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Pro Cycling - Scapegoat for doping in sports??

J_AndersonJ_Anderson Posts: 616
edited September 2007 in Pro race
Apologies if everyone is bored of the subject but I was reading the Observers coverage of TdF on Sunday and it got me going a bit. The way they were going on you'd have thought every cyclists had tested positive. In a week where several Swedish athletes tested positive for EPO the big news is still the 2 positive tests from the tour. I think cycling has done a better job of cleaning itself up than many other sports, I get the feeling that it's being treated as a scapegoat by certain aspects of the media. Doping is happening in every sport (Golf FFS!!), they just all have better lawyers.


Hills are only as steep as you want them to be.

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  • kemakema Posts: 46
    hi J_Anderson,

    You are right, cycling is being scapegoated.
    But they need to sort themselves out too, I've said as much in my other post.
    http://www.bikeradar.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=12538954

    The best example is tennis (when it's not raining) people can play for 4-5 hours in a sport that has hard serves, lunges, jumps, slides, awkward stretches etc.

    You have female tennis players they are a totally different build from the year before, they have acne, furry faces and deeper voices, yet no-one comments on the obvious side effects of steroid use. and they even dare complain about out of season drug testing!!
    Kema , Manchester

    Hybrid Marin and Specialized Allez triple
  • off the backoff the back Posts: 168
    A bit long - but an extract of a letter I have sent to more than one media org in relation to a bias.

    I am not going to put the case forward that there are no drugs in cycling but I will put the case forward that it is no less credible than any other major sport and that it is years if not decades ahead of all other sports with regard to the fight on doping.

    Cycling Negative Bias
    The media is far less interested in drugs stories that involve other sports. In July last year Operation Puerto hit the news stands. Within days there were rumours of athletes listed in the books of Dr.Fuentes the man who ran the sports medicine clinic. Cycling through its governing body UCI, not WADA, took the decision to prevent any riders linked to Fuentes from starting the tour. In all +50 riders were implicated and they all were all suspended until the end of the year at which point they lost their jobs with their respective teams. In many cases the evidence was circumstantial but the cycling authorities took a tough stance. However 200+ athletes were on Dr.Fuentes books from sports such as athletics, tennis and soccer, we know this because Dr. Fuentes himself has stated this on many ocassions. Who are these athletes and how come they have been able to remain anonymous? The media talked at length about the cyclists and how they were at it again and whether the Tour could continue at all. There were no such calls to stop Wimbledon, the World Cup or hounding of other athletes.
    Football Doping
    Everyone remembers the 1998 Festina affair but little has been reported of similar instances in football. In a 2004 Civil Case it was proven that Juventes used EPO during the 1990’s. In this period they won 3 league titles and a European Cup. During this trial players such as Zidane, Del Piero, Davids all cited memory loss. The club were able to overturn the original decision and the state prosecutors appealed. The appeal failed in April this year because of the statute of limitations. A cynic would say Juventes only got off as a result of high paid lawyers and a legal technicality. Last year the PFA in England threatened to take a case to the European Court of human rights in protest against out of competition dope testing - in cycling a rider must account for his whereabouts 24-7 weeks in advance to facilitate out of competition testing. What of the players who have tested positive for anabolic steroids – Edgar Davids, Frank deBoer, Jaap Stam. We call Ben Johnson a drug cheat but the wording is watered down for soccer players, they were merely suspended for nandrolone. And what of the greatest soccer player of the last 20years, Maradona, another drug cheat. The argument goes that drugs in soccer has a lesser direct effect than in cycling or athletics. First off that misses the whole point – it is against the rules in the same way you cannot handle the ball or kick a player in the head. Secondly a player on steroids will have the edge over one that is not. He will be stronger and able to play more matches at a higher level over the season. Managers can avoid squad rotations and allow the team to become more unified – ultimately it is an unfair advantage and that is cheating.
    Athletics Doping
    Athletics is another sport that has huge question marks. The Balco scandal alone goes beyond any single scandal we have seen in cycling. Go back to the 1988 Seoul Olympics 100m final, 8 runners took to the track, 5 of whom testing positive during their careers. It is referred to as the dirtiest race in history. If athletics did not have major questions over drugs usage then why did Paula Radcliffe raise a banner at the World Athletics Championships in Edmonton in 2001 looking to have EPO cheats out. Also look back at the 2004 Athens Olympics and the 10,000m final for men. The last lap was run off at an outstanding 53.02 seconds which is on a par with a lap time in the final of the 800m, 1min 44sec. Now bare in mind that the race was run in a new olympic record and the second place runner ran an even faster last lap. Impressive, unbelievable, impossible or something else. I could talk about swimming and I would not have to look further than our own Michele De Bruin. It is not uncommon to see swimmers break 2 world records a day. Your eyes do not deceive you, don’t let your common sense desert you either.

