July 26, 2013

Stuart O'Grady dives into a turn.     Photo: Flickr

Former Dopers Lose Jobs

Four riders appeared on the list of 1998 positives

At least four former professional cyclists are out of a job after their names surfaced on a list of EPO positives from the 1998 Tour de France released Wednesday. While the French Senate report promised no rider would face disciplinary action from the testing, the result has been a bit different.

The first athlete to lose his job was Laurent Jalabert, who retired at the end of the 2002 season to work as a pundit for two French television stations. As news leaked ahead of the Tour about his inclusion on the list, he stepped down from both of those roles.

In addition to Jalabert, the sport director of newly minted Belkin Pro Cycling, Jeroen Blijlevens, has left the squad. “The reason for this decision is Jeroen Blijlevens’ admission of doping made today during a meeting with management following the publication of the French Senate’s report,” the team's statement said.

Blijlevens won four Tour stages between 1995 and 1998 and signed a document earlier this year stating he had never doped. In an open letter, he explained his decision to dope. “Our team was looking for a new sponsor. I decided to use EPO for the first time during the Tour in 1997.”

The technical director of the Vuelta a Espana and former winner of the race Abraham Olano was also released from his job Thursday. “I am very hurt,” he told the Spanish daily AS. “I understand that ASO [the owner of the Tour de France and a stakeholder int he Vuelta] is a large part French, because if not, I wouldn’t be able to understand any of this. I have to study my case with my lawyers … but the damage is done, and it would be hard to go back.”

The latest rider to face repercussions over the 1998 testing is Stuart O'Grady, who retired this year after the Tour de France. His name appeared on the suspicious list from the race, leading him to admit to doping that year. The Australian Olympic committee terminated O'Grady's membership in the body after he refused to voluntarily resign. The body went on to state that he will not be remembered as a "fantastic competitor" but as an "athlete who succumbed to the temptation of drugs in sport just to get an edge on some of his fellow riders."

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    Photo: Screenshot

WATCH: Rider Hits 80 MPH on Bike

With 104-tooth chainring

A custom-built frame, 104-tooth chainring, and a classic car helped British cyclist Ton Donhou hit 80 miles per hour in a speed attempt in the U.K.

Donhou, a bike frame builder, said he got the inspiration for the project from the automobile speed records of the 1960s, set with rocket-propelled cars on the Bonneville Salt Flats. Unlike current world record holder Fred Rompelberg, who drafted a drag racer to 167 miles per hour at Bonneville in 1995, Donhou set his record on an airport runway behind his own car, a Ford Zephyr equipped with a fairing, to displace the air in front of him.

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    Photo: Stuart JPP/Flickr

Turkey Clears Kestrel of Spying For Israel

Returns home a hero

A kestrel detained by Turkish villagers on suspicion of being a non-human Israeli spy has been cleared of any wrongdoing and released back into the wild.

Residents in the village of Altinavya discovered the bird with a metal ring around its leg, stamped with the words “24311 Tel Avivunia Israel.” Fearing the bird could be a spy, they turned the kestrel over to local authorities. Medical personnel at Elazig’s Firat University initially identified the bird as an “Israeli Spy” in their registration documents. However, a series of intensive medical examinations and x-rays determined that the bird posed no threat to the country. As it turns out, metal bands, such as the one the kestrel was wearing, are used to track bird migrations in the region.

Use of non-human spies has been a source of great concern in the region over the past few years. In May of 2012, Turkish authorities dissected a European bee-eater fearing that it could be carrying a listening device and last December, Sudanese authorities accused a captured eagle wearing a similar tag on its leg of being a spy for the Mossad, Israel’s secretive intelligence organization.

None of the birds were found guilty.

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An ocean reef.     Photo: Derek Keats

Global Warming Wiping Out Seafood

Oysters and lobsters affected

In the news this week, we saw several stories that sketched a grim prognosis for our favorite edible sea creatures. Baby oysters are under immediate threat from the rapidly acidifying oceans, according to Forbes, and in an article from Mother Jones, we learned that warming waters have driven lobsters to cannibalism.

If you live on the east coast, you're probably well aware that a glut of lobsters has dropped prices through the floor. It has also, unfortunately, driven lobsters to the unthinkable. 

Warming waters can cause lobsters to grow larger and produce more offspring, and the last decade has been the warmest on record in the Gulf of Maine. That, combined with overfishing of lobster predators and an excess of bait left in lobster traps (see info box below), has driven the Maine lobster harvest to thoroughly smash records that stretch back to 1880. One of the side effects of this boom, Oppenheim says, is cannibalism: There are countless lobsters down there with nothing much to eat them and not much for them to eat, besides each other.

Noah Oppenheim, a graduate student in marine biology at the University of Maine, produced the video below, showing the unhappy result.

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