It’s Not the Dopers Who Are Killing Cycling

03.14.2007 | 5:10 am

A Note From Fatty: Today’s post comes to you courtesy of Dr. BotchedExperiment, who spends all his time busting sick moves, thinking deep thoughts, wearing a square hat, and writing angry letters about things ranging from the way cheese smells to the deplanetization of Pluto (an outrage!).

Today, he is angry about the whole bike/doping situation. I find his logic compelling, and his anger cathartic. Enjoy!

Let’s get a couple things out of the way
There are two reasons doping exists in cycling. 1) Each individual cyclist is highly competitive. 2) For the top riders, there are millions of dollars at stake. Desire and money; prestige and cash. That’s it. Show me a sport where there is no money involved and the athletes don’t care whether they win, and I’ll show you a sport where no one’s cheating.

When I hear cyclists and pundits say that professional road cycling is too hard and it forces the riders to cheat, I want to pull my hair and bang my head against a solid surface. It seems these folks have never heard of track cycling, in which some races last ONE MINUTE and yet, track cycling has every bit a performance enhancing drug (PED) problem as road cycling.

Compare and Contrast: American Football and Cycling
America’s National Football League (NFL) is the most financially successful and fastest growing sports league in the world. American football is also one of the sports in which athletes would most benefit from using performance enhancing drugs.

Only recently has the NFL bumped up its penalties for a positive for a performance enhancing substance: 1st positive = 1/4 season, 2nd positive = 3/8 season, 3rd positive = 1 season. As you know, cycling has a 1st offence 2 year suspension, compounded by a 2 year Pro Tour suspension, making a 4 year ban for a 1st offence.

The NFL doesn’t use blood for any tests, only urine, and astoundingly only recently started testing for most masking agents and considering their presence as a positive drug test. The NFL still doesn’t test for amphetamines. Cycling uses blood, urine, and is trying to get DNA, and tests for an astounding array of substances.

While there are potentially millions of dollars at stake for each NFL player, in cycling, there are only a handful of riders capable of making that type of income.

In every way, NFL players have more reason to use performance enhancing drugs than cyclists, and yet the NFL has never been perceived to have a PED problem. I have never heard anyone say “Yeah, but the Superbowl winning team was probably on steroids,” or, “Ladanian Tomlinson couldn’t be that good naturally, he must be on human growth hormone.”

In the NFL, the drug testing and punishment is handled in-house by the NFL, and when there is a positive test, the details of the test are suppressed (again, only recently have they even started releasing the identity of the players who test positive). The only thing the public hears is “player x suspended 4 games for violating NFL drug policy.” You hear about the doper and the offence once, after the test has been substantiated, the penalty decided, and the initial denial of the player has been heard by the league. To make doping and punishing of doping even more of a non-issue, no records, wins, or titles are stripped from any players of teams, and there has never been a star player severely punished by the NFL for PEDs.

Time to make significant changes
I used to think the NFL’s drug policy was a joke, and that cycling did it right, but I was absolutely wrong. I have two words to say about that subject: Operation Puerto. UCI/WADA’s inept attempts at saving cycling from dopers is killing the sport. Just as police often suspend a high-speed chase in a city, understanding that during the course of catching the fleeing suspect they may do more harm than good, cycling needs to temporarily cease its more high-profile attempts at catching dopers until they can do it without seeming like a Three Stooges skit.

