Clean Riders Can be Better than Doped Riders?

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I saw this article at Velonews that quotes the guy from Sky, Tim Kerrison, that is training Chris Froome, plus he was Bradley Wiggins coach too, and he says that clean riders can perform better than the doping riders of the past.  I find this statement insulting to all athletes.  Clean or doped.   I think he is full of shit.

It is insulting to clean riders because it implies that they aren’t training correctly and thus, performing at a subpar level.  It is insulting to the doped riders, saying that even though they might have a 20% unnatural advantage, they aren’t good enough to beat a properly trained clean rider.

Here’s my observation from years of athletics.  Sports in general, advance at a snail’s pace. Times, abilities and such improve slowly in established sports.  Obviously, in new sports like snowboarding and jumping on bicycles are advancing much faster because those sports are in their infancy.

And sports that involve technique have the opportunity to do a huge advancements, through  major changes of that, technique.  The Fosbury Flop in high jump comes to mind.  Also Bill Koch with his skating technique in nordic skiing or the dolphin kick in swimming.  Aero bars in time trialing in cycling is another example.

But endurance sports, that have been going on forever, like over 100 years, the improvements are relatively slow.  When there are gigantic athletic improvements in running, cycling and such, it throws up huge red flags.

When a coach that has the success of training 3 out of the last 4 Tour de France winners says that it is possible for clean riders to perform better than the doped riders of the past, well, that is just stupid in this day and age.

It is way too close to the time when virtually  every single race was won by a doped rider, to be saying stupid stuff like this.  If the guy’s timeframe is in decades or centuries, not in months or years, then maybe, just maybe, it might eventually happen.  But implying that current riders can perform on par with doped riders of the recent past is nuts.  Maybe he was comparing clean riders to doping way, way past, like when they used to use strychnine or guinea pig sperm?

Forget the performance bump these guys are getting in competition.  I’d like him to explain what a clean riders can do to recover instantaneously like the guys that took the oxygen vector and steroids.  I’d like to see a clean Chris Froome sit at the front of the field of the Tour de France and set tempo for three weeks, day after day.

Maybe he didn’t follow the sport when sprinters turned into climbers and climbers turned into time trialists.  That is a trick I’d like to see him duplicate.

He also said that Lance “cheated to race not to train”.  So when Lance was doing the whole Tour the month before the Tour, or when he was doing repeats up L’Alpe d’ Huez, Ventoux or whatever,  for training, Tim doesn’t think wasn’t doping for that?

Meldonium, the drug that Maria Sharapova was caught using in tennis, is relatively unknown to most of us.   But, according to WADA, 98 other athletes have tested positive for it since January 1st of this year.  Speedskaters, the Tokyo Marathon winner, cyclists, obviously a lot of guys.

These drugs do make athletes way better.  Not just incremental improvements in performance.
The article says that Tim has implemented a completely new training regiment for Team Sky this year.  I’m pretty big on changing up a recipe that has been smearing guys in grand tours for the last few years.  That isn’t how I do it.  I try to experiment with small things, see if they work, then work them into the general training regiment.

But that is the training from a guy that has limited himself with disbelief.


Tucker is usually adorable when he sleeps.

Tucker is usually adorable when he sleeps.

25 thoughts on “Clean Riders Can be Better than Doped Riders?

  1. Dan Lind

    “Maybe he didn’t follow the sport when sprinters turned into climbers and climbers turned into time trialists. That is a trick I’d like to see him duplicate.”

    Steve, we’re watching it happen before our eyes. Kerrison has transformed Gerraint Thomas, formerly a track sprinter and classics specialist, into a world class climber who even rode known-PED user Alberto Contador off his wheel in high altitude at Paris-Nice last weekend. How exactly does that transformation happen “naturally?” I’m not sure it does.

    That article was amusing. The most words I’ve ever seen written that say absolutely nothing of substance. Apparently Tim Kerrison’s top secret training program includes helping his riders “find the right lifestyle balance” and making sure each rider “believes they can be successful.”

    Utter BS.

  2. Wildcat

    Bazaar Road Race – always the 2nd Sunday in April. Used to be the 1st Sunday in April, but there is always a very large motorcycle ride on the same road the 1st Sunday so the RR was moved to the 2nd Sunday. Late morning start times, not too early. I believe registration closes at 11am. Still do registration/results in the old one room school house just west of the actual town of Bazaar off of hwy 177 where Rock Creek Road turns into Sharps Creek Road.

