Banning riders with doping histories

Ivan Basso
Ivan Basso: no more Mr Nice Guy

The Italian cycling federation has announced it will prevent riders with a doping conviction from participating in the upcoming national championships, including those who have already served a full ban and are allowed to race elsewhere.

It’ll be controversial given a rider is supposedly clear to ride again after completing their ban but a race organiser often retains the right to invite who they like. Note this is not new, for example British rider David Millar is banned from the Olympic Games by his home federation and other races have said “no” to certain riders.

But this comprehensive rejection of many riders is something quite different. It amounts to a life ban from this event. I wonder if it will get challenged, although individuals are taking risks with their public image if they start hiring lawyers, many a fan will say they’ve blown their chances.

Who speaks for the riders?
For me this is the perfect moment for the governing body to rule; indeed it suggests riders could well benefit from a union. I’ve little time for past dopers but all the same, if you’ve served the ban then there’s a right to race. Surely we all want to see clean riders supported but I’m confused if this comes via unilateral rulings from race organisers, what if an organiser tomorrow decided to block, say, a rider who’d been critical of race safety in the previous year? The issue needs to be reviewed and tested by experts in order to ensure it’s legally watertight.

9 thoughts on “Banning riders with doping histories”

  1. I suppose what also needs to be considered is the rationale behind the move. Is it to act as a deterrent? Is it just additional punishment? Is a ban from competing in the National Championships really a punishment to the rider, their team, or both? Does this ban further preclude riders from representing Italy in World Championships or the Olympics (assuming National Championships could also serve as qualifying races)?

    In general, I have a problem with retroactive measures, but if it were a moving forward measure, I’d have fewer objections.

    Another thing to consider is that this is on a national basis for cycling only. Wouldn’t everyone be better served by having this a universal mandate for violations of the WADA code?

    If this measure gets implemented by the FCI, will we see any Italian riders apply for racing licenses from other nations?

  2. It’s possibly in conflict with the Italian Federation’s obligations to the UCI and it’s licence holders. It may even be a restraint of trade issue under EU law, not to mention some more fundamental legal principles.

    I’d thought Millar’s ban is imposed by the GB Olympic Board, not the Cycling Federation, but may be wrong. Even still, I can’t but wonder if the GB team wouldn’t consider Millar ‘rehabilitated’ and back in the fold if he were to win the Worlds this year and be a real Olympic contender…

    Couldn’t agree more with the statements regarding retroactive punishment or the need for certainty.

  3. Based on what Landis, Tyler, etc have said, the doping culture was very widespread. Most riders typically also managed to beat the system. Leaving aside Purantical “oh no, he doped, he’s a cheat and will rot in hell” type of kneejerk reactions, I think additional punitive actions against the riders who were caught is not really any kind of justice, and distracts from what should be the main effort: instituting a more radical systemic overhaul.

    If these guys doped in a mostly-clean culture, then that’s one thing. But to bust a few people when almost everyone was doping and then institute further punitive actions on those guys just seems a little misplaced.

  4. In the UK the British Olympic Association have the by-law banning any athletes representing the country at the olympics, Dwain Chambers lost a case in the UK Courts about this very thing, he appealed on restriction of right to work etc.

    Millar on the other hand is still banned from the Olympics but he did get his Commonwealth Games ban lifted, partial due to the ‘work’ he’s now doing in the anti-doping arena. Which I find very hypocritical, considering his crass comments towards Floyd Landis. He’s as much part of the omerta as he ever was.

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