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Bode Miller heads for R links Bonds, Armstrong to drugs

Bode Miller heads for R&R; links Bonds, Armstrong to drugs{mosimage}GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany – Just as the brash World Cup champion skier decided to skip this weekend’s events to rest up for the Torino Games and get away from media scrutiny, Miller suggested in an interview with Rolling Stone that Barry Bonds and Lance Armstrong took performance-enhancing drugs.

“Right now, if you want to cheat, you can: Barry Bonds and those guys are just knowingly cheating, but there’s all sorts of loopholes,” he told the magazine. “If you say it has to be ‘knowingly,’ you do what Lance (Armstrong) and all those guys do, where every morning their doctor gives them a box of pills and they don’t ask anything, they just take the pills.”

Bonds’ agent, Jeff Borris, declined to respond to Miller’s comments. Telephone and e-mail messages left with Armstrong representatives were not immediately returned Thursday.

U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association spokesman Tom Kelly said the organization had no response.
The U.S. Ski Team is hoping Bode Miller’s short vacation with his brother will help ”ground him.”

Weary of the controversy surrounding him and frustrated with his performances, Miller decided to skip this weekend’s World Cup downhill and super G to relax and play golf with younger brother Chelone.

”It might be a good way for him to ground himself a bit,” U.S. speed coach John McBride said. ”I think it’s great he’s with his brother. Not only getting away from the sports but putting everything in perspective.

”He and his brother are very close. He hasn’t spent time with his family in a while. I think any time you can get with your family and friends, people that are close to you, it’s good. I think he’s often surrounded by lots of people who aren’t that meaningful to him in a deep sense. Of course he supports his fans, but he’s constantly around people he doesn’t know well. To be able to get away and not have people pestering him, spend some quality time with his brother, is good.”

Chelone Miller suffered severe head injuries in a motorcycle crash three months ago in New Hampshire.

Bode Miller, who competed in 136 straight World Cup races, last missed a race in March 2002.

Though he still shows signs of greatness, Miller has not achieved the same level of results as last season, when he became the first American to win the overall World Cup title in 22 years.

At this point last year, Miller had accumulated six wins and four other podium finishes. So far this season, he has one victory and four other top-three finishes. Adding to the frustration, Miller has completed only two of seven slaloms.

”We haven’t had the slalom training needed to get his equipment tested and his knee is a bit of an issue,” McBride said.

Miller is currently fourth in the overall standings and trails overall leader Benjamin Raich by 264 points. Raich has 952 points, followed by Michael Walchhofer with 704 and Daron Rahlves with 689.

Miller, who loathes excessive media attention, has been the object of intense scrutiny all season.

In October, he infuriated officials by calling for liberalized doping, and was fined last month for refusing to take a routine boot test after a World Cup slalom race.

Miller made more headlines by suggesting in a TV interview that he had raced while under the influence of alcohol.

He apologized for those comments in Wengen, Switzerland, but was fined the following day for completing a slalom despite straddling a gate. That night, Miller skipped the mandatory bib draw ceremony in the town square, prompting officials to give him a later start number for the next day’s downhill.

”The whole thing with (the TV interview) bothered him. I think maybe a little time off will help him gain perspective on the whole thing and why he does it and how important it is to him. What he’s capable of achieving,” McBride said. ”Right now the important thing is for him to come into the Olympics on top of his game.

”He may not be able to beat anyone for individual (World Cup) titles at this point but it’s not at all out of the question for him to be ready to do it on game day.”

Miller plans to compete in all five events at the Olympics and is expected to race in Chamonix, France, on Feb. 3-4 – the final World Cup men’s race before the Torino Games.

”For me he is one of those racers who can win a medal in more than one event,” World Cup race director Guenter Hujara said. ”Maybe he hasn’t had many results yet this season but I’m sure he can turn it on for the Olympics. He is a great skier.”

The team has not said where Miller is, but the skier’s childhood friend, Jake Sereno, wrote in a blog posted last week that ”Bode is going somewhere warm next week, and he is very happy about that.”

– The Associated Press

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