  • Somebody get a big, family sized roll of duct tape and wrap it around Dick Pound’s (WADA) and Pat McQuaid’s (UCI) faces until they can no longer speak. Every time they open their mouths, cycling gets worse.
  • Approach catching cheaters as a way of further enhancing the sport’s popularity, and STOP making catching/punishing dopers more important that putting an entertaining product on the road.
  • Abandon suspensions for “positive” results from current tests involving heterologous blood doping, testosterone, and EPO (except the 50% hematocrit rule). The science behind these tests is not indisputable and endless debate about them only hurts cycling.
  • Begin building physiological profiles for each rider, consisting of hormone profiles (testosterone, erythropoietin, etc) hematocrit levels, red blood cell precursor levels, and DNA (the real future of doping lies in modifying the DNA of blood cells such that an individual “naturally” expresses more EPO, testosterone, growth hormone, etc). These files won’t be of much use for riders who are at the end of their careers, but testing of all the top junior level riders should begin immediately. The idea here is that in the future “positive” doping results will be based on an individual’s deviation from their own “normal” parameters.
  • Get the testing labs under control. Right now it doesn’t matter whether someone returns a positive dope test because the labs processing the samples are being run so poorly that the results will never hold up (see Paula Pezzo and Floyd Landis for examples). Use private labs and hold them to a high standard.
  • Automate rider sample collection, storage, and retrieval. This is so easy it’s ridiculous. Take the human element out of sample collection and solidify chain of custody and eliminate access to the samples.
  • Unify cycling. I don’t know of any other sport that is run by more organizations, here’s a partial list: UCI, ASO, WADA, IOC, International Professional Cycling Teams (IPCT), national cycling associations, national Olympic associations, race promoters, and team sponsors (with each team having many sponsors). Some of this is due to the international nature of cycling, and is the result of an evolutionary process. Time for Intelligent Design! I realize this is nearly impossible unless one organization comes up with billions of dollars to buy everyone out, but the fight against doping has to be unified.

PS: Don’t even get me started about the way UCI and ASO politics are screwing up the sport.


  1. Comment by Eufemiano Fuentes | 03.14.2007 | 5:29 am

    Yes! Yes!!

    Finally. someone making some sense.

    cease the high profile attempts at catching dopers!

    oh, it is going to be a great 2007 racing season.

    And personally, even tough I admit I am not impartial in this matter, I think the hemocrit rule should be at 65%.

  2. Comment by Tim D | 03.14.2007 | 5:38 am

    I agree entirely. Another factor in all this is that that riders take all the risks, both in terms of health and to careeres, whilst the teams are free to stand back and wash their hands. It is obvious that many in the team structures are involved, but there is no onus on the teams to run a clean outfit.

  3. Comment by TimK | 03.14.2007 | 5:43 am


  4. Comment by Eric | 03.14.2007 | 5:56 am

    Say it Bro!! The sanctimonious attitude by UCI, WADA and ASO and their religious quest to uncover dopers and drive them from the sport has turned the whole process into an inquisition, all the more so since the “conviction” is based on questionable (even wrong) science and sketchy tests/testing. Indeed, the Puerto affair deprived us of what should have been a great(er) Tour based purely on bare accusations that have yet to yield anything concrete. Rather than circle together and figure out how to address the problem as a sport for the good of the sport, the different entities seem more than happy to fight for the title of Worlds Most Aggressive Dope Hater while tearing the sport apart and harming the only two groups who are truly essential: riders and fans. Obviously I am just getting warmed up, but you already said it.

  5. Comment by Lurch | 03.14.2007 | 6:08 am

    I agree wholeheartedly. I’m so tired of Dick Pound and the rest of those clowns in that 3 ring circus. He thinks he’s the savior. He’s actually more like an embalmer standing at the gravesite wanting everyone to recognize what a great job he did.

  6. Comment by Derek | 03.14.2007 | 6:51 am

    Well said, botched. Print it out a bunch of copies, stick them in evnelopers addressed to the Cycling Press, and drop em in the mailbox.

  7. Comment by Boz | 03.14.2007 | 6:55 am

    God job, Dr. BE.
    The recent bust of the drug supply house in Orlando shined a new light on the NFL and MLB, but is still a very dim light. We seem outraged that baseball and cycling are not what they appear to be, but give football the old nudge-nudge, wink-wink treatment. It appears the old Steelers “steel curtain” was the maybe the “steroid curtain”. I guess we realize that the behemouths of the NFL are just a step classier than the WWE. I guess we are more scared of greyhounds on EPO than psyco 325 lb defensive tackles.

  8. Comment by Den | 03.14.2007 | 7:02 am

    A sensible way to deal with the doping problem in cycling?


