I’m Sick of the Drug Usage…..Period

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I’ve been writing a fair amount on this blog about drug usage recently. I’d really like to be writing about life and observations that I’ve experienced through the sport of cycling. But, there again seems to be a rash of positives happening. Internationally and domestically. It is getting more and more prevalent. It hits closer to home when some of “my friends” are the ones being caught. I believe we’re getting close to a tipping point in the sport. Either self implode or flourish.

This next year is going to be hard on the sport for sure. I’m not looking forward to it. This federal investigation is going to be ugly for us. If they are wiring Floyd to gather information, it is going to be pretty crazy. Maybe this is what the sport really needs. I just don’t know anymore.

I got an email from Ned and started thinking about my “career” all the way back to the beginning. This sport has been polluted with drugs for a much longer time than I’ve been racing. But, it has been getting progressively worse as the drugs get progressively better. I am not naive. I don’t think I worried much about the drug usage earlier because the drugs weren’t nearly as effective and it wasn’t on my radar. I enjoyed racing my bicycle and that was enough. It still is. But watching the sport, since it has been covered on television in the USA, is watching fantasy bicycle racing.

Gazzetta reported that all the investigations into the sport has forced some riders to change mobile telephone numbers and change the location of their training camps.

Monte Teide on Tenerife was the place of choice for early season training, but now it is out because it is strictly controlled. It’s reported that Namibia and South Africa, which were used in the early nineties, is back in stile because of no controls. I had often wondered why anyone would want to fly a gazillion hours to South Africa to “train” over the winter. I’ve been racing for over 35 years and have never had an offer to go to that country.

Now there are domestic PRO’s and other riders getting caught. Let me tell you, it is pretty hard to get caught. I’d guess probably less than a 1% chance if you’re smart. So you really need to screw up to do so. I admit, it is getting harder, but it’s still easy.

I heard that Howard Jacobs, the “athletes lawyer”, can get anyone caught up in the Joe Papp affair off for 15-20K. Something to do with a domestic violence issue. That is bullshit. It is obvious that everyone that bought EPO and other drugs from him bought EPO and other drugs from him. I’m thinking that we’re not going to be seeing many more names appear anytime soon. That is just wrong. Hopefully I’m incorrect on this.

I was in Steamboat for a few days. Two stages of the new Tour of Colorado are going through there. It got me thinking about the Coor’s Classic and how the mountain stages destroyed the fields. You’d think that adding drugs to the sport would make it that much more exciting. But in cycling, it makes it so much less exciting.

I’ve often said, if you went back to the Tour de France in 1986, when Andy was 4th behind Lemond and Hinault, if you took the top 9 guys in GC and said they had to tempo the whole 3 weeks, they couldn’t have done it. It was physically impossible for a rider to be at the front for that long. Now, forget the superstar riders, the domestics sit at the front day after day and pull the whole race. That is so unnatural.

I want to watch bike racing where the sport is human. Not a sport where there is an all out field sprint to the base of the climbs and then they stand up and climb out of their saddles for the next 15 minutes. I want to see the pain. The drugs make the sport seem too easy. They even the playing field, which seems counter intuitive. It makes the sport just plain dull.

I don’t know how to “fix” the problem. There are always going to be people that cheat the system. I think there really needs to be a whole house cleaning of all the people in charge of the sport. It amazes me how quickly the riders that serve their 2 years get rehired. It is because everyone involved knows what was going on in the first place and it is just unlucky that any specific rider got caught.

I used to think that the sponsors would control some of this. I think that is the case somewhat. The big money is much harder to attain. But it amazes me how much money and equipment that the US bike companies send over to the European road teams. A decade ago, that wouldn’t have happened. But, it is business and it must be working.

Lifetime bans would be a start. Right from square one. Civil litigation by the governing bodies to recover all monies earned throughout the careers of the riders caught would also help. You have to make the penalties so severe that it isn’t worth it.

Okay. I’m going to go and take the drug of the day for me, Bactrim (an antibiotic), go out for a ride, and try to forget about all this stupidness. It is supposed to be close to 50 again today in Topeka. Not bad, when tomorrow is the first day of winter.