    Cycling –to be mocked or followed?
    So why do the press scrutinize cycling and not other sports in relation to drugs. Why as a journalist do you criticise cycling for finding cheats and exposing them but fail to investigate the farcical controls elsewhere? First off there is problem in cycling so it becomes an easy candidate and secondly it removes the need to question our mainstream sports. However if we do not question other sports and apply the same degree of scrutiny then we do a disservice to all sports. To cycling we bring into question all performances including those of the innocent because we judge everything as tainted. To other sports we fail to support the honest athletes who avoid performance enhancement and let the drug cheat off the hook as they. This approach allows drug taking to spread like a cancer.
  • girofangirofan Posts: 137
    We are obviouly not the only sport which has dopers but are the one with the biggest proportion of dopes!:oops:
    I say what I like and I like what I say!
  • off the backoff the back Posts: 168
    Not sure on the biggest porportion of dopers - athletics. cross country skiing, swimming would give us a run for our money..

    One things I think we can all agree on is that we prob are the only sport with a declining doper user base. I certainly think that the problem is reducing and I think the message is getting out there with riders - that said there is a lot to do and I think it is not as quick as we would like. As tight as the controls are the only way forward is more controls.
  • How on earth do you fight the sort of money that can buy the law? This is the case with football certainly, and even if we were to launch our own campaign and track down non cycling dopers to illustrate that is not just us, we would get nowhere.
    I have no wish to sound pessimistic but the media would never run such a story. Would you support an anti doping initiative if you ran a sport shop selling football shirts? If you ran a pub and paid out to screen the world cup, would you get your money back if the matches were cancelled?

    Perhaps we do need to put our heads together, and make this an anti doping campaign and not and anti doing in cycling campaign
  • off the backoff the back Posts: 168
    I think there are ways ..but agree that right now no one wants to grab that nettle....

    If doping becomes illegal in more contries and there is real political will to enforce it. Imagine that the Olympics suffer from a few embarresments then it will take center stage.

    Or you might get some customs officals who happen upon a rugby team/soccer team at customs and voila busted. Remember that is how cycling got caught. But prob be reported as bad apples.
  • Fab FoodieFab Foodie Posts: 5,155
    Take a look at this, it's not just cycling...
    http://www.athletics-weekly.com/newsarticle.php?id=365

    The pessimists of this world are rarely disappointed....
    Fab's TCR1
  • Monty DogMonty Dog Posts: 20,614
    Because of the way that cycling is managed and funded - apart from ASO/Le Tour - the sponsors contribution to the overall control of the sport means that they don't have the legal 'muscle' to control the media. Compare that with the likes of football or rugby - it's not in New International's interests to publicise stories about doping as it could diminish their TV revenues from BSkyB. Equally, in these team sports true independent testing doesn't exist - it's still administered by the team doctors, witnessed by the testers. The rumours that it was the President of Real Madrid that forced the 'shelving' of the OP investigation only confirms the suspicions.
    Make mine an Italian, with Campagnolo on the side..
  • RichN95.RichN95. Posts: 22,895
    A big football fan friend of mine (I like football myself) said that cycling was a joke a they were all drugged, so I told him to google the name "Riccardo Agricola"*. He did so and came back shocked, wondering why he never heard about it. I told him there was too much money in football and it's not in the authorites' best interests to find dopers.

    *Riccardo Agricola is the doctor convicted of giving Juventus players EPO from 1993-1998

    PS Off The Back - if you want a publication to publish your letter you have to make it a lot shorter than that - you've written a full page article there (good though was). Of course, if your a freelance journo then good luck to you - someone should publish it.
    Twitter: @RichN95
  • ricadusricadus Posts: 2,379
    edited August 2007
    It's easier for the media to focus the doping issue on cycling, espcially the Tour de France, simply because the general public understand how intensely difficult it is to race around France for three weeks, whereas they might not grasp how drugs are a factor in supposedly 'easier' sports such as tennis or football, where matches require only a couple of hours of effort.

    The BBC in particular has a vested interest in a negative portrayal of the Tour, since ITV hold the UK broadcasting rights and so doping scandal news reports on the Beeb should also be considered a kind of 'spoiler' aimed at ITV's sports coverage.
  • squiredsquired Posts: 1,216
    I think part of the problem is down to perceptions of sports. Loads of people play football in their spare time, so don't imagine footballers as dopers. They play golf on a Saturday, so can't imagine the need for drugs. Maybe they ride their bike once a month, and boy does it hurt. They then see cyclists riding the Tour de France and think that there is no way that can be done without drugs given how hard it is to ride to the newsagents and back. I think that in a way the press buy into this a little.

