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The Curse of Doping

Aug 6, 2011
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The Curse of Doping
When cynicism reduces exceptional accomplishments to speculative doping allegations.

In my opinion, cycling is one of the best sports out there. It's accessible, often free to spectate and can easily be performed at any level, whether it's alone, with friends or at a club. It is also one of the world's most fouled sports, not only by the number of reported doping positives, but also the general cynicism surrounding any exceptional performance by any of the sport's athletes.* That cynicism not only proliferates among the less-informed general public, drowning in a waterfall of doping-centered journalism, but also among us, close followers of cycling. Any unexpected performance sparks unfounded, unsupported and unproven allegations like "no way Sky are clean" [1] and "Voeckler doping?" [2]. We seem to have lost our belief in true cycling sportsmanship. Is cycling really that bad?

A closer look at the sport's anti-doping program reveals one of the most elaborate and expensive systems known to sports. The average number of tests per athlete is high, the mandatory whereabouts registration is closely monitored and missed out-of-competition tests are registered and acted upon. Comparing it to other professional sports, like soccer and tennis, it has to be said that if there currently is a system likely to catch offenders, it is this system. In soccer, they are still reluctant to even introduce a whereabouts-system [3] and the most recent leaked testing file (2009) of the tennis federation (ITF) reveals that most, if not all top-50 players missed their single out-of-competition test or were not even tried to be tested [4]. Moreover, the ITF states it will never reveal any details of their (absent) anti-doping program, including suspensions, negatives or the number of performed tests. This means that every short of long-term sanction can be explained by players as they like: an injury, a career break or early retirement.

However, journalism hasn't jumped on the bandwagon of soccer and tennis doping, not pursuing any athletes other than cyclists after Operación Puerto, while even Fuentes himself revealed that a larger part of his clientele were not in fact cyclists, but big-time tennis and soccer players [5]. While cyclists are under constant scrutiny by journalists, no one writes about the absence of anti-doping systems in the most doping-effective periods, the out-of-competition training periods, in other sports. German press hypocritically pulled out of the Tour de France, but remained silent as another sport, athletics, was hit hard by repeated doping allegation, such as the Marion Jones confessions [6] and repeated positives of Jamaican sprinters [7]. Moreover, the main events were broadcast live on German national television. The result? German cycling teams can't find German sponsors, almost no sane company wants to get involved in the nation's most controversial sport. Bye, bye German cycling, on account of hypocritical and selective journalism.

And now we are here, doubting every cyclists move, and, moreover, questioning every single time the most beautiful thing of cycling happens, an unlikely performance of an athlete in his best shape. The climber who strikes on the steep slopes of a monstrous mountain, the sprinter who beats the Cav, the attacker who attacks again and again. Sports are interesting because sometimes something exceptional happens and those exceptional things would probably happen in doping-free world too. But these days, every big move is criticized, while there is absolutely no indication of false genuineness. Is that dreadful cynicism really warranted? The biggest doping allegations we have at the moment, a few clenbuterol cases, seem only to be a problem in cycling, in other sports athletes are cleared again and again from these charges, like the Mexican soccer players[8].

What are we doing? Why are we doing it? Is every cyclist guilty until proven to be the worst of the peleton? It is not even guilty until proven innocent, because they can't prove innocence. When they do what they do, perform, they're guilty, because we can't seem to believe it's possible to win. But someone has to win, right? Even without doping?

I am not claiming that cycling is clean, it is not. As all sports. But, please, dear cycling fans, try to enjoy sportsmanship sometimes. Try to enjoy the things that make sports so enjoyable, great accomplishments. If you judge on those accomplishments alone, without any other empirical proof or evidence, you will make spectating cycling a very cynical place. You will kill the joy. You will kill cycling, because then every move will always be suspect.

Best to you all,

Willem S.

---
Footnotes
*) At the same, known offenders can be admired for their exceptional, but often drug-boosted performances and rise to a cult-like hero status, as is the case with Pantani. I would not deny if you asked me if I admire him.
 
Jun 19, 2009
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WillemS said:
The Curse of Doping
When cynicism reduces exceptional accomplishments to speculative doping allegations.

In my opinion, cycling is one of the best sports out there. It's accessible, often free to spectate and can easily be performed at any level, whether it's alone, with friends or at a club. It is also one of the world's most fouled sports, not only by the number of reported doping positives, but also the general cynicism surrounding any exceptional performance by any of the sport's athletes.* That cynicism not only proliferates among the less-informed general public, drowning in a waterfall of doping-centered journalism, but also among us, close followers of cycling. Any unexpected performance sparks unfounded, unsupported and unproven allegations like "no way Sky are clean" [1] and "Voeckler doping?" [2]. We seem to have lost our belief in true cycling sportsmanship. Is cycling really that bad?
Firstly - there are over 20,000 people registered on this forum.
Those who harbour views that everyone is doping or that every great accomplishment probably numbers just 10 or 20.

Isn't tarring cycling fans for having that view no different from assuming (wrongly IMO) that everyone dopes because some dope?


WillemS said:
A closer look at the sport's anti-doping program reveals one of the most elaborate and expensive systems known to sports. The average number of tests per athlete is high, the mandatory whereabouts registration is closely monitored and missed out-of-competition tests are registered and acted upon. Comparing it to other professional sports, like soccer and tennis, it has to be said that if there currently is a system likely to catch offenders, it is this system. In soccer, they are still reluctant to even introduce a whereabouts-system [3] and the most recent leaked testing file (2009) of the tennis federation (ITF) reveals that most, if not all top-50 players missed their single out-of-competition test or were not even tried to be tested [4]. Moreover, the ITF states it will never reveal any details of their (absent) anti-doping program, including suspensions, negatives or the number of performed tests. This means that every short of long-term sanction can be explained by players as they like: an injury, a career break or early retirement.
I have highlighted the problem with your statement.

