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How much do fans really care about doping?

vermootenvermooten Posts: 2,697
edited November 2007 in Pro race
Doping scandals don't seem to dent the viewing figures or the numbers at the roadside of big races, but we all worry about how the sponsors might react. I personally breathed a sigh of relief when T-Mobile decided to stick with it, and I feel queasy whenever I read about yet another sponsor pulling out of cycling.

I have to admit, though, that worries about doping don't really adversely affect my viewing pleasure. I was suspicious of Menchov in the Vuelta but I loved every second of the race. Likewise Soler, but what a fcking ace win in the TdF, juiced-up or not (and of course there's no eviddeence that he was on the sh*t). Doping's just one factor among others.

Is this heresy? Possibly, but the point is that so long as the fans don't really care that much, then the problem won't go away easily. So long as there are fans, there'll be money.

I kind of got here by thinking about how music fans are toppling the record labels by direct action (i.e. downloading for free rather than paying for CDs). I doubt that the same will happen in cycling because fans aren't that motivated to chnage things so long as the racing's exciting.

I'm not saying doping's OK, just describing how things are.

Your thoughts?
You just have to ride like you never have to breathe again.

Manchester Wheelers

Posts

  • Brian BBrian B Posts: 2,071
    I remember how I felt when Ullrich and Basso were put out of the TDF. I originally felt that I was p*ssed off about them doping and especially Ullrich of who I was and still am big fan off. After a day or two it was'nt because they were doping that had got my blood boiling it was because I was to be denied the Ullrich/Basso fight whiich I had devoured every scrap of info on the net and in magazines about for the past 7 months or so.

    Deep down I had realised before hand that all the big favourites and their domestics had to have been doping and had done so for years but because they tested negative that was good enough for me and I just basically ignored the facts about how revalations from the likes of Jesus Monzano about how doping is rife in every team.

    Now like probably everybody else who follows cycling will look on any extraordinary performance with a suspicious eye and I will always be asking the question that they are probably using some sort of chemical advantage. I do not think that procycling will survive in its current form due to lack of sponsors and will start to decline in the nect 3-5 years.

    The TDF surely cannot survive another race leader favourite implicated(and found guilty) in doping without suffering some sort of financial backlash which will effect all of mainstream cycling in Europe.

    Probably as long cycling is on tv and magazines are still in print then I will be watching and reading.
    Brian B.
  • I care. I cannot cheer for any rider not in a team with a credible anti-doping programme, and probably fdj as well.
    Dan
  • vermootenvermooten Posts: 2,697
    Brian B, indeed I agree. It's disappointing to be taken for a ride by the dopers, but I too will keep watching (and in my case remain obsessed).

    flattythehurdler I care too, and I have to wonder why some teams don't have a programme like CSC's - for the same reason I ask why Valverde didn't join T-Mobile etc etc. But I bet you'll keep watching.
    You just have to ride like you never have to breathe again.

    Manchester Wheelers
  • I'm still interested, but am keener than ever that the lying stops. If anything untoward happens between now and next July I'll be questioning my ability to watch coverage of the Tour. I mean the thought of some teams and some personnel clogging up the roads of France and being lauded quite frankly fills me with dread. I'd agree that the Tour cannot take too much more scandal. I've stopped watching football live, I've boycotted England televised cames since the World Cup, I'm now not even watching the Premiership on tv (including match of the day) as the whole rotten, money obsessed, hype driven shebang is too much. And they don't take anti doping seriously - but for some reason that's okay and nobody mentions it. If I've had enough of football (and I never thought I would) then I can also walk off from watching cycling too (which I've been doing since 1985).

    Won't stop me playing football or cycling my bike though.
  • skavanagh, i'm with you on football bollox over-hyped jerkpots that pass as an england team ... there is lots to laugh at though ...not least the way chavbritain is being taken for a huge ride by sky in overhyping all the english stars when the available evidence suggests they are no better than mediocre players.

    i'm still into cycling, but probably can't commit to the Tour in 2008 as i did this year in case i'm taken for a ride again. i wouldn't give much of a pooh if everyone was doping and no-one was caught, but the uneven playing field and the race being ruined by culprits being uncovered is unsustainable. it will destroy the sport if it continues
  • eheh Posts: 4,854
    Do I care? Well a little, but to be honest not a lot after all it is only entertainment at the end of the day.

    There never was a "ideal" era and there never will be. Ultimatly the problem is that if you so fundamentally disagree with doping then you probably shouldn't watch any pro sport, since most are tainted to a large degree. After all I can hardly name a single untainted top rider since WW2.

