You can’t beat our meat

From "The Best of the Rip Off Press, Vol. II: The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers," © 1974 by Gilbert Shelton

From "The Best of the Rip Off Press, Vol. II: The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers," © 1974 by Gilbert Shelton

Seems it wasn’t Chinese pork that tripped up Alberto Contador after all. In what’s sure to give a boost to the Spanish beef industry, El Pendejo — disculpame, El Pistolero — says he tripped the Dope-O-Meter® after dining on a chunk of homegrown carne the team chef ordered up during the Tour ’cause the French hotel’s meat tasted like ass.

I don’t know how they ever caught that steer for butchering, full of clenbuterol as it must have been.

His story brings to mind an old Gilbert Shelton gag, first used in a “Wonder Wart-Hog” strip and then reprised in “The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers.” The initial version involved a motorcycle race; the encore featured a police chase.

Here’s my riff on the joke:

Two cowboys on roundup stagger back to the ranch with their chaps shredded, their hats in tatters and generally looking like they’d been et by a coyote and shit off a cliff.

“What the hell happened to you fellas?” asks the foreman.

“Aw,” replies one, “this cow we was a-chasin’ ran away from us so fast we thought our horses had stopped so we got off to see what was the matter.”

• Late update: Meanwhile, Contador’s homeboys Ezequiel Mosquera and David Garcia Da Peña are also deep in the mierda, but for hydroxyethyl starch. The fiesta never stops.

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25 Responses to “You can’t beat our meat”

  1. Larry T. Says:

    Beefsteak in France is not-so-good, that’s why they cover it with pepper or bearnaise sauce! But just how much carne did Il Pistolero consume to get enough clenbuterol to trip the dope-o-meter? The Chinese Shackstrong guy tried the same, “caused by food” BS but (unlike Paola Pezzo’s excuse of the Belgian beef full of steroids) his excuse was not taken seriously. In the end the athlete is supposed to be responsible for whatever is found in his/her body, no matter how it got there, no? If they let Il Pistolero off the hook for this, the tiny shreds of credibility left in pro cycling are pretty much gone. And if they do sanction Contador and strip him of the 2010 TdF crown, it goes to the brother of the guy who sent euro 7K off to Fuentes for “training advice” and who raced for the team run by “Mr. 60%”
    Talk about being between a rock and a hard place!!! At this point perhaps they should forget about the Olympics and rename the sport, PRO CYCLING ENTERTAINMENT and let ’em all take whatever they want, just like MLB, NFL, etc.

  2. Swell Says:

    Yo quiero Taco Bell?

  3. david Says:

    Jeezus H. Christmas, just ONCE, ONE TIME, I’d like to see someone who gets popped stand up and say: “Ahh balls…yeah, hell, ya got me. I took the stuff and I’m an idiot. Ban me for two years, starting right now, and let’s get on with it…” I know that sounds like Pollyanna, but dayum, that’s gotta be easier, and a whole lot cheaper in the long run, than lying through your teeth day after day. I was never a fan of Mr. 60%, rider or DS, but when he finally came out and copped to his doping, and talked about how it just got so difficult to keep up the lie for all those years, I thought, jeezus man, what the fuck took you so long? At least he finally did cop to it and I gotta give him credit for that. I know it’s stupid to think AC will do the same, but still…

  4. John Says:

    So it’s the beef, eh? Shoot, that ruins my latest bad pun. I was all ready with “Operation Porko”.

