The French Senate Test

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Wednesday sees the French Senate unveil its report into doping in sport. Over the last six months several politicians from France’s upper house of parliament have been enquiring into doping in sport with the particular brief of exploring “the efficiency of the anti-doping struggle.”

There’s an interesting test for the media and its consumers in this. Because buried in the back of the report will be a list of cyclists named for EPO use in 1998. How much prominence will this appendix get compared to real measures and solutions to improve the anti-doping fight? Will the failures of cyclists some 15 years ago get more media coverage than the relatively light scrutiny placed on the wave of positive tests announced in athletics during the last 15 days?

On one side many will enjoy the comeuppance of past cheats. There’s a welcome notion when riders from the past are exposed because even if takes years justice will be done. But such satisfaction is temporary, selective and illusory. For starter’s the Senate report is only going to list those from the 1998 Tour de France. Nobody from the Giro – a festival of pre-Festina doping – gets bothered, so we’re rousting some riders but not all. It’s a selective outing of those involved but EPO use was a systemic problem.

Next, this isn’t an anti-doping event. Despite Pat McQuaid’s confused statements over Marco Pantani, the UCI cannot look into the matter because WADA’s eight year statute of limitations has passed and even if that rule didn’t exist, these samples tested for EPO don’t have the customary seals and A+B samples. There’s no doubt that EPO use can demonstrated here but not to the standard to achieve a doping conviction.

But what of the senators report? Their enquiry has been portrayed as an exposé of the 1998 Tour de France but actually this is merely an appendix to the report where samples taken for research have been linked via the paperwork to their original source.

Instead it’s a look at the anti-doping effort and what can be done to improve it.

  • Does the toxicological testing work?
  • Are the testers always a step behind?
  • Are anti-doping agencies well-funded?
  • Do some sports have bigger problems?
  • Which sport tests the most?
  • Which sport has the highest rate of positives and is this for marijuana – a surprisingly common positive – or for heavier doping from pharmaceuticals?
  • Why did footballer player Didier Deschamps get a private hearing?

For me these questions are more are far more substantial than outing cyclists using EPO 15 years ago. I suspect some of report’s conclusions will be sensible but others could clash with the WADA Code. Remember WADA’s Code is universal and even if French legislators propose new ideas they have to be accepted by WADA and its members.

None of this is to say 1998 should be forgotten. On the contrary it’s a pity it’s taken so long with samples and paperwork gathering dust when we could have been gathering evidence with a view to cleaning up the sport. Why has it taken so long?

Conclusion
Given we know EPO use was widespread what’s newsworthy about the named riders? Perhaps watching the likes of Laurent Jalabert struggle to account for their past is entertaining for some in the classic comeuppance manner for some but knowing he’s got some explaining to do with his children is nothing to be enjoyed. Others will be named and if you’re surprised at the revelations then you probably haven’t been following cycling for long enough.

But it’ll be interesting to see how much of this senatorial report is about anti-doping in general. Above all, how much attention will the media give to proposals to improve anti-doping and consider this problem that affects all sports? Obviously we should not expect too much, it’s normal that scandal sells more than senatorial proposals.

But all the same when the report is out tomorrow, count the number of pages related to the 1998 Tour de France and divide this by the total number of pages in the report. Armed with this percentage, see what proportion of airtime and column inches get dedicated to cleaning up sport compared to reviving the past. It’s a small test to see whether we’re interested in fixing things or not.

Photo: Travis Tygart attends the hearing. From the Flickr account of the French senate.

Anonymous July 23, 2013 at 8:33 pm

I think Stuart O’Grady retired at a very convenient time.
Maybe he’s taking a well placed holiday.

The Inner Ring July 23, 2013 at 9:18 pm

Lots of people have been hinting this but we’ll see, some names have leaked out tonight (not the details of the report of course) and he’s not there.

Anonymous July 23, 2013 at 11:06 pm

Read that a fair few times on Twitter, no smoke with out fire!

Wheelsucker July 24, 2013 at 1:39 pm

Surely the point about Twitter is that there’s plenty of smoke and no need for any evidence of fire what so ever? It’s just people gossipping, not a reputable media outlet.

TheDude July 24, 2013 at 12:24 am

Yep. Resembles Hincapie’s retirement when it was highly foreseeable that his apparent doping activities of the past would become more transparent in the public eye. The other two ever green chaps that I’ve been wondering about are Voigt and Horner.

Abdu July 24, 2013 at 9:46 am

Or it could be the fact that he’s just done his 17th Tour or something.

I’m as sceptical as the next man, but of the Aussies in that Tour every other one has retired long ago (McEwen, Jonker, Stephens). Sure, one of them has a jawbone that only comes from years of HGH, and was Sainz’s “good friend” and assistant DS.

If his name is on the list sure, but an old tired athlete retiring is not a sign he’s a doper.

2 + 2 = 5 in a conspiracy theorist’s world hey?

Tom July 24, 2013 at 8:05 pm

Suspicious.

If his name had not shown up in the report, would he have just as suddenly un-retired?

Abdu July 25, 2013 at 1:01 am

Oh well, it’s just been confirmed. He doped in the 1998 Tour. You’re all correct, I was naiively hoping I guess.

