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Are We in the We Don't Know Era?

How Confident Are you the Top Guys Are Doping?

  • Highly Confident They Are Doping

    Votes: 26 57.8%
  • Probably Doping

    Votes: 9 20.0%
  • Unsure/I Don't Know

    Votes: 7 15.6%
  • Probably Clean

    Votes: 2 4.4%
  • Highly Confident They Are Clean

    Votes: 1 2.2%

  • Total voters
    45
What's the significance of "2004?" There were lot of dopers in that particular year.

Also, keep in mind a lot of the dopers in the late 90's carried their careers into the 2000's. The only difference is they were now getting popped left & right with the newly implemented EPO test in 2000 (for those who didn't switch to blood transfusions they ran a high risk of getting caught).

The 2000's was probably as bad as the 90's. In fact, during Armstrong's 7 yr Tour de France dynasty, including "2004," 87% of the top 10 finishers (61 out of 70) were confirmed dopers or suspected dopers.


Perhaps I should rephrase my "Wild West" analogy to include both the 1990s & 2000s. Lol.
 
But still 2004 was a pretty wild time. Armstrong, all Fuentes guys not caught yet, and so on. So would like to hear your thought process. I could kind of understand if you said 2009, 2010, 2011 - after the CERA cases and before that weird Sky era kicked in.
Interesting you mention CERA (Continuous Erythropoietin Receptor Activator). This was a 3rd gen ESA marketed in 2008 that required only a once a month injection & was undetectable at the time - an EPO doper's dream come true. Lol (can you imagine just one shot a month & you're good to go).

But once WADA collaborated with Roche labs on developing a testing assay for it, it was lights out for the CERA users;


They even caught the famous "Killer from Spoltore." Lol


I can't imagine any rider from today messing with CERA - it would be suicide.
 
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It’s very hard for me to imagine that there is not abundant doping still going on in the current peloton. I’m not sure I can explain my take very well: I just think that’s part of being in the upper, upper echelon of any pro sport that depends on endurance and strength. Do some people think pro cyclists are on higher moral ground or are so strait-laced that they wouldn’t risk PEDs?

The French and German anti-doping agencies have already published research on efforts to develop testing to detect lugworm doping. They wouldn’t invest that money & effort if they didn’t assume that of course pro endurance athletes will be attempting (or already are) using that as a PED.

I haven’t seen much discussion recently (maybe I’ve just missed it?) here or in sports media about AICAR and GW-forgotthenumbers? Given that we now have riders with skeletal physiques without apparent associated loss of strength/power so they both set climbing records and win TTs is more than suspicious.
 
The thing is, catching dopers is bad for business. Cycling has a bad reputation so catching cheats reinforces that reputation. When big busts happen it's usually been:
a) at times where the faith in the sport has been eroded, such that it is best for business for the sport to display a clear attempt to clean up its act; a lot of the post-Puerto actions, the teams agreeing to pay for the biological passport and so on, fall under this heading;
b) where an athlete is so egregiously obvious in their doping that not busting them would cost the sport reputationally - examples would include Ben Johnson and Johann Mühlegg;
c) where external organisations that do not have a vested interest in the sport involve themselves, such as police-led raids and busts.

Otherwise, it is in the interests of all concerned to let the show go on.

Now, do I believe that everything I'm watching is clean? Hell no. We are seeing 90s-level climbing times and junior-level distance attacks, and riders at opposite ends of the form bell curves, with some riders built like 70s/80s climbers dominating all year and hitting podiums over cobbles, and some riders pushing 40 with physiques that only existed on climbers at the height of the EPO era riding to GT podiums off of the kind of super-peaking calendar the biopassport was supposed to eradicate.

However, why that is the case is where the questions lie. Back in the day there were always a few dopers who would spill the beans on what they did, either to investigations like Emanuele Sella or Jesús Manzano, or in public either at the time like Bernhard Kohl, Patrik Sinkewitz or Thomas Frei, or in retrospect like Michael Rasmussen and Tyler Hamilton. It's been radio silence on that front for a long time even from the few names that have been picked out.

For me, the main questions are:
1) Is there something like "The Clear" or pre-2008 test unveiling CERA in the péloton, are we watching an era that will later be looked back on the way we look at early 90s cycling when EPO was spreading but was not yet known?
2) Are the riders actually taking anything banned, or is there something that is not banned that riders have at their disposal? And if this is the case, then while it's "doping" because that would be "performance enhancing substances", it nevertheless isn't "cheating" - but if it isn't banned, then the question arises as to, should it be, and if so, is that on a physical, health, moral or competition-based justification?
3) Is it just that riders are sticking to a diet of old-fashioned doping techniques like blood doping and already known products, but a number of legal cases have poked huge holes in the efficacy of drug testing, with examples such as Kreuziger, Impey and Froome able to secure exonerations on extremely implausible - but crucially not impossible - justifications, meaning with such a high burden of proof on the tests that actually securing a conviction has become too difficult and/or too expensive to maintain control over the péloton?
4) Is it just that riders are sticking to a diet of old-fashioned doping techniques like blood doping and already known products but with the sport's reputation having been placed in the toilet with controversies hitting several successive champions and having recovered a lot of the lost earnings and audience that that era resulted in, the sport's governing bodies simply don't have the motivation to make those legal battles and will continue to ride the gravy train while the man in the street views the sport less negatively?
 