7 thoughts on “I’m Sick of the Drug Usage…..Period

  1. dirty_juheesus!

    Steve,

    The simplest way to restrain doping is to enact three policies.

    1. Hold samples for 10 years.
    2. 5-10 year window of eligibility for an adverse analytical finding.
    3. Get a positive in the testing window and any placings related to the positive are deleted. As if the athlete wasn’t even there. Money returned. Team incentives resulting from the win are taken from the rider and given to a deserving third-party. (ex. eff.org)

    WADA will always be behind the latest doping technology. These changes discourage cheating with dope.

    Will there still be plenty that cheat? Sure. Sensible cheaters will understand doping is not the way to get the win.

    The UCI’s meddling in doping has to be eliminated, but that’s a different area.

     
  2. tj

    Amen!
    I used to love racing my bike, it seemed so pure and made me feel free. Now I can’t look at racing without wondering how many guys are juiced up. Oh to be naive again…

     
  3. Bb

    Steve, thanks for writing this. Big developments are going to soon happen. Unfortunately, they will affect some of your former teammates and friends, but in the long term, it will be for the best.

     
  4. Josh

    Don’t disagree at all with the statement, for sure doping is prevelent in the sport and is becoming harder to detect as more drugs come to the market place.

    However, I’ve heard this debate often from Pro’s from the 80’s and 90’s, also another very doped up era of cycling. There was nothing human about Laurent Fignon (RIP) winning the tour, or Eddy Merckx gettting caught up for a bit. There was nothing human about Joop Zootemelk getting caught and racing like a 23 year old at 40. There was nothing human about Maartens, Moser, Rooks, Van Der Poel, Andersen, Theunisse, Delgado, Yates , Emonds and just about anyone who could, that would.

    The ability to detect, communicate, socialize and broadcast doping related instances has made one instance seem like 100 compared back to the 80’s and 90’s. Technology has made us more aware and has also heightened our sense of knowledge about people, events and in this case doping. So if Di Luca gets nailed then the world knows within an hour and everyone around him (including his dog, well in Di Luca’s case it’s probably a cat, he looks like a cat guy) is a suspect with the public. Case in point Operation Puerto.

    The reality is that everything we knew about cycling in the 80’s is a tiny fraction of what we know now. Everything has changed!

    Equipment is astoundingly different, it’s like driving a beat up Chevy vs. a Lamborghini. The difference between the bike I raced in ’94 to now is the difference between an off the shelf $300 bike and my $6000 bike today. Materials are lighter and stronger, with more integrity for longevity. The frames are so incrediable, it’s hard to imagine what 10 years from now will be like from that stand point.

    Another thing is that when I look at racers now they look drastically different. For example I raced as a Pro (mostly in my mind ;)) from ’94 – ’96 and in today’s world a Tuesday Night Crit looks like what the lobby of the Indenpendence Mall Holiday Inn did in Philadelphia just before the USPRO Champs back in ’94. No one looked as fit back then at your local race, now everyone looks Pro.

    Training has been totally altered as well, with a much more scientific approach, this allows the also rans of the world to have a chance a couple times per year to win a race or place well. Without those super scientific training techniques of building and tapering, diet and recovery, the fodder in races would be absolutely amazing.

    Diets have also changed, back in the good ol’ days, good racers who trained enough, could eat a healthy and solid diet without becoming anorexic. Today if you don’t show up anorexic, then you might as well not show up. Somehow racers have figured out a way to look like they are stricken with some disease, but they maintain their absolute power.

    So the point is that just like alot of evolutionary things, technology, construction, communication and whatever else… Cycling is going to evolve to the positive until someone takes our bikes away from us. Records will be broken, bikes will get lighter, racers will look even more anorexic and the generation now will say 30 years from now that “everyone must be doping to be at that level!”

    RACING WILL GET FASTER AND RACERS WILL GET EVEN FITTER. DOPING IS A LAZY WAY TO GET AWAY FROM THE WORK LOAD AND THE LIFE OF A NOMAD, WHICH IS THE LIFE A PRO MUST LEAD TO MAKE IT. THATS ASSUMING THEY HAVE SOME BASIC TALENT.

     

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