
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Old 08-10-06, 08:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Voodoo76
That's a pretty cynical point of view. What it may not take into account is that some in the anti-doping and testing camp are zelots, idealists.

It doesn't even make sense from a cynical standpoint. There is no way for the testers to test themselves out of a job. More tests means more testers and less doping rather then less doping and therefore less testers.
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Old 08-10-06, 08:45 AM
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Here is evidence just posted today on cyclingnews.com for what I was trying to say with items 2 and 3 in the OP:


UCI doesn't want to give blood to Spanish

In the latest twist in Operacion Puerto, the UCI has decided not to hand over rider blood samples for DNA testing to Spanish authorities in charge of the investigation. In May, the Spanish Guardia Civil seized hundreds of bags of blood in raids on apartments belonging to former cycling doctor Eufemiano Fuentes and the blood transfusion clinic of José Merino Batres. The blood was thought to be intended for reinfusing into athletes as an illegal means of performance enhancement. Although the investigators pieced together codenames to allegedly identify some of Dr Fuentes' cyclist patients, they are seeking firmer evidence in the form of DNA matches to the confiscated blood.

"The blood of the riders in our possession from doping controls is used for research purposes," UCI president Pat McQuaid was quoted by AP as saying. "To give it for DNA comparisons is against our rules."

Top cyclists Jan Ullrich and Ivan Basso, among others, were implicated in the affair by means of codenames. They were prevented from riding the Tour de France as a result, but have always maintained their innocence, even thought Ullrich was also fired from T-Mobile. Neither have supplied DNA samples to the Spanish.

http://www.cyclingnews.com/news.php?...g06/aug10news2

So, here's the situation. The Spanish have all this blood they get from Fuentes. They have an idea about some of the blood, and some of the blood is totally unidentified. So they want to do DNA matching. But the UCI won't help. Why? Call me cynical, but I think it's because it would bust so many cyclists it would be too devastating to UCI. They have an interest in making it seem like there are only a few dopers, and they're doing a reasonable job in catching them. They have no interest in revealing that doping is as widespread in cycling as it is. That's why testing can't and won't even reduce doping: it's against the interest of those in charge of the testing to really solve the problem.
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Old 08-10-06, 09:05 AM
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It's in no way against there interest to actually solve the problem... It may be against their interest to institute those measures that will substantially reduce doping. A clean peloton would provided as much money as the dirty one does. There are plenty of ways to achieve a much cleaner peloton without suspended the majority of it. Gradually increasing the number of tests and the team punishments for failing them could probably acheive this.

Unlike baseball where less doping = less homeruns = less fans = less money... In cycling substantially less doping = lowered abilities of riders to go hard day after day = more breaks suceeding/more bonking/more high level position changes/better strategy = more strategem/excitement = better tours for the spectators = more money.
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Old 08-10-06, 10:44 AM
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That headline is badly worded. The UCI CAN'T give away a riders blood to anyone who asks. You all are such hypocrites. When Lance's B samples get tested (never having left the lab) you're all about the injustice of it all, but when the UCI won't hand over blood to anyone who asks for it you see a conspiracy. What a joke.
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Old 08-10-06, 11:26 AM
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Originally Posted by sweetjt
That headline is badly worded. The UCI CAN'T give away a riders blood to anyone who asks. You all are such hypocrites. When Lance's B samples get tested (never having left the lab) you're all about the injustice of it all, but when the UCI won't hand over blood to anyone who asks for it you see a conspiracy. What a joke.
I think if they are not supposed to hand over Jan's blood they shouldnt.
I think if they are not supposed to leak A sample results they shouldnt. Floyd
I think if they are not supposed to leak riders codes and 1999 urine samples tested in 2005 they shouldnt. Lance.

There's just a teeny weeny inconsistency in their actions that is screaming volumes just now.
You cant have it both ways.
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Old 08-10-06, 12:17 PM
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Originally Posted by DogBoy
I'd like to see a surprise test were everyone in the peloton (finish or not) is tested and all the potential tests are run done some time with no warning that it would occur. It would be interesting to see the results of such a test to say the least.
Well we can rule out a couple of stages. There is no way to do this on most of the mountian top finishes. Even on nice flat stages that finish in 'good' places it is a major problem. Remember the riders who dope are willing to cheat to beat the test. This means each rider has to be 'observed' when giving the sample. Then the chain of custody has to be established. Upping the numbers to 10 riders a stage is doable. The whole peleton? Perhaps, but it will mean the last rider out is hours later than the first, that is a significant disadvantage for the next stage. Also it is pretty common for a rider to have trouble producing a sample (They are often dehydrated). For a few riders it is possible to provide a place to sit and hydrate enough to pee that is at least decent. For the whole peleton this would be a major problem, the kind that results in riders who are clean and resent doping decide is worse that the drug problems.
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Old 08-10-06, 12:25 PM
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Originally Posted by sweetjt
That headline is badly worded. The UCI CAN'T give away a riders blood to anyone who asks.
On what basis are you saying that the UCI CAN't give away a riders blood? In order to ride in the pro peloton, a rider must agree to sign away all his rights to his samples. The UCI can show up at any time to take a sample, and can do with it anything they want. By giving the samples to the Spanish authorities, all they would be violating is their own made up "rules". This is clearly a political decision. They've decided it would not be good for cycling to blow this thing any wider right now that it already is. Cheaters win again.