  9. Comment by Dave Nice | 03.14.2007 | 7:04 am

    Very well put!

  10. Comment by Den | 03.14.2007 | 7:05 am

    Oh yea, I almost forgot:

    Please drink Guinness draft responsibly this St. Patrick’s Day

  11. Comment by Anonymous | 03.14.2007 | 7:41 am

    take out the intelligent design comment (not really the place for this) and your letter is spot on. too bad the people that actually make the decisions are so caught up in their power struggles that they lose sight of what their goals are. I still cant get over the fact that Ullrich retired over something that in the end was completely unfounded (even though I admit he may be guilty there was nothing anywhere close to evidence in this whole Operation Puerto affair). All this politics makes me wanna puke.
    On a lighter note, I’m going out for a ride since the weather here is in the low 80’s and I’m in no rush to get to class.

  12. Comment by sans auto | 03.14.2007 | 7:44 am

    I think it was Jacques Antequil that said, “you can’t win the Tour de France on mineral water alone”… I don’t think he was talking about gatorade.

    Well said botched

  13. Comment by BotchedExperiment | 03.14.2007 | 7:57 am

    Anonymous, re-read the intelligent design part. I stand by it as appropriate. And don’t tell me what is or isn’t appropriate to include in MY opinion piece. Thanks.


  14. Comment by Al Maviva | 03.14.2007 | 8:11 am

    Botched – Brilliant! And not in a Guinnes ad sort of way.

    I’d modify a few things.

    Instead of whacking a roll of duct tape on Dick Pound’s and Pat McQuaid’s faces, I’d whack a roll of quarters on their faces. Preferably stuck inside of a sock, but if that wasn’t available we could maybe improvise a zip gun out of some black powder and a 1.5″ lead pipe.

    Second, not only would I require the sanctioning body to get control of the labs, I’d also require them to move the labs out of France, fire the French bastards working in the lab, and if anybody speaks French, gets a French letter, a French rub or a French Polishing, or so much as orders French Fries from McDonalds, I’d can them. I’d require L’Equipe to divest from the Grand Tours, and if anybody from L’Equipe showed up at a race – if anybody even had Mavic Equipes mounted on their bike, I’d fire them too. The ties between the French tabloid and the big Tour, the French press and industry generally and the testing labs, and their police and major doping busts, combined with their insane xenophobia and general lunatic paranoia about being unable to produce any more great champions, casts a pall on anti-doping measures. It’s like trusting Fatty with a dozen mixed from Dunkin Donuts that you are saving for the office staff call… you want to trust him, but history shows it is inevitably a bad idea. So too, the French and anti-doping measures directed at riders of other nationalities, especially Germans, Americans and Belgians.

    Third, I’d move the testing and suspensions completely in-house, and introduce flexibility in sentencing, kind of like hanging signs around the necks of DWI law violators. Punish riders with in-kind punishment. Let’s say that Robbie McEwen was caught doping… force him to ride hill repeats until he cries. It should only take about two hills. Now that’s a deterrent. Suppose Frank Schleck was caught doping… make him eat ice cream sundaes until he gains 15 pounds (destroying his climbing and maybe his career) and throws up. Feed him with an eye dropper if necessary. (It will be). Make George Hincapie actually lead a team in a race and be a supported rider, rather than a lieutenant. (Make sure you have a big cheesecloth bag handy, to capture his soul as it leaves his body). Cut off Ullrich’s supply of Pot Belge. Make Basso try to life a weight heavier than ten pounds, using only his arms, and then when his arms snap, splint them with popsicle sticks and some scotch tape, which will weigh him down so badly he’ll be unable to rise up off the ground. Yes, that’s right – do the things to them they most hate and fear. Soon, they’d be scared straight.

    Fourth, Unibet can’t compete because it’s a gambling house, but Davitamon-*Lotto* is okay? What the hell? Okay, fine, I’m going totally off topic here, but it appears that your puny human logic will not work with the mental midgets who run the sport. Either they are unaware that lotteries are a form of gambling, or they think we will all buy their cynical lie that lotteries are not a form of gambling.