  3. Mech9

    Humans do progress without drugs as well. A 12-15yr can now run the 100m as fast as the bronze medal winner from the 1980’s (which was probably doped). That’s pretty fast progression of human and I think it’s safe to assume that at least the 12-15yrs are not doping yet. The marathon times of kids vs. adults is also off the charts compared to what it was 30yrs ago. You already mentioned board sports and what not, but skiing has been around forever and look at the progression there. Gymnastics has been around for ever and look at the progression for gold medal winners in just the last 50yrs.

    Humans progress surprising fast. Factor in technology advances in tires, wheels, shoes, etc and you can see where these bits and pieces.

    Doping is a whole other deal, but regardless humans advance pretty fast. I do think that with modern training techniques, nutrition, technology, equipment advances the modern top human pro can do 6.xx + w/kg without drugs.

    Now about GT becoming a GC rider all the sudden that does seem strange to me.

  4. Tim

    I don’t think GT’s transformation is all that confusing. It’s not unlike the transformation Wiggins made when he transitioned from the track to the road and then back again. Track cyclists carry a lot more weight on them and focus on power over a short distance versus road cyclists. Wiggins lost a ton of weight, mostly muscle, when he left the track and it completely changed his power to weight ratio. He was a completely different cyclist. It took him a few seasons for that to happen. Thomas left the track after the 2012 Olympics and 3-4 years later he’s a different cyclist. It didn’t happen overnight. I think it’s pretty easy to explain.

  5. Lionel

    In my experience, I’ve usually heard the phrase “full of shit” coming from close minded know-it-alls. The human imagination is an amazing device that brings advancements that were previously impossible. Just because someone does not expose their discoveries does not mean they have not come across improved methods that can be successful.

    I’ve taken a few guys that would consistently get dropped off the back for years and within a year have them be disappointed that they only got second. Amazing transformations due to better training and a big belief in themselves. Thus it’s entirely conceivable that new methodologies can be applied to the top level athletes as well that may lead to an improvement that exceeded the past performance of doped riders that were unaware of those methodologies.

  6. Larry T.

    I’m always skeptical of SKY – only AFTER Wiggins’ Yellow Jersey was framed on the wall did they discover (horrors) all the riders and staff they employed who were somehow involved with doping – and promptly fired them all….and claimed again how they were 100% clean. They didn’t KNOW before? Either they’re the stupidest people in sport or they think we’re stupid. I take every victory by SKY as “OK, for now” but wonder when the whole scam will finally be revealed?

  7. channel_zero

    Please explain how an endurance athlete with a history of limited grand tour success loses a ton of weight and maintains their power for months, not weeks, at a time.

    It’s not possible without drugs. Lots of them. The UCI was very, very likely complicit in inflating the British cycling renaissance, just in time for the London games. According to the CIRC report, the UCI has done exactly this before.

  8. Long Shadow Of History

    “A 12-15yr can now run the 100m as fast as the bronze medal winner from the 1980’s (which was probably doped)”

    That’s misleadingly false. I didn’t believe it so I wasted 15 minutes looking it up.

    The bronze medalist from 1980 was 10.3 and that, as you may recall, was with the boycott of the Moscow games. In 1984 the bronze medalist time was 10.2 by Ben Johnson, who was later caught doping in the 1988 Games.

    Take a look here at international age track records:
    It’s true the 15 year old boys international record is 10.3 but that fast time quickly drops off by almost a full second down to 11.2 for the best 12 year boy ever. However, if I looked up, say Ben Johnson’s, best time when he was a 15 year old it would be around 10.4, 10.5 so, no “12 – 15 year olds” aren’t running significantly faster than they always have.

  9. Mech9

    “The bronze medalist from 1980 was 10.3”
    “It’s true the 15 year old boys international record is 10.3”

    So thanks for confirming that a 15yr can run the 100m as fast as the 1980 bronze medal winner. You can put in caveats in all day long. Fact is humans are progressing fairly fast. Also you are contradicting yourself by calling something “false” when you turn right around and say it’s “true”. No matter how you want to spin it the fact (and record books state) that the 1980 bronze was 10.3 and a current record for a 15yr is 10.3. That is “as fast”

    P.S. Prepubescent 12yr olds running 11.2’s is faster than anything a drugged up Ben Johnson would dream of at that age. Ben wasn’t a bad ass till his early 20’s oh…and with roids flowing through his system.

