At what point did cycling become "clean"?

Interesting topic; We're now being told that clean teams and riders win can win GT's and that its a victory for 'clean cycling".

What changed in cycling? When did this change occur? Was it testing? Was it a cultural shift? What year did it occur in? Did the governing body make a significant change? Is it marketing?


It appears to occurred with;

Evans, Ryder and now Wiggins.

Why do these cyclists represent "clean cycling" and not others?


I'm a little cynical. I fail to see what was the "turning point" in cycling to take it from a sport which has a high level of drug use to a completely clean environment whereby you could win GT's clean.

But I'm willing to be shown where I've missed the sea change.
 
thehog said:
Interesting topic; We're now being told that clean teams and riders win can win GT's and that its a victory for 'clean cycling".

What changed in cycling? When did this change occur? Was it testing? Was it a cultural shift? What year did it occur in? Did the governing body make a significant change? Is it marketing?


It appears to occurred with;

Evans, Ryder and now Wiggins.

Why do these cyclists represent "clean cycling" and not others?


I'm a little cynical. I fail to see what was the "turning point" in cycling to take it from a sport which has a high level of drug use to a completely clean environment whereby you could win GT's clean.

But I'm willing to be shown where I've missed the sea change.
Silly you.

The turning point was articulated by Nein and Phat. The incidence of doping is under 1%, and has been since ~2007.

We won. Didn't you know?

Now we have teams like Sky that will fire their riders if they even mention that someone else was doping.

And, Pat is going to visit all the pro teams this December and hold a seance on doping since all the dopers are now in the spirit world.

How much cleaner can it get?

Dave.
 
May 3, 2010
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2006 as per the USADA affidavits. In 2006 the peloton had a pauline conversion on the road to paris and forswore the needle and syringe for a diet of warmdowns, winter training in Tenerife and marginal gains.
 
The other point I'll add if a guy like Scarponi and several other of his level are still working with Ferrari and doping then what hope is there for the top tier wining GT's?

I still can't work out what changed? I know speeds are slower than Pantani and Armstrong but that doesn't mean "no doping".

I've never really heard a credible answer to why cycling is now clean.
 

martinvickers

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thehog said:
Interesting topic; We're now being told that clean teams and riders win can win GT's and that its a victory for 'clean cycling".

What changed in cycling? When did this change occur? Was it testing? Was it a cultural shift? What year did it occur in? Did the governing body make a significant change? Is it marketing?


It appears to occurred with;

Evans, Ryder and now Wiggins.

Why do these cyclists represent "clean cycling" and not others?
I was under the impression Sastre was 'hailed' as the first 'clean' recent winner...


I'm a little cynical. I fail to see what was the "turning point" in cycling to take it from a sport which has a high level of drug use to a completely clean environment whereby you could win GT's clean.

But I'm willing to be shown where I've missed the sea change.
Presumably the blood passport is the key change, i'm not sure. A lot has been made of power outputs etc...
 
thehog said:
I fail to see what was the "turning point" in cycling to take it from a sport which has a high level of drug use to a completely clean environment whereby you could win GT's clean.
This misrepresents the argument in an important way.

Those who take a line similar to Vaughters do not say that cycling is a "completely clean environment". They say that the numbers cheating have fallen and the amount of hot sauce the cheats can take has fallen, with the result that very talented riders can now win important races clean. That's not the same thing at all, and is entirely consistent with the view that doping is going on.

I think that the numbers cheating part is driven by the economics of test avoidance. With tests for EPO and the blood passport there is a level of risk to doping that there wasn't before. You absolutely can evade the tests and fool the passport, but you need to know what you are doing, which means expertise, which costs money. Combine that with what seems to have been an earlier shift away from centralised team programmes (see Hamilton's account of that change), and that sort of deluxe programme is beyond the reach of a lot of pros. Old school DIY EPO doping carries massive risks and is done primarily by the desperate, as Steve Hounard recently illustrated and as Ferrari himself seems to indicate in the Armstrong affidavits.

