Thursday, May 31, 2007

Cycling Freakonomics

I remembered reading an article some time ago that discussed doping in cycling from a statistical point of view. I looked it up and it turns out that it was not an article on cycling, but a four-paragraph introduction to a review of the book, Freakonomics. The book was written by a University of Chicago economist, Steven Levitt, and Stephen Dubner, a journalist. The review was written by Dr. Michael Shermer, a former professional cyclist, prolific writer, speaker and educator. Dr. Shermer discusses how one might apply economics to the idea that gains in professional cycling performance may not just be due to improvements in equipment and training and changes in the race itself. Interesting start to an excellent review of a fascinating book.

Funny thing. Here's a quote from the first paragraph of the review:
A friend who knows my penchant for exposing fraud suggested I track the winners’ speeds from the Tour de France to note the increase after 1991, the year he says EPO was introduced. Since my friend won the Tour three times, I figured it was worth checking.
I believe that friend is none other than Greg LeMond. I don't believe that any additional statistical analysis was ever published following up on Dr. Shermer's ideas, but I do know that LeMond continues to claim that all pro cyclists dope.

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