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Witches of Salem

buspassmanbuspassman Posts: 35
edited September 2007 in Pro race
Is it just me, or is cycling now beginning to resemble Salem? For those who don't know, this was a community in Massuchetts in the 17th century, where a scare swept the community concerning the presence of witches. By the end of the scare, most of the women had been accused of witchcraft, many of them being burned at the stake, or worse, merely because someone had pointed the finger at them. The whole thing was, of course, a load of nonsense. The playwright Arthur Miller wrote a play in the 1950's, ostensibly about witchcraft, but in reality a thinly veiled attack on the McCarthyite witchhunts taking place in the US at that time, again with a lot of people becomiing social outcasts merely on suspicion of communist sympathies.

This all seems to me to be a reflection of the way things are now in cycling. Mere suspicion is now enough, it seems, to brand a rider as a doper, the latest example seemingly being Alejandro Valverede, barred from the Worlds purely on suspicion. We have truly seen the rules of natural justice turned upside down - "We don't know if you're guilty or not, but to be on the safe side we'll' assume you are and you can start your sentence right away". The other side of this attitude is that which caught Jonathan Vaughters out at the Tour a few years back - remember the bee sting which closed his eye up, leaving him unable to start that day's stage unless he took treatment, which would have sorted the problem in minutes? The problem for him was of course that had he taken the treatment he would have been tested and branded a doper because the treatment was also a mild stimulatant and thus on the banned list. Whatever happened to common sense?

What happened to the principle of innocent until proven guilty? What happens say, in Valverde's case, if subsequent investigations prove him innocent? I can see lawyers rubbing their hands in anticipation of the law suits that would be soon flying around, not least on Human Rights grounds. Can there be any one of us who, falsely accused, punished, and then found innocent, would not want to seek redress for the losses we suffered whilst being falsely punished?

I don't for one minute seek to deny that doping, perhaps a lot of doping, has been going on. But right now it seems to me that there is a lot of hypocrisy flying around. Use EPO to boost your red blood cell count and you're a verminous cheat who deserves to be banned for life. Sleep every night in a hyperbaric tent (to simulate the effects of altitude) to boost your red blood cell count - why, welcome, you're a shining example of a clean rider and welcome to ride whenever and wherever you like. I fail to see any moral difference between these two cases from the point of view of steps being taken to increase a rider's chances of winning, with the only practical difference being on the likely health effects. Sounds to me (although I don't for one minute endorse this view) precisely the argument used by those advocating legalising doping under strict medical supervision.

One final point, concerning the "ban them for life" brigade. Dopers do so in order to go faster and give them a greater chance of winning races. They might win money and glory unfairly, but they don't actually put anyone else in danger. Drivers exceed the speed limit to get somewhere quicker, or because it gives them a thrill. The fact that it puts the lives of others and themselves in danger seems to be a risk they find it worth taking. How many of those calling for life bans exceed the limit when driving, and how many would gracefully accept a life ban from driving if caught?

Posts

  • NoodleyNoodley Posts: 1,725
    Hello buspassman and welcome to the forum. :D

    "Burn the witch" :lol:
  • ivancarlosivancarlos Posts: 1,034
    If you look out your window you'll see a fiery cross burning in your lawn :wink:
    I have pain!
  • KléberKléber Posts: 6,842
    A couple of quick points.

    Go in an nitrogen tent and you can't get your haematocrit up that much. Take EPO and it can turn to syrup.

    Also this isn't a witch hunt. Witchcraft is a myth but doping is real, honest guys are losing their living because they're getting beaten by cheats.
  • DaveyLDaveyL Posts: 5,167
    The witches in Salem could prove they weren't witches by being ducked underwater - if they drowned, they weren't witches. Fortunately for the pro cyclists implicated in Puerto, it's a lot less life-threatening - they can give a sample of DNA to clear themselves. To paraphrase David Walsh, "if I was innocent and my name came up, I would break the 100 metres record to give a DNA sample." (assuming a clean athlete can break the 100 m record...)
    Le Blaireau (1)
  • NoodleyNoodley Posts: 1,725
    The more I read from Walsh the more I think he has a point. Most of it supposition and conjecture, but most of it probably true.
  • cougiecougie Posts: 22,512
    Witches didnt exist. Dopers certainly did (or still do) and are very numerous by their own admission.

    I dont think we should burn them at the stake, but we should do all we can to root them out.

    And Walsh does make a v convincing argument = have you heard the interview on competitor radio ?
  • iainf72iainf72 Posts: 15,784
    Noodley wrote:
    The more I read from Walsh the more I think he has a point. Most of it supposition and conjecture, but most of it probably true.

    He's good, but he's also good at completely skipping over things which don't support his argument.

    I'll have a look at his book and find an example later.