Why compare cycling to other sports?
Surely "one of the most elaborate and expensive systems" should be able to be judged on its merits, not on comparisons to others?

That is a big part of the problem with this sport - when you take an even closer look at cyclings anti-doping system and look at the quality and timing of testing it exposes some serious flaws within the system.


WillemS said:
However, journalism hasn't jumped on the bandwagon of soccer and tennis doping, not pursuing any athletes other than cyclists after Operación Puerto, while even Fuentes himself revealed that a larger part of his clientele were not in fact cyclists, but big-time tennis and soccer players [5]. While cyclists are under constant scrutiny by journalists, no one writes about the absence of anti-doping systems in the most doping-effective periods, the out-of-competition training periods, in other sports. German press hypocritically pulled out of the Tour de France, but remained silent as another sport, athletics, was hit hard by repeated doping allegation, such as the Marion Jones confessions [6] and repeated positives of Jamaican sprinters [7]. Moreover, the main events were broadcast live on German national television. The result? German cycling teams can't find German sponsors, almost no sane company wants to get involved in the nation's most controversial sport. Bye, bye German cycling, on account of hypocritical and selective journalism.
Why did 'journalism' take an interest in cyclings doping?

Because scandals like Festina & Puerto lifted the lid on the sport for what it really is and exposed it lies.


WillemS said:
And now we are here, doubting every cyclists move, and, moreover, questioning every single time the most beautiful thing of cycling happens, an unlikely performance of an athlete in his best shape. The climber who strikes on the steep slopes of a monstrous mountain, the sprinter who beats the Cav, the attacker who attacks again and again. Sports are interesting because sometimes something exceptional happens and those exceptional things would probably happen in doping-free world too. But these days, every big move is criticized, while there is absolutely no indication of false genuineness. Is that dreadful cynicism really warranted? The biggest doping allegations we have at the moment, a few clenbuterol cases, seem only to be a problem in cycling, in other sports athletes are cleared again and again from these charges, like the Mexican soccer players[8].
Yes, the Mexican players were cleared (although WADA have appealed that decision) unlike in cycling which dealt very harshly with Contador.... oh, wait.

WillemS said:
What are we doing? Why are we doing it? Is every cyclist guilty until proven to be the worst of the peleton? It is not even guilty until proven innocent, because they can't prove innocence. When they do what they do, perform, they're guilty, because we can't seem to believe it's possible to win. But someone has to win, right? Even without doping?
Good question.

I certainly don't think every cyclist is guilty and I would love to applaud a clean performance, I think that goes for most people.

From reading blogs, this forum and general comments, the reason people cannot have faith in some performances is that they have no faith in the UCI to implement changes and enforce the rules.

It isn't even about doping anymore - your post shows this - it is about the perception of doping.
Statistically the doping numbers are much the same as over the last 20 years, but we know from outside investigations that doping was prolific back in the 90's. So even if the numbers now are more accurate people have little trust in that because they come from the same source, the UCI.



WillemS said:
I am not claiming that cycling is clean, it is not. As all sports. But, please, dear cycling fans, try to enjoy sportsmanship sometimes. Try to enjoy the things that make sports so enjoyable, great accomplishments. If you judge on those accomplishments alone, without any other empirical proof or evidence, you will make spectating cycling a very cynical place. You will kill the joy. You will kill cycling, because then every move will always be suspect.

Best to you all,

Willem S.

---
Footnotes
*) At the same, known offenders can be admired for their exceptional, but often drug-boosted performances and rise to a cult-like hero status, as is the case with Pantani. I would not deny if you asked me if I admire him.
If you are not cynical or questioning the sport, then you might as well put your head in the sand - and I would have no problem if that is what some people want to do.

Cycling is a wonderful sport - the best sport there is, it does not need PEDs to be a wonderful sport.

It is the drugs that kill the joy in that.
 
Aug 6, 2011
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Dr. Maserati said:
Firstly - there are over 20,000 people registered on this forum.
Those who harbour views that everyone is doping or that every great accomplishment probably numbers just 10 or 20.

Isn't tarring cycling fans for having that view no different from assuming (wrongly IMO) that everyone dopes because some dope?
Point taken. It's an assumption and quite luckily probably wrong one. But even then, in my surroundings (I know, anecdotal evidence) a lot of cycling fans and even different cyclists on different levels are often or cynical or doubting about a lot of cyclist, especially those with bad reputations, but no convictions or positive tests. I think that is fueling a wrongful image of cycling as THE sport de dopage.

My main point is that a lot of people, even those who are not explicitly stating it, automatically wonder if there's doping involved in that great performance. Tv-commentators sometimes hint about this, or at least the ones I listen to (Dutch NOS/Dutch Eurosport/Belgium Sporza/English Eurosport + online streams).

Dr. Maserati said:
I have highlighted the problem with your statement.

Why compare cycling to other sports?
Surely "one of the most elaborate and expensive systems" should be able to be judged on its merits, not on comparisons to others?

That is a big part of the problem with this sport - when you take an even closer look at cyclings anti-doping system and look at the quality and timing of testing it exposes some serious flaws within the system.
It was not my point to do a full review of the system's effectiveness. In my opinion, general public and a lot cycling fans automatically rate cycling as one of the sports with worst doping problem. People don't hold absolute judgement, there are no fixed values to compare something be, humans often use comparison to make judgement. And I feel that a lot of people are making a very biased judgement based on the news fact that are apparent to them, instead of hidden facts (availability bias).

