20% Dope or 90% Dope – There’s no Difference

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I had a chance to think a little bit about the  CIRC report and the reactions from others.  Everyone seems to be sort of stuck on these hypothetical numbers.  One “respected” rider said that 90% of the Pro peloton is currently doping, another said “only” 20%.   Those guesses seem to perplex and bother a lot of folks, not just me.

I wrote a little yesterday about an article that Caley Fretz wrote for Velonews, where he says that the 90% number is a “travesty and the 20% is low enough that he’ll still wake up early to watch.

David Millar, recently retired from Garmin, and served his time-out for doping, did an article for the Guardian .  He felt that the CIRC investigation wasn’t fair since they probably didn’t talk to enough clean riders.  It’s hard to know exactly who that is, if the given number is somewhere between only 10% of the peloton clean, to maybe a maximum of 80%.

I ask David, how do you know who that is exactly?  Guys that have never tested positive?

Fabian Cancellara just said he doesn’t have time to read the report and might not get to it until the end of the season.  I can hardly comment on this asinine statement.   I guess I’ll just leave it at that.

Alberto Contador, another “convicted” rider of doping, (name removed from a Tour de France win), did read the report and said that he testified before the commission  His quote was-

“[The reaction] surprised me a bit yesterday. All the headlines were as if it was something new about the UCI, when it was all old news. How the UCI acted is an old story, everyone already knows it.”
I agee completely with Alberto, nothing new there.

Bjarne Riis, team manager of Alberto and Tinkoff-Saxo, and former doped Tour de France winner, said

“I think everybody would ask if it’s realistic to say that (figure). I don’t think that is a right number and realistic to say that. I don’t know if it was quoted in the right way. I heard that it was said that the percentage was between 20-90%. What does that mean?”

I agree with Bjarne, what does it mean.

Here’ what I think it means.

It means that if these numbers are correct, this vast difference in opinions of how many riders are doping, the race results are the same.  And by the same, I mean totally screwed up.

Like I wrote yesterday, just one or two guys doping in a race can really change the race.  It changes the race in so many ways that it doesn’t fix it by just disqualifying the rider who doped and moving everyone up a place.  That is if they catch the rider, which they virtually never do.

The CIRC report said that the doping the riders are doing now might only give them a 5% increase, compared to 15% before.  Those are the high estimates.  I’m not sure what that means?  Can they produce 5% more power, or they recover 5% faster, or do they have 5% more endurance, maybe all of the above?  I don’t know.  I do know that 5% more power at 400 watts is 20 watts.  That is enormous when you are doing an hour climb in the Tour.

Even just being able to train 5% harder, or more, would be significant, while maybe recovering 5% faster?

But what it really means is that, if the numbers are correct, that in any given race of 200 riders, that a minimum of 40 riders are doped, to a maximum of 180 riders.  And it doesn’t matter which number is real.

40 doped riders in the race give us virtually the same results as 180 doped riders in the race.  The other 160 guys don’t even have a chance to race.

I’ve raced a ton of races with a ton of doped riders.  Guys that were “proven” to be doping in those very races.  I could give you a lot of example, both on road on off-road.

One guy, like Kyle LeoGrande, can completely destroy a race at Superweek.  He can single handily make it so hard that many riders just quit the race, thinking they were POS.  40 guys like Kyle would make the race fantasy bike racing and totally unrealistic.

The same off-road.  When all the Canadians and Euro guys came here to race juiced, the sport became a joke.  Here are these guys racing the whole 2 hours faster than I could go for a 5 minutes.  And just the year before I was competitive.  It really didn’t matter if it was 5 or 10 guys doping, with the rest of the field clean. The results were the same at the top of the page.

And the majority of the riders in these racers were clean.  But, they were getting smeared, and I mean smeared, by a few guys that were doping.

Why would it be any different in the Professional peloton?  The guys doping have to be better than the naturally aspirated riders. Always. Especially if there are 40 of them in any given race.  It only makes sense.

We all try to hope that a clean rider has a chance to beat a rider that is doping.  That is very rarely the case.  Unless all the riders I’ve personally known to have doped, were already the superior athletes, before they started doping, the drugs make them 10 times better.  So much better that competing against them isn’t possible.