    Finally, for anybody found guilty of doping or harming the good name of the sport, send them to work for a year as a human test subject in… wait for it… The Eeevil Labora-tories of Doctor Laemmler. After 365 days of being subjected to relentless spalming, reduced turbulence, and incomprehensible grammar, they would beg for mercy.

    In other words, I think you have some decent ideas, but I haven’t a clue if they would help, or if anything else could help pro cycling; I strongly suspect the racing game is permanently in the hands of the pimps, fixers, thieves, cutthroats, Methodists, hacks, and sporting women, and nothing can be done to save it. This counsels adoption of a cynical attitude, and cheering each predictable train wreck of scandal – in the manner of a Jerry Springer audience cheering on the inbred incestuous alcoholic drug abusing adulterous perverts who appear on his show to testify about their own deviancy. I suggest we develop a cheer – “harrumph,” “woof” and “whooo-oooo-ooo-oooo” are already taken. Perhaps something that mimics the sickening noise of 31 riders going down in a pile in the final corner of a hot criterium, with the attendant snapping of bones, carbon fiber, scandium and egos, would be appropriate.

    What the sport really needs, is its own Kennesaw Mountain Landis. Except with a Rambo-like physique, a Rambo-like propensity for machine gunning enemies of the sport, and a really cool name. Perhaps some Somalian warlord is available. I hear some of them are looking for new jobs…

  15. Comment by BotchedExperiment | 03.14.2007 | 8:17 am

    My intention for the “Unify Cycling” part was to point out that the organization of cycling is a mess. If cycling is ever going to run as smooth as other sports leagues, it has to be run by one organization, so I think it is time to un-do the current mess and purposefully and intelligently design a strategy that will allow cycling to be unified as a whole.

    Unfortunately, that’s going to take an amazing amount of money and in the end would probably result in people having to buy tickets to see the end of races or crucial mountain passes.

    Since the total organization of cycling isn’t possible, I’d love to see fewer people involved in the fight against doping. Did you hear about the fiasco involving last year’s Tour of California? They didn’t test for EPO because the organizers thought the UCI, via WADA would automatically do it and it turns out that the organizers have to specifically ask for those tests to be done!!!

    Oh, this reminds me of a FatCyclist Fake News Service where Donald Trump is going to buy the TOF and move it to the USA!!! Oh man, wait, let me see if I can find it; here it is:!1pUmGvi9idWgOodsIbhHUOQA!277.entry

  16. Comment by dug | 03.14.2007 | 8:18 am

    yer dum. dick pound rocks. i wish i was named dick pound. i’d be more famous than john the wad holmes. i wonder if dick pound has trademarked his name.

    dick pound is evidence of intelligent design.

  17. Comment by axel | 03.14.2007 | 8:31 am

    I agree on Pound, McQuaid, the incompetent labs, the media circus surrounding doping.
    I’d add to it the inability of USADA to finish the Landis case in a timely manner.

    But I disagree on not using certain tests. We could use all the means we have, the cheating is widespread. And it is not a criminal court with death penalty where we must not convict the innocent, a rare false positive is tolerable – it is just sports after all.
    And remember, most of the Puerto riders are cheats, in spite of how this affair has been handled – the blood and doping products are there.

  18. Comment by BotchedExperiment | 03.14.2007 | 9:00 am

    Axel, the problem is that the tests aren’t resulting in any suspensions that are really sticking or at least that are not controversial. Floyd Landis is going to get off, no doubt about it. The French National lab, Catanay-Malabry, has so screwed up procedurally, that his (and others in the past) results are not going to be held up.

    You can say he’s getting off on a technicality, but the other viewpoint, is that since they didn’t maintain proper chain of custody and since the same person performed the tests on his “A” sample and “B” sample, it would have only taken 1 person at the lab to fake his test results. It’s a huge issue, and further, if they can’t even keep track of who at the lab is doing what tests on what samples, do you really think they’re keeping on top of the science going on at the lab and maintaining perfect calibration of equipment, constant references to controls? Personally, I doubt it.

