sam's notes

notes on government, sports and popular culture

Monday, November 15, 2004

Perfect mountain biking conditions yesterday. Sunny, slight chill in the air. When you're flying down the paved portion of Owl's Roost trail, you're worried that you're underdressed. But you soon warm up once you hit the single track.

While we're on the subject of cycling, there was a big N.Y. Times article yesterday on pro cyclist Tyler Hamilton, who is under suspicion of doping and could face a two-year suspension.

Now I thought the matter was resolved when Hamilton's tests following the Olympics proved inconclusive and he was allowed to keep his gold medal. Apparently, the issue of Hamilton and doping is not resolved, according to this article.

Here's the situation: Two samples are taken from cyclists following races, an "A" sample and a "B" sample. If the "A" sample proves positive, then the "B" sample is tested. If that sample proves negative, then the test is negative.

In Hamilton's case, the "A" sample following the Olympics was positive, but the "B" sample had been frozen, leaving too few red blood cells to analyze. Tests indicated that Hamilton had received a transfusion of another person's blood to increase oxygen-carrying red blood cells.

Then, during the Spanish Vuelta, both Hamilton's blood samples turn up positive. Now both the Russian and Australian Olympic Committees, whose riders received the silver and bronze medals, respectively, are seeking to have to strip Hamilton of his gold medal. The Russian rider, by the way, is Viacheslav Ekimov, a U.S. Postal Service teammate of Lance Armstrong.

Probably the most damning quote in the article came from fellow American cyclist Bobby Julich, who said that suspicions about Hamilton "go against everything I know about the guy."

But, "The rest of us at the Olympic passed the test. Why didn't he? I'm sick of people who cheat, sick of cleaning up their mess and trying to explain it. There is heavy evidence against him. With that much evidence, I don't know how he's going to get out of it."

Hamilton could not only lose his gold medal but face a two-year suspension from competition. That could cost him a shot at winning the Tour de France in 2005, especially if Armstrong does not comptete.


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