Moreover, I don't believe in the perfect system. Systems may near that utopia, but there are several approaches, all with their respective pro's and con's. The only way to eventually decide which system is best is by comparison. Learning from other systems. But again, this would rather be an investigation of the system itself, but my post was about a supposed status of cycling, which in my opinion comes from (biased) comparisons. I gave my opinion on that comparisons.

Dr. Maserati said:
Why did 'journalism' take an interest in cyclings doping?

Because scandals like Festina & Puerto lifted the lid on the sport for what it really is and exposed it lies.
Here is one of my main issues. Sure it did that, but Puerto also did that for "the biggest soccer clubs in Spain" and the top of Tennis. Seems selective to only write about cycling, thus biasing public beliefs influencing a sport's economy, while other sports might be as bad or worse. There are entire sites dedicated to doping in tennis, but no serious journalist has picked it up. It's the same with soccer. Both tennis and soccer are financially big sports and loved by the public. Is that biasing journalism? I don't know, it might.
There are journalists dedicating their career to cycling doping, but not one is looking into the nontransparent system of other sports.


Dr. Maserati said:
Yes, the Mexican players were cleared (although WADA have appealed that decision) unlike in cycling which dealt very harshly with Contador.... oh, wait.
True, Contador is in exactly the same spot. But Mosquera? He doesn't even know if they are ever going to rule on his case. In the mean time he has been on tranquilizers, his career is as good as over and he probably doesn't receive any salary. That's unfit.

But there are some recent cases that are cleared from clenbuterol recently, I have to look it up. My hippocampus seems to hint at memory traces for a table tennis case, but I should look it up. However, I have to resume teaching a class in 8 minutes, thus it will to wait.

I thought about removing this paragraph, because it is not really about what I wanted to challenge. Thinking about it, I should have.

Dr. Maserati said:
Good question.

I certainly don't think every cyclist is guilty and I would love to applaud a clean performance, I think that goes for most people.

From reading blogs, this forum and general comments, the reason people cannot have faith in some performances is that they have no faith in the UCI to implement changes and enforce the rules.

It isn't even about doping anymore - your post shows this - it is about the perception of doping.
Statistically the doping numbers are much the same as over the last 20 years, but we know from outside investigations that doping was prolific back in the 90's. So even if the numbers now are more accurate people have little trust in that because they come from the same source, the UCI.
Spot on. It's about the perception of cycling as THE doping sport (aside from body building) and condemning it. I think that cycling is not that (anymore). I think that cycling is one of the sports that has worked the hardest to ban doping, but that many flaws still remain. It might be just because cycling does so much about doping that the reputation will never go away. Other sports just cover up and remain silent. That is no excuse for cycling to do whatever they want, but a cycling fan shouldn't be biased by that silence that cycling is the only bad sport out there or even that every cyclist is a dopeur.


Dr. Maserati said:
If you are not cynical or questioning the sport, then you might as well put your head in the sand - and I would have no problem if that is what some people want to do.
.
I don't agree with you on this. If you're cynical about every performance, than you're not only paranoid, but killing the sport by biasing views of others. I would like to see a change in government body, a transparent and fully open doping system, and greater team responsibility. For the latter, pro-teams should prove that they did everything within their power to counter doping. I have very radical views about anti-doping programs and I will very harshly convict any team or rider that crosses the line.

But I feel that it's unethical to execute the prisoner without a trial, cut the thief's hand without empirical evidence or ban the cyclist without any proof. Especially when we are so cynical that every rider, per definition, is suspected.

So there were two main points: Cycling may not be THE doping sport AND we shouldn't convict the cyclist without any proof.
 
Jul 1, 2011
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So there were two main points: Cycling may not be THE doping sport AND we shouldn't convict the cyclist without any proof.
 
Jun 19, 2009
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WillemS said:
Point taken. It's an assumption and quite luckily probably wrong one. But even then, in my surroundings (I know, anecdotal evidence) a lot of cycling fans and even different cyclists on different levels are often or cynical or doubting about a lot of cyclist, especially those with bad reputations, but no convictions or positive tests. I think that is fueling a wrongful image of cycling as THE sport de dopage.
Why is that?


WillemS said:
My main point is that a lot of people, even those who are not explicitly stating it, automatically wonder if there's doping involved in that great performance. Tv-commentators sometimes hint about this, or at least the ones I listen to (Dutch NOS/Dutch Eurosport/Belgium Sporza/English Eurosport + online streams).
And again, why is that?


WillemS said:
It was not my point to do a full review of the system's effectiveness. In my opinion, general public and a lot cycling fans automatically rate cycling as one of the sports with worst doping problem. People don't hold absolute judgement, there are no fixed values to compare something be, humans often use comparison to make judgement. And I feel that a lot of people are making a very biased judgement based on the news fact that are apparent to them, instead of hidden facts (availability bias).
Again why?

Why is it people (whether cyclists, journalists, general sporting fans) have such a poor opinion of cycling and why is it that they do not believe the current PR - if you were to listen to McQuaid cycling has left its drk past behind, why is it that people don't believe him?

Because time and again the sport has shown that what it says is not true - it is not about doping anymore, that will always be there - but there is no faith in those charged with looking after the sport.


WillemS said:
Moreover, I don't believe in the perfect system. Systems may near that utopia, but there are several approaches, all with their respective pro's and con's. The only way to eventually decide which system is best is by comparison. Learning from other systems. But again, this would rather be an investigation of the system itself, but my post was about a supposed status of cycling, which in my opinion comes from (biased) comparisons. I gave my opinion on that comparisons.
But you are comparing flawed systems.

