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If you ran a pro cycling team

May 6, 2009
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You're the manager of a PT team, so how would you run your anti doping testing, or if you are corrupt, how would you run your team's doping plan? Dope everybody, or just the good riders.
 
Sep 25, 2009
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currently there are three models used by the pt team for the internal control:

(i) independent like catlin’s and damsgaard (no longer) where the riders supposedly are surprise-tested with the results shared with the uci and wada (garmin, columbia)
(ii) pre-arranged scheduled tests where the results are for the team’s management only and are not shared with the uci (euskaltel-euskadi, katusha)
(iii) none, only the uci controls.

i prefer a mix between (i) and (ii) - independent surprise ooc but not shared with the uci or wada. this way the riders know there is an eye on them yet they can maintain a degree of privacy and marketability if there was a mistake. gusev’s case comes to mind as he’s still unemployed even though he won his case in cas.

as to team wide doping, it depends. like in life, riders are different assets with different internal values and attributes. if an evil ds wants to dope them, he needs to be smart and selective.

‘full programmes’ are expensive (upward of 50 000 euros annual) and would only make sense to invest in the bests riders.
 
Jul 13, 2009
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craig1985 said:
You're the manager of a PT team, so how would you run your anti doping testing, or if you are corrupt, how would you run your team's doping plan? Dope everybody, or just the good riders.
I wouldn't do extra testing by the team itself, just try to accomodate the testing that already exists as good as possible. I'd try to show maximum goodwill towards WADA and other authorities.

Otherwise, I'd try to offer my employees an environment where they could be assured of their job without doping. That means not like US Postal, where even the mechanics had to take Actovegin. Longer contracts, normal employment benefits, etc. I think that the financial situation - the gains vs. the investment - that riders are in makes doping attractive. Since this is something that the team management influences, I'd try to make the necessary changes there. However, and I've said this before, since there is no clear idea about the general context of doping, any measure taken by a team is going to be a wild experiment, since there is no general string of causes and effects known. We don't know how doping works, so we don't know what to do about it.
 
Jul 13, 2009
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python said:
currently there are three models used by the pt team for the internal control:

(i) independent like catlin’s and damsgaard (no longer) where the riders supposedly are surprise-tested with the results shared with the uci and wada (garmin, columbia)
(ii) pre-arranged scheduled tests where the results are for the team’s management only and are not shared with the uci (euskaltel-euskadi, katusha)
(iii) none, only the uci controls.

i prefer a mix between (i) and (ii) - independent surprise ooc but not shared with the uci or wada. this way the riders know there is an eye on them yet they can maintain a degree of privacy and marketability if there was a mistake. gusev’s case comes to mind as he’s still unemployed even though he won his case in cas.

as to team wide doping, it depends. like in life, riders are different assets with different internal values and attributes. if an evil ds wants to dope them, he needs to be smart and selective.

‘full programmes’ are expensive (upward of 50 000 euros annual) and would only make sense to invest in the bests riders.
I prefer option (iii) because the first two are either principally suspect or redundant. If the controls are paid by the team, how do you know they're independent? And if the controls are under no influence from the team management, why not let the UCI do them?
 
Sep 25, 2009
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Jonathan said:
I prefer option (iii) because the first two are either principally suspect or redundant. If the controls are paid by the team, how do you know they're independent? And if the controls are under no influence from the team management, why not let the UCI do them?
simple. the uci controls are largely ineffective for several reasons (a different subject) even if the genuine good will was there. regarding the internal testing by the teams, a truly independent system can be created provided the management is serious. there are agencies whose business is just that. the issue is the extra expense, will and psychology - all tough business decisions especially for a pioneer.
 
May 6, 2009
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Jonathan said:
I wouldn't do extra testing by the team itself, just try to accomodate the testing that already exists as good as possible. I'd try to show maximum goodwill towards WADA and other authorities.

