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Why cycling will never be clean

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Has reading this thread changed your mind?

  • Yes, I now believe cycling can be significantly cleaned up.

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Jun 26, 2009
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Jonathan said:
Actually that is not always true. For example, during the last giro, there was a general idea that Cunego was actually riding clean, and rather than ridiculing him for his bad performance, he even got a bit of praise.

Another example is how the French are treating their riders. Unless you know all the facts (which you don't), there is no way to distinguish between the admiration for a clean rider and admiration for a rider simply because he's French. Certainly, the latter is the main argument put forth by the press, but the suggestion that there exists a 'cyclisme a deux vitesses' could be true.

So there has been praise for riders who performed badly under the assumption that they were clean. Winning, however, just gets much more attention which is why doping is still lucrative.


I think it's a myth that cyclists dope just to survive. Ofcourse they will say that, but they will say anything if it makes their actions look more morally justifiable. The fact is that plenty of men have competed successfully without the kinds of doping that makes the big differences today. Doping is not needed to cope with the demands.

If riders want a fair policy that allows them more recuperative drugs, they should first stop doping and show that they, as a community, have the spine to compete without trying to gain an advantage through drugs. That is the only way they can create sympathy for their position.

So you are trying to tell me that my own experience as a professional rider is a myth? Most of what you have said here is true and I have said as such in other posts. I'm merely trying to put foward 2 sides of the debate to keep it balanced. Unless you have been a professional cyclist and doped yourself and experienced something different to me then do not tell me that what I say is a myth!! I'm sticking my neck out amongst my peers even posting on this forum to help all the armchair experts.
 
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beroepsrenner said:
So you are trying to tell me that my own experience as a professional rider is a myth?
Actually you said you had no experience with modern blood doping.
Most of what you have said here is true and I have said as such in other posts. I'm merely trying to put foward 2 sides of the debate to keep it balanced. Unless you have been a professional cyclist and doped yourself and experienced something different to me then do not tell me that what I say is a myth!! I'm sticking my neck out amongst my peers even posting on this forum to help all the armchair experts.
I understand that. Plenty of former cyclists have (to some extent) been honest about doping; Maarten Ducrot, Peter Winnen, Jans Koerts. Even Peter Post has been a bit too honest about how riders cope with a six-day track race. Michael Boogerd is an opposite example; when confronted with Kohl's testimony, he did not seem to care at all that what Kohl said was actually to the police. An important detail, since it's not the place one usually makes up stories to get attention.

Cyclists have too much at stake to be honest and have too often proven to be dishonest. I don't trust them, even if I like them. Say what you will about armchair experts, they can be honest.

Finally: if you really believe some products on the doping list are actually needed to recuperate and indispensible for professional cyclists, then please point out which products they are. Has someone ever been caught using such products and then suspended? Is testosterone needed? Well, obviously for that display that Landis gave us, but surely riders can compete without showing achievements of that magnitude?
 
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Jonathan said:
Actually you said you had no experience with modern blood doping.

I understand that. Plenty of former cyclists have (to some extent) been honest about doping; Maarten Ducrot, Peter Winnen, Jans Koerts. Even Peter Post has been a bit too honest about how riders cope with a six-day track race. Michael Boogerd is an opposite example; when confronted with Kohl's testimony, he did not seem to care at all that what Kohl said was actually to the police. An important detail, since it's not the place one usually makes up stories to get attention.

Cyclists have too much at stake to be honest and have too often proven to be dishonest. I don't trust them, even if I like them. Say what you will about armchair experts, they can be honest.

Finally: if you really believe some products on the doping list are actually needed to recuperate and indispensible for professional cyclists, then please point out which products they are. Has someone ever been caught using such products and then suspended? Is testosterone needed? Well, obviously for that display that Landis gave us, but surely riders can compete without showing achievements of that magnitude?

