There’s a new trial scheme in Switzerland for those given a doping ban. Unfortunately titled “Windop”* the idea is to counsel those who are given bans for doping offences.
Just as many convicted criminals get advice on rehabilitation, the idea is to re-educate someone caught doping. The idea has been started by a psychologist working in the sports field. Working with the Sports Institute at Lausanne University, with WADA funding, Mattia Piffaretti is investigating ways to help the banned athlete. He’s already got 10 Swiss and Italian “patients” from 10 different sports, including one cyclist.
The idea is based on three pillars. First a psychological side to help the rider overcome the negative feelings associated with being banned. Second comes sports science advice to convince the athelete that they can train right. The final aspect is a bio passport style follow-up to track the athlete and ensure they’re not resorting to old ways, even during a ban.
Piffaretti goes on to say the scheme could even replace part of a lengthy ban: “in the long term the aim is to offer an alternative to the suspension of guilty athletes”. It’s all at an early stage and we’ll see what happens.
I think this is a useful idea but the first step of any process like this is for the athlete to admit wrongdoing and a desire to make amends. That said, sometimes we find an addict, or at least an addictive personality. The athlete can need support precisely at the moment they’re getting dumped on.
But you won’t catch the big names of the sport like Valverde, Di Luca, Contador or Rasmussen signing up. The only time they visit Lausanne is to file an appeal with the CAS.
The source for this story is Swiss newspaper Le Temps, read the full story online (in French)
* for non-English speakers, a “wind up” is a joke, prank