Otherwise, I'd try to offer my employees an environment where they could be assured of their job without doping. That means not like US Postal, where even the mechanics had to take Actovegin. Longer contracts, normal employment benefits, etc. I think that the financial situation - the gains vs. the investment - that riders are in makes doping attractive. Since this is something that the team management influences, I'd try to make the necessary changes there. However, and I've said this before, since there is no clear idea about the general context of doping, any measure taken by a team is going to be a wild experiment, since there is no general string of causes and effects known. We don't know how doping works, so we don't know what to do about it.

It's interesting if you compare PT teams like Saxo and Footon. Saxo pay their neo pros (and all riders) well above the minimum wage for a PT rider (30,000 euro a season roughly), I guess they do it so their riders don't have to worry too much about money and then an incentive to dope. Or at least that is their spin. Whereas at Footon, I would imagine quite a lot of their riders would be on minimum wage, Chechu Rubiera complained that when Disco finished up that he was on the verge of retiring since he had an offer from Saunier Duval and they only offered minimum wage, something he wasn't prepared to do. But it should be noted Saxo has a much larger budget then Saunier Duval/Footon, so it is apples and oranges I'm afraid.

A couple of years ago, Pro Cycling Magazine went and visited Greg Lemond and did an interview (around late 2007) and he said he would test his riders every morning of a team training camp, as riders often use training camps to top up their doping programs (how often do you hear a rider say that he is off to Tenerife for 10 days to prepare for a certain race).

I guess to prevent doping, you would need to do a full hemoglobin test, VO2 max tests, SRM's on their bikes, regular health checks to pin point a riders fatigue levels and whether or not he has done too much racing, and if it is too much, then put him on the sidelines from racing.

It's a bit more complex then that, but I have to get up early (4.30am) for work tomorrow (it's 9.15pm) so I'll have to cut my post short :p
 
Jul 13, 2009
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python said:
simple. the uci controls are largely ineffective for several reasons (a different subject) even if the genuine good will was there. regarding the internal testing by the teams, a truly independent system can be created provided the management is serious. there are agencies whose business is just that. the issue is the extra expense, will and psychology - all tough business decisions especially for a pioneer.
There is no reason to assume that if the UCI or WADA cannot implement 'effective' (what makes a test or control effective?) controls, a team's management can.

Any system paid for by the team management will not be independent and not be regarded as such. There is no agency that can be hired buy a team whose business it is to be independent. This is true in a principal sense, but also in a practical sense: inevitably, someone hired to do a job will look at his employer's interest, and tailor the results to what suits the employer most. It really is quite obvious that testing should not be done by teams. Monitoring of riders' health is a job for the teams, but this should not be done with the aim of providing independent results comparable to doping tests. If one of 'my' riders was using doping, I'd try to correct the problem before the rest of the world caught on.
 
Jul 13, 2009
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craig1985 said:
It's interesting if you compare PT teams like Saxo and Footon. Saxo pay their neo pros (and all riders) well above the minimum wage for a PT rider (30,000 euro a season roughly), I guess they do it so their riders don't have to worry too much about money and then an incentive to dope. Or at least that is their spin. Whereas at Footon, I would imagine quite a lot of their riders would be on minimum wage, Chechu Rubiera complained that when Disco finished up that he was on the verge of retiring since he had an offer from Saunier Duval and they only offered minimum wage, something he wasn't prepared to do. But it should be noted Saxo has a much larger budget then Saunier Duval/Footon, so it is apples and oranges I'm afraid.

A couple of years ago, Pro Cycling Magazine went and visited Greg Lemond and did an interview (around late 2007) and he said he would test his riders every morning of a team training camp, as riders often use training camps to top up their doping programs (how often do you hear a rider say that he is off to Tenerife for 10 days to prepare for a certain race).

I guess to prevent doping, you would need to do a full hemoglobin test, VO2 max tests, SRM's on their bikes, regular health checks to pin point a riders fatigue levels and whether or not he has done too much racing, and if it is too much, then put him on the sidelines from racing.

It's a bit more complex then that, but I have to get up early (4.30am) for work tomorrow (it's 9.15pm) so I'll have to cut my post short :p
I don't think the height of the actual salaries is the biggest problem, but rather the big fluctuations that riders are facing. They know they can't hold the same job when they're 50, and they know their contract will expire within two years or so. It is very difficult to make long-term plans in such a situation, and I speculate this is what may cause riders to resort to means giving a short-term benefit.

