It is now time to test in the amateur ranks

Discussion in 'Doping in Cycling' started by SoDakker, Jul 25, 2007.

  1. SoDakker

    SoDakker New Member

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    Ladies and Gentlemen,

    In light of the events in the TdF over the last couple of days coupled with what I know (and have recently read) about doping in the upper echelons of the amateur ranks, I believe it is time for a culture change in the world of competitive cycling.

    A brief aside follows: As a physician, I can say that any use of physiological aids--pharmaceutical or autologous/homologous RBC donations--without a clear medical indication such as cancer or kidney failure is simply illegal. Any athlete or quack who assists an athlete as above for physiological enhancement should be prosecuted like a common drug dealer or user.

    Perhaps this is unfair and should not be a statement serving to blanket all of Cat1&2, but I will suggest a culture seems exists wherein doping is prevalent among the upper amateur ranks. In his revealing account, TiMan suggested that many other top amateur cyclists had resorted to doping with the hopes of securing a pro contract. There seems to be too many anecdotal stories and highly detailed accounts by people who have lived the cycling doping culture in the upper amateur ranks to assume doping is not widespread and endemic.

    I suggest that doping would be less a part of the sport if an aggressive testing program began with cyclists in the amateur ranks.

    The success of my proposals, were they to be implemented, are predicated on changing the culture of the amateur ranks. Amateurs may not have access to the physicians or sophisticated methodology and programs to mask testing. The threat of bans would force caution.

    My proposal would include the following as directed by the WADA/UCI/US cycling and its foreign counterparts:
    1.) USCF license holders would be subject to (just as the pro riders) at least one random test annually.
    2.) The USCF license fees would be increased to pay for the testing.
    3.) Licenses would be progressively more expensive from Cat5 up to Cat1 with the intent to test the Cat1 cyclists more frequently.
    4.) The Euro amateur sanctioning bodies should follow suit.
    5.) One positive test would result in revocation of the license for no less than five years.
    6.) A second positive test would result in a lifetime ban from the sport.

    In no way do I suggest this would be "The Fix" to the problem of doping in the pro peleton, but I believe my proposal might go a long way in changing the culture of the feeder programs leading to the pro contract.

    Instead of flames or criticism without suggestions, I gladly welcome healthy debate and your modifications or improvements to my proposal.

    TDW
     
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  2. spinner32

    spinner32 New Member

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    Let me start of by stating that I am replying under the assumption that you have reviewed the most recent publication of the UCI banned substances list.

    I must say that my feelings coincide with yours regarding the current state of affairs at the pro-level, or at least the continuous scandals that errupt due to seemingly innocent athletes yielding positive test results. It is disappointing, and indeed, makes one desire change.

    However, I find it a bit impractical to require testing in the lower categories, as you have suggested. Here are my reasons:

    1. Athletes competing in the Cat 4/5's and even Cat 3's are likely not doping. There isn't enough to gain at these levels. Additionally, if doping were to occur, those who did would soon enough be brought into higher ranks, where testing could nail them.
    2. The number of Cat 4/5s and 3's is relatively high, and these numbers frequently turnover (at least in my area of residence). It simply would not make sense to expend time and money on testing these riders.
    3. Many of those who race 3/4/5 are doing so for fitness, and a good time, not glory or sponsorships. It is doubtful that these riders would risk their health, good names, and friends just to win a race.
    4. The methods you propose would likely drive many away for the sport at the entry level categories. Who wants to begin racing at a citizen level, and be subjected to a random needle stick, or urinalysis? This would NOT be a positive image for cycling.

    As for testing at the higher, more competitive levels, I say go for it. I agree with putting those who are aiming for pro-level performance onto the same plane as those who are currently operating at such a level. Testing at only the Cat 1/2 levels also provides an interesting deterrant as well. Consider this situation:

    Racer A is climbing the ranks clean, while Racer B has begun a self-administered doping regimine (and somehow not harmed themselves in the process) and is climbing the ranks as well, but plans on coming clean for the "big leagues."
    Upon reaching Cat 2 status, both racers attend the same race as opponents. Guess who is going to outperform the other on the same, drug-restricted playing field? If Racer B continues doping, they will eventually be caught, provided they do not have outside medical aid to mask their involvment. If they do come clean, they will be set back slightly in their physical abilities, and need to train clean to attain the same level of fitness as Racer A. (This is grossly simplified on the physiological side of the matter, but the idea is simple.)