Side issue, but I can’t understand people who call themselves fans who seem only interested in the doping aspects. Trolls accusing anyone and everyone of being dirty. They never actually say who they lilke, what’s good about the sport, etc. Makes me wonder why they call themselves cycling fans. I’m not suggesting an Ostrich attitude either.

O’Grady admitting to doping just the once smacks of Bill Clinton saying he never inhaled. When has a drug cheat (or a drug user) ever really done it just the once…?

Dave H July 25, 2013 at 3:20 pm

Didn’t Zabel claim in the midst of the fallout from T-Mobile’s drugs issues a few years back that he tried EPO but that he didn’t like it. That line is looking less tenable after his name appeared on this list.

I would like to believe Stuey but, as you say, his story is a little too convenient.

Darren July 23, 2013 at 8:56 pm

We seem to be in an era of lies being exposed, truths being uncovered! Not just in sports!
Think wikileaks or the recent exposure of NSA’s eavesdropping activities!
There is an international magazine or journal of repute (cannot remember which one!),
which has a Person Of The Year and for 2013 did not chose a single person, but instead
chose the ‘whistle-blower’! Analysis shows that whistle-blowing has been on the increase
globally, especially exposés of international interest, since 2004.
Scientists refer to how in an ever-evolving and changing universe the Laws of Physics, or
Standard Model, is also ever-evolving and changing. They state that the Law of Integrity
is on the up!
I guess it was only a matter of time before the trend affected cycling!

Anonymous July 23, 2013 at 8:59 pm

Are you saying that the Higgs boson is just a photon on EPO?

The Inner Ring July 23, 2013 at 9:19 pm

The lack of trust in institutions is a theme in cycling, few trust the UCI or more particularly its senior officials. But it goes back a long way in cycling too.

Redeye July 23, 2013 at 10:56 pm

Absolutely. I think it was Jonathan Vaughters who suggested that the main reason for Chris Froome being subject to so much suspicion was more to do with a lack of trust in the system to catch cheats than anything else. And he’s got a point. The fact that there was a chance to eject Armstrong from the Tour for doping in 1999, but a blind eye was turned, is as much of a problem for the sport as what Armstrong actually did.

Jason July 23, 2013 at 8:59 pm

When I read the tweet regarding your blog post I thought “nice, a juicy piece with dopers while drinking my beer by the sea” but instead this was a very sensible and spot on piece about the actual issue…

Nevertheless I found interesting a remark you made on the Giro and doping. Personally, I have been following pro cycling since 2006 intensely and there have been more cheats associated with the Italian race (although bigger names in TdF), why is this? Does anti-doping in such big events still depend on the local authority? Is this a problem that WADA should look into (for example I read that Jamaican sprinters were not tested out of competition before the Olympics)?

channel_zero July 23, 2013 at 9:16 pm

Jason,

WADA has no investigative powers or authority to demand and receive evidence in this regard.

If most of the Italian riders went to their NADO and told all, there would be some athlete sanctions and hopefully a few more of the shadowy figures in the doping supply chain are revealed, but that’s all.

RCS and the Italian cycling federation do not fall under WADA’s control.

Anonymous July 23, 2013 at 9:48 pm

I also heard that jamacian sprinters don’t get tested out of competition (as the testing regime is determined by the national federation). I thought it was ridiculous. You could dope in the off season, build up your strength and staminia then stop long enough before the competition. You still get the gains but not the punishments.

Big Mikey July 25, 2013 at 1:45 am

Good point. That sprinting team is due for a fall as a result.
If something in the world of sport seems to good to be true, it has shown to be so.

BC July 23, 2013 at 9:07 pm

Third Para – On not one.
It is excellent the sins of the past are exposed. An additional warning to the present.
Probably of more importance is whether this report will help push the UCI out of its long slumbers and self denial, to DO SOMETHING, one could almost say anything, to improve the credibility of the sport for riders, promoters, sponsors and fans alike. If this publication kicks the UCI up the backside and forces change then it will have served a useful purpose.

channel_zero July 23, 2013 at 9:08 pm

A little clarification on your claim that WADA code is universal.

WADA is an NGO. Essentially a standards-setting organization funded by IOC sports. It has no law enforcement authority.
An NGO’s rules do not superceed a nation’s sovereignty.

That’s why doping sanctions are normally handled in some kind of non-criminal arbitration framework, not by the country’s law enforcement system.

France’s doping laws were in fact an issue for the IOC during Paris’ bid for a summer games years and years ago. Hein Verbruggen personally picked up the document the IOC demanded to relax France’s doping laws in order to be considered for a summer games bid! http://www.lefigaro.fr/football/2013/03/20/02003-20130320ARTSPO00687-buffet-a-subi-des-pressions.php

The Inner Ring July 23, 2013 at 9:21 pm

It’s universal for most sports and all of those in the Olympics. A “non-compliant” sport or nation gets ejected from the Olympics and more. Some sports or countries can ignore WADA, for example the NFL, so it’s not universal in that sense. But for almost every sport in France it is.