    Cycling is also unique in that they are rarely at home, often living out of a hotel. This makes the possibility of making a mistake that leads to a positive test higher than someone who is at home 90% of the year.

    Cycling itself is also partly to blame for the image it has. Far too often decisions are made on the spur of the moment. Far too often A sample results are released before the B test has been done, yet I believe the WADA code states that this shouldn't happen. By dumping people out of the Tour on the basis of a failed A test, and even worse their whole team, the ASO is perpetuating the poor image. If there was a failed test in the football world cup the player would disappear with a mystery injury, the team would carry on, and a couple of months later the result would be made public. The reaction to this would be very different...
  • There is undoubtedly an anti-cycling element in the British media. The fuss made about the test results from this year's Tour can so easily be contrasted with the silence regarding the athletes who all tested positive at the same time.

    The British are happy to run cycling down because it isn't one of "our" sports - far too continental for British tastes.
  • KléberKléber Posts: 6,842
    If the athletes all tested positive at the World Champs or at the Olympics then they're be a big fuss. But because they were caught at other times, it was less of a fuss.

    Don't forget the race favourite and the actual leader of the race were ejected during the event. Two riders on two teams that promised us honesty and clean riding were found to be cheating. Then it turns out that a team mate of David "Saint" Millar is positive for EPO. And finally, there are rumours that the eventual winner is linked to the biggest scandal case of systematic doping in sport for years. Like it or not, all these stories are gold for journalists.
  • Cyclo2000Cyclo2000 Posts: 1,923
    Well..there MUST be some bias.
    The UK athletics authority still employs Lynford Christy despite him being caught doping and even have erected a statue to him outside their headquarters! Do we hear about endemic doping in track and feild? Hardly ever. Perhaps the UK public are less likely to believe their atheletes are doping cos said athletes never win anything?

    As I'm always at pains to point out to non cycling fans, the reason that a lot of dopers get caught in cycling is cos in an effort to catch them we test all the time in a manner and with a rigour that no other sport employs. If you're a cyclist and you dope there'es a much higher chance of your getting caught than there would be if you were a tennis penis, a rugger censored or a football fool.
    Usquequaque in Ventus
    Just once I would like to be called "Sir", without someone adding "You\'re making a scene".
  • RedAendeRedAende Posts: 158
    Or you might get some customs officals who happen upon a rugby team/soccer team at customs and voila busted. Remember that is how cycling got caught. But prob be reported as bad apples.

    Wasn't there a case a few years ago when the chinese swimming team arrived in Australia, stayed on the plane, and went straight back home as they realised Australian customs were going to thoroughly search them.

    And being a cynic,

    1. How many golds will China win next year - lots
    2. How many Chinese will fail dope tests - SFA

    This years London marathon, chinese female turns up, wins, straight back to China, what chance of Paula winning in Beijing.

    I would love some footballers to get busted. Got to admire Chelsea for paying £20M on that Romanian (cant remember name) then sacking him for failing a coke test. Must be why the top teams are all into squad rotation nowadays as they dont risk EPO as Juventus did in the past.

    Why was Rio Ferdinand given a 9 month ban and not 2 years, bet the Man utd sponsors loved that one.

    Red Aende, Red Spesh Hardrock, Wine Mercian, Rusty Flying Scot
  • phil sphil s Posts: 1,128
    ricadus wrote:

    The BBC in particular has a vested interest in a negative portrayal of the Tour, since ITV hold the UK broadcasting rights and so doping scandal news reports on the Beeb should also be considered a kind of 'spoiler' aimed at ITV's sports coverage.

    This is utter nonsense. The BBC has no vested interest in discrediting the Tour de France. The BBC has been sending a team to cover the event for radio for the past fourteen years. Simply because it doesn't have the TV rights doesn't mean the Beeb is out to smear the sport.
    -- Dirk Hofman Motorhomes --
  • Some great stuff here.Cycling is suffering in this country in my opinion because most of the media don't ride bikes and have a problem with cyclists/cycling, so they find it easier to knock.They get no prawn sandwiches nor free tickets as all our road events are free.
    Im in no doubt that athletics,football,tennis, even cricket and golf are rife with cheats but the media wont report on it as they wont get their freebies.Haven't a lot of premier league teams banned certain press men/women for daring to speak out.
    We need more people like David Walsh and Paul Kimmage who are not afraid of who they huff.
  • I would be quite keen to know about any other control regimes that exist in other sports. For example, the World Athletics has been going on for days now and I have never read, in the French press, any mention of random dope tests, people being tested or anything. Not that they aren't, just that it is never mentioned. In the Tour I can read every day who is tested and how. Also I have read that footballers, for example, never, ever have blood tests, only urine. What I am always curious abut is how all that works, in detail. We claim cycling is the "most tested", and generally I believe it. But is it. Coming up soon is the World Cup of Rugby, and as yet, in the French press, I have not read any details about whether they have blood tests or not, and just how the urine tests are made. So I would appreciate any details. It is, in fact, utterly impossible that not one single rugby player or footballer is using medical aids that are illegal. Just not possible.
  • DeuceDeuce Posts: 18
    1 The grand tours in cycling have more scandals partly because of the logistically problems of doping, you need your stuff when everyone knows where you arefor over three weeks, especailly if it needs refrigeration.