    I am only suggesting suspending punishment for testing positive until there are more data on each individual rider’s hormone profiles.

  19. Comment by BotchedExperiment | 03.14.2007 | 9:02 am

    dug, YER dummmmer. If your name was Dick Pound, you’d have never made it out of the 8th grade. You with your flock of seagull hair, briaded leather neclace and named Dick Pound. Recipe for disaster.

  20. Comment by buckythedonkey | 03.14.2007 | 9:21 am

    An Unlimited Modified class of rider should be introduced. Not only would it attract the big pharmaceuticals as sponsors (duels between Roche and GlaxoSmithKline in the mass sprints) but it would doubtless speed up developments in bio-engineering.

    Embrace the cheats! I see no downside, except that maybe the Tour would only last a week.

  21. Comment by Jose | 03.14.2007 | 9:43 am

    This is the most serious post that I have ever read in this blog. No offense fatty, but you should let Botched open a weekly post about serious stuff. I would name it “Serious Cyling with Dr. Botched.” I think that your hits will increase considerably.

    PS: Of course, Botched himself will make a very good percentage of the new hits. Let’s say 5000/day.

  22. Comment by Mrs. Coach | 03.14.2007 | 10:27 am

    Wow, some very good comments. Bob and I were just talking about all this BS the other day. It is my (unfortunately sad) theory that in the next few years (European) cycling is going to continue this downward spiral. Its like a house built with duct tape and a glue gun. When something breaks instead of getting to the root of the problem they just add more duct tape. It is an unstable horrific mess. Once it finally all comes crashing down it will lay smoldering in the ashes for a couple years. Until some (insanely rich) luminary (Dr. BE) comes along with such a passion for the sport that they pick it up, dust it off and help it learn how to ride a tricycle again. Then slowly as faith and sponsorship in the sport grow again it can be upgraded to training wheels and finally the coveted two wheeler- as an international organization. Notice I said “an” just one.
    American cycling in the meantime will slowly wax and wane its way international dominance, the leader of the sport.

    I especially liked Al’s theory’s on Dick and Pat. Spot on.

    BE- Well written (and well thought out) and I’ve like reading all your responses to the comments.

  23. Comment by JET(not a nickname) | 03.14.2007 | 10:54 am

    I agree with ya Doc. Unfortunaetly I think we all realize the same thing, that being that the powers that be over there have their talons dug so far in that there is no way of stopping the bleeding. After hearing of some of the stuff involving the labs dealing with the Landis case, I cringe at what else they are doing wrong. At our lab, if we messed up an 1/8th of what they did we would’ve been long shut down. I also agree with the whole athlete profile to get baseline, since some people do naturally produce higher results, however I think it is far too late for that as well. I just don’t see how we could prevent people from juicing up before they go in to have their samples drawn. Perhaps I am wrong with my presumption and maybe one day someone will come along and be the savior that completely strips and rebuilds the sport to being respectable again.

    p.s. I love the Laemmler reference Al Maviva made. I practically fell out of my chair laughing!

  24. Comment by KeepYerBag | 03.14.2007 | 11:10 am

    As long as there are trophies to wave and podiums to stand on and pretty girls to kiss and money to pocket, performance enhancing drug problems in cycling or any other sport will never go away.

    I don’t even know that bucky’s idea of an Unlimited Modified a/k/a “doper” class would change anything, because there will always be some clown trying win the “non-doper” class while doping.

    My wife and I used to be big figure skating fans (go ahead and laugh) but became jaded to that whole world after the 2002 Olympics. It wasn’t the judging scandal itself that soured us–we’d been fans of skating long enough to know that the judging (specially in ice dancing) was a joke.

    We thought what happened at the 2002 Olympics would give the skating world the push it needed to clean itself up, but what they did instead is keep the rotten fish and started tweaking–year after year–a convoluted scoring system into something incomprehensible. In that process they lost us as fans.