Rubiera is a good example: he is not a rider with an erratic record. His performance has always been on a level that his teams could depend on. Still, this did not mean that he could keep his income on a constant level. This is rare for a job. Usually, performing on a reliable level will make your income reliable. In such a situation, resorting to doping could offer a small short-term risk that could result in a new two-year contract at a wage that would enable him to continue the lifestyle he had at that point (i.e. keep his house, for example).

I think it is expected that people start min/maxing their options in such a situation, and there may be other lines of work where comparable situations arise. The problem for cycling is that one effective option is prohibited but cannot be controlled - doping.
 
Sep 25, 2009
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Jonathan said:
There is no reason to assume that if the UCI or WADA cannot implement 'effective' (what makes a test or control effective?) controls, a team's management can.

Any system paid for by the team management will not be independent and not be regarded as such. There is no agency that can be hired buy a team whose business it is to be independent. This is true in a principal sense, but also in a practical sense: inevitably, someone hired to do a job will look at his employer's interest, and tailor the results to what suits the employer most. It really is quite obvious that testing should not be done by teams. Monitoring of riders' health is a job for the teams, but this should not be done with the aim of providing independent results comparable to doping tests. If one of 'my' riders was using doping, I'd try to correct the problem before the rest of the world caught on.
what's obvious to you is highly questionable to me particularly regarding the uci.

the history and practice of the sport confirm my opinion - the uci has consistently failed in its anti doping mission though they are 'independent'.

like any business the teams have the ability to control doping withing the team including conducting an independent testing. it's always better to practice self-control before relying on the police. it's the right principle, it the right approach and it's perfectly practical.

again, there needs to be the will and the resource. then properly negotiated contract can fill the rest of blanks.

i simply dont agree with you.
 
Jul 13, 2009
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python said:
what's obvious to you is highly questionable to me particularly regarding the uci.

the history and practice of the sport confirm my opinion - the uci has consistently failed in its anti doping mission though they are 'independent'.

like any business the teams have the ability to control doping withing the team including conducting an independent testing. it's always better to practice self-control before relying on the police. it's the right principle, it the right approach and it's perfectly practical.

again, there needs to be the will and the resource. then properly negotiated contract can fill the rest of blanks.

i simply dont agree with you.

And I don't think your disagreement is convincing. Regardless of whether the UCI has been implementing effective controls, there needs to be some independent agency with the authority to do something. The teams cannot be relied on to make such authority redundant. In fact, over-identification with the teams' interests has made the UCI controls ineffective in the first place.
 
Sep 25, 2009
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Jonathan said:
And I don't you your disagreement is convincing. Regardless of whether the UCI has been implementing effective controls, there needs to be some independent agency with the authority to do something. The teams cannot be relied on to make such authority redundant. In fact, over-identification with the teams' interests has made the UCI controls ineffective in the first place.
the mistake you are making is my disagreeing with you is supposed to convince you or anybody for that matter. if despite the clear evidence of the uci failures, you continue to insist on the uci role, i am afraid it is rather useless to discuss the matter with you any further. at least i wont.
 
Jul 13, 2009
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python said:
the mistake you are making is my disagreeing with you is supposed to convince you or anybody for that matter. if despite the clear evidence of the uci failures, you continue to insist on the uci role, i am afraid it is rather useless to discuss the matter with you any further. at least i wont.

I'm not arguing for the UCI specifically, but for testing by authorities. And we're stuck with the UCI and WADA for that. Yes, I insist on that, for reasons I made clear, but you are free to discuss the matter with me in any amount you wish.
 
Jul 14, 2009
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Python's statement is not really an opinion. The UCI has done a horrible job of catching and punishing athletes to the public's satisfaction. The operators of pro cycling both teams and officials at the UCI have concluded that medical care for these type of endurance athletes is always going to be unorthodox in the eyes of most people. Just as in most pro sports the way you keep an elite caliber athlete competing may not make sense to the average fan . Drugs used for treatment of elite riders are going to continue push the testing limits of all UCI programs. Conventional medicine would assess that an injured or rundown rider needs to take months off in order to recover from most cycling injuries. The business of cycling can't maintain any quality if conventional medicine is applied to athlete that fit into a bizarre profile, there simply are not another group of athletes that have these physical demands.Rest and recovery is not an available prescription for pro bike racers.
 
