The inside dope

Another cyclist has come out of the doping closet, with the claim that doctors were involved.

Makes me wonder if that’s how some amateurs do it too, with their GP, or maybe with some shady doctor.

I’d like to see WADA show up at one of the local bike races here (like the Hamburg Cyclassics that has over 10,000 participants) and do some testing of the guys who post what only can be termed “dubious” results. That would make headlines I’m sure.



Breaking the ice

There’s snow everywhere in Germany. Winter hanging on grimly. Hard to believe that in just over two months, we’ll be jumping into the lakes for the first races of the season. For me, that will be June 2 in Berlin. Here’s hoping we won’t have to break the ice before jumping in.

Poor health and poor weather has brought my training to a standstill. Stairs have become an effort. Cough, wheeze, cough, cough. And it’s hard to shake off a chest bug when the air is so cold. My swimmer’s lungs have all but disintergrated. It may well be a long way back from here; from being bed-ridden to racing again. My first trip to the pool might require orange floaties.

Spring? Where are you?

Swimming shennanigans

I’ve swum laps in lots of pools around the world, but swimming in Germany takes the cake. It’s bizarre to the point of farce; it’s such a strange and chaotic experience that it actually becomes funny.

There’s usually one lane for lap swimming, and it never lives up to it’s name: Tempobahn, Schnellschwimm (fast swimming), or whatever. Everyone uses it, even those not swimming laps, and they swim all sorts of strokes at all sorts of speeds. The result is, no one is happy, and no one swims in their own rhythm. It’s all made worse by the complete lack of pool etiquette: keeping to the lane rope, waiting at the wall for faster swimmers, actually swimming and not crowding the wall, etc. There’s none of that. And in any given pool, there’s always one guy who just will not be passed. He’ll give everything, including swerving and kicking in your face, to keep you from passing him. And there’ll be a couple of people so slow it looks like they’re floating, not swimming; or, they’re swimming to stay afloat.

But having said all of that, I like swimming in Germany. And for me, those wave-pool Tempobahns are certainly better than being in a lane with 20 ultra-keen amateur triathletes churning out lap after lap like machines.

Amazing amateurs

In the wake of the Armstrong scandal, the drugs in sport report from the Australian Crime Commission and other headline grabbing doping news, I’ve been reminded of the lengths athletes will go to in order to achieve success. Granted, these are professional athletes, and at stake for them are sponsorship deals, government funding, prize money, grand slams, trophies and gold medals. But what about amateur sports? I feel that drug use by amateur athletes may be a far bigger and more widespread problem.

I race triathlons, have done for over a decade. I’ve often wondered what would happen if anti-doping testers rocked up at one of my local races and started testing athletes. I envision a mad scramble as the most serious competitors, those with podiums in mind and age group ambitions, scoop up their expensive gear and high-tail it to the parking lot.

In recent years, I’ve paid close attention to the winning times of the races I compete in. Some of the times amateurs post (considering that they are amateurs, and taking into account age, training time, work, family, bellies, etc) are phenomenal. I’m left back in the middle of the pack scratching my head.

Consider this example: at a non-drafting race last year in Germany, the winner covered the 40km bike leg in 54 minutes. This is the kind of time posted by pro triathletes in draft-legal races (when they all ride as a peloton), and it’s just a few minutes off the time posted by Bradley Wiggins when he won Stage 9’s 41km time trial at the 2012 Tour de France. And not to mention that it was 30+ degrees that day, and that the guy who finished 4th was 44.

You want to think that sport is fair, that the playing field is level, that everyone’s clean. But ever since Ben Johnson tested positive in Seoul, sports have served up cynicism by the (blood) bag full. At the professional level, these days many amazing results or achievements are greeted with skepticism. So, why not at the amateur level?

Welcome to Purathletes

Competing in sports without the chemical help.

I race in amateur triathlons (without drugs, which probably explains why I never come close to winning, no matter how hard I train), and this site will document my experiences training and racing in Germany. Whatever sport you’re involved in, I welcome input from Purathletes around the world.