    I’ve always had this nagging question, and Khal or somebody with more knowledge than I (which would be pretty much everybody) might be able to help me with. Khal mentioned earlier some reasonable questions about the lab’s detection limits and other uncertainties. And he brings up a good point, 50 picograms is mighty tiny (that’s 50 times ten to the minus twelve, which is getting near the size of my paycheck) so it’s natural to have questions about the lab. Looking at the presentation that Landis and Arnie Baker put together (was that hissing I just heard?) brings up even more questions about testing labs (just because Floyd finally fessed up doesn’t mean the lab did a perfect job). My question involves false positives: These days we hear about it just about every time someone’s A sample tests positive, then we hear later that their B sample also tested positive (the Contador case being an exception: I didn’t hear anything until both came back positive). I don’t recall ever hearing a report of an A sample being positive and then a day or two later a “oops, never mind, his/her B sample was clean”. Maybe it’s happened, but I can’t recall if and when. Statistically speaking shouldn’t there be a certain number of false positives among A samples? How many false positives would be expected, and how many, by comparison, are they announcing?

    Outside Magazine (of all publications) did a story on drug testing a few months back in which they mentioned that under WADA rules it’s permissible for the A and B samples to be tested by the same lab using the same method and even by the same technician, which may go a long way towards explaining why the results of the A and B samples always seem to be the same. I’m not out to defend any dopers, in fact I’m in favor of dopers to be banned for life, but if a rider’s reputation is to be tarnished and his career potentially ruined, shouldn’t we be certain that the labs are doing their jobs correctly? Seems like a major flaw in the whole system to me.

  5. John Says:

    David – Didn’t Millar ‘fess up pretty quickly?

  6. John Says:

    Another question for David or anyone else: Miller fessed up soon after getting caught, Landis finally admitted what we all knew to be true FOUR YEARS after getting caught, but it took Riis more than a decade. Do you recall, though, why Riis confessed and why he chose to confess after more than ten years? There had always been innuendo and rumours, but was there finally proof?

  7. Byron Says:

    Remember you are what you eat :)….Jeez i’m going to start following the WWF or whatever the fuck they call pro wrestling these days…

  8. david Says:

    John (the first one): John (the second one) has it right; Miller fessed up AFTER they found empty EPO syringes in his house. He has since become all holier than thou about doping in the peloton.

    IIRC, one of the reasons Riis finally spilled was because he was so damn tired of lying. I don’t think there was any real “proof” that was about to come out though.

  9. rustlust Says:

    My suspicions about Spanish cows have turned out to be true! Thats it, I’m stickin’ to Tofu & Lorica (just in case)

  10. Jeff in PetroMetro Says:

    I’m sliding back to my Anquetil position. They’re professionals.

    Now, I don’t feel the same way about Joe Papp’s Masters clients. They aren’t professionals. They’re just, well, pathetic, to take PEDs to win the Tuesday night training ride.

  11. Libby Says:

    David – Roy Sentjens of Milram fessed up pretty quickly several weeks ago. Initially denied but confessed within 24-48 hours – the denial and confession both have datelines of Sept. 10 on the cyclingnews site.
    Bad season, needing a result, team going under, depressed, desperate. Went into a drug store, bought EPO, used it, caught, outed and retired.

  12. Libby Says:

    Patrick – I have a headline for your next doping story (you have so many good ones in your arsenal – forgive me – I have only one): “Tant pis!”

  13. david Says:

    Libby, thanks for that update; it’s good to hear, in some really odd, totally unreal way. I can fully understand the reasons for doping in cycling and your post outlining the reasons Sentjens did what he did make all the sense in the world to me. And like I said before, you do it and get caught, then fess up and take your punishment and the ban or retire. Grow a pair and cut the BS.

    Like our friend on this blog, Larry of CycleItalia fame, I’ve come to know more than a few now-retired Italian pros and a bunch of Division 2 and 3 guys over the last eleven years of my time in Tuscany. Ricco, admittedly doping at a very early age, has been the norm in Italy for a long, long time. EVERYONE closely associated with the sport in Italy knows that’s what goes on, everyone. It’s just what’s done to succeed, pure and simple. It’s just not talked about in every day conversation. For a lot of these kids, they’re poor (or not particularly rich), not college material, and cycling is a way out, a way to get something they wouldn’t necessarily get by working or going to school. But you gotta win, or look damn good trying.