The UCI banned list,the obvious ones aside, contains many items that are just ridiculous, there are things on there that would have no performance enhancing effects whatsoever, yet if tested and without an exemption you are technically positive. You can have a positive from over the counter cough medicine.
If a soigneur gave me something to speed up recovery over night in a stage race and as long as I knew there were no detrimental health effects I would still use it and dont consider it cheating. The hard training has still been done over many years to get to this level of the sport. I'm not implying that your view is wrong but unless you have the mindset of an athlete you will never understand what drives one to dope. If we were rational thinkers we wouldnt be putting ourselves through such a hellish ordeal in the first place. The most outstanding performers are often the ones with the biggest egos and will stop at nothing to achieve fame and fortune and are the very ones that people line the roads to see. The European crowds dont really care what goes on behind the scenes or they wouldnt still be coming out to watch as they do. I am certainly not trying to defend the use of drugs that give one guy an unfair advantage over the other guy who chooses not to.
 

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Jonathan said:
...I think it's a myth that cyclists dope just to survive. Ofcourse they will say that, but they will say anything if it makes their actions look more morally justifiable. The fact is that plenty of men have competed successfully without the kinds of doping that makes the big differences today. Doping is not needed to cope with the demands...

Can you explain why it is that you think it is a myth that cyclists dope to survive?

Also Beroepsrenner's point is true in many cases- riders at the rear of the peloton are the subject of abuse for riding too slow or for being lazy. If you talk to any Pro they will confirm that.
 
Jun 26, 2009
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Dr. Maserati said:
Can you explain why it is that you think it is a myth that cyclists dope to survive?

Also Beroepsrenner's point is true in many cases- riders at the rear of the peloton are the subject of abuse for riding too slow or for being lazy. If you talk to any Pro they will confirm that.

Many people do not understand the team structure of pro cycling. The vast majority of pros are forgotton a very short time after retirement. They work hard and honestly to get to the pro level and then never get the opportunity to ever win in the big races because they have a job to do at blunt end of the peloton. Many are desperate to maintain their place in a team as every year new young guns are coming up. These "nobodies" are often working harder than their leaders who are protected in the peloton for two thirds of every race.
 

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Agreed - I was just curious as to Jonathans take on this. Maybe it is the word 'survive' that could be throwing me.

Everyone in Pro Cycling has a job to do - and they are all trying to grab the next rung of the ladder. The pressures on teams and riders to remain competitve is huge- and will always be there.
 
Mar 18, 2009
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Jonathan said:
I think it's a myth that cyclists dope just to survive.

Have you ridden hard and long (100+ miles), day in and day out for multiple consecutive days? Do you know what a toll this takes on your body? At least from a physiological point of view, such riding suppresses the bone marrow resulting in anemia (and poor oxygen delivery thus causing poor performance on the road) and increases susceptibility to infections (because of low white cell counts), and suppresses testosterone production resulting in poorer repair and recovery. I can appreciate that cyclists need to take drugs to survive on the road, both in terms of performance and future contracts. I do not think EPO is one of these drugs because it is performance enhancing rather than aiding recovery, but I disagree that it is a myth that cyclists dope to survive in the professional peloton.
 
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elapid said:
Have you ridden hard and long (100+ miles), day in and day out for multiple consecutive days? Do you know what a toll this takes on your body? At least from a physiological point of view, such riding suppresses the bone marrow resulting in anemia (and poor oxygen delivery thus causing poor performance on the road) and increases susceptibility to infections (because of low white cell counts), and suppresses testosterone production resulting in poorer repair and recovery. I can appreciate that cyclists need to take drugs to survive on the road, both in terms of performance and future contracts. I do not think EPO is one of these drugs because it is performance enhancing rather than aiding recovery, but I disagree that it is a myth that cyclists dope to survive in the professional peloton.

Elapid is quite correct here. There are those that dope to win but probably more who dope just to hold their place inthe pecking order. which brings me back to my earlier comment that maybe there is some merit in allowing some substances to counteract some of the things that elapid has mentioned.
 
Ninety5rpm said:
A lot of people here don't seem to appreciate the point this thread is making. Many seem to believe the sport can be cleaned up.

snip

My main point, per the title, was that the sport can never be clean. I think this is an important point because many people make naive posts here stating that they believe otherwise.