Jason July 23, 2013 at 9:47 pm

For every sport that is in the Olympics

Abdu July 24, 2013 at 9:51 am

Not at all.

Football is in the Olympics, as is tennis, and there are huge shadows over their lack of testing.

Operacion Puerto uncovered a large number of Spanish footballers who FIFA simply ruled out without talking to the good Doctor (remember Fuentes’ statement at the time that it wasn’t just cyclists he dealt with).

Spanish success in football (soccer) and tennis are linked to their cultural denial and involvement in doping.

Al__S July 24, 2013 at 4:06 pm

As others say, football and tennis are a long long way off compliant. Bugger all testing, quite obvious rampant doping.

Sailing runs the “whereabouts” out of competion testing scheme for all Olympic level campaigners and most other high level pros, but I know for a fact that you can go to a lower level World Championships without testing ever being mentioned- I came second last in one last week…

Nick Evans July 24, 2013 at 7:41 pm

It’s fair to say that WADA doesn’t have universal (or any) criminal jurisdiction. However, it does have contractual jurisdiction over all participants in Olympic sports, who are required to make the CAS the ultimate decision-maker in any dispute about doping.

Dave Reid July 23, 2013 at 9:32 pm

Will we learn anything new with regards to the cheats? Will the list contain those already caught/sanctioned/banned? For sure this will be interesting to see but I fear that it’ll be another drag through the mud of those already ‘convicted’.

Like many of these reports the suggestion of actions generally tend to be weak and unmanageable. Hence nothing moves forward very quickly.

Really intrigued about Didier. Assuming this was during his time spent in Italy?

BarkingOwl July 24, 2013 at 2:27 am

Yes I would say it would be from his time in Italy. I recall that in the 90s Italian teams were seen as way ahead of the rest regarding fitness and sports science. Many allegations were thrown at Juventus (where Didier played) and there was even an inquiry but most of the revelations regarded the use of Creatine, which I think is legal. I suspect that EPO use infiltrated many areas of Italian sports and have long suspected Italian club football teams.

There have also been rumours about Marseille (where Didier also played) regarding pre-game injections, with players kept ininfomed of the contents of the injections. That club was later revealed to be somewhat corrupt, thanks to the actions of their president Bernard Tapie, who I believe was also involved in cycling for a time.

Martijn July 24, 2013 at 10:20 am

It’s pretty well documented there was extensive doping use at Juventus. The team doctor, Agricola, was sentenced for it. Remember that this was in the Zinedine Zidane-period, when France won the World Cup.

Tokio96 August 13, 2013 at 3:06 pm

that’s not fully correct. During the Appeal the allegations against Agricola on the use of EPO have been completely dismissed. This has then been definitely confirmed also by the Court of Cassation (Italy’s Supreme Court) in 2007. Nobody so far could prove that Juventus made use of doping during those years.

What remains though is the huge amount of pharmacological products (not classified as doping, e.g. creatine, etc) used in the ’90s by almost all italian clubs

Lizzi July 23, 2013 at 9:51 pm

Why is not other years looked into? Why only TdF and why only in 1998? I agree that it doesn’t do much, and the names I’ve heard so far has been no surprise. But I do think it has some kind of value regarding persons still in the sport as riders or otherwise. And maybe also because until now Lance has been the villain, and if there ever was an selection of positives that was it. (Also I’m kind of fed up with everyone else but Lance being idolized when there are some many other cheats, like why was Virenque in the TdF 100 videos? But yeah, does not help or do anytime for cycling).

Anonymous July 24, 2013 at 8:58 am

I don’t idolize Big George, who was a CHEAT too amongst other CHEATS.

The Inner Ring July 24, 2013 at 9:14 am

These samples were stored and tested for research, it’s just by chance this has happened. They were not kept and retested as part of a long-standing anti-doping programme.

Phil D July 23, 2013 at 10:20 pm

The sad thing is, these tests are going to get more publicity than DiLuca, Santambrogio, and Frank combined.

TeamSpy July 23, 2013 at 10:40 pm

I don’t think we should get too depressed. The fact that athletes are now prepared to give evidence to the likes of these committees is a positive and I think the reason they are prepared to do it is because of the whistle blowing lead that cycling (has finally) taken.

Put that together with the many young riders who have started out in what is encouragingly regarded as the the post EPO era and I think there is a lot to look forward too.

Yes, this report isn’t going to move anything further forward on it’s own but taken in the round along with other initiatives and the news that sprinting cheats are still being caught that surely has got to be a move in the right direction? even if we don’t think it’s moving very fast.

MT July 23, 2013 at 10:49 pm

Munch, munch. The sound of the sport eating itself again.

Selective disclosures serve to remind current athletes that their time will come if they take the wrong choice. However, at this rate there we’re looking at a 20 year maturity period to celebrate a race. In effect, nobody wins.

I’m more convinced than ever that a T&R process is desperately needed. Your final paragraph is bang on the money.

Larry T. July 23, 2013 at 11:18 pm

Until we see some of the cheaters returning prize money, justice will not have truly been served no matter who gets outed or when. I hope the French make a point of how corrupt the UCI was/is in this area and demand some changes in oversight.

