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Why cycling will never be clean

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Has reading this thread changed your mind?

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Krebs cycle said:
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.
When you're in the trees, it's hard to see the forest. I admit I'm not in the trees, and I am looking at the forest.

But, technically speaking, I've got two words for ya: genetic engineering.

Human creativity and problem-solving knows no bounds.

You see me as a pessimist? I'm just being realistic. Anti-doping is an important part of the process of keeping doping from getting too out of control, but it's doomed folly to see it as "making progress" towards cleaning up the sport, as if cycling will be more clean in 2010, 2015, 2025 or 2050 than it was in 1950, 1975, 1999 or 2009...
 
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Ninety5rpm said:
When you're in the trees, it's hard to see the forest. I admit I'm not in the trees, and I am looking at the forest.

But, technically speaking, I've got two words for ya: genetic engineering.

Human creativity and problem-solving knows no bounds.

You see me as a pessimist? I'm just being realistic. Anti-doping is an important part of the process of keeping doping from getting too out of control, but it's doomed folly to see it as "making progress" towards cleaning up the sport, as if cycling will be more clean in 2010, 2015, 2025 or 2050 than it was in 1950, 1975, 1999 or 2009...

No offense intended here...but you can keep your pessimism, or realism, or whatever you want to call it to yourself!! I myself have a young son who races, and god forbid if he ever had the talent to race as a professional or elite amateur he would dope. I think what you are missing is that many and I mean many younger riders are coming up through the ranks now, who will be less inclined to dope due to the work being done now. It is called education...and we are seeing much more of it these days. This is my hope and my dream for the sport. Call it a folly, I could care less, but that is my thinking and I will stick to it.
 
TRDean said:
No offense intended here...but you can keep your pessimism, or realism, or whatever you want to call it to yourself!! I myself have a young son who races, and god forbid if he ever had the talent to race as a professional or elite amateur he would dope. I think what you are missing is that many and I mean many younger riders are coming up through the ranks now, who will be less inclined to dope due to the work being done now. It is called education...and we are seeing much more of it these days. This is my hope and my dream for the sport. Call it a folly, I could care less, but that is my thinking and I will stick to it.
Understood. Just be careful to not let your hopes and dreams contribute to committing your son to a doomed path (doomed in terms of using health-compromising PEDs, or remaining relatively mediocre at best in your sport, if you can compete at all), which I believe is the case for a pro career in pretty much any sport these days.

I'm sure the hopes and dreams you have were shared by most of the parents of the guys in this article. If you haven't read it yet, please do. While you're sobering up, read this Sports Illustrated article too:

sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2009/writers/the_bonus/07/07/tour/index.html
 

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Ninety5rpm said:
Understood. Just be careful to not let your hopes and dreams contribute to committing your son to a doomed path (doomed in terms of using health-compromising PEDs, or remaining relatively mediocre at best in your sport, if you can compete at all), which I believe is the case for a pro career in pretty much any sport these days.

I'm sure the hopes and dreams you have were shared by most of the parents of the guys in this article.
If you haven't read it yet, please do. While you're sobering up, read this Sports Illustrated article too:

sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2009/writers/the_bonus/07/07/tour/index.html
I wouldn't give up on cycling - or indeed any other sport yet TrDean.

If you have a look at the list that ninety has pointed out in his post you will see there has been significant progress in cycling - just 11 doping positives in the 90's as opposed to the 23 in 2007 alone.

The SI article is interesting too - although it is view a little more reminisent of the 80's again what this shows is that it was unable to be published back then. Only now has it been published - I guess even slow progress is progress.
 
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Ninety5rpm said:
Understood. Just be careful to not let your hopes and dreams contribute to committing your son to a doomed path (doomed in terms of using health-compromising PEDs, or remaining relatively mediocre at best in your sport, if you can compete at all), which I believe is the case for a pro career in pretty much any sport these days.

