Tyler Hamilton's Secret Race


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Tyler Hamilton's Secret Race

Postby bambam » Mon Oct 01, 2012 5:42 pm

Tyler Hamilton's Secret Race - read this book over the weekend on a flight. Pretty interesting read. He definitely comes clean on everything and learned a lot of inside stuff about doping from somebody who obviously knew. Armstrong also comes across as one of the premier assholes in the world, but that is well known.

Some stuff I learned that I did not know - mainly some terms:

glowtime - time during which your urine will "glow" or test positive, when you are at risk of a positive test. Hamilton said all cyclists had to know their glowtimes at all times.

echo-positive - I knew about this - blood doping in which your original blood was donated during your "glowtime" so that after you blood doped, that blood would test positive. Knew of this - Floyd Landis likely did this in his unreal Tour stage that won him his TdF, but had never heard the term.

Edgar - EPO - as in Edgar Allen Poe. This is what they all called it.

How to win the tour from Michele Ferrari - cycling doctor guru who was responsible for many of the doping regimens (apparentely): 1) be very fit, 2) be very skinny, 3) keep your hematocrit very high at all times. The last one was a euphemism for doping with EPO to keep you Hct up. They tested almost every day to be certain they were under the UCI limit of 50.0.

Hamilton also said that doping tests were not so much doping tests as IQ tests, as only the stupid riders ever got caught, at least earlier in his career before 24/7 testing (he details how he got caught at the 2004 Olympics and it was from a screw-up with a frozen blood transfusion). He said riders had to always 1) know their glowtime, 2) know their hematocrit, and 3) take a missed test if necessary, as they needed 3 to count as a positive test.

Its a pretty good read, would recommend it. I ended up feeling pretty sad for him. He and his wife had a fairy tale life in Europe as a pro cyclists, young kids, making tons of money, and it all fell apart.
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Re: Tyler Hamilton's Secret Race

Postby jazzcyclist » Tue Oct 02, 2012 5:25 am

Interesting stuff. I'd like to hear from Landis what he did in the 18 hours leading up to and even during his miraculous stage. By the way bambam, have seen the recent mea culpas from from Johan Museeuw and Jonathan Vaughters? Vaughters even named some of the current riders in his own team who used to dope when he posted on the cycling.com message board.
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Re: Tyler Hamilton's Secret Race

Postby j-a-m » Tue Oct 02, 2012 5:59 am

bambam wrote:Edgar - EPO - as in Edgar Allen Poe. This is what they all called it.

Imagine a bike rider actually named Edgar. Everytime time someone says his name, others think they are talking about drugs...
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Re: Tyler Hamilton's Secret Race

Postby Conor Dary » Tue Oct 02, 2012 6:16 am

Hardly anything very surprising. Armstrong and his crew knew enough to go to the limit, which is what testing should be about. Putting a limit on it. And one can assume since they knew this, every other team was doing the same thing.

And some people don't like Armstrong. Shocking.... :roll:

As I said like shooting fish in the barrel, and even then they screw it up, since USADA still won't turn over their 'evidence' to UCI.

    The International Cycling Union (UCI) has criticized the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) for a delay in Lance Armstrong's doping case, saying it is unusual that evidence is still being gathered after a person has been found guilty.

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012 ... n-and-case
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Re: Tyler Hamilton's Secret Race

Postby lapsus » Tue Oct 02, 2012 1:47 pm

Read it in one sitting.

Quite well written, and interesting. The difference in doping doctors is one of the striking things - Ferrari comes off as chilling but professional, while Fuentes seems like a flamboyant quack. Especially the bad blood bag episode made me queasy, but also gave some clues why quite a few cyclists were getting busted around that time - doping test might have only been an IQ test, but it was an IQ test of the doctor too - with Fuentes, you were likely to get busted sooner or later.

The cycling world circa 2000 seems so grim that Cecchini is almost the only character even a bit sympathetic. This was perhaps the one real surprise I got from the book.