    The same kind of thing is happening in cycling: When the focus is on the dirt instead of the sport, fans of the sport are bound to lose interest.

    Excellent post, Dr. Botched.

  25. Comment by bikemike | 03.14.2007 | 11:18 am

    no one expects the spanish inquisition ( in my best michael palin voice).
    good stuff botched. funny like elden but with , you know, smart stuff thrown in for extra measure.

    doesn’t dummmmerer have a hyphen in there some where?

    tomorrow, can we have your take on the uci and aso?

  26. Comment by Al Maviva | 03.14.2007 | 12:03 pm

    Mrs. Coach… Dick and Pat? Are they any relation to Neil and Bob? Freud said there was no such thing as an accident, you know.

    As for the serious side… the sport has always been exploited by pimps, hustlers, thieves, con-men, and exploiters of all sorts. The only thing that separates pro cycling from boxing is that when a competitor gets maimed, it’s usually the result of an accident. That, and Bob Arum hasn’t caused the UCI to splinter into 191 separate sanctioning organizations, and we don’t have to get our licenses through Las Vegas. (Thank God). I noted a comment a few months ago in Bicycling (okay, I’m a dork, I read that rag) by one of the juniors in the Izegem, Belgium USAC developmental house. The young rider noted that he hated the hangers on in pro cycling – the fat, greasy old guys, gamblers and what not, smoking cigars and looking at the young riders askance. They sound like carnies. Yeah, that’s what it’s about. The TdF has always especially been like that… more like gaming, than a sport, not quite rigged, but fixed quite badly. Maybe the deal is, you have to go after the culture that surrounds the sport, rather than the riders. Hit L’Equipe and the testing lab, Pound and the UCI, rather than the riders. Reshuffle the deck and see what happens. God forbid, I’d actually tolerate government action here, it’s that bad right now…

    Oh, and as for an unlimited modified class, I’d be all about that, as long as I get to be an alcohol fueled drag star.

  27. Comment by LanterneRouge | 03.14.2007 | 1:53 pm

    “as long as I get to be an alcohol fueled drag star.”

    We wouldn’t have you any other way, Al.

  28. Comment by MTB W | 03.14.2007 | 1:58 pm

    Gotta say, between the posts and the comments, everyone here keeps me rolling!

  29. Comment by Born4Lycra | 03.14.2007 | 2:48 pm

    Wow a thought provoker. Heavvvvy (best Neil voice from the Young ones) Not what I was expecting over my morning coffee. Good stuff BE. Lets hope someone in a position to actually be doing something about this reads it. Derek’s idea of a mailout to the cycling press (other than FC) has some merit.

  30. Comment by fatty | 03.14.2007 | 2:51 pm

    Aaaahhh. You know, I’m really enjoying my blog today. I’m quite proud of myself for all the work I haven’t done here.

  31. Comment by the weak link | 03.14.2007 | 4:34 pm

    I like the “Unlimited Class” concept. Take it a bit further. Require the top pros to take hallucinogens, Ketamine, and that wonderful drug cocktail we have in Kentucky: Oxycontin, Cialis, and Starbucks breakfast blend. Vinovitch on LSD? Crap, that would make fans of all of America.

    And ditto Al and the French. Call it an even trade. They get Jerry Lewis, and we get pro cycling.

  32. Comment by Caloi-Rider | 03.14.2007 | 4:37 pm

    Botched: brilliant. The sad, even tragic thing is that there are probably too many inflated egos at the top to make this stuff actually happen. Hmmm, any ideas on how to get your thoughts in front of a more powerful audience?

  33. Comment by Big Mike | 03.14.2007 | 10:11 pm

    Al – If you want to be an
    that helps explain why you’re doing an apprenticeship as a

    Small steps.

  34. Comment by Weean | 03.15.2007 | 12:15 am

    I’m going to risk some serious ire here, and disagree with botched:

    No way should Pluto be calling itself a planet. THere’s not a planet named Snoopy, now is there?