Larrick July 24, 2013 at 12:27 am

Spot on Inrng. It will also be interesting to see how much of the report is purely about cycling and how much is in regards to other sports. As we saw even here in Australia after the second rest day, there was more in the local newspapers about insinuations regarding Froome than the actual positive fails of Tyson Gay and Asafa Powell. Football, tennis and athletics just to name a few, are able to fly under the radar regarding doping because of the spotlight continually shining on cycling. I’ll be very happy if this report is wider in its investigations but am not holding my breath when it comes to the worlds media. Unless it names some big names in football or tennis (which I’m sure it wont), it will be treated as just another black day for cycling and more’s the pity.

John July 24, 2013 at 1:17 am

Great article, once again.

On doping and 2013, any news on the Di Luca and Santa B samples?

The Inner Ring July 24, 2013 at 9:14 am

Nothing from Italy, it’s taking a very long time.

Anonymous July 24, 2013 at 3:22 am

Nice introduction, body and conclusion. Beautifully formatted

Frank July 24, 2013 at 9:11 am

Nice insights and points, but I have some issues with a couple of them.
A) You wonder which sport gets checked most. Who cares? Don’t look around, look at your self.
B) If media will be as gentle as with the athletics guys last week. Again, why care?
C) The appendix claiming all (media) attention. Obviously! It’s all about the namens. At least for the first few weeks (and per name and respective country there could be immense fall out). And rightly so. And any proposed improvements should be researched and/or even implemented as soon as possible.

In general I feel people tend to mistake the naming of doped riders with solving the problem. I feel any doper should be named, ideallisticly by himself, but if neccesarry by others like an iquiry as this one. This will not solve the problem, no, but this will make the outcome of any drug use inevitable. You can use, but you will be found out. It could be six months or ten years, but you will be found out. That should be clear for all!!!!

The Inner Ring July 24, 2013 at 9:20 am

I agree that cycling needs to sort itself out but there’s still a point about the media and its readers, viewers and consumers. Cycling gets big “dopage” headlines for something from 1998 – the news of Jalabert and Durand is topping the news bulletins in France – but other sports rarely see the same coverage. There’s a real asymmetry here, a sensationalism where old news from cycling is reported in more detail than recent the wave of positives in athletics.

vimes July 24, 2013 at 9:26 am

That’s true of course. On the other hand people are still around today and having influential positions (like DS), who probably were deep into doping back than. Maybe that could change now, at least in France.

Martijn July 24, 2013 at 10:26 am

TVM’s 1998 team doctor Andrei Michailov now works for Katusha, together with Ekimov. Bjarne Riis and Patrick Lefevre are still team leaders. Gianni Bugno is the chairman of the riders union. So in that sense there’s still a lot a cleaning up to do.

vimes July 24, 2013 at 10:42 am

Lavenu was DS with Casino back then. Is DS of AG2R today. I remember a spring in the late 90s, where Casino was extremely succesful. And Massi in the Tour 98 of course. Durand is one of the first names to come up today, he was riding for Casino in 98 (as were Hamburger, Järmann, Vinokourov,…).

Johnny July 24, 2013 at 12:50 pm

But the other sports can’t solve cycling’s problems. Therefore it’s pointless indicating that other sports have their own problems. Improvements have to be organized within cycling. Wada has indicated that several times.

The Inner Ring July 24, 2013 at 12:56 pm

Of course, so let cycling fix things. But the media is making it look as if cycling is the only sport with a chronic problem. Or you can take a broader approach saying sport as a whole needs better anti-doping policies…. but I suspect the headlines will be about the 1998 Tour.

pepe July 24, 2013 at 11:58 pm

INRG, You should push your thought a bit further…Why Cycling ? Why TDF ? Maybe you should look out how the french are taking doping in a more serious way than any other nations. I’m not backing up the french specifically but still, you should ask yourself some more interesting questions about the anglo-saxons (for example – I won’t talk about latin cause as we know the spanish or the italian are far from being clean ) approach and culture to doping (and money maybe behind doping schemes). Look at how things are in US for example. I think there is a real blindness in anglo-saxon culture about doping, it is not important, much less important than the money out of it. The french, whatever we can say about them, have a point about that : they do not let the money override a sort of moral issue, really ! At least on that subject…Look at how the spanish justice has just taken the decision to not test hundred of blood bags following the fuentes affair…We can discuss about other sports but still, I think there is a lesson here and I think it is a bit better to avoid to put this on the media, it is a too easy escape. My 2 cents.

Andrew July 24, 2013 at 4:33 pm

Well, in the US Major League Baseball (finally) has ejected from play the MVP last season, a big star. the NFL is negotiating with its players’ union over how to monitor and test for HGH.Slowly, other sports may be catching on. I would say cycling is ahead of the curve.

Jacobes July 24, 2013 at 7:56 pm

as an American who follows cycling it cracks me up that MLB players getting caught for doping is Breaking News or shocking.

otherSteve July 24, 2013 at 9:51 pm

Lets not get started on the US major sports and doping.