So, in reality, it doesn’t matter if there are “only” 40 guys doped in the race or 180 of them.  The results, at the top, are the same.

So, when guys like Caley Fretz, , have lowered their standards enough to feel comfortable watching an athletic competition where 1 out of 5 of the athletes in the race are doping, thus cheating, I say we are in for a lot more of just exactly that.



Nano doping.  Why not?  As long as you just keep it down to under 20% of the field, it's okay.

Nano doping. Why not? As long as you just keep it down to under 20% of the field, it’s okay.




42 thoughts on “20% Dope or 90% Dope – There’s no Difference

  1. Jason Ward

    The only thing that I would add is doped riders aren’t always the ones getting on the podium, but have just as big of an impact on the race. Guys who chase down the breaks, do lead outs, lead over the first climbs, etc They can destroy the fields, breaks that should have succeeded don’t, sprinters who benefited from doped lead outs win. It’s not just the guys who win who are doping that change the race.

  2. dlshulman

    Reading your post today makes me admire David Moncoutie even more. That guy’s career coincided with the heights of doping, yet he managed to win a lot of races, including Tour de France stages, and did it all clean. Chapeau David!

  3. John Goggin

    It’s still so upsetting to me that there are cheaters in our sport. I couldn’t live with myself if I cheated. I grew up competing, not in cycling, but I started at four years old. I played Junior Davis Cup, then things like the Orange Bowl, and then professional Tennis (Pro tour). Two decades later I’ve learned that people were doping in Tennis too. People that I played against. It frickin’ sucks knowing that now because I trained so hard. I spent entire days training and practicing, including a 20 mile round trip bike ride every single morning from Santa Cruz to Davenport and back… I have no respect for the cheaters.

  4. Jim

    Like you, I have not idea what to make of all of this.
    Personally I know a fair number of domestic pros and I know one that is on a ProTour team right now.
    I am as convinced, as is humanly possible, that he is racing clean.
    However the numbers you cite make it impossible to think that he will be at all successful.
    If that is the case, I would rather see him get out and move on with life.
    Sad that I feel this way in a sport I love.

  5. Skippy

    Dave Millar on Skype to @SkyNews was underwhelming ! Looked like he had just fallen out of a tree ! So he was CAUGHT , thus he should know ?

    Cancellara is going to ride the Season , listening to the rest of the Peloton discussing sOMETHING he has not read ? Guess he will be wearing earplugs to ensure he doesn’t make an unwise comment ?

    As to the comment about David Moncoutie , i like the Guy , he was always friendly with me , BUT , NOW the CIRC has overturned the wheelbarrow to the extent that ” Not Doping ” , could mean ” Was well below Omerta Doping Standard ” ?

    Tomorrow i am in Court fighting off a claim from a Guy that used his wing mirror to cause me to crash ! He is claiming compo for fixing the Mirror ( 500+ Euros ) ! Doesn’t matter about MY Injuries & destroyed Property , as he has the money to pay a Mouthpiece to stand up for him ! Guess he is trying to avoid ” Attempted Murder Charges ” i am bringing on thru my Lawyer !

    Who said ” The Law is an Ass “? Justice is Supposed to be BLIND ? No it is How deep are your pockets!

  6. Sal Ruibal

    How is it that we are still dealing with doping in sports? If 20% of the riders in any given race developed cancer as a result, there would be a huge response from health officials. Even 7% would be alarming and cause for serious medical intervention. But when athletes purposely poison their bodies for sports advantage, we diddle and dawdle about technicallities while our sport burns itself to the ground.
    I’ve given up on pro cycling. The only thing we can do now is prevent it from infecting more athletes. If doping was an infectious disease — and some could make an argument that it is — we have to find a cure while also segregating the voluntary carriers.

  7. James

    I like how Fabian deflected the attention on CIRC. He is a statesman and leader of the peloton, and clearly knows that negative publicity is bad for business. I respect that. Cheating sucks, but I think we can all agree the UCI has to be a little more objective in enforcing rules etc. and I think they can get serious in a quiet way, without mentioning thr d-word to the press even as they catch cheats. At the end of the day, maybe we can just be satisfied that we as cyclists do not have to deal with the level of doping in football, baseball, and the WWE!! It can only get better and it will, in time. Stay patient and positivd, Steve.