  35. Comment by Tim D | 03.15.2007 | 2:26 am

    What are the real issues? I think that we, as athletes (I include myself there as even though I am a fat middle aged bloke, I do do triathlons that are sanctioned by British Triathlon, and therefore possibly may get asked to do a random drugs test) and sports fans, must decide what the purpose of drugs testing is. Is it to maintain the health of the athletes or is it an ethical issue about how much medical interference is permissible in an athlete’s preparation?

    The health approach seems fairly straight forward. Is what you are doing detrimental to your health? Unfortunately, most elite sport can be detrimental to the long-term health of the participant, even more so when elite level is attained at a young age. How many gymnasts develop skeletal problems in later life. Footballers have a much higher incidence of joint problems in later life. Despite this, it should be possible to manage the health of an athlete through his career and into retirement. EPO in itself is not a dangerous drug. From what I gather, if you manage its use properly, it is fairly harmless and if you abuse it to the point where is it dangerous (blood like strawberry jam) it is counterproductive anyway (assuming you don’t die in your sleep). So a properly managed and regulated EPO regime is potentially less dangerous to your health than, say a course of pain killing injections that allow you to compete when not fit. Footballers (both the real thing and American) regularly return to playing before they have fully recovered from injuries and many sustain career ending injuries as a consequence. Properly managed medical preparation of athletes, by sanctioned doctors, where everyone gets the same range of treatments seems logical. What it does though, is force everyone who wants to compete, to take the maximum medical assistance available.

    Ethically, this seems wrong. Athletes must compete on their abilities surely. If I don’t want to pump my body full of chemicals, I should still have a chance to show my natural abilities. This means that we have to make ethical rather than medical judgements about what is and isn’t acceptable. These are much harder to do. What is the difference between using Creatine (allowed) and EPO (not)? They are both chemicals that allow your body to do things it ordinarily wouldn’t, neither if used correctly have an adverse long term health problem. The UCI is talking about banning the use of oxygen tents. How do they test for that? What about medicines to treat genuine medical conditions. I seem to remember a cyclist having to pull out of the tour because he had been stung by a wasp. He had a choice of taking treatment and dropping out of the tour or carrying on untreated. Then there are all the cyclists who seem to suffer from asthma, who seem to get treatments at will.

    What is the answer? I don’t know, but I do know what doesn’t help. A slanging match between WADA and the UCI doesn’t help. A team manager with a wodge of cash, meeting a dodgy doctor doesn’t help. Riders denying they know their own team’s medical staff doesn’t help. Teams blaming riders and riders blaming soigneurs doesn’t help. When riders come clean, like happened with the recent Laurent Roux case, it needs people to stand up and say Yes, these thing are going on, not to blame the individual and claim its an isolated case. Maybe we need an amnesty, where riders, teams doctors et al come clean. Maybe we need a proper debate, where riders aren’t treated as naughty children, or drug dealers, but as adults doing a very hard job, with a very short career, being tempted into dangerous working practices.

  36. Comment by Chris | 03.15.2007 | 4:06 am

    You could not have said it better !

  37. Comment by Al Maviva | 03.15.2007 | 5:09 am

    Tim, I think we have consensus on two points:

    1) The system, as presently constituted, is broken.

    b) Dick Pound and Pat McQuaid should be sentenced to a Pay-Per-View Steel Cage Death Match featuring sledghammer fighting and gasoline-powered eggbeaters, along with man-eating tigers, as soon as possible.

    Agreed? Motion carried.

  38. Comment by BotchedExperiment | 03.15.2007 | 7:21 am

    Al–I banged on McQuaid, but his predecessor, Verbruggen (sp?) was WAY worse (wait, I’m not sure that’s theoretically possible), so I can only vote “I” if you make it a three-way deathmatch. No one should be able to get away with what Henke V. did.

  39. Comment by Tim D | 03.15.2007 | 7:57 am

    Dr Botched, I would agree, Verbruggen was arrogant beyond belief and I thought McQuaid would be a breath of fresh air. Not so I afraid.