    As someone once said "rules are made to be broken".
  • Cheating is inherent in all sports that I can think of. I have a repeating argument with a friend of mine who is a big football fan. He slags off cycling for having doped riders yet treats diving in the box as part of the game.

    Doping only bothers me in the frustration it causes me, and the disappointment it provides. Like Brian B being 'robbed' of the battles p1$$es me off.

    What really wound me up this year was Rasmussen getting dumped out of the tour after he had ridden one of the best stages I have ever seen. His win against Contador and Leipheimer on stage 16 was immense.

    Him getting kicked out after gaining so much of my admiration sucked.

    I wish that we could get a clean sport and I try to support the guys that have good reputations, but you can never be sure if your faith is misguided.

    Still, I hope that Gilbert gets a stage in 2008.
  • I lost interest in watching Pro Cycling many years ago. The TDF is the most watched sporting event on the planet but as a cyclist I couldn't care less who is riding it let alone winning it.

    Until the penalities for a positive test are so severe so as to make the taking performance enhancing drugs not worth the risk of getting caught then riders will continue to dope.
  • iainf72iainf72 Posts: 15,784
    Until the penalities for a positive test are so severe so as to make the taking performance enhancing drugs not worth the risk of getting caught then riders will continue to dope.

    Penalities don't have anything to do with it - If they stood a good chance of being caught that would go a long way to cut it out.

    But as it stands, if you get caught you're unlucky or an idiot.
    Fckin' Quintana … that creep can roll, man.
  • iainf72 wrote:
    Until the penalities for a positive test are so severe so as to make the taking performance enhancing drugs not worth the risk of getting caught then riders will continue to dope.

    Penalities don't have anything to do with it - If they stood a good chance of being caught that would go a long way to cut it out.

    But as it stands, if you get caught you're unlucky or an idiot.

    Are you saying a Life ban, six months in prison and a fine of 500.000 euros wouldn't make a difference?
  • timoid.timoid. Posts: 3,133
    iainf72 wrote:
    Until the penalities for a positive test are so severe so as to make the taking performance enhancing drugs not worth the risk of getting caught then riders will continue to dope.

    Penalities don't have anything to do with it - If they stood a good chance of being caught that would go a long way to cut it out.

    But as it stands, if you get caught you're unlucky or an idiot.

    Are you saying a Life ban, six months in prison and a fine of 500.000 euros wouldn't make a difference?

    Does the death penalty stop murder in America?

    Cyclists wouldn't fear beheading if it remains so easy to dodge the controls.
    It's a little like wrestling a gorilla. You don't quit when you're tired. You quit when the gorilla is tired.
  • Timoid. wrote:
    [
    Does the death penalty stop murder in America?

    Cyclists wouldn't fear beheading if it remains so easy to dodge the controls.

    But we aren't just talking about the controls are we? There are whistleblowers and police raids and hopefully retrospective testing etc. etc. We could even include the Jeremy Kyle show with his lie detector tests. :D
  • LangerDanLangerDan Posts: 6,132
    Timoid. wrote:
    [
    Does the death penalty stop murder in America?

    Cyclists wouldn't fear beheading if it remains so easy to dodge the controls.

    But we aren't just talking about the controls are we? There are whistleblowers and police raids and hopefully retrospective testing etc. etc. We could even include the Jeremy Kyle show with his lie detector tests. :D

    If only Pat McQuaid had thought of that! :D
    'This week I 'ave been mostly been climbing like Basso - Shirley Basso.'
  • Jeff JonesJeff Jones Posts: 1,865 Editor
    Are you saying a Life ban, six months in prison and a fine of 500.000 euros wouldn't make a difference?
    Yep, and this has been studied. And from what Sinkewitz has said, it seems that riders who take drugs don't think they're doing anything wrong anyway, because they believe that everyone does it so it's just part of the job. Same as denying it and signing anti-doping charters are part of the job.

    A testing system has to be bulletproof and catch every single doper for it to be effective. I can't see that happening unless the biological passport is able to pick up any form of doping or the cyclists are monitored 24 hours a day, Big Brother style. And if the latter happened, I'd hardly call it a victory for clean sport.

    The problem could be approached from a harm reduction point of view: make all drugs legal and leave the team doctor in charge. Unfortunately, even that needs constant monitoring and testing (the biological passport could play a role here) unless we're all prepared to see riders dying, Tom Simpson style.
    Jeff Jones

    Product manager, Sports
  • KléberKléber Posts: 6,842
    Timoid. wrote:
    Does the death penalty stop murder in America?
    Google Professor Ehrlich. He's a stats and economics professor and he shows evidence that the death penalty by itself doesn't affect the murder rate. But the chance of detection and rapid execution does affect the murder rate. The work is old, from the 1970s.

