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Discussion Starter #1
A modest proposal for cleaning up cycling's drug image:

First, when a rider first goes pro, the governing bodies should test and publish the riders hemocrit levels to establish a personalized, natural baseline.

Second, all tests results -- both in and out of season -- should be made fully public. Thus sudden hemocrit count spikes would be obvious to all, and the court of public opinion would do the rest. Indeed, nobody really cares if someone wins 7 Tours with an average hemo count of 48 (even if 48 is a technically legal count) when his pre-success numbers were only about 35.

For instance, contrast Tom Bonen and Tyler Hamilton.

The current WC usually clocks 35 on his hemo counts -- quite normal. He has revealed his numbers and, thereby, has established his credibility as a natural talent. If suddenly his counts jumped to 48 and he started winning three-week stage races, everbody would know that he had turned to dope. Tom won't turn to doping, he won't boost his hemo count toward 50, and he won't win miraculously transform himself overnight into a one-day rider to stages races. But, with the current system he could, and nobody but the UCI would know what had happened though with clever doping they couldn't catch him.

In contrast, Velonew's latest article on the Hamilton affiar reports that Tyler's pre-bust hemo counts had started to repreatedly border 50. The authorities warned him but his count remained high, and he was busted under the modern blood-doping test. Whether the test used to bust him is prefectly valid or not is irrelevant. The point is that Tyler was clocking ungodly hemo numbers. Under my proposal, Tyler's hemo-counts over the entire span of his career would be open to public scrutiny and we would have a much better idea whether he is a doper or a victim of a false positive.

* * * *

Indeed, the current lack of transparency reagarding rider's hemoctrit counts is what is fueling the cat-and-mouse doping-control game. Few persons on the planet can naturally train themselves to a hemo count of 50, though with a decent "doctor," many can micro-dose EPO or other undetecable substances to zoom like a Ferrari to the magic UCI threshold of 50 (thereby staying just low enough to avoid sudden heart failure but still supercharging the old cardio system). Instead of only busting riders proven to go over 50 or to boost closer to 50 unnaturally, just open the riders round-the-year, full-career test results. The public will recognize suspicious and unnatural numbers, hence beyond-a-reasonable-doubt testing to prove that a sudden spike from 34 to 49 was unnatural is not needed (just as it is not possible -- some cheats will always find away to beat controls and boost counts to 48 or 49).

Finally, one wonders just how close Lance's hemo counts were to 50 during his post-cancer domination. I would wager that, before cancer, his count was about 35 and hence he could not compete with the Tour leaders though could score one-day successes. But, after-cancer, I bet his typical hemo count mysteriously improved to the high 40s. Thus, combined with cancer-related weight loss and new vigour in the blood . . . . the magic 7. In any case, given that Lance ludicrously wrapped himself in the flag by claiming that the retro-testing of his 1999 samples were an anti-American French conspiracy (yeah, right, since when could the French successfully orchestrate anything other than the Tour itself?), I severely doubt he'll ever be forth coming with his pre- and post- cancer hemo-count averages, (though surely an innocent man would.)

* * * *

The bottom line is that, in the sports-entertainment industry, the court of public opinion makes the final adjudications, and the burden of proof falls on the athlete to prove he is clean when legitimate suspicions arise. This is why the cycling needs to open the rider's testing results to the public -- to pro-actively establish the integrity of the sport. It's the only way.
 

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Death Bredon said:
The current WC usually clocks 35 on his hemo counts -- quite normal. He has revealed his numbers and, thereby, has established his credibility as a natural talent

Ok, so only people who have hemocrits of 35 aren't doping? My hemocrit is 48, so what about me then? If I was dehydrated, my hemocrit could easily hit 50, easily.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
35 is normal and 48 is a possible natural count. Though, the UCI would ban you if you even if you had a natural 50 -- they claim that can only be acheived by doping. I don't know the science, but logic has nothing to to do with specific numbers.

Rather, my point is that, if you are 35 most of life and racing career, then suddenly spike to 48, you have a Barry Bonds/Mark McGuire situation. Everyone knows something is not right.

But, if you start with a natural base-line of 48 and keep it there, then fine.

That is why I propose that neo-pros be tested for an early base-line and that every test be made public thereafter. Both in season and out of season. That way, if you are 35 on March 1 but 48 at the start of Milan-SanRemo, then you are exposed. Or, if start the Vuelta with a 35 but pop 48 when you hit the make-or-break mountain stages, again you are exposed. Sudden spikes like that ain't natural.

Sure, an athele is entitle to start his or her career at 35 and gradually train it up, but not go 35 for 5 years of pro racing than jump up to 48 in the next season.
 

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Death Bredon said:
35 is normal and 48 is a possible natural count. Though, the UCI would ban you if you even if you had a natural 50 -- they claim that can only be acheived by doping. I don't know the science, but logic has nothing to to do with specific numbers.

Rather, my point is that, if you are 35 most of life and racing career, then suddenly spike to 48, you have a Barry Bonds/Mark McGuire situation. Everyone knows something is not right.