  40. Comment by MTB W | 03.15.2007 | 8:41 am

    Dr. B, excellent post (and comments). If only we could “pound” some sense into this messed up system. It’s a complicated matter in which politics (fanned by the ego of Pound, the french labs, and the multitude of organizations involved), money and fame don’t mesh with the science (which is always trying to catch up to the cheaters).

    It may be impossible to get all involved to step back and have a real debate between the organizations, the athletes (who should be able to talk freely without penalty), the fans and scientists but maybe Dr. B could organize a one day boycott of the TDF to get everyone’s attention!

  41. Comment by Ryder | 03.15.2007 | 1:48 pm

    I’ve always thought that the sure way for a cyclist to dispute any doping allegations would be to create a video documentary of their lives 24/7 during the TdF, etc. Sure there is no privacy in it, but it puts a witness on the guy that can’t be argued.

  42. Comment by bruno | 03.15.2007 | 3:31 pm

    hey botched, no offense meant in my earlier reply (the anonymous one).

  43. Comment by BotchedExperiment | 03.15.2007 | 4:21 pm

    Don’t worry about it, I’m just prickly that way.

  44. Comment by beakasaurus | 03.16.2007 | 11:00 am

    Hats off to your rant botched! The last straw for me was Floyd’s DQ. I stopped following my fantasy teams almost immediately. Seemingly overnight the pro sport became the same to me as figure skating….too much BS… Your NFL comparison is the best take I’ve seen yet from any writer.

  45. Comment by Jay | 03.16.2007 | 11:17 am

    It’s interesting reading about the “hangers on” in Cycling. it’s all sports actually and has almost always been this way. For some reason the people in charge of the sports are rarely if ever athletes themselves or in fact have never been athletes. Has Pat McQuaid ever actually ridden a bicycle? What gives him the expertise to police cyclists? Dick Pound was a fairly sucessful swimmer… what!!
    I certainly agree with the assessment about Chatenay Malabry. One wonders not so much about the false positives coming out of that mess but about the false negatives. It’s hard to trust any result that they come up with. When faced with the reasoning for there ignoring the proper protocalls they site being too busy as an excuse.

  46. Comment by Jay | 03.16.2007 | 11:20 am

    In fairness I just read that McQuaid was in fact an ameture cyclst who rode for Ireland and coached the Irish Cycling team in the olympics…….I stand corrected. Still don’t like the guy though.

  47. Pingback by Around the Web on Wheels: 03.22.07 - About Cycling - About Cycling around the web on wheels - Cycling Logue | 03.22.2007 | 8:50 am

    [...] The Fat Cyclist thinks it’s not the dopers who are killing cycling, and I think I might agree with him. Choice line: “Somebody get a big, family sized roll of duct tape and wrap it around Dick Pound’s (WADA) and Pat McQuaid’s (UCI) faces until they can no longer speak. Every time they open their mouths, cycling gets worse.” Amen. Definitely worth a read, this article. [...]

  48. Pingback by The Goat » Blog Archive » Cycling is Doomed | 05.3.2007 | 3:47 pm

    [...] Fat Cyclist drew an interesting comparison between the NFL and pro cycling. For a first doping offense, professional cyclists are suspended for two years. They’re tested after every race or every stage of the race at an enormous cost. NFL players face random testing and lose ¼ of the season on a first offense, 3/8 of the season on the second, and a full season on the third. [...]

  49. Pingback by Fat Cyclist » Blog Archive » Cycling and Doping: A Solution | 07.27.2007 | 9:23 am

    [...] 1. Switch the focus of doping tests from specific drugs to physiological parameters.I suggested something similar in a previous post. The top juniors all over the world should have blood work and physiological testing performed a couple times a year. This gives a history hormone levels and performance values against which future deviations can be compared. Using this method, doping isn’t only defined by finding exogenous chemicals in the athlete or extra copies of genes; it’s defined by an improvement of performance values/hormone levels greater than two standard deviations above “normal” for that athlete. [...]

  50. Comment by Supreme Klean - Finest Quality Detox and Cleansing Products | 05.22.2008 | 9:47 pm

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