November 2012
     
 

By Barry Booyce and
Graham Jones

CyclingRevealed Historians

 


Doping! 1935: Pellos illustration [From "Match l'Intran" No.447, March 5, 1935]

 

Also See:

20th Century Timeline

Race Snippets

Top 20 Classics


 

 

 

“You Don’t Think We Do This on Mineral Water…”

How Do WE Save Our Beloved Sport!?!

NO! Not my guy!  Nudge, nudge… Wink, Wink… 
Is there anything about Cycling’s latest (and near catastrophic) problems we didn’t already suspect?  We all wanted to believe our heroes were clean but knew deep down they all had to be taking something… to survive.

Jacques Anquetil: "You have to be an imbecile or a hypocrite to imagine that a professional cyclist ... can keep going without stimulants."

The ugly truth is our beloved sport’s history is one of doping. As Pro-cycling evolved from the late 1890’s into the mega-business of sports entertainment we all loved the excitement of the yearly Tour de France (or any Grand Tour or Monument). The media whipped us into a frenzied anticipation of great exploits, individual achievements, heroic adventures, massive crashes and more!

TdF preview 1935 the excitement of the TdF comes alive in the Pellos illustration. ["Match l'Intran" No.464, July 2, 1935]

When “my guy” gets caught the outcome is devastating to me, but when a mega-hero goes down the devastation hits deeper.  I will say this as strongly as I can: Our sport IS well worth saving!!!  Everyone, the UCI, WADA, team sponsors, team management, AND FANS (!!!) must be vigilant in the effort to remove the curse of drugs and blood doping from cycling.

Blood Sport

Jacques Anquetil: “You Don’t Think We Do This on Mineral Water…”

At CyclingRevealed.com we have often been highly critical of the UCI, ASO, WADA and other organizations that rule our sport. Currently the dispute between the UCI and other doping experts seems to have developed into an acrimonious parting of the ways. In spite of threats of fines and suspensions towards organizers, teams and riders for not complying with UCI rules and regulations, the racing has gone on as though the UCI did not exist.

Ironically the UCI may be damaging the very sport that it is trying to protect through misguided political fights. But to their eternal credit they may also be close to a major victory in the ‘war on drugs'. On December 21, 2007 the UCI introduced the so-called “Biological Passport” to cycling.  It maintains a long term record of an athlete's medical parameters.

Read our commentary and the UCI document here. Biological Passport for Pro Cyclists”

March 2011 the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) released its decision to sanction Franco Pellizotti and Pietro Caucchioli. The significance of this decision was that the sanctions were based on suspicious blood values, which were recorded as part of the UCI’s biological passport system. The outcome gave a huge legal boast to the “system.”

At this point in time the “Biological Passport” is the most important document / process within the sport of cycle racing. The new tool that measures blood and body chemistry over time appears to finally be putting a dent in our sport’s doping, but we need more “passport” related testing. The future of our sport depends on the success of this and related programs combating the curse of drugs and blood doping!

A New Age

While the fight between the UCI and other agencies and organizers may still be unresolved it should be realized the central issues revolve around power, ego and money. Fortunately they all seem to agree on dealing with the scourge of drugs.

The UCI has its testing programs and the “Biological Passport”', the race organizers have given themselves a free hand to choose whoever they like to participate in their races regardless of World Tour rules or any other UCI rulings.

For their part many teams are now investing in their own drug control programs and applying zero-tolerance sanctions to any rider suspected of trying to cheat the system.

History tells us that the 1968 Tour de France was dubbed as the “Tour de Sanit”' (Tour of Health) following the shocking death of Tom Simpson at the previous year's Tour through drug usage. Everyone believed that the reality of facing death by using drugs had scared the peloton away from them. Sadly no such thing happened and the drug culture continued. The 1998 “Festina Affair”' was another drug related watershed and this time everyone believed that the ensuing witch hunt had finally broken the back of drug in cycling.

Almost every year since then the sport has been wracked with shocking drug scandals. (See the Top 10 TdF since 1998) Although this year has so far been devoid of such problems it is with caution that we wait and see how the year plays out. If the work of the UCI drug testing programs is creating the difference then we should all be highly appreciative for this outcome. But of course this is not the end of the road. There are those always seeking to beat the system and just as your computer anti-virus software needs daily updating so will the UCI and others need to be working full time to keep ahead of the cheats.

Big time sponsors and others that invest in our sport will be slow to believe that the sport has finally sanitized itself. With big money leaving the teams time is of the essence to be clean. It will take several years of consistent, scandal free racing to get to that point. We trust that the sport of cycling will heed the warnings and present itself without the blemish of drugs. Hopefully in a few years we will be able to look back and say that 2013 was the year we saved our sport and it was finally the beginning of New Age Racing.

 

 

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