A Point to Ponder

Discussion in 'Professional Cycling' started by lance_armstrong, Jul 27, 2010.

  1. lance_armstrong

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    Let's say that everyone in the peleton is doping. Does that mean that the same riders who win all the races while doping would still win all the same races if none of the riders were doping? I bring this up because I hear a lot of people say:

    "Who cares if they're cheating? They're all doing it, so the same guys would win anyway!"

    I don't believe it's that simple. What do you think?
     
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  2. roadhouse

    roadhouse New Member

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    this subject has been touched base on a few times, me even asking the same thing a few days ago and it was said then that yes, if none of them doped and only trained and trained and trained then Lance would still win (Lance being the subject of our attention, right? ) and if they were all equally doped than he would still win as he has or at least i would like to think so, with or without dope, but that is not of any concern for myself any longer, his open lying about it all is what has me wanting his head on a platter.
     
  3. No_Positives

    No_Positives New Member

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    It's not that simple. It's like drugs. You can snort coke, drop acid, smoke a joint, then shoot some heroin. They are all illegal drugs (where I live anyway) but each gives a different effect. (So I've been told) The same goes with doping I suppose.
     
  4. slovakguy

    slovakguy Active Member

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    the results would be different. you would have to accept that luck, fatigue and team strength would be altered to a greater degree. the number of variables grows and therefore the race results would skew accordingly. i think you'd see the strongest rider rise to the top and you'd see it through the various types of contests through the riding season (the physiology of recovery playing a greater role in the selection).
     
  5. pearl-drum-man

    pearl-drum-man New Member

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    I also think that there are far too many variables to make a direct correlation on results (or potential results). However I think you can say if cheating was occurring throughout the field, then one cheater can't point to another and say he cheated too much and should be DQ'd.:p
     
  6. gtm

    gtm New Member

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    All good points + there is the fact that people react to drugs in an individual way. For example a mediocre rider might gain a huge benefit from EPO because for want of a better word his body 'likes' it whereas a talented rider might only improve by a small fraction. The idea that because 'they all do it' there is in effect a level playing field is to my mind wrong - doping warps the results.
     
  7. lance_armstrong

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    I couldn't agree more.
     
  8. jhuskey

    jhuskey Moderator

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    Recovery is the most overlooked benefit of blood doping. Most poeple thinks EPO just makes you stronger.
    Even if you make doping legal where do you draw the line. There is always a doctor or lab that will come up with something better and you are back to square one.
     
  9. genedan

    genedan New Member

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    Doping also places a financial entry barrier to cycling, which is expensive enough as it is. According to ESPN Floyd spent up to $90,000 USD a year on doping related expenses...certainly not encouraging for new entrants into the sport.
     
  10. Fat t-cube

    Fat t-cube New Member

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    Doping's not purely a problem for cycling, whether it's professional or not, you need to look at the state of mind of someone who chooses this route. Ambitious athletes from every discipline can be tempted to step over the line at times when the training plateaus and you seem to be going backwards because it seems easier than the alternative. Peer pressure can play a part and when you hit the realms of the pro peloton i would imagine in some teams this would have been irresistible. The noticeable change now are the teams who openly oppose drug enhanced performance while others carry on quietly. Read into this what you will.

    The UCI should stand up and make a ban mean just that, caught and there's no way back.

    Change the mind set to change the sport
     
  11. genedan

    genedan New Member

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    We should be weary of drug tests as a cure-all to the sport:

    Define:

    P=Positive result of test
    N=Negative result of test
    C=Clean rider
    D=Doped rider

    Proportion of clean riders = Pr(C) = (1-a)
    Proportion of doped riders = Pr(D) = a
    Probability of testing positive while doped = Pr(P|D) = c (false positive)
    Probability of testing positive while clean = Pr(P|C) = b (true positive)

    We can conclude from the above that the number of false positives will exceed the number of true positives if and only if:

    Condition X:= Pr(P&C)>Pr(P&D) <=> (1-a)b>ac <=> (b/c)>a/(1-a)

    Which means for a sufficiently small proportion of dopers in comparison to clean riders, along with a sufficiently high inaccuracy of the test, you will have more false positives than true positives.

    For an empirical example we have:

    Pr(C)=.99
    Pr(D)=.01
    Pr(P|C) = .01, meaning 1% of clean riders test positive
    Pr(P|D) = meaning 95% of doped riders test positive

    Therefore the proportion of false positives = Pr(PC) = Pr(P|C)Pr(C) = (.01)(.99) = .0099

    and the proportion of true positives = Pr(PD) = Pr(P|D)Pr(D) = (.95)(.01) = .0095

    We therefore have the ratio b/c = (.01)/(.95) = .010526316, and a/(1-a) = .01010101, satisfying Condition X.

    Indeed, .0099>.0095, so in this case we can conclude that out of all the positive tests, more of them are clean riders than doped riders, meaning we have a witch-hunt on our hands.

    Of course these particular probabilities may not mirror the real world so Condition X may not be satisfied in reality.

    However, we can conclude that the tests have to be extremely accurate in order for A and B samples to be valid...

    This is why I am NOT in favor of lifetime bans. In the case of the wrongly accused, I believe they should be offered a second chance at competition...


    Feel free to play around with the numbers, we can also define:

    Condition Y:= Pr(P&D)>Pr(P&C) <=> Pr(P|D)Pr(D)>Pr(P|C)Pr(C) <=> ac>(1-a)(b) <=> a/(1-a)>(b/c)

    meaning, that given a sufficiently low ratio of dopers to clean riders, we can expect a reasonable number of true positives given a sufficiently low ratio of false positives to true positives.

    Thus, we should set the threshold b/c = S, for some number S such that S is the acceptable level of effectiveness of the test when setting policy...

