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Q&A with Dr. Bengt Kayser on the doping dilemma in sport

Jul 8, 2009
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It's utter crap. Not the conclusion that we should allow doping - that is certainly a defensible position. But not with this particular defense. Consider this statement:

"This is problematic since the aim of anti-doping is to be 100% certain that the winners are clean, but there is no way to tell that with certainty."

Um, no, that is not the aim of anti-doping. The aim is to eliminate doping as much as possible. Sure, various bodies state that their aim is 100% success, but that is PR not a real "aim".

Basically, his entire defense collapses when you don't assume that failure to address it 100% means that you have to do something different.

Now, if he wanted to argue that we should just allow doping and not worry about it if they kill themselves, that at least is a defensible argument. I don't agree with the argument, but the disagreement is just a basic one, it's not because I think it's a bad argument.
 
Aug 4, 2009
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Position 1: You cannot stop doping and doping may be dangerous if not done properly - therefore it is better for the health of riders to allow doping and ensure it is safe.

Until recently I would have agreed that this is "utter crap" but then
some young members of my team went to another country to a training camp where they got an eye-opening education in doping practices among desperate amateurs trying to get a pro-contract. In other words self-injection of products bought illegally and stored imperfectly, with much ill-informed guesswork as to the correct dosage.

If doping were legal, we could take our young riders to a doctor, educate them about the advantages and disadvantages of each product and, in so far as is possible given the substances concerned, protect their health.

Or I could tell them that in fact if they train hard, sacrifice their girlfirends, and give up their jobs they can still get a pro-contract even clean. When I started racing I believed this to be true. I knew that taking steroids, amphetamines etc was widespread among top amateurs but I didn't believe they made enough difference for taking them to be worth the risk. It is different today - the drugs do make a difference and we can't hide that from vulnerable and ambitious young men.

So, although this goes against what I have believed for 20 years, maybe there is some merit in the argument that legalizing doping makes its inevitable use safer.
 
riobonito92 said:
Position 1: You cannot stop doping and doping may be dangerous if not done properly - therefore it is better for the health of riders to allow doping and ensure it is safe.

Until recently I would have agreed that this is "utter crap" but then
some young members of my team went to another country to a training camp where they got an eye-opening education in doping practices among desperate amateurs trying to get a pro-contract. In other words self-injection of products bought illegally and stored imperfectly, with much ill-informed guesswork as to the correct dosage.

If doping were legal, we could take our young riders to a doctor, educate them about the advantages and disadvantages of each product and, in so far as is possible given the substances concerned, protect their health.

Or I could tell them that in fact if they train hard, sacrifice their girlfirends, and give up their jobs they can still get a pro-contract even clean. When I started racing I believed this to be true. I knew that taking steroids, amphetamines etc was widespread among top amateurs but I didn't believe they made enough difference for taking them to be worth the risk. It is different today - the drugs do make a difference and we can't hide that from vulnerable and ambitious young men.

So, although this goes against what I have believed for 20 years, maybe there is some merit in the argument that legalizing doping makes its inevitable use safer.
Wow, what a great display of how a thinking person's view evolves.
 
May 13, 2009
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It's utter crap.

Question: Where do you set the limit for 'healthy' doping?
Answer: There is no healthy limit. Doping is off-label use of medication by healthy individuals. The limit should be zero.

Question: How do you enforce whatever limit you set?
Answer: You can't, just as well as you can't 100% enforce the 'no doping' rule.

In the end, you're left in the same situation as you're now, except that beside the uncontrolled doping, there's a baseline level of doping which everybody does, probably required to do to get a contract in the first place. It will be a much more dangerous situation.
 
Cobblestones said:
It's utter crap.

Question: Where do you set the limit for 'healthy' doping?
Answer: There is no healthy limit. Doping is off-label use of medication by healthy individuals. The limit should be zero.

Question: How do you enforce whatever limit you set?
Answer: You can't, just as well as you can't 100% enforce the 'no doping' rule.

In the end, you're left in the same situation as you're now, except that beside the uncontrolled doping, there's a baseline level of doping which everybody does, probably required to do to get a contract in the first place. It will be a much more dangerous situation.
except ... there's a baseline level of doping which everybody does

How is that different from now?
 
May 13, 2009
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Ninety5rpm said:
except ... there's a baseline level of doping which everybody does

How is that different from now?

