June 16, 1904…Bloomsday

Ummmm...GuinnessToday marks the 100th anniversary of Leopold Bloom’s single day journey through the streets of Dublin as chronicled in James Joyce’s Ulysses. While I wish I could be in Dublin in person to down a pint (or 2) of the good stuff at Davy Byrne’s and trace the route of Bloom, maybe a quick trip to the James Joyce pub in Durham will be an amenable substitute. Here’s a concise summary of the significance and importance of Bloomsday, courtesy of the New York Times or, for the brave of heart, an exhaustively researched site concerning all things Joyceana.

Drugs, Drugs, and more Drugs

It’s been a banner week for professional cycling drug revelations with the publishing of David Walsh’s and Pierre Ballester’s book L.A. Confidential: The Secrets of Lance Armstrong and Matt DeCanio’s confessional about his experiences with drug use both in Europe and the United States.

First, the Lance Armstrong expose. From what I’ve read of excerpts and preliminary reviews the damning testimony comes from former Motorola/US Postal soigneur/masseuse Emma O’Reilly and former Motorola pro Stephen Swart. The timing of this book reeks of making oodles of money on the eve of Armstrong’s attempt at an unprecedented 6 straight Tour de France victories. Evidently, the damning testimony comes from Emma O’Reilly during Armstrong’s first Tour victory in 1999 where she claimed she disposed of syringes and helped cover up a positive steroid test as well as Stephen Swart’s claim of EPO use during Motorola’s 1994-1995 Tours. I’m sure the publishers feel they’ve got either something very credible or rather weakly circumstancial since from what I understand the libel laws in France and England make it easier for those who feel they’re slandered to collect damages than in the U.S. The fact that a publisher would risk their financial neck leads me to believe that they’ve done their homework and stand by what the book says. Armstrong has already sicked his legions of lawyers upon the publishers, I can’t wait to see how it all plays out in court. Of course, the publishers may be shifting the blame to O’Reilly and Swart. Who knows. I would like to read the book before I pass judgement on Armstrong. I really want to believe he’s clean and he’s finally chucked aside the doper’s lame-ass parsing of language. Rather than repeat his mantra, “I’ve never failed a drug test” which leaves open the option that substances undetectable in tests are still being ingested Armstrong actually claimed that he’s never ingested performance enhancing substances which is doesn’t really leave any semantic way out. The timing of publication leaves me very uncomfortable. O’Reilly and Swart have been sitting on their stories for some time, why are they coming to light now mere weeks before a historic Tour? $$$$$$$….

Matt DeCanio’s claims of witnessing doping in Europe and finally succumbing to There's nothing like a Guinness on Bloomsday temptation in the U.S. are just grim, grim, grim. His anecdotal observations and allegations also makes me think of how, in my mind, too many promising and successful American riders of my generation, both men and women, have been stricken with auto-immune diseases, perhaps a consequence of doping with cortisone. Think, how many riders can you recall who’s careers were compromised by Epstein-Barr, Lupus, Mononucleosis, Parkinson’s, Parovirus? What has become of the Greg Strock story? When will the madness end? I really want to believe that the current crop of D3 pros in the US who I admire are clean. Here are guys giving their hearts and souls to a sport that largely exists under the radar, riding for a pittance, with no long-term job security. It always irks me to see how much golfers win week in and week out when compared to cycling. The richest race in the US, the USPRO race in Philadelphia paid out a total purse of $135,000 split among the top 40 finishers. The upcoming US Open golf tournament pays out $6.25 million. The inequity in compensation never fails to make me bitter.

Well, happy Bloomsday everybody.

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