I'm sure the hopes and dreams you have were shared by most of the parents of the guys in this article. If you haven't read it yet, please do. While you're sobering up, read this Sports Illustrated article too:

sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2009/writers/the_bonus/07/07/tour/index.html

Both my son (13 years old) and I have read Dog in a Hat by Parkin...are very close friends with a European professional, and I have raced in the Netherlands and Belgium. I don't really need to sober up as I have lived in this world. Believe me, I think things are changing at the grass roots level and will continue to do so...I would hope that you would too...and not just rely on the past as an absolute for the future.
 
Ninety5rpm said:

Good read, thanks for the link. A tad too formulaic on the European stance though. The use of doping is not as widely accepted as the public as suggested, otherwise there would have been no Festina scandal. While Virenque remained popular after his comeback, he would never have reached his 1997 popularity (second of the TdF, KOM, best chance of a French winning the TdF) and he was also an object of satire. About doping he maintained at first he was doped "à l'insu de son plein gré", which I could translate "unknowingly by my full intent", which turned into a catchphrase.

However it is true that currently the European public lives in some sort of illusion. nevermind the man behind the curtain and all that.
 
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 where I disagree. I understand that there will always be cheating but we have also to accept that progress has been made compared to the 80' and 90's. Look at these two new tools that we have:

- Retro-testing and
- Bio Passport

Did you hear what Laura Weislo had to say about the new drug that is in trials but the testers don’t have a test for? Here is the quote:

laura.weislo said:
Hematide acts on the same receptors in the bone marrow that EPO does, and it stimulates red blood cell production in the same way. ...

Because Hematide is different, the antibodies that attack the old EPO drugs don't attack Hematide. But, since the EPO doping test is based upon antibody detection, Hematide would likely not be picked up in the current EPO test.

However, because the drug acts like EPO to boost RBC's, the biological passport still should pick up aberrant values. Unless one is microdosing year round...

This is what the Bio Passport can do now that we did not have in the past. This was created to avoid spinning the wheels or going in circles like you said, and instead of waiting for the test they can just catch the dopers just targeting the blood parameters changes. Whether the UCI is corrupt enough to not enforce the Bio Passport 100% to the full extent, is another problem.

The microdosing can be a problem for the bio-passport also, but it becomes a bigger problem for the dopers because you have to pay for more grug, expose yourself to more drugs, implement harder logistics than already is for doping, more expensive medical bill, etc. So in the long run put extra hurdles that make doping more and more difficult to do.

Retro testing gives time to the testers to catch up with the new doping technology. I am sure it is forcing the riders to think twice before they use a product that is yet to come out to the market that the testers can have a test for soon enough to catch them in the future. Some fans don't like that because we don't really know who the champion is until few months or years after the fact. But it works or can work better. The only problem with this method is that it opens the opportunity to the UCI for more corruption like blackmailing. They can start negotiating the races with the alleged winners in order to avoid going public with the retro testing results. It is always the possibility.


Although is not perfect, these two tools present a new set of alternatives for "new drugs" for which the UCI/WADA still don't have a test for.
Thanks.
 
TRDean said:
Both my son (13 years old) and I have read Dog in a Hat by Parkin...are very close friends with a European professional, and I have raced in the Netherlands and Belgium. I don't really need to sober up as I have lived in this world. Believe me, I think things are changing at the grass roots level and will continue to do so...I would hope that you would too...and not just rely on the past as an absolute for the future.
I'm not relying on the past. I'm just considering human nature, which centuries if not thousands or even hundreds of thousands of years is required to evolve (so it's not changing any time soon), and the nature of technology and how it advances, as givens.

These guys naturally use every advantage they are reasonably likely to get away with using.

One point we haven't talked about is the practical hurdles associated with testing. It's prohibitively expensive to test everyone for everything (which only becomes more and more true as time rolls on, more products become available, more masking agents becomes available, and testing becomes more expensive). So, they test some of them for some substances. They don't even test the stage winner for everything. And the doctors hired by the riders know what the screening tests look for, and how to almost certainly pass them. The result is that even using PEDs that can be detected by tests becomes a calculated risk.