For any system to be tested and trusted, it needs to be submitted to independent analysis - which again we do not have.

WillemS said:
Here is one of my main issues. Sure it did that, but Puerto also did that for "the biggest soccer clubs in Spain" and the top of Tennis. Seems selective to only write about cycling, thus biasing public beliefs influencing a sport's economy, while other sports might be as bad or worse. There are entire sites dedicated to doping in tennis, but no serious journalist has picked it up. It's the same with soccer. Both tennis and soccer are financially big sports and loved by the public. Is that biasing journalism? I don't know, it might.
There are journalists dedicating their career to cycling doping, but not one is looking into the nontransparent system of other sports.
Again you are back to comparing one sport against another.

Quite frankly that attitude (while understandable) annoys me - I don't care about other sports, this is not a race to the bottom of sports ethics.

Cycling has a doping reputation - which it deserves, to rid itself of that it needs to attempt to seriously tackle it, not more BS PR.


WillemS said:
True, Contador is in exactly the same spot. But Mosquera? He doesn't even know if they are ever going to rule on his case. In the mean time he has been on tranquilizers, his career is as good as over and he probably doesn't receive any salary. That's unfit.
Mosquera?
What have we read about Mosquera that is not from Mosquera?
That is one of the problems about sport - we often only hear one biased side of the debate.

WillemS said:
But there are some recent cases that are cleared from clenbuterol recently, I have to look it up. My hippocampus seems to hint at memory traces for a table tennis case, but I should look it up. However, I have to resume teaching a class in 8 minutes, thus it will to wait.

I thought about removing this paragraph, because it is not really about what I wanted to challenge. Thinking about it, I should have.
Each Clen case is judged on its won merits - which for the type of PED it is, is understandable. But as you say it has little to do with your overall point - although again, it does get in the news cycle and muddies the water.


WillemS said:
Spot on. It's about the perception of cycling as THE doping sport (aside from body building) and condemning it. I think that cycling is not that (anymore). I think that cycling is one of the sports that has worked the hardest to ban doping, but that many flaws still remain. It might be just because cycling does so much about doping that the reputation will never go away. Other sports just cover up and remain silent. That is no excuse for cycling to do whatever they want, but a cycling fan shouldn't be biased by that silence that cycling is the only bad sport out there or even that every cyclist is a dopeur.
It is about perception.

But again - the important point here is that cycling has that reputation on merit. Which is why I believe comparing it to other sports is futile.

The perception will not change until the underlying problems are addressed - ie taking away anti-doping from the sport governing bodies.

WillemS said:
I don't agree with you on this. If you're cynical about every performance, than you're not only paranoid, but killing the sport by biasing views of others. I would like to see a change in government body, a transparent and fully open doping system, and greater team responsibility. For the latter, pro-teams should prove that they did everything within their power to counter doping. I have very radical views about anti-doping programs and I will very harshly convict any team or rider that crosses the line.
I am not cynical about every performance.

But again that is irrelevant - for many when they see an outstanding performance the doping question pops in to their head.
The real question is why is that and what would change that attitude.

(I actually would disagree with your "harsh convictions" stance as an anti-doping initiative.)


WillemS said:
But I feel that it's unethical to execute the prisoner without a trial, cut the thief's hand without empirical evidence or ban the cyclist without any proof. Especially when we are so cynical that every rider, per definition, is suspected.
You are back to suggesting that is my view (or a majority view) when it is not.
Again, that is no different to those few who say everyone dopes.

WillemS said:
So there were two main points: Cycling may not be THE doping sport AND we shouldn't convict the cyclist without any proof.
Why does it matter if cycling is THE doping sport or not? (I have no way of knowing)
Does it really matter if cycling was only the 5th?

As for "convicting without evidence" - who does that?
That appears a huge generalization.
I assume you mean sports fans assuming that suspect performances are drug fueled - why should people who were lied to before that it was cleaner start believing in performances now?

I cannot understand your position of being anti-doping yet requesting others to not question suspicion when it arises.
 
Jun 19, 2009
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WillemS said:
The Curse of Doping
When cynicism reduces exceptional accomplishments to speculative doping allegations.
<snipped for brevity>
Rather than get involved in long debates on this - my main points are:
I can understand ignoring the doping and enjoying the spectacle.
I also understand enjoying the sport and being appalled at the doping.

But I don't get your point where you acknowledge doping occurs, are appalled by it yet want it ignored or start to compare it to other sports.

Ignoring the doping (or papering over the cracks) is what has got cycling in its current state in the first place.
 
Aug 6, 2011
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On the development of an anti-doping system (which was not my main point).

Well, I don't believe in flawless systems, but I do think a flawless system is the goal which you would want to achieve. One method to improve a system is by comparing it to other systems to find the relative strengths and weaknesses of the system. Next you can improve your system by identifying characteristics of that other system that are worth implementing in your system. The relative weakness of another system is of course not an argument that your system is good as it is. I never said that and I never will say that, because that's ridiculous. I agree with you on that.

I think it's also ridicule to do a wholly independent investigation and development of any system, forcing you to invent the wheel over and over again. Comparisons matter, for that matter.

On perception

I don't believe that people hold absolute values, but rather use comparison to gain an opinion. This is found throughout psychology, from the perception of personal status, deciding when you're poor or rich or if the car you've just bought has the right color. For the public's opinion, comparisons matter. That does not mean that you have to say that cycling's anti-doping system is any good, "because it's better than that of other sports". This is not about the doping system itself, but about the perception of cycling. My personal opinion is that the negative vibe, feel, perception, value, attitude that people hold towards cycling is biased by an implicit comparison that is biased by the biased availability of doping-related information.

