Omerta in cycling vs. other sports

Jun 18, 2011
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I just wanted to start a topic on why Omerta is so much more prevalent in cycling vs other sports, or whether it is also prevalent in other sports, but we just don't talk about it as much.

To start this off, I'd like to say that the largest problem is the close knit atmosphere that is created within the peloton. These guys have to spend 4-5 hours every day around all of their peers in a race. If you betray any of them, that time in the peloton is much worse than had you kept your mouth shut.

No other sport really has this kind of close knit group. Other endurance sports have some form of Omerta, mostly because of mutual respect for your opponents which isn't as prevalent in other sports. I do know that even some of the most outspoken doping critics in track and field will refuse to give names. When you develop friendships inside sport, you usually don't want to jeopardize that friendship by outing someone to the public, even if there are no bans given.
 
Dec 9, 2011
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I think alot of pro sportsmen will keep some form of trade secrets. They realize how good a job theyve got and in alot of cases will do almost anything to keep it.

It does seem to be especially prevalent in cycling. Few reasons IMO:

1. History/tradition of keeping stum.
2. Nearly impossible to win/be successful if you **** off the peloton.
3. Lance will come get you (joke)
4. The problem is so big I think individuals dont even know where to start.
 
5. Federations enable the doping.... As long as no one is killed.

If the various sports federations and the IOC were actually serious about limiting PED use, they'd back test samples and apply penalties.

They are not serious about eliminating PED use. They don't want anyone dead, so there are some tested limits. It is far more important to keep their federation going. So, any discussion pretty much ends as soon as it starts by blaming cycling for doping.

Case in point, Marion Jones' national championships still stand despite admitting to a career long doping regimen started as a teenager(!): http://www.usatf.org/statistics/champions/USAOutdoorTF/women/w100m.asp

Federations including the IOC enable doping. This observation is not controversial at this point.
 
A lot of other sports don't have omertà because they don't NEED it. There's no need to silence talk of drugs in mainstream sports - the press will do it for you.

In cycling it has only been strong because the sport has had its back to the wall. After all, pro wrestlers tried to keep "kayfabe" for a long time, didn't they - it was only when pressed that they had to admit it was all a sham. Otherwise, they would never have voluntarily faced the ridicule that came with it. Obviously there is a difference between something being an athletic competition riddled with drugs, and being a pre-determined game dressed up as an athletic competition, but the principle of avoiding ridicule and defending the inside from the criticism of the outside if the truth was discovered is the same.
 
I'd say there is a big difference. Bjorn Ferry, the swedish biathlete, said somethins like "Well, they have got to pee frist" when commentating on the podium during the 2007 World Championships. Ferry came in fourth place...
 
Walkman said:
I'd say there is a big difference. Bjorn Ferry, the swedish biathlete, said somethins like "Well, they have got to pee frist" when commentating on the podium during the 2007 World Championships. Ferry came in fourth place...
Fair play to him.

I think a lot of sports have a reputation for cleanliness they don't deserve, i.e. tennis. Athletics is also a massive mess. Rafa Nadal, Usain Bolt, I just do not trust them, and their results. I hate that I can't trust them but significant doubt is there, unfortunately.
 
Walkman said:
I'd say there is a big difference. Bjorn Ferry, the swedish biathlete, said somethins like "Well, they have got to pee frist" when commentating on the podium during the 2007 World Championships. Ferry came in fourth place...
He was referring to Andriy Deryzemlya, who placed 3rd. The quote included the "he has to take a leak first" bit and also "I know who he is, and he usually comes about 40th", referring to some athletes' incredible ability to peak at the right time - Deryzemlya hadn't placed in the top 5 of a sprint for four years before that. I don't think Ferry was too fussed by losing to Bjørndalen and Slesingr.
 
Other sports have far more effective Omerta in place. Look at what occurred when Barca and Real Madrid were linked to Op Puerto, the blatant steroid use in NFL, Rugby codes and AFL, the "superhuman" feats of Usain Bolt, the size and strength of Rafael Nadal and the Williams sisters, the list goes on and on. How often are these athletes questioned by the sports media and die hard fans?

Cyclists have just been sprung so many times that it is hard for the sport to move away from the image.
 
Mar 10, 2009
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42x16ss said:
Other sports have far more effective Omerta in place. Look at what occurred when Barca and Real Madrid were linked to Op Puerto, the blatant steroid use in NFL, Rugby codes and AFL, the "superhuman" feats of Usain Bolt, the size and strength of Rafael Nadal and the Williams sisters, the list goes on and on. How often are these athletes questioned by the sports media and die hard fans?

Cyclists have just been sprung so many times that it is hard for the sport to move away from the image.
Exactly! I think some of us think its more prevalent in cycling because we follow it much more closely. Apply the same watchful eyes on any other sport and you'll find the same if not similar issues which are hidden from the average fan. Yes, other sports have an iron curtain built in from the governing body down to the water/towel boy where not secret is ever disclosed or the omerta hand beats down hard on anyone who violates it. The money angle alone is big enough to help on covering up these violators and who knows what other means are used, that we can talk about.

Cycling though I do think is more open on its faults than most other sports.
 
Jul 10, 2010
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I found a blog post that I felt should be read by folks here. VERY insightful. I debated whether to post in this thread, or this one: http://forum.cyclingnews.com/showthread.php?t=4217&highlight=omerta
But that other thread is older, and less on topic. This one has some thoughtful comments - so I picked this one.

why-its-so-difficult-to-eradicate-corruption

Two sentences tell the story, in my mind:
Government doesn’t lead society; it REFLECTS society.
and
Democracy (or democratic reform) means nothing without meritocracy.
Now, if you'll follow my thinking, I believe this also applies to the smaller cultural group that is pro racing. I think it says a lot about why so many guys are so inhibited about speaking up - they are PART of a culture that gives "stretching the envelope" a wink and a nod. Riders, teams, journos, and UCI all. It seems its the fans who may feel the strongest about all this.
 
scullster46 said:
I just wanted to start a topic on why Omerta is so much more prevalent in cycling vs other sports, or whether it is also prevalent in other sports, but we just don't talk about it as much.
I can't recall any boxers calling out Ali or Tyson.
Omerta is still alive and well in most sports.
 
Feb 19, 2013
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oldcrank said:
I can't recall any boxers calling out Ali or Tyson.
Omerta is still alive and well in most sports.
Yeah, who's the boxer who recently said something like 'I think we should legalize doping, even though I don't dope'?
 
Other sport is such a large group which can't be put together

I suspect Boxing is as dodgy as it gets, but when your sport involves smashing the living daylights out of your opponents then doping becomes a minor issue.

Skill sports get an easier ride, because dope or no dope, people look at someone like Maradona and see him ghosting past Peter Reid et al, and think wow. So people see doping as less of an issue.

With sports based purely on strength / endurance then it becomes a bigger issue, and cycling compared to say running has a dodgier past, this seems to be at least to some extent (in the past) be due to team pressure which say a 1500m runner would not have imposed upon him.
 
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