He's always lumped with his former colleagues Conconi and Ferrari, but apparently Cecchini didn't get involved with actual doping products, didn't take money from cyclists, and tried to persuade them to minimise their doping use (just good training and thinness is needed to succeed... oh, and unfortunately high hematocrit is also required due to the universal EPO use - but there is no real need to use and overuse "exotic" doping products).
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Re: Tyler Hamilton's Secret Race

Postby bambam » Tue Oct 02, 2012 4:32 pm

You're right lapsus the bad blood bag episode was eerie. You can die from that.
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Re: Tyler Hamilton's Secret Race

Postby odelltrclan » Tue Oct 02, 2012 8:05 pm

I had a hard time putting the book down. I agree that Fuentas seemed a bit like a loon. He ultimately was the likely cause of Hamilton's positive test and Hamilton is probably lucky to be alive. It also helped me to understand why blood doping can be risky and probably should be banned (to those who may feel otherwise).

The book also showed why there was not necessarily a level playing field. Armstrong received assistance that others on the team did not and possibly was instrumental in other cyclists receiving greater scrutiny if he viewed them as viable threats.

Too hard to type more from a phone. I would say it is well worth the read to understand the culture of cycling better.
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Re: Tyler Hamilton's Secret Race

Postby 26mi235 » Tue Oct 02, 2012 8:20 pm

My general take is that virtually all of the other teams had positive tests and other failures in their processes. Postal/Discover/RadioShack had a much cleaner record. Why? My guess is that not only did they do it in a more professional manner (Ferrari versus Fuentes) but they also doped at a lower level.

Read the various comments, especially the last set by Jonathon Vaughters mentioned above where is comments on the guys from Discover that he would hire (low doping and it did not help at least one of them much) versus who he would not - had doped much more and had a big opinion of himself which was inflated and he would not be able to be a worker bee.
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Re: Tyler Hamilton's Secret Race

Postby bambam » Wed Oct 03, 2012 2:01 am

odelltrclan wrote:I had a hard time putting the book down. I agree that Fuentas seemed a bit like a loon. He ultimately was the likely cause of Hamilton's positive test and Hamilton is probably lucky to be alive. It also helped me to understand why blood doping can be risky and probably should be banned (to those who may feel otherwise).

The book also showed why there was not necessarily a level playing field. Armstrong received assistance that others on the team did not and possibly was instrumental in other cyclists receiving greater scrutiny if he viewed them as viable threats.

Too hard to type more from a phone. I would say it is well worth the read to understand the culture of cycling better.


Agree on all that, odelltrclan. Also, per the book Discovery/Motorola/Radio Shack/US Postal was not cleaner than other teams at all, just a bit more professional about it. Also they did have positives, notably Armstrong, per Hamilton, but he paid off the UCI to get out of it, but that has been written about elsewhere also.
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Re: Tyler Hamilton's Secret Race

Postby kuha » Tue Nov 27, 2012 3:31 pm

Have finally gotten around to reading this and am 1/3 of the way through. Very interesting (if depressing) and pretty much completely believable.
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Re: Tyler Hamilton's Secret Race

Postby bambam » Tue Nov 27, 2012 5:56 pm

kuha wrote:Have finally gotten around to reading this and am 1/3 of the way through. Very interesting (if depressing) and pretty much completely believable.


It was a little depressing. I felt sad for Hamilton. Ruined his life trying to go along with the crowd that was all doing the same thing.
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Re: Tyler Hamilton's Secret Race

Postby bambam » Tue Nov 27, 2012 5:57 pm

Book also just won an award for best sports book of 2012.
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Re: Tyler Hamilton's Secret Race

Postby meninblack » Wed Dec 05, 2012 12:52 pm

I can also confirm that this book is a very worthy read.

My takeaways were:

-Lance Armstrong is an a-hole, even to his friends.

-Top level cycling is rotten to the core. Hopefully top-level T&F is at least a little cleaner.

-Current testing protocols are easily defeated to point of being useless. Only idiots and the unlucky (e.g. Tyler Hamilton) ever get caught.

-Those we trust to develop and enforce doping controls are clearly not up to the job.