But, if you start with a natural base-line of 48 and keep it there, then fine.

That is why I propose that neo-pros be tested for an early base-line and that every test be made public thereafter. Both in season and out of season. That way, if you are 35 on March 1 but 48 at the start of Milan-SanRemo, then you are exposed. Or, if start the Vuelta with a 35 but pop 48 when you hit the make-or-break mountain stages, again you are exposed. Sudden spikes like that ain't natural.

Sure, an athele is entitle to start his or her career at 35 and gradually train it up, but not go 35 for 5 years of pro racing than jump up to 48 in the next season.
Ok, what about Jonathan Vaughters, natural well documented hemocrit of 54? Don't think it can't happen people.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
So what?

My point is the hemo counts need to be made public throughout a rider's career both in and out of season and reamain relatively constant or at least absent of sudden spikes.

Right now, all the UCI tells us is that all riders are under 50 (unless they get an exception). But, this limited info allows riders to play a lot of games that the light of day would put a stop to. In short, the UCI is now harboring dopers, not exposing them.
 

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Death Bredon said:
So what?

My point is the hemo counts need to be made public throughout a rider's career both in and out of season and reamain relatively constant or at least absent of sudden spikes.

Right now, all the UCI tells us is that all riders are under 50 (unless they get an exception). But, this limited info allows riders to play a lot of games that the light of day would put a stop to. In short, the UCI is now harboring dopers, not exposing them.

There are tons of ways to incrase you hemocrit, living at Alt. for example, if someone came from sea level up to 6K above, their hemocrit would rise. There's a reason they have a hemocrit of 50 as the limit, it's not becuase they are harboring dopers, if that were true, they wouldn't have staked up TH on a cross.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Look, if a guy trains at altitude in the southern hemisphere all winter (or their summer) and he raises his hemo count, the out of season testing would show this. But, he'd have a good defense in the court of public opinion -- "I trained at Altitude all winter!"

And, of course the UCI is not intentionally harbouring dopers, but by keeping the hemo count tests secret, it has that effect. The guy in the Netherlands (negative altitude) who mysteriously raises his count from 35 to 49 in one winter is allowed to race (he is under 50) and his huge, sudden hemo-count spike increase is held confidential by UCI!!

I think I have made my point as clearly as I can.
 

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Death Bredon said:
Look, if a guy trains at altitude in the southern hemisphere all winter (or their summer) and he raises his hemo count, the out of season testing would show this. But, he'd have a good defense in the court of public opinion -- "I trained at Altitude all winter!"

And, of course the UCI is not intentionally harbouring dopers, but by keeping the hemo count tests secret, it has that effect. The guy in the Netherlands (negative altitude) who mysteriously raises his count from 35 to 49 in one winter is allowed to race (he is under 50) and his huge, sudden hemo-count spike increase is held confidential by UCI!!

I think I have made my point as clearly as I can.
It's held confidential by the UCI becuase you have no biz knowing everything about a riders life, medical things are always confidential in any sport. Heck, we can't even get a medical record for a president, unless they choose to disclose it.
 

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I work in a Point of Care blood testing company....

..... and the range of Hematocrit that our device reports is 10-75%. This is a hospital device, not a device for testing athletes for doping. I realize that hospitals need some safety room, but.... 75%.

We have test donors (multiple) in our facility that we use for testing naturally high HCT values. We have guys here, and I can assure you that they arent doping - or even training for that matter, whose HCT hits 58% sometimes, varying as much as 4-5% from day to day, depending on hydration levels.

Every time I give blood for testing, I have my HCT tested. I'm no racer, but my level varies from 41-43% in the winter, and 43-47% in the summer. Now, that isn't even blood that is taken after several hours in the saddle. I imagine that after a tough ride my HCT could easily crack 50%.

I will always maintain that HCT is a good marker, but not the basis for a suspension, as it varies WAY too much. Granted, large variations are likely due to some sort of manipulation. Let's face it, red blood cells move oxygen. People who are elite endurance athletes, are going to be predisposed to high HCT levels.

I sincerely doubt that any top level pro cyclist has a HCT of 35%. Unless you can show me a document that shows this, I won't believe it.
 

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Just because you test someone when they turn pro doesn't mean they aren't using before they turn pro. Getting a ligit "base" is next to impossible. If this system were put into place, people would dope before they turn pro so that the HCT count will be artificially inflated to allow them to dope.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Yep, Red Sox. That is a possible loop hole. But I wonder if top teams or however pays the doping doctors like Ferrari would be willing to spend the moeny dosing amatuers in hopes that they might make it as a pros.

I don't know, butmy suspicion is that a rider has to show promise of being more than a domestique before he is approached, or he approaches, someone about complicated EPO micro-dosing, etc.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Sure FTF, medical records are confidential.

But, UCI could condition pro-licensing upon waiver. No one has a right to be a pro rider and dope and dupe the public.

In the present era of widespread doping, if you win big races and I don't know what your hemocrit counts have been and are now, I am just not going to credit you much.

That's why Boonen is a legit star to me, and I couldn't care less about Armstrong's "acheivements."