Is this any good for evaluating the anti-doping system? Of course not. But unlike you, and I am sure a lot of other people as well, others do not think about the doping subject deeply, because they are not really interested. To form an opinion, they use heuristics and stereotypes dictated by one-sided accounts of the relative status of cycling as doping-troubled sport. Those people will probably not participate in discussions on this forum, will maybe never watch cycling on tv, but they are part of the general public and will therefore in part influence the public's opinion about cycling.

This in turn has negative effects on cycling, as the sport gets a negative reputation, repelling potential sponsors as well as decreasing the likelihood of people getting involved in cycling, either participating or watching it. This comparison has nothing to do with the question "Is the cycling anti-doping system any good?" , but with the subjective value of cycling itself. Most people generalize, including me. I believe that a lot of people just think "all cyclists are frauds", especially non-cycling fans. And whether you like or not, those simplistic, paper-thin opinions about cycling matter for sponsors, for their offspring/possible next generation of cyclists and governmental attitude towards (the organization of) cycling (events).

It might not matter for you what the general perception of cycling is, but in the end it will matter for cycling.
 
Aug 6, 2011
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Dr. Maserati said:
Ignoring the doping (or papering over the cracks) is what has got cycling in its current state in the first place.
That is not what I am saying. I am just saying "if some cyclist does something exceptional, don't automatically declare him guilty of doping". If you're not doing that, we can shake hands. If you are doing that, I find your view to cynical.

The second thing I am saying is that being cynical about every accomplishment, every grand tour winner, every Gilbert, without evidence or clues, is in the end harmful for cycling.

As for covering up: Don't do that, be totally and totally transparent about the whole system. But, when a system is getting more transparent, you'll see more dirt. Don't fall into trap that this means the sport in which the system is getting more transparent is worse than a sport that is nontransparent and suspect of cover-ups (like tennis).
 
Jun 19, 2009
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WillemS said:
That is not what I am saying. I am just saying "if some cyclist does something exceptional, don't automatically declare him guilty of doping". If you're not doing that, we can shake hands. If you are doing that, I find your view to cynical.
Not only do I not do that - the majority here don't do that.


WillemS said:
The second thing I am saying is that being cynical about every accomplishment, every grand tour winner, every Gilbert, without evidence or clues, is in the end harmful for cycling.
Leaving that it is a minority viewpoint aside for a moment.

Again - why have people a 'cynical' view? Because they have been lied to so many times over the years they do not trust those in charge (UCI, teams, journalists etc).
If you want that view to change then you have to address that trust issue.


WillemS said:
As for covering up: Don't do that, be totally and totally transparent about the whole system. But, when a system is getting more transparent, you'll see more dirt. Don't fall into trap that this means the sport in which the system is getting more transparent is worse than a sport that is nontransparent and suspect of cover-ups (like tennis).
Again you are back to comparing other sports.

Where has cycling been more transparent? Indeed you mentioned the cost of testing and number of tests per athlete earlier, that is just PR speak.

Don't fall in to the trap of numbers or cost - it is the application of testing ie times, OOC and consistency that is more important.
 
Aug 6, 2011
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Dr. Maserati said:
Not only do I not do that - the majority here don't do that.



Leaving that it is a minority viewpoint aside for a moment.

Again - why have people a 'cynical' view? Because they have been lied to so many times over the years they do not trust those in charge (UCI, teams, journalists etc).
If you want that view to change then you have to address that trust issue.



Again you are back to comparing other sports.

Where has cycling been more transparent? Indeed you mentioned the cost of testing and number of tests per athlete earlier, that is just PR speak.

Don't fall in to the trap of numbers or cost - it is the application of testing ie times, OOC and consistency that is more important.
I feel I answer a few of your questions in the post above the one you answered to. By accident I split my answer in two. I totally agree with you that for the development of an anti-doping system you shouldn't look at other sports and say "well, it's worse of there, so this is fine". That's not the comparison I'm talking about.
 
May 26, 2010
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WillemS said:
The second thing I am saying is that being cynical about every accomplishment, every grand tour winner, every Gilbert, without evidence or clues, is in the end harmful for cycling.
Why doesn't the sport do something about changing this perception or is it as Doc Maserati says a minority and they dont need to pay any lip service to those fans.

Sean Kelly used the term 'unbelievable' the other day when describing Wiggins pulling the chasers up to Moncoutie who won followed by Rodriguez.....that term gets used when what you are seeing is generally enhanced and unbelievable.
 
Oct 16, 2010
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Love is all around

Benotti69 said:
Why doesn't the sport do something about changing this perception or is it as Doc Maserati says a minority and they dont need to pay any lip service to those fans.

Sean Kelly used the term 'unbelievable' the other day when describing Wiggins pulling the chasers up to Moncoutie who won followed by Rodriguez.....that term gets used when what you are seeing is generally enhanced and unbelievable.
Perhaps this is why I love the clinic.
Two guys mud-fighting in one thread, and embracing each other in the other.
;)
 
Jun 19, 2009
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WillemS said:
On the development of an anti-doping system (which was not my main point).

Well, I don't believe in flawless systems, but I do think a flawless system is the goal which you would want to achieve. One method to improve a system is by comparing it to other systems to find the relative strengths and weaknesses of the system. Next you can improve your system by identifying characteristics of that other system that are worth implementing in your system. The relative weakness of another system is of course not an argument that your system is good as it is. I never said that and I never will say that, because that's ridiculous. I agree with you on that.

