Doping Sanctions

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Man, when it rains it pours when drugs in sports come up.  I find it a little insulting that cycling has the reputation of being the most polluted of all sports.  That is hardly the case.  Cycling has its problems, but isn’t the “dirtiest” sport.  Not even close.

Fans that follow cycling should be happy that the powers that investigate doping in sport “chose” to try to clean up cycling first.  It was an obvious path because many of the other organized sports, American sports, plus football (soccer), tennis and others were too big to fail. I think they still are.  So, those of us that cycling is our sport, have had to suffer through all this drama year after year.  And so it will continue.

Now athletics, tennis and some of the other non-American sports are starting to have their turn.  It is going to be ugly.

I think it will continue until the sanctions are raised to meet the infractions.  I have a pretty much zero tolerance for doping.  Of course, accidental contamination and such needs to be handled on a case by case basis.  But you don’t just happen to have CERA, EPO or any of these other oxygen vector drugs in your body.

You have to have, what, 3 infractions, to be suspended for life.  Isn’t it 4 years, then 8, the life? Maybe it is only 2 now, but Tyler’s suspension is up next year and he was suspended twice.

Maria Sharapova’s positive was big.  But big isn’t that big after 1000’s of other athletes have been positive.  What interests me with her situation is that she should have been “too big to fail”.  Sharapova has been the highest paid female athlete in the world for the past 11 years. You would think that she should have received a ton of “warnings” about her potential problem. Guess she ignored them

Her story about using this Latvian drug is a joke.  Even the Latvian pharmaceutical company that produces meldonium said patients should only use the drug for 4-6 weeks, and that may be repeated twice a year, not for 10 years. WADA had issued multiple notifications about the ban on meldonium.  She just blew it.

It will be really interesting to see what sanctions she receives.  I very much doubt it is 4 years.

Compare all of the sanctions previous to what the UCI is pondering enforcing against Femke Van den Driessche.   The UCI, and even Eddy Merckx ,are calling for a lifetime ban.  I have a hard time understanding how motorized doping is worse than doping.  You are trying to cheat using both avenues.  At least with a motor, there is a limited battery life.  That doesn’t seem the case with actual doping.

I think some people think that if you dope, you are actually taking a risk to your health, so since you are doing that, you should get a lesser penalty.  That is flawed.  To me, it seems like the sanctions need to be the same.

Sometime this month, we’ll find out if the Operation Puerto blood bags are to be released or destroyed.  Can you believe how long ago that was and it is still going on?  I think they’ll be destroyed.  There are too many famous Spanish football players, plus a few tennis players, have some extra blood there, and they are too big to fail.  But, it is a different climate now.  I though Maria was in that category.

Anyway, now that track and field, tennis, and some of the other sports are “catching up” with cycling, I wonder if the perception of cycling being such a dirty sport will change.  People tend to remember the first.  And we were the first.

Our sport isn’t fixed, others are just being shown to be just as broken.


Tucker had a play day yesterday with Diesel.  Initially, he was good, then got a little intimidated by Diesel's size.  He eventually got better.

Tucker had a play day yesterday with Diesel. Initially, he was good, then got a little intimidated by Diesel’s size. He eventually got better.


24 thoughts on “Doping Sanctions

  1. JB

    The biggest US sports (NFL football, baseball, basketball, and hockey) have huge team organizations, compared to sports like cycling and tennis. These organizations figure out exactly what their athletes can and cannot ingest and then drill that info into the athletes.

    Sharapova was exploiting a PED loophole and got caught because she wasn’t paying enough attention. I’ve heard some pointing at the “sudden” decline of Rafael Nadal’s play since meldonium was banned (1/1/2016).

    1. channel_zero

      These organizations figure out exactly what their athletes can and cannot ingest and then drill that info into the athletes.

      No. It’s relaxed drug testing, never testing positive “important” players. All the same stuff the IOC sports do, only much more American dollars/audience at risk. The current linemen weight/speed did not get that way on beet root juice.

      NCAA D1 ball sports programs need a thorough going through for the same reason. But, the political backlash would be enormous.

    2. Joe

      And Sharapova wasn’t exploiting a loophole. The rule changed, or more accurately (since this is all a game between the (evil) doctors & athletes and the (good) doctors and federations and administrations), the line moved, and she didn’t even pay attention, or maybe thought she could get away with it.

  2. Barb

    Not that my opinion holds ANY weight in the pro cycling world, but cheaters and their doctors and managers should be banned for life. The assumption being that pros who are doping aren’t doing it all by themselves in a closet somewhere, they have support and collusion from the enablers. That would clean our sport up immediately. The downside is that half of the racing population would probably be gone. Which would open the door to new talent, instead of perpetuating the dominance of a group of people who have spent decades perfecting the science of getting an unfair advantage. How did Lance win and never tested positive? His drug designer was always one step ahead of the testing. Lifetime ban is my take, for any verifiable indication of cheating.

    1. channel_zero

      The enablers are the anti-doping authorities. In cycling, that is the UCI or your national federation.

      If there were more transparency into testing and test results, most athletes would be discouraged from doping.

      As the system works now, it’s the lax enforcement of positives that enables doping.