  8. Pepsi Frank

    Doping is now between the rider and their doctor or trainer. Those that are doping aren’t talking about it anymore. The performance gains are less so it’s not as obvious when someone starts doping. When a rider says his teammates are clean, he has no idea of what they are really doing. We are never going to know who is doping until they get caught. All you can do is look for changes in performance but you will still never really know.

  9. Deep Throat

    Sal. Please. Go back and read your post. The answers are the same as always. Follow the money.

    Again, follow the money Sal. You will be enlightened.

    Follow. The. Money.

  10. Bolas Azules

    I think the both 20% and 90% numbers are accurate, it’s just how each person defines ‘doping.’ Is it only being juiced to the gills on race day or is it using weight loss drugs and steroids in the early season training?

    As for the 20% number a rider could say ‘yes, that is the number of known riders who are actively on a program while in competition only that I’m certain or have witnessed doping or they have been caught red handed.’ The 100% no doubt group of riders.

    The 90% is the ‘yes there is no other way to explain what is going on here everyday and these are the guys who I would suspect have all had some aid either in training or in racing but I have not seen them first hand doing it and they have not said anything about it…outside of competition and for training use and occasional race use….yeah, 90%’

    But lets get real, the 20% number is laughable. I’d venture to say racing in the US over the past 30 years has had a consistent number at about that level. 20 guys in a 100 man field? Heck yeah, without a doubt. Even in the Tour of Texas in the early 1980’s had about that many if not more (many with the Federations help) with the funded trade teams and ex-Continental pros coming back and I don’t think it’s declined. And you think the Euro-pro peloton is about the same or less with jobs and real money on the line? Let’s get real.

  11. Bill K

    It’s the money.
    People will do just about anything to get truckloads of money.
    Professional (and some amateur) bike racing has become as entertaining as “reality TV”.
    When I see a rider do something that destroys the field, I often think “I wonder what he’s on”??

  12. Jean Luc

    Were you also convinced that Lance was riding clean? How about Big George? JV? Levi? Frankie? Yates? Eki? The entire Motorola/US Postal/Discovery teams? Tommy D? CVV? Dave Z? Stuey? Dewey? Bjarne? Jan? Bolts? Merckx I and II? Zabel? Abdu? Boonen? Anquetil? The entire PDM team from the 80’s? The entire Festina team from 98? Bobby J? Tommy D? DeClerc? Meirhage? Hejsedal? McGrath? Green? Barry? Jeanson? Longo? Baldwin? LeoGrande? Giove? Ricco? Pantani? Simoni? El Diablo? VDB? Tyler? The Floyd? Botero? Delgado? Fignon? Skibby? Rasmussen? Hamburger? Gert-Jan? O’Bee? SBeigh? Fuentes? Camenzind? Martin? Loader? LeDuc? Meeker? Brandt-Sorenson? Papp?

    Have I forgotten someone? You tell me.

  13. Jean Luc

    And of course we can’t leave out Johan Museeuw. The list is not complete without The Lion of Flanders.

  14. GB

    Giove? Missy? LOL I think she was more involved in selling weed, not doping. This is not PED use.

  15. Clifford

    Good point that in the ’90s, when the European contingent (coming over from road) started cleaning up on the MTB scene, that the juice is what set them apart on the world stage. Seeing guys like Tinker or Ned get creamed was a major bummer – and to realize later on why that was the case is such a drag.

  16. Cousin

    Kayle Leogrande is a great example. He was a relative no-talent as a junior when he raced on the L.A. Sheriffs Junior Team with a few real talents: Dave Clinger, Rene Saenz, and James Ansite. Kayle never made the national team, didn’t get selected for the big races, and was kind of a joke who always had an excuse for why he couldn’t cut it. When I started seeing his name winning against top pros I knew something was up.

    Clinger had talent and went with the program. It got it him to the top and then all the way to the bottom. Doping probably has a lot to do with why not many have heard of Saenz or Ansite but they were nearly as good, some days better than Clinger.

  17. channel_zero

    Sorry, but the long list smashing together pre-EPO dopers with EPO-and-after dopers doesn’t work.

    Everyone didn’t dope.
    Everyone you listed did not have EPO or a federation willing to hide positives.
    Everyone listed did not have the unapologetic, over the top, support of the cycling federation.