I think it's also ridicule to do a wholly independent investigation and development of any system, forcing you to invent the wheel over and over again. Comparisons matter, for that matter.
But the Bio Passport is a new system.

But comparing existing systems to flawed systems is not of any use - a system should be designed to have an objective, and then be built to achieve that.
As long as the sporting authorities of their respective sports are involved with anti-doping it will always be a flawed system.

WillemS said:
On perception

I don't believe that people hold absolute values, but rather use comparison to gain an opinion. This is found throughout psychology, from the perception of personal status, deciding when you're poor or rich or if the car you've just bought has the right color. For the public's opinion, comparisons matter. That does not mean that you have to say that cycling's anti-doping system is any good, "because it's better than that of other sports". This is not about the doping system itself, but about the perception of cycling. My personal opinion is that the negative vibe, feel, perception, value, attitude that people hold towards cycling is biased by an implicit comparison that is biased by the biased availability of doping-related information.

Is this any good for evaluating the anti-doping system? Of course not. But unlike you, and I am sure a lot of other people as well, others do not think about the doping subject deeply, because they are not really interested. To form an opinion, they use heuristics and stereotypes dictated by one-sided accounts of the relative status of cycling as doping-troubled sport. Those people will probably not participate in discussions on this forum, will maybe never watch cycling on tv, but they are part of the general public and will therefore in part influence the public's opinion about cycling.
But this is the whole point.

Why has cycling a doping reputation?
Cycling has a doping reputation because when a custom officer pulled over Willy Voets car he found lots and lots of drugs in it.

Why has cycling a difficulty in losing that reputation? (even when teams, UCI journos tell us its 'cleaner'?)
Because after Festina we (all sports fans) were told that the doping had been addressed, the 99 Tour was the Tour of Redemption, anyone who said that the sport still had a problem was ostracized.

Then we had Puerto and we realized that we had been lied to a second time - only true cycling fans would dare give them a 3rd opportunity.

WillemS said:
This in turn has negative effects on cycling, as the sport gets a negative reputation, repelling potential sponsors as well as decreasing the likelihood of people getting involved in cycling, either participating or watching it. This comparison has nothing to do with the question "Is the cycling anti-doping system any good?" , but with the subjective value of cycling itself. Most people generalize, including me. I believe that a lot of people just think "all cyclists are frauds", especially non-cycling fans. And whether you like or not, those simplistic, paper-thin opinions about cycling matter for sponsors, for their offspring/possible next generation of cyclists and governmental attitude towards (the organization of) cycling (events).

It might not matter for you what the general perception of cycling is, but in the end it will matter for cycling.
And how did cycling "get" this doping reputation? Because the riders (plural) were doping.
 
May 26, 2010
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sniper said:
Perhaps this is why I love the clinic.
Two guys mud-fighting in one thread, and embracing each other in the other.
;)
mud fighting? i'll have you know i am hitting him with my handbag with all i've got....

and of course Dr Maserati deals me the orange juice:D
 
Aug 6, 2011
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Dr. Maserati said:
But the Bio Passport is a new system.

But comparing existing systems to flawed systems is not of any use - a system should be designed to have an objective, and then be built to achieve that.
As long as the sporting authorities of their respective sports are involved with anti-doping it will always be a flawed system.
Agreed on most, except the first sentence. I never said that comparison was the only method of development. The first wheel wasn't perfect, but the system (the wheel) had good aspects and bad aspects. By treating a system (the wheel in the example) as one thing, you may just reject good things because it also has flaws. The system may be 99% flawed, but the remaining 1% pure perfection, than take that 1% and use that. Don't discard it, because you want to discard the rest.

I, by the way, never stated that comparison is THE method, it's a method. By being ignorant of other systems trying to accomplish the same end, you might miss some nice innovations.

Next, on the case of perfection: Perfection should be the goal (the ideal), but I don't think you will ever accomplish a totally perfect system (the reality) with something like doping. But you should try. I think that's what we both mean, you should always try to reach that perfection.

Dr. Maserati said:
But this is the whole point.

Why has cycling a doping reputation?
Cycling has a doping reputation because when a custom officer pulled over Willy Voets car he found lots and lots of drugs in it.

Why has cycling a difficulty in losing that reputation? (even when teams, UCI journos tell us its 'cleaner'?)
Because after Festina we (all sports fans) were told that the doping had been addressed, the 99 Tour was the Tour of Redemption, anyone who said that the sport still had a problem was ostracized.

Then we had Puerto and we realized that we had been lied to a second time - only true cycling fans would dare give them a 3rd opportunity.

And how did cycling "get" this doping reputation? Because the riders (plural) were doping.
Oh, totally true. On all accounts. But this is still a bit selective. Other sports are doping too and hard-time. I think that the public's opinion of cycling as the doping sport (and as it was in Germany for a few year, the sport to avoid) would not exist if it was known to general public that for instance Tennis is probably just as bad. This does not redeem cycling, not by all accounts, but I do think journalists, for one, are hypocritical to ride that popular wave of sensation, while a bit of research would reveal that it's not just cycling.

Thus, the reputation of and therefore external matters essential for cycling are also depending on the status of other sports.
 
Jun 19, 2009
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WillemS said:
I feel I answer a few of your questions in the post above the one you answered to. By accident I split my answer in two. I totally agree with you that for the development of an anti-doping system you shouldn't look at other sports and say "well, it's worse of there, so this is fine". That's not the comparison I'm talking about.
Firstly - I appreciate your thoughts and candor on this subject.
I agree with many of your conclusions (even cycling being compared to other sports) - but I don't agree with your solutions.