    God, what a saddo I am.
    Fckin' Quintana … that creep can roll, man.
  • DaveyLDaveyL Posts: 5,167
    He may skip over stuff, and I certainly don't agree with everything he says, but that doesn't mean that everything he says is wrong. I agree with him on this one. If you are implicated in Puerto, there is a *very* quick and *very* simple way to prove you are innocent...
    Le Blaireau (1)
  • PeakraiderPeakraider Posts: 143
    The witches weren't making millions of dollars a year by practising their witchcraft, either.

    As for this idea that EPO etc doesn't affect others. A. It deprives the clean rider of a chance to fulfill his potential. B. As Walsh points out, there are victims of "passive doping" -- clean riders who have to ride well past their limits to keep up and so suffer in doing so.
    C. Many riders are victims of their coaches and soigneurs.

    If Valverde is clean, he knows what he can do.
  • drenkromdrenkrom Posts: 1,062
    The comments on forums can be pretty harsh, but never forget:

    yhst-34640480252896_1963_2113275
  • iainf72iainf72 Posts: 15,784
    DaveyL wrote:
    He may skip over stuff, and I certainly don't agree with everything he says, but that doesn't mean that everything he says is wrong. I agree with him on this one. If you are implicated in Puerto, there is a *very* quick and *very* simple way to prove you are innocent...

    Sure, not saying everything he says is wrong.

    Does that mean you'd be happy clearing Bertie Contador of involvment because there are no blood bags?

    And what about experts who say that DNA testing against bags of blood may not tell you who's blood it is because red blood cells carry no DNA (or something like that) If there was a bag of blood marked iainf72, there was mention of iainf72 in Puerto docs but the DNA test proved "inconclusive", would you clear him? :P
    Fckin' Quintana … that creep can roll, man.
  • DaveyLDaveyL Posts: 5,167
    Questions, questions... :D

    As far as I can am aware, the blood can be tested for DNA - it's blood in the bags, not just red blood cells - right?

    I wouldn't be happy clearing AC or any others if there were no blood bags linked to them but they were implicated by other evidence (that evidence would need to be pursued to a satisfactory ending), but if I was in their position, and was innocent, I'd do whatever was asked of me to help put me in the clear, and Bertie has not exactly been throwing his DNA about at anyone who'll take it, has he?

    How would a DNA test prove inconclusive? It would either match or it wouldn't, is my understanding.
    Le Blaireau (1)
  • DaveyLDaveyL Posts: 5,167
    After a quick bit of reading, it appears that red blood cells eject their cellular machinery (nucleus) upon reaching maturity. From what I can gather, their lifespan is 4 months, and mature cells last about 3 months, so I am guessing they have nucleii, and therefore DNA, for about the first month of their lifespan. Maybe there is enough of a population and age distribution for their to be DNA in there, PCR is very sensitive.

    Otherwise to satisfy my scientific curiosity I'd like to be directed to these experts who say it isn't possible!
    Le Blaireau (1)
  • iainf72iainf72 Posts: 15,784
    DaveyL wrote:
    Otherwise to satisfy my scientific curiosity I'd like to be directed to these experts who say it isn't possible!

    I'll try find you a reference. I think they said there would probably be enough contamintion in reality to allow checking.
    Fckin' Quintana … that creep can roll, man.
  • iainf72 wrote:

    Does that mean you'd be happy clearing Bertie Contador of involvment because there are no blood bags?

    And what about experts who say that DNA testing against bags of blood may not tell you who's blood it is because red blood cells carry no DNA (or something like that) If there was a bag of blood marked iainf72, there was mention of iainf72 in Puerto docs but the DNA test proved "inconclusive", would you clear him? :P

    Hi Iain,
    Never have heard the story about an expert who claims that blood has no DNA in it. I don't think that is right at all. Do you have any citation for that or any idea why it could be true? To check DNA you take a blood sample and compare the results with the blood bag that you suspect has matching blood. Its not that complicated.

    However, it is true that if its not blood, but red blood cells only, that are in the bags, then there is no DNA in red blood cells. Although red blood cells have to be stored at way low temperatures, and are only good for a few weeks. My understanding is that the bags in the Fuentes office were blood, more easily stored and good for longer. Perhaps I am wrong. So a DNA test could be performed. Maybe you know more about whether the blood bags were whole blood or red blood cells only. I thought they were blood. Therefore testable.
  • iainf72iainf72 Posts: 15,784
    However, it is true that if its not blood, but red blood cells only, that are in the bags, then there is no DNA in red blood cells. Although red blood cells have to be stored at way low temperatures, and are only good for a few weeks. My understanding is that the bags in the Fuentes office were blood, more easily stored and good for longer. Perhaps I am wrong. So a DNA test could be performed. Maybe you know more about whether the blood bags were whole blood or red blood cells only. I thought they were blood. Therefore testable.

    You may well be completely right. Obviously the Ullrich samples showed it is easy enough to test on.