Doping has been prevalent in cycling since its inception; therefore, it is highly conceivable it still occurs to a degree and will forever persist to a certain extent. Besides, the exceptional performances that some of these cyclists produce are questionable and draw suspicion.
 
However, why that is the case is where the questions lie. Back in the day there were always a few dopers who would spill the beans on what they did, either to investigations like Emanuele Sella or Jesús Manzano, or in public either at the time like Bernhard Kohl, Patrik Sinkewitz or Thomas Frei, or in retrospect like Michael Rasmussen and Tyler Hamilton. It's been radio silence on that front for a long time even from the few names that have been picked out.
This is what's confusing to me. I'm under no illusion that everybody is squeaky clean (and for my enjoyment of the sport it doesn't matter one bit), but I've yet to read even a rumour about what the guys now are doing (I don't buy the motor nonsense). In the 90s and 00s widespread doping in the peloton seemed like an open secret, with a lot of smoke coming from the fire. If the same stuff is happening now, how is it being kept under such a tight lid?
 
This is what's confusing to me. I'm under no illusion that everybody is squeaky clean (and for my enjoyment of the sport it doesn't matter one bit), but I've yet to read even a rumour about what the guys now are doing (I don't buy the motor nonsense). In the 90s and 00s widespread doping in the peloton seemed like an open secret, with a lot of smoke coming from the fire. If the same stuff is happening now, how is it being kept under such a tight lid?
I don't get it either. And it seems like lots of relatively new road cycling fans have absolutely no suspicions. Or maybe younger folks/fans are just so worn out and cynical that they just don't care?

For example, with something like the NFL in the U.S., it seems like most avid fans know they aren't clean but don't care. Tennis, cycling...it seems like many folks believe they're clean.
 
This is what's confusing to me. I'm under no illusion that everybody is squeaky clean (and for my enjoyment of the sport it doesn't matter one bit), but I've yet to read even a rumour about what the guys now are doing (I don't buy the motor nonsense). In the 90s and 00s widespread doping in the peloton seemed like an open secret, with a lot of smoke coming from the fire. If the same stuff is happening now, how is it being kept under such a tight lid?
I agree with this, there's like... absolutely no media rumours, at a time when you would think anonymous twitter accounts etc could be rampant. Even the Sky-era was much more chaotic.

I think for that reason, I'm mostly in the grey area, unbanned substance camp. I don't think riders are lying when they say better training methods and nutrition has been crucial to the huge increase in speeds etc., and grey area substances are pretty easy to include in "better methods/nutrition". It's also less sexy than more blatant doping, which would explain the lack of surrounding noise.
 
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There are currently 523 WT riders. My median (cautious) guess for the number of riders who has used substances or methods against the WADA code in the past year is roughly 470 riders (90 %). I'd expect more than half, maybe even more than two thirds, to use blood doping. If handled professionally, it's safe and it works. Then you can use whatever else on top of that.

Teams and riders have never been richer, never had greater support.

Riders not only turn pro sooner than in the past, they also perform at an earlier age. So I expect that the youngest riders have much better access to substances and guidance than in the past.
 
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I agree with this, there's like... absolutely no media rumours, at a time when you would think anonymous twitter accounts etc could be rampant. Even the Sky-era was much more chaotic.

I think for that reason, I'm mostly in the grey area, unbanned substance camp. I don't think riders are lying when they say better training methods and nutrition has been crucial to the huge increase in speeds etc., and grey area substances are pretty easy to include in "better methods/nutrition". It's also less sexy than more blatant doping, which would explain the lack of surrounding noise.
After looking at this era, i can't understand why Sky era was chaotic, because the speed and the numbers produced were low.

I also believe in legal doping, don't believe they are doing the primitive methods.
 
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After looking at this era, i can't understand why Sky era was chaotic, because the speed and the numbers produced were low.

I also believe in legal doping, don't believe they are doing the primitive methods.
I am tending towards there being something that is as-yet undetectable or is as-yet not banned (but likely would be once it was known about), but I think that all of the factors I mention contribute.

However, I think that with Sky - as with US Postal before them - we shouldn't underestimate the power of spectacle. When only one team has such a level of dominance, people grow suspicious as to why and start digging. Sky then did themselves no favours by giving incredibly shifty responses and obfuscations (as well as having dug their own grave in that respect by promising the moon) that led to more suspicion. When multiple teams are at that higher level, even if it's actually more suspicious, people feel like they're watching at least a level playing field and are likely to pry into it less.