Cycling unfortunately has the reputation that it deserves.
Back in the early 90's Kimmage was ostracized for daring to suggest that there was a drug culture in place, then in the mid 90's there was a lot of whispers that doping was rife in Italy and that EPO was the drug of choice in the peloton.
All that was vehemently denied, by Verbruggen, the riders and teams and it was barely mentioned by the cycling media.

Then Festina broke.
That was the time to address the issue - and I blame Virenque for a lot of what happened after, his denials divided the cycling community and stalled any attempt to address the problem.
Very quickly the old habits returned and the sport was again promoted as having addressed its issues.

Then along comes Puerto and it shows again that everyone lied.
Add to that Landis, ValVerde, Vino, Ricco, Contador, Landis part Deaux etc which reinforced its reputation.

This is why I believe the UCI has to step away from anti-doping.
Quite rightly, no-one trusts them - so as long as they have any authority in anti-doping that will not change, because it is perception meeting reality.
 
Aug 6, 2011
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With that I agree. I don't trust the UCI and it should have nothing to do with anti-doping what-so-ever. Period. The same goes for commercial organizations as the ASO.

I indeed belief that cycling deserves everything it got, but I also belief that other sports do as well. It's about time that soccer players get their first out-of-competition test, as are tennis players.

I think that a solution is not really possible if you isolate cycling, a doping solution should not be directed at one sport as it then gets involved in that same sport, which might corrupt the system. If only we had something like a non-corrupt IOC, which we also don't have.

We are never going to change anything if dopeurs have more money to spend on doping than anti-doping agencies on tests.
 
Jun 19, 2009
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WillemS said:
Agreed on most, except the first sentence. I never said that comparison was the only method of development. The first wheel wasn't perfect, but the system (the wheel) had good aspects and bad aspects. By treating a system (the wheel in the example) as one thing, you may just reject good things because it also has flaws. The system may be 99% flawed, but the remaining 1% pure perfection, than take that 1% and use that. Don't discard it, because you want to discard the rest.

I, by the way, never stated that comparison is THE method, it's a method. By being ignorant of other systems trying to accomplish the same end, you might miss some nice innovations.

Next, on the case of perfection: Perfection should be the goal (the ideal), but I don't think you will ever accomplish a totally perfect system (the reality) with something like doping. But you should try. I think that's what we both mean, you should always try to reach that perfection.



Oh, totally true. On all accounts. But this is still a bit selective. Other sports are doping too and hard-time. I think that the public's opinion of cycling as the doping sport (and as it was in Germany for a few year, the sport to avoid) would not exist if it was known to general public that for instance Tennis is probably just as bad. This does not redeem cycling, not by all accounts, but I do think journalists, for one, are hypocritical to ride that popular wave of sensation, while a bit of research would reveal that it's not just cycling.

Thus, the reputation of and therefore external matters essential for cycling are also depending on the status of other sports.
Just to cut to the highlighted.

This is the point about the perception (whether true or not) that cycling is the dirty sport.

There could be a huge scandal in tennis, where everyone from the players to the ball boys are found to be taking half of the EPO ever made and the umpires are strung out on PotBelge, and yet it would not eclipse cyclings dirty reputation.
At best there might be a report saying "tennis joins other sports with a doping reputation like cycling....."

Cycling will have that reputation until it starts tackling it in a transparent and truthful way.
 
Jun 19, 2009
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WillemS said:
With that I agree. I don't trust the UCI and it should have nothing to do with anti-doping what-so-ever. Period. The same goes for commercial organizations as the ASO.

I indeed belief that cycling deserves everything it got, but I also belief that other sports do as well. It's about time that soccer players get their first out-of-competition test, as are tennis players.

I think that a solution is not really possible if you isolate cycling, a doping solution should not be directed at one sport as it then gets involved in that same sport, which might corrupt the system. If only we had something like a non-corrupt IOC, which we also don't have.
Lets try this another way.

Is it really fair that Soccer has the reputation for bribery and corruption when we have the same in cycling?

Certainly a fairer and more transparent system would have all sports subject to the same independent anti-doping, then we would really see how other sports compare - but the sporting authorities, obviously, do not want this.

Rightly, you mention the IOC - who also have a 'reputation' who of course will only ever change something if it impacts them financially.

WillemS said:
We are never going to change anything if dopeurs have more money to spend on doping than anti-doping agencies on tests.
Kindof, sortof.
That is anti-doping which is separate to the perception of the reputation of the sport, not everyone can afford to outspend the testers.

But all cyclists know that the UCI will try and protect their own sport.
 
Aug 6, 2011
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Well, agreed about that tennis-example. But I would like to see doping (and corruption) being described at a sports-wide problem, not a cycling-limited problem.

About the independent anti-doping body, I agree with you, it's totally unrealistic. But, hey, let me have my ideals here, as you have them with perfect systems. How to achieve this? So far, I have no clue.

As for soccer, I don't know. I don't think the public opinion is that most soccer players are gamblers. But that may just be my surrounding, in the Netherlands soccer is holier than any god. I think most people here would say on soccer and doping: "Doping in soccer? Well, just look at cycling..."

As for the credibility of the anti-doping development in cycling, I just don't know. I want to believe it's better now than it was 15 years ago. I certainly think so, as there are now multiple organizations who are independently doing tests (ASO for the tour, UCI in general, IOC during olympics) and doping laboratories are actually developing tests for newly engineered possible doping products.