    2. Jason

      I agree with the sentiment, but not the action. Bans don’t deter usage, the fear of getting caught/embarrassed might, but not bans themselves. I agree that there should be some sort of punishment from whatever board of Dr’s one would answer to, but not sure how banning them from working in a sport would work. I’m actually probably one of the few that thinks no ban should last longer than thirty days, but I do think the guilty party should be required to pay to prove that they’re “clean” and have no say so when the testing occurs.

  3. Mark

    I saw where one of the online pharmacies have commented that Meldonium orders have gone through the roof since the announcement of Sharapova’s positive. I’m guessing that, like myself, a lot people had never even heard of the drug. Sad to see that there so many eager/opportunistic cheats out there.

  4. Ken

    You see the same sort of responses from tennis commentators as you did from cycling commentators when this all started. I was dismayed by the number of them that thought her explanation of taking it for a variety of medical reasons was legitimate (and losing to Serena shouldn’t qualify as a medical condition). Maybe more disturbing was the number of tennis pros who didn’t condemn her for this. Jennifer Capriati was the only professional (past or current) who was clearly upset by Maria’s positive. Apparently, the ITF became aware last year through urine testing that this drug was in heavy use by professional tennis players and was one of the key agencies to push for this to be on the banned list by WADA. So, although the ATP and WTA typically try to protect their marquis players, it seems like this was one time they felt they really needed to send a message. Nadal has been off for longer than meldonium has been banned, but of the Big 4 in men’s tennis, only Roger Federer wants out-of-competition testing to be routine. Unfortunately, Maria will probably get a 6-month slap on the wrist and be back in competition by July. She hasn’t played since she was nabbed, hoping for a back-dated suspension. Doubtful her “injuries” she cites as reason for pulling out of tournaments are real.

    1. channel_zero

      Her explanation is up there with Paula Radcliffe’s excuses.

      She should have used the infamous vanishing twin hypothesis.

  5. jeffc

    wieghtlifting and body building is the most dirty… when I was 13 I was heading down a bad bad road, luckily my aunt got me into running… took all that negative stuff and turned it into another… took up running and weightlifting. Went to many gyms as I worked out 6 hours a day. Gym at my house from 5 to 7 in the morning, then paper route after school (ran up 10 flights of stairs 10 times with my two bags of papers) then off to the gym from around 630 to 1030) . I trained for a while at places like Gold’s gym just down the road in an old building. I knew of many and was approached by some to buy steriods. Turned them down. My cousin did steriods for many years, huge fella as he bounced at rough strip clubs… not sure if he was ever impacted by kidney illness or the like, but I did know someone who did do steriods and competed, he had kidney issues. Glad I never took any. I did take supplements and was tempted to do fillers creatine… I took up mtbing after getting educated, spent the last 20+ years doing that along with road, but no longer race (was costing me 20k a year… ). Did see much drugs in road nor mtbing. Lots of drinking though…

    1. Mike Rodose

      Wow. That’s a lot. Almost like your water bottle has red bull and jagermeister in it.

      If bicycle racing cost you $20,000.00 per year, you were too slow for bicycle racing. I agree with your choice of bailing and also not doing drugs other than taurine.

  6. mike crum

    LOL!!!! WTF is merckx giving his 2 cents for? he got busted in 1969 and 1973 for being on banned drugs.. won the giro lombardia in 1973 and got that win taken away from him for doping…now all of sudden he wants to be mr clean and have a clean sport. never happened in his day and they ALL sure aint clean ow a days ……motorized doping, epo or hgh doping, or any other drug doping, or riding on the wrong side of the yelow line is all cheating.. pretty simple…

  7. Dave

    Compare Sharapova’s doping infraction with a traffic violation. Was it the equivalent of getting a speeding ticket for doing 36mph in a 35mph zone, getting thrown in jail for vehicular homicide while going 50mph over the speed limit in a school zone while drunk, or somewhere in between? Crumb, they’re all cheating, but there are different levels of cheating in all walks of life, and different levels of punishment. Will the punishment fit the doping violation? We’ll see…

  8. Mike Rodose

    The Head racquet company just announced their continued support and sponsorship for Maria Sharapositive. Because of her honesty.

    Bad move Head!

    1. Mike Rodose

      How quickly I forgot about Tucker. Got hung up on doping thoughts, sorry Tuck!

      That dog is beyond cool and is starting to look like Tilford.

  9. Wildcat

    I scan the comments and only read ones that have lots of thumbs. Up or down – either way, but sometimes the ones with lots of down thumbs are the best.

  10. Jonathan Long

    Yuck, I came across a forum that peddles… PEDs. It has two Masters racers talking about which doping products they use.

    Suppose one researched these two racers and figured out who they were. Would you tattle, especially when they are talking about tests for nationals?

    I am just wondering. I have recently started reading your blog (have heard about you forever though, so was excited to see you write almost every day), if you aren’t in to this kind of comment just let me know.

    1. Steve Tilford Post author

      Jonathan-Absolutely, I’d ” tattle”. I’d call the USADA hotline and give them the link to the website and let them deal with it. We’re all in this together. If they are stupid enough to be posting it on social media, they more than deserve to be busted.

  11. Jonathan Long

    I am just coming back into racing, there is no pressure for me to get results, only have fun and build fitness. But if I am going to be paying to race, the powers that be could do me a favor and use a simple search engine.

    Thanks for the quick reply Steve.


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