    Just this month, riding with an Italian friend outside Greve in Chianti, we met up with three of his old riding partners, two of whom had retired from Division 2 teams in the last six or seven years. We got to talking about the pros these days and they were laughing about how stupid Landis had been to carry on with his silly “defense” for years, spending all that money. In their racing days, both of these guys took whatever drugs/supplements (legal or not) they could get their hands on, or could afford (which wasn’t much) and they sure as well weren’t going to cobble up some nonsense in their defense if they got caught. If you are catturati barare – caught cheating – well, that’s the ballgame and it’s time to find a new line of work…

  14. chris Says:

    Dang, O’G, I finally remembered one good thing about living in the same house as you — all those great comix! Fabulous Furry Freak Bros., Mr. Natural, Cap’n Pissgums and his Pervert Pirates, Large-Legged Wimmin’ (or whatever R Crumb called them babes with the big engines he liked to draw)….
    Anyway, now I guess I can also understand why Shannon puts up with you. It’s your library!

  15. Patrick O'Grady Says:

    Hey, Libby,

    Tant pis … ho ho ho, that is indeed appropriate. Someone should start a team under that banner. Anglicize it to the redneck, “Tain’t Piss,” maybe. ’Cause it ain’t piss, mostly. Not from this lot. It’s just watered-down dope.

    Chris me boyo, how did the riding/drinking go in my absence? I’ll bet you guys did too much of the former and not nearly enough of the latter. Incidentally, the Wet Mountain IPA and Yellow Kite Pilsner have been very good this year at Bristol Brewing, though neither of them is hoppy enough for your tastes.

    And yes, I still possess The Big Box O’ Comix — Zap, Bijou, Freak Brothers, White Lunch, Harold Hedd, Slow Death, Skull, Coochy Cooty, Cheech Wizard, Snappy Sammy Smoot, Nard ‘n’ Pat, Dan O’Neill’s Comics & Stories, Tales from the Leather Nun and The Doings of Dealer McDope by the late Dave Sheridan, S. Clay Wilson’s The Checkered Demon — you name ’em, I’ve pretty much got ’em.

  16. david Says:

    Patrick, I’ve got both of O’Neill’s oversize Odd Bodkins comic collection books, but nothing else. You mention “Stories” above – are these available anywhere? I’ve never seen anything else but comics from him.

    I thought O’Neill and the Odd Bodkins comic, was simply brilliant. If you haven’t gone through and looked at ’em lately, do so – they are still spot on.

  17. chris Says:

    Riding/Drinking? Well, it wasn’t the same without you. Which may have been a good thing. And we didn’t do enough of either, if you want to know the truth. Got in three good days on the road. Took Merrill on some climbs I thought might get his attention: Trinity/Mount Veeder, Marshall Wall and King Ridge — about 50 miles and 3,000-5,000 feet of climbing each. He hardly broke a sweat. I, on the other hand, collapsed into a quivering, weeping puddle by the end of each day, only to be revived by large quantities of Lagunitas IPA and shots of Jameson. It was horrible, I tell you, horrible.

  18. Patrick O'Grady Says:

    David, I have three Odd Bodkins collections — “Hear the Sound of My Feet Walking … Drown the Sound of my Voice Talking,” “The Collective Unconscience of Odd Bodkins” and “Buy This Book of Odd Bodkins.” But he was also cranking out some softcover comic books in the mid-Seventies under the title “Dan O’Neill’s Comics and Stories.”

    I only have two of these, from Vol. 2, Nos. 1 and 2. They feature a favorite character of mine, Cub Calloway, Ace Reporter, in a strip titled “South of the Slot.” It stands to reason an old rim rat like me would enjoy that sort of thing, having spent my fair share of time south of the slot.

    And yeah, Dan is still spot on. I’ve linked to him here for a while now.

