Discussion in 'Pro Cycling (Road and Track Racing)' started by Chuffy, 2 Aug 2007.

  1. Chuffy

    Chuffy Veteran

    Having read a number of 'poor cycling get such unfair treatment in the nasty media' comments across a number of threads during and after the Tour I thought I'd do a bit of home work.

    I decided to take the Tours from 1996 - 2006 inclusive and count top three GC places, plus the two major jersey winners. That gave a total of 23 individuals.
    Of those 23, 11 have subsequently been caught cheating, confessed to it after the event or been sacked in disgrace during the Tour. That's almost 48%.
    There have been 5 Tour winners in that period. 4 of them (and I am including Landis, for the moment) have been subsequently disgraced. That's 80% of the men who've won the Maillot Jaune exposed as drug cheats. If Armstrong is ever exposed then it'll be 5 out of five, 100%.
    The 1997 Tour was very instructive. 100% of the riders who I counted for this exercise were dirty. 100% ...

    Take into account that testing regimes have been slow to be implemented, that tests for some established illegal practices (eg, homologous blood transfusion) have only been available since 2004 and it's not unreasonable to assume that the figure of 48% could actually be a conservative one.

    Always remember that the flak has been directed at road cycling. I've not seen any directed at track. Also bear in mind that a great deal of the flak has come from within, from the French teams (remember Le Tour a Deux Vitesse...), from clean riders like Wiggins, from guys like Millar, from the chaps who run the sport.

    In light of this, can anyone seriously complain that road cycling gets a raw deal?
  2. Smokin Joe

    Smokin Joe Legendary Member

    So how many Olympic gold medal athletes over the past 50 years have been clean? When that sort of thing makes headlines in the press, we'll stop complaining about media bias against cycling.
  3. Keith Oates

    Keith Oates Janner

    Penarth, Wales
    Chuffy, being a little pedantic here but between 1996 and 2006 there were 11 tours and 11 winners. As 7 of those winners was Armstrong and he is clean as far as we know, it's only 36% of the winners are possible users of drugs. However it is still not good. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  4. monnet

    monnet Über Member

    Absolutely agree, Smokin Joe.

    Cycling obviously has a problem and we should be careful when feeling 'victimised'. Cycling has become 'victimised' by the media precisely because there is a very clear and obvious doping problem. However, as Smokin Joe points out other sports have problems too, they're just not being faced up to in the same way.

    Golf doesn't test despite claims made recently that many golfers use performance enhancing drugs. Swimming has a fairly widely acknowledged drug problem (although they seem to be doing a biut more than other sports). 6 athletes tested positive during the Tour. Regarding the athletes, there is a thread on here where I mentioned that this was not widely reported and was then told it had been, something I would contend. There was one high profile 800m runner tested for EPO which I may well have missed in the sports pages but given that 5 other athletes tested positive I think the fact I didn't see anything demonstrates that the relevant articles were hardly in prominent places. Furthermore, I'm sure I would have noticed if they'd made the front pages and the main tv and radio news bulletins.

    Conclusion: Objectively, cycling might not deserve sympathy but it does deserve a fair comparison. Athletics and cycling both produce amazing feats of human achievement but why should it be that athletics gets the feelgood headlines while its scandals are buried in the 'news in brief' while for cycling we see the exact reverse?
  5. rustychisel

    rustychisel Well-Known Member

    I take it you apply a 'dirty is dirty' rule and discount suggestions from riders such as Herr Zabel: "I tried it but I didn't like it so I stopped" aka "I didn't inhale"...
  6. chris42

    chris42 New Member

    Deal, Kent

    Well said,
  7. rich p

    rich p ridiculous old lush


    Are you kidding? Athletics doping gets a much wider national press coverage than cycling. This current interest is simply a result of the TdeF currently enjoying a high profile.
    Ask the man on the Clapham omnibus and they're far more likely to have heard of Ben Johnson, Linford Christie, Christne Oloroghou, Warren Gatling, Tim Montgomery,Marion Jones, Dwain Chambers etc than Zulle, Rominger, Riis, Sinkewitz etc.
    For 12 months of the year most people in this country don't give cycling a second thought and you'd be hard pressed to find a cycling report ina national newspaper - dope related or otherwise.
  8. Smokin Joe

    Smokin Joe Legendary Member

    No way, rich.

    Have you ever heard the press calling for the Olympics or the World Athletic championships to be scrapped because they are a drug ridden farce? Doping in athletics is acknowledged to go on, but it is not given any prominance by the media. Each case uncovered is treated as an individual item and is not seen as tainting the whole sport.

    The very low number of positives in this years tour (2 from 189 riders) is seen as a reason why the whole of cycling should not be taken seriously.
  9. fuzzy29

    fuzzy29 New Member

    In most European countries, cycling is on a similar popularity level as football in this country. Now imagine the level of scandal if these doping problems were found in the Premiership. Rio Ferdinand's missed test had the headlines for weeks afterwards.