As for the reputation of cycling: Cycling is not one thing, it might be that cycling deserves a reputation, but we shouldn't just overgeneralize. Take the young Thibaut Pinot. He is young, 15 when Lance won his final tour. Do we automatically convict him for the fault of someone else? He has everything against him, the reputation of cyclists and the reputation of French cycling in particular (which I heard is not good, but I am also young, I wouldn't frankly know why exactly, Virenque's denials?). But do we now mark him dopeur as he won a stage somewhere recently? Beating a previous offender Rebbelin?
 
Jun 19, 2009
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WillemS said:
Well, agreed about that tennis-example. But I would like to see doping (and corruption) being described at a sports-wide problem, not a cycling-limited problem.

About the independent anti-doping body, I agree with you, it's totally unrealistic. But, hey, let me have my ideals here, as you have them with perfect systems. How to achieve this? So far, I have no clue.

As for soccer, I don't know. I don't think the public opinion is that most soccer players are gamblers. But that may just be my surrounding, in the Netherlands soccer is holier than any god. I think most people here would say on soccer and doping: "Doping in soccer? Well, just look at cycling..."

As for the credibility of the anti-doping development in cycling, I just don't know. I want to believe it's better now than it was 15 years ago. I certainly think so, as there are now multiple organizations who are independently doing tests (ASO for the tour, UCI in general, IOC during olympics) and doping laboratories are actually developing tests for newly engineered possible doping products.
Actually, the removal of the UCI from anti-doping is the only viable way of cleaning up the sport.

Obviously the UCI (or even the IOC) will not offer this willingly, but I think it will happen but it will probably take another big scandal, which again I feel is inevitable.

I agree that doping is "less" than 15 years ago - but again this matters little if there is no trust in the authorities.

WillemS said:
As for the reputation of cycling: Cycling is not one thing, it might be that cycling deserves a reputation, but we shouldn't just overgeneralize. Take the young Thibaut Pinot. He is young, 15 when Lance won his final tour. Do we automatically convict him for the fault of someone else? He has everything against him, the reputation of cyclists and the reputation of French cycling in particular (which I heard is not good, but I am also young, I wouldn't frankly know why exactly, Virenque's denials?). But do we now mark him dopeur as he won a stage somewhere recently? Beating a previous offender Rebbelin?
Again, no I do not think everyone dopes.

Nor do 'we' convict anyone, even figuratively.
Most cycling fans know that the sport has problems but that there are some clean riders too.
It is the general sporting fan that may assume the sport is a lot dirtier than it is - as I said this will not change as long as the UCI is involved in anti-doping.

Actually Pinot is a good example.
He has come through the French system- and French cycling learned from its mistakes after Festina. They introduced longitudinal testing shortly after and the Police have been quite active.
This is exactly the point about perception - is Pinot clean, I have no way of knowing (so I assume he isn't) but would a persons view be different if he was a Spanish cyclist?
 
Aug 6, 2011
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LarryBudMelman said:
Is more correlated to doping, than success in most team sports.
True. But that doesn't stop other sports from using doping, there are benefits. Moreover, as winning in almost all sports deals with probabilities. the effect of doping among chance-leveled competitors can still be quite large. Consider a never-tiring soccer team, to competitors normally of equal strength, they will have an edge as the game is getting longer, not only outrunning but also out-coordinating and out-thinking their opponents.

I am not sure what you're actually implying, but if you're implying that is therefore a lesser crime to dope in team sports, I don't agree.
 
WillemS said:
The Curse of Doping
When cynicism reduces exceptional accomplishments to speculative doping allegations.

In my opinion, cycling is one of the best sports out there. It's accessible, often free to spectate and can easily be performed at any level, whether it's alone, with friends or at a club. It is also one of the world's most fouled sports, not only by the number of reported doping positives, but also the general cynicism surrounding any exceptional performance by any of the sport's athletes.* That cynicism not only proliferates among the less-informed general public, drowning in a waterfall of doping-centered journalism, but also among us, close followers of cycling. Any unexpected performance sparks unfounded, unsupported and unproven allegations like "no way Sky are clean" [1] and "Voeckler doping?" [2]. We seem to have lost our belief in true cycling sportsmanship. Is cycling really that bad?


I am not claiming that cycling is clean, it is not. As all sports. But, please, dear cycling fans, try to enjoy sportsmanship sometimes. Try to enjoy the things that make sports so enjoyable, great accomplishments. If you judge on those accomplishments alone, without any other empirical proof or evidence, you will make spectating cycling a very cynical place. You will kill the joy. You will kill cycling, because then every move will always be suspect.

Best to you all,

Willem S.

Footnotes
*) At the same, known offenders can be admired for their exceptional, but often drug-boosted performances and rise to a cult-like hero status, as is the case with Pantani. I would not deny if you asked me if I admire him.

about the bold phrases: "less-informed" public is what makes the sport being so polarized & sometimes means that people are turning a "blind eye" to reality in order to justify a "fanatic" view of an Athlete and his misbehavior...

the second part is simple: "when is too good to be truth............." there are some performances out there that cannot be simply passed unquestioned or judged in order to "preserve" the "good will & faith" on the athletes & the Sport".. we most not stop to be critical-otherwise we're going back to the Lance Armstrong era...

the third part: I have always admired Pantani and I always will-not because I'm denying what made him a super athlete-but is the fact that I have learnt more about his personal life & realized who Marco was underneath that fame facade of his & what cause his downfall -its fascinating & I'm glad that the truth is out there to be exposed and learnt from-rather than boosting a "broken" myth......
 
Sep 1, 2011
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How can anyone not be cynical about a sport.....in reference to cycling......that has such a long and notorious history of drug taking amongst it's athletes.
 

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