-Unless, you want to have a life threatening transfusion reaction, don't entrust your "blood bags" to someone who is clearly not paying attention.
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Re: Tyler Hamilton's Secret Race

Postby 26mi235 » Wed Dec 05, 2012 1:23 pm

I disagree with the conclusions and implications. Current doping regimes, even back with lesser testing, often turned up positives whenever something went amiss or, possibly and probably, the level of doping was 'too high'. I suspect that Armstrong used a bit less and kept under the test 'radar' and all of the Postal/Discovery/Radio Shack riders pretty much.

Thus, if they are doping but the level of doping is significantly constrained, the it is beneficial for the athletes (health wise) and the competition.
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Re: Tyler Hamilton's Secret Race

Postby kuha » Wed Dec 05, 2012 2:03 pm

26mi235 wrote:I disagree with the conclusions and implications. Current doping regimes, even back with lesser testing, often turned up positives whenever something went amiss or, possibly and probably, the level of doping was 'too high'. I suspect that Armstrong used a bit less and kept under the test 'radar' and all of the Postal/Discovery/Radio Shack riders pretty much.

Thus, if they are doping but the level of doping is significantly constrained, the it is beneficial for the athletes (health wise) and the competition.


Not sure if you've red the book, but I strongly recommend that you do. It was pretty clear that doping wasn't exactly "easy" but that it clearly was widespread and consistent. There is also the strong implication that some of the sport's authorities happily looked the other way, at times at least.
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Re: Tyler Hamilton's Secret Race

Postby meninblack » Wed Dec 05, 2012 5:50 pm

26mi235 wrote:I disagree with the conclusions and implications. Current doping regimes, even back with lesser testing, often turned up positives whenever something went amiss or, possibly and probably, the level of doping was 'too high'. I suspect that Armstrong used a bit less and kept under the test 'radar' and all of the Postal/Discovery/Radio Shack riders pretty much.

Thus, if they are doping but the level of doping is significantly constrained, the it is beneficial for the athletes (health wise) and the competition.


You should definitely read the book, especially the parts referring to EPO micro-dosing. In particular, how it is virtually impossible to detect and how this relatively simple strategy had to be explained to Dr Michael Ashenden (EPO test developer) by a cyclist.
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Re: Tyler Hamilton's Secret Race

Postby 26mi235 » Wed Dec 05, 2012 8:25 pm

If Ashenden had to have that explained to him then to call him a doping expert is fundamentally flawed. While not the same he reminds me of grad students who think any statistically 'significant' result is of interest no matter how small the parameter estimates. A flaw for a developing grad student, an inexcusable lack for a so-called expert.

No, I have not read the book. Note that the use of micro-dosing does not indicate that the overall level assistance was high or low. My suspicion is that it is beneficial but somewhat constrained (I do not know the empirical levels). Also, if the testing is random but infrequent then the micro-doses could be larger because it would be longer until a test, on average, although it is almost a min-max strategy, not a simple expected value computation and I have not worked out exactly how the frequency of random tests works out and how being able to delay a test for X minutes works into the optimal dosing strategy.
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Re: Tyler Hamilton's Secret Race

Postby meninblack » Wed Dec 05, 2012 8:51 pm

26mi235 wrote: No, I have not read the book.


That is clear now.

26mi235 wrote:26mi235 wrote: I disagree with the conclusions and implications.


This is like getting a review for a journal submission from a reviewer that has clearly not read the paper. I hate when that happens.
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Re: Tyler Hamilton's Secret Race

Postby 26mi235 » Wed Dec 05, 2012 9:24 pm

Disagree might be a strong term, and it is not the book content, but the conclusion about the 'amount' of doping. Amount in the sense of how much EPO etc they took in, and thus what the total effect was. Since the dosages of what people take are not well known, it is hard to compare the dosage level for Armstrong with others.

The observation is 'never getting caught' (the real truth of which is uncertain), is consistent not only with very careful doping, but also using a bit less than others might be using to decrease the likelihood of a positive test. Does Hamilton give the dosages and are those values reliable for what Armstrong took. He probably does not have the full information on that. [I will read the book eventually, I suppose, but I am not particularly interested relative to all the other reading material that I have lined up.]
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Re: Tyler Hamilton's Secret Race

Postby meninblack » Thu Dec 06, 2012 5:41 am

26mi235 wrote:Disagree might be a strong term, and it is not the book content, but the conclusion about the 'amount' of doping. Amount in the sense of how much EPO etc they took in, and thus what the total effect was.