    My two cents. I will post back with more after I get some much needed sleep - Out with the local club ride again... Wipes me out.
     
  3. Cprace1

    Cprace1 New Member

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    I think it would be a major turn off for amatures to have to deal with drug test. I mean me as a cat 5 riders has to pay to be in races pay for my trip to the race and maybe even a over night stay depending on location. I mean we don't get paid for riding our bikes like the pros do. I think a lot of people would leave the cycling world just so they did not have to deal with it. We race for fun most of us don't think we have pro level ability we just want to ride and have competion not deal with drug test.
     
  4. Doctor.House

    Doctor.House New Member

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    Who would pay for it?

    Nice idea---but sport attracts dopers and cheats.

    Clean athletes must accept dirty competitors or quit racing.

    Many dopers are very nice people.
     
  5. iliveonnitro

    iliveonnitro New Member

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    I'll agree with testing the pro/1/2 field (or just the pro/1 field pending on area) -- top 1 or 2 riders. Anyone finishing below that isn't "profiting" from doping, so don't bother testing them.
     
  6. helmutRoole2

    helmutRoole2 New Member

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    Why do you care if Cat.4s dope? Or Cat.1s for that matter?
     
  7. limerickman

    limerickman Moderator

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    I share your sentiments : the culture of a large proportion of the peloton is
    complicit with doping.
    I think that the entire cycling culture needs to be inculcated with the notion that if you dope, you pay the price.
    That process should start at the higher end of the amateur status.

    I have spoken to collegues in the USA who tell me that doping appears to be a problem in the higher amateur ranks.
    I have friends who went professional in Belgium who tell me that there is a significant doping culture in the amateur/semi pro ranks in Belgium.
    I think that if there is an offense against doping at that level - it might perhaps establish the notion that all doping is illegal at all competitive levels.
     
  8. Gregers

    Gregers New Member

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    Make it a criminal offence. Jail time might concentrate minds rather more than UCI's feeble sanctions. There won't need to be that many doing time to make it painfully apparent that the risk/reward ratio has changed.
     
  9. SoDakker

    SoDakker New Member

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    Your arguments have pursuaded me, and I must concede the validity of your points above,... excepting the last sentence of point 4. I believe that the random testing would present the positive image that the sport cares about the safety and "cleanliness" of its athletes, and that it further wants an honest event.
     
  10. SoDakker

    SoDakker New Member

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    As per my original post, the cost would be rolled into increased license fees.

    I reject the fatalistic notion that clean athletes must accept dirty competitors or quit racing. Why should athlete "A" who is clean and lawful quit and by doing so defer to athlete "B" who is not only cheating but also violating the law? Should we wink at each other and suspend The Law where the matter in question is sport?

    Just because a doper is nice, should that remove from them the distinction that they are engaging in a felonious activity?
     
  11. SoDakker

    SoDakker New Member

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    I am in no position to discuss the medicolegal aspects of controlled substances as they pertain to UK law.

    In the US the activity is illegal. The laws are more complex than this simple breakdown, but it works something like this: A physician writing a drug prescription for an off-label usage not justifiable by medical necessity is breaking the law. Any athlete taking the drug by the aforementioned unlawfully written prescription is also breaking the law. Depending on the abused drug, the offense is usually a felony--for the physician as well as the "patient." Any "patient" in the possession of a controlled drug (like a steroid or epoetin alpha) without a prescription (must conform the justifiable medical necessity provision) from a licensed US physician is in possession of the drug illegally.
     
  12. Gregers

    Gregers New Member

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    So, under the US's eminently sensible drug laws as you have posited them, there remains the technical possibility that someday both Lance and his Doc might have to be wary of the horny guys in the showers at the Big House? Is there still hope?



     
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