We US cycling fans have had to see and hear the fanatic MLB, NFL and NBA fans go on and on about pro cycling and doping. Yet, they have a sports amnesia as they forget about guys Barry Bonds, Tim McGuire, etc, etc.
As it seems you in Europe suffer a similar fate with football, rugby? etc.

No real doping rule enforcement in major US sports, ( They are Professional organizations and huge $ rule the equations )

I wish we ( US) were more like France and expected more from our public pro athletes.

We don’t forget the fact that here in the US you will never see 80,000 people lining the queen stage of any US stage race, like you will in Europe TDF. Cycle racing will always be an obscure sport in Joe six-packs mind. Doping in cycling for the most part in the US has a limited major news market following, unlike it seems in Europe. The caveat, unless it’s a fallen angel say Armstrong. then it’s an Oprah moment…

Patterson_hood July 24, 2013 at 10:57 am

A) Anyone with a passing interest in doping controls cares, but it’s also relevant to cycling survival as a sport. With any professional sport there is a need to attract sponsors. If cycling is doing more testing than any other sport and catching more cheats then the testing needs highlighting, otherwise it just makes cycling look worse than other sports and removes the incentive to clean it up. It in fact puts a greater incentive on covering doping up if you can’t put some positive spin on doping violations.

B) Similar to above, negative coverage in the media scares away sponsors. Other sports either don’t report tests or don’t do them regularly enough, resulting in less positives and less media scrutiny. Cycling is losing sponsors left right and centre because it is trying to clean itself up but the media treats it as a whipping boy and gives other sports a free ride. The BBC coverage on 5 Live of the sprinting positives was disgusting, doing everything to try and pass it off as a mistake and somebody else’s problem.

C) It shouldn’t be all about the names. This document could be used as a baseline for acceptable anti-doping practices and whether enough is done. A good journalist could hold every major international sport up against it and see if enough is being done on a global scale to combat doping. Unfortunately, it’ll be a small appendix that is used to whip cycling again and the point of the report will be ignored.

I am getting sick of cycling constantly being the whipping boy. Nasty comments about Vino during the Olympic road-race, but then adulation of cheats like Ohuruogu and Blake, with even a double standard there when comparing them to Gatlin.

Larry T. July 24, 2013 at 3:24 pm

When the guy who used to run pro cycling says he can’t enforce the anti-doping rules because the fans won’t accept a Tour run off at an average speed of 25 kph…it explains why pro cycling is in the situation it’s in at present. Pointing out the problems with other sports is just “but Mom, he did it too!” UCI needs new leadership, there’s pretty much nowhere to go but up at this point. If the UCI membership can’t provide it, perhaps the various governments can force the issue?

Anonymous July 24, 2013 at 9:32 am

Athletics is a joke full stop.

Jake July 24, 2013 at 10:06 am

Would be interesting to know the names on the 16 negative tests – any chance we will find out?

Soda July 24, 2013 at 10:10 am

Good article, glad to read something nuanced on this matter.

Really interested to see whether they will tackle (pun not..) the 98 World Cup (football), which has always been regarded as dirty.

Alpen July 24, 2013 at 12:24 pm

No, no, they of course destroyed all those samples right after the tournament. And besides, they won it, so let’s not go there…

Soda July 24, 2013 at 1:49 pm

Too true. When even then president Chirac started meddling…

Alpen July 24, 2013 at 12:26 pm

More interestingly, I’d love to see whom from 1998 DIDN’T test positive.

Andrew July 25, 2013 at 12:41 pm

Of course, most riders weren’t tested so they are all “clean”:)
It’s a good question though as there must be some.

Chris C July 24, 2013 at 12:56 pm

To flip this all on its head, I am not sure what burying these results would achieve, and think that doing so would be unhelpful.

There appear to be three arguments as to why the Senate report is misguided: passage of time, incomplete data and the fact that ‘we all know it anyway’.

In terms of the report being an incomplete picture of doping at that moment, this is an indisputable fact. However, the USADA report only told us about one team and Puerto and Mantova have only told us about single jurisdictions. Those investigations have been/are concerned with prosecution but are probably more important in their establishing of a proven narrative of the problems of the sport and in opening dialogue about how this should be guarded against now. I think it is generally accepted that the result of banning certain riders is of little consequence for the sport compared to this.

In terms of the issue of passage of time, 1998 is a long time ago, but it would probably be insincere to underplay the current role of the best 150 riders of that entire generation. Some are now DS’s, commentators, media figures etc etc. These figures include some who everyone ‘knows’ doped, but who do not speak on the topic. The omerta doesn’t stop when you stop riding. There is also the effect on current cycling culture: “This yellow jersey will stand the test of time.”, should mean something.

In terms of ‘we all know it, so why drag it up’, it really is uncomfortable to expose individuals rather than them coming forward, but the exposed people will almost certainly include influential figures within cycling who have declined to address the issue in a constructive manner as they have wanted to avoid admission. If this can (crucially) avoid becoming a round of condemnation and hounding of former riders still involved in the sport – read Brian Holm’s article ‘Don’t you ever call us pathetic’ as to why – then maybe this can open further dialogue on the issue.