I suggested a thread on this point be a sticky so that this point is brought to their attention hopefully before they start posting.
Nobody actually said that the sport can be cleaned up 100% though and as far as I can tell, the people that have challenged your viewpoint are far from naive, in fact they all appear to be quite well informed (myself included depite being a newbie on this forum).

I agree that cycling will never be 100% clean, but so what? why is this important? I disagree that I (or anyone else) should just "get over it" because of this assertion. The fact is that life is harder for the cheats now than it was 10yrs ago. There are still significant challenges both political and scientific, but things are heading in the right direction.
 
Jun 26, 2009
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Even if a consensus was reached from within the peloton to end doping practices, there would always be some smartass that thinks he can get away with it. Mr Kreb is right it is much harder now to get away with it than ever before and will only get harder. So there is some cause for optimism
 
Krebs cycle said:
Nobody actually said that the sport can be cleaned up 100% though and as far as I can tell, the people that have challenged your viewpoint are far from naive, in fact they all appear to be quite well informed (myself included depite being a newbie on this forum).

I agree that cycling will never be 100% clean, but so what? why is this important? I disagree that I (or anyone else) should just "get over it" because of this assertion. The fact is that life is harder for the cheats now than it was 10yrs ago. There are still significant challenges both political and scientific, but things are heading in the right direction.

Sometimes it might seem like you're headed in the right direction when you're actually going round and round in circles.

After all, there is "progress" you can point to, and believe that shows you're going in the right direction.

In reality, the riders mostly stay ahead of the testers, and the testers catch riders once in a while. That's the circle, and we're just going to go round and round, fooling ourselves into thinking we're making progress and going in the right direction.
 

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Ninety5rpm said:
Sometimes it might seem like you're headed in the right direction when you're actually going round and round in circles.

After all, there is "progress" you can point to, and believe that shows you're going in the right direction.

In reality, the riders mostly stay ahead of the testers, and the testers catch riders once in a while. That's the circle, and we're just going to go round and round, fooling ourselves into thinking we're making progress and going in the right direction.

This is the sad and sorry list of doping within professional cycling.
In 2007 there were 23 riders caught - this is in contrast to 11 throughout the whole decade of the 90's when the use of PED's was rampant and systematic.

Cycling still has a long way to go - but a lot of 'progress' has been made.
 
Dr. Maserati said:
This is the sad and sorry list of doping within professional cycling.
In 2007 there were 23 riders caught - this is in contrast to 11 throughout the whole decade of the 90's when the use of PED's was rampant and systematic.

Cycling still has a long way to go - but a lot of 'progress' has been made.
Yeah, this is not a road race with a clearly defined finish. It's a crit with no time limit. From time to time it might feel like you're making progress (see the tree up there, it's getting closer... I just passed it!), but with no end to it, it's meaningless.

Progress relative to what?

Saying there is a "long way to go" implies it's going somewhere. I see no reason to believe that to be true. Not within our lifetimes anyway.

We're making as much progress as a mouse spinning a wheel in a cage, and getting just as far.
 

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Ninety5rpm said:
Yeah, this is not a road race with a clearly defined finish. It's a crit with no time limit. From time to time it might feel like you're making progress (see the tree up there, it's getting closer... I just passed it!), but with no end to it, it's meaningless.

Progress relative to what?

Saying there is a "long way to go" implies it's going somewhere. I see no reason to believe that to be true. Not within our lifetimes anyway.

We're making as much progress as a mouse spinning a wheel in a cage, and getting just as far.

So, 23 caught in 1 year against 11 in 10 years is not progress in your opinion?

An EPO test was developed in 2001 - at least 10 years after its introduction to the Pro peloton - a test for CERA was developed within 1 - that is progress.
The bio-passport is progress! The cracks in the omerta is progress!
There are now laws throughout Europe that make doping, the administration of doping products and the acquisition of those products a criminal offense. I would call that progress.

But as I said - there is still a long way to go!
 
