Thursday, July 26, 2007

In other cycling news: Saul Raisin and Jonathan Vaughters

Wherein I should do something about my bike gathering dust in the basement

Saul Raisin, subject of the book, Tour de Life From Coma to Competition

Saul Raisin's first race back
Saul Raisin competed in his first race since a near-fatal accident 15 months ago.

Raisin fell in a French stage race and slipped into a coma.

After slowly learning how to ride again, the Credit Agricole rider is back in the saddle in an amateur race.

"I did my first race last Saturday in Salt Lake City. From the bottom of the hill to the top. I didn't win, but I finished," Raisin said. "I was thinking more of how far I'd come. I actually got a little emotional."

interview with Dave Shields, who cowrote the Saul Raisin book:
<Saul is doing great. He's training constantly and getting stronger. He hit the wall in the Porcupine Hill Climb and came in a couple of minutes down, but the good news is that his parents got to watch the entire race from a car and were much more comfortable with his racing after the event than they had been before. He rode well. When you consider that none of the doctors expected Saul to survive such a short time ago his performance at the Porcupine is nothing short of remarkable.


Jonathan Vaughters, former U.S. Postal rider and now the general manager of the U.S.-based Slipstream team is sitting in with the Velonews TdF coverage and answering questions. Slipstream's anti-doping system reminds me of what Dr. Don Catlin described in the July 2005, Outside Magazine issue:
He calls his idea the Volunteer Program. It's driven by the concept of using science, testing, and free-will participation to prove that athletes who sign up are clean, based on thorough biological profiles of their bodies. Catlin would use these profiles to create a set of "biomarkers" that show what is and isn't normal for each athlete. Armed with these indicators, he would institute ongoing, voluntary checkups for any athlete who chooses to participate. In return for entering the Volunteer Program, athletes would receive recognition as members. The public, press, sponsors, and governing bodies would be assured that members of the program were not doping.

Slipstream is working with the Agency For Cycling Ethics whose COO, Paul Scott, worked with Catlin at UCLA. In an interesting find, Scott may be working with Floyd Landis. From the Boulder Report, April 2007:
Scott declined to be interviewed on the record for this story, but it speaks volumes that he is willing to be associated with the Landis team. In his only public comments on the case, in a press release, Scott said he’s never experienced anything like the LNDD incident and blasted the lab’s and USADA’s conduct, saying, “Good science does not fear being an open book. Any science that is not neutral and objective is not science at all.” If he testifies at trial (likely, according to Michael Henson), Scott may well be set against his former boss at the UCLA lab, Dr. Don Catlin, who not only helped invent the Carbon Isotope Ratio test at issue, but also developed the original idea of the “volunteer model,” which provides the blueprint for ACE’s program. Catlin, who left the UCLA lab earlier this year, may be called as a witness for USADA.

1) Who are you signing for next year?
Vaughters: We can't legally announce the roster (per UCI rules) until September 1st unless we have permission from the other teams to announce that their riders have signed with us. We'll announce a few key names on Sunday in Paris, but you'll have to wait for the rest.
The other question folks have been asking is how you rate Slipstream's chances for a wildcard invitation to next year's Tour.

Vaughters: Well, as for wildcard possibilities, I think we'll get it, for a lot of reasons. Of course, it's not certain... I guess that's why they call it a 'wildcard.'

JV, several readers have written in to ask what impact the current scandals have had on your hunt for a major title sponsor.
Vaughters: Frankly, quite a bit. We lost an honest bid for a title sponsor because of the scandals. However, I would much rather have the sport cleaned out than have a sponsor. Even if I have to feel some pain, these scandals and positive tests need to happen. This pain is what has to happen. There is no other way. We have a great group of sponsors though, and they're all upping their contribution to make sure this team goes forward. Financialy we are good. We want a title that makes what is now good "great!" .... but if we have to sacrifice that for the long term health of the sport, so be it.

Question:You've made a lot out of your rigorous anti-doping program. What exactly does it involve?
Vaughters: Okay, well, basically, we test each rider, at least once a week for hormonal (hGH< testo etc) levels and red blood cell mass. If those levels deviate more than three standard deviations off the mean, we suspend the rider from competition.

It isn't a positive test, as we are focusing on undetectable things like autologous blood doping and growth hormone. We leave the easily found stuff to WADA and the UCI. if they can find it, then they suspend the rider. We are just preventing guys from thinking about using things that are are not currently detectable.

Vaughters is back with us. So, JV, who is your pick for today?
Vaughters: Well, I'm certainly hoping Dave Millar can pull it off. He promised me this morning to do something big for clean cycling. That being said, 170kms off the front is not something Dave excels at.

That raises the next question... he's gone through a two year suspension for EPO. Why regard him as a moral authority for clean sport?

Vaughters: Well, the first thing to realize about Dave is that he could have fought and won his case. There was one expired vial of EPO found in his home. He never tested positive and the evidence was minimal. However, when asked the question, he told the truth. He took his lumps. We all knew that Dave was a massively talented rider that didnt dope for most of his victories. The pressure of sponsor obligations and performance pressure to live up to being "the next big thing" finaly got to him.

Anyhow, Dave told the truth and now he's back and doing well, the correct way. He never used the "I've been tested 1000 times and never tested psoitive" BS... He just told the truth. That's why I love Dave.


Blogger Dave Shields said...

Thanks for pointing out those encouraging comments by Vaughters and also for spreading the word about Saul. Check out this video of his interview on Versus:

7/26/2007 12:09:00 PM  

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