The amounts the cheats can cheat with part is again driven by the EPO / passport combination. When you pay your expensive doctor to get around the testing, and assuming he's competent and doesn't have an assistant suffering from the early stages of dementia, a key part of what he's going to be advising you to do is going to centrally involve toning things down. Methods which avoid big spikes in blood values and which limit glow time. And what those methods have in common is precisely that you simply aren't using the same sort of quantities of the substances in questions: ever more micro microdoses and tiny blood bags. Does this give you an advantage? Damn right it does, just as steroid based methods gave an advantage in the 80s.

The corroborating evidence for this argument is essentially declining performance numbers. And at least as far as I can tell, power outputs do seem to be down markedly. There's further corroboration from declining numbers of "suspicious" but not positive blood values, as shown in that famous chart showing immediate and sweeping changes in results after the EPO test and again after the passport.

The crucial thing about this argument is that it doesn't assume that there's been some moral revolution in the peloton, simply that the risk/reward calculation has changed. I'm not necessarily 100% convinced of the thesis, but it does seem to fit with the available evidence (power numbers) and I'd be interested in seeing counter arguments that don't simply amount to straightforward sneering.
 
Mar 10, 2009
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martinvickers said:
I was under the impression Sastre was 'hailed' as the first 'clean' recent winner...




Presumably the blood passport is the key change, i'm not sure. A lot has been made of power outputs etc...
Isn't. that what they said in 1999? Don't tell me we will just fall for it again just because they re-use those so magical words :rolleyes:
 
thehog said:
The other point I'll add if a guy like Scarponi and several other of his level are still working with Ferrari and doping then what hope is there for the top tier wining GT's?

I still can't work out what changed? I know speeds are slower than Pantani and Armstrong but that doesn't mean "no doping".

I've never really heard a credible answer to why cycling is now clean.
Obviously, you aren't listening very well.

Cycling became clean when Garmin issued its no needles policy. That was the turning point.

As soon as they did that, then everyone else could claim to be clean.

Dave.
 
Jul 14, 2009
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cycling is clean in the midwest, where kids use their bikes to race each other, jump dirt ramps and ride to school.
Pro racing has never and will never be clean. The data is there Armstrong caught, people that have never raced,trained or ridden with him still coming up positive.Problem not solved.

The collective agencies that determine if doping is taking place can agree on nothing. In a true bird dog maneuver the UCI is a sudden victim, wants to talk about the restructure of everything from finances,technology and doping controls. They even went as far as to have distracting conversation on bike cameras. The best way to talk about or not talk about doping in the limited meeting time left before January's TDU launches another season. Add topics like aero helmets and other previous no-nos that happened half an hour before stages. All the sudden, TV revenue is an issue? Maybe we can go in deep on wheel decals that are a huge problem

You can have NO starting point to any clean sport conversation until McDckhead and his cling-ons are wiped away. The drumbeat is already quieter than before. UCI needs to be redone or removed.
 
fat pat

when fat pat realised that he could no longer blame all cyclings doping

troubles on others

on being accountable he comes up with an idea 'cycling is clean..........

......how could i be guilty of negligence?'
 
The sarcastic sneering about "clean cycling" is all very well, but it doesn't actually engage with the question in the original post in any useful way. Yes, we know that many people here think that the very notion of "clean cycling" is laughable, but as there are many other threads filled with those sort of sarcastic posts, how about we actually discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the "Vaughters thesis" on this on?
 