Some argue that increasing penalties will help, but if the choice is ride at an acceptable level with PEDs or ride at an unacceptable level without them, there is no choice (except leaving the sport) regardless of what the penalties are.
 
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Ninety5rpm said:
One point we haven't talked about is the practical hurdles associated with testing. It's prohibitively expensive to test everyone for everything ...

Which is a huge problem for the 'culture' of doping. Because it's harder to get away with doping at an elite level than it is in the 'middle' and entry levels. So athletes are exposed to a culture of doping from the start. You can be certain they aren't testing Cat 3s for EPO or HGH, but you would be surprised how many are on it.

So doping is probably more rife in lower levels, so that juniors etc are exposed to the whole doping culture early on in their careers, and it gets embedded in them as 'the way of things'.

Maybe the general attitudes towards doping might become a even more relaxed or complacent.

A lot of us on these boards remember being shocked by the Festina affair etc. We were shocked by the whole introduction of EPO, but someone like Andy Schleck was only 13 yrs old when that happened. So basically it's always been in the sport as far as he knows.

In the 1937, if you smoked marijuana you were basically a dope fiend and a drug crazed deviant. Now 14 yr olds smoke it.
 

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Ninety5rpm said:
.....One point we haven't talked about is the practical hurdles associated with testing. It's prohibitively expensive.....

Some argue that increasing penalties will help, but if the choice is ride at an acceptable level with PEDs or ride at an unacceptable level without them, there is no choice (except leaving the sport) regardless of what the penalties are.

Excellent post - I have just highlighted the final part because it was the one area which I hadn't given consideration too.
I do believe increased penalties are part of the way forward - however you brought up a very good point in an earlier post that if the chances - or ratio -of detection remains low that raising the penalties is not an adequate deterent.

boalio said:
Which is a huge problem for the 'culture' of doping. Because it's harder to get away with doping at an elite level than it is in the 'middle' and entry levels. So athletes are exposed to a culture of doping from the start. You can be certain they aren't testing Cat 3s for EPO or HGH, but you would be surprised how many are on it.

So doping is probably more rife in lower levels, so that juniors etc are exposed to the whole doping culture early on in their careers, and it gets embedded in them as 'the way of things'.

Maybe the general attitudes towards doping might become a even more relaxed or complacent.

A lot of us on these boards remember being shocked by the Festina affair etc. We were shocked by the whole introduction of EPO, but someone like Andy Schleck was only 13 yrs old when that happened. So basically it's always been in the sport as far as he knows.

In the 1937, if you smoked marijuana you were basically a dope fiend and a drug crazed deviant. Now 14 yr olds smoke it.
Again great post - when Kohl admitted he had doped from his teens I was saddened but not shocked.

As for the general attitudes - I would beg to differ. Festina continued to sponsor a cycling team after 98 because their sales increased.
(OT question - how many of us have had a Festina watch?)
However most of the new teams like to portrsy the image of investing in a 'clean' and healthy sport - all now have get out clauses built in to their contracts and will do a Liberty Seguros.

I think there can be an improvement in current laws, penalties (financial, suspensions), tighter, more and more invasive testing - yet the will of the UCI is not there because it effects their bottom line and who gets to sit where at the IOC.
But I think it is only a matter of time before another big scandal forces another big team to pull the plug and that will tighten a lot of the above.
 
Ninety5rpm said:
I'm not relying on the past. I'm just considering human nature, which centuries if not thousands or even hundreds of thousands of years is required to evolve (so it's not changing any time soon), and the nature of technology and how it advances, as givens.

These guys naturally use every advantage they are reasonably likely to get away with using.