    I could go on, but I think that makes the point.

  18. channel_zero

    Not a “cure” but an absolute improvement in anti-doping would be to grant NADOs the authority to open cases.

    IOC sports federations have weakened WADA over the last 24 months and their new IOC appointed leader Reedie is intent on keeping the doping going, so WADA itself cannot be trusted. Any board that has Sepp Blatter as a permanent appointee is not up to the task of protecting sport from corruption.

  19. Rogermac3

    When you see guys (Kristoff) winning multiple stages in multiple races it needs to be a huge red flag. All these guys are top notch athletes, and to think he’s just that much better than everyone else. I’m sorry but doping is still an issue.

  20. Adam k

    They’re all dopers. We’re dealing with human beings, money, and a system that seems to be rotten to the core. That’s not a good recipe for fair play.

    What motivation does anyone involved with professional cycling have to ride clean or to help clean it up? Passion for bike racing? Okay, but i bet those folks get tired of beating their heads against the wall and eventually give in or call it quits. And those who don’t quit are a tiny voice in a sea of dope who stand no chance of changing anything.

    Years of human nature and not biting that hand that feeds have led us to where we are now and the only way out is to blow up the entire thing and start from scratch.

    Or just say ‘fuck it’.

    (I’m jaded and i think I’ve earned it)

  21. Spanky Narwhol

    Why do we not hear more from ex pros similar to Manzano? Is there omerta to be feared after career is over?
    Ffs i could have written a better report than CIRC.
    And what information would Papp be able to provideCIRC? Thats all stale.
    Sleaking of Papp… why have we never learned anything from his testimony for usada? Have i been asleep to lonng? Is he under a gag order? Total crap.
    20 or 90 percent… i mean really…dothese pros even know what the definition of clean is?
    But i agree with Tilford… if your clean your still sucking gas…

  22. Levi

    You left out a shit ton of riders.

    It’s easier to try it the other way around. How many clean riders can you name, who’s name people will know?

  23. JB

    Cancellara’s bullshitting so he doesn’t have to talk about it: he read the report or is reading the report.

  24. Jacque Meihauf

    Manzano spoke the truth to the public and to the authorities and was made to look like a malcontent. The man nearly died from doping when he collapsed on the road. If thee emergency vehicles had not arrived, he would have died from a bad batch of blood. He was a hero for speaking the truth, and hopefully he has moved on to a better life.

    Papp appears to have spoken alot of truths, but the guy should have really spilled the whole can of beans on the US doping scene to the public. In his defense, he was just living the dream like all the others and is no better or worse than Hincapie, Vandevelde and all the stars of US cycling still making bank on their juiced results.

    Do the pros know the definition of clean? Of course they do. A pro cyclist defines clean as not testing positive.

    Tilford is right about sucking gas if you’re riding clean. If you’ve ever paid a race entry, then you’ve been ripped off by some of your fellow riders.

  25. Och

    Funny thing happened, they never asked me to testify and I know where all the bodies are. BMC Forever!

  26. darkcloud

    I enjoy reading Steves blog about cycling and I enjoy hearing of his exploits and those of his friends. I don’t give a sh*t about professional cycling. F**k the doctors, team management, sponsors and riders. F**k em all.

  27. Jim

    I am guessing that your statement was aimed at what I wrote.
    If so, a couple of things to say.

    First I wrote “I am as convinced, as is humanly possible, that he is racing clean”. Notice the part in the middle? This statement is in reference to the one ProTour rider I know. I have known him for a long time and I know his family well. Could he be using something? Of course he could. I am not with him at all so I have no idea what might be happening. However knowing what I do know, I would be stunned if he was using. His progress has been slow and methodical. No meteoric rise at all. I would put a LOT of money on him being clean.

    It really doesn’t take much talent to come up with a list of known dopers in cycling. With regards to the list of names you give, I can say that I was pretty confident most of them were doped LONG before the beans were spilled. We watched big “heavy” guys who could TT suddenly start climbing like they had wings. We saw little climbers suddenly able to ride TT’s in the Gran Tours and place well. Stuff that made no sense and flies in the face of reality.
    Did I have proof? Heck no, just the old line that if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it is probably a duck.

    Many of my riding buddies thought I was nuts. When it all came out I suddenly got a lot of “I guess you were right”.