As to the relevance of other sports to cycling, I am not convinced. Other sports dope. Some other sports manage it badly. Some spectacularly badly. If cycling can learn from another sport then great. On the other hand, if the point is to throw stones at others, then it serves no practical purpose.

Rahul July 24, 2013 at 2:01 pm

Great peice, though I’m not sure I quite agree with the column-inches test- report names and shames star athletes, proposes anti-doping reforms, it’s no-brainer which element the mainstream press will cover. Sensationalist revelations (to those who are not cycling-savvy at least) win over detailed recommendations whether it’s anti-doping, cycling or anything esle.

That said, I’d be interested in how the cycling press covers this. I’m hoping for a more balanced take there.

And I share the interest in the negative tests. Amidst the sport’s seemingly endless self-flagellating it would be good for those who were competing clean to get some credit (I’m hearing Boardman and Voigt are among the negatives btw)

Big Mikey July 25, 2013 at 1:49 am

Public shaming is one effective method to attacking doping. If people circumventing the rules are presented with more risk, the less likely they are to do it.

There needs to be more steps taken, but it is one in the right direction.

Anonymous July 24, 2013 at 2:06 pm

Here is the list

Positive:
Andrea Tafi, Erik Zabel, Bo Hamburger (twice), Laurent Jalabert, Marcos Serrano, Jens Heppner, Jeroen Blijlevens, Nicola Minali, Mario Cipollini, Fabio Sacchi, Eddy Mazzoleni, Jacky Durand, Abraham Olano, Laurent Desbiens, Marco Pantani, Manuel Beltran, Jan Ullrich (twice), Kevin Livingston (twice)

Suspicious:
Ermanno Brignoli, Alain Turicchia, Pascal Chanteur, Frederic Moncassin, Bobby Julich, Roland Meier, Giuseppe Calcaterra, Stefano Zanini, Eddy Mazzoleni, Stephane Barthe, Stuart O’Grady, Axel Merckx

Remeber, that this is not an exhaustive list.
Not every sample was retested
And many were destroyed

Nick Evans July 24, 2013 at 8:08 pm

No wonder it took so long to develop an EPO test. The developers must have thought they kept getting false positives.

The Inner Ring July 24, 2013 at 8:15 pm

That’s exactly what the lab director thought, the checked again and again.

ben July 25, 2013 at 9:18 am

And it aso doesn’t include the negatives.

Ben July 24, 2013 at 2:16 pm

Particularly interested in the case of Chris Boardman – can we assume he has been tested after winning the prologue and it’s come back negative since his name is not on the list?

Anonymous July 24, 2013 at 3:34 pm

I don’t think so.
Many samples are missing, so his sample might not have been one of them.
And from this, all we know is the riders who, from the sample, doped, we do not know, I think, who else was in the sample who had no EPO.

Mac July 24, 2013 at 2:21 pm

It seems very unfair to list ‘suspicious’ readings considering the testing isn’t able to be done to today’s standards.

Ben July 24, 2013 at 2:30 pm

Pretty sure suspicious in this context means between 70% to 80% r-epo isoforms which would qualify as a positive according to the rules today – nothing to do with the standard of the tests

BC July 24, 2013 at 3:30 pm

My understanding is that only either the A or B sample came back positive.

Martijn July 24, 2013 at 2:31 pm

Schadenfreude-moment: Rabobank quit sponsoring the men’s cycling team, currently Belkin, because of all the doping troubles from the past. They went on sponsoring the women’s team, because women’s cycling isn’t as tainted by doping stories (and because Marianne Vos is simply to big a star to not want to use.) But now Jeroen Blijlevens, Vos’s current DS, is on the ’98 list and nobody currently working/riding for Belkin is…

vimes July 24, 2013 at 3:28 pm

Nobody is surprised by that. Blijlevens panicked in ’98 and pulled out of the race to hide in Switzerland. ;)

Which never seemed to be a problem for Eurosport. Maybe now?

Mac July 24, 2013 at 2:32 pm

So it would have been ‘suspicious’ in 1998 and a ‘positive’ today?
Ok, I withdraw my complaint!

Larrick July 24, 2013 at 2:40 pm

As if to prove the point, I’m struggling to find any information on the senate report regarding athletes other than cyclists. If anyone has a link to the full report it would be greatly appreciated and give me a chance to brush up on my French!

vimes July 24, 2013 at 4:40 pm

The full report seem to consist of two books, maybe there is no link? There is an 8 page long list of propositions: http://www.franceinfo.fr/sites/default/files/2013/07/24/1080161/pdf/fichier/lnssenatinfo-dopage8pagesok-130724035356-phpapp01.pdf

French press isn’t happy about the report: “Dopage : ce rapport du Sénat qui ne dit rien” http://www.metronews.fr/sport/dopage-sur-le-tour-de-france-ce-rapport-du-senat-qui-ne-dit-rien/mmgx!LvYorKtVgwKI/

The Inner Ring July 24, 2013 at 4:55 pm

The links are here:
http://www.senat.fr/espace_presse/actualites/201303/le_senat_enquete_sur_lefficacite_de_la_lutte_contre_le_dopage.html

Tome I means Volume I. Note it’s a bandwith hog.