    But the point is that enforcement is key. Promising to fry someone in the chair is no good if nobody gets toasted, if guilty people string out the appeals on death row. But in an imaginary world, where those who are found guilty get executed promptly, yes the death penalty works. Ehrlich by the way is against the death penalty.

    But the message is that the sentence isn't important, it's the chances of detection and punishment that matter. In the past, riders got 6 months bans and in reality, almost no one was caught. So the benefits of doping were huge (wins, prizes, status, contracts) compared to minimal costs, ie the chance of being caught.

    As Jeff says, so many riders are in denial. Look at recent statements from Vinokourov or Kascheckin, who lament their human rights, or blame bruises in their legs.

    But as for "harm reduction", this sounds like bull. EPO causes cancer in doses larger than needed to help chemo patients, so it's harmful, etc etc. And riders will always push the boundaries. So clear rules help everyone, from pros to teenager racers.
  • Bradley Wiggins summed it up for me last year, it's got to be a level playing field

    http://www.britishcycling.org.uk/web/si ... script.asp



    Q: You've talked about life bans - What else can organisers do?

    BW: I think they need to take a long look at who they invite to the race over the next few years. If there's a 1% suspicion or doubt that a team is involved in any way in a drugs ring or doping or working with certain doctors, then they shouldn't be invited to the Tour de France - as simple as that - they shouldn't even be given a racing licence until they can prove that they are, through stringent testing procedures, that they are not involved in any wrong doing - until then the ASO shouldn't have them in the Tour de France and the UCI should not have them in the sport.

    After the Time Trial I was 2 minutes down on Vinokourov and I was pretty annoyed after that - I doubted from the start. I wouldn't speak the press afterwards because I was scared of what I might say. 2 days later my suspicions were confirmed. If my wife's flight hadn't been booked to Paris, I'd have climbed off and gone home - I did not want to be a part of that race any more. That's how annoyed I was. People's lives are at stake here, people's jobs and things like that. I'm at the end of my contract with Cofidis coming to negotiate, next year for example with Cofidis, I'd asked for a figure for example off my team manager. And he said, 'You didn't win the Prologue and you were fifth in the time trial,' and I'm like, 'But I'm clean, would you rather I take risks and win the prologue and win that time trial and not get caught and then would you be paying me the million Euro contract for next year?' So there's all these things that go into account you know, that was all pissing me off to be honest. I think the team managers have to take responsibility for this as well because they're willing to pay these guys who are under suspicion and have been involved in previous years in doping scandals. Ivan Basso, last year got thrown off the Tour is disgrace - Brunyeel this year goes and signs him on a million Euro contract. The hypocracy in that is unbelieveable. These guys are running some of the biggest professional cycling teams in the sport. What's their motivation within the sport if they are willing to sign someone who they knew was under investigation of who had been thrown out of the Tour the previous year. Not every team manager thinks that way but it seems that there is a minority out there who aren't willing to play by the rules - including the team managers.
  • eheh Posts: 4,854
    But Bradley Wiggins is talking about some weired British ideal of sport, that never has and never will exist. Especially not in cycling which has had doping pretty much it's entire life of it being a sport and even better is ideal platform for sport scientists, medics etc. to push the boundaries further.

    If you are looking for a simple then there simply isn't one. At one of the fence you have 24hr monitoring of athletes etc and at the other allowing anything. Neither are particularly pleasant options and so you have to come to some compromise in the middle. For me that would start with detecting and preventing the most dangerous drugs to athletes, as opposed to the ones that give the greatest advantages. But level playing fields will never exist.
  • mtb_roadie, I think Bradley makes excellent points, for example Brunyeel signing Basso; had there been the prospect of exclusion from big races or huge fines for having dopers on your team, then Brunyeel may have decided not to risk bringing Basso to the most expensive team on the circuit.
    The act at this year's tour of the whole team going home if anyone is found doping should be extended to every multi-stage race, and or demotions to lower levels of the sport. Life bans or long bans for anyone involved in doping, including staff, and that should include awareness of the acts.
    There is a relatively low chance of being caught (Millar is a case in point) so that needs to improve, but by affecting a whole team then the 'speak no evil' silence could be reduced.
    The teams need to self-police more effectively and the attitude of the pros needs to change.
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