    2 If EPO was widely used in football, I would be surprised if some teams had the discipline and you would expect to hear stories of random heart attacks.

    3 oh..
  • KléberKléber Posts: 6,842
    Coming up soon is the World Cup of Rugby, and as yet, in the French press, I have not read any details about whether they have blood tests or not
    They will and have promised a lot of serious testing. Of course, it's of little use during the competition, rugby players can load up on the steroids in August...

    As for the heart attacks in football, there's no link to EPO. Guys who abuse EPO die in their sleep, not during the effort.
  • Kléber wrote:
    Coming up soon is the World Cup of Rugby, and as yet, in the French press, I have not read any details about whether they have blood tests or not
    They will and have promised a lot of serious testing. Of course, it's of little use during the competition, rugby players can load up on the steroids in August...

    Hi Kleber,
    Listen, I am sure you are right, but I really would like to know whether they are doing blood tests and urine tests and how exactly. Are they doing whole teams randomly? How do they pick the people tested? Do they do out of competition testing, for example, was the French team ever tested? I keep up on that and somehow missed any mention of it. Where did you find your information? I do take your point that anyone can take drugs before an event and not get caught. And that there are no tests for autologous blood or for human growth hormone. But the rugby event is weeks long, and allows plenty of time for testing and drug use. Where did you find out about testing regime? Or can you give some details? The details ARE important.

    Today I was watching the track events, and all three of the women in the 200 on the podium were former drug cheats. Actually only two. One was the ex of Justin Gatlin, so she would have only known about drugs, maybe not taken them. And apparently Ian Thorpe has been found innocent of doing by the Australian Federation. Right.
  • KléberKléber Posts: 6,842
    I remember seeing the piece on the RWC in l'Equipe when I was on holiday. The French Ministry of Sports has given additional money to test the players even more, following the outcry in the Tour de France.

    So we will see: "More than 80 per cent of the 600 players from the 20 nations at the World Cup face drug tests. In-competition testing will involve two players from each team being picked at random before each of the 48 games at the tournament and asked to provide urine samples after full-time. Random out-of-competition tests will be carried out on any number of players at any venue in between games, including team hotels and training sessions. Sample collection and testing is the responsibility of the IRB-appointed French Anti-Doping Agency, and analysis will be done at the WADA-approved laboratory at Chatenay-Malabry, Paris, and another site in Britain. A fast turnaround has been requested for results, which are expected within 48 hours, except for those tested for EPO, which will come back within 72 hours. "

    But it looks like I fell for some spin because there's no blood testing. So the message is clear, avoid the EPO boys and feel free to dope up to the eyeballs before the tournament begins :cry:

    More here, a good article on doping in general: http://www.rugbyheaven.co.nz/4166877a22428.html
  • Thanks for the link, Kleber. I also vaguely remember the reference in L'Equipe which I often read, every day during the Tour. I recall reading that in the Football World Cup there was also testing, but again, NOT bloods, and not very serious. Seems the same in rugby. That's why I always try to find out the exact protocol, the exact tests, and even try to remember what tests reveal what drugs, and what drugs are being used in what sport. Frankly, its a drag. I used to enjoy reading about training, looking at bodies and muscle definition, and enjoying the races. Now I have to spend time reading medical texts, like the one you quoted in Wiki on DNA in red blood cells. I am a cyclists for goodness sake.

    Anyway what is clear is that although there are clearly drug cheats in cycling, there are also drug users in footie and rugby. How can there not be? But since there is more money in footie, they don't make real efforts to test. Imagine, during the season, a real star player like Henry or Ronaldhinho being busted! They don't take some of the billions in football and make tests serious. And when they catch them, like Rio, what is the penalty? When I see other sports really being controlled I shall get a little harder on sports. And I just can't help wondering why NONE of the other athletes in the Puerto affair have EVER been named, EVER. It ain't right, even if cycling is full of stupid power struggles and liars and cheats from the top of the Tour/UCI to the 20th guy on a Continental team.

    And then there are those who drink and drive in France. But I won't go there. We live in a drug ridden society, so why do we expect cycling to be different.
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