    On a side note, I was amused at seeing the name LeDuc in there. He is almost exactly my age so I have raced against him a few times. 20 years ago I thought he was dirty but domestic testing is damned near nonexistent . Then a couple of years ago he was popped. It would not be possible to be less surprised than I was. A real piece of crap.

  28. Jean Luc

    For the commentar Jim above- Please don’t take offense at my comment where I list all those riders. My point was only that most of us, and this includes me, have been believers. I believed in many of those listed riders until they were shown to be liars and frauds. I even gave Armstrong the benefit of doubt for a while before I finally came to my senses. It’s because I wanted to believe in true sports heroics, in true sports exploits and I wanted and did believe that these guys were doing it clean- just like they said over and over.

    But I was wrong and the facts are undeniable. I understand their reasoning and cannot honestly say I wouldn’t make the same decision if I was in their shoes. But I was not in their shoes. The worst part is the lying and deception. So, if you have a friend on The Pro Tour then the odds are not in his favor no matter what he tells you. If he’s riding clean, don’t expect miracles.

  29. Nathan Guerra

    I love training, I love getting faster, it is simply enjoyable to better thyself and the experience of testing that betterment IS enough…maybe I am not old enough yet…no towel throwing here, but even if I got to the top there is no money on this side of the moon anyways. Maybe that is why we have less problems. We also have like NO TESTING…so who knows.

  30. dt

    The main problem is that there is not a lot of downside to doping unfortunately. Cycling is not a major sport and the money isn’t too big. So, if you come from some poor eastern european country without much future why wouldn’t you dope, if you don’t get busted the rewards are good but if you get busted you just go back to where you came from and work on the farm, factory or gov’t job. The average public doesn’t know much about cycling so they really won’t recognize your name.
    The average pay isn’t good enough to prevent doping and if the consequences only happen to the rider caught then I see it as a no-brainer for the riders to dope. Only if they suspend the whole team and everyone loses their job then, maybe then the doping will be deterred.

  31. Larry T.

    If doping is caused by money, as in prizes, salary, fame, etc. how do you explain masters racers with lots of dough spending it on PED’s to win pretty much nothing at the local “Chicken Lips Criterium”?

  32. Jim

    That was what I stated originally.
    If he can’t do it clean, I would rather he gets out and gets a “real” job.
    I don’t want to find out that he fell into the pit.

    BTW, you are correct, the facts are undeniable.
    Wish you were so damned right!

  33. David

    Why give some attention to Fabian?
    Is the pot black?
    You stated earlier the CIRC report wouldn’t be on your own reading list, yet you stir sh*t up when he says the same thing.

  34. channel_zero

    I come back to find the idea of letting NADOs open cases down-voted.

    Cycling has a doping problem that starts with the fans.

  35. Terrence Keenan

    The latest guy to get caught for EPO, Lloyd Monda-something on Agritubel… He’s using EPO and not anywhere near the top echelon of pros… makes you wonder.
    BTW, I raced against him when he won an amateur race in France in 2001.

  36. Mike Rodose

    Joe Papp is a smear on bicycle racing. His reputation is based on drug use, distribution and cover-up. He career wasn’t much. Wasn’t long or illustrious. It was short and stupid and drug-addled. A career that would have been better skipped. Folly.

    There were about 190 athletes that were caught using Papp’s Chinese EPO, HgH website. But only one was officially named. What?!?!

    Pappy, USADA, WADA, USAC and UCI. Perfect smeary partners.

  37. Mike Rodose

    There is no defense for Papp-smear. Name another racer that was running a drug distribution ring. Internationally.

    Oh…and Papp’s 190 EPO customer names aren’t public. Hmmmm. Juniors, Masters, Pro, multiple sports. Big, recognizable names. Allegedly, of course. Facts not released, but interweb full of rumors for many years.

    Nice transparency. Good message.

  38. The Cyclist

    “So much better that competing against them isn’t possible.”
    Exactly what LA been trying to say for years now. Finally.

  39. Cousih

    Funny, we called him Papp-smear when he was a junior, way before his doping. He was always a dick. I get the sense that he prefers his infamy and “doping expert” status to the silence of mediocrity that his talent was only enough to bring him. I bet not far below the surface he is thrilled that he was caught.


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