You are clearly fixated on the "micro" part of micro-dosing as being the most important but this scheme also involves a particular route of administration and a known time course of elimination that defeats testing protocols. These last two factors are clearly more important than the actual dose taken because they allow you to maximize efficacy with continuous use rather than with fewer larger doses. As described in the book, efficacy was determined by regular hematocrit monitoring. In fact, the goal of micro-dosing wasn't to maximize hematocrit but rather to get as close to 50% as possible without going over and being barred from competition.
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Re: Tyler Hamilton's Secret Race

Postby Pego » Thu Dec 06, 2012 6:04 am

meninblack wrote:As described in the book, efficacy was determined by regular hematocrit monitoring. In fact, the goal of micro-dosing wasn't to maximize hematocrit but rather to get as close to 50% as possible without going over and being barred from competition.


This is what irks me to no end about the doping rules. As long as they maintain higher end physiological hct levels, why is it important how the athlete achieves it?
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Re: Tyler Hamilton's Secret Race

Postby Conor Dary » Thu Dec 06, 2012 8:42 am

Pego wrote:
meninblack wrote:As described in the book, efficacy was determined by regular hematocrit monitoring. In fact, the goal of micro-dosing wasn't to maximize hematocrit but rather to get as close to 50% as possible without going over and being barred from competition.


This is what irks me to no end about the doping rules. As long as they maintain higher end physiological hct levels, why is it important how the athlete achieves it?


Right. If you have gobs of money so you can fly to the Pyrenees anytime you want that is fine. Or buy an altitude chamber. But anything else is evil.....
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Re: Tyler Hamilton's Secret Race

Postby 26mi235 » Thu Dec 06, 2012 12:06 pm

meninblack wrote:
26mi235 wrote:Disagree might be a strong term, and it is not the book content, but the conclusion about the 'amount' of doping. Amount in the sense of how much EPO etc they took in, and thus what the total effect was.


You are clearly fixated on the "micro" part of micro-dosing as being the most important but this scheme also involves a particular route of administration and a known time course of elimination that defeats testing protocols. These last two factors are clearly more important than the actual dose taken because they allow you to maximize efficacy with continuous use rather than with fewer larger doses. As described in the book, efficacy was determined by regular hematocrit monitoring. In fact, the goal of micro-dosing wasn't to maximize hematocrit but rather to get as close to 50% as possible without going over and being barred from competition.


Yes, what is the total dosage across the individual doses? (i.e., not at any one point, but it probably is relevant what it is across a period of time, such as a week or month. Taking small doses often makes it harder to detect, but if two athletes are doing the same and one is using higher levels, that latter athlete is more likely to show positive in the test.

One reason that Vaughters wanted the couple Americans over Jorg Jaskce (spelling) is that the Americans were not getting much of a dosage and not very much effect while Jorg was. Thus, when Jorg was going to be clean there was going to be a bigger difference in his performance level than was going to be the case with the Americans. Also, Jorg was used to being near the top of the heap and was not a 'foot soldier' and would not play that role. Go read Vaughter's pieces, they may be a little less (or differently) biased. Despite the success of the book, I do not feel that I can rely on everything Hamilton says.
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Re: Tyler Hamilton's Secret Race

Postby kuha » Thu Dec 06, 2012 12:22 pm

26, I do recommend that you just read the dang book. I think you can find the time.
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Re: Tyler Hamilton's Secret Race

Postby meninblack » Thu Dec 06, 2012 1:16 pm

kuha wrote:26, I do recommend that you just read the dang book. I think you can find the time.


Ditto
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Re: Tyler Hamilton's Secret Race

Postby Tuariki » Mon Dec 10, 2012 12:40 am

Why should 26 read the book when it is clear from his postings he already knows the answers?
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Re: Tyler Hamilton's Secret Race

Postby Blues » Mon Dec 10, 2012 5:53 pm

Unfortunately similar doping techniques to what Hamilton describes are also often used by athletes who choose to dope in our sport of T&F too.... I haven't been able to read the book, but did see some reviews/discussions, including the article in the link below.

http://thinksteroids.com/articles/tyler ... o-cycling/
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Re: Tyler Hamilton's Secret Race

Postby 26mi235 » Mon Dec 10, 2012 7:12 pm

Tuariki wrote:Why should 26 read the book when it is clear from his postings he already knows the answers?