Ninety5rpm said:
Yeah, this is not a road race with a clearly defined finish. It's a crit with no time limit. From time to time it might feel like you're making progress (see the tree up there, it's getting closer... I just passed it!), but with no end to it, it's meaningless.

Progress relative to what?

Saying there is a "long way to go" implies it's going somewhere. I see no reason to believe that to be true. Not within our lifetimes anyway.

We're making as much progress as a mouse spinning a wheel in a cage, and getting just as far.
This is what we are trying to tell you though. The evidence that it is improving is out there. See what Dr Maserati wrote above.

There is also progress being made on a two separate tests designed to detect autologous doping. One of them uses changes in genetic markers and the other is a direct measure of hemoglobin mass. The data collection for both of these studies is done and dusted. If the Hbmass measurement technique gets accepted as a sanctioned test by the UCI and IOC and it is introduced into the passport system, it will combat the biggest doping problem that presently exists ala throwing a cat amongst the pigeons.

You seem to be choosing to ignore the freely available evidence in addition to the opinions of a number of people whom likely have inside information that you don't.
 
Jun 26, 2009
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If you convince yourself that there is no progress being made then we may as well end the whole debate and just accept that doping is an integral part of cycling. it would be like a cyclist telling himself that he has no chance of winning so he may as well just get on the bus. If everyone adopted that attitude pretty soon there would be no race at all. I believe there is progress being made and and the evidence presented by Dr. Mas supports it.
 
Krebs cycle said:
This is what we are trying to tell you though. The evidence that it is improving is out there. See what Dr Maserati wrote above.

There is also progress being made on a two separate tests designed to detect autologous doping. One of them uses changes in genetic markers and the other is a direct measure of hemoglobin mass. The data collection for both of these studies is done and dusted. If the Hbmass measurement technique gets accepted as a sanctioned test by the UCI and IOC and it is introduced into the passport system, it will combat the biggest doping problem that presently exists ala throwing a cat amongst the pigeons.

You seem to be choosing to ignore the freely available evidence in addition to the opinions of a number of people whom likely have inside information that you don't.
You're getting caught up in the technical details of what is currently known. That's part of the (endless) process. It does not indicate progress. It indicates motion round and round the same circle. Just because you can today finally detect what the riders were doing 1, 2, 3, 5, 10 years ago says nothing about your ability to detect what they are doing today and will be doing for the next few years before you catch up.

Considering how little of an advantage can be significant at the highest levels... there is simply no end to the myriad of ways humans will figure out how to achieve such an advantage without getting caught.

Everything that can be invented has been invented.

Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. patent office, 1899

This is folly, of course, and so is the idea that every PED has been invented, or that methods can be devised to detect all PEDs, existing and to be invented.

As long as undetectable PEDs continue to exist, they will be used, which is forever.
 
Dr. Maserati said:
Ninety - to be honest I am a little confused over your points in this thread.



In your opening post you told people "To Get Over It" - and later described people who believe there can be a clean sport as being "naive".

If you take the time to look through another thread on "Do you believe anyone is clean" - no-one argued that 'everyone' was clean, a few offered opinions on certain riders and that was as good as it got.
Most of those posters are the same ones answering you on this thread!
I've seen posts in other threads (which is what prompted me to start this one) indicating that they believed that eventually cycling can be clean.

And this is a headline from THIS WEEK:

A doping-free Tour de France this year? Only time will tell


Let me put it this way, if we had God-like powers to find out what percentage of the peloton was using PEDs, and plotted that percentage over time from 50 years ago to 50 years into the future, what shape do you think that line would take? I contend it would be pretty flat line for the entire 100 years, and very close to the 100% mark.
 
Ninety5rpm said:
You're getting caught up in the technical details of what is currently known. That's part of the (endless) process. It does not indicate progress. It indicates motion round and round the same circle. Just because you can today finally detect what the riders were doing 1, 2, 3, 5, 10 years ago says nothing about your ability to detect what they are doing today and will be doing for the next few years before you catch up.

Considering how little of an advantage can be significant at the highest levels... there is simply no end to the myriad of ways humans will figure out how to achieve such an advantage without getting caught.