You all are such hypocrites.
huh?

When Lance's B samples get tested (never having left the lab) you're all about the injustice of it all,
I'm not sure who you're referring to, but it certainly wasn't me! I wouldn't bet against the possibility that Lance's blood is some of the Fuentes containers! I would love to see the whole thing blown wide open.

but when the UCI won't hand over blood to anyone who asks for it you see a conspiracy. What a joke.
Whatever you're talking about is the only joke I can see.
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Old 08-10-06, 12:29 PM
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Originally Posted by hombredebicycle
I think if they are not supposed to hand over Jan's blood they shouldnt.
I think if they are not supposed to leak A sample results they shouldnt. Floyd
I think if they are not supposed to leak riders codes and 1999 urine samples tested in 2005 they shouldnt. Lance.

There's just a teeny weeny inconsistency in their actions that is screaming volumes just now.
You cant have it both ways.
There is one huge difference between these. If the blood is handed over it is handed over by the organization. At worst the urine samples being identified was due to an unofficial leak, at best it was good peicing of public facts togeather by l'equipe. Floyds results were leaked, again the actions of an individual.

BTW does anyone have a timeline? Did Floyd miss races before the 'leak'? If so it puts a different light on things. Instead of a 'proactive' leak the leak would be more the result of reporters starting to ask questions.
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Old 08-10-06, 12:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Helmet Head
I'm not sure who you're referring to, but it certainly wasn't me! I wouldn't bet against the possibility that Lance's blood is some of the Fuentes containers! I would love to see the whole thing blown wide open.

I would be happy to bet against the possibility of any of the blood belonging to Lance. This is not a comment on if he did or did not blood (or other) dope. It is just that he was so anal retentive in everything he did cycling wise that I can not conceive that he would have left anything behind when his cycling days were over. I think it is long odds against him being associated with Fuentes to start with. (That is just Fueltes, not all doctors whose names start with 'F'). But even longer odds that there would be anything there now.
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Old 08-10-06, 12:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Keith99
Originally Posted by DogBoy
I'd like to see a surprise test were everyone in the peloton (finish or not) is tested and all the potential tests are run done some time with no warning that it would occur. It would be interesting to see the results of such a test to say the least.
Well we can rule out a couple of stages. There is no way to do this on most of the mountian top finishes. Even on nice flat stages that finish in 'good' places it is a major problem. Remember the riders who dope are willing to cheat to beat the test. This means each rider has to be 'observed' when giving the sample. Then the chain of custody has to be established. Upping the numbers to 10 riders a stage is doable. The whole peleton? Perhaps, but it will mean the last rider out is hours later than the first, that is a significant disadvantage for the next stage. Also it is pretty common for a rider to have trouble producing a sample (They are often dehydrated). For a few riders it is possible to provide a place to sit and hydrate enough to pee that is at least decent. For the whole peleton this would be a major problem, the kind that results in riders who are clean and resent doping decide is worse that the drug problems.
It would be a big operation, but I don't see why it couldn't be done.
It could be on an early climb in a mountain stage, for example. All stages go through big open areas sooner or later. Line 'em up in 18 lines of 10 riders each. In each line there are stations to: drink water, be searched (make sure no one is hiding dope or a "clean" sample of urine to put in a cup), give blood, produce a hair sample, DNA swab in the mouth, pee in a cup. Next!

One hour later they're off again, in the same order and same time gaps with which they came in to the surprise test area. It would be a drag for TV, but something like this might actually make a difference.
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Old 08-10-06, 12:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Keith99
I would be happy to bet against the possibility of any of the blood belonging to Lance. This is not a comment on if he did or did not blood (or other) dope. It is just that he was so anal retentive in everything he did cycling wise that I can not conceive that he would have left anything behind when his cycling days were over. I think it is long odds against him being associated with Fuentes to start with. (That is just Fueltes, not all doctors whose names start with 'F'). But even longer odds that there would be anything there now.
Yeah, you're probably right.
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