  10. Steve Tilford Post author

    Mech9- I see where you’re coming from. But, I think you are being a little naive if you don’t think that there are a bunch of junior high and high school kids doping. You should check out an elite level high school football team in Texas. Many of those guys dwarf NFL players from the 70’s. How do you think that a bunch of high school kids weigh 300lbs plus by that age? And I am pretty sure this doesn’t only apply to football.

    This is one of the most disturbing aspects of the media exposing doping. Kids think that it is necessary, so they follow suit. I read somewhere the web searches for meldonium went up something astronomically, like 100,000 times and the web sales followed too. That is unbelievable. But for a bunch of athletes that could never dream of being tested, they don’t think they are close to taking a risk. If Maria can take it for 10 years, why can’t I?

  11. devin

    13 of the top 20 times in the women’s 100m dash were set prior to 1999. Maybe if women sprinters believed more, Flo Jo’s 1988 world record might be challenged.

  12. Krakatoa East of Java

    I taught high school 4 of the last 5 years. The football situation is sickening. Coaches put an incredible amount of pressure on their players to not explore (or play) any other sports. At my school, they were expected to be in the weight room after school, pretty much every day. Two weeks ago, “football camp” began. Yes. In late February. Gotta be prepared for football season (which doesn’t start for seven more months). If the coaches themselves aren’t directing their players to the ‘roids, they’re probably not far off of that. Their culture is sickening.

  13. Long Shadow Of History


    Ahhh, no. Just please stop. A single 15 year-old, way back in the year 2000 running 10.3 is not in any way confirming any part of “A 12-15yr can now run the 100m as fast as the bronze medal winner from the 1980’s”. It’s just straight false to turn a singular event from one person 16 years ago into a plural phrase to cover a whole age range of kids training “now” today.

    The way you expanded and generalized from one person 16 full years ago doing something into a range of 12-15 years old *today* is laughable, false and misleading.

    You might as well have said “A toddler-15yr old can now run the 100m as fast as the bronze medal winner from the 1980’s”.

    And I wrote misleadingly false, not just regular false, because you were trying to create an impression which just isn’t backed up by the data. The 14 years old boys record is 10.6 and the 13 years boys record is held by the same sprinter who two years later at 15 ran 10.3; so we are dealing with a singular person who did something extraordinary one time 16 years ago. Not an age range of pre-teen 12 year olds to 15 year olds and definitely not *today*.

    If what you said was even half true, those boys records wouldn’t be from so long ago. Your entire premise is misleading in addition to being factually false.

  14. escargot

    Steve, you are the naive one. C’mon! Mankind is smarter than EVER. The world is blessed to a have SUPER SMART person like Tim Kerrison. It is obvious YOU are blind — AND JEALOUS — to HIS ability to overcome, within the span of one generation, what hundreds of thousands of years of evolution and mere decades of doping could not achieve! Duh!!!

    I’d say “Get with the program!” but that’s a bit too obvious. Sadly, I do not believe in fairy tales. Life seemed more enjoyable when I did believe in them but was it really? I kind of prefer now knowing when people are getting screwed over so I can try to avoid becoming one of them. Keep up the good work.

  15. escargot

    Apparently when you put sarcasm alert in parentheses it doesn’t show up. Nice. Anyway, in case anyone misses it re: my post above: SARCASM ALERT!

  16. AKBen

    I think a couple days ago you were spouting racist garbage while saying “half your friends are black”. I think if your black “friends” heard you say “it’s in the genes”, they might consider that racist.

  17. Dear Wiggo

    GT is believable because unbelievable BW was believable.

    Your logical arguing needs some work, champ.

  18. Dear Wiggo


    I mean. Look at all the rowing and swimming records Kerrison claims, with the years of experience and knowledge devoted to those sports.



    Never mind.

    A rowing / swimming coach with no palmares segues to cycling and kicks the world’s ass. No. No, that’s ok. Perfect sense.



    PS. Your captcha suck ass


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