This is folly, of course, and so is the idea that every PED has been invented, or that methods can be devised to detect all PEDs, existing and to be invented.

As long as undetectable PEDs continue to exist, they will be used, which is forever.
You are getting caught up in history though. At least I am talking about what IS known. Using the past as your example, you are projecting speculation into the future but unless you are a biochemist or a pharmacist or something similar then you don't really have much of an idea about what you are talking about. You don't seem to have much of an idea about the major issues in doping at present nor where the development of detection methods is at, nor what the likely future direction will take.

You are talking about hypotheical new PEDs that currently do not exist as if they are going to get invented in secret without anyone else knowing about it and then falling into the hands of professional cyclists. Times have changed. Anti-doping agencies have been aware of future directions for a long time and at least one international anti-doping consortium is actively involved in working with industry to develop detection methods in concert with new products that could potentially be performance enhacing. This consortium has only existed for about 6yrs now and is already responsible for the introduction of the bio-passport system.

Be a pessimist if you like, this attitude is part of the problem itself. People need to have hope that cycling can be cleaned up.

and as for this comment "I contend it would be pretty flat line for the entire 100 years, and very close to the 100% mark." i contend you are pretty much talking rubbish here because you have little idea about what is happening except from a lay persons viewpoint.
 

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Ninety5rpm said:
I've seen posts in other threads (which is what prompted me to start this one) indicating that they believed that eventually cycling can be clean.

And this is a headline from THIS WEEK:

A doping-free Tour de France this year? Only time will tell


.....

Thanks for bringing up the media's role - I had forgotten - this is another area where progress has been made.

Before the 98 Tour the doping problem was known, yet largely ignored.
Since the Festina affair the mass media have had an impact on changing the perception and highlighting doping in sports - the SI article you quoted being an excellent example.

Also journalists like David Walsh were forced to re-evaluate their own position. Walsh wrote a book on Sean Kelly in which he accepts Kelly's initial protest of innocence for being caught doping.
After the Willy Voet book revealed the true story of Kelly's failed test and the systematic doping of cycling he has now become a major thorn in the side to the establishment

Also on your other point of retroactive testing is again an excellent deterrent to some that although a new product could give short-term benefit the risks of being caught does not stop after the initial analysis.

I have to say Ninety- the more I dig on this subject the more optomistic I have become on cleaning up this sport.

Maybe this thread should be a sticky?
 
two big loopholes right now are autologous doping and hgh. those loopholes are rapidly closing, some of them already discussed.

bio-passport is a significant change in approach. it's really a paradigm shift. we are only in its infancy, in the next few years it will lead to BIG changes. hgb mass could be HUGE!

cooperation b/t drug manufacturers and anti-doping authorities like WADA is also a significant shift.

there are some new weapons and plenty of reason for optimism.
 
a rudimentry version of the bio-passport system has already been in place for many years (7 or 8 maybe) within speed skating. There were no positive doping violations, but if an athletes blood was supicious, they just weren't allowed to compete sort of on safety grounds like the UCI 50% rule. At the beginning, something like 18 out of the top 20 long track speed skaters in the world had abnormal blood profiles, but after only 2yrs that number had dropped to 2 or 3.

hmmm, methinks if the hbmass becomes a sanctioned test, I'll have a massive amount of extra work to do :(

....all for a good cause though it would be :)
 
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Krebs cycle said:
a rudimentry version of the bio-passport system has already been in place for many years (7 or 8 maybe) within speed skating. There were no positive doping violations, but if an athletes blood was supicious, they just weren't allowed to compete sort of on safety grounds like the UCI 50% rule. At the beginning, something like 18 out of the top 20 long track speed skaters in the world had abnormal blood profiles, but after only 2yrs that number had dropped to 2 or 3.

Any names you can share, or are there official sources that have dealt with this issue?

I am asking because in the Netherlands - a country with a rather excellent history in speed skating - not much attention is paid to doping...

The only one I heard about recently was Claudia Pechstein.