The difference is that it's officially sanctioned under this proposal. Should have put those two words in the sentence: 'officially sanctioned'
 
Mar 19, 2009
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Dr. Kayser fails to lay out a purposal and after reading his worthless interview (sorry but not good info in the interview at all and references and links that waste my time) I'm left without an opinion since there's absolutely nothing to talk about here.

A few weeks back I started a thread on why doping could be 100% legalized. Is that what Dr. Kayser is saying should happen? Dont know he doesnt lay out a specific purposal in this brief and useless interview.
 
egtalbot said:
It's utter crap. Not the conclusion that we should allow doping - that is certainly a defensible position. But not with this particular defense. Consider this statement:

"This is problematic since the aim of anti-doping is to be 100% certain that the winners are clean, but there is no way to tell that with certainty."

Um, no, that is not the aim of anti-doping. The aim is to eliminate doping as much as possible. Sure, various bodies state that their aim is 100% success, but that is PR not a real "aim".

Basically, his entire defense collapses when you don't assume that failure to address it 100% means that you have to do something different.

This argument has problems when confronted with the ineffective dope testing that has been used in cycling. It is one thing if the success of testing was 90%, but what if it is 60%? What if it is 20%? What if there is a situation in which nearly all (or even all) of the winners are doping but only a small percentage get caught? If the risk of getting caught is low enough then the dope testing does not act as a deterrent. Studies have shown that risk of getting caught is far more important as a deterrent to crime than the harshness of the sentence. A good argument could be made that such a situation as exists in cycling and it would be more fair if there was no testing at all.
 

Dr. Maserati

BANNED
Jun 19, 2009
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Ninety5rpm said:
Wow, what a great display of how a thinking person's view evolves.

So if someone disagrees with your opinion they are not thinking rationally? Nice!

Associated Press:
The lead of the 2020 Tour de France has changed yet again in the first Tour de France being held since the legalization of doping.

Yesterdays race leader Ninety collapsed and died shortly after getting a transfusion midway through the stage. The new race leader was rather philosophical about retaining the yellow jersey to the end of the race. "I have taken a gamble by deciding to finish first, first one has to finish. So I keep my crit level low at just 65%."


Only 58 of the original 190 starters have survived the race - with the largest number being claimed by a new drug that has only been tested on lab rats.

The race resumes tomorrow starting at the Freiburg University.
 
Aug 4, 2009
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Let us suppose that:
1. The current difference between dopers and non-dopers is so great that dopers will always win but that
2. Safer "officially sanctioned" and controlled doping could signifcantly reduce this difference, then, perhaps
3. The extra costs and risks of whatever doping is still illegal would not be worthwhile.

This would also, incidentally, eliminate the "Boardman situation" of having to choose between taking a substance that is needed to maintain basic health, but which happens to be illegal, and giving up the sport (as discussed in the testosterone thread).

The main point is still, however, that the best way of protecting the health of young, sometimes poorly educated, but ambitious young riders might be to enrol them in an official doping programme.
 
May 13, 2009
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riobonito92 said:
Let us suppose that:
1. The current difference between dopers and non-dopers is so great that dopers will always win but that
2. Safer "officially sanctioned" and controlled doping could signifcantly reduce this difference, then, perhaps
3. The extra costs and risks of whatever doping is still illegal would not be worthwhile.

This would also, incidentally, eliminate the "Boardman situation" of having to choose between taking a substance that is needed to maintain basic health, but which happens to be illegal, and giving up the sport (as discussed in the testosterone thread).

The main point is still, however, that the best way of protecting the health of young, sometimes poorly educated, but ambitious young riders might be to enrol them in an official doping programme.

Your assumption 3 is wrong as demonstrated throughout many many years. People will dope for whatever imagined or real gain, irrespective of how big or small it might be.

Your point 2 is wrong, too. There's no safe doping. It's off-level use of medication by healthy individuals. There's nothing safe about it.
 
Aug 4, 2009
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I will plunge in because I appreciate the education. I have also just read the juniors thread and see some connections.

The team I am involved with contains a few older riders, like myself, who have always been committed to a clean sport, and a talented group of U23s who are hoping to make it into the pro ranks. We concentrate on longer amateur road races and short tours.

A few years ago, I would put it around 2004-5, there was a significant increase in the average speed and intensity of these races. Before 2005, in a typical 100 mile race there were always lulls - no-one was able to race hard for the entire distance. Now there is an unbelievable intensity from gun to tape. Riders who were competitive before now get shelled out the back.