  19. James Says:

    Khal was right in the earlier post about holding off on passing judgement but John makes a good “tin foil beanie”point: if it is the same lab that tested Landis’ wee wee in ’06, then what in the name of Holy Diver are they doing releasing Contador’s results to the public? Wasn’t that one of Arnie and Floyd’s contentions? Stupid frogs….

  20. khal spencer Says:


    Caveat. I don’t do any tests for performance enhancing drugs.

    You have to know a fair amount about the specific chemical being tested, the technique’s reliability and limits, potential interferences to the measurement, and the track record of the lab in question doing this type of analysis before you could answer some of those questions about whether it is reasonable to get a double false positive or negative, i.e., if the A and B samples both hit the jackpot, could they both be wrong?

    It is possible, but that would require the testing lab to make the same mistakes twice. Is that possible? Maybe. For example, if both splits were analyzed using the same batch of process chemicals and if one or more of the chemicals were contaminated, i.e, if both analyses had a technical flaw. Or if both samples were contaminated during chain of custody. Shit can happen. But mind you, I don’t know Jack Schitt about this particular analysis.

    Thing is, most labs have incredibly detailed protocols in place to prevent such mistakes from happening; any chemist worth his/her paycheck would make sure the A and B splits were truly independently analyzed. That is not to say its impossible.

    If you read the 11 page critique, you see that 50 picograms was purportedly a somewhat qualitative rather than quantitative measurement, so one can assume, perhaps, that the lab was reaching down towards its levels of detection. That makes it even more critical that strict and conservative assumptions about the data are made. I hope CP publishes some more on these questions.

    A still deeper level question remains. I sent an email to Pelkey noting that with analytical laboratories being able to confidently detect smaller and smaller quantities of substances, there is the real possibility that we may be reaching detectability limits that might be identifying multiple, potentially innocuous low level input pathways for substances rather than indicating a smoking gun for our assumed doping process. In other words, lets assume it was a true positive. But if you can qualitatively measure 50 picograms of a drug that we know is used in commercial agriculture (essentially as an illicit performance-enhancing drug) and for theraputic treatment as well as in doping, it is potentially possible it came from the dead animal or some other source rather than an illegal doping attempt. How do you test to rule out alternatives? Stable isotopes? Metabolites? Voodoo? Population studies of non-dopers who aren’t jocks? We increasingly face that difficulty in environmental geochemistry and for the same reasons–we can now measure quantities of substances (lead, uranium, plutonium, arsenic, etc.) at far lower levels than we could decades ago, and the resultant research identifies more complicated pathways of fate and transport than a simple minded hypothesis might suggest. Fish in the oceans are testing positive for human hormones and other anthropogenic chemicals. Does that mean they are doping?

    Paola Pezzo…plenty of people wouldn’t mind giving her a steroid injection…

  21. SteveO Says:

    // Jeezus H. Christmas, just ONCE, ONE TIME, I’d like to see someone who gets popped stand up and say: “Ahh balls…yeah, hell, ya got me. I took the stuff and I’m an idiot. Ban me for two years, starting right now, and let’s get on with it…” //

    The problem is, you fess up, you’re not just confessing your own personal misdeeds, but also implicating teammates. Lots of research on why folks lie when there are cultural or social costs and considerations. George Washington said, I cut down that cherry tree.* But would he have ratted out the neighborhood mubbleypeg league if the whole gang had done the same thing?

    Unlikely that anyone is doping in a vacuum, and fessing up is also pointing the finger, so I get why folks are reluctant.

    *actually, he never said that.