One point we haven't talked about is the practical hurdles associated with testing. It's prohibitively expensive to test everyone for everything (which only becomes more and more true as time rolls on, more products become available, more masking agents becomes available, and testing becomes more expensive). So, they test some of them for some substances. They don't even test the stage winner for everything. And the doctors hired by the riders know what the screening tests look for, and how to almost certainly pass them. The result is that even using PEDs that can be detected by tests becomes a calculated risk.

Some argue that increasing penalties will help, but if the choice is ride at an acceptable level with PEDs or ride at an unacceptable level without them, there is no choice (except leaving the sport) regardless of what the penalties are.

i hate to sound like a broken record. but the Darwin "survival of the fittest" explanation does seem to apply to PED's. with or without them humankind
moves forward. how do you keep people from trying to get better? whether
it's lifting the most weight or take your pick. folks are looking for an edge.
it is silly when you come across it at the amateur level, especially in the masters ranks. :cool:
 
Dr. Maserati said:
Excellent post - I have just highlighted the final part because it was the one area which I hadn't given consideration too.
I do believe increased penalties are part of the way forward - however you brought up a very good point in an earlier post that if the chances - or ratio -of detection remains low that raising the penalties is not an adequate deterent.
Right. And when we combine the fact that low rates of detection are not an adequate deterrent even with high penalties, with the fact that it is impossible - practically speaking - to test everyone for everything, we realize that it is essentially impossible to get the rate of detection high enough to have an adequate deterrent, no matter how high the penalty.

The result is what we have now (and have had for years, and will continue to have). Every now and then a few riders get caught here or there, just enough to make it seem like progress is being made. But it's really like addressing an ant infestation in your home by hunting individual ants with a needle, and declaring that the 6 you killed today compared to the 5 yesterday is "progress". The only difference is that with the ants there are more effective practical measures that can be taken, but not with combating doping.
 
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I began cycling in 1970 as a ten year old. I became aware almost immediately, because of my fathers connections with Euro pros, that doping was an integral part of the sport. Yet it was never discussed with me as to whether it was the right or wrong thing to do. My father was a track rider and considered the six-day stars to be gods even though it was well known that doping was rife in this branch of the sport.
 

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Ninety5rpm said:
Right. And when we combine the fact that low rates of detection or not an adequate deterrent even with high penalties, with the fact that it is impossible - practically speaking - to test everyone for everything, we realize that it is essentially impossible to get the rate of detection high enough to have an adequate deterrent, no matter how high the penalty.

The result is what we have now (and have had for years, and will continue to have). Every now and then a few riders get caught here or there, just enough to make it seem like progress is being made. But it's really like addressing an ant infestation in your home by hunting individual ants with a needle, and declaring that the 6 you killed today compared to the 5 yesterday is "progress". The only difference is that with the ants there are more effective practical measures that can be taken, but not with combating doping.

Your first paragraph is true to a point. However we both agree (I think) that the current system headed by the UCI is inadequate, yet they still managed to catch Di Luca through the bio-passport and then through increased/targeted testing.

To use your analogy -if your home is infested with ants you don't go round killing them 1 at a time - you call in the experts to do a proper job and get rid of them all.
 
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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?
For several reasons.

- Doping is not taken only for long races, or only for stage races. When stages became shorter, doping only increased because of advances in science. Obviously the demand was still there.

- All races can be completed without doping; doping used to be far less effective and races longer. I also personally believe there are clean riders, and they are not quitting every single race they start in.

- Cyclists who have been honest about doping did not generally state that they did it to finish at all; they did it to finish higher than others, also known as 'getting good results'. If nobody doped, it would be possible to achieve good results without doping, because the result is relative, not absolute.

The question if cyclists have to dope to survive is as simple as the question if it is possible to go from A to B without doping. This is usually possible. Some cyclists will not accept this, which is a denial of the fact that their own community is primarily responsible for the culture that perpetuates doping.

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.