Scanning the media today, whether it’s radio, TV or press the headlines are “Tour de France doping” rather than “anti-doping proposals” etc. I can understand why but note the flood of Russian positives announced today: http://www.rusada.ru/en/press/news and the lack of coverage.

vimes July 24, 2013 at 5:40 pm

Well, who has ever heard of Maria Gulidova or Sergey Belyaev? Ullrich and Pantani are names most people will be familiar with, so it is a bigger story. That doesn’t mean it’s right, but it’s understandable.

Generally i think that people want to believe that everything is okay in popular sports like football and tennis and that neither the press nor the officials want to disturb that dream because that would be very unpopular. I’m pretty sure that there is at least as much doping in football than cycling today.

Tovarishch July 24, 2013 at 6:20 pm

Most worrying is that the two cyclists were caught at the Russian Junior Cycling Track Championships – that looks more than just a problem of individuals doping themselves. I’ll try and find time tomorrow to see if there is more information in the Russian press and the reaction.

Larrick July 24, 2013 at 11:11 pm

Thanks

When the Russian arm of WADA starts using political ploys to hide bad news rather than trumpet it to the skies in the hope of dissuading others, it makes you wonder how much they’d want to catch any ‘big names’.

Of course it may just be a coincidence…….

Ollie July 24, 2013 at 4:27 pm

I think that the reason that marijuana is detected more than you might think is:

A) There is a lot of it about

B) Metabolites stays in the system for a minimum of 13 days (for urine tests) and anecdotally can still be detected after 90 days in very heavy users.

The Inner Ring July 24, 2013 at 4:52 pm

Agreed. It’s why we need to be careful when assessing different sports, for example there are a lot of positives in football but this perhaps suggests more partying than doping.

TheDude July 24, 2013 at 5:36 pm

Tactically, the “delayed” senate report is a deft public relations ploy prolonging attention toward France for a week or so longer than might normally be once the spectacle of Le Tour has concluded. This seems beneficial for advertisers, news/media businesses and brokers, others…. An intriguing bit of revelation, but fraught with unknowns, perfect to build a bluster of speculation and desire for more verifiable history– where little is to be had. One local metric of result is the 60+ comment posts on INRNG, exceeding the post count of the previous “Post-Tour Criterium” topic.

Mike July 24, 2013 at 7:38 pm

On Cycling News there are now 3 articles about the names and confessions based on the list of names (from O’Grady). Some of the articles even talk about how we should talk about the findings. But not a single word on what the findings of the report are.

I guess that is a failure then in the media’s role to help move this forward? or a failure by the French Senate for thinking they could release a list and hope for any attention to be paid to the report instead of the appendix.

Your list of questions tackled in the report is still the only thing I know about it…

BC July 24, 2013 at 8:26 pm

Well at least Brian Cookson has expressed a positive public view on the Senate report, with positive suggestions on how possibly the sport can move into the future.
Unfortunately the same can not be said for the current President of the UCI, who together with his predecessor, appear to take the ‘say nothing do nothing’ view that got us into this mess in the first place. It really is time for a completely fresh start, away from the lies and deceit of the past. With PMcQ in charge history tells us there is little chance of this happening. That most observers are not surprised at the random list of names released today, tells us everything we need to know about the past deceit of the UCI.
The sport needs to move, on whilst at the same time remembering the hard lessons of the past.

Skippy July 24, 2013 at 8:44 pm

Jason raises good points and this blog post was published in such a timely manner that it did not capture the NEWS of the DAY , Stuart O’Grady’s Confession !

As an Aussie , i am disappointed with his having to reveal to the World his Career shortcomings !

Earlier i had created a means for Cycling Athletes , both past & present to Petition the Oz Govenor general and reveal in Private their backstory !

See my blog : http://t.co/jZwpBnJOxP

Simon Curtis July 24, 2013 at 10:21 pm

His career shortcomings? Or a one-off giving in? Cf Millar?

TeamSpy July 25, 2013 at 1:13 pm

Further to my earlier post. The biggest disgrace in all of this is the number of DS’s and team staff that virtually forced riders to dope that are still in cycling today. Lord only knows how many cyclists that have become ill or died since the height of drug use have suffered as a consequence of being used so indiscriminately by these people.

These are the people that should be named and shamed and where possible prosecuted. At the moment the emphasis is on the riders who tested positive whilst the real culprits still lurk in the shadows picking up good salaries. The sad thing is, that they are at least beginning to get rooted out and outed in cycling. I’m not convinced they are in other sports. There’s probably some young talented kid (footballer, sprinter, basket ball player….?) somewhere as we speak under the same pressure to this day.

JohnS July 25, 2013 at 9:13 pm

I’ve skimmed through the body of the report, and the statistics (or lies and damned lies) provided by WADA and AFLD make some interesting reading, and raises some questions.

I wonder if the curling forums are discussing the shame of their sport in being outed as the dirtiest? Or if the heads of the international federations of basketball, billiards and golf are fearing for their jobs in light of the fact that their sports are dirtier than cycling? Or if sportspeople are aware that the rate of positives from the Kazakh lab is 0.29, whereas the rate in India is 5.13%?