So long as there is prize money available for victories, there are higher salaries for those at the top end, and people have the pride to feel that they simply must force themselves to be the best no matter what it takes, then doping will exist to some extent, and so it will be extremely difficult to point to a time at which cycling is "clean". It is cleaner, and has been getting that way for about a decade. As I have pointed out a few times in the Sky thread, a level of doping that would turn you into pack fodder in the days of Riis and Pantani is a level that can turn you into an unstoppable behemoth crushing people left and right now. With all the advances in technology, diet etc., Carlos Sastre matched Riis' time from Hautacam more than a decade earlier... and won the Tour de France with that performance. Sastre may or may not have been clean (after all, he was riding for self-same Riis), but the times are more believable. But just because something is within the bounds of human capability does not make it necessarily clean; we have to judge our own conceptions of a rider's level. For example, Chris Froome's performances were not outside of the boundaries of human capability... but in my own opinion based on my own observations of Chris Froome, they were outside the boundaries of performance that I could willingly believe were clean from the rider in question.

Steps forward such as the biopassport may have their flaws, but they have reduced doping in cycling without a shadow of a doubt. Not to the extent where it no longer exists, and maybe not even to the extent where fewer riders are doing it than were before; but to the extent that the gulf between the 'deux vitesses' is small enough that the occasional highly talented individual can feasibly breach it. As the controls tighten up, it's got to get worse before it can get better. We've had too many false dawns before - 1999, 2006 and 2007 all spring to mind instantly - for us to be able to believe performances like Sky's 2012 unquestioningly.

It will take a long time for the péloton to become a place where the dopers really are the 'few bad apples' we've been told so many times in the past. But it will take a long time on top of that for the péloton to become a place where the fans really, genuinely believe the péloton when they, truthfully and honestly, state that.

The other solution, of course, is to remove prize money and variation in salary, and go Communist.
 
Zinoviev Letter said:
The sarcastic sneering about "clean cycling" is all very well, but it doesn't actually engage with the question in the original post in any useful way. Yes, we know that many people here think that the very notion of "clean cycling" is laughable, but as there are many other threads filled with those sort of sarcastic posts, how about we actually discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the "Vaughters thesis" on this on?
Its not sarcastic at all.

We all here the term "clean cycling" but what does it mean and what has occurred that clean cycling is now a majority of the peloton.

There are a lot of posts from people defending teams and riders as clean or not doping but I don't here a lot of reasons to why.

Its well established that cycling has been riddled with doping for the best part of 20 years. The same governing body they presided over and accepted the doping are still in power.

What changed?
 
fatandfast said:
The collective agencies that determine if doping is taking place can agree on nothing.
You do realize that is by design, right? More specifically, WADA and its national affiliates are constrained by the federations about a million different ways including test timing, and opening cases.

I don't have the link handy, but Frank Shorter talked about athletes arriving late to the Olympic show because the federation has to be sure their profile is clear enough not to trip a positive.

So, WADA is doing what it can with IOC federations making their job impossible.
 
thehog said:
Its not sarcastic at all.
I wasn't referring to your original post, but to the bulk of the replies since, few of which engage with your question, other than to sneer at the very idea of asking.

thehog said:
What changed?
1) Scandals, largely brought to the fore by outside bodies, forced the UCI to adopt measures which neither they nor any other sports federation would voluntarily take (eg bio passport, testing which is still inadequate but greater than other sports, ceding some power to WADA).

2) Testing improved on a scientific level.

3) Centrally organised team programs became very risky (see Hamilton on this).

4) Together this changed the economics of doping, leaving riders with a choice between buying expensive expertise or engaging in affordable but stupidly risky DIY programmes, pricing a lot of them out of the game.

5) And those who can afford the expertise find that obeying the experts advice that enables them to beat the EPO test and the passport also means doping in much smaller amounts, with correspondingly smaller benefits.

6) In addition, as Omerta starts to fray, and as the number of people getting in trouble without an "analytical finding" starts to rise that further changes the risk/reward calculation. Scarponi being merely the latest object lesson.

7) Consequently, without any significant change in personnel at the top and without the peloton coming down with some epidemic of ethics, the numbers doping are down and the benefit dopers get is reduced.

8) So we have "cleaner cycling", a sport where doping certainly exists and can certainly provide a real advantage but doesn't have the transformative effects that from 1990 to recently put winning beyond the reach of talented clean riders.