Riding at the rear of the peloton is different from not surviving. But exactly this is part of the problem - how is the cycling community dealing with people who do not perform as expected? Why is performance only related to others, and not judged as a normal employee's performance? Ofcourse the audience wants to see winners, but it is wrong to believe that they are only interested in first place.

Once you start defending doping because cyclists want to avoid abuse, you're denying the responsibility each individual has. Scorn from the public is awful, but it doesn't force anyone to do anything. Pointing to these factors as the primary cause for doping is a dangerous course of action, because it can lead to the opposite of empowerment and making people feel less in control of their own destiny. Like a rabbit in the headlights.

It's not that I don't see a complex structure of factors that influence doping use. In fact, having some experience in health communication and complex multidisciplinary problems in society, I could go on much longer about how I'd set about mapping and influencing those factors. However, when they are used as an excuse to remove responsibility from cyclists, I strongly object, because such a reaction is unwarranted and ineffective.
 

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Actually I agree with almost all of your post - I was genuinely asking what you meant by 'it is a myth that cyclists dope to survive'.

It should be clarified - when riders say they doped to survive they mean the ability to survive within their level as a Pro bike racer - as there are often outrageous demands made my teams of their athletes.

Jonathan said:
...Riding at the rear of the peloton is different from not surviving. But exactly this is part of the problem - how is the cycling community dealing with people who do not perform as expected? Why is performance only related to others, and not judged as a normal employee's performance? Ofcourse the audience wants to see winners, but it is wrong to believe that they are only interested in first place.

While the real cycling fan will cheer that rider, often the general spectator expects more.
As for the employers/teams if a rider doesn't perform - they simply replace them with someone who will and it is for the latter reason that many say they doped "just to survive".

Of course you are quite correct in saying this does not absolve them of their personal responsibility of choice.

My argument throughout this post is that the riders shouldn't have to consider the doping option in the first place.
 
Dr. Maserati said:
Your first paragraph is true to a point. However we both agree (I think) that the current system headed by the UCI is inadequate, yet they still managed to catch Di Luca through the bio-passport and then through increased/targeted testing.

To use your analogy -if your home is infested with ants you don't go round killing them 1 at a time - you call in the experts to do a proper job and get rid of them all.
Di Luca was one ant.

The bio-passport focuses on certain aspects - others aspects are ignored. Results in this year's Tour are evidence of that. Guys that probably have not yet figured out how to get around the bio-passport and new CERA testing like Evans and Sastre, suffered. The ones with doctors at the forefront did much better.

There is no way to do a proper job and "get rid of them all", even by experts. Ants are trivial to identify and target; dopers are not.

As time goes on and more methods become available it only becomes more expensive and impractical to catch them.

The surest way to have an apparently clean Tour is to not test anyone (no, I'm not advocating that, I'm just saying). Already people are speculating that this was a clean Tour because of the lack of anyone getting caught. :rolleyes:
 

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Ninety5rpm said:
Di Luca was one ant.

The bio-passport focuses on certain aspects - others aspects are ignored. Results in this year's Tour are evidence of that. Guys that probably have not yet figured out how to get around the bio-passport and new CERA testing like Evans and Sastre, suffered. The ones with doctors at the forefront did much better.

There is no way to do a proper job and "get rid of them all", even by experts. Ants are trivial to identify and target; dopers are not.

As time goes on and more methods become available it only becomes more expensive and impractical to catch them.

The surest way to have an apparently clean Tour is to not test anyone (no, I'm not advocating that, I'm just saying). Already people are speculating that this was a clean Tour because of the lack of anyone getting caught. :rolleyes:

You are judging the bio-passport solely on where we stand now.
Sure - if the status quo remains then you would be correct to say there is too much wiggle room within the current Bio-passport parameters.
However a big doping scandal would call in to question the effectiveness of the bio-passport forcing the tightening of those parameters.