  22. Larry T. Says:

    The “false positive” makes for some good sound bites when these guys get popped but don’t forget in many, if not most cases, the limits for these substances are not ZERO. Because the dope police want to avoid too many cases getting tossed out on some technical error claim, the levels that trigger sanctions are usually set at the high end, letting cheaters who are clever and careful to stay under the limit get away with doping. The testosterone case is a good illustration – they used to let a guy measure out something like 13 to 1 for the testosterone/epitestosterone ratio when normal males are much closer to 1 to 1. They closed the gap down to somewhere around 9 to 1 later but this still left a lot of testosterone to be taken (or occur “naturally” or be eaten via tainted beef) to be used.
    Landis’ levels were WAY up there according to the tests, far beyond any normal human male, but I think they were UNDER the original, super-high limits. Think of the cops on the highway, they set the radar gun to start barking when a speeder goes by 10 or 15 mph over the limit while the “speeders” going by just 9 mph over the limit go right on by.
    In most cases athletes get the benefit of the doubt by design — there are VERY few (NONE that I can recall at this moment) false positives but a LOT of false negatives where guys are getting away with doping because they keep the levels just under the limit for sanction while still doping.
    The plastic residue as evidence of blood doping is an interesting angle but I suspect any bike racer accused via this method will have a story that it’s caused by drinking all that liquid from bike bottles rather than transfusing.
    R. Crumb — almost 40 years ago I searched all over for a t-shirt with the infamous “get your shit together” illustration on it. OG probably has a signed original of the two turds walking hand-n-hand…sadly my mother hated the thing so much she threw it away one day rather than wash it!

  23. Patrick O'Grady Says:

    Contador’s problem is that any amount of clenbuterol — even a hint of a notion of a whisper of a smidgen — constitutes a violation. And it doesn’t matter how it got into his wee-wee, ’cause an athlete is responsible for anything that turns up in his or her body.

    I don’t know how much wiggle room there is in enforcement these days. Absent hard proof of autologous blood doping one might think a reasonable organization would give Contador a pass on this one. But I recall Scott Moninger doing a pretty fair job of proving that his doping positive for 19-norandrosterone came from a tainted supplement and he still got a suspension, albeit a reduced sentence of one year.

    Any suspension obviously would cost Contador the 2010 Tour title, and even a short one might croak Bjarne Riis’ team, so who knows? I just wish these guys would knock this shit off. I was a police reporter briefly in the Seventies and I didn’t care for it.

  24. khal spencer Says:

    I find this frustrating because if Contador is stripped of his title for what amounts to a false charge of doping (which is not the same as a false positive) based on a real but doping-unrelated ultra-trace level presence of a banned substance, it throws cycling’s doping issue into even more chaos than it already is.

    In my world, we deal with this all the time. For example, back in Hawaii I once got a call from the Dept. of Health, which was on the verge of being taken to court. Turns out they had mischaracterized a soil sample lead analysis by assuming that the lead in the soil, if uncontaminated, should be there in concentrations similar to what is found in the island’s rocks and was on the verge of demanding that a company engage in costly cleanup. But the lead in the islands soils had little to do with rock lead, which was a minor component. Nonpoint source lead pollution from the island’s cars (having burned leaded gas for decades) had raised the overall baseline in urban areas and spiked to very high levels near major roads and storm drains. Atmospheric transport of natural and anthropogenic dusts and aerosols brings in lead from elsewhere and that lead was present in areas of high rural rainfall, i.e, in the mountains. We published some detailed mass spectrometric work on lead isotopes in Hawaiian soils to help sort this all out.

    Sorting out these details is interesting work, but the accusations get old after a while and half the public doesn’t believe the explanation anyway. We are all too cynical, whether it be professional doping in sports or other issues. And why not? Its not like we haven’t been lied to before. Truth is an uncommon gem whether it be sports, business, or government.

    On the other hand, we might see a lot of European racers become vegetarians. Maybe PETA was behind this…

  25. khal spencer Says:

    Speaking of a little bit of evidence of autologous blood doping, check today’s NY Times blog:

    “…As Cycling News noted on Friday, the French sports paper L’Equipe has also reported that some amount of DEHP (i.e., a plasticizer used in blood bags) had been detected in Contador’s sample by the German lab that found the banned substance. According to L’Equipe, the lab used a new method to detect the DEHP residue which was developed in Spain but has not yet been tested and approved for official use…”

    Ahh, merde…

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