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The (Old) Critérium Circuit + Doping

The (Old) Critérium Circuit + Doping

Rather long piece on PdC: http://www.podiumcafe.com/2011/8/16/2365901/the-shadow-of-the-tour-the-post-tour-criterium-circuit

Am basically asking one question: did the old critérium circuit - the one where riders tore-azz around France in search of crits - contribute to embedding cycling's culture of doping? Did the severity of it and the openness with which doping went on single it out or should we just forget about it, the same way as we forget about the Six Day circuit and the kermis circuit?
 
Jun 19, 2009
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fmk_RoI said:
Rather long piece on PdC: http://www.podiumcafe.com/2011/8/16/2365901/the-shadow-of-the-tour-the-post-tour-criterium-circuit

Am basically asking one question: did the old critérium circuit - the one where riders tore-azz around France in search of crits - contribute to embedding cycling's culture of doping? Did the severity of it and the openness with which doping went on single it out or should we just forget about it, the same way as we forget about the Six Day circuit and the kermis circuit?
In a word, yes.

As is noted in the article most of these Crits were fixed. So for the riders it wasn't even about competition or 'racing', it was a paycheck.
Put your wheel to the line, act out your part, collect your fee and go home.

For a lesser rider - getting in to crits meant you had to perform. A dip in to medical bag helped that.
For the top earners who were already fatigued from the Tour, long driving and the crits, they would be expected to perform better than the lesser riders.

As you note - sharing these products and methods would also have been an acceptable practise.
Sharing products and methods would have been in all their interests. Much in the same way as the grupetto set a pace to look out for everyone it would be the same principle at Crits. The riders are there to do a role, you are not trying to gain an advantage - everyone is trying to maintain their position within the circuit.
 
Jun 19, 2009
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fmk_RoI said:
But in terms of its contribution to the problem, how should it be rated?
I think it should be regarded as very significant.
In many ways it was like going to college -the products were sought and sold by the Pros themselves and they shared the methods with each other quite openly.

fmk_RoI said:
More of a problem than the things people actually focussed on or not?
I am not quite sure what you are asking here - as in relation to today and/or modern methods?
 
Dr. Maserati said:
I am not quite sure what you are asking here - as in relation to today and/or modern methods?
Relation to the 60s/70s/80s. Real Q is: what was the pt of claiming to try and clean up the Tour if, immediately after, it was party time?

Everyone knows that there's no problem today :)
 
May 23, 2011
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The situation reminds me of the Matt Damon movie Rounders. Damon plays a character who is looking for the big win, but the true nature of professional poker is shown by John Turturro, who sits on his a55 hour after hour, night after night, grinding out a small profit so that his family can eat. Cycling used to be finacially impoverished sport where aside from a few big stars the riders were hustlers trying to grind out a living. That required an insanely heavy race schedule that was made harder by riders making francs on the side doing small races that no one cared about aside from the people living in the town that hosted the event. Stimulants were necessary just to maintain the schedule and had little to do with actual performance enhancement.

A similar situation existed in baseball with its long season and difficult travel schedule.
 
Jun 19, 2009
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Damiano Machiavelli said:
The situation reminds me of the Matt Damon movie Rounders. Damon plays a character who is looking for the big win, but the true nature of professional poker is shown by John Turturro, who sits on his a55 hour after hour, night after night, grinding out a small profit so that his family can eat. Cycling used to be finacially impoverished sport where aside from a few big stars the riders were hustlers trying to grind out a living. That required an insanely heavy race schedule that was made harder by riders making francs on the side doing small races that no one cared about aside from the people living in the town that hosted the event. Stimulants were necessary just to maintain the schedule and had little to do with actual performance enhancement.

A similar situation existed in baseball with its long season and difficult travel schedule.
You make a good point and that fact was used in reference to Sean Kelley's voracious Crit schedule. He apparently hit every paying race he could and drove ridiculous miles to connect the dates. He doesn't strike me as the Pot Belge type of rider that would cross the line between performance and partying but was brutal about earning his living.
That does set a troubling example for lesser riders.
 
May 26, 2010
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Oldman said:
You make a good point and that fact was used in reference to Sean Kelley's voracious Crit schedule. He apparently hit every paying race he could and drove ridiculous miles to connect the dates. He doesn't strike me as the Pot Belge type of rider that would cross the line between performance and partying but was brutal about earning his living.
That does set a troubling example for lesser riders.
Kelly would have travelled with 2 other riders (at least 1 other) and they all would have shared the driving. But still hectic none the less and probably dangerous to their health without all the pot belge.

Kelly had a voracious appetite to win money on his bike and contested nearly every prime he could. I remember his early teary end to a TdF due to an accident and wondered was it the loss of income he was more upset about than not finishing.
 
Benotti69 said:
Kelly would have travelled with 2 other riders (at least 1 other) and they all would have shared the driving. But still hectic none the less and probably dangerous to their health without all the pot belge.
You might want to at least skim the piece linked earlier.
 
Jun 19, 2009
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fmk_RoI said:
Relation to the 60s/70s/80s. Real Q is: what was the pt of claiming to try and clean up the Tour if, immediately after, it was party time?

Everyone knows that there's no problem today :)
I was going to say that anti-doping measures in those days were as much as a show as the racing at the Crits.

But that's not a really fair evaluation on the efforts. I am sure most in anti-doping at the time believed they were doing their best and that the rules were being applied rigorously.

But like most systems it didn't take long before those that did not want to adhere to it found the loopholes and weaknesses within it.
 
Dr. Maserati said:
I am sure most in anti-doping at the time believed they were doing their best and that the rules were being applied rigorously.

But like most systems it didn't take long before those that did not want to adhere to it found the loopholes and weaknesses within it.
You only have to look at the crit at Callac in 82 and the attempt to impose tests to see that. The attempt was noble, the revolt ... (some notes on that on the cyclisme dopage site, if you're up to French).

Was going to include a story from Fignon about him pulling out of a race one time and messing around by puttng up a doping control sign, just to see how his comrades would react ...
 
Jun 19, 2009
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fmk_RoI said:
You only have to look at the crit at Callac in 82 and the attempt to impose tests to see that. The attempt was noble, the revolt ... (some notes on that on the cyclisme dopage site, if you're up to French).

Was going to include a story from Fignon about him pulling out of a race one time and messing around by puttng up a doping control sign, just to see how his comrades would react ...
Thanks, I did read that in the piece you linked.
I would also add (from Kimmages book) a time when Roche would only agree to ride a crit if there were controls there - but on race day the controlling authority never arrived.
 
Dr. Maserati said:
I would also add (from Kimmages book) a time when Roche would only agree to ride a crit if there were controls there - but on race day the controlling authority never arrived.
That was a real race, wasn't it? There was only one doc in the region and he had a family do that day. Or something.

Whated to just stick to post-Tour crits where I could, but was v tempting to go off the reservation and include stuff like that and stories from the kermis circuit. But that'd have been another history of doping in cycling.

V funny that Roche always forgets Kimmage told that story when he attacks Rough Ride and Kimmage's work.
 

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