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Off to the Berlin Six Day 2011 – but first, a few thoughts


I’ll be glad to get to the Berlin Six Day 2011 and enter my Six Day ‘bubble’ – these last couple of weeks have affected me badly.

I love the sport, all of it fascinates me, road, track, cyclocross; I’d get into mountain biking but I have to stop the reading, interviewing and writing, somewhere.

Lance, Floyd, Alberto, Trent, Matt – and now, Graeme.

I have to get it all off my chest before I descend into the bowels of the earth in Berlin.

* * *

Berlin Six Day 2011
Paul Kimmage during his exchange with Armstrong at the Tour of California last year.

The Kimmage/Landis Interview

My Aussie PEZ colleague, Matt was quick on the ‘let’s do Ed’s head in’ ball, this morning.

Before I’d left the house he’d sent me an email copy of Paul Kimmage’s Sunday Times interview with Floyd – which naturally had major digs at the Irishman’s neebz from Plano, Texas. [Read the full transcript].

Berlin Six Day 2011
The Sunday Times article lead image.

I said all I have to about the future governor of the Lone Star State in my last rant – let it all go. His reputation is in tatters, but leave something for his disciples to cling on to.

Every column inch written about him is one less for those who we should be talking and writing about; Stybar, Ben Swift – and what about James Spragg’s good ride down in Regio Calabria?

Floyd – the man isn’t right. All that kit he put away won’t have helped; he’s done a lot of drinking; lost one of his best friends to suicide – an act which cannot be divorced from the scandal breaking; he’s lost his wife and all of his money.

He’s disturbed, confused, upset and after his monumental U-turn simply cannot be relied upon as a reliable witness.

Remember that he conned a lot of people out of a lot of money and wrote a book proclaiming his innocence.

Saying; ‘hold on a minute, I’ve changed my mind on all of that, folks‘ blows apart his credibility – albeit much of what he says has the ring of truth to it.

If Kimmage believes in the man so much then he should launch a fund to get him some expert counselling.

What happened on a Postal Bus 10 years ago can never categorically proved and anyway kitting, back then, was part of the job.

Berlin Six Day 2011
Like Armstrong, Contador seems to be polarising cycling fans.


No one ever rings me and says; ‘some ride that by Millar in Melbourne, beautiful position, stroking those pedals, poetry in motion – and to have a go at Cancellara like that.

What they do say is; ‘Ha! I thought you told me that cycling had cleaned up its act? What about Contador?

I try to explain… ‘Ha! Contaminated meat! You sound like a lawyer!

‘Lawyer?’ OK, here’s the case “for“, m’lud…

You’re well into the Tour and on the second rest day a friend is coming to visit you;

Hey amigo! Can you bring me a nice big Spanish steak? I’m sick of all this pasta and bland French meat.

To me that’s perfectly plausible.

But when the storm clouds open, the ‘meat defence’ is unveiled and the Spanish beef farmers turn the righteous indignation knob to 10; ‘our beef is clean!’ and it looks like Bert’s backside is out of the window.

However, what’s not so loudly trumpeted is that much of the beef in Spain comes from Argentina.

When one considers that in the recent past the way the government of said nation dealt with folks who didn’t agree with then was to drug them, stick them on a transport plane then dump them in the South Atlantic – chemicals in the beef isn’t on the scale.

Remember that if you have a steak in Mexico there’s a 28% chance that it will contain Clenbuterol.

Plasticisers? This is complicated enough!

The case “against“…

What troubles me as a ‘Bert admirer’ is the fact that his Clenbuterol trace was only picked up because the test equipment in the test lab was state of the art and super-sensitive.

If we assume that Bert was micro-dosing with his own blood then it’s a certainty that his medical advisers would be checking the ‘claret’ – as Arthur Daley would say – that was going back into their man.

That’s where Floyd went wrong; putting his own manipulated blood into himself.

But their testing wouldn’t be smart enough to pick up the very small trace of Clenbuterol.

But what the hell does Clenbuterol do?

Which leads me onto another point of order – we have guys on the ‘net talking advanced pharmacology who can’t even tape their handlebars properly.

I have to rely on the words of Edmund R. Burke, Ph. D. who wrote a very informative piece for ‘Winning‘ magazine, way back in August 1993.

“Known as a beta adrenergic drug, Clenbuterol causes the smooth muscles of the lungs to relax, thereby expanding lung volume and providing less resistance to air flow; this is how it makes breathing easier for asthmatics.”

So far, so good but then Mr. Burke goes on to describe the drug’s other properties.

” … individuals seek to capitalise on the drug’s anabolic, or muscle building effect.

“This property was first seen in European horses being treated with the drug because of respiratory problems – during treatment the animals became bigger, stronger and faster.

“In studies conducted on animals, it has been shown to cause a significant increase in protein synthesis and skeletal and cardiac muscle growth, a decrease in subcutaneous and total fat, and an increase in energy.”

He goes on to explain that these changes happen quickly, but here are the interesting ones.

“… it also seems to prevent muscle atrophy if used when one is injured or during phases of reduced training.

“… there is speculation that it has become popular among steroid users who are in the “off” cycle or who are in the “washout” period prior to athletic competitions, when one would normally test positive for steroids.

“Lastly, because of it’s fat reduction capability, it is thought that some athletes who are trying to lose weight have also experimented with it.”

I’m guessing, but I don’t think that the Astana ‘staffer’ who helpfully leaked to the press that Alberto had used the drug to get the last few pounds off before the 2010 Tour, would have been a ‘Winning‘ subscriber in 1993.

There you have it, two arguments – but is he guilty?

Beyond reasonable doubt?‘ asks the criminal code. No chance, there’s certainly too much doubt.

But what about civil law, which is decided ‘On balance of probability‘. He’d go down, there’s little doubt in my mind.

If I was him, I’d take the year and keep quiet.

* * *

Berlin Six Day 2011
Graeme in a time trial in the Scottish Borders.


There are two ways the Sun story can have come about;

  1. He’s been spotted where he shouldn’t have been and they’ve offered a deal – he gets to put the story across his way and a few quid if he’s lucky.
  2. He’s sold them the story because he needs a few bob.

If being on the front page of the Sun is how Graeme wants to announce his sexuality to the world and he makes some much needed money in the process then that’s his business.

Whether it’s the way we’d expect a sporting legend to conduct himself, that’s for you to decide.

Straight, gay, whatever, it’s another headline I’ll remember – in L’Equipe, the day after he shattered Moser’s hour record – ‘The Amazing Mr. Obree.’

* * *

I feel better, maybe I’ll be able to write about some bike racing now?

Berlin Six Day 2011
Berlin Airport at last.
Berlin Six Day 2011
And why I’m here.