9) And this is corroborated by a marked decline in power numbers and also by large changes in "suspicious" blood values corresponding to the introduction of the EPO test and then the passport.

That, at least as I understand it, is the argument. And I'd be genuinely interested to see people examine its strengths and, more importantly, its weaknesses. As an aside, I think that LS makes a very important point above by distinguishing between "within theoretical human capacity" and "within the capacity of a particular rider".
 
Zinoviev Letter said:
I wasn't referring to your original post, but to the bulk of the replies since, few of which engage with your question, other than to sneer at the very idea of asking.


...

8) So we have "cleaner cycling", a sport where doping certainly exists and can certainly provide a real advantage but doesn't have the transformative effects that from 1990 to recently put winning beyond the reach of talented clean riders.

9) And this is corroborated by a marked decline in power numbers and also by large changes in "suspicious" blood values corresponding to the introduction of the EPO test and then the passport.

That, at least as I understand it, is the argument. And I'd be genuinely interested to see people examine its strengths and, more importantly, its weaknesses. As an aside, I think that LS makes a very important point above by distinguishing between "within theoretical human capacity" and "within the capacity of a particular rider".
There are three reasons for the appearance of parity:

1. Doping has been abandoned

2. The 'level playing field' has adjusted such that doping is restricted to a more 'common set' of practices that provide a more uniform benefit.

3. The peloton (other than for fools like Froome) have learned to behave better to give the appearance of a more level playing field

I am betting on #2 and #3.

With respect to your #9, you are in danger of projecting a conclusion or of reflecting PR. The facts do not support this.

The facts we have from the 2009 and 2010 Tours are that suspicious profiles did not result in targeted riders being tested and that EPO tests were not conducted.

The Passport is meaningless if the data is not acted upon.

Before we can make any conclusion on effectiveness, data is required that can support that conclusion.

There is none.

Dave.
 
Libertine Seguros said:
So long as there is prize money available for victories, there are higher salaries for those at the top end, and people have the pride to feel that they simply must force themselves to be the best no matter what it takes, then doping will exist to some extent
We've seen amateurs caught doping 'we did it for the glory', so money is not necessarily to blame.

Libertine Seguros said:
It will take a long time for the péloton to become a place where the dopers really are the 'few bad apples' we've been told so many times in the past. But it will take a long time on top of that for the péloton to become a place where the fans really, genuinely believe the péloton when they, truthfully and honestly, state that.
This should be the goal. Cheating won't go away, it's part of human nature.
 
thehog said:
Its not sarcastic at all.

We all here the term "clean cycling" but what does it mean and what has occurred that clean cycling is now a majority of the peloton.

There are a lot of posts from people defending teams and riders as clean or not doping but I don't here a lot of reasons to why.

Its well established that cycling has been riddled with doping for the best part of 20 years. The same governing body they presided over and accepted the doping are still in power.

What changed?
Nobody has ever said cycling is "clean", many have said "cleaner" which has a completely different meaning but you know this already and are just trolling as usual. Zinoviev Letter nailed the situation head on.

Nobody ever said cycling was clean in 99 either or 06 or ever, there was optimism in 99 that cycling had cleaned up somewhat and according to some sources, it was partially true but the climbing speeds etc didn't decrease accordingly to reflect that situation.

The first time we have seen a decrease in speeds etc is the last few years which shows that the cleaner statement is in fact true.
 
D-Queued said:
There are three reasons for the appearance of parity:
Nobody has mentioned "the appearance of parity", so I have no idea what you are talking about here.

D-Queud said:
Before we can make any conclusion on effectiveness, data is required that can support that conclusion.

There is none.
That simply isn't true. There is some data available, albeit less than any of us here would like.

1) There are power outputs. Simply put, top level cyclists from 1990 up until quite recently used to routinely put out sustained power at a level that was inherently incredible. That simply isn't true any more.