I’ve also found that balle au tambourin (like 5-a-side tennis played with a tambourine instead of a racquet) had 4 positives between 2007 and 2001, that 43% of pétanque positives were for beta-blockers and that archery and motorsport were the only sports with positives for alcohol.

http://www.senat.fr/rap/r12-782-1/r12-782-14.html#toc39

Nick Evans July 30, 2013 at 11:53 am

Do all sports test for alcohol? I can see it being very important to do so for motorsport and archery! Shooting too, probably.

Rod July 25, 2013 at 10:33 pm

As opposed to the kiss ass nonsense going on here re the above article I have a serious problem with the passage –

‘Given we know EPO use was widespread what’s newsworthy about the named riders? Perhaps watching the likes of Laurent Jalabert struggle to account for their past is entertaining for some in the classic comeuppance manner for some but knowing he’s got some explaining to do with his children is nothing to be enjoyed.’

Not entertained maybe but the idea that we should be feeling pity, the apologist tone of the paragraph, tells me exactly why cycling is still in denial, whoever is writing this stuff needs to have a serious look at their attitude toward doping and cycling. Everything about that paragraph reeks of McQuaid style meekness.

I posted on here before that until every journalist/commentator places/says the letters ‘ConD’ for Convicted Doper after every cyclist that’s been convicted’s name then we will not move forward. Cyclists must know that they will be forever tarred, there will be no easy rehabilitation, people will be constantly reminded of the fact these riders chose to cheat other cyclists.

How about it Mr InnerRing? Too rich for your blood I suspect, just another apologist for the likes of Jalabert et al.

As regards other sports, I note that Novak Djokovic, as opposed to his physically phenomenal performance in the Aussie open final against Murray, completely ran out of steam in Wimbledon. Is it a coincidence that this lack of stamina appeared with the proposed advent of a blood passport in tennis?

Djokovic was a notorious quitter in his younger days, wilted in the heat etc, but great kudos to him for turning himself into superman, then reverting to a wilter on more, can’t think how that could happen…

Boxing another sport, riddled but no desire whatsoever to sort it, far too much money at risk.

Football, riddled at top level.

But re Djokovic, here’s an interesting take on it – http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/lax-drug-testing-casts-undue-shadow-over-centre-court/story-fnb64oi6-1226562186044

I read that Djokovic wasn’t tested at all out of competition in the 2011-12 season, phenomenal.

But agree with those above that say that cycling has to clean out it’s own house, and that I’m afraid starts with journalists/bloggers etc taking a stronger line than ‘Pity the poor man that has to explain to his kids that he’s been caught out.’ Or is it more that he was a fraud, a liar and a cheat and deserves all the grief coming to him.

The Inner Ring July 26, 2013 at 9:18 am

My point was that we’ve got a media circus rather than actual doping convictions and reform. All the ideas in the Senate report have been cast aside because of a soap-opera level of interest in Jalabert or O’Grady.

Martijn July 26, 2013 at 6:15 pm

There’s a media circus in the English, French and Dutch press, but when I checked out some Flemish sites yesterday I discovered there’s a media circus of exactly the wrong kind going on there. Big reports on the firing of Olana and Blijlevens, but when it comes to their own riders the reaction can be summarized as “No Belgian cyclists tested positive, Axel Merckx and Tom Steels were just suspicious, but that means nothing. Actually it was maybe not as bad with the doping in the nineties as we thought, because there weren’t that many positives. And it happened all long time ago anyway, so we shouldn’t talk about it any more.”

The big headline today is that Patrick Lefevre “unconditionally supports Tom Steels”. Lefevre thinks it was a stupid idea of the French to waste money of the commission; “don’t they have very high unemployment to worry about?” (No questions to him at all about Tafi being the umpteenth Mapei rider getting caught. Apparently Lefevre is the worst DS ever: all these riders take doping and he never notices anything.) And the chairman of the cycling federation Van Damme says he doesn’t “want to wag his finger, but look forward.”

The French can come up with reports with all kinds of forward looking ideas, but if in cycling country #1 Belgium they are firmly stuck in the omerta of the past, will it work?

Larrick July 26, 2013 at 12:53 am

I read that section slightly differently in that it’s one thing to watch (and enjoy) an adult squirm but another thing when it involves an innocent child. As Armstrong said, it was the hardest part of confessing his guilt. Did I feel for him? No, not really but I did feel a little bit sorry for his kids who had done nothing wrong and would now be the target of school kid bullies because if their fathers cheating.

In regards to other sports, I doubt any cycling fan would be surprised to learn that all the major sports had a majority of participants who were cheating. It should be obvious to anyone, finally, that cycling in the late 1990’s and into the 21st century was riddled with illegal substances and practices and that innocent riders were probably as common as straight politicians. In the years to come it wouldn’t be surprising to find the same outcome in football, tennis, rugby and the like.

Cycling may have been slow to recognize it’s problems and slower to accept them and as you say, make it obvious to everyone by putting more than the odd asterisk next to a name but no major sport has gone through this in the same way yet (you can’t count weightlifting and field athletics) and therefore history may show that taking more than a couple of decades to really accept a drug problem might be better than average.

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