    I'm a little too lazy to plug in the situation where most of the peloton is doped and the tests are mostly ineffective...I'll do that after lunch.
     
  12. Fat t-cube

    Fat t-cube New Member

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    Well aren't we a clever boy?
    Your argument brings us back to the original post, everyone takes drugs everyone is equal therefore the playing field is level. Reality is the rider with the biggest wallet gets the best drugs, the poor domestic gets a three year old supply which is easily caught by the current drug testing regime. The rich rider is classed as a false positive in your eyes because the tests have not caught up with the technology.
     
  13. genedan

    genedan New Member

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    Alright, back from lunch and the results are kind of startling:

    A common accusation on this board is that 90% or so of the peloton is juiced up, with the majority of dopers being able to cheat the majority of tests.

    So, let's say 90% of the peloton is doped, 10% is clean.
    If the person is a doper, the test will be positive 1% of the time.
    If the person is clean, the test will also be positive 1% of the time.

    The results show that the proportion of false positives happens to be .01%, while the proportion of true positives is .09%, giving a healthy ratio of true positives to false positives.

    However, this means that given a sufficiently low effectiveness of the test, with a sufficiently high population of dopers, only 1% of the dopers will get caught.

    Given this Floydesque scenario, the effectiveness of the biological passport and current anti-doping methods has a bleak outlook at best.
     
  14. Fat t-cube

    Fat t-cube New Member

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    Can't disagree with your logic, the outlook is bleak if we go on the way we are. Now is not the time to sit back and resign to defeat, athletes need to understand that although it may be difficult to be completely accurate in testing for the drugs it is more accurate at finding the masking substances that are taken to throw doubt over the results. If what you say is true then if my 4 year old took a blood or urine test then there is a chance that a false positive could be found, which we know is impossible, so where do we go from here, just sit back and accept it.
     
  15. limerickman

    limerickman Moderator

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    I'm all for testing and for the removal of cheats from the sport.

    I look at this entire issue on a cost/benefit basis.
    The UCI could easily eradicate doping if it introduced draconian levels of punishment.

    Draconian levels would include all of the following ;

    1.On being found to have doped, a rider is banned for life from competitive racing.
    2.On being found to have doped, all money won by that rider is to be redeemed by the UCI to the riders he has beaten.
    3.On being found to have doped, the UCI will have an option to decide whether or not retrospective results were achieved through clean riding and can decide to redeem any/all prize money earned.

    In other words make it so prohibitive to dope that any rider who chooses to dope makes their decision in the knowledge that they run the danger of financial and employment meltdown in the sport.
     
  16. Ted B

    Ted B New Member

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    I also feel that a lifetime bad is in order, but it should be reserved for the most blatant and clear-cut of cases where the offending substance has no use other than a deliberate attempt to manipulate one's own blood chemistry or endocrinological profile.

    For example, the recent Clenbuterol violation by Li doesn't compare to a CERA violation, and doesn't (IMO) merit a lifetime ban. There is a world of division between asthma medication and EPO or steroids. Furthermore, a scant 20mcg of Clenbuterol taken orally constitutes a full dose - an amount so small and so easily delivered that it would be a simple matter to sabotage a rider's entire career simply by covertly having them ingest a substance in an amount smaller than the head of a pin.

    I agree that a powerful deterrent would probably do more and cost less in the long run, but like legal systems treat criminal offenses in different tiers of punishment, the cycling 'death sentence' would need to be reserved for the most serious cases to gain widespread acceptance.
     
  17. Crazymike

    Crazymike New Member

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    I am an avid cyclist.
    This is my take on (any) sport.... OK, you have a guy that can afford a trek bike but not a madone. Lance can afford a Madone. Lance has the advantage. A guy can afford to ride his trek 5 days a week on his home course, Lance can afford to ride 5 days a week in France...Lance has the advantage. A guy can not afford a coach but races anyway, Lance can afford two coaches...Lance has the advantage. A guy might try a steroid (or whatever). Lance has a latest chemical analysis on what to take..Lance has advantage.
    So, if everyone in the Peloton takes the same doping schedule or steroid shots then the field is leveled and it goes back to the individual. However, we know that not everybody in the Peloton is taking the same enhancements.
    You can insert any sport not just cycling.
     
  18. pennstater

    pennstater New Member

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    Limerickman, I like your draconian penalties for dopers. I'm not so sure the 2nd and 3rd options, although I do like them, are feasible especially if it is found that a rider was found guilty of cheating in a race that happened 25-years-ago. Also, your third point may bring some subjectivity into who the UCI believed to have doped during a certain time period of the past. I do agree that if these rules were established the peleton would be relatively clean except for a few ego maniacs.

    I guess what is shocking to me is that if I were a profesional rider, I would hope for ethical reasons and the risk doping brings in way of consequence of a two-year ban (let alone a life-time ban or having money taken away) and a dark cloud hanging over my head for the rest of my days I would never dope. I guess I still don't understand why any rider would risk what is already at stake if you get busted.

    Compared to NFL, MLB etc, where doping penalties are a joke; Cycling carries such a higher risk for dopers. Unfortunately teams/riders are more clever and have the upper hand on testers.
     
  19. mattp1975

    mattp1975 New Member

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    The "war on drugs" in cycling is as futile as it is in wider society, either enjoy the spectacle or watch something else!
     
  20. jimzman

    jimzman New Member

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    Well this might be off the subject ; but how can anyone help but dope ; when you can t even take over the counter drugs for cold or head cold ; without it showing up on test.
    I would love to see the rules change to the point ; that if you can buy it over the counter it okay. Save the testing for the enhancing drugs that are band and full strength
    Dream On:p
     
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