With my departure from road racing, I’ve had to scramble to come up with some new goals for my budding triathlon career (I use that term loosely). Why am I posting them like this in a public forum? Easy. If I make them public, then I can’t hide from them later. Now, when someone asks me if I am a 5:40 runner, I can’t say, “I’m really only shooting for 6:00”. I have to be accountable about where I am. This also has the added side effect of ensuring that *I* can’t fool myself into thinking that I’m hot stuff when I’m really not (or am hotter than expected)! Read more
The first thing that any aspiring athlete that wants to take their sport to the next level should do is create a list of their strengths and weaknesses. How else are you going to create a plan to effectively target the short-comings in your game in order to get better? The second thing they should do, CREATE A PLAN to target those weaknesses whilst not giving up too much in their strengths. This all sounds very simple and common sense, but it amazes me how many athletes I meet that just sort of go with the flow and never actually get any better and then wonder why. Outside of the first couple of months or years of competing in a sport, you won’t make magical strength gains. You will eventually plateau and every performance gain thereafter will take serious dedication. Read more
Firstly, I apologize for my extended absence. Between going back to school, training nearly full time and general laziness, I’ve been short on time to post. Needless to say, a lot has changed. I was on form, ready to demolish the collegiate season when I was in yet another bike wreck. This time, I broke a small bone in my wrist into a couple of pieces (hopefully I can find the x-rays and post them). It was actually kind of funny, you didn’t even have to be a doctor to see that I had seriously messed something up. There was a piece of bone just floating around my wrist, attached to nothing. Unfortunately, this has led to a change in my life. Read more
Is anyone else confused as to what’s going on/happened in the Alberto Contador case? If so, you’re not the only one. I’ve received A LOT of questions regarding what exactly he did and what is going to happen to him. I’ve also heard some conspiracy theories about it all as well. Allow me to explain:
He doped with what?
During the second rest day of the 2011 Tour de France, Alberto Contador underwent a standard doping test where he was found to possess trace amounts of a bronchodilator called Clenbuterol in his system. This jumped out at the cycling world for two reasons:
1) A drug like Clenbuterol is normally used by cyclists during the season as it acts as a muscle building/fat shedding tool. During the off season, and early racing season, some riders will use Clen as a way to shed fat before their big races later in the year (we’re talking about 1 or 2 pounds) and, when everything goes as planned, maybe even gain a pound or two of muscle.
2) The second reason this really jumped out at the cycling world was the amount that was found in his samples. For reference he had roughly 50 picograms per milliliter an the minimum standard that any lab should be able to detect is two nanograms per milliliter. This led to a simple yet difficult to answer question, was Contador really doping with so little poduct? Athlete generally use far more when trying to accomplish early season weight loss, so what’s the deal?
The Defense presents it’s case
Contador defended himself by saying that he ate tainted meat brought to him by a friend (who brought the meat from Spain). Is this argument believable? Maybe. Contador alleges that tainted meat was the culprit and the decidedly small amount of Clen in his body makes this point, but Contador was the only team mate to be tested that day, so we can’t look at other samples to compare. To complicate matters, Clenbuterol was/is used illegally by ranch hands in order to fatten up their cattle, thus providing a possible alibi for the Spaniard. A third point of confusion, several independent studies have come out since the positive from Germany and China stating that in roughly 20% of cases, Clen in meat can trip the Doping Meter. Additionally (this case has a lot of additionallys), a German Table Tennis player saw virtually the same circumstances and was acquitted by the German Federation.
A foggy case of incidental doping, no? Not so fast.
The Problem of the Picogram
WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) does have contingency plans if an athlete is incentally taking an illegal substance. If this is to be the case, instead of the normal two year ban being imposed, a one year ban is ordered. Not only can they not race, but all prize money, medals, awards, etc are to be stripped starting from the point of the initial positive. This means that Alberto would (and in fact will) be stripped of his 2011 TdF victory. In fact, he is only the second winner to be stripped of his crown.
Now Alberto’s athletic life hangs in the balance. Just a few days ago a ruling came down through the Spanish Cycling Federation to ban AC for one year and strip him of all his accomplishments since the positive result. Due to the way WADA and UCI rules operate though, he will actually b sanctioned longer than one year. Theoretically, he would be able to partcipate in any race occurring one year after his positive result (this would mean he could race the Vuelta a Espana), but since the sanction did not come down until a few weeks later, he looks like he will be actually two days late to be able to join in any grand tours for the season.
He only has a couple of choices, either accept the ban and a) retire or b) come back strong next season or appeal the ban to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland and hope for a better ruling, though this could backfire on him.
This is a complicated mess of a doping case and I think the whole sporting world is excited to see it resolved one way or another. Me? I like to think the best of people and hope that he is found of incidental doping, but sees the one year ban lifted. It appears, to me at least, that AC was the victim of bad circumstances. He was negligent by taking weird supplements with no regard for what was in them, he merely had a steak for dinner.
Just sending a quick update to say that my blog can now be reached at thegruppetto.com! Change your bookmarks!