Originally Posted by Chas
On the whole I agree with your longer post above, except that I cannot conclude with any certainty that ALL professional cyclists are using PEDs. There are major personal and professional risks involved for one thing, and you need some fairly sophisticated backing to keep under the radar. Do ALL pro cyclists have that level of technical backing, of the sort apparently available to USPS? Even if they do, are they ALL willing to contribute to the degradation of the sport in this way? I don't think that the answer is clearly yes. I am not quite that cynical, yet.
I'm not really saying all of them cheat, but it just seems to be that the higher you rank in the sport of cycling, the higher the likelihood that you are cheating in some way or another. Believe it or not, Football (soccer), and Cycling are the two LARGEST sports worldwide if you don't include us idiot americans, 3rd is usually basketball, so there is a TON of money in it. Many of the teams are sponsored by companies far larger than USPS, T-Mobile has teams, Radio Shack had a team, HTC, Rabobank, Garmin, Cervelo, Shimano, and other companies have teams with large amounts of corporate backing (and if you look at any jersey there are at least 10 different sponsors on them). As others have said, there are likely many people who absolutely refuse to use any form of PED and have remained steadfast in their convictions. Such people are likely the support riders that just help keep pace during the race within the peleton or in the breakaway groups, but you will likely never see one at the top of the leader board at any given time for an extended period of time. They may be individual stage winners but I think it would be very highly unlikely that the overall individual winner wasn't somehow using. Another problem you may have is that standing your gound may cause you to lose your job. Many of these teams expect results and if you are the odd ball out in that you are not using but others are, I would imagine it couldn't be too hard to engineer getting them off the team in favor of someone on board. I would imagine it wouldn't be hard as they likely might not trust you since you aren't on board with it, but on the other hand if you came out and said something to the press, they could easily turn and accuse you of being in on it too and once that stigma is on you, it never goes away. Again I DO believe there are many clean riders, but they will almost always be overshadowed by the dirty ones.
As much as many would knock cycling for being simple or "easy" compared to say the "grueling" sport of american football, any endurance athlete (Marathon, Cycling, Triathlon, etc...) is pushed to their physical limits no matter the training. My dad recently did a 600k ride in 40 hours to try and qualify for some nationwide competition. They left at 5:30AM, didn't get home until 4AM the next day, he took a shower, changed, ate a quick carb rich meal, took an hour nap, and then set out to finish the rest. I don't think he touched his bike for 2 to 3 days after that just out of exhaustion (he's 56 and can still do this stuff...he's nuts lol). Those pro guys are riding shorter distances than that but at MUCH faster pace (25-30mph). He said anyone who thinks it's easy to do that should get on your bike and try to ride even 1/4 of a mile at that speed, you wouldn't likely make it 1/8th at that pace. What riders use the things for is to drastically reduce recovery times. They are doing over 100 miles a day with a few breaks for over 3 weeks, being able to recover quickly is a tremendous advantage over the field.
My dad said one of the latest ways to legally get the benefits of EPO without actually using it is for athletes to train at lower altitudes and then purchase or build a hyperbaric chamber and sleep in that to replicate living in a higher altitude climate. This causes your body to create more red blood cells while consequently thickening your blood (the major MAJOR danger of using it) but your body becomes far more efficient with oxygen at regular altitudes when it "thinks" it's been at higher altitudes where the air is thinner. It's similar to having to rest and acclimate at different altitudes on Everest to make sure you don't die of altitude sickness.
Lastly, another tiny detail I omitted from my first post, the USADA stripped Armstrong of his titles, but USADA only has jurisdiction within the United States. The UCI is the governing body of cycling and they have requested to see the evidence that USADA has that prompted their decision. I would guess that UCI would likely follow suit but that doesn't mean they will. I liken it to say America stripping Merion Jones of her gold medal but the IOC does not...that would look very odd if that were the way it had happened. Either way the evidence will likely never see the light of day, neither will the testimonies (whether for or against), but this is likely not over and won't be for a very long time.