Also how can you claim to know how expensive new tests are for methods that don't yet exist?
Because of anti doping laws in some countries the police have new powers of arrest. Recently 5 pharmaceutical employees were caught up in the latest arrests in Italy. What message does that send to others in the industry who facilitate doping?

Di Luca calls in to question the reputation of the lab - if he was sitting in an interrogation room at his local Carabinari he would be singing a different tune.

The fight on doping is being fought on several fronts.
 
Dr. Maserati said:
You are judging the bio-passport solely on where we stand now.
Sure - if the status quo remains then you would be correct to say there is too much wiggle room within the current Bio-passport parameters.
However a big doping scandal would call in to question the effectiveness of the bio-passport forcing the tightening of those parameters.

Also how can you claim to know how expensive new tests are for methods that don't yet exist?
Because of anti doping laws in some countries the police have new powers of arrest. Recently 5 pharmaceutical employees were caught up in the latest arrests in Italy. What message does that send to others in the industry who facilitate doping?

Di Luca calls in to question the reputation of the lab - if he was sitting in an interrogation room at his local Carabinari he would be singing a different tune.

The fight on doping is being fought on several fronts.
I am not judging the bio passport solely on where we stand now. I'm saying no matter the parameters, the parameters will be known, and the demand will be there to find ways to enhance performance within those parameters. Tightening parameters will only push the envelope and demand for masking agents and enhancements that are not reflected in those parameters.

I am not talking about the technological expense of new tests. However, it's generally true that the newest medical technology is expensive. Having said that, there is a labor cost associated with each test, especially considering the need for establishing legal credibility of the evidence. All those costs are largely independent of the particular test. I'll say it again. They can't test everyone for everything, and with time there are more and more substances, combinations, masking agents and methods to use. Therefore, with time, there are more and more (inherently expensive due to labor if nothing else) tests to be done.

Do you know which U.S. president declared the war on drugs? Nixon, almost forty years ago. How much "progress" has been made there? :rolleyes: The money incentive associated with having a performance advantage in pro cycling is simply too great to significantly inhibit doping with legal penalties in a world of 6.7 billion people struggling to survive and prosper among which one can find doctors willing to illegally administer Propofol as a sleeping aid, for money, in one's home. It is naive to believe that testing and legal penalties can do anything but make a small dent in this problem.
 
A post from another thread explaining why cycling will never be clean:

mistahsinclair said:
As far as I know the testers know who the dopers are (at least the detectable products) however, due to the sensitivity limits, they are very rarely caught...this is where the micro-dosing comes in.

The limits set mean that plenty of people who are doping get through, but the innocent guys don't get skewered.

If they clamp down on the testing to reduce the plethora of a false negatives, they're concerned they'll start getting false positives.

The irony is that there might very well be no possibility for a false positive in the pro peloton, at least not in the general sense (if they reduced the limits, you might test positive for something that you're not taking, while testing negative for something you are taking).
 

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Ninety5rpm said:
A post from another thread explaining why cycling will never be clean:



If they clamp down on the testing to reduce the plethora of a false negatives, they're concerned they'll start getting false positives.

The irony is that there might very well be no possibility for a false positive in the pro peloton, at least not in the general sense (if they reduced the limits, you might test positive for something that you're not taking, while testing negative for something you are taking).

So you are now quoting an opinion piece from another thread!

Firstly, there hasn't been a 'plethora' of false negatives.
Did you not read what happened in Italy recently? The fight on doping is getting broader.

It is not just the UCI vs the doping cyclists - if it was I would pretty much abandon hope now.
We now have police arresting pharmaceutical employees, coach's and riders. Guys sweating it out in Police cells.

I don't know what Nixon said or did - it is irrelevant.
In cycling you have 800 riders, who have given up a lot of their rights and are subject to testing from many different agencies and the authorities of many countries watching over them.

Somewhere soon something is going to give - and that will force the UCI to tighten the parameters and hopefully hand over control of the anti-doping to an independent body.