Jul 13, 2009
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fatandfast said:
Python's statement is not really an opinion. The UCI has done a horrible job of catching and punishing athletes to the public's satisfaction.

The term 'horrible' is by definition an opinion...

Otherwise, I did not actually dispute Python's opinion about the UCI (although I think the truth is more nuanced). What I dispute is that any failure by the UCI means that the teams can be relied on to do independent testing.

I just read in another thread some quotes by Chris Horner about Johan Bruyneel. It's easy to see why someone who depends financially on a team will say things that are beneficial to the team but out of whack with reality.

The operators of pro cycling both teams and officials at the UCI have concluded that medical care for these type of endurance athletes is always going to be unorthodox in the eyes of most people. Just as in most pro sports the way you keep an elite caliber athlete competing may not make sense to the average fan . Drugs used for treatment of elite riders are going to continue push the testing limits of all UCI programs. Conventional medicine would assess that an injured or rundown rider needs to take months off in order to recover from most cycling injuries. The business of cycling can't maintain any quality if conventional medicine is applied to athlete that fit into a bizarre profile, there simply are not another group of athletes that have these physical demands.Rest and recovery is not an available prescription for pro bike racers.

Reading that, the UCI haven't done such a bad job of trying to maintain credibility in the eyes of the public while trying to give a fair amount of freedom to the teams. The UCI has often had the same goal as the teams: maximum positive publicity for the sponsors, making them not independent at all. Perhaps there lies the problem.
 
Jul 14, 2009
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Jonathan said:
The term 'horrible' is by definition an opinion...

Otherwise, I did not actually dispute Python's opinion about the UCI (although I think the truth is more nuanced). What I dispute is that any failure by the UCI means that the teams can be relied on to do independent testing.

I just read in another thread some quotes by Chris Horner about Johan Bruyneel. It's easy to see why someone who depends financially on a team will say things that are beneficial to the team but out of whack with reality.



Reading that, the UCI haven't done such a bad job of trying to maintain credibility in the eyes of the public while trying to give a fair amount of freedom to the teams. The UCI has often had the same goal as the teams: maximum positive publicity for the sponsors, making them not independent at all. Perhaps there lies the problem.

Perhaps you are right and yes horrible is the wrong word. I know loads of the problems but not many of the solutions given the scale. My hope is that the feds and racers can continue to avoid police and outside agency scandals that damage bike racing overall. With bad press and super high start up costs the bike racing looses ground to other sports for quality Jr athletes.
 
Back to topic...

Ok, trying to go back to the topic of the OP...

I think I would chose to run a clean team. First of all I believe racing's a lot cleaner now than it used to be (please don't hit me!), but also because I don't think I'd be cut out for going "Yes, of course we're clean and we have never failed any doping tests" while on the other hand living with the risk of being outed as a cheat team if something came up...

In addition to the UCI testing I would probably run an internal system as well to keep track of both the doping issue as well as for health reasons. Would also look at contracts and payroll as others suggest as they are just as much key. Finally a lot could be accomplished by making sure riders are not over-used (so the would have to dope simply to survive and recover from race to race).

Apart from all of this costing a lot of money to run, it sure sounds easy doesn't it :)
 
Jun 15, 2009
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If i´d the money i would sign Ullrich, Sinkewitz and Jaksche, just to show the basterds from spain (caisse d epargne) and the omerta people (Epo-Lance etc.) what i think of them. I wouldn´t care if Ullrich, Sinkewitz and Jaksche would finsh last in the peloton.

I´d make the biggest contracts, but if my riders get caught in doping, i´d make sure they would have to pay back ALL salaries + fine.

Thats the way to fight doping.

Unlucky i am not a russian criminal oligarch ...
 

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