At the same time as this change in intensity there was greater evidence of the use of EPO and other substances. When I say "greater evidence" - well, it wasn't exactly secret. As I mentioned before, going on a training camp is a way to get inducted into doping practices. As for testing - the chances of (a) being tested and (b) being caught are both ridiculously small.

And that is why I am almost at the point where I wish I could take the U23s to a doctor to help them dope more safely (yes, I know its not absolutely safe) - carefully calculated dosages, properly stored products etc etc - and do it in a way that is not against the rules and not illegal.

Otherwise, there will be an unregulated free-for-all in which who wins is decided by who takes the biggest risks and no-one will be able to reach the top level clean.
 
May 13, 2009
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riobonito92 said:
I will plunge in because I appreciate the education. I have also just read the juniors thread and see some connections.

The team I am involved with contains a few older riders, like myself, who have always been committed to a clean sport, and a talented group of U23s who are hoping to make it into the pro ranks. We concentrate on longer amateur road races and short tours.

A few years ago, I would put it around 2004-5, there was a significant increase in the average speed and intensity of these races. Before 2005, in a typical 100 mile race there were always lulls - no-one was able to race hard for the entire distance. Now there is an unbelievable intensity from gun to tape. Riders who were competitive before now get shelled out the back.

At the same time as this change in intensity there was greater evidence of the use of EPO and other substances. When I say "greater evidence" - well, it wasn't exactly secret. As I mentioned before, going on a training camp is a way to get inducted into doping practices. As for testing - the chances of (a) being tested and (b) being caught are both ridiculously small.

And that is why I am almost at the point where I wish I could take the U23s to a doctor to help them dope more safely (yes, I know its not absolutely safe) - carefully calculated dosages, properly stored products etc etc - and do it in a way that is not against the rules and not illegal.

Otherwise, there will be an unregulated free-for-all in which who wins is decided by who takes the biggest risks and no-one will be able to reach the top level clean.

I understand and appreciate your dilemma. However, a officially sanctioned doping program is not the solution. In particular, it will not level the playing field.

Consider the following: three riders, two with a natural crit of 45% one with 38%. Now you give all three of them EPO. The first question is: to 'level the playing field' would you give them all the same dose of EPO, or would you jack all three up to the same crit (which would require different doses)? That's a tough one, isn't it?

Now, if you land on the 'same dose' (which you should if your argument is really safety), consider the following: maybe the two riders with nat. 45% respond differently. For one of them, the crit goes up to 48%, the other is a great responder, and the crit goes up to 53%. Do you think you made it more 'level'?

Then you should consider that every drug has side effects. Maybe you think riders can manage. But again, some riders show heavier side effects than others. What do you do? Reduce the dose for the affected riders? How is that fair? Alternatively, you could manage side effects with some other medication. Again, some riders respond, some don't.

In the end, you could argue that every rider should have his own, individually optimized doping program. Is that level? And how would you set 'safe' limits? What might work for one rider (Mr. 60%) might kill the next one.

No, the only ethical and consistent point of view is the ban of all doping with the hope to be able to enforce it as well as possible. I give you that the enforcement is a problem right now, but I believe, there's much much room of improvement. Let's focus on that.
 
Mar 19, 2009
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What about synthetic hemoglobin, acto, etc. Also, would there be an age restriction to doping. Does an 18 year old and a 24 year old on the same team have to use different products?

What about "slin"? How many would F that up. (not lol). Its undetectable though. How could you control that?
 
Jul 25, 2009
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riobonito92 said:
Let us suppose that:
1. The current difference between dopers and non-dopers is so great that dopers will always win but that
2. Safer "officially sanctioned" and controlled doping could signifcantly reduce this difference, then, perhaps
3. The extra costs and risks of whatever doping is still illegal would not be worthwhile.

This would also, incidentally, eliminate the "Boardman situation" of having to choose between taking a substance that is needed to maintain basic health, but which happens to be illegal, and giving up the sport (as discussed in the testosterone thread).

The main point is still, however, that the best way of protecting the health of young, sometimes poorly educated, but ambitious young riders might be to enrol them in an official doping programme.

This is probably the best logical argument for legalizing PED use that I have read.

However, given the average young guy's appetite for risk, I would guess that a sanctioned baseline level of doping would be most likely to simply lead to more extreme (and therefore more dangerous) illegal doping.