    Secondly, most sports journalists in this country don't know a thing about pro-cycling and have to write about something. Those journalists with better knowledge, know that the doping stories are more popular than the 'didn't he do well' stories, as the masses know very little about cycling.

    Now if they were to use the same type and quantities of tests in football or golf, there would most probably be a similar number of positives. But, sadly, given the vast sums of money in those sports, this will never happen.
  10. OP

    Chuffy Veteran

    Er, 11 Tours won by five individuals Keith. I'm working from the number of individual riders who have won jerseys or a top 3 GC place.

    Rusty - Yes, I am being that harsh (if indeed it is harsh) as a 'tainted' rider is a tainted rider so far as public perception is concerned.

    Rich P - Spot on, thank you.

    Et al - Can any other sport match cycling's 100+ year association with drug use? Pro-cycling and drugs are intrinsically liked, drugs have always been part of cycling from the very beginning, from the days of Choppy Warburton, through the early days of the Tour, to Tommy Simpson, Festina and now Landis/Vino and pals. No other sport, except perhaps athletics (and isn't the Eastern Bloc ladymen era widely discredited?) comes close for drug use. As for other sports...Cycling doesn't get the grief that cricket gets for one-day match fixing. It doesn't get the grief for financial corruption that football does. Would fans of those sports be justified in complaining that their sport is treated unfairly? Every sport has a monkey on it's back. Cycling's monkey is drugs and it's more of a gorilla than a monkey. Claiming that other sports have just as much of a drug problem is just wishful thinking.
  11. OP

    Chuffy Veteran

    Surely the journos who know about cycling will write about the issues within the sport. Drugs in pro-cycling is a massive issue. Not covering that aspect of the sport would be a complete dereliction of duty, not to mention fostering an attitude of 'if we don't talk about it then it doesn't exist'.

    I doubt it, I really do. Cycling is an athletic discipline, if I took EPO then my TT times would improve massively. I could take any number of drugs and they would make no difference to my abilities at golf or football. Not to mention that football is a team sport, which adds another layer of complexity and making the use of drugs less effective, as you'd need to dope the entire squad.

    There's a lot of money in pro-cycling at the top level, where the problems are.

    Drugs are more of a problem in cycling than in other sports because those sports have other, more effective, modes of cheating than taking drugs.
    Cheating in cycling = drugs
    Cheating in football = the professional foul, diving and play-acting
    Cheating in rugby = gouging and stamping
    Football has gone a long way to try to eliminate these. Cycling has gone a very short way to eliminating it's dominant mode of cheating.
  12. asterix

    asterix Comrade Member

    Limoges or York
    Is it really the case that cycling has such a long association? That surprises me as other than perhaps the use of alcohol, I was under the impression that drug use was a post WW2 phenomenon.

    Also, although I know little about drugs and their uses, I'd also be surprised if either Footballers or Golfers might not find something to improve strength, stamina or concentration.

    Nevertheless, I do agree that drug abuse by cyclists needs much more effort to stamp out the practice and do not agree with any professional cyclist that it might be necessary to use drugs to participate in such an arduous race as the TdF. There are plenty of athletes capable of riding the event drug-free.
  13. fuzzy29

    fuzzy29 New Member

    I would suspect that there are a large number of football players from around Europe that take doping products. A bit of extra stamina during the final ten minuets of a game could be the difference between your team winning and losing. Given that in Operation Puerto there are allegedly more footballers than cyclists mentioned, then my guess is probably not far from the truth. As for comparing the money in Pro cycling with football and golf, that's just laughable. Most of the Premiership players earn more than the Pro Tour team leaders. Add all the other leagues in UEFA and there is a lot more money involved. As for golf, you would earn more by coming 40th in a European event than by winning the Tour.
  14. OP

    Chuffy Veteran

    Short answer - yes.
    Have a look at this article for a flavour. There's plenty more out there.

    Fuzzy - The amount of money isn't comparable, but that wasn't my point. There is still a lot of money for riders at the top and there is a decent living to be earned as a Tour pro. Why else would nobodys with no chance of GC or jersey glory bother with drugs? Being a pro-rider beats working for a living, as the old cliche goes.
  15. Tetedelacourse

    Tetedelacourse New Member

    Interesting stuff Chuffy (et al), certainly food for thought. I'm not convinced that speculation about drug taking in other sports holds much value and isn't anything more than just that - speculation. The bottom line is we (well ME certainly!) don't know how widespread it is. All we can compare factually is the variation in approaches to exposing doping within each sport.

    I might attempt some shoogly research along these lines next week if I have time, and will post back if there's anything of interest.

    That said, comparing cycling to other sports I think clouds the real issues, as there are so many variables to take into account.

    In the meantime, I would say that across all sports, every sportsman who ever lived has had a desire to succeed*. IF that sportsman, be he or she a footballer, cyclist, darts player, sprinter, synchronised swimmer etc etc believes that their chances of success is bettered by doping, and that it's possible to remain undetected, then they will cheat.

    * success in each case might be very different - either win a grand tour, or win a contract as a pro, win the premiership, the golden boot, the champion's league, or the captaincy at Yeovil Town etc etc
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