    Let me do some digging and see if I turn up an article.
    Fckin' Quintana … that creep can roll, man.
  • KléberKléber Posts: 6,842
    Red blood cells have no DNA: "Erythrocytes in mammals are anucleate when mature, meaning that they lack a cell nucleus and thus have no DNA" (Wikipedia).

    When a rider gives his blood, the "doctor" puts the blood in tube and places it in a centrifuge and spins it. Red blood cells, being full of iron, get thrown to the outside by the centrifugal force. The doctor then drains out the plasma, white cells and other DNA-laden cells and keeps only the red blood cells which are then stored in the blood bags. Hence no DNA.

    But it could be that the separation isn't perfect, that some DNA still resides amongst the red cells. A forensic test could well reveal something.
  • And what about experts who say that DNA testing against bags of blood may not tell you who's blood it is because red blood cells carry no DNA (or something like that) If there was a bag of blood marked iainf72, there was mention of iainf72 in Puerto docs but the DNA test proved "inconclusive", would you clear him? :P

    If there were blood bags and evidence marked iainf72, I'd be asking for my money back dude. You were robbed! :D
  • DaveyLDaveyL Posts: 5,167
    The key is that *mature* red blood cells have no nucleus, and hence no DNA. I am pretty sure that in any population of red blood cells that have been extracted, there will be enough immature cells to allow DNA testing.

    As I say, I am prepared to be corrected and am waiting for a definitive reference (preferably peer-reviewed, unlike wikipedia :-D)
    Le Blaireau (1)
  • KléberKléber Posts: 6,842
    Indeed, it goes to the point David Walsh makes, that if you were clean yet having your name dragged through the mud, you'd dash to give your DNA to anyone, even if the move was unlikely to work, it show you're trying to clear your name.
  • DaveyLDaveyL Posts: 5,167
    Yes, quite a few hypotheticals have already cropped up on this thread and others, so here's another one, just for fun!

    Bradley Wiggins is relaxing at home when there's a knock at his door. It's some gentlemen from the UCI, and they say his name was mentioned in one of Fuentes's taped phone conversations. He is therefore a suspect in Operacion Puerto and they would like him to provide some DNA. Does Bradley:

    A) Pull out a Stanley knife and say "Left or right arm?"

    B) Say "No, you'll just have to take my word that I'm innocent."

    C) Refuse to give a sample of DNA as it would contravene his human rights.

    I know which one my money would be on...
    Le Blaireau (1)
  • KléberKléber Posts: 6,842
    If your reputation is going through the mud, you hold press conferences, distribute blood and hair samples to the assembled media, let them know anyone can test you anytime and fully condemn those who cheat.

    Or you could just say "I've never tested positive. Let's talk about this Sunday's Prix de la Friterie instead".

    I know what I'd do...
  • iainf72iainf72 Posts: 15,784
    DaveyL wrote:
    Yes, quite a few hypotheticals have already cropped up on this thread and others, so here's another one, just for fun!

    Bradley Wiggins is relaxing at home when there's a knock at his door. It's some gentlemen from the UCI, and they say his name was mentioned in one of Fuentes's taped phone conversations. He is therefore a suspect in Operacion Puerto and they would like him to provide some DNA. Does Bradley:

    That's quite a straight forward one.

    What if for 6 months he'd been facing a barrage of accusations without any evidence, just whispers and stuff. But he's clean. But these stories keep coming and coming and coming.

    Seeing as the UCI have his blood,how hard would it be to make sure some of it ended up in a blood bag somewhere, if you really had a beef?

    And yes, I know that is in the realms of the tinfoil hat brigade. :P
    Fckin' Quintana … that creep can roll, man.
  • LangerDanLangerDan Posts: 6,132
    iainf72 wrote:
    Seeing as the UCI have his blood,how hard would it be to make sure some of it ended up in a blood bag somewhere, if you really had a beef?

    And yes, I know that is in the realms of the tinfoil hat brigade. :P

    The quantity of your blood taken for doping tests and the quantity required for the UCI to fill bags and leave them in some shady doctor's fridge are probably very different. I think a rider would notice if the vampires were taking half-a-litre at a time. Anyone who won a few stages or led the GC for more than a couple of days would start looking a bit pale very quickly!
    'This week I 'ave been mostly been climbing like Basso - Shirley Basso.'
  • iainf72iainf72 Posts: 15,784
    LangerDan wrote:
    iainf72 wrote:
    The quantity of your blood taken for doping tests and the quantity required for the UCI to fill bags and leave them in some shady doctor's fridge are probably very different. I think a rider would notice if the vampires were taking half-a-litre at a time. Anyone who won a few stages or led the GC for more than a couple of days would start looking a bit pale very quickly!

    Come on man, think out of the box.

    Just have a bag of some random blood and then "introduce" your sample at the right time, hey presto.

    It happened to Jan Ullrich. 6 times.

    :P
    Fckin' Quintana … that creep can roll, man.
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