This is something that those who dismiss the idea of "cleaner cycling" simply have to address if they want to knock holes in the "Vaughters thesis" but they never seem to tackle it head on. It is absolutely true that just because a performance is humanly possible for a clean rider it does not mean that it was possible for the rider who actually did it. You could after all pump me full of EPO until it was pouring from eyes and I would still fail to finish a GT mountain stage. But if a very talented cyclist can put out those numbers, then that cyclist can compete with today's dopers in a way that he simply could not hope to do previously.

2) There are the blood values. This graph illustrates the trend very well:



This doesn't mean that nobody is messing about with their blood by any means. But it does provide strong evidence that fewer are doing so and that those who are doing so are having to use smaller beneficial tweaks (with correspondingly smaller benefits). The bleeding obvious way to read that graph is that EPO was widely used in large doses right up until the EPO test, which triggered a wholesale move towards blood bags as the primary performance booster, right up until the passport, which left dopers with a much narrower pitch to play on. They can and do still dope and they can and do still get a benefit, it's just that it's harder, requires more expertise and gives less benefit.

I'm by no means wedded to the "cleaner cycling" thesis and am more than willing to listen to people knocking holes in it. It's just that very few of its critics ever really engage with its arguments and prefer to stick to sneering about things that are extraneous to the argument (eg the moral character of the UCI, the ethics of the peloton, etc).
 
Mar 22, 2011
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Good post, i pretty much agree with your sentiments.

Zinoviev Letter said:
Nobody has mentioned "the appearance of parity", so I have no idea what you are talking about here.

That simply isn't true. There is some data available, albeit less than any of us here would like.

1) There are power outputs. Simply put, top level cyclists from 1990 up until quite recently used to routinely put out sustained power at a level that was inherently incredible. That simply isn't true any more.

This is something that those who dismiss the idea of "cleaner cycling" simply have to address if they want to knock holes in the "Vaughters thesis" but they never seem to tackle it head on. It is absolutely true that just because a performance is humanly possible for a clean rider it does not mean that it was possible for the rider who actually did it. You could after all pump me full of EPO until it was pouring from eyes and I would still fail to finish a GT mountain stage. But if a very talented cyclist can put out those numbers, then that cyclist can compete with today's dopers in a way that he simply could not hope to do previously.

2) There are the blood values. This graph illustrates the trend very well:



This doesn't mean that nobody is messing about with their blood by any means. But it does provide strong evidence that fewer are doing so and that those who are doing so are having to use smaller beneficial tweaks (with correspondingly smaller benefits). The bleeding obvious way to read that graph is that EPO was widely used in large doses right up until the EPO test, which triggered a wholesale move towards blood bags as the primary performance booster, right up until the passport, which left dopers with a much narrower pitch to play on. They can and do still dope and they can and do still get a benefit, it's just that it's harder, requires more expertise and gives less benefit.

I'm by no means wedded to the "cleaner cycling" thesis and am more than willing to listen to people knocking holes in it. It's just that very few of its critics ever really engage with its arguments and prefer to stick to sneering about things that are extraneous to the argument (eg the moral character of the UCI, the ethics of the peloton, etc).
 
Zinoviev Letter said:
Nobody has mentioned "the appearance of parity", so I have no idea what you are talking about here.



That simply isn't true. There is some data available, albeit less than any of us here would like.

...
On #1, appearance of parity, thank you for recognizing original thought. Is it possible that certain chargers are being more circumspect about broadcasting their enhanced abilities?

I think it is possible.

On #2, your data is good.

Cyclists are smart.

All that we can conclude is that the type of doping appears to have changed. That the cheaters remain ahead of the testers.

But, without statistically relevant changes in reliable adverse analytical findings, any assessment of 'cleaner' is purely subjective.

And, since we know of the hundreds of tests that should have produced positives, but didn't, we can conclude that we are along way from having reliable statistical evidence on the rate of doping in the peloton.

Dave.
 
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