Colorado Springs, CO (Sportsman's Daily Wire Service) -- As cyclists battle the withering heat at this year's Tour de France, the cycling world was dealt a blow when it was revealed that Vince Smith, a highly touted young cyclist from Portland, Oregon was suspended for suspicions of using performance-enhancing drugs.
Twenty one year old Smith, once considered a rising star, has been suspended from the USA Cycling Development Team pending a full review of his medical history. The news came as a shock to team members who claim to have seen no hints or signs of drug use.
"Since I've known him he was your prototypical cyclist -- lean, compact, sinewy," said Todd Springer, a cyclist with the USA Development Team. "Some of us noticed the almost overnight increase in the size of his thighs, chest and arms. But drug use was the furthest thing from our mind -- after all, increased muscle mass is not what you want when you're looking to improve your aerodynamics."
Team officials were also caught by surprise.
"In retrospect, sure, how could we have missed it," rhetorically asked Heathcliff Johnson, the USA Cycle Association's Director of Events. "But usually -- and by definition -- performance enhancing drugs enhance your performance. Over the past six months Vince's times have gone from bad to worse. Over the past several weeks you could have timed him with a sundial. So we were completely thrown."
Typically, cyclists looking for "an edge" use erythropoietin (EPO), growth hormones, testosterone and/or amphetamines. Discerning cyclists do not, as a rule, use anabolic steroids -- the performance-enhancer of choice among bodybuilders and wrestlers as well as baseball and football players.
"We went up to profile Vince about eight months ago for a piece on up-and-comers," said Fred Parsons, editor of Cycling Magazine. "He let us in on one of his workouts, which was almost horrifyingly grueling. We'd been with Lance who's training regimen was second to none with respect to pushing the envelope of human endurance. But Vince's routine was insane -- up at 3 AM for an hour of stretching, then he'd gulp back two dozen raw eggs, do another two hours of weight training under the strict supervision of Hans Mueller, then 120 miles of non-stop cycling- with the briefest of so-called bathroom breaks."
According to sources, Hans Mueller is a shadowy figure once affiliated with the East German Olympic swim team. Parsons describes Mueller following Smith in his SUV; they'd periodically disappear into a roadside john for about four minutes at a stretch, after which Mueller would emerge with a cup and run it through tests in the mobile lab he had in the back of his SUV.
"Four months later the article hits newstands and the next day this huge, heavily muscled guy comes storming through the office -- it was Vince threatening to sue us for running a picture of him emerging from one of the roadside johns rubbing his right butt cheek, followed by a distracted looking Mueller peering into a dixie cup."
"Look, it's not like we didn't put two and two together," said Henri LeConte, an official with the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI). "It's just that the answer never came up 4. I mean, what cyclist sticks needles in his ass? Do you have any idea of the pounding your ass takes over the course of an event? No cyclist I know of is going to use one of his chief assets -- his ass -- as a pin cushion."
Smith's attorney Brad Long vowed to appeal the ruling. He was scheduled to hold a press conference earlier today, but was was detained; the freakishly large and heavily muscled attorney has himself has been accused by the Oregon Bar Association of taking performance-enhancing drugs -- long suspected given his penchant for lunging at jurors in the midst of rage-fueled closing arguments -- and is being held for questioning.