Were cycling to go public, then dopers would stop for fear of exposure, and the sport would regain credibility -- which right now hovers just above the level of "professional wrestling."
 

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Red Sox Junkie said:
Just because you test someone when they turn pro doesn't mean they aren't using before they turn pro. Getting a ligit "base" is next to impossible. If this system were put into place, people would dope before they turn pro so that the HCT count will be artificially inflated to allow them to dope.
There have been a number of busts in the amateur ranks the last few years too and there is quite a bit of evidence that age of first use is no different from the steroid scene in US jr high schools. For Cunego to get his exemption he had to not only produce historical records for himself but also his relatives. Several of them were over 50% as well (I think father and grandfather both were). I believe his certificate allows him to be up to 52% so it's not a blank check either.

35% may be [low] normal for a woman but in most labs would be below normal for a male even with increased plasma volume from training. The Medicare cutoff for EPO in dialysis patients was 33% last I saw.

Lance was reported to be in the 42-43 range in post 1999 pre tour tests from what I recall, but he may well have been 37 before starting EPO for other than medical reasons..
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Those numbers for Lance don't sound suspicious at all. I think he ought to release any records that show has stayed between 37-43 during his whole career, (assuming he did) -- it could go along way toward quelling doping claims.
 

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Why do you care?

Do you really feel the sport needs to establish integrity? To whom? If every rider had a low and consistent Hematocrit level, would that mean the sport had integrity?

Secondly -
Your banter about lance is outdated and smells of someone that lives their life as a victim.
 

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Trek_envy said:
..... and the range of Hematocrit that our device reports is 10-75%. This is a hospital device, not a device for testing athletes for doping. I realize that hospitals need some safety room, but.... 75%.

We have test donors (multiple) in our facility that we use for testing naturally high HCT values. We have guys here, and I can assure you that they arent doping - or even training for that matter, whose HCT hits 58% sometimes, varying as much as 4-5% from day to day, depending on hydration levels.

Every time I give blood for testing, I have my HCT tested. I'm no racer, but my level varies from 41-43% in the winter, and 43-47% in the summer. Now, that isn't even blood that is taken after several hours in the saddle. I imagine that after a tough ride my HCT could easily crack 50%.

I will always maintain that HCT is a good marker, but not the basis for a suspension, as it varies WAY too much. Granted, large variations are likely due to some sort of manipulation. Let's face it, red blood cells move oxygen. People who are elite endurance athletes, are going to be predisposed to high HCT levels.

I sincerely doubt that any top level pro cyclist has a HCT of 35%. Unless you can show me a document that shows this, I won't believe it.
Thanks for pointing out to the two MD's that were debating this that they are dicussing hematocrit levels, and not hemocrit levels...
Do a little research before you discuss things next time!
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Well niterider,

I care because I love cycling, good cyclisst, and despise cheaters! When I cheer for a cycling star, I would like to have reasonable assurances that his perfomance is real athletics, not syringe induced.

Also, if the sport is clean and has integrity, I believe it will grow in US popularity -- spread the joy, I say.

Finally, thanks for the pyscho-analysis on the Lance banter!!
 

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Death Bredon said:
Well niterider,

I care because I love cycling, good cyclisst, and despise cheaters! When I cheer for a cycling star, I would like to have reasonable assurances that his perfomance is real athletics, not syringe induced.

Also, if the sport is clean and has integrity, I believe it will grow in US popularity -- spread the joy, I say.

Finally, thanks for the pyscho-analysis on the Lance banter!!
Yep, football/baseball/basketball athletes are all clean (snicker). While coke is the drug of choice in that arena, the use has done little to quell the popularity of those sports...
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Actually, Mr. Scary, the two most popular spectator sports in North America are autoracing and horse racing. Only the latter seems to have a drugs problem. (Those damn smack-addicted horses can't seem to kick!)

And, Baseball and Basketball respectively have declined in popularity. As for Football, the NFL did get pretty serious with 'roid testing in the 80s with the result that vitamin-S phonies like Brain Bosworth had to stop dosing and quickly bounced right out of the league. I think the NFL shows that testing can make some headway.

Don't doubt it -- Lance (and thereby American cycling popularity) took a serious hit over his 1999 positives. And no matter how many true-believer defenders he has, you won't see Lance on many adverts anymore. Likewise, the momentum level that his 7 in a row could have created but for the scandal is lost forever.
 

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"When I cheer for a cycling star, I would like to have reasonable assurances that his perfomance is real athletics, not syringe induced."

I think it is important to consider that breadth of variables that go into winning a cycling event. Training, eating, adaptation to training, recovery, genetics, mental toughness, strategy and let's not forget luck play a role in ultimately determining if you win or lose. To selectively pick out dope and hold it up as THE determining factor is quite frankly a losers perspective.

If it was possible to remove the dope element from cycling while holding all other elements the same - I think you'd see the same people winning - They win because they trained hard, adapted to the training better, had better strategy, better genetics and often times just got lucky.

I'm sorry if this is the first time your hearing this but, you can't syringe yourself a win. You'll have to earn it
 
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