Have you considered taking your U23's to a reputable sports doctor to discuss the Risk/rewards of doping, and point out to them the most dangerous practices? Surely that wouldn't be illegal?

What about greater sanctions for riders that take massive risks with huge crit values, dodgy blood storage, shared needles etc?
 
Jun 23, 2009
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Allowing doping is a poorly thought out concept on many levels.

1. I would stop following 100% doped cycling. I have no connection to guys on drugs racing. This is not something I can emulate on a 50 mile saturday ride.

2. The amateur ranks would become extremely dangerous. The guys trying to break into the pros would not have access to established doping programs but the sanctioning would make the drugs easier to obtain. I believe this would cause many more dopiing related deaths and problems than it would fix.

3. Other sports are extremely unlikely to follow. This would make cycling the official sport of drugs and would lose all credibility.

There are many others. If the pros put their health at risk to race a bike, that is what the Darwin awards are for.
 
May 26, 2009
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biker77 said:
3. Other sports are extremely unlikely to follow. This would make cycling the official sport of drugs and would lose all credibility

That argument alone is plenty enough reason to keep doping under the table.
 
yourwelcome said:
That argument alone is plenty enough reason to keep doping under the table.

Among body builders there are those who believe the decrease in public exposure of the sport since the 80s is due to the public perception of drug use. Of course, the athletes looking just plain gross may have something to do with that as well...
 
Mar 19, 2009
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biker77 said:
2. The amateur ranks would become extremely dangerous. The guys trying to break into the pros would not have access to established doping programs but the sanctioning would make the drugs easier to obtain. I believe this would cause many more dopiing related deaths and problems than it would fix.

.
You know I alway wondered about that too. I am concerned about HGH & insulin. You cannot help 50,000 young guys let alone make them all be responsible adults.
 
Aug 4, 2009
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The main reason I am raising these issues is because I am concerned about the safety of top level amateur racing and it is interesting that posters think that an officially sanctioned programme would make that level of the sport more, rather than less dangerous.

However, currently, there is definitely reckless, unregulated, unsafe drug taking in the amateur ranks. I cannot say how many riders are involved and do not know how many are suffering short or long term damage but some clearly are. What is the best approach? Enforcement is not feasible: it is too expensive and so the chances of being caught are negligible.

Possibly the best argument to use with the ambitious U23s is to say "if you want to turn pro and stay pro you have to be clean when you are on the way up because the pro teams want clean riders."

I'm just not sure if this is because (a) pro cycling is becoming increasingly clean so if you reach that level doped up you won't survive when you then have to ride clean; or (b) pro cycling is dirty but they want to recruit talented clean riders so, with doping, they can make you even better.

Talking about ethics or long term health risks is not effective with these guys.
 
Jul 19, 2009
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I can only suppose that Dr. Bengt Kaiser is one of the lobby-man of pharmaceutic industry!

What better to sell drugs to healthy people and later to sell them medicines to cure what they got with their drugs while younger.
The perfect business.
 
Jun 29, 2009
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This is a bunch of garbage. If you legalise doping, where does it end? 60% crit? 65 %? 70%? Who the hell wants to watch a bunch of treacle-blooded freaks climbing Alpe d'Huez in 29 minutes?

It's a myth that boosting under medical supervision is 'safe'. There's a reason your Average Joe's crit is 40-45%. Much higher and the blood starts clotting in the arteries/veins. Once you get a clot flying free it's pretty much russian roulette as to what happens. If you're lucky it'll lodge in some minor artery somewhere. If it jams at the top of the coronary arteries it's curtains. The only thing a doctor can do to limit the risks is to place you on some form of anticlotting treatment. Aspirin or clopidogrel is a good bet.

No doctor will tell you that boosting is safe. The only ones that do are, surprise surprise, the ones supporting/running the programmes. Step forward Dr Ferrari.
 
Mar 18, 2009
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I certainly don't agree with legalizing doping, for all the reasons already listed...

But the concept of looking outside the box for a better solution than what is currently in place has merit. Unfortunately I have no idea what the outside-of-the-box miracle solution is, but the thought of placing GPS transmitters with elite athletes for 24 hr surveillance, which is what is hinted at in this article, bothers me.

I did read an article from sociologist from Germany I believe and he had a novel idea of incentivizing (sp?) the those that develop the tests in an effort to keep pace, or even surpass the pace of the drugs that are being discovered and used.

Anyone have a link to that article or remember his name? It offered some interesting "alternatvie" ideas on the fight against doping i thought.