OK, I do not usually let this stuff bother me, but you can cease and desist now -- why do you think they call it micro-dosing?

Do you think that they take the performance-optimizing amount? And, if not, then why not if the testing in cycling is the same as the non-existent testing in boxing? Somehow, a mechanism where you can get some decent performance enhancing by being careful and keeping your dosage down is not exactly the same as a regime of no testing, period. If you think that they are identical, which is the position that you are arguing for in slamming my comment, then please let us all know exactly how they can get the same doping effects as if they were completely unconstrained in their doping regime. I have never heard anyone credibly claim that is true, but you apparently do.
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Re: Tyler Hamilton's Secret Race

Postby meninblack » Tue Dec 11, 2012 6:01 am

Blues wrote:Unfortunately similar doping techniques to what Hamilton describes are also often used by athletes who choose to dope in our sport of T&F too.


Are you speculating here or do you have some specific evidence to back up this claim?
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Re: Tyler Hamilton's Secret Race

Postby Blues » Tue Dec 11, 2012 6:30 am

meninblack wrote:
Blues wrote:Unfortunately similar doping techniques to what Hamilton describes are also often used by athletes who choose to dope in our sport of T&F too.


Are you speculating here or do you have some specific evidence to back up this claim?


I've heard my share of first hand stories regarding the use of micro-dosing in track and field as well as in other sports for several years now, and this isn't the first thread that I've mentioned it in. If there's a desire to dope, carefully monitored micro-dosing is probably the safest way to benefit from cheating and not get caught, in the absence of undetectable substances like THG a decade ago, and in the absence of being able to completely avoid random tests. If I was a less than ethical athlete, that's the way I'd consider doing it if I could afford the cost... And the chance of catching the cheaters in an in-competition drug test is slim. I could only smile at various articles in the mass media that implied that better and more intensive drug testing at events like the London Olympics should/would weed out all the cheaters.

And getting back to Armstrong's doping, here's another short but informative article that applies to PED usage in other sports as well..

http://www.lifeslittlemysteries.com/299 ... tests.html
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Re: Tyler Hamilton's Secret Race

Postby 26mi235 » Tue Dec 11, 2012 9:27 am

If it is as easy and effective as some have been generally implying then I cannot imagine that it would not be rife in track and field. Note that the proportion of doping tests is lower for track and field (I think) than for high-level cycling and that cycling uses more blood tests (again, I think). I also think that the characteristics of cycling provide somewhat heavier incentives to use PEDs than does T&F, though some subsets of T&F might be as high or may be as high or higher in certain types of PEDs (strength stuff in the weight events).
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Re: Tyler Hamilton's Secret Race

Postby meninblack » Tue Dec 11, 2012 10:11 am

Blues wrote:
meninblack wrote:
Blues wrote:Unfortunately similar doping techniques to what Hamilton describes are also often used by athletes who choose to dope in our sport of T&F too.


Are you speculating here or do you have some specific evidence to back up this claim?


I've heard my share of first hand stories regarding the use of micro-dosing in track and fieldl


"First hand" from the athletes and/or coaches themselves??? If so, its time to "name and shame" the individuals concerned.
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Re: Tyler Hamilton's Secret Race

Postby bambam » Mon Dec 17, 2012 5:08 pm

Just finished another book - Seven Deadly Sins by David Walsh. This one is about Lance Armstrong. It was OK but preferred Hamilton's Secret Race

Walsh is the guy who co-wrote L.A. Confidentiel (in French) back around 2002, which basically laid out the case for Armstrong being a serial doper. That book was only published in French as he was sued in multiple places by Armstrong.

This one updates the story after the Hamilton/Landis revelations and the USADA decision this summer. It really does not have much new after reading the USADA decision and some of the affidavits (I didn't read them all). But it does show that he was well ahead of his time in coming to the correct conclusion here.

